Tag Archives: 5 stars

The Locksmith by Susan Kaye Quinn.

Stars: 5 out of 5.

The Locksmith is a short novella is is set in the Mindjack world (I have reviewed the first book of the series Open Minds if you are interested), and I must admit that it felt good revising it.

This story had all the ingredients I loved about the original books – the complex world, engaging characters and often serious problems they face. I also love that the author doesn’t pull any punches when exploring the social problems that arise when the normal mindreading society discovers the existence of mindjackers…

But I digress, so let’s concentrate on this story. We are following Zeph, who is a mindjacker with a unique ability even for his kind: he can not only jack into other people’s brains, but also modify them (lock or unlock as he puts it). He tried very hard to stay hidden, to pass for normal, even though he is forced to work for the local mindjacker clan. He doesn’t like what he is forced to do for Clan Marshall, but he understands that the jacker would come after his family if he disobeys. Yes, his life is difficult as it is, but at least he manages to pass for more or less normal, even if he has to lie to everybody around him, even his family.

So when Kira drops the bombshell and reveals the existence of mindjackers to the world, I understood perfectly well why Zeph was mad about it. She had just destroyed all hopes for him to live a normal life. Of is she didn’t annihilate them entirely, she made it so much more difficult.

It’s interesting to see the repercussions of Kira’s decisions and the events of the original 3 books of the Mindjacker series on other mindjackers, to see the reaction of another other jacker kid to the fact that hiding his ability had just become 100% harder.

I liked Zeph. He is a completely different character than Kira and he is very far away from the hormone-driven teenager stereotype we encounter so often in YA fiction. He is aware of his powers and slightly afraid of them, because he doesn’t understand what he does or how he does it and he is scared to hurt people. He is also a very responsible young man. Unlike some other mindjackers we encountered in this world, he doesn’t think mind controlling someone to like him is right. When other jackers bask in attention and jack everyone to like them, Zeph skirts the crowds, staying in the shadows and doing just enough to get barely noticed and immediately discounted as insignificant.

His attempts at a normal conversation with Tessa were really rather cute and heartbreaking because he realizes that he can’t have a normal relationship with her without having to lie to her constantly.

I also loved the fact that when Zeph was presented with a very difficult choice, he had the courage to do what’s right, even if it was difficult and dangerous and presented him with potentially dire consequences… And I will not say anything else about the plot of The Locksmith because I don’t want to spoil the story for you!

All I will add is that this is a fast paced story that keeps you on the edge of your sit until the end. It’s only five chapters long, so if you are looking for a quick, but still good and entertaining read this weekend, definitely buy this book. It’s a wonderful new installment in the Mindjacker universe.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Stars: 5 out of 5

I received an ARC of this book for free from NetGalley.

There are books that grip you and don’t let you go until you read the very last line on the very last page. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett is one such book. I finished it in three days, which is no small feat for me, considering that I have a full time job, a family and my own writing fighting for my time most of the days.

So what is City of Stairs about? Bulikov used to be called the Seat of the World, the city where all six Divinities governing the Continent resided. But the Divinities had been slain 80 years ago, and the Continent was invaded by the people who used to be their former slaves. The passing of the Divinities laid waste to the land, with whole cities disappearing, collapsing or shrinking in the blink of an eye. Even the climate has undergone a drastic change, and the whole land went from being a lush tropical paradise to a frozen wasteland.

The city of Bulikov suffered the most damage. Even 80 years later, it lies in shambles. Its citizens are the poorest on the Continent, the infrastructure is non-existent and the living conditions are atrocious. And the invaders intend to keep it that way, as punishment for everything they had to suffer at the hands of the citizen of Bulikov and their Divinities.

But the citizens of Bulikov remember their glory days. Hatered and discontent brews in the streets and the whole city is a powder keg ready to explode. Will the murder of Efrem Pangyui, celebrated Saypuri historian, be the spark that ignites the city and starts yet another war?

The world created by Robert Jackson Bennett is absolutely fascinating. Each of the six Divinities had their own creation myths and rules by which the world functioned, and those rules were absolute in the zone of their influence. But when they died, all those different view of reality clashed together and produced the Blink, when entire parts of the continent simply vanished; others got warped beyond recognition while those realities fought for dominance. It’s a broke and strange world that we get to explore along with the characters of this story.

Speaking of characters, I absolutely loved Shara and Sigurd, her secretary / bodyguard / enforcer. They are interesting characters with their own flaws and strengths, and I was genuinely engaged with their stories and problems. But the book doesn’t rely solely on its main protagonists. The secondary characters are also memorable and “alive”. You love them or you hate them, but they don’t leave you indifferent.

Most of all, I found the general ideas behind this story extremely compelling and thought-provoking: do the Divinities create their followers or are they created by them? Or is it a two-way relationship? Can they break free from each other without losing their identity? Can whole nations become obsolete along with their Divinity? Is change really such a bad thing? All those questions apply not only to the fictional world of City of Stairs, but to ours as well…

I am glad I found this story and go to read the ARC before the release. I also heard that the author is working on the second book, so I’m definitely placing it on my “books to watch for” list. My advice is – go buy City of Stairs, it’s a guaranteed good read.