Author: Keira Michelle Telford
Genre: Dystopian SF / Lesbian Romance
THE PRISONWORLD TRILOGY — VOLUME ONE
Poverty is rife in twenty-fourth century London, England. Crime rates are at an all-time high, and living conditions for many are bleak. Capital punishment and public hangings have been reinstated, and Magistrates, in their new role, are tasked with patrolling the streets to enforce arrest warrants and ‘terminate’ any civilians who attempt to evade justice — which isn’t always a noble pursuit.
The laws are strict, illiberal, and unsympathetic. If you can’t afford to feed and clothe yourself, you’ll be sent to the workhouse. If you fall behind on your rent, you’ll be sent to debtors’ prison. If you’re gay, you’ll be hanged.
For Carmen Wild, the latter becomes a potentially deadly problem when the discovery of a murdered prostitute brings her back into the life of her first love — the Madam of an East End cathouse — and the illicit passions between them are swiftly reignited.
The Magistrate was an enjoyable, albeit at times slightly confusing novel. our main character, Carmen Wild, is an intriguing woman who’s already been through a lot in her life. In this neo-Victorian, dystopian version of London she’s a Magistrate, upholder of the law, and she takes care of petty criminals. The problem? She’s actually a criminal herself.
Being gay is strictly forbidden under the law, but Carmen has had feelings for women her entire life. She developed a relationship early on with the Madam of a whorehouse, and she’s been in love with her ever since. After a few failed flings, Carmen reconnects with her, but unfortunately people quickly suspect something more is going on.
Amidst all of this is a Delta, a girl who isn’t the system, and who’s tongue has been cut by a notorious criminal Carmen has been hunting her entire life, and a murder prostitute. What is the connection, if any?
I liked the mystery part of the novel, and for me that’s what kept me reading. The romance however, left me a little unconvinced. Example. Carmen has a relationship with her flatmate, but then quickly cuts that off and proceeds to secude the whorehouse Madam in the middle of the living room she shared with her. Moments later. That made me raise my eyebrows.
Then there’s the continuous flashbacks. Sure, the author indicates them at the start of the flashback chapter, but still it took some time for me to imagine Carmen as a little girl in these scenes, and they slowed down the primary narrative.
Apart from that, I really liked this book. Strong MC, good plot, solid worldbuilding and lots of suspense.
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