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ARC Review – Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.

When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.

Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

Review!

Man did this book take me on a wild ride! Filled with a whole host of kick ass female leads, rebellion, romance and treachery I got swept away by this epic Sci-Fi book and am desperately in need of the sequel.

When Eris and Clo, old friends ripped apart by a deadly secret, are asked to take part in a dangerous mission neither are too happy to be stuck with the other. The mission is simple enough, sneak onto a Tholosian ship said to carry a deadly weapon and plant a tracking device… easy peasy. Except when they get on the ship what they find is a lot of dead body’s, some rocks and 3 Dona’s, women bread for pleasure. Eris and Clo soon come to the realisation that not everything as it seems, only one of the women is a true Dona, the other two are a Tholosian fighter and a genius child. They are seeking the Novantaen resistance, not knowing that they have two fighters in their midst. When Eris and Clo get in touch with resistance HQ they agree to let the women join on one condition, they need to find out whether the rocks on the ship are weapons and if so, what Damocles intends to do with it. The five become unlikely allies, all with their own strengths and their own secrets. But what they find doesn’t just effect the resistance but the whole galaxy and it will take them all working together if they are to save the Galaxy as we know it.

Seven Devils is told from five different perspective and flits between the past and the present. Eris, the former Princess Discordia and heir to the Tholosian Empire; Clo a natural born raised in the slums, genius mechanic and one hell of a grudge holder; Nyx a former Tholosian soldier deprogrammed from the Oracles influence; Rhea a former Dona to Damocles himself, she hides a secret that makes her the rarest thing in the galaxy and Ariadne, raised by an AI she has lived her life in solitude until the tech whizz took a chance on two other women. Each character has their own strength and weaknesses and I thought the throwbacks were expertly done, they give you insights into how the characters ended up where they are, the trauma that follows them all and shows the strength it took to stand up and risk their lives for the resistance/each other.

The world and species that the author’s created for this book were brilliantly rendered. I’ll admit to being a little lost in the first few chapters, but once we start our flashbacks it all starts to makes sense. The Tholosian empire is a somewhat future version of humans if we had travelled into space, they take what they want from any planet leaving death and destruction in their wake. Their armies are vat born, ensuring only the strongest survive and are controlled by an AI implant called the Oracle that instils in them the need to fight for their empire, shadowing them from the horrors they face in battle and ensuring their loyalty to the Archon. This is the main species we meet in the book, the other being the Evoli. The Tholosian’s and the Evoli have been at war for hundreds of years and hate for them is as instilled into the Tholosian soldiers as loyalty to their army is.

Every character in this book has dealt with some sort of trauma and we are able to get insight into this and how they are trying to overcome it from the flashback chapters. Eris is still afraid that somewhere deep down inside she is no better than her father and brother, mindless killers who think nothing of those below them. Clo had to watch her mother die and flee with the resistance to survive. Rhea was the personal play thing to Damocles himself and would regularly be laid out and covered in delicacies for soldiers to feast on. Nyx is very aware of how many lives she ended whilst she still fights to stop the Oracle’s influence, and Ariadne, until recently had never left the four walls of her room. Raised by an AI she has little skills when it comes to interaction with other people and feels a loneliness deep down inside that is somewhat tempered by being part of something. I really felt that the authors dealt with all these different issues well, they really get into the characters psyche which helps us as readers to empathise with them.

I always worry when I read a book by two different authors that the writing style wont match and it will feel like you are reading two completely different books. That was not the case here at all, I honestly couldn’t tell you who wrote what character/chapters. The writing and plot flowed effortlessly. Though a denser read than I expected, it still has everything I love about a good Space romp, plenty of adventure, battles, explosions and character interactions. There were definitely a few WTF moments and plenty of plot twists to keep us guessing on certain plot points. It is also a book filled with diversity! We have a queer romance *swoon*, a trans woman as a central character and a diverse cast of totally kick ass women… there are men in the book, but they are few and far between and usually the bad guy… sorry fellas.

This is an easy 5* read for me. Anyone looking for a high stakes adventure, filled to the brim with a diverse cast of women and some truly epic fight scenes should definitely check this one out.

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