Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Halle Ish, one of Velli’s elite police Arrows, is shot down during a Precinct One riot. Wounded and unable to fly, she tries to hide and avoid capture, knowing that if she is found by the razor gangs or Clipper Sect they will sever her wings. She needs to get out of Precinct One. Avin Lent was once a promising medical student, but he started sniffing Mumble to beat the stress and is now the doctor to one of the biggest gangs in Precinct One—while not part of the Clipper Sect, they are just as dangerous. He knows he is only as useful as his next surgery and they would have no qualms about killing him. Only Jarro is keeping him safe. Jarro Coblic is deep under cover and has been for a year. Immersed in the gang, he suspects his hands will never be clean again. When he finds the wounded Arrow, he knows he can’t turn her over even though everyone is looking for her. With his lover’s help, they hide her and heal her wing. All the while, falling for her. He prays Avin will not crumble and reveal their secret as Jarro tries to figure out a way to get them all out of Precinct One before the Sect and the gangs bring the full wrath of Velli on Precinct One. Tearing the place down can’t come soon enough, but there will be blood before the slate can be washed clean.
“Severed” marks the beginning of a new series and I liked this first part. I avoided anything with M/F in it for a while and only recently discovered that MMF is actually a relationship dynamic I could come to really enjoy.
A little trigger warning before we start: Avin is a drug addict and his struggles with his addiction and being high are a very important part of the story. There’s also quite a bit of violence and some off-screen torture going on.
It’s a bit hard to find the right genre for this book, but I guess it’s a futuristic urban fantasy, set in a completely different world. For quite a while, I thought it was set on Earth, but in the distant future, where something had happened to make women grow wings. It was all a little confusing, since I was always wondering, what could have happened to cause such a drastic change in our anatomy. I think it took too long for the author to establish that, in this world, women have always had wings. If that had been made clear from the get-go, it would have been obvious that this is a completely made-up world, inhabited by humans with a slightly different anatomy.
Once I’d realized that this was a different world, I actually started to find it quite fascinating. Women are physically superior to men, the wings giving them a definite advantage over the land-bound men. The society is essentially matriarchal, but leaning towards equality. Kind of like our own society, but also the opposite, since we come from a patriarchy. Most of the book is set in a crime-riddled slum, with not a lot of normal people left. So we don’t get to see much of the normal society, which was a bit of a shame. From the little that was shown, it seemed really interesting.
Relationships work differently in this universe. It’s perfectly normal for people to be in same-sex relationships or in poly relationships. I found the idea that there were essentially two models of poly relationships. The “famili sect” is made up of two M/F couples, who live together and watch out for each other during reproductive sex, as that can actually get dangerous for the man. Then there’s the “poli sect”, which has one woman in a relationship with two men. I’m not a fan of the “I’ll change one letter and invent a new fantasy word” thing, though. Either come up with a completely new name or leave the normal English one. But that’s just a minor niggle I’ve seen in a lot of fantasy books.
We never really learn how the women’s wings look. Are they feathered? Or skin? What colour are they? The same as the hair or the skin colour or something completely different? That was a disappointing lack of detail.
I really liked the relationship between Jarro and Avin. It’s born out of convenience and lust and has grown feelings over time, though neither is sure if he can trust the other one. That made for some great tension. I did think Avin took the revelation of Jarro being an undercover cop a little too lightly, though. I also liked them as individuals and they had some really hot sex together.
I’m not sure how I feel about Halle and her inclusion into the relationship. The feelings developed very fast and under less than ideal circumstances. I didn’t really feel the love there. But again, the sex was hot. Though there is a bit of a blood kink, which is normal in this universe. Still not necessarily one of my favourite kinks, but it worked well here.
I didn’t quite understand why Jarro was in Velli in the first place. He’s from a different city state and I found it very odd that he’d be doing official police business for a foreign country. Why would the Velli police use a foreigner? They must have their own undercover agents. I kind of missed a proper explanation for that oddity.
Overall, “Severed” was an enjoyable read and I’m definitely interested in the next part. There’s no evil cliffhanger, though the overall story arc obviously isn’t finished yet. You could read it as a stand-alone with a HEA for the triad and HFN for the rest of the world, sort of.
I really don’t like the cover by Natasha Snow. I read the book despite the cover, not because of it. I don’t get why there’s only Halle on it, with odd-looking wings. The guys are definitely missing. And the pink background implies a lighter story. Also, I just generally hate pink, but that’s just me.
ebook, , 281 pages
Published February 25th 2019 by NineStar Press