Rae Lindley, Cimmerian City. Lavender Isis Publishing, 2007. Pp. 161.

Reviewed by Susan Mattinson

This novel follows a young college student, Raven Blackheart, as her life is changed by the murder of her boyfriend and a glimpse into a darker world. When she awakes from this dreadful night, ten years have passed and the glimpse she experienced has become a stark reality. Dracins, vampire-like creatures who are the result of pharmaceutical experiments, have grown into a thriving race. The Tech Corporation, supposedly working to unify the human and Dracin races, employs Raven to work for their cause. Raven soon realizes that Tech president Tyler Deamond cannot be trusted. With the help of ex-Tech employee Russell Li and the knowledgeable outsider Enos, Raven learns the full truth: that the off-world mission, meant to transport people from the decaying Earth to a new planet of residence, is being manipulated to carry only humans. Filled with action, corporate manipulation, and the challenge of overcoming the pain of the past, Cimmerian City is a briskly moving story that keeps the attention of the reader.

One of the biggest issues I found with this novel is the way Raven is portrayed. She overcomes all obstacles with an ease that suggests either unrealistic reflexes, instances of sheer luck, or situations of conflict that are too simply written. For example: in a club scene while holding a Dracin crime boss hostage, Raven “could sense a red target hovering around the back of her head” (Lindley, 66). She manages to move away just in time for the crime boss to be shot instead. All the other characters in this novel are very realistic and well-developed; it only seems to be Raven that possesses these un-realistic skills.

There were also some contradictions and technical problems with the story. In some scenes, Raven is participating in training by sparring in darkness where she cannot see her attacker. However, in other scenes she has natural infrared vision capabilities and can see in the dark with great detail. Some technologies are unrealistic, such as a shower that cleans by using sound-waves alone. Near the end of the book, Raven receives from Enos three pure gold swords that she carries all at one time (two in her jacket and one in her boot). Gold is very heavy, and is also a soft metal. These oversights and others detract from the enjoyment and believability of the story.

I was, however, very impressed with the dialogue. Lindley is able to retain the edgy comments and dialogue found in action movies without making it lame or over-done on paper. While discussions about what the Tech Corporation actually does can be a little vague, carefully calculated pieces of dialogue give the reader insight into the situations and personalities of the characters. The reader speculates as Raven does, and solves puzzles as clues are revealed by the characters.

With a novel that possesses so much potential in its larger concepts, it is disappointing to stumble across quite a few under-developed and badly-portrayed details. When the reader over-looks these technical problems, they will find the story interesting, a quick read, and well-paced.

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