I’m a judge for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and I’m reading and reviewing whichever books in the contest appealed to me! Follow the blog to keep up with more updates from the contest, along with many, many other reviews and topics!
Broken Angel: The Lost Years of Gabriel Martiniere by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Broken Angel is a rarity. It’s a novel that feels unique and unusual even to someone who constantly reads science fiction. It ended up in my group’s reads for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest, and that’s what clued me into it. Reynolds-Ward starts the story with a kind of strange child-swap as the matriarch of a wealthy family attempts to end an internal feud by artificial means, giving the child of each of two brothers to the other to raise. It’s a strange setup that somehow feels exactly in line with what one might expect in some kind of cozy mystery story with a sci-fi bent.
Things don’t go as planned, however, and one of the children, Gabriel, has to flee the family at a relatively young age. He tries to testify against his vicious uncle, only to discover a kind of nanobot imbued control scheme has been placed upon him to control some of his actions and words. He goes into witness protection and then… the story turns for a while into a kind of rodeo romance. And it is, frankly, a pretty good rodeo romance, though I probably am not the best judge of that. Just as I was settling into this new frontier as a reader, Reynolds-Ward threw more twists into the story. Mind control, nanobots, corporate espionage, and some slight shades of agriculture all make up the rest of the way with a story that spans almost a full generation in length.
The length of time covered by the novel means readers get a big picture view of Gabriel’s life and struggles, but it also means that occasionally the focus moves on quickly in scenes that could have used a little more development. That said, readers won’t ever get too settled into a single idea or even the feeling of a single subgenre as Reynolds-Ward deftly juggles conflict, romance, and the core plot throughout.
Broken Angel is a well-written story that sucked me in based on its characters and then sustained that interest with plenty of twists and turns and “what’s going on?” moments. Recommended for sci-fi readers looking for something very different from what they’ve read.
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