Soul Meaning (Seventeen #1) – by A.D. Starrling

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An e-ARC was provided through Net Galley in exchange for a fair review

Summary:

‘My name is Lucas Soul. Today, I died again. This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred and fifty years.’

The Crovirs and the Bastians. Two races of immortals who have lived side by side with humans for millennia and been engaged in a bloody war since the very dawn of their existence. With the capacity to survive up to sixteen deaths, it was not until the late fourteenth century that they reached an uneasy truce, following a deadly plague that wiped out more than half of their numbers and made the majority of survivors infertile.

Soul is an outcast of both immortal societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half breed whose very existence is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his life being chased and killed by the Hunters.

One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul’s fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner of ten years. When a lead takes them to Washington DC and a biotechnology company with affiliations to the Crovirs, they cross the Atlantic to Europe, on the trail of a French scientist whose research seems intrinsically linked to the reason why the Hunters are after Soul again.

From Paris to Prague, their search for answers will lead them deep into the immortal societies and bring them face to face with someone from Soul’s past. Shocking secrets are uncovered and fresh allies come to the fore as they attempt to put a stop to a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans.

Time is running out for Soul. Can he get to the truth before his seventeenth death, protect the ones he loves, and prevent another immortal war?

Review:

If The Wizard and the Rat typifies the kinds of problems that make people wary of self-published titles, than Soul Meaning is a good example of how self-published fare can and should be given a look by the broader reading audience.

Soul Meaning is an action-thriller with urban fantasy elements. Lucas Soul is immortal, and his fellow immortal brethren are trying to kill him and the central mystery of this book is why. As the summary implies, there are terms and conditions to this immortality. In this case, the first sixteen deaths are free; but number seventeen is permanent. I think the author does a good job not over-explaining how the immortality works. We know what we need to know to follow the plot and to tell that she put some thought into it, but no so much that it causes it to fall apart. Likewise, when the story does bring some science into it, she goes just far enough that you can buy into it, but not so far as to want to yell at your book/reader that science doesn’t work that way.

This book isn’t trying to be transcendent. It knows what it wants to do and does it well. The author clearly knows her tropes: an early scene has the broke private detective taking on a missing cat case. The author is also clever enough to find a way to weave that scene into the larger plot so it doesn’t feel tacked on and instead it makes sense. Plus, it’s well written enough that it gives us some insight into Soul’s personality and makes us invested in the character. It’s what establishing scenes like this should be doing.

On a technical level, this book is polished and the author is dedicated to cleaning up errant errors (I believe the copy I read was a 2nd edition.) I still found one or two tiny errors in this version of the text, but nothing outside of what even slips by traditionally published authors. She cared enough about her text to get a real editor and you can see the quality in the text.

Overall, this book isn’t trying to be the next big thing, it’s trying to be the best damn version of this genre that it can be and I think it largely succeeds. It may not have a ton of originality to it, but it’s likable, it’s fun and if I get a chance, I may even check out the sequel that is due out shortly. Fans of the genre should definitely give it a look.

Verdict: Borrow It

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