Edge of the Breach (Rift Cycle Book 1) by Halo Scot
Halo Scot did a great job in setting up the environment in this book. The story happens far into Earth’s future, after us dumb humans have demolished most of the planet into an uninhabitable mess. People live in Antartica, either in the downtrodden Shelf or in the city of Zawad. Added to that, the sky has torn a hole, which leads to the dimension of gods.
And that’s not all! (Said in a deep-throated voice of a guy narrating a movie trailer.) Humans are born with special abilities, depending on the season of your birth: spring as healers, summer as mages who can control gravity, fall as shapeshifters, winter as protective shields.
Impressive world-building here. Inserted into this world are our main characters: Julian Kyder and Sira Rune. Both are born on a solstice (Kyder in summer, Rune in winter), so their abilities are especially powerful. The book’s chapters alternate the points of view of these two characters.
We follow Kyder and Rune in part of their childhood, through teenaged years, into young adulthood. And believe me when I tell you this isn’t a “gosh I feel awkward in high school” type of story. Um, no.
Be prepared for dramatic scenes, because this book is a wild ride. Kyder and Rune make their way in this world, taking initiative to better themselves and dealing with horrific events. We see the powerful influences of family, from Kyder’s single mom to Rune’s parents and brother. Shocks that come early will reverberate for years.
I found that I was pulling for the characters and wishing their struggles weren’t so difficult. But the characters are shaped by these, in a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” kind of way.
This ride isn’t for squeamish readers, as Halo Scot has included a content warning in the book’s blurb. Yes, there’s very graphic violence. There’s torture and self-harm. I had never heard of “grimdark” as a story category, and this book is both grim and dark. And it has a gripping story.
This is the first part of the Rift Cycle series, which has four books — all of them have been published.