There’s nothing quite like a series that just grabs hold of you and pulls you into adventure with every turn of the page.
After so long, hiding and running across the Kingdom, desperate for freedom, the remaining fugitives end up imprisoned by the very forces they so desperately sought to escape. Catherine is gone, their friends separated across Cutta, and although he is spared from execution, Nate still faces five years of hard labour for his crimes against King and country.
But once he learns what has become of his friends, of Catherine, Nate decides he cannot wait a second longer. As his strength returns, and strange dreams plague his mind, he plans to rescue his friends and finally escape the Kingdom once and for all.
It just goes to show, when you scope out the self-published offerings out there, sometimes you find a real gem. And, in my opinion, that is certainly the case here. There are a few bumps along the way – no book is perfect, after all – but for every thing that could be a little more polished there are ten more things that just tugged at my heartstrings and made me eager to continue. There’s so much raw emotion in this book that it’s actually hard for me to put into words just what made it so darn readable, for lack of a better word. But I will give it my best shot!
What I Liked
- The Characters – As in the first book of the series, A Touch of Death, the characters are the heart and soul of this story. If you looked up the term “character-driven plot” in the dictionary, this would pretty much be the only thing on the page, and it would sum it up perfectly. The main cast is packed full of endearing people, all of whom are delightfully human and fallible and altogether a joy to read about. Nate and Catherine (or Kitty, now) continue to be my favourite part of this story, and seeing their relationship develop even further through this story was an absolute treat. Give me more of them please!
- The Outlands – I don’t want to give away too much here, but the summary does promise an escape from the Kingdom, so I feel okay about revealing this part at least. The Outlands are a breath of fresh air from the claustrophobia of the Kingdom, and their introduction means that we’re delving even further into the history of the world and how it all came to be! What was the Devastation? What are the mutants? How did humanity survive? How did the kingdom come to be?! Even if all these questions aren’t quite answered in detail, there’s certainly the promise of more to come. And if there’s anything I love in a story, it’s lore.
- The Ending – Holy moly does this story end on such a tense beat. So much is promised at the final chapter, and I cannot wait to see what comes about. There are so many threads and plots and questions and schemes that I hardly know where to begin, but I do know that I want to see it all unfold in spectacular fashion.
- The Section Headings – Returning to this little nit-pick, there were a lot more chapter/section breaks in A History of Madness then there were in the first book and I could not be happier about it. I love reading into the night, but I need a place to catch my breath! Luckily this feels a lot more spread out with more natural breaks and sections, and that really makes it easier to read. 10/10 for improved reading experience!
What I Didn’t
- The Pacing – Looking at this story and how it unfolded, while I was certainly invested, I think the plot points as they unfolded here were a little too quick in some places and a little too slow in others. If you’re in it for the characters, there’s a lot here to love, but the plot may be a little frustrating if you’re looking for more action and suspense.
- The “Magic” – It’s really more like unexplained science as it’s used here, but as it stands, the “magic” system is a bit confusing, particularly towards the end when it begins to be used more and more. I don’t want to explain too much here to avoid any spoilers, but I do hope we get more of an explanation about some limitations and rules in the next book, just so I can keep my head straight.
Trigger Warning – *Slight spoiler warning here* Don’t read this part if you don’t want any spoilers and you’re not super squeamish. I didn’t necessarily want to include this as something I liked or didn’t like, but I think it’s fair to put a warning that there is a fairly intense scene featuring a non-medical abortion. It caught me a little off guard and, while it doesn’t go into a lot of specifics, it is still very intense, and I don’t want any potential readers to be caught off guard.
A History of Madness is a well crafted follow up to the beginning of a promising series. With revolutions on the horizon, the mysteries of the past to unravel, and a great cast of characters to keep us entertained along the way, the Outlands Pentalogy is funny, heartfelt, and full of passion. A must for anyone looking for some excellent dystopian fun.
Title: A History of Madness
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Publisher: Independently Published
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy #2
Warnings: References to sex, graphic violence, sexual assault, and abortion
Thanks for reading everyone!