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PB, 97 pages, Kristell Ink

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This is a new, stand-alone novella from Gemmell-longlisted author Tom Lloyd,( Moon’s Artifice (Empire of a Hundred Houses 1) ) his  first with Kristell Ink. The story follows Shell, a slave freed from her fate my a mysterious entity known only as The Voiceless. Trying to make a life for herself in a village near the border, Shell is coerced into returning to the wasteland where her liberation occourred by an angel, Ice. Ice wants her to track down The Voiceless, for reasons he refuses to make clear to her, and Shell is forced into an uncertain alliance with both the angel, with Moss, a former soldier who professes to be in love with her, and Lichen, a man Ice saves from a disfiguring sickness. Together they travel deep into the wasteland, towards a final confrontation that will change everything…

In a relatively sparse amount of pages, Lloyd draws us deep into the history of a world that’s been at war for a long time, it’s people riven both by conflict and by the fungal disease Lichen has been afflicted with, that turns its victims into mindless wanderers. Shell is a wanderer too, marked by the Voiceless, an empty woman without home or purpose, drawn into a heavenly dispute. It’s a lesson in drawing a detailed world in broad brushstrokes, and it leaves the reader wanting to hear more, both about the history of this world and its dark, uncertain future.

As an introduction to Tom Lloyd and his writing, this comes highly recommended.