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Content warning: blood, gore, body horror, self-harm for the purposes of magic, gaslighting, violence
You’ve heard of plague doctors, get ready for plague birds. Plague birds are people bonded with blood AI who exact justice by killing the wrong doer. They are very powerful and very feared. Crista bonds herself to one named Red Day and embarks on a journey to attempt to save her village from a rogue faction called the Veil. There are twists and turns and memory manipulation galore, while the real danger might be coming from inside the metaphorical house.
Deftly toeing the line between dark fantasy and science fiction, this book is perfect for those wanting to read compelling characters with science and technology that feels like magic.
The author Jason Sanford will be featured on the blog in an interview on September 14th, 2021.
The world-building of this book is super fun. AI watch over gene-modded humans while others contain deadly powers. It’s the perfect overlap of science fiction and fantasy, with several nods telling the reader that the story takes place on Earth in a post-post-apocalypse. People live extended lives in medieval-esque settings. The action and memory sequences in this book are also affecting, with Sanford masterfully propelling the story forward while contextualizing what the reader didn’t get to see in ways both mosaic and linear. The aesthetics are also top notch, with much attention given to color with the added unsettling that is the Veil themselves and their time-distorted faces.
The shining star here is Crista. I really enjoyed her as a main character. While very singularly driven, it was wonderful watching her try to stay true to herself and to her mission even though half the factions she encounters fear her to the point of attempted murder and the other half are incomprehensibly powerful. The banter between her and Red Day is a highlight for me because they are such polar opposites and they literally cannot get away from each other. Sometimes it’s funny, other times dangerous, and occasionally tender. Meeting other plague birds and other AI within the world solidified that Crista and Red Day are something special.
With reveals that made me scream, Plague Birds is intricate and epic in scope in ways that linger far after I finished reading.