Genres: Dystopian Romance, Post-Apocalyptic Romance, Sci-Fi Romance
Published by Curiosity Quills
Released on December 12, 2017
Talk about a little of everything fantastical… The White Pavilion brought sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, and steampunk all together in this suspenseful and complex story about a young woman at the wane of a dying utopian world.
The White Pavilion focuses on young dancer, Imre. Imre was chosen to join the Daughters of the Pavilion from a hard life on the streets in a lower tier. She is determined to make good and rise above her roots. Then she does the unthinkable and falls during the annual elaborate dance festival depicting the origin of the early founding fathers/mothers escape from Old Earth and the founding of Tierra Mejor. The dance has traditional and religious connotations and her fall seems to cause a series of catastrophic events and a great change for her future. She is brought before the Prince Regent and into his household even as the religious sect is calling for her head and a terrorist group is pushing people to realize that Tierra Mejor is in trouble.
I leaped into this book with anticipation. I was looking forward to a tale set against such a backdrop. But, there was so much to turn me around and confuse me at first. Such an intricate world and culture and situation. I didn’t mind. I found this choice to drop the reader into a new world was a good call. I had that experience of what it would be like for a person to see ‘what if’. In this case, it was what if our world was dying as a result of poor stewardship and war and a clever Spanish inventor was able to convince seven others to leave the dying planet and join her in the clockwork space station/world she had invented with the help of a divine mentor and this was the result 500 years later.
Of course, the people would have a slight connection to Earth tradition and life, but have altered and changed down through the centuries and as a result of their world on this clockwork space city/world. There are bits of Spanish culture in names and re appearances, but also Asian- the White Pavilion and its life there is the Japanese Geisha Culture- and African and European, but in a softer mixture. There are classes based on what tier a person lives on- or on the above wheel or pendulum (don’t ask me to describe how the circling wheel and pendulum part of Tierra Mejor works, no clue even after the descriptions). There is a monarchy, but also a council and guilds to govern. The religious group- all men/monks- is austere and have control of the finances, the weather, and the food in the above land areas (the wheel and pendulum). Confused yet?
Yes, I guess that is my point. This book had so much because it had to establish the culture of these people which plays a role in the plot and characters themselves. It is the why behind it all. Imre is deeply religious and trusts in the writings of the Clockmaker who built Tierra Mejor. She has to slowly come to terms with the idea that everything is not fated- she must think and act. Everyone must if they are to survive.
The book begins slow and stays at this gentle pace as Imre must go through experiences and times of reflection- internal change- before she is altered to a person who can be a true catalyst for change. Bravo, Ruth Fox! So many times a reader is ‘told’ a woman is a heroine and she does some flashy fight scenes and gets snarky so that is our proof that she’s the real deal. But in The White Pavilion, the metamorphosis happens before the readers eyes. Imre asks throughout the book, ‘why me?’ ‘what is so special about me?’ and then gets her answer. Yes, it made the book longer and slowed the pacing at first, but then it sets things up for that breath-stealing amazing last quarter of the book. It just didn’t stop and kept hitting hard with the action, suspense, and twists.
The author not only showed how the world’s cultures could mesh together for this new human race begun on Tierra Mejor, but also opened up a new world of diversity by showcasing many sexualities and orientations as normal. Imre is used to passing f/f relations with her ‘sisters’ in the White Pavilion and inside the Prince’s harem, there are casual mentions of other f/f, m/m and m/f relationships and there is a strong gender fluid side character. As, to romance, Imre goes from not really believing a woman of her erotic training and darker past can have or feel love to settling for lesser relationships with a few people before finding that love was waiting for her all along if she had only known what to look for. As the reader, I spotted it right away and I was probably meant to do so, but it is low key because of all else going on in the story and because Imre, the main narrator, is not looking for it or free to pursue it even if she did figure out what was there.
The White Pavilion comes down to a dramatic finish, but it also ends on a new beginning that will lead the people into book two of The Cosmic Winds series. There are a ton of mysteries still there and a new adventure awaiting. It’s not a cliff hanger, but it sure does make me thirsty for what is to come. I have no idea if the focus will stay on Imre or if another of the cast of characters will get the lead narration role.
All in all, I know I did a poor job of describing the book, but I hope my sense of wonder and thrill at the story came through for you. There’s just so much here with a fantastic world, setting, characters, and plot that I couldn’t get a handle on the words to describe it. Highly recommend for those who enjoy futuristic, steampunk, dystopian, suspense, and sci-fi all in one.
My thanks to Curiosity Quills for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Literary Pickers #32 Costumes
Let’s Read Indie #14