I was kindly given a copy of an e-book ARC from the author Rebecca Crunden in exchange for an honest review. This is the first book in The Outlands Pentalogy. As soon as Crunden said it was dystopian, I was very keen to read it, dystopian being one of my favourite genres.
A Touch of Death is set 1000 years in the future in a totalitarian country called The Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in the capitol where disease and illness, which plagues the poorer areas, can’t reach them. However, even they are not safe from the King’s rules and anyone can be executed for criminal acts. Nate, the son of the king’s favourite, is spared execution after openly dissenting only because of his parent’s relationship to the king. Catherine (Kitty) is the exact opposite to Nate, the only thing they have in common is Thom, Nate’s brother and Catherine’s soon to be complemented. After Nate is released from prison, a series of events cause Nate and Catherine to flee, heading to the dangerous Outlands which is filled with mutants and rabids.
The start of this book did leave me a bit confused as it starts with Nate arriving at the prison and then the next chapter is titled Month One and has Nate and Catherine wandering through the wilderness. So I didn’t know the exact timeline between the two chapters and whether the rest of the book is going back in time to see what leads to Nate ending up in prison. But it did all make sense in the end and what happens in the introduction chapter contains vital information to the end of the book.
After the initial confusion, I did really enjoy this book. I was genuinely scared about Nate’s condition and didn’t want him to die. I think that was a great bit of plot, having them on the run but also needing to find a cure for the illness that had overtaken. It created great conflict between the characters. I’m glad that when Nate confessed his love for Kitty she didn’t immediately fall into his arms like female characters often do. She is confused about her feelings as she has spent a long time with Nate and they have both been healing each other, him having saved her life a few times. So although it’s clear she cares a great deal about him, I’m glad she didn’t move on to him straight away. Her character progression is great as she goes from a rich, privileged young adult (although seems more like a teenager), to a young woman who has wizened up to just how awful those in power are.
I loved how fast-paced this was and I managed to read it in three days. There were so many tense moments and the end left me wanting more. I really want to find out what Kitty will do next now she realises how terrible their king is. I’ll definitely be looking out for the others in this series!