Etched in Soul and Skin by Joshua Legg

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Etched in Soul and Skin by Joshua Legg
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (225 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

The Sky Demons are coming.

The Sky Demons have hunted Adanna’s tribe for centuries, kidnapping people in vicious nighttime raids and disappearing without a trace. Her life has been one of deprivation and loss, always striving to keep one step ahead of relentless attackers.

Erik is the newest soldier in a secret military, one dedicated to keeping his steam-powered city in the air. Only a select few know the dark secret of his flying home. It’s not their technology that keeps it aloft, but the magic that flows in the veins of the people who live below them. He has been trained for one purpose: to hunt and retrieve human beings.

Captured and almost turned into a living battery, Adanna is rescued by the very man who imprisoned her. In her, he sees a chance at redemption. In him, she sees a chance to escape. And maybe get a little revenge for the years of terror the ‘sky demons’ have inflicted on her.

If a writer can bring tears to the eyes of his readers, then the writer has truly written a book which is engaging and heart-felt. Joshua Legg has accomplished this for me in his novel Etched in Soul and Skin.

The plot revolves around the needs of a floating city to harness magical powers in order to stay in the sky. The magic comes from kidnapping tribal people who live on the surface of the planet. The victims are then strapped into chairs, becoming living batteries. Adanna’s mother was one such victim, captured years ago when Adanna was a little girl. Her tribe has learned to fear those they call sky demons. Adanna has grown to adulthood under the threat from above and she has learned to wield her own magic. One day she comes across a man in the river, nearly drowned. She pulls him to shore, and just before he dies he warns her that the sky demons are on their way.

When the raid comes, the tribe is better prepared, but it is still a difficult battle. When a sky demon falls out of the tree, killed by her father’s magic, “Adanna’s heart nearly stopped as she saw the living sky demon. They weren’t the tall, horrifying monsters she had dreamed about since childhood, they were something worse. They were men and women like her, evil people preying on fellow human beings for some kind of dark purpose. The beings that took her mother were men and they fought like men.”

Adanna is a wonderful heroine with strengths and weaknesses. She has a strong sense of humanity and she is deeply connected to the land and all of nature. In spite of a fantastic defense where she takes out most of the invaders, she is captured by Erik, the newest soldier in the secret military. However, even as he captures her, he finds difficulties in obeying his orders. His grandfather had taught him to question, to realize that it was wrong to use people. Erik is fully developed into a very believable and likable person, and his struggles to find the truth after being brainwashed by the government for most of his life are struggles I could identify with. And when he decides to rescue Adanna, I cheered him on. Once he rescues her, the real fun begins.

The plot is fast moving and filled with action. The city of Shuran is described in full detail as the action unfolds. Even minor characters, such as a very young girl named Katie who sells metal flowers, are brought to life in full detail. Everything that Adranna does she does “because the children need to know what flowers look like.” The people of Shuran haven’t seen flowers for generations. They have lost all contact with nature.

I really enjoyed this novel and one of the best parts was the way in which Legg brought resolution to the story, ending it most satisfactorily. This is a fantasy novel which holds its readers to the very end and does not disappoint in any way. If you like fantasy, why not give this book a try?

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