My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is my first book by Sarah Fine and I’m happy to say she has only whet my appetite with Marked. In this darker urban dystopian-esque fantasy, set some distance in the future in the city of Boston we’re introduced to several myths given a new take and life.
Cacia Ferry is the youngest daughter of an ageless family whose public business endeavors have made the family tremendously wealthy. However, the Ferry’s private family business is that of the psychopomp (also their family business’ moniker) in collecting the souls of the newly deceased and, like their mythical namesake, escorting them to their rightful place in the afterlife. Whether that place is in Heaven or Hell isn’t up to the Ferry’s but to the Fates themselves. The Ferry’s work in tandem with their counterparts, the Kere, governed by Jason Moros, brother to the 3 Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. The Kere’s task is to Mark those souls Fated for death. Both the Kere and the Ferry’s make a financial profit in this process, both sides beholden to a higher power/council.
Much to her family’s bafflement Cacia’s chosen profession is that of an emergency medical responder. She is not the only one of her family in this profession, her elder brother Declan serves as her unit’s chief. Their choice in profession puts them on the frontlines in a city ravaged by disease and violence, and is the means by which Cacia is introduced to her paramour, Eli Margolis.
The chemistry between Cacy and Eli is rich from the start but each futilely attempts to ignore it, Cacy due to bad history with men (she’d had to escort her last beau to Hell); Eli due to the fact that her brother is his chief and because he, along with his immune-biologist sister Galena, are new to Boston. The sibling pair hale from far off Pittsburgh whose rivers have long dried up turning the area into a desert wasteland overwhelmed by savage violence. They come to Boston for Galena’s new position with Harvard.
Fine’s writing is superb, her characters deliciously multi-faceted, her attention to plot and its myriad twists excellent. I loved the premise of these two opposite sides of the death coin working in tandem, given new life in physical embodiment. The dynamic between Cacy and Eli sizzles, their intimate scenes bordering on high quality erotica. The mystery behind the character connections and plot is wonderfully complex and skillfully delivered, the plot pacing on target, suspense top-notch. Even Fine’s action scenes are nail-bitingly gripping.
Marked makes a splendid addition to the genre. I enjoyed it so much that I quickly added the follow up, Claimed, and the impending Sanctum to my Wishlist, something I rarely do for extended series books. Fine is quite adept at capturing and challenging the reader’s imagination, never shunning the dark part of the heart, instead choosing to explore them in an attempt to shine light on what we most want to avoid. Marked is not a book to be passed by lightly, the fiction offered therein some of the highest quality I’ve come across in a long time.