I received an ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I'm not usually drawn to "steampunk" stories and typically stay away from them. When Ms. Knight contacted me asking for a review, I thought I'd give it a shot. The premise sounded interested and I wanted to see what would happen to Semara, given that everyone hates her.
The story had a shaky start. I wasn't sure what was going on, how the groups of people were distinguished from one another, and how this world was structured. I'm a big world building fan and we didn't get much of that at the beginning. The copy I received for review was an eARC copy and the point of view tended to shift mid paragraph. ESCAPEMENT is told from Semara's point of view but then it would switch to third person, using the word "she." I think this may just have been because I received an unpolished version.
After Semara refuses to sacrifice a "parasite," as her mother, the Queen, calls the Neumarian people, she is thrown into a prison cell to become a slave. She is rescued by Ryder and is brought into the Mining Territory to freedom. The Queen's wrath is imminent and Semara, along with Ryder, and his sister Raeth, are forced to escape the Wasteland and get overseas. They are the Neumarians only hope for freedom and rebellion from the Queen's tyranny.
I must admit, after Semara was rescued, the story did pick up a bit. I became more interested in what was going on and I actually could understand everything that was happening. The writing got better. The details surrounding the people and the town were clearer. Ms. Knight found her flow, so to speak. This novel was very action-packed. It seems like every time the trio thought they were safe, something bad happened again. The Queen is bound and determined to capture her daughter and destroy everything in her path. The reader becomes so engrossed in the story, you lose track of time! Some scenes were a bit underdeveloped and occurred too quickly. But overall, this was an edge of your seat kind of story.
I really liked the three main characters. Semara grew up under a horrible, horrible person but it never broke her down like you think it would. She was strong and would do anything to save her friends, even if it means becoming someone's slave. I thought she had a great voice, despite being a little too trustworthy. Ryder is one of those conflicted characters you wish would just figure out his shit already. One minute he despises Semara for the family she was born into, the next he was all over her. You could tell that his up bringing made him leary of people, but for good reason. I'm glad he opened up and accepted things he normally would not have. Little Raeth, I loved her! After being tortured to insanity four years ago, she is always on the brink of shutting down mentally. When she was completely there and focused, she was a fantastic character who believed the best in everyone. She has awesome powers and has incredible determination and strength. I always felt so sad when she got too overwhelmed or stressed and reverted to the mind of a 5 year old. She would bring out a red ball and start bouncing it. Luckily she was alert and ready to fight when needed.
Despite the minor flaws in writing at the beginning, world building, and some underdeveloped scenes, ESCAPEMENT is a thrill of an adventure. You'll find yourself rooting for Semara, Ryder, and Raeth to escape from the Queen's evil ways and relentless army, and hope they get to their destination to eventual freedom. With interesting abilities and strong characters, it's hard to set this book down.