The floating city of Kesh rests above the uninhabitable planet of Vellern. For the Topsiders life is about luxury and opulence, while for those of the Undertow day to day survival takes precedence. Kesh City is a democracy by assassination, where the Angels – deadly state-sponsored killers – remove those unworthy to hold office.
When Vanna Agriet accidentally spills her drink over an Angel it could spell death, but instead it leads to a rather peculiar friendship. The downsider Geal hopes for a better life topside, only to find herself embroiled in a ‘removal’ by the Angel Thiera. Downside, Isha’s brother Rakul brings a little black box home with him, and sets Isha on a journey that takes her to a meeting with the most powerful man in Kesh City. Larnia Mier, a talented topside musician and instructor, is injured after witnessing a removal first-hand. As her abilities diminish, new possibilities open up.
With a foreword by Alastair Reynolds (author of ‘Revelation Space’ and the recent ‘Blue Remembered Earth’, as well as ’On the Steel Breeze’), ‘Downside Girls’ is a standalone collection of interlinked stories by Jaine Fenn, that also shines new light on characters from ‘Principles of Angels’, Jaine’s first novel in the ‘Hidden Empire’ series. (‘Principles of Angels’, ‘Consorts of Heaven’, Guardians of Paradise’, ‘Bringer of Light’, and ‘Queen of Nowhere’).
This is a short story collection that introduces the reader to the world of the Hidden Empire series. As an introduction, this book worked great. After finishing it, I knew I wanted to read the first book in the Hidden Empire series. The world building through the short stories was very well done, and made me want to experience more.
Looking at each story individually, I liked Collateral Damage the best. It was simple yet complex. It was the first story in the collection, so offered my first taste at Angels and the world of topside vs downside. Things were quite clear and easy to follow. The story featured a great twist to a simple human story.
The other stories were also straight forward, and even featured some of the same characters within some of them. This linkage was fun and helped emphasize how things intertwine and create the complex world building of the series.
Overall, this was a great short story collection that will definitely make you want to pick up the series. I wanted to after reading just the introduction.
Challenges read for:
2012 Ebook Challenge