Author: Jill Shultz Publisher: Independent Publishing Publication Date: June 1, 2013 Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy Pages: 287
Book Description: Amandine Sand walks a high wire between two lives—hobbled by a life-threatening secret. She’s a leopard, one of the spotted humans wrongly accused of being a plague carrier. Leopards like her are hunted by zealots to protect their offworld colony from the scourge. Despite this threat, Amandine spends her days guiding other leopards to an underground shelter run by the pacifist Seekers. At night, with her own spots hidden, she takes to the air, the one place this extraordinary artist feels free and gloriously alive.
When the persecution of leopards explodes into widespread violence, the Seekers demand more of her time. But her circus is teetering toward bankruptcy and desperately needs her, too. She has no time to breathe…and then she meets a stranger who leaves her breathless. And might just be the biggest risk of all. If her trust is misplaced and she’s unmasked, everyone she loves—and everything she’s fought for—could crash.
In her darkest hour, Amandine must draw upon everything she’s learned from the circus and Seekers to bring peace to her fractured society. Can a reluctant angel fly beyond her limits to save her life, her love, and her world?
First Line: “When she was eleven, a crazy old man taught Amandine how to breathe backwards.”
*Book won through LibraryThing Member Giveaway*
The cover is what drew me into reading this book. It is quite simply a piece of art. The colors and complexity of it just take my breath away. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this book. The writing was well done and I could easily slip into the story and explanations of characters were smooth and fit well with the story. What caught me was how confused I felt at first with what was going on. The details of Penance – its society and landscape – felt too little and I was often left wondering what was going on or how things were supposed to look like exactly. My lack in knowledge of acrobatics also made it difficult to picture the acrobatic flying scenes. While many things got explained eventually, it took me most of the book to understand some of these details that I thought could have been mentioned sooner.
What I loved most were the characters. Shultz really excelled at making them come to life. The interactions between Nikos and Amandine were especially thrilling and I wish there had been more of it towards the end of the book. The overall story line was very interesting and I loved all the twists and turns. The takeaway message of consensus despite differences was very well done. The book took a turn towards the political, spiritual and basic humanity that I wasn’t expecting but ended up loving. I especially loved how certain scenes or actions felt artistic and flowed well with Amandine’s character as a flying trapeze artist. The end didn’t feel enough to me though I understand why it was left somewhat open ended. It was a lovely and heart warming ending but I didn’t realize I had finished the book when I did. Maybe I just wished it had kept going.
My Rating: ★★★★