Val Tyler's Shadows Beyond takes us into a world where the teenage Emtani must travel from the only life she has known in a small village to the unknown of the city, where her young sister has been taken as a slave. With grotesque crime lords, a glossy upper city with a horrible secret and a dark underbelly where the Luciphorous Factory leaves slave workers horribly disfigured, it has the feel of a dystopia, but without the total absence of hope that tends to make dystopias ultimately too depressing to be an enjoyable read. Despite all the trials and horrors Emtani and her friends go through, there is a positive side to their experience too.
In some ways this isn't a book I would naturally be attracted to. The fantasy element involving headlets and shadows (you will have to read it to find out what this entails) was difficult to accept alongside the laws of physics. (I know fantasy, by definition, involves things that are inexplicable, but I like to feel that there could be an explanation that we just don't have yet.) However, the author's storytelling skills soon had me swept away, and once I was a couple of chapters in I was hooked and wanting to know how things turned out.
With some clever twists and a relentless, driving action throughout it is a book you will resent having to put down.
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