Series: Bitroux #1
Published by Digital Jazz on November 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Amazon • Amazon UK
How much can the bonds between twins survive? Can they survive anger, distance, arguments left unsettled and a lifetime of experiences left unshared? Merouac is full of regret about the way he left things with his twin sister Malaena. Now she’s gone and he’s got his hands full taking care of her young daughter; a wilful and curious girl intent on giving him a crash-course in parenting. As Merouac juggles taking care of Evra and the pressures of his job as head metalsmith on the Transcontinental Railroad, a series of mysteries begin to emerge. A new star appears in the night sky; evidence that Ahm’s protective shield is down. Strange blue apparitions make themselves known to Merouac, chanting the words ‘Down, Down.’ And then the mystery of Malaena’s death deepens, leaving Merouac with twice as many questions and no answers. As Merouac goes in search of his sister, he embarks on a journey across space and frequency and discovers that both memory and reason are fragile, and that the bonds of the heart may be more resilient than the planets themselves.
Merouac is overseeing the construction of one of the railway lines being built across the continent, and building metal trinkets in his time off. He has just started looking after his young niece, Evra, after her mother died. Merouac thinks he might be losing it when he begins to see a strange object in the sky, plus odd hazy blue apparitions around his workshop, but it seems his niece can also see them. Then Heyla, one of the Ayuherica gypsies, turns up, insisting that Merouac has the ability to tune metal – to allow it to pick up frequencies from other realms across the Broadsphere.
I was delighted to win an illustrated digital edition of this book in the Australia Day giveaway back in January. The cover and several of the pages are covered in beautiful, colourful illustrations, along with sketches for each chapter heading. As part of the prize I also won a framed print of one of the coloured pieces!
The story itself is one of the most unique and imaginative stories I’ve read in a while. The presence of railroads on an obviously alien planet with two moons is quite fascinating, as is the network of hahma power lines below the world’s surface. The idea of being able to tune metal and put together a portal to another realm or across the stars is a little bit Stargate and I loved it!
This is a really very well written and presented book, especially since it’s self-published. Jordan Harcourt-Hughes is actually a designer and content marketer herself and the polish really shows in Bitroux. I’m not sure whether she had someone to help with editing – the story is a little slow in places but it flows very well, the characters are personable and believable and over all, the book presentation is beautiful.
The only downside of this story is that it’s so short. At only 232 pages, there’s barely time for any world-building, and I was left with plenty of questions. What was the planetary shield for? Where did Evra’s mum go? What does the railroad actually carry? Where does the electrical hahma power come from? I feel like I’ve barely dipped a toe in a much wider story, and I really hope that some of my questions can be answered in future books in this series.
– A fantastic debut and a unique story, just a little too short to fully explore the ideas and flesh out the world building. I loved it though! More please!