I really love science fiction and fantasy, but for some reason, I find myself not reading enough of it. So when I heard about this book, I was more or less through the roof about reading it, because I had a feeling I would absolutely adore it.
When I first started reading Beyond the Red, I was reminded why science fiction and fantasy books are so amazing – they completely recreate the world (or just put us on a new one, which is the case in this book), and it’s so easy to get lost in the wonderful world-building and completely new cultures and characters that make the book so captivating and addicting. Beyond the Red has all those things, all wrapped up with a gorgeous cover that you will just keep staring at when you aren’t reading the book.
The story is told through alternating viewpoints – the first is of Eros, a rebel soldier who is a half-blood. He is the child of a Sepharon and a human, and he is pretty much unwanted by both sides. While half-bloods are normally killed upon birth, Eros was kept safe, and now he fights the Sepharon armies and tries to keep them from destroying the humans and their families. The second viewpoint is Kora, a Sepharon queen who is trying to do what her people need, while under constant scrutiny from her brother, who wants the throne for himself.
When Eros has his camp raided by Sepharon soldiers, and everyone is killed, except for women and children, he is taken to Kora’s palace where he will be forced to become a servant. When tracking nanites are injected into Eros, however, he has a horrible reaction which leads us to find out that he isn’t just half Sepharon and half human – but he’s a lot more special than that. Kora decides that until she can get to the bottom of the situation, Eros shall become her personal servant, guarding her and making sure she is protected. While Eros isn’t thrilled about the deal, he would rather that that be killed – something that was sure to happen if Kora hadn’t stepped in.
What followers is a bittersweet, forbidden romance between Kora and Eros, and while it’s impossible for them to be together, I couldn’t help but find myself wishing for them to overcome the odds. While this is going on, a threat on the life of a potential suitor for Kora has her being blamed for the attempt – even if she didn’t do it. Forced to run or be executed, Kora must give up everything she has ever known and is faced with the reality of what is really going on with her people when she flees into the desert.
The one thing about Beyond the Red that I really enjoyed was the fact that the Sepharon have a language different from that of the humans – so it was interesting to learn some of their language while reading. There’s even a handy little glossary in the back of the book (and I’ll admit I kept it bookmarked the whole time I was reading so I could easily flip back and re-check things when I wasn’t sure about something). This was clearly well thought out, and as a reader, I really appreciate the work that Ava Jae has put into this book.
The entire novel is fast-paced, so if you’re like me and you enjoy a lot of action and things happening in your books, this is a great one to check out. I really loved Kora’s character – despite the fact that she was a Queen and had servants, she knew when to put her foot down and speak up when she knew something wasn’t right. I admired her independence and her ability to say “Hey, this is what’s going to happen, deal with it.” I loved her and Eros together. While it did seem like a rushed romance, it wasn’t something that ruined the story – in fact, I thought their instant attraction to each other kind of made it better.
I really hope that this book turns into a series instead of just a standalone, because I absolutely love the characters and would be thrilled at the chance to return to this world and have the story continue. While there isn’t a cliffhanger or anything at the end, it kind of does leave room for this to turn into a series, so I’m crossing my fingers!
If you like fantasy and science fiction, you won’t want to miss this one. It’s such a fun read and it was so easy to get into!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.