Genre: Sci-Fantasy, Dystopian, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
Reviewer: Scott, Paranormal Romance Guild
About The Book
A handwritten note.
A handful of lavender roses.
And memories cracked like shattered glass.
Kerry has had a bad day, and he’s sick of his life in Arco Four. Nothing ever changes, even for a firedrake. Days and nights pass with a quiet air of desperation, as everyone tries to convince themselves their lives in the superscraper have meaning.
A strange scribbled note offers him a distraction—and maybe a chance to finally unlock his broken memories.
But to find out, he’ll to go Outside. No one ever goes Outside. Still, what does he have to lose?
Firedrake by J. Scott Coatsworth is a short novella that pulls at your heart and ensnares your brain.
Kerry is one of the Changed, children who mysteriously developed pyrokinetic, telepathic, or empathic powers abruptly. These children were seized and forced into concentration camps where they were marked with various tattoos to warn the “Norms” of their powers. That was a lifetime and one hell ago for Kerry.
Civilization has changed and everyone lives in highly automated, invasive societies. The Changed are forced to ingest drugs to control their powers and leave them numbed and docile. The constant chant of “It’s Safer Inside” is broadcast directly into everyone’s brains.
Kerry is alone, having lost both his mother and father the night he changed. He has no idea that his father is alive and has been searching for him. He has no idea that it was his mother’s mad idea to somehow cause the “Change” to come over children in hopes of creating a perfect world where no one would ever harm another, since their empathy would prevent it.
When Kerry skips his dose of meds, the numbed state quickly wears off and he feels the anger and disgust building in him again. He ventures outside, only to be violently attacked by derelict Norms who are now addicted to the suppressive drugs. In self-defense, Kerry’s pyrokinetic powers overwhelm him, killing his attacker. It’s not the first time he’s killed, but each time, he’s the one dying inside.
The tale takes a troubling, then uplifting twist. Kerry finds a note that leads him to an eerily familiar part of the outside world, a world he barely remembers. There he finds his father, who has started the Phoenix Project, a home that helps the Changed tap into all three powers and control them so that they become gifts, not curses. It’s through this training that Kerry finds out his mother was responsible for his condition and that his father did not abandon him.
Better still, the only other trainee at the Phoenix Project is a handsome empath, Jin, who helps Kerry heal his heart in more ways than one. With his powers under control and a new family at his side, maybe the “firedrake” will rise from the ashes.
Firedrake is a masterpiece of world-building, but it’s like an appetizer that leaves you hungering for the main course! A lot is left to imply and imagine, leaving you with burning questions (no pun intended). Nonetheless, the story is full of soul, tragedy, and triumph. If you like dystopian stories that have a silver lining, this one is for you.
S.C. Principale is a voracious writer, reader, baker, and teacher. When she’s not writing paranormal romance and erotica, she loves reading the works of others. She’s a firm believer that great writers must be great readers, too. Reviewing allows her to follow her passion of uplifting and learning from other authors. She lives in Pennsylvania with her amazing husband, their two brilliant and stubborn kids, and their menagerie of six pets.
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