I love a book set in the future or in the past or in a different world altogether. I love that part at the beginning when the action is already going on and you’re finding out about the characters, but at the same time you’re being introduced to the world the author has created. In Ways of the Doomed we’re in 2089, a world profoundly affected by climate change and a racial divide not so very far on from where we are now. Our hero, Sorlie, is torn from his life as one of the Privileged class and sent to stay in an island penal colony run by the cold, frightening grandfather he’s never met. There are secrets here: secrets about the prisoners and about Sorlie and his family. As Sorlie begins to discover the answers to his questions, he has to decide who he can trust and how to react to what he discovers.
It’s a page-turner, I promise you, gripping and fascinating and thoughtful. I was utterly convinced by Sorlie who has a truly human mish-mash of characteristics: stroppy, self-opinionated and snobbish as well as brave and resourceful and plagued by self-doubt.
One of the things I most enjoyed about Ways of the Doomed was the author’s playful and clever use of language. She has invented a vernacular using snippets of Scots, words used in not quite the way you would expect them to be and entirely made up expressions. It’s an easy thing to overdo, so that the reader has to think that little bit too hard or even so that a glossary is needed. Not here. ‘For jupe sake’ is perfectly clear, as is ‘I was fair puggled’. As a lover of words, I can’t get enough of this sort of linguistic play!
My regular readers will know that I have a constant gripe about books that do not conclude properly. I’m pleased to report that Ways of the Doomed has mastered the art of a fully satisfying conclusion with just enough threads for this reader to be looking forward to the second book in the series.