Monday 6 November 2023

City Knife: Book 3 of The Burning Days

City Knife: Book 3 of The Burning Days by Rachel Hennessy (MidnightSun Publishing). PB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9781925227970

Reviewed by Kerry Gittins

Block out the blood. Remember. Think. I am still here . . . I must hold on. My name was Rath. This I remember.

Rath had long ago taken his sons Bayat and Oyan to a safe place outside the city when he found out the truth behind his wife’s experiments. Kalina was ruthlessly kidnapping the homeless and using them as test subjects to carry out ideations of the virus she hoped would turn them into some kind of hybrid being that had the heightened senses, awareness, and strength of a cougar-like animal, whilst retaining human emotional capabilities and understanding.

Fast forward to the present where Rath has been infected with the virus by one of the ‘chimera’ or ‘ferals’ as the creatures are called and is struggling to retain his own humanity.

The chimera had eventually broken free from Kalina’s laboratory and infected almost the entire city with the virus. Those who had managed to flee and secretly returned to find a cure, realised they were not safe, for the cure was short-lived and the chimera were now creeping ever closer. The River, Mountain and Desert Peoples sought to protect themselves by barricading their villages, but Bayat knew this would not work. Now a grown man, he had seen friends consumed by the virus and die at the hands of the chimera. Bayat and Pandora, the River girl he has come to love, undertake a final journey to the city to find the last of the precious cure ZarVex for their friend Emmaline, in the hope that a high enough dose will kill the virus in her. Bayat is determined that any chimera encountered will be killed on sight. But Pandora, whose visions have both haunted and guided her, has looked into the eyes of the chimera, and seen an empathy others have not. Will they be able to save Emmaline? Will Pandora be able to convince Bayat and the other villagers that there is a way both chimera and humans can survive? Or will all hope for the future be lost?

Set in a post-modern, pandemic inflicted, dystopian world that has collapsed into ruin due to environmental degradation, mismanagement of resources and medical autocracy, City Knife reveals the secrets and truths of those who created the chimera, and the strength and determination of those who came after. This is an intricate and intriguing story of despair and hope, love and loss, and hatred and empathy, told through a series of character driven, interwoven, individual chapters. It is a timely reminder that whatever our future holds, we need to be ready for its challenges and to keep hope alive, no matter how fragile it seems, so that humankind and life on earth, will endure. City Knife will have you on the edge of your seat from the opening lines to the very last pages.

Teaching themes could include dystopian futures, pandemics, environmental issues, medical ethics, family, survival, and relationships.  

Highly recommended for ages 12+ years.

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