Author: Jean Woolf
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press July 2013
Blurb: In the city of Tessera in the twenty-third century, the law can be as ruthless as those who break it. Li, hustler by night and drug runner by day, is caught in the crossfire.
His best friend and occasional lover is a prostitute, like himself. His nemesis and occasional savior is a man with a secret identity. But then, everyone’s identity is a secret in Tessera. Everyone is a shadow. If he plans to survive, Li must blend in—he must remain quiet and unseen, passed from hand to carnivorous hand without getting captured by a single one.
But what happens when he is captured? Will the shadow, once trapped, manage to escape? Or will Li fade away into the endless night, a shadow among shadows, one death among many?
Review: I really liked this one. It was dark and intense and sad, but also had hope and love and promises honored. It takes place in a dark, alternate future world. It’s full of prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers and the terrifying arm of the law. It never stops moving and while you hope that everyone important makes it out alive, you aren’t completely sure until the very end how everything will play out.
While this is Li’s story so much of his life and his motivation are tied up in Matt. It’s impossible to separate the two of them. There’s a quality to Li that draws you in and doesn’t let go. I saw it over and over in the story with the men who used him, once they’d been with him they became obsessed and possessive. Which was the last thing that Li wanted, he didn’t want to feel for or have any “John” feel for him. All that Li wanted was to get through his day, get food in his belly and fall asleep with Matt. Nothing was in his control except making Matt smile his “real smile”, that only he got to see. I kept hearing the song, She Will Be Loved by Maroon Five, in my head as I read this.
Li and Matt are so beautiful and broken, each in their own ways. I loved them together. They kept one another alive, they saved each others spirits, they were each the other’s hope. Best friends, lovers, caretakers, safety net, comfort and the only thing good and real in their dark and painful world.
Li was brave and at times clever and he was willing to do what had to be done in order to save Matt. I don’t think he believed that he would make it out of this alive and he was okay with that as long as they left Matt out of it. He was so scared and in many ways still the child, at seventeen he had the right to be, even if life would not allow them to be children. Maybe Li will finally get his chance at a different life.
Reviewed by Nina