Entertaining and enjoyable… A quick, fast-paced read.
Kellner combines a fast-paced plot with well-realized characters to create an engrossing dystopian tale. Life is difficult in the Regime under the malevolent Chancellor Kroft, especially for the masses. But the happily married Bergden and Alyssa Crane try their best to make the most out of the situation. As a Regime blackjack, Bergden tries to do his work dutifully, careful to remain nonchalant to the brutality around him. As a schoolmistress, Alyssa keeps to her job, their young son, and household chores. When Bergden is falsely accused of treason, he succeeds in escaping. But the whole family is separated. With the authorities at his trail, Bergden must do everything in his power to get to his wife and son. Meanwhile, Alyssa’s situation is not much different. She has nothing but her wit and intelligence if she wants to reunite with her family. Keller matches crisp prose with deep characterizations as he skillfully shines a light on his protagonists’ inner struggles, dilemmas, and fears. He skillfully incorporates the guilt and turmoil Bergden feels as he struggles to balance his professional and personal life while trying not to be affected by the autocracies his own colleagues bestow on the masses. And in doing so, he gives both Bergden and Alyssa’s lives a huge resonance. He slowly reveals the specifics of the events in the Bergden’s past, creating tension as Bergden wrestles with conflicting emotions of disgust, shame, and rage. Alyssa’s struggles with her own guilt and her relationship with Bredgen is etched in reality. Kellner is credible when it comes to conveying a sense of a world wrapped in chaos and on the brink of destruction. The futuristic setting in which the masses are devoid of everything but basic provisions, where intimacy between a couple is prohibited, and trying to score something more than the basic necessities of life can cost you a life may leave some readers cold but is thoroughly convincing. The plotting is tight, and the careful pace never slows. The main storyline is straightforward, but Kellner throws in enough twists and turns to keep the reader invested. Readers will be on the edge of their seats to witness first-hand the fates of the Cranes as well as the unraveling of the sinister conspiracy that threw the couple in the middle of chaos in the first place. Lovers of fast-paced SF will eagerly devour this emotionally charged dystopian tale.
The Cranes of Blackwell
By J.D. Kellner
Dark Brew Press
Pub date April 6, 2021
Price $22.49 (USD) Hardcover, $10.97 Paperback, $6.07 Kindle edition
Categories: Science Fiction