Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Genre: Cyberpunk/Urban Fantasy
Available: Amazon $0.99 (Kindle) 44 pages
What's your life worth on the open market?
In this sexy, gritty future-noir, debt collectors take your life energy and give it to someone more "worthy"... all while paying the price with black marks on their souls.
Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat and jackboots—he's just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja's sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane... until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn't what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone--a dark pit he's not sure he'll be able to climb out of again.
I love tortured, damaged heroes who aren't portrayed as alpha a-holes, and Lirium is definitely one of these, as well as being a kind of futuristic Grim Reaper showing signs of an unfortunate conscience. The writing is excellent, as is the pace and world-building. I had no trouble with the first person perspective.
What I didn't like:
I'm not a fan of serialized/episodic stories even if they don't finish on a cliffhanger. This reads more like a prologue/first chapter, while I want a complete story, be it short, novella or novel. On that basis I'm unlikely to pick up the rest of the episodes.
This kind of reminds me of Looper with a side order of Dark City/Bladerunner in feel. If you like a blend of urban fantasy with cyberpunk, tortured anti-heroes, and enjoy serials, this is for you. If this ever comes out as a complete novel, I'll pick it up. In the meantime I'm off to see what else this author has that isn't serialized.