‘Dead And Buryd’ is Chele Cooke’s first published novel and has been getting some good reviews around the Internet so when I was asked to review the book I jumped at the chance. The basic premise as explained in the first prologue titled ‘Days That Came Before’ explains through a bedtime story that the planet Os-Veruh was threatened by a large meteor. Large spaceships were built and dispatched so some portion of the population could be saved and so ensuring the continuation of the species. However, the meteor missed Os-Veruh but did strike and destroy its planetary neighbour closer to the sun. This resulted in a large disturbance of Os-Veruh’s orbit making it more elliptical with very extreme winters and summers.
With such severe seasonal extremes, the population was forced to become nomadic to seek relief from the winter cold and the summer heat. As a consequence, they reverted back to an earlier level of civilisation loosing much of their technology and splitting into various tribes. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Adveni arrive. In a wonderful touch of irony it seems they are the descendants from one of the spaceships that left Os-Veruh over 500 years earlier. They are larger, stronger and much more technically advanced than the native Veniche with a strict military ethos. They have come home and are planning to stay. In a particularly one-sided conflict, they quickly subjugate the natives, although a few continue to mount a guerrilla war ten years after the initial landings.
The title ‘Dead And Buryd’ is a play on words as it refers to the local Adveni prison for Veniche criminals called Lyndbury. Inmates are said to be dead and buryd, as there is no hope of escape or release. The main story starts with the novel’s main character, Georgianna Lennox, making her way to Lyndbury to treat injured prisoners. As a trained Veniche Medic, she is regularly called by the Adveni to come and attend the prisoners injuries, usually caused by fighting amongst the prisoners. This seems a bit odd as she walks straight from the rebel’s underground base to the prison. It also takes four lines of text on my Kindle to tell me she’s tied her hair up with a ribbon. Hmmmmm.
‘Dead And Buryd’ is really a book about Georgianna’s relationships with her family, friends and lover. For the majority of the book, nothing very much happens other than she has conversations with people. Except for the third person viewpoint, it reads more like a diary of a Medic who’s a fairly insignificant person in the wider struggle between the Adveni and the Veniche rebels. Except for the trips to the prison, Georgianna has a fairly mundane life with a job in a bar and helping out as a Medic. Things only start to get slightly interesting when she agrees to smuggle in a small package to a prisoner. She then gets embroiled in a plot to free a prisoner who has been bought as a slave.
In the context of the planetary struggle apparently going on around her, these are such insignificant events you wonder where the story is going. The whole focus is on Georgianna’s feelings and her sense of loyalty. There are lots of sighs, hugs, lingering glances and sad smiles. Every gesture and expression is noted, which adds a lot of text without progressing the story very much. I’m assuming the Veniche are human but whenever Georgianna’s lover appears, he’s licking his lips which make me wonder if there might be an element of reptile in there, too.
There is one critical moment in the book where Georgianna overhears two prisoners talking about an event. As I read it (and I read it several times), they are discussing it in the past tense as though it has already happened. Georgianna reacts as though they are talking in the future tense. This is never really resolved which leaves me wondering. There are a few things which don’t make sense as though they haven’t been fully thought through. At one point, Georgianna’s chastised for arriving late at the bar but there’s no mention anywhere of timekeeping devices. I still don’t understand how she knows when to turn up as there’s no mention of days of the week neither.
As I said earlier, this novel centres on Georgianna’s feelings and relationships which in itself are not a bad thing but the events she gets caught up in seem so inconsequential when compared to the wider struggle. It makes you wonder why Georgianna is the central character and not somebody closer to the rebel leaders. There have been a few faint hints and possible suggestions of bigger more important things to come than one native Veniche Medics troubles with the local Adveni. As ‘Dead And Buryd’ ends, the door is firmly jammed open for the second volume to make an entrance. Maybe things become clearer in the second volume or maybe not.
(pub: Chele Cooke. 410 Pages eBook 2nd Edition. ASIN: B00FLVRWYU. Price: £ 9.99 (UK) Kindle version)
check out website: http://chelecooke.com/novels-2/dead-and-buryd/