Keira Michelle Telford is another new author for me. One of my friends has gotten me started reading more sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian-type novels, and this definitely falls into the latter category. As with the book I previously reviewed, I had no expectations as to the author’s style or history.
The title refers to the main character, Carmen Wild, a magistrate in 24th century London. Magistrates are similar to Judge Dredd in the sense that they patrol the streets to enforce arrest warrants and terminate any civilians who attempt to evade justice.
To paraphrase the Goodreads blurb, London in the 24th century is full of poverty, crime, and horrible living conditions. The laws themselves are “strict, illiberal, and unsympathetic.” Anyone too poor to feed and clothe themselves is sent to the workhouse; anyone who can’t pay rent is sent to debtors’ prison. And anyone who’s gay is hanged. Not a very happy place to live.
While this novel was exceptionally long (around 400 pages), once it got going, it got GOING. Carmen is a very well developed character who does unsavory things as part of her job. She’s not the best partner for her girlfriend, but then her girlfriend isn’t perfect either. Carmen is complex and interesting, and her back story, well developed in the novel, is very interesting and explains much about her actions. The secondary characters are full formed and not cardboard cutouts. Everyone has a distinct personality and Miss Emmeline was my favorite character. As the madam of a whorehouse, she is the “hooker with a heart” (though she runs the house but doesn’t offer herself to her customers) and, for me, served as the soft part of a very hard world.
I very much enjoyed the way the author structured her story. In the beginning, she intersperses the present with visits to the past. She makes it clear when the events take place, so it wasn’t difficult to follow and actually added to the story for me.
Keira Michelle Telford is a prolific author with another series and at least one stand-alone novel. The best part of this book for me was that it is just the first part in the Prisonworld Trilogy, which means I can revisit the characters. Which I’m in the process of doing now with The Procuress.
To download a sample or purchase The Magistrate by clicking here.