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Santa Olivia

ISBN: 044619817X

By: Jacqueline Carey
Review by: Kim Wells


Jacqueline Carey, well-known and loved for her Kushiel's Legacy series, successfully ventures into more modern, less gentile territory with her new title, Santa Olivia. The novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in what "used to be" Texas, a small town turned military buffer-zone between Mexico & the U.S., who are supposedly at war (the truths about that are hinted, but never completely dealt with, in this first text).

A genetically enhanced superman type "Wolf-Man" appears, fathers Loup, the heroine of the story and has to disappear. Loup inherits many of her father's strengths and doesn't completely understand those strengths. When her half-brother attempts to win a boxing match that has been promised to win the victor a trip out of the community, Loup is drawn into a world of frustration, revenge and justice which ultimately teaches her more about her legacy and propels her into a new life, new world. She fights the military occupiers for "justice" and attempts to free her friends and family from the abuses of the closed system in which she lives. In doing so, she uncovers a few small truths about the world in which they live, as well as gives some small hope to those with whom she lives.

This is possibly the first in a series, and Carey hopes to turn it into a more detailed story. I would love to see more of them; I was drawn into and thoroughly enjoyed reading about Loup and her world. The hint at future stories that happens in the final pages sounds interesting and I would be quick to buy a new title. I also thought her descriptions of the boxing world to be well-wrought, and thought she handled the touches of how humans behave in a closed-system very deftly and with her usual insight. I highly recommend this story for anyone who likes "Urban Fantasy" or science-fiction with a touch of contemporary reality and a little light romance. The series is a departure from the romance of the Kushiel books, but shows Carey is not a one-note writer, by any means.

See the interview with Carey in the Summer 2003 issue for more on the start of the Kushiel series.

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