Harm by Kayti Nika Raet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**** 4 Cranky Stars ****
Harm starts where Niko left off and given the events from the ending of Book One, Niko needs to lay low. Arriving on the outskirts of Cherai City, Niko adopts a new name ‘Harm’ - a shortening of her first name, a metaphor, and the reality of the world she inhabits.
Unlike Amaryllis City, Cherai is tougher and slither hunters aren’t as prized or revered. The gatekeepers of the city are cruel and that attitude pervades from inside the walls to outside, where survival is Darwinian.
Outside the walls, Harm builds alliances in order to survive in a world where falling on the ground will result in death by acid. And not acid that makes you want to stare at the pretty lights and party, but acid that will consume you whole.
New characters are introduced: Songhay and Roosevelt, two new favorites of this reader. Mysteries of the exploited Grey Men are explored and a deeper story ARC is revealed about the creation of the slither hunters and Niko’s connection to the same.
Raet has a vibrant writing style. Her characters have a ‘real’ aspect to them, even while grounded in a dystopian-make-believe world. There is also an ‘awkward’ quality to some scenes. For example, Niko’s shoes being eaten by acid resulting in her having to be piggy-backed a long distance. It makes me appreciate her characters more. They’re heroic AND human.
Niko/Harm and her supporting cast are a fantastic crew. I thoroughly enjoy the diverse world and also, the view from ‘below’ (the outsiders looking and working their way in).
My one bug bear in Harm is that some events are revealed and I believed there should have been more foreshadowing in the lead up to it. It would have enhanced some of the deeper mysteries that are emerging and will be important as the series continues.
In saying that, this series is highly recommended. I can’t wait to read it to its completion. I’ve romped through the first two books and will be soon onto the third.
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