The Song of Wrath
The Song of Wrath
In a way, she understood Max. One had to do what they had to do. It was a law of survival. Some would argue that only the fit could survive. Then what happened to the weak? What were the powerless supposed to do? Forfeit their lives?
When she first came into this present life, she observed the world objectively and saw hatred and bitterness. Power struggles and ignorance. She was never haunted by it then, but Iris was different now. She observed the world with a bleeding heart that wrought tears of frustration from her eyes. It hurt so much, she couldn’t stand it. It made her sick. It shriveled her soul. She didn’t want to care anymore. She just didn’t want to have to care. …
Hiva never had to care. Never had to cry. Hiva judged indiscriminately. Hiva was justice.
Hiva was power.
And when you have power, you don’t ask permission for what you want. You take.
Iris smashed the back of her head against Slessor’s skull, and while he was writhing, gripped his throat and forced him onto the deck. He was not a god. He was a human. A fly.
The Song of Wrath is the sequel to The Bones of Ruin, an urban fantasy set in Victorian London. Iris has learned that she is the Hiva, an immortal being created to destroy the world whenever it gets too wicked. Desperate to escape her fate and find a way to become a normal human, she follows clues from her memory of a previous life in an Atlantean-type civilization. The Naacal she lived with had advanced technology, and Iris is certain they had invented a way to neutralize her power. While Iris and a few loyal friends seek out the remnants of Naacal civilization, Adam Temple is still obsessed with finding Iris and using her to destroy the world, the squabbling Committee still wants to use her power to allow them to rule, and a second Hiva wants to destroy Iris in revenge for what she did to him in a past life.
The competing forces converge in the Naacal’s caverns where Iris discovers the Naacal solution is a cage that can trap her forever. The other Hiva has brought a sword made of Iris’s bone which is the only weapon that can truly kill her. She chooses not to enter the cage, and she is betrayed and stabbed through her crystal heart with her bone.
The One who created Hiva chooses to resurrect Iris once again, and this time she is full of fury and ready to destroy the world. Meanwhile, Adam Temple betrays and kills his rivals on the Committee and has a plan to plunge the world into war. So the state is set for the third book of the trilogy.
The Song of Wrath explores the nature of power and justice in a world full of cruelty and hatred. Iris has an interesting dilemma: her life of suffering has given her empathy for the powerless who are abused and exploited, and her destructive ability could save them from their oppressors. Should she use her power to protect the innocent? Or should she give up her power in order to save the whole world from destruction? Multiple side characters, each with their own complicated histories, including various strange powers of their own, allow multiple perspectives to be considered.
The Naacal Atlantean aesthetic adds to the steampunk/mad scientist vibe of the first book, and there are fun gadgets and architecture along with the terrible experiments in dungeons and X-Men-type powers of the various characters.
The literal deus-ex-machina ending somewhat undercuts the whole plot, and in a story about Iris using her agency to escape her destiny, an ending in which her agency is taken from her is frustrating, but presumably the third book will rectify these inconsistencies.
The writing is wordy and makes the pacing drag. Having three different points of view sometimes increases the tension as Iris’s quest to save herself is paralleled with the other Hive’s quest for the weapon that will kill her, but it makes for a wandering plot. There are a lot of characters with a lot of different agendas: this gives the story depth but also adds confusion sometimes.
Note that the violence is brutal and graphic.
Recommended for older readers who enjoyed the first book.
Kim Aippersbach is a writer, editor and mother of three in Vancouver, British Columbia.