SLAVES TO GRAVITY
By Wesley Southard and Somer Canon
Published by Silver Shamrock Publishing
What if you discovered you could fly? That would be pretty useful, right? You could go anywhere for a lot cheaper and without so much frustration. You could see the world. Now, what if there was a cost? Something watches you, but you don’t know what or why. And you mustn’t forget: don’t break the clouds.
Slaves to Gravity is my first time reading either of these authors. I think the basic premise of this story showed a lot of potential, and for 75% of this novella I was in love with everything. Before we tackle that final quarter, let’s go over the good.
For most of this story, there’s a lingering mystery to magic sort of deal taking place, which is a refreshing ingredient in the horror genre. The drama that is present isn’t written deeply, but it’s present and welcomed. You feel for Charlie, our leading lady. She’s been in an accident and lost the use of her legs. Luckily for her, she quickly discovers her ability to fly. This allows her to break away from the depression now sinking its teeth into her life, one in which she gets stared at and pitied. But in the sky, anything seems possible. She can escape.
Better yet, she immediately makes friends on her first night out/above town. These people can also fly. This makes it so she’s not so alone anymore. They lack depth – only Sean really gets any background beyond a glance – but they exist. The camaraderie that develops seems quick, but at the same time expected; if you were living in Charlie’s shoes, wouldn’t you also jump at the discovery of people who can do the same impossible things as you? People that don’t stare and pity you? More development would have been nice, but this form still worked well enough.
As the story continues, there’s a sense of dread in the background, ever lurking. You know something is coming, but what? Why are these flyers warned not to break the clouds? Why does Charlie get these intense, bad feelings? And why are members of the group suddenly not showing up to the gatherings?
I was really in love with Slaves to Gravity until the final forty pages, give or take. Up until that point, I was thinking, this needs to be a full novel. I was hoping for a sequel without yet knowing the twist at play.
Now, let’s look at the negatives.
The reveals come without grace – not only are they quick, but some are explained in a good-guy-faces-bad-guy-that-spills-all-the-deets sort of scene (ugh). And yet, there are still parts of the mystery left following that important sequence. Good! However, as things come to the finale, there are still several questions that never receive proper explanation (one of which I found glaring). I can’t reveal them without initiating spoilers, unfortunately, so let’s just say these questions left me bothered when all was said and done.
I was also not a fan of how the genre bended greatly into fantasy territory in the end. Again, I can’t really say anything without spoiling the twists, but they weren’t my cup of tea. I’m okay with science-fiction entering horror (I generally love it, in fact), but this was a little too much too quickly and too easily. I found myself actually bored during the finale, which featured a fair amount of action.
Lastly, the enemy dialogue was stilted. They went from talking normal, to acting theatrical once showing their true forms. Why? It all sounded funny, I thought. And I didn’t like how those conversations pulled me out of the scenes in question.
Despite that final 25% screwing with my enjoyment of this novella, I really enjoyed Slaves to Gravity. I would have loved it to have gone in a different direction in the end (it could have been so much better if it had), but there was still enough good here to warrant my recommendation. I just can’t help but wonder if one author wrote the first half and the other wrong the second. That could explain why it seemed like two different stories were suddenly smashed together. I guess I was just expecting something else entirely by that last quarter.
Slaves to Gravity is a title in which I’m very interested to hear what other readers in my circle think. I may also want to read it again in a year or so to see if I feel any different about its conclusion.
Review by Aiden Merchant
www.aidenmerchant.com (Also on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon)
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