For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.
Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.
Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.
After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.
But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .
Valoria (not her real name) and her sister Lena are kidnapped and taken to a mysterious island where the rich and powerful rule supreme. If you are not one of the elite you are either a slave or a recruit/warrior. Valoria doesn’t know where her sister is so she makes a deal with her captor Dominus and becomes his most prized warrior possession.
I was intrigued when I read the premise and couldn’t resist requesting a review copy, even though I hoped it wouldn’t be too gruesome. The themes are dark and twisted but not too graphic, thank God; I would not have had the disposition to read it otherwise. The elite are disgustingly depraved and most of their actions were totally deplorable. Valoria was a great MC. She had to make some very tough choices, but her sole motivation was her desire to find and rescue her little sister. She tried hard to hold onto her sanity, her conscience, and her humanity. Not an easy task in a world without morality.
At first I struggled to visualize the world and I was a little confused as to what was going on – was it all a fantasy or an actual real place? As the story progressed, it was made clear that it was an actual place, hidden from society at large, where the rich could indulge their sick fantasies. The scary thing is I don’t think this is beyond the realm of plausibility. (Shivering profusely.)
The author keeps us guessing over Alexior and his real agenda – was he a friend or a foe? Initially, I thought Camille had a dual agenda as she told Valoria that Dominus had bought her sister when that wasn’t the case. But it all made sense in the end. Character development is strong and there are some very decent secondary characters.
The first half of the book dragged a little in parts and I found myself skimming but the second half more than made up for that, and I really enjoyed the last few chapters in particular. The very end felt rushed and I would have liked more of a glimpse into the future – I can’t imagine the trauma and stress of having lived through an experience like that and I wonder how the characters adjusted.
The writing was very good and overall this was an enjoyable read.
About the Author:
S. E. Green (aka Shannon Greenland) is the award winning author of the teen thriller, Killer Instinct, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; the teen spy series, The Specialists, an ALA Popular Paperback and a National Reader’s Choice recipient; and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award. Her books have been translated into several languages and are currently on numerous state reading lists. Vanquished is her debut novel for adults.
Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked! When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog. Find her online everywhere @segreenauthor.
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