I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Eight hundred years ago, the Jadans angered the Crier. In punishment, the Crier took their Cold away, condemning them to a life of enslavement in a world bathed in heat.
Or so the tale goes.
During the day, as the Sun blazes over his head, Micah leads the life of any Jadan slave, running errands through the city of Paphos at the mercy of the petty Nobles and ruthless taskmasters.
But after the evening bells have tolled and all other Jadans sleep, Micah escapes into the night in search of scraps and broken objects, which once back inside his barracks he tinkers into treasures.
However, when a mysterious masked Jadan publicly threatens Noble authority, a wave of rebellion ripples through the city.
With Paphos plunged into turmoil, Micah\’s secret is at risk of being exposed. And another, which has been waiting hundreds of years to be found, is also on the verge of discovery…
The secret of Cold.
I was intrigued by the premise of this book, and I am very glad to say I was not disappointed. Coldmaker delivers an original fantasy with social justice undertones. We’re in Paphos, where Sun makes the heat unbearable and Cold falls from the sky, but only for a select category of people. Jadans are enslaved by the Nobles as punishment for their actions many centuries before, which, according to the sacred books, are the whole reason why the world has turned into an immense desert and whole species of animals have vanished entirely.
The world building here was amazing. I could almost feel the heat while reading! The societal structure is explained very clearly, but without ever feeling lecture-y, which is often an issue I have with fantasy books. Jadans are subjected to all sort of abuses at the hands of Nobles and taskmasters, but meekly accept because “it is the Crier’s will”. When a mysterious Jadan dares rebel, however, the whole system receives a massive shock, initiating a chain reaction that might end with freedom… or massacre. The idea behind this society is absolutely brilliant, and raises so many interesting points on freedom, equality, power dynamics, labour… It’s incredibly hard to explore any of these without risking some major spoilers, so I’ll stop here!
Word of warning: the author is evil, and had me tearing up more than once. Learn from my mistakes: do not, I repeat DO NOT like the characters. No one is safe!!! Also, on a rather more serious note, be prepared if you are a highly sensitive person, as some of the ill-treatment received by the Jadans is described in quite some detail. It’s not graphic at any point and it was necessary within the story and the world-building, but may disturb some people.
Overall, a really solid start to a new, original fantasy series. There is never a boring moment, and the cast of characters is varied and absolutely fabulous. Our narrator and main character, Micah, is funny, caring, brilliant and overall adorable, and I cannot wait to if and how he will manage to free his people from slavery restore Cold to Paphos!