It’s always tricky to create new worlds and realities. I’ve seen lots of cases where authors fail, but many more where they succeed. “Exiled” (Book One in the Immortal Essence Series) by RaShelle Workman definitely sits in the success pile. Once I found some time to read, I couldn’t put it down.
Complex novels with great prose and multiple layers are my favorite to read, and Workman’s novel is definitely complex. From language, to religion and technology, and straight on to biology, she’s crafted a culture that is different yet similar to what you would find on Earth. It gives the reader a way to connect with the alien culture, but also creates intrigue as you discover the differences of the heroine, Venus’ people.
Some of the cultural aspects I loved are: The children completely silver until they gain immortality; their connection with their gods and the history of their planet; the difference in technology; the clothing style; and the teaching of Earth studies. I found a great deal of humor in the “I learned that in Earth studies” comments from Venus, as well as some of the revised history Workman crafted. I think the only thing that threw me off in the start was the use of alien words without explanation. Those words are explained, but not until much later. As a reader, my preference is to have that early in order to absorb the culture. However, when they are explained toward the end of the book, I love the interaction between Venus and Michael in that scene–so I’m a little torn between my initial thought and my reaction toward that scene.
My favorite complexity of the novel is actually in the plot twists and character threads. There are so many forces acting against Venus, and Workman does not waste characters for filler. Each character, right down to Michael’s horrible mother and father, plays an intricate roll in the history that brought the characters to their current situation and in the progression of the story. As Workman reveals those threads, I actually felt excited as I tried to guess where she was taking the story.
Did I guess correctly? I could say, but I’m not going to give away the ending. I will say that Workman had me rooting for Venus and Michael by the end of the novel, and I’ll keep rooting for them when I pick up the next book.