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Review: Holtondome – Ryan Southwick

Holtondome - Ryan South wick - Timeless Keeper Saga

Genre: Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalytptic

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

In a future Earth ravaged by storms, a farmer named Seg uncovers a dangerous web of intrigue, prophecies, and ancient artifacts hidden within Holtondome that may change everything.

When Seg’s truck breaks down just as a menacing storm approaches, he is unexpectedly rescued by a mysterious woman named Fi, who returns him to the safety of his dome, then declares that he will be sharing her room.

Information and literacy bans prevent Seg from learning more about the enchanting outsider, but when another storm triggers a premonition about his brother being in mortal danger, he and Fi become inextricably tangled in a cascade of events that blur the lines between reality and destiny. Seg must choose between the stable but suffocating existence he and his dome have lived for centuries, or face an ugly truth that may tip the balance in a world teetering on the brink of collapse.

Step into the captivating world of “Holtondome,” a thought-provoking science fiction dystopian thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The Review

I’d seen the cover for this book come across my desk a few months ago, and it intrigued me. I love the idea of domed cities, so I mentally flagged it as one I wanted to read, at some point.

Then I met the author, Ryan Southwick, at BayCon, and was impressed by his enthusiasm. I moved it up on my TBR list, and have just finished reading it.

The set-up: Earth has undergone an ecological collapse because of climate change. In order to save what’s left and to make a new start, a Pact is created between the Cities, where Technology still flourishes, the Traders who are the go-betweens, and the Provider Domes, where food is grown, protected from the ravages of acid rain and flash storms. The domes are deliberately kept at a low level of technology, with what they need provided by the cities via the traders, and are rarely if ever given news about the world outside their domes.

In fact, providing such forbidden information is punishable by death by the “Feds.” And before you go there, no, this has nothing to do with the invocation of the Feds in our current political environment.

Seg Holton is one of the descendants of the founders of Holtondome. He has a strange glassy eye he was born with which has set him apart (and not in a good way) from others in the dome for most of his life. He’s now thirty, has few prospects in his limited world, romantic or otherwise, and the one woman who was interested in him slipped away from him years before.

While he’s hauling in a load of grain back to the main dome, he’s caught in the open by a flash storm, and only escapes near-certain death by lightning when a high-tech car stops and offers him a ride. The driver would just as happily left him to die, but the enigmatic passenger, an exotic green-haired woman named Fi, insists that they stop to pick him up.

Her arrival at Holtondome upends the carefully cultivated relationships inside the dome and with the Feds, with disastrous consequences. But the mysterious Fi has a plan.

The first half of the story is fairly light on revelations, and is mainly driven by speculation about the mysterious visitor. Fi’s signature response to most questions is “Mm,” whch is frustrating at first, but Southwick slowly fees us tidbits about her and her purpose at Holtondome, which keeps our interest piqued.

The story really starts moving about halfway through, with the arrival of the Feds and the traders, as more secrets are revealed and more of the outline of the world outside of Holtondome are revealed. And a few of Fi’s secrets come out too, bring up a ton of intriguing questions.

This is an exciting, well-written, character driven sci-fi tale that lays its cards out on the table with an ever-increasing tempo that draws you through the story. Seg plays the everyman, and Fi his mysterious Merlin, come to pluck him from his ting village and thrust him into the world.

As we approach the end, the revelations come faster and faster, until the reader thinks that everything is resolved. And then Southwick throws in one last unexpected curveball that changes everything.

I loved Holtondome, more so the more I read, and now I can’t wait to see what’s next. Bring on the cities!

The Reviewer

Ryan Southwick decided to dabble at writing late in life, and quickly became obsessed with the craft. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

His technical skills as a software developer, healthcare experience, and lifelong fascination for science fiction became the ingredients for his first series, The Z-Tech Chronicles, which combines these elements into a fantastic contemporary tale of super-science, fantasy, and adventure, based in his Bay Area stomping grounds.

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