King of Dublin by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

ARC fullcoverTitle: King of Dublin

Author: Heidi Belleau & Lisa Henry

Genre: Dystopian / Post Apocalyptic (Forced/Captivity)

Length: Extended Novel (375 pages)

ISBN: 9781626490970

Publisher: Riptide Publishing (February 24th 2014)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5 Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb:Twenty years after a deadly pandemic ravaged the world, Darragh Fergus Anluan and the people of his village have carved out a hard but simple life in the Irish countryside. But with winter comes sickness, and Darragh must travel to Dublin in search of medicine. What he finds there is a ruined city ruled by a madman, where scavenging is punishable by death . . . or conscription.

Ciaran Daly came to Ireland with aid and optimism, but instead was enslaved by the so-called King of Dublin. After months of abuse from the king and his men, he has no reason to believe this newcomer will be any different. Except Ciaran finds himself increasingly drawn to Darragh, whose brutish looks mask how sweet and gentle he really is.

The tenderness Darragh feels for the king’s treasured pet is treason, but it’s hardly the only betrayal brewing in this rotten kingdom. Rebellions and rival gangs threaten the king’s power, but not nearly as much as Darragh and Ciaran—whose only hope for freedom is the fall of the king.

* This title contains the following sensitive themes: dubious consent, explicit violence, and non-consent.

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Review: In this exquisitely written dystopian story we follow the path different parts of human’s society take when the world ends. In some way this story answers the question “what happens after all hell breaks loose?” and these authors give us their opinion from three different scenes.

One of the protagonists comes from a secluded village in the Irish country. The sickness that has wiped out the world reached Darragh’s village and took all the adults leaving the young children to fetch for themselves. So immediately, we have an innocent soul living in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Darragh is strong and hardened from the country life, but he is a genuinely good guy, a nice and kind soul. He is something of a miracle that pops out of nowhere in this book and literally brightens the story with his inner light.

Quite the opposite of him is Ciaran, the son of a politician raised among the powerful and educated with the expectation to follow on his father’s steps. When chaos erupted Ciaran was dragged to safety up in the North and he has been pampered his entire life. Something he detests with a vengeance. His ideology brings him in the heart of Dublin with aid for the poor and starving people, but what he gets there disillusions him from those noble notions. While the characteristically naïve guy in this story appeared to be Darragh, I think Ciaran was more and suffered it badly. From the prince to be he was stripped of all dignity and humanity, soul-drained and abused to the extreme by the monster of this story.

And that brings me to the King of Dublin, Boru. What a brilliantly written character. A mad man, a complete psycho, an insecure sick and perverse man who rose from the shitpile when chaos erupted, gained power over the unfortunate by sheer violence and suffered the headiness that comes with it. Insanity and constant fear of the shadows, seeing conspiracies everywhere, killing friends and foes in his madness. Add to that a great dose of sadism and you have a true nightmare coming alive. I adored this character for he was written in a golden pen. I really, really dislike books that focus on the “heroes” while their villains are utterly ridiculous. This book made up for so many badly written “bad guys” out there.

This story takes your breath away… literally. I picked it up and I was entranced by its beauty. Yes, of course it was dark and brutal. Yes, it made me cringe and it made me scared shitless at some points, it caused me agony from fear for the characters, it enraged and made me furious and most of the time I wanted to rip Boru’s heart and stomp on it. And good God it made me live this story with an intensity that had me panting and tearing up and taking deep breaths to cool myself. Never once did I feel the need to put it down though. From its first line, there wasn’t even a moment where I felt the storytelling drag. It kept me constantly on my toes, captive of every written word.

The best part of all for me though was the way the authors wrote the love blooming in this freaking desperation and bloodthirsty world. I loved the fact that while the attraction was there instantly, the mistrust and fear did not allow it to bloom naturally but rather in a twisted way, between lies and manipulation where pure feeling are so easy to wither and die before they are even born. This love was so beautiful because it really had to overcome many, many obstacles, not merely a psychopathic tyrant and the constant death threat hanging above the characters’ neck, it had to overcome the very difference in the characters’ personality and bitter new selves. Darragh and Ciaran had to survive this Hell, but they also had to cope and survive what they’d become ever since they stepped foot in Dublin. In the end, though Darragh is the knight in shining armor, each one of them had to save themselves on their own in order to truly get on the other side and start living the future they so often dreamed about.

I could keep writing and talking about this book forever it seems, but I’m simply ending this here. Those of you who follow my reviews know how hard it is for a book to claim my 5 hearts, but this book, this story, the writing and the presentation, everything about King of Dublin earned each and every heart I gave it. It was a brilliant title in the Post-Apocalyptic genre and if this is one of you preferred genres, I strongly recommend this book to you. Not to be missed!