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‘The Threat Below (Brathius History Book 1):’ Book Review

In a post-apocalyptic future, the remnants of humanity have been driven to a place they call Mountaintop by a menace so devastating they simply refer to it as “The Threat Below.”  Their rigid class structure of the elite intellectual Cognates and the worker class of the Veritas has produced a fragile society with dwindling resources.  But, like all human societies, politics and power replace good sense, and resentment from the lower class challenges the status quo. Especially, when they discover that their water source is being contaminated by those they thought were simply beasts.

The main thrust of the story is told through the eyes of seventeen year old, Icelyn Brathius, a Cognate and the future leader of this small community. But, Icelyn has a bit of the adventurer in her and is easily coerced into breaking the rules by her best friend (and secret crush) Adorane, a Veritas. It is an odd match as Cognates are atheists and consider Veritas to be their intellectual inferior who still believe in God; however, Adorane’s innate intelligence and striking good looks draw Icelyn to him.  When the leaders of Mountaintop discover their water is being poisoned, it causes political strife which results in a group of Veritas men, including Adorane, being sent below what is known as the Cloudline to fix the water problem. (POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD)  Icelyn follows, thinking she can save Adorane, but becomes the perceived savior of those humanity fears the most—The Threat Below.

Written in both the first and third person, this would normally put my teeth on edge, but it works well in this case. The story is a richly drawn world with the humans on Mountaintop considered to be living in Shangri La by those below.  It reminds me a little of the Star Trek episode “The Cloud Minders,” where those who lived on the surface of the planet served those who lived in the clouds and eventually revolted.  Mountaintop itself is a microcosm of that dynamic while the larger world mirrors it. Little do those who live below know that most of the humans live a culturally barren existence.   

This is a very enjoyable and strong first novel with a nice twist to the usual Hunger Games and Insurgent knockoffs.  My main nitpick would be with the character of Icelyn. She comes across as whiny, privileged, and uncompromising in her beliefs until it suits her needs. Then, she is willing to toss it away in order to maintain the privileged position she lost on Mountaintop; however, since this is the first book in the series, I suspect the writer is setting us up for a slow character arc, and Icelyn will gradually learn that being a god comes with consequences she may not have anticipated.

Since my time is very limited, I usually read before I go to bed, and this was the first book in a while where I looked forward to getting to it when the house got quiet. I very much want to learn what happens in this beautiful, yet tortured, world that Mr. Latshaw has created. Kudos to him for doing such a fine job.  The Threat Below is currently available through Amazon.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Fanbase Press Contributor



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