The Clinic by Cate Culpepper (Tristaine: Book One)

6/10 A refreshing change from the usual fantasy fare.

Amazon women in a jail might be an unusual subject for a fantasy novel yet this one packs a decent bit of bite. Bad language, violence, deceit and fighting for your life are the ingredients in this story.

The Amazons who are being kept prisoner are from a fierce tribe and they want their freedom so badly they would risk their lives for it. Tristaine was their until the enemy decided to curb their power in the way that they know best, with war, defeat and incarceration.

Only Jesstin can help free them, and for that she needs another person, one of the enemy to aid her in those plans. When Jesstin is brought to the Clinic as a research subject for a scientist, Caster to study deeply, she is met with some opposition from Brenna who views their treatment of her as barbaric. Brenna has plenty to deal with on her rounds; Caster's cruelty and General Corber's lecherous interest in her which is anything but professional.

Brenna is well aware of Caster's cruelty and ambition, and uses that same amount of ambition against Brenna, ordering her to torture her prisoner and experiment on them without any moral thought. Though Caster is found to have a normal life outside the workplace of the Clinic's complex, even they may not have any idea of the cruelty she gives out to others as she has no qualms about torturing or killing, and while Brenna is trying to get Jesstin to cooperate with her in the testing, she finds it hard with Caster's cruel intervention at times.

Brenna throughout the story discovers more about the Clinic she has been assigned to and starts to feel that it doesn’t fit her original morals from when she first attended medical school many years ago. The times have past, when her knowledge would be put to good use in caring for someone - she feels she is only being used to torture the poor prisoner Jesstin. Another thing that bothers Brenna is whenever she thinks she is about to gain the prisoner's trust, Caster tears it apart. Due to the problems Brenna has faced since she has been there and the evil she has seen and inflicted, she copes badly with it by drinking. It is something Jesstin has noticed the first time she met her - she could smell the scent of liquor on her breath, making her uneasy about being treated by her.

As Caster's cruelty is getting harsher, Brenna's need to help Jesstin grows stronger. She knows as much as anyone else that she will die there unless she does. Her fellow Amazons will mourn but they will also retaliate if she dies from her injuries. Brenna has to help her escape the compound of the Clinic, yet her main conflict is her job's  responsibilities and the fact she has worked hard to get where she is now.

Readers will find this novel, the first in a series. a refreshing change from the usual fantasy fare. There are no cute dragons or animals in general, this is the story of a fight for survival and the writer does a great job of bringing the reader into this particular world of hers.

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Cate Culpepper's Tristaine series

The Clinic

Tristaine: Book One

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