Keir by Pippa Jay

Outcast. Cursed. Dying. Is Keir beyond redemption?

For Keirlan de Corizi--the legendary 'Blue Demon' of Adalucien--death seems the only escape from a world where his discolored skin marks him as an oddity and condemns him to life as a pariah. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise: Tarquin Secker, a young woman who can travel the stars with a wave of her hand.

But Quin has secrets of her own. She's spent eternity searching through space and time with a strange band of companions at her back. Defying her friends' counsel, Quin risks her apparent immortality to save Keir. She offers him sanctuary and a new life on her home world, Lyagnius.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes his dormant alien powers and earns instant exile from Quin's home world, will she risk everything to stand by him again?

Do you like fantasy? What about sci-fi? And perhaps romance? Author Pippa Jay obviously likes all three and as such has attempted to blend these three genre's together in her debut novel Keir. The result? A romantic adventure through space and time that feels a bit like a Doctor Who story for adults.

The story begins by introducing us to Keirlan de Corizi (Keir for short), a man who had the misfortune of being born with blue skin, a man who is imprisoned and tortured at the instigation of his own family. Enter our mighty heroine Tarquin Secker (Quin for short), the 'witch' with bright red hair who tears up the prison and rescues Keir to her space station located far away in space and time. What ensues is the rebuilding of a broken man, returning to Keir's home planet to face the demons of his past, and travelling to new planets to exorcise the demons buried deep within his psyche. This, like most stories of redemption, is a heartwarming story where you really feel for the main character and just want to be happy and end up with the girl of his dreams. This is a well written story, slightly contrived in places (the whole desert island sequence for example), tightly plotted and well paced, and despite the use of a rudimentry time travel mechanic there are very few if any plot holes. There are also lot of little threads and subplots that add depth to this world, but these are not handled as well as the main storyline, are not really resolved, and as victims of the time travel mechanic they are plagued with plot holes. This is acceptable for a debut novel, but definitely something Jay will need to address in future novels.

Speaking of the time travel mechanic, this is probably the one area of weakness that permeates throughout the book. For the most part it works, and as you piece together more information about how it works it starts to become more solid. But for me, it was too powerful, too versatile, and lead to a bunch of different questions like "Why dont they just travel back in time a few days earlier?" Also there was no real exploration of mechanics like the butterfly effect or the grandfather paradox that have plagued time travel books throughout the last 60 years, even though our characters travel back in time and interact with Keir's ancestors. I wanted to just go with it, but I have read a lot of time travel books and my analytical brain just kept picking and picking at it.

Where this book really shines is the characters, and the way they interact with each other. Keir and Quin are a great couple of protagonists, their personalities, strengths and weaknesses compliment each other, and relationship that slowly builds between them feels like a natural progression. They are both broken characters though, and it can be frustrating to read during their rebuilding because they are so timid, fallible, and quick to judge based on past experiences. The way that Jay does a lot of head hopping here increases the frustration, telling you what one character wants, then showing how the other character completely misinterprets this want as something else. It makes for great drama, great suspense, and is fun to read.

Keir is a very capable debut from Jay, and for the most part was an enjoyable read from start to finish. There are a few things that Jay will need to work on for future novels, but the basics are solid and her characterisation is better than most. Sci-fi fans may have a few issues reading this book but fantasy and romance fans should really enjoy this.

7/10 Fantasy and romance fans should really enjoy Keir.

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