She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.
Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. A story about the search for self amidst centuries-old intrigues and Europe’s underground scene…and one woman’s mission to survive.
I’m twenty-one years old and my name doesn’t matter because it’s about to be erased forever. I’m choosing to forget the ones I love, and myself, in the process.
They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. But they don’t tell you that every detail comes screaming back to life. That you taste each bite of every meal you savored, feel the shower of every rain you walked in . . . smell the hair against your cheek before that last, parting kiss. That you will fight to hold on to every memory like a drowning person gasping for poisoned air.
Then everything you knew is gone. And you are still alive.
Emily, it’s me. You.
Don’t ask about the last two years. If everything went as planned, you’ve forgotten them along with several other details of your life. Don’t try to remember – they tell me it’s impossible – and don’t go digging.
Start over. Get a job. Fall in love. Live a simple, quiet life. But leave the past where it is. Keep your face off the Web. Your life depends on it. Others’ lives depend on it.
By the way, Emily isn’t your birth name. You died in an accident. You paid extra for that.
Oh boy, how doodie! This book had me totally hooked – although I’ll warn you now, it’s a first-parter. But what a story! It really was the best of all worlds: A fast-paced thriller with historical roots, speculative overtones, and emotional subtext that is gradually peeled back, layer by layer, until BAM! the final page made my eyes widen as the full picture came squarely into view. Seriously, I can’t get the next book soon enough!
The story opens in a tiny cabin in the north woods of Maine, where Emily Porter has been convalescing after undergoing a procedure to erase the last two years from her memory, along with all other names, faces, and identifiers from her twenty-one years of life. Her only links to the past are a piece of paper with a string of numbers, and a letter from her pre-procedure self advising that she start over: Get a job. Fall in love. Live a simple life. And keep her face off the Web. Her own life, and the lives of others, depends on it. But her new start is short-lived. Before long, she’s fleeing for her life, caught between two men who each claim to be preventing the other from killing her.
While on the run, Emily must try to comprehend a truth she no longer recognizes: She is Audra Ellison, and she is a Progeny; a direct descendant of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (1560-1614) – the most prolific female serial killer of all time (and an actual historical person you can Google – if you dare!) Nearly 400 years ago the families of her victims banded together to form the Scion of the Dispossessed – a group dedicated to wiping out all descendants of the ‘Blood Countess’, as she became known.
Progeny are born with a tremendous capability to project thought, particularly in their final moments of life, and to every known Progeny, the Scion assigns a Hunter; someone dedicated not only to the murder of their target, but also to harvesting whatever knowledge or memories the Progeny possesses that will aid the Scion in their cause. The question is, what – or who – was Audra seeking to protect when she erased her memory?
Forced to seek refuge in the very world she hoped to escape, Audra has little choice but to rediscover whatever sent her running in the first place. I’m itching to say more, but every step in the journey is another revelation or a reversal of what you previously thought to be true, and I don’t want to give any spoilers, even if it is only by inference.
The capstone on this novel was the strong, crisp writing that seemed to know exactly what needed to be said, and what could be left unsaid. On the whole, I’m not a fan of present tense in novels, but this was one of those occasions where it really worked. The necessary exposition was skilfully handled and kept the story moving forward, the mood was captured and conveyed perfectly. It was captivating. And that ending. What a kicker!
Bring on the next book!
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 24 May 2016
Publisher: Howard Books
Author’s website: http://toscalee.com/