Crystal of Tears, the first novel in A. James’ proposed Seersinger Chronicles, is a dystopian civil war story set in North America in the not-too-distant future.
Following the Rift, a societal collapse caused by diminishing resources, North America lands in a civil conflict, the idealistic western Coalition states fighting desperately against the “tyrannical government in Washington, D.C.” and the East. Additionally, an ancient battle between deities is rekindled after inquisitive scientist Dr. Ottavio Aurilla meddles with an ancient crystal, releasing Dagon, a malevolent mythological monster imprisoned within.
Against this backdrop of ancient mythology and modern socio-political uncertainty, Ash Phoenix, a young man living in the New Mexican desert, begins a journey of self-discovery with former New Mexico Gov. Kara Svalynn, a mysterious fugitive who partners with Ash to further her secret agenda while he discovers startling truths about his origins and his purpose in this new world.
Meanwhile, Ela Argenta, a Coalition supporter and New Mexico lieutenant governor, also experiences a spiritual awakening. Betrayed by her colleagues and subjected to a series of dehumanizing traumas, Ela discovers a latent power within her that, if harnessed, could prove a powerful weapon in the war for humanity’s future.
Incorporating elements of fantasy, ancient mythology and science fiction, James’ dystopia works hard to ensure that its differing genre components gel. The work pays off. Crystal of Tears brims with ideas and narrative complexity, doing an exemplary job of balancing modern concerns such as environmentalism with the story arcs of its principal characters. Benefitting from strong characterisation, Ash and Ela are entertaining company. The novel also features an ensemble of supporting characters whose stories are equally interesting, such as Ottavio, the unwilling host to Dagon’s destructive force whose character arc incorporates themes of psychological trauma and recovery.
While the novel’s genre-blending might prove off-putting to some readers, genre fans receptive to alternative approaches to dystopian fiction will find plenty to like in James’ refreshingly unconventional novel.
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