J Victoria Michael
The Pale - Book Review
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
by Clare Rhoden
Book 1. Chronicles of The Pale
Finding engagement with this story took me a while but I was well rewarded for the effort. The Pale is an intelligent and well-crafted tale of hope and endurance. The post-apocalyptic backstory provides the reader with a potent warning; our civilisation will pay a price for ignoring the needs of our planet.
Clare Rhoden presents several main characters, while holding together the story of four disparate groups: human, part-human, tribal and animal – all of them struggling to survive. The Pale is a walled city protected by advanced technology, cutthroat wire, and a ruthless recycling system. The atmosphere is claustrophobic. Hector, the human boy child they accept into their community, might be their one true hope though hope is not an emotion permitted in the Pale. In fact, any inhabitant guilty of having feelings or empathy will likely be recycled.
The story begins with a quake followed by aftershocks that wrack the land, echoing the Great Conflagration of the past and heralding a dire and uncertain future for all. In the Pale, the Regent and the manipulative Senior Forecaster react by tightening their massive defence systems. Those who live Outside re-consider their attitudes to each other and begin to forge new communities.
Despite the Pale’s savage restrictions, Hector grows into a young humachine who manages to maintain his humanity, a fact not unnoticed by the Senior Forecaster. When Hector is cruelly abandoned to the perils of Outside, he finds a home with the Outsiders: humans and animals.
In The Pale, Rhoden has created an exciting and thought-provoking beginning to her trilogy. Book 2, Broad Plain Darkening, promises to be a page-turning journey.