Cut Glass: A Novella by Susanne Valenti

In my earlier review of Chained, the first book in Susanne Valenti’s dystopian series Cage of Lies, I wrote “I found I had questions about the functioning of the society outside of the city from which Maya and her companions flee which were not answered in the narrative.”  Cut Glass, which is a novella set in the same dystopian world and which includes some of the characters introduced in Chained, helps to answer some of those questions. This addition of a novella giving background to both characters and their setting reminds me of the way Marion Zimmer Bradley created the complex world of Darkover through both novels and short stories.

Cut Glass is a stand-alone novella; it is not necessary to have read Chained (or its sequel Linked) to appreciate the story, which involves the emotional and sexual coming-of-age of the protagonist, Crystal.  No spoilers, but the attitudes and reactions of teens living challenging lives rang true for me, as someone who worked with troubled teens for many years.  Valenti has created a believable dystopian world and is more fully realizing that world in each installment of the Cage of Lies series and related works. ☼☼☼

This is an independent review of an ARC.  The opinions stated here are mine alone.

A Review of Chained by Susanne Valenti

Chained, by Susanne Valenti

A fast-paced, well-plotted young-adult dystopian novel by first-time author Susanne Valenti, Chained is concerned with the familiar theme of teenage protagonists challenging the structures and tenets of their society in a post-apocalyptic world. While this theme is the basis for most dystopian novels, the characters of and the story told in Chained are original enough to keep readers interested. Before I write anything else, let me say this: Chained is worthy of a read if young adult dystopian fiction is a genre of choice. Fans of the Divergent series, The Hunger Games series, and similar works should enjoy this book and look forward to the sequel.

Now, for a few niggles.

The society against which Maya, the heroine, and her companions rebel is imagined and described in enough detail to give the reader a sense of how this world works. The society into which she escapes is less well realized, perhaps because it reflects, more or less, current Western society, and therefore is supposed to be already familiar to the reader. I found I had questions about the functioning of the society outside of the city from which Maya and her companions flee which were not answered in the narrative.

Maya’s thoughts and reactions to situations were not always made clear, and at times she appeared to observe what was happening to her and narrate rather than respond. In one or two cases – especially after a scene in which she is brutally assaulted – her reactions did not to me ring true. Overall, though, this does not impede the action of the narrative, and should not be a barrier to enjoying the the story.

A few production issues were mildly irritating, and perhaps the manuscript could have benefited from one final copy-edit. The author’s use of ‘alright’ rather than ‘all right’; the contraction of ‘going to’ to ‘gunna’ rather than the more familiar ‘gonna’; inconsistent capitalization of City in “Harbour City”, and an unconventional use of quotation marks in multi-paragraph dialogue were all distractions for me, pulling my focus away from the writing – which overall is effective – when they occurred.

But these are niggles only. Let me repeat that Chained, overall, is a well-told story, and I will be reading the sequel when it comes out. My overall rating for Chained? 3 ½ stars out of 5.

Chained by Susanne Valenti is available as an e-book from Amazon.

This is an independent review of a purchased book. The review was not sought by the author nor written for any benefit. The opinions stated here are mine alone.

My Favourite Review

It’s one thing to have your book reviewed by family or friends.  It’s another to have a complete stranger review it.  Over on, this review of Empire’s Daughter appeared:

“A story both hard and beautiful, Empire’s Daughter handles with depth and eloquence the issues of its time. The Empire is so like a past that our culture could hold, and creates a reflection on our decisions and traditions and their impact. For all its insight it still drives a narrative of growth and action.”

It’s written by someone I don’t know at all, who had no reason to be polite or to hold back on what he/she really thought. For that reason, it’s (so far) my favourite review.

Interested in reviewing Empire’s Daughter?  You can download the e-book it for free for a limited time from for no cost, using coupon code: ML72W.

A Map of the Empire


Here’s a map of the lands known as ‘The Empire’.  It’s perhaps 800 miles north to south, two hundred and fifty miles across. Two hundred thousand square miles in area – twice the size of the UK, about the same as France, half the size of Ontario, just a bit bigger than the Dakotas.

Note that the villages of Delle, Serra and Tirvan are shown in relation to the Road, but actually are on the coast below the Road.

Encouraging a fellow writer

I think we all need to do this for each other as much as possible in the indie writing community!  This is a link to Dave Whaley’s site for Z:UK, his newly published book.

Britain and zombies…what more could I ask?  I’ll be reading it soon!