This review will contain spoilers for book one in the duology, Seven Devils
THE MOST-WANTED REBELS IN THE GALAXY ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN SAVE IT
After an ambush leaves the Novantae resistance in tatters, the survivors scatter across the galaxy. Wanted by two great empires, the bounty on any rebel’s head is enough to make a captor filthy rich. And the Seven Devils? Biggest score of them all.
The Devils take refuge on Fortuna where Ariadne gets a message with unimaginable consequences: the Oracle has gone rogue. In a planned coup against the Empire’s new ruler, the AI has developed a way of mass programming citizens into mindless drones. The Oracle’s demand is simple: it wants its daughter Ariadne back at any cost.
Time for an Impossible to Infiltrate mission: high chance of death, low chance of success. The Devils will have to use their unique skills, no matter the sacrifice, even if that means teaming up with old enemies. Their plan? Get to the heart of the Empire. Destroy the Oracle. Burn it all to the ground.
Thank you to NetGalley and Gollancz for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Seven Devils, the first book in this duology by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May, was one of my top reads of 2021, and I had high expectations for its sequel. I am happy to say that those expectations were met and exceeded. I was immediately grinning at the story starting with Eris on a mission, just like in the first one. It was such a good way to reintroduce the world of Seven Devils because it is both familiar and entertaining with Eris’ wry inner monologue, but it also showed how much she has evolved as a character. At the start of Seven Devils, Eris says she is trying really hard not to kill anyone, as per her Commanders’ orders, but she still ends up sacrificing a lot of souls to the God of Death. In Seven Mercies, Eris is actually trying not to deliver killing blows, and lets herself see others as people a lot more. She is also not alone, and I loved getting reacquainted with all the Devils.
Each of the seven – Commander Kyla, ex-princess Eris, engineer Clo, sixteen year old super genius programmer Ariadne, courtesan Rhea, and soldiers Nyx and Cato – are given their time to shine, and I loved every one of them and I can’t really say I have a favourite (*cough* it’s Cato *cough*). I liked the fact that we get to see a lot more of Kyla, who was more of a background character in the first instalment, and the way she was so central to the rebellion and to keeping this group of people together. The thing that made every one of these characters so good to read is how they are all such emotionally broken people, all damaged by the Empire in one way or another, and watching them come out of that and learn to trust one another with their scars and secrets was so satisfying. Of course, it also made for some good twists as some secrets were bigger than others, and I definitely gasped out loud a few times.
‘That was what humans did: explore, conquer, squander, move on. Their behaviour was as constant as the movement of the stars.’
There was a section of Seven Mercies that didn’t quite grip me right away, which is when two of the Devils go on a separate mission to Eve, homeworld of the opposing Evoli empire. I was very excited to get to see Eve, only alluded to before now, but found that the slower pace and the emotional conflicts weren’t enough to keep me excited – I wanted to get back to the scheming and the action! But that was just a brief thing, and the Eve side quest was absolutely necessary to the plot and was payed off really well later.
I don’t quite know how Lam and May managed to create a duology brimming with action, sarcasm, conflict, creepy AI’s, and politics while also imbuing it with so much hope, beauty, diversity, and pure relationships. I know this series will be one I will go back to, and will recommend to others a lot, because it does so much in just two books, with an ending that fit so perfectly and left me both devastated and satisfied.
‘War took, and took, and took, and the only thing it gave in return was nightmares.’
Published: 20th January 2022 by Gollancz
Series: Seven Devils duology, book two
Narration style: third person, past tense, multiple POVs
Format read: eARC
Content Warnings: death, violence, genocide, child abuse, manipulation, confinement, transphobia, slavery