Idyll is a rugged planet—a new, simpler start for some 10,000 settlers who have fled Mother Earth. But a strange ‘plague’ of contagious sleep has devastated their Settlement, sparked by a mysterious mantra called the Lullaby.
After a three-year quarantine, Walt and Samuel Starboard have set out from their ranch on a mission to cure their comatose mother and find their missing father. For days they ride through a blighted landscape: deserted cabins and gravestones and the ruins of towns destroyed by fire. Just when the brothers are about to give up, they stumble upon a second pair of survivors, two beautiful and determined sisters.
Miriam and Virginia Bridge offer new hope, but they also present new problems. Stirrings of emotion and shifting priorities threaten to set the brothers against each other. Can Walt and Samuel overcome years of festering resentment, or will their rivalry tear them apart before they can reunite their broken family? And will any of them survive the revelation of what—or who—ravaged their home world?
It seems that in the cool, clear months of Autumn, cowboys, gold rushes and all things Western are hot in the literary world. We’ve got the recently released titles Vengeance Road and Walk on Earth A Stranger, which seems to be pretty typical Westerns (aside from supernatural powers). They seem appealing, but you know what would be WAY cooler? Space cowboys, or rather, cattlemen. You read that right, Idyll by James Derry is a SPACE WESTERN. James was kind enough to send me a copy of his book to read and review for my blog (thanks James!).
Let me be clearer, there are no space suited gunslingers on their trusty steeds galloping among the stars destroying fleets of invaders and there is no gold rush on the asteroid belt at the outer reaches of the galaxy. This is about two brothers who run a ranch on a planet far, far away from Earth that is in a period of crisis and they are journeying to find help (or any other living humans). The fact that humans have made their way to another planet makes it seem like they should be really high tech ranchers, but the society was planned to use minimal technology since that was a major part of Mother Earth humans’ downfall. I like the concept, and the reasoning behind this decision was explained pretty clearly, so it wasn’t just ‘because I said so’.
I like the four main characters and felt that Walt, Samuel, Virginia, and Miriam were written very well. Each had a distinct personality and their actions and decisions were realistically human. The calm and calculating characters could have seriously fiery emotional outbursts when they were pushed over the edge by certain events and the seemingly rash and less responsible characters showed that they could make sound decisions in stressful times. The characters were all very well written and they were by no means always harmonious travel companions, but James gave them a certain chemistry that is sometimes lacking in other novels.
Idyll was also full of amazing revelations and plot twists! At one point I thought I had missed something because the setting and direction of the story changed so drastically. I love being surprised, and boy oh boy I never saw the big plot twist coming!! I still can’t get over it, to be honest. The conclusion to the story was great and left a small possibility for another novel, but in my opinion it’s a great standalone. You can read more about James, his other works, and his opinions of various topics on his blog.