“We speak of a mother’s love, but we forget her power.”
Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden.
Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them.
Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all.
When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition and energy. But she has no inkling that she will become a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s fabled ring on her own finger—or that in this role, powerful and powerless all at once, she will try to change the course of Eden’s history.
Mother of Eden is the follow-up to Dark Eden, a novel I reviewed last year. Set several generations after the events of the first novel, I appreciated that it was a departure from some of the previous characters. I found the main characters in Mother of Eden more relatable and interesting. I found some of the major players in Dark Eden downright infuriating at times, and I didn’t have that problem with Mother of Eden. I do find Beckett’s tendency to write from one POV a little lacking, though. The voices don’t seem distinct enough, and sometimes I would have to double-check whose chapter I was reading.
One thing I did appreciate about Mother of Eden is the sexual/gender politics are more clearly defined within the distinct societies. And the idea of men wanting to make the story all about them was explored more fully. Beckett did well articulating some of the more gendered themes that fell flat in the first book, and there was a big reversal in voice. Whereas Dark Eden felt (to me) more of a male-dominated book, Mother of Eden is rightfully female. The major female characters explore women’s roles as leaders, mothers, caretakers, and daughters. And the protagonist, Starlight Brooking, is much more compelling and empathetic than John Redlantern. Perhaps I’m biased because the story was all about him, however.
I wasn’t sure if I would read the follow-up to Dark Eden, but I found myself thinking about the story so much after I finished the first book. I don’t love this series like I love others, but it’s entertaining and different. Beckett manages a rare thing, which is a sequel that improves upon and surpasses its predecessor. I can only hope that if another book is released and this becomes a trilogy or series proper, it will continue the trend.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I selected the book based on my own preference, and all opinions are my own.