Dark Justice (The Last Ward #1) by Shelley Russell Nolan
Read: 1st – 6th October 2019
Publication Date: 10th September 2019
Quote from Dark Justice
“Justice dashed away tears, refusing to show weakness. Instead she scanned the room she and Jonah had been holed up in for the last two weeks. Bare of furniture, the only things in it were their rolled-up sleeping bags and the backpack containing what she had managed to salvage when they’d been forced to flee their last place of refuge. She snatched up the backpack, rummaging through it for something she could use to break the window.
To hell with duty. It was time to dispense some of her own justice”
My Overall Rating: 4/5
Plot: 4/5 – Flow: 4/5 – Character Development: 5/5 – World Building: 5/5
Dark Justice is the first novel (approx 330 pages) in a new science fiction series – The Last Ward – by award winning author Shelley Russell Nolan. This storyline could be classed as multi genre because it has a romance aspect as well as being set in a future dystopian society.
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I write about how the story was told rather than the plot itself, which means that my reviews don’t contain spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:
Driven to kill. Compelled to protect.
Five hundred years ago, the cure for the common cold went horribly wrong, turning those infected into freaks consumed with hate and rage. Forced underground, the freaks return above ground at night, driven to attack the surface dwellers – their bite infecting thousands more.
To fight the freaks and protect mankind from extinction, scientists created genetically enhanced soldiers. Stronger, faster, with enhanced senses, wardens are trained from birth to protect the weaker humans.
The Captain of the Ward, Jackson Kyle, is infected while saving the life of another warden. Due to his genetic enhancements, he is like no other freak. His faculties intact, he escapes and encounters a mysterious young woman. The second he touches her, he is caught in a bond, compelled to protect her at all costs. For she will decide the fate of humankind.
So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I was given an unedited digital version of this book for free from the publisher (Odyssey Books) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review; these are my words, I’m giving you my honest opinion here.
Shelley Russell Nolan is a new-to-me author and I must admit to being a bit apprehensive accepting this eBook, as science fiction and dystopian themes aren’t my usual genre but I really enjoyed this story.
I liked Ms Nolan’s writing style; the prose was intelligent, beautifully crafted but easy to read. I felt completely transported into every scene.
The futuristic world she has created for this series, although set in the future, was far from fantastical; it felt believable (if not a little terrifying) and was well described without slowing the plot or being too heavy in descriptions.
Ms Nolan’s main protagonists and supporting cast are all complex, multifaceted people with personalities that made them feel real. I didn’t connect or like every character in this book – heck, some characters frustrated the hell out of me while others scared me to my core – but every character produced an emotional response from me.
I thought the plot in this book was well constructed and thought out, there are lots of surprises and action which keeps the intensity consistent and while the pace is fast, it never feels overwhelming. There are story threads running in the forefront as well as in the background which develop and are revealed throughout this book which kept me guessing.
I love that I experienced lots of emotions while reading Dark Justice; my blood boiled with rage and frustration at the injustice, prejudice and bigotry, I felt a lump in my throat and tears trickled down my face at the emotionally poignant scenes and my heart thumped with adrenaline in fear and shock at the horror but, rest assured, dear reader, it’s not all darkness and gloom, this story has some light comedic relief that had me smiling and some wonderfully romantic gestures that warmed my old romantic heart.
I really enjoyed reading this book as my high rating testifies.
As this is a first in series, Dark Justice does leave us with a bit of cliff-hanger ending. Now as my regular followers will know I HATE big cliff-hangers, however, this isn’t what I call a perilous life-or-death cliff-hanger, e.g. “our protagonist is running through the wood to escape her captors when suddenly she falls off a cliff…” or “…comes face to face with her enemy, who’s pointing a gun at her…” because those sort of endings leave the story up in the air and are very frustrating. In this case, all the immediate dangers have been satisfactorily dealt with as has the relationship aspect between Justice and Jackson (for now), however, you are aware that more need to happen in this futuristic world for suitable justice to be truly satisfied; there will be more obstacles to overcome and more battles to fight on the horizon for Jackson, Justice the people of Brimfield and their Wardens.
I really enjoyed Dark Justice and couldn’t stop reading. It’s got everything that I look for in a good story; action, a bit of social commentary and a gripping story-line sprinkled with romance and humour.
Due to the graphic violence and themes of abuse and torture, I’d recommend Dark Justice to adults who aren’t offended by scenes of this nature who enjoy books with gritty plot-lines about survival, fighting the basic animal instincts that are at the core of every one of us and the soul saving gift of hope and unconditional love.
So, has my review of DARK JUSTICE (THE LAST WARD #1) encouraged you to find out more? I do hope so. Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author.
(I am part of Amazon , The Book Depository, Foyles Book Shop and Waterstones affiliate programmes, which means when you use those links to buy a copy of this book, I will get a (very) small % from the sale.)
Shelley Russell Nolan is an avid reader who began writing her own stories at sixteen. Her first completed manuscript featured brain eating aliens and a butt kicking teenage heroine. Since then she has spent her time creating fantasy worlds where death is only the beginning and even freaks can fall in love.
The first two books in her debut adult urban fantasy series, Lost Reaper and Winged Reaper, were published by Atlas Productions in 2016, with Silver Reaper published in 2017 to complete the series. 2018 saw the release of her Arcane Awakenings Novella Series, and Odyssey Books have published the first book in a new post-apocalyptic series, Dark Justice, in 2019.
Born in New Zealand, moving to Australia with her family when she was seven, Shelley currently lives in Central Queensland, Australia, with her husband and two young children. They share their home with two wrecking ball kitties, a deformed budgerigar and one pipsqueak of a dog that is fairly normal as dogs go.
Shelley loves to hear from her readers so feel free to contact her.
Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read my review. I hope that my review has tempted you to add this book to your ever growing TBR pile! 😉