Light is back and he’s his usual charming, funny, wry, ballsy self. But he’s in a dark place. Kidnapped and held prisoner by a corrupt organisation that sells Blood Lifer sex slaves to billionaires, Light finds himself acquired by the slave owner’s younger daughter, Grayse. Grayse trains him to do her bidding, which is not what you might think, but as their relationship develops and a mutual trust grows between them, Light determines to open her eyes to the truth about her own family and to save his own Blood Life family.
This is a powerful, unflinching narrative that is not for the fainthearted. There are clear parallels with the slave trade (made all the more poignant by the references to the Negro Spiritual Go Down, Moses), modern day sex trafficking and the potential corruption of big business. The story explores in terrifying detail how a person’s identity can be taken from them by the barbaric use of torture and is an indictment of the way some societies have persecuted those perceived to be different from themselves.
Having said that, it’s not all darkness and horror. Light’s witty, loving, self-deprecating personality shines through and we get moving glimpses into his Victorian childhood. The picture of Light in a pair of pink Marigolds (a popular brand of kitchen gloves in the UK) doing the household chores made me smile. And he can cook an Italian meal for me any day.
The writing is sharp and resonant, the emotional pacing is spot on, and the action scenes are minutely choreographed and vividly described. Blood Shackles is a terrific read and ultimately it is a story about the triumph of hope and love over evil.
It seemed appropriate to end this review with a rendition of Go Down, Moses from Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, performed here by Genesis Sixteen conducted by Eamonn Dougan. Enjoy.
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