Generations ago, the realms fell to fire. The Burn–the only means of destroying a lush land so manipulated by man that while its crops sated hunger, they poisoned the flesh. Now the wilderness slowly reseeds, hard lessons learned through starvation, displacement, and poverty.
What remains for nature’s tinkerers? Pathway, the coveted distillation that enables the grafting of skin across species. The Sahls of the Sea Barrows meld spiral horns to their skulls, reptilian scale to their chests. They embed the razor teeth of sea-beasts in the bones of their forearms and replace the flesh on their backs with the pelts of wolves. Women of wealth adorn their bodies with serpent skin as elegant as black lace, tufted tails, and plumed feathers, their own skin cast off, no longer desirable. Then they bear children…creatures like Aeris, a man who longs to be human. Too late, he discovers the truth–there is only one source of human skin. Trapped in the flesh of a murdered man, Aeris joins a dogged crew of transfigured renegades. Their goal–to destroy Pathway, no matter the cost.
I took on reading The Melding of Aeris because I found the concept of his world/reality particularly creative and unique. Humans who are no longer human longing to be human again. Aeris’ story tugged at my heart when I began to realize that, for all its craft, the story was one many of us can relate to: learning to accept and love ourselves in order to turn whatever challenges we may personally or internally face into a positive contribution. Change comes at a cost, sometimes a high cost, but the concept of merging animal and human features all for hollow beautification spoke clearly, to me at least, about how easy it is to be shallow and superficial; the price of which can be devastating.
Although the world in which Aeris resides is brutal and often downright violent, I soon discovered that he felt as much abhorrence for his reality as I might have done and his struggle to do what he knows is right helped to keep me connected to him and his tale, in spite of the bizarreness of his world and those in it. At times, I did find myself raising an astonished brow, particularly during the few intimate scenes, but the moral integrity of the tale prevailed. Change is a sacrifice worth fighting for, even when it requires rebelling against everything that is commonly held as acceptable.
A Fantastic flight of fantasy with a poignant Purpose. 4-Stars!