Review: A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

Nate and Catherine take one wrong move that turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run.

Cover Design: Heather Maddalozzo


A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.4

I hate the cover of A Touch of Death. It doesn’t tell me anything about the story or make me want to buy the book.

I am having trouble deciding if I like A Touch of Death or not. Rebecca Crunden writes a detailed story from Catherine’s point of view. It starts with Nate and Catherine on the run from whatever happened in Nitoib. As most readers know, I am not known for reading the syllabus before reading a book and for this one I definitely should have.

I had no clue who any of the characters were or are to each other. Crunden depends on the reader to look at the syllabus first. I don’t know about you, but I am a total cover ho’ so I have a tendency now to buy a book by the cover. I only look at the back of the book when I am in a bookstore. (laugh) So I was completely lost as to why Nate and Catherine could get naked in front of each other like it is no big deal. (Still kind of weird to be getting naked in front of your brother’s girl or even looking at her naked, but that is just me.)

So needless to say I spent a good deal of Part One scratching my head until Crunden starts to connect the dots for us. 

There is a lot of action, but we don’t see it except for in the very beginning when Nate is arrested. Nate and Catherine are put in many dangerous situations that have no action on the page to activate the danger. Everything “bad” kind of happens off-screen and we later hear about it so there is no real connection to the action. This is not to say that characters don’t die, or get kidnapped, or even get tortured, we are just not really a part of it.

I felt the whole time I was reading the story that I just wasn’t getting the whole picture. Crunden gives excellent details about the past, but I never really got the feeling that I knew Catherine. She talks about getting discontent with the Kingdom, but up until that point there is no clue that she feels that way. Catherine hated Nate for his feelings and actions against the Kingdom and Thom helping Nate. So when did the discontent start? It doesn’t show in the dialogue up until this point and we are hearing the story from Catherine’s point of view.

Then there is the slow-burn romance that Crunden builds between Nate and Catherine. This doesn’t make sense for Nate’s character. Nate tells Catherine he is in love with her, while at the same time saying that his brother is his soul and his loyalty is to him. Nate is convinced Thom is alive, so why say things which could end up making Catherine be untrue to Thom. It doesn’t mesh with Nate’s character.

I know I sound kind of negative about the story, but it is a good story. Crunden has created an incredible world. From the mountains, to the forests, ocean, small towns, and every nook and cranny in between are beautifully described. The Kingdom of Cutta’s history is fully cultivated. Do not be fooled by the cover as the story is rich in color. Crunden has created a diverse dystopian world for “The Outlands Pentalogy” series to take place in. A Touch Of Death kicks off this series with everything you need to know about this new world.

I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Books in “The Outlands Pentalogy”.

Further Details:
Publisher: 9781543210217, 23 February 2017
Cover Design: Heather Maddalozzo; Cover Illustration: John McKeogh
Editor: Elizabeth Tanner
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy #1; Settings: Nitoib, Anais
Pages: 306


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