The floating city of Kesh rests above the uninhabitable planet of Vellern. For the Topsiders life is about luxury and opulence, while for those of the Undertow day to day survival takes precedence. Kesh City is a democracy by assassination, where the Angels - deadly state-sponsored killers - remove those unworthy to hold office.My Thoughts: The world Jaine Fenn has created of Angels, the wealthy Topsiders, and the scrabbling poor that live on the underside of the floating city is deeply compelling. The city is equal parts beautiful and deadly, painful and dark. The Angels kill when ordered to and the people accept them for what they are while fearing them at the same time.
When Vanna Agriet accidentally spills her drink over an Angel it could spell death, but instead it leads to a rather peculiar friendship. The downsider Geal hopes for a better life topside, only to find herself embroiled in a 'removal' by the Angel Thiera. Downside, Isha's brother Rakul brings a little black box home with him, and sets Isha on a journey that takes her to a meeting with the most powerful man in Kesh City. Larnia Mier, a talented topside musician and instructor, is injured after witnessing a removal first-hand. As her abilities diminish, new possibilities open up.
While several of the events and characters are mentioned in multiple stories, the stories themselves can easily stand alone and be read without any prior knowledge of the Hidden Empire series. The world is highly developed and captivating, the characters are lovely and tragic. As to how the events in these stories tie into the overall series, I can't say. But I did like what I read.
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Downside Girls was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.