★ ★ ★ ★
Apocalypse Nyx is a group of five shorter works about Nyx and her team of misfits from Hurley’s Bel Dame series that begins with God’s War. ‘The Body Project’ and ‘The Heart is Eaten Last” seem novella length (my ARC does not do word count) accounting for 57% of the book, and as such, provide the most detail about the Bel Dame universe.
It’s a complicated, fascinating place, made up of insect technology, semi-mystical body part repair and replacement, and shapeshifters. The state Nyx is from, Nasheen, is matriarchal although at least one of the neighboring states is not. The culture is heavily influenced by the war between Nasheen and the neighboring state of Chenja, which has been going on for decades and impacts every facet of Nasheen life. I suspect Hurley of using it to explore themes of loss, anger, post-traumatic stress disorder and the resulting dysfunction. Nyx is the protagonist of the series, but is painfully hard to like. The Chenjan magician, Rhys, acts as a moral and ethical compass, but would be easier to listen to if Nyx didn’t have such a talent for pulling success out of disaster.
“The Body Project”
Nyx and Rhys are on a bounty hunt when they find a headless body on the street, the head magically swinging six stories above. It turns out she recognizes him, a man who used to be with her squad when she was at the war front.
“We’re here for a parole violator, not a deserter,” Rhys said, paging through the slick green papers of his little book of bounty contracts. “Should I update Taite on the delay?” “Not yet,” she said… she wasn’t sure how deep this was going to get yet, and didn’t want to involve any more people than she had to until she understood why a good man who died a thousand miles from here lay mutilated on the streets of Bahora.”
“The Heart is Eaten Last”
It has been two years since Rhys joined the team and Nyx finds herself taking a job for a lovely woman whose family’s weapon plants are being sabotaged. The woman fears it may be a bel dame behind it. The team needs to work with a shifter and finds Khos.
“He hated her, so why did it hurt to see her get what she deserved? This was the life she’d chosen. And she would keep choosing it. She would come home every day bloody and drunk and spouting nonsense. Resigning was the only way to be free of her. Distance was the only way he could get himself to stop caring.”
The team is looking for some technology that seems to be hidden in dead bodies when they meet Abdiel, a mechanic, who is researching the location of the soul. Their search takes them to the war front.
“Crossroads at Jannah”
This job is finding some bugs used to store data that have been disposed of in an acid lake. A quick little story, it epitomizes the approach Nyx has to her jobs and her team.
Everyone gets a day off, even Nyx. Too bad her day off repaying an old favor turns out even worse than a day with her normal team. The job is finding some tech at a parrot temple. Another harsh slice of Nasheenian reality.
Nyx is hard to like, but a interesting character in a complex world. Those looking for sympathetic mains would be better off looking elsewhere. These are definitely of the dark fantasy variety. I suspect these stories would work best for those who are already familiar with the Bel Dame universe and the complexities of the team’s relationships.
In full disclosure, I had read two of these stories earlier as part of Hurley’s Patreon rewards.
Many thanks, as always, to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley.