LEDGE by Stacey McEwan (BOOK REVIEW)
The cold is cruel, but it is not alive. It can consume you, extort you, and convince you to do unspeakable things. It can turn your enemies into body heat, and your friends into the coats you steal from their backs. The cold does not live, but there can be no ridding it.
The cold is not alive.
Stay the frost.
Watch the Chasm.
Whoo boy! Stacey McEwan has just taken me on the most exhilarating journey!
Ledge is her debut novel, and it’s a spicy enemies-to-lovers romance set in a frigid inhospitable environment literally lived on the edge. Of a chasm.
Dawson lives on the Ledge, where her community scrape out a meagre existence, and members of said community are chosen at random each season and taken away by the Glacians. Humanoid creatures that fly to the Ledge to sink their talons into their victims and carry them away to an unknown fate. They are never seen again.
Dawsyn is the last member of her family. She is a hard, cold creature very much shaped by her environment and experiences. It would be easy to pity her as she contemplates her loneliness, but there is a strength of will immediately clear in her that garners far too much respect. I fell for her straight away.
Dawsyn has surmised that a heart can crack only so much before it shatters.
When Dawsyn is taken by a Glacian, a whole new world is opened up to her beyond the Ledge, and she discovers that there are indeed worse fates out there than slipping into the Chasm.
She makes good her escape through an unlikely alliance with the half-Glacian half-human Ryon. As we get to know Dawsyn more, we discover that beneath her frozen exterior, she is molten. I loved this juxtaposition of her character. She is constantly underestimated, and I really appreciated the ways in which McEwan showed us her protagonist living up to her inherent confidence. She has a fiery temper, she acts rashly, but she has such incredible self-awareness that I found myself in awe of.
“Not a desirable trait, is it? For a woman to be arrogant? On a man, it charms, but in women, it corners us. A self-assured woman is either a harlot or embittered.”
He eyes her mouth once more. “No prizes in guessing which one you are.”
It was refreshing to read a woman who had such a healthy understanding and acceptance of her own sexuality. Ok, maybe healthy isn’t the best word, as she finds herself lusting after the very person whose species have been preying upon hers for generations. But she didn’t shy away from her feelings, or question them, or berate herself in any kind of annoying meaningless way in the face of the inevitable plotline (it’s cold, and they’re sheltering in a tiny cave. They have to cuddle together. Like penguins. Science, ok?). Instead, she recognises what it is about Ryon she finds attractive, but holds herself back – not because of any notion that having sexual urges is a bad thing, but because of the very sensible reason that a relationship between them both would not make sense.
But of course, their story is a great deal more complicated than that. As is the story of Ledge in general. There are plenty of secrets waiting to be uncovered in this world. I want to talk more about what Dawsyn discovers once she’s off the Ledge, but I always try to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as I can. Suffice to say, there’s so much more to this story than the romance. There’s a great deal of action and fighting, if that floats your boat as much as it does mine. There’s a strong undercurrent of rebelling against dictators and dishonest rulers. There’s a wonderful found-family set up which came at just the right time and meant we could watch Dawsyn unfurl in the warmth she’d been lacking for so long. And the snark! There is a great deal of sass and snark, and I loved how McEwan used it as the bridge Dawsyn and Ryon ultimately build their connection upon.
As cold as the world within this book is, it’s a story full of heat. The fiery passion Dawsyn has to right the wrongs done to her; the deep warming glow of her new friendships; the sizzle and increasing burn of Dawsyn and Ryon’s love for each other.
And in every second that he knows he should stop, leave her be, he also knows he cannot possibly let her go.
Because she is his.
And he is hers.
All in all, this was an exciting adventure against the backdrop of clever world-building and all my favourite tropes. I’m so glad this is the first of a trilogy, as I can’t wait to return to this world, not least because I need to know what happens next!!
Ledge is out today from Angry Robot! You can grab your copy HERE!