Altered is a romantic, slow-burning fantasy with world-building that’s impossible to resist; I loved main concept of this book, the “Made Ones” & it’s a theme that I’ve never encountered before. Vicki Stiefel has created both a hot & steamy romance, & an addictive & immersive fantasy, whose world I cannot wait to return to.
Also, how beautiful is that cover?
I was sent this book to review as part of a blog tour organised by Xpresso Tours.
⚠️ This book contains violence, detailed scenes of a sexual nature,
a protagonist with PTSD & Huntington’s disease, some ableist slurs,
references to an abusive marriage & some sexism ⚠️
The Eleutians are dying out, one female at a time. To save their species, the powerful Alchemic Clan conscripts women from parallel worlds, altering them into the perfect breeding stock.
Kitlyn, a retired circus equestrian broken in both body and spirit, awakens on a strange world in her own much-younger body. She has been transformed into a Made One, but the gift of youth and the promise of a new life come at a terrible price.
Rafe, the Wolf Clan’s warrior champion, vows to find the cause of the species’ decline. He’s certain the Alchemics’ bid to save the Eleutians is but a thin veneer masking a dark purpose. That vow becomes hard to keep with the threat of an inter-clan conflict and the arrival of the proud Made One named Kitlyn.
To save herself and those like her, Kit must carve a dangerous path in this new reality and make a choice that may cost her her freedom, her life, and the life of the Eleutian warrior she’s come to love.
Before I go into my review there is something that I have to mention as a disabled reviewer; it is hinted at in the synopsis but I want to clearly highlight that a big part of this book revolves around our protagonist going from being disabled & scarred on earth (after a circus performance goes wrong), to being made “perfect” (i.e. healthy, young & attractive) in the new world – which includes reversing her disability. I normally hate books that “cure” disabled characters but I don’t feel the author has done this with ableist intentions, & it isn’t something that upset me because of the context of the plot. The protagonist also kicks up a fuss at being made “perfect”, which shows the author’s intentions.
I should also mention that the PTSD symptoms of the main character are present throughout the whole book but we do get to see Kit slowly start to manage her mental illness – as someone who is dealing with trauma-related panic attacks I liked having this representation, but again, I know some other readers may not want to read this book because of that.
Now that the content warnings are out of the way, I must praise Vicki Stiefel for her originality & the fantastic details of her world – as I’ve said 100 times, world-building makes or breaks a book for me, & I am in love with the world that Vicki has created. I’m obviously a wolf fan (& a circus fan, so this book was basically made for me) so I know that Kit’s presence in the WolfClan helped me to fall in love with the world, however, even if Kit had lived in a separate Clan I know I still would’ve loved Eleutia. This book is a combination of science, politics, fantasy & full on romance, & despite not being a romance fan, everything else about this book enthralled me so I was happy to deal with the soppy scenes.
Protagonist Kit starts the book as an old & disabled woman who has lived a life-time, but within a few chapters Kit is back in her 27-year-old body, without her scars or disabilities & has been given a second chance at life, happiness and love. Kit is understandably wary of her new surroundings & I loved that Vicki has thought about how a real person would react to arriving in this strange new world. We get to see Kit learn how to navigate the new world, get used to new slang & phrases, customs & social rules, & to animals talking to her through her mind – & Vicki has put so much thought into all of this. But, best of all – Vicki has thought about periods!! I don’t need to go into detail but the simple fact that Vicki has thought about Kit’s menstrual cycle was so refreshing & it was nice to read the work of an author who doesn’t forget about bodily functions, just to make the book easier to write.
The plot of Altered is a slow-burner, as I have mentioned, & as the book is over 400 pages long that means a lot of detail, a lot of emotions, & a proper opportunity to fall in love with the characters & world. A lot of this book revolves around Kit learning about the new world she’s living in (with the rest mainly focusing on romance & hormones) which means that as a reader, we get to learn a lot about it too – which I loved. I would love this series to eventually include spin-offs, including a history book about Eleutia, because I am hooked on this world & the Clans. A lot happens in this book, & for me that makes it a great read, & I’m massively excited about book two – I need to know more!!!
I loved this book, how real it feels, how raw the passion was, how detailed the world was, blah blah blah I could go on forever. But can somebody pu-lease read this book so I have someone to discuss it with!!
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Vicki’s fantasy romantic suspense series, The Afterworld Chronicles, launched with Chest of Bone, followed by Chest of Stone and Chest of Time. She is currently pounding the keys on her series’ fourth novel, Chest of Fire. Her mystery/thrillers include Body Parts, The Dead Stone, The Bone Man, and The Grief Shop, a Daphne du Maurier prize winner. All feature homicide counselor Tally Whyte. All are available as ebooks.
She co-wrote (with Lisa Souza) and photographed the 10 Secrets of the Laid Back Knitters. With her late husband, William G. Tapply, she ran The Writers Studio workshops in creative fiction. Vicki taught fiction writing and modern media writing at Clark University. She loves both a well-crafted sentence and unlocking the doors of a student’s imagination.
She grew up in professional theatre and planned to become an actress, with a bent for song and dance. She didn’t. Instead, she’s been a professional photographer, a high-school teacher, a hamburger slinger, a scuba-shop manager, and an editor. She’s Blake’s and Ben’s mom, her favorite role of all.
Her passions include scuba diving and fly fishing and knitting; photography and movies; vinho verde and bourbon (not together!); Maine lobster and chocolate (also not together!); and musical comedy scores, which she sing in the shower, unfortunately not an Equity venue; and a fascination with people in all walks of life.
You can find her website here.
New Kindle Fire 7 Tablet (7″ display, 16 GB) – Black
$25 Amazon GC
2 Tibetan silver mistral charms
Eleutian earrings, sterling silver, 24k gold filled
3 ALTERED ebooks, any format (Kindle, iBooks, etc.)
1 signed ALTERED paperback
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