What if the world was ruled by vampires, and humans were locked in servitude? Alexander Vale is an Archontes, a powerful vampire from the ruling class, and a high-ranking government official. Maire is an Esne, a human, and therefore a member of the lowest class. Blood lust, violence and chaos were replaced long ago with a strict and oppressive militaristic government that controls all aspects of life. Vampires rule and humans are coded, catalogued, and put to work. When beautiful Maire catches Alexander’s eye, there are only two outcomes: either she faces an early grave, or every rule must be broken for their forbidden love. Can he bend the rules that far, or is there another way? Maire is brave, but she’s only a human. Even so, fate may offer her a middle road that might change the entire world.

“Vale” by Mia Michele is a carefully formed tale involving a dystopian society made up of Archontes- the immortal ruling class, Subalterns- the dangerous immortal middle class, and Humans- the mortal servants, slaves, and untouchables. Ms. Michele’s detailed world is a dark and oppressive feat of spectacular world-building, and an interesting reflection on classism and prejudice. It does follow a romantic formula, but the slow pacing and long length lessen the love story’s impact. The writing style is strong and polished, but the long-winded scenes draw the chapters out, making this a book best suited for readers of epic sagas. Admirers of the 1990s neo-noir science fiction/fantasy era will appreciate this romantic return to the domineering half-light of an alternate earth.

Starling Gray