A Sterkarm Kiss
by Susan Price (Author)
This is the sequel to The Sterkarm Handshake (winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize and shortlisted for the Carnegie medal). It can be read on its own, but some nuances of character that are evident to readers familiar with the first book are lost to a newcomer to the series. The futuristic research company FUP, having developed the technology to access parallel universes and different times, travels centuries back in time to universes parallel to ours in order to exploit untapped natural resources. The inhabitants of 16th Side, a preindustrial society, consider their visitors to be magical, powerful elves straight out of folktales, and are so entranced by gifts of aspirin and gold that they see no harm in the newcomers. Alison has been to 16th Side before and witnessed the terrible exploitation of and war with a people she had grown to love. When FUP restarts the technology to go 16th Side, it is up to Alison to prevent history repeating itself. Price offers a cynical and unforgiving view of humanity in a work that is bleak, sombre and complicated, but nonetheless this is a gripping story, evocative and well written. Price uses a graphic style to convey the horror of battle, injuries and death, and this, coupled with her use of strong language and sexual references, make this science fiction story suitable for older teenagers.