Title: Hidden Faults
Author: Ann Somerville
Publisher: Ann Somerville via Smashwords
Characters: Jodimai hon Belwin, Kirvo hon Tanwen
POV: 1st person
Setting: Alternate Universe
Cover Rating: 3
In a world where paranormals are persecuted, Jodi works to find a ‘cure’ to give ‘paras’ normal lives again. While he struggles to keep his sexuality concealed, the sudden revelation of another secret hidden even from himself ends his comfortable life and lands him in prison. Now his fate rests with the paranormals, and in particular, one dark-eyed man with powers Jodi can barely comprehend.
Prejudice is alive and well and flourishing in Pindone: religion, sexuality, a person’s genetic make-up—all are excuses for discrimination in the eyes of a society and a government that have allowed fear and slander and unchecked authority to alter the facts of the past and to subjugate its citizens. Men and women are branded, drugged, serving as lab rats in the name of scientific research, treated as less than human in an effort to isolate and suppress the genes that separate the paranormals from the normals.
Jodimai hon Belwin is a rarity in his profession; Jodi is a doctor, a government employed scientist with a conscience. Among the normals attempting to “cure” the genetic defect that produces telepaths, empaths, pyrokinetics, and telekinetics, Jodi himself is an oddity. Compassion and tolerance are rare, if not entirely non-existent in those who treat the paranormals. Falling under the scrutiny of suspicious eyes is something Jodi doesn’t need, because Jodi harbors his own secrets—among them, one he doesn’t even realize he’s keeping—that could turn his life into an unimaginable hell.
Being a deev, a homosexual in a society that theoretically doesn’t discriminate against its citizens because of sexuality but fails in actual practice, keeps Jodi on the defensive, constantly hiding his desires in public, while finding his pleasures in any way he possibly can. A series of encounters with a stranger, lapses in memory that leave Jodi confused and concerned for his physical well-being, all come to a catastrophic turning point when a dark and hidden truth is publicly revealed.
Betrayed and abandoned by everyone he’d ever trusted or loved, Jodi is imprisoned and forced to endure under the most abhorrent circumstances imaginable. Bartered by his cellmate for sexual services rendered to the highest bidder, as well as for the drugs he’s given to combat his affliction; starved, degraded, mistreated, violated, and abused, Jodi endures on little more than his own resolve and strength. Escape or rescue are concepts in which he’s relinquished any hope; though when help does come from an unexpected source, Jodi is given little choice but to trade one form of imprisonment for another; true freedom remains as elusive as ever.
Unable to trust in himself, unable to trust in those who’ve come to deliver him from the clutches of the enemy, unable to forget the horrors of prison or to reconcile his past and his present, Jodi and Kirvo hon Tanwen find themselves at an impasse—an impossible reconciliation between feelings and fears that gives little hope to the love they both so desperately need and deserve. Theirs is a conflict which might be impossible to overcome, the scars running too deep, serving as a constant reminder of where they’ve been and where they can never go. How can Jodi trust his feelings for Kir, when they might not be his own feelings at all?
Fans of Ann Somerville won’t be at all surprised to find yet another gem amongst her already impressive body of work. Hidden Faults is the perfect blend of fantasy and realism, set in a world very much like our own, where intolerance breeds injustice; yet it is also very much “other”, supplying the reader’s imagination with plenty to feast upon.
The relationship between Jodi and Kir is a fragile one—hindered by the past, threatened by the present, jeopardized by an obscure future—the deception, the doubt, the undeniable bond between the two men was agonizing at times, but the payoff in the end made the journey well worth it.
Second chances, the triumph of the human spirit, overcoming adversity and injustice, and finding a means to a future of love and contentment make this one a highly recommended read.
Reviewed By: Lisa