Kira opens with its titular main character sprinting through the streets of New Haven, the seat of a totalitarian government’s power. Hunted by the police and government agents, Kira uses her own brand of fighting skills to make it back to her town in the Wastelands, one of the few bastions of freedom in a world where those who refuse the Government’s control struggle for survival. There, she reports her discoveries to the town Elders, who lead the ragtag resistance.
Having previously read Harrison’s novel-length space opera, Shadow of the Wraith, I could tell immediately that Kira is a trophy case displaying all his strengths as a writer: heart-pounding action, detailed world-building, characters that don’t just spring from the page, they leap out and yell, “’ello there!” in your face. His descriptions, scattered through the action, subtly paint the world around the story, allowing one to easily visualize what’s going on. With the smaller canvas of a novella to work with, Harrison whittles down his writing to showcase only the best, making each sentence worthwhile and effective.
Kira, a colorful young woman with a heavy Cockney accent, is the kind of protagonist who’s easy to love. Her strength and resilience are offset by a touch of insecurity—mentions of her troubled past make her uncomfortable, and she attempts to transition into proper English in the presence of a handsome young man and fellow member of the resistance—making her a realistic and relatable character. Her irreverence and wittiness make her third person limited narration a delight to read, adding a touch of humor to this otherwise tragic tale. Also of note is her teenage friend Flip, an odd yet adorable boy whom Harrison successfully brings to life in only a few paragraphs.
Kira is a tightly written and fast-paced novella that’s easily read in one session. In a few short paragraphs, Harrison creates an immersive steampunk universe that’s easy to get lost in and leaves you craving more. The speculative future he sets up is at once bleak and scintillating—bleak in its post-apocalyptic setting, scintillating in its dynamic characters and captivating backdrop. The story is a perfectly angled snapshot of a vast, multi-faceted world, a wonderfully packaged stand-alone tale that leaves room for much, much more.
Ross, if you’re reading this, can you please write a sequel? Or three? Or five?
(reviewed the day of purchase)