This book is told from the POV of Abney, a 12 year-old boy that was born in the year of the Dominion of Angels 1097. Abney and his mother Sarah Hollister are on the road, trying to get from the destruction of their hometown to safety with a cousin in the town of Winfort.
The two must cross the Emperor’s Railroad in Charleston, Virginia to get to Winfort. So much easier said than done in the day and age that they live in. The Kingdom of Virginia is in constant turmoil. The states have been at war off and on for over a thousand years. A plague has killed millions of people and the undead are wandering the countryside seeking their next meal. Women are in constant danger and are valuable commodities that bring a bride’s price because they can reproduce. Humanity is now at the mercy of the angels in The Dreaming Cities. When the emperor went against church and tried to embrace the modern age, the angels sent down The Emperor’s Punishment in the form of a dragon to terrorize the country.
Abney and Sarah make the acquaintance of Quinn, a Knight of the Dreaming City of Atlantis and a servant to the angels. Quinn carries two swords, a man-killer and a dead-killer. He also carries a gun, but Abney will only ever witness him use that gun once. Sarah has struck a bargain with Quinn. Quinn will get them to Winfort safely, but it comes at a price.
Great characters in this book! I liked the fact that Abney was very realistic. He is still a child and he is scared as a child should be. He is living in constant fear for his life and his mom’s. Abney loves and respects his mother, Sarah. Sarah is a smart, capable and strong woman who has fought for her and her son’s lives to be better and taken every necessary step to make it so. Quinn is a mysterious, heroic figure but Abney and Sarah are understandably skeptical as to his true identity and motives.
All of this is set after the global devastation of our modern world, with a few other fun things thrown in from the fantasy world in the form of zombies and a dragon! And this dragon is not your average friendly dragon; this is a pretty scary, creepy dragon.
I would have liked the book to be a bit longer since this is a short dystopian read at 176 pages long. But having been introduced, I do know that I would definitely like to read more. The Emperor’s Railroad is the first book in the new Dreaming Cities series by Guy Haley.
I want to thank the publisher (Macmillan-Tor/Forge) for providing me with the ARC through Netgalley for an honest review.