by Nora Roberts
Series: Chronicles of The One #1
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 12 hours and 20 minutes
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Narration Rating: 5
A stunning new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author?an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magic, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives…
It began on New Year’s Eve.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed?and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river?or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.
I was very excited to begin Year One by Nora Roberts. Early reports stated this would be different from her usual paranormal romances and indeed Roberts delivers an epic fantasy with an urban vibe in the first novel of the Chronicles of The One. Lore, a post-apocalyptic setting, visions, magic, and prophecy will pull the reader in as we travel with several groups of characters. Narrated by the talented Julia Whelan, I devoured Year One on audio and cannot wait for the next one.
“Now between the birth and the death of time, power rises from the long slumber. Now begins the blood-soaked battle between them. And with the lightning and a mother’s birth pangs comes The One who wields the sword.”
As a long time fan of Nora Roberts, this new direction was refreshing and brought to mind, The Fireman by Joe Hill and elements I love in paranormal stories involving chosen ones. Gone are the formulaic stories we have come to expect as she delivered a dark tale with a large cast of characters in a post-apocalyptic world.
From the beginning, there is a supernatural element that was chilling. We begin the saga in Scotland with the MacLeod family who unknowingly let loose the virus. The virus referred to as “The Doom” is spread as patient zero travels home to New York. No one infected survives the Doom, but some seem to be immune. These folks seem to possess a unique gift. For example, an ambulance driver can see your death, and health just by looking at you. A woman who had minor abilities can now move things and more.
We get to know several groups of characters before things merge and Roberts does a beautiful job of sharing the conditions and downfall of civilization. We see governments collapse and magic emerge. With it comes fear and survival becomes deadly. Those with abilities are referred to as the “Uncanny.” Some are scooped up and analyzed, some are hunted out of fear and others hide.
While the worldbuilding took time, the payoff was well worth it. Sometimes this made the pacing slow, but there were climatic moments throughout, a sense of knowing and revelations that made all of those details more relevant. As I stated we follow several groups of characters and it was interesting to see how they fit into Roberts overall ARC.
The first couple we follow is Max and Lana, a young Wiccan couple who live in New York. They are the first to escape the city and are Uncanny. Outside the city, they befriend Eddie and his dog. Max is taking Lana to a remote cabin in Pennslyvania to meet his brother.
Next, we have Max’s younger brother Eric and his girl, Allegra. Shaun, Poe, and Kim are their college buddies. We soon discover things are not right here and get an inkling of what is to come.
Our next group is made up of characters who met at the local hospital in New York. Katie MacLeod, yep the same family branch as patient zero. Jonah the EMT I mentioned has had a crush on Doctor Rachel but never acted. Like Jonah and Katie, Rachel seems immune. When Rachel learns about the government rounding up the Uncanny, they flee the city together. This was a fascinating thread and we learned a great deal about the world.
Last we have Arlys, a television reporter and Freddy her coworker. After a turn of events, they are forced to flee New York. Chuck, a privileged computer genius, helps them escape and travels with them to rural Ohio.
While it may seem like a large cast of characters, the different threads are developed and easy to follow. I came to care about all of them. Be prepared, no one is safe in this world. Unlike her trilogies, there really isn’t a romance. We do spend time with couples, and relationships develop, but the central thread is the prophecy. I cannot wait for the next audio.
Year One was narrated by Julia Whelan and the story is perfect for listening. Julia gave each character their own voice allowing me to follow easily. Her tone, pacing and ability to convey emotions and tension kept me listening into the wee hours. You’ll want to own this so you can relisten before the next release.Year One was an impressive first tale and a new direction for author Nora Roberts. #urban #fantasy #audio #loveaudiobooks Click To Tweet
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