Please let me start by apologizing profusely to M.F. Sullivan and to Rockstar Book Tours. My post was supposed to be live for 8am today (April 24) but I had somehow got it in my head it was meant to be posted for tomorrow. I am sincerely and genuinely sorry.
Series: The Disgraced Martyr #1
Published by Painted Blind Publishing on May 19, 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Occult & Supernatural
I received this book for free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind's intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.
It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant's Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is--assuming he exists at all--and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don't inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.
After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT'S DAUGHTER, and her Father won't let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.
The Hierophant’s Daughter definitely wasn’t what I expected, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Don’t let the description on Goodreads fool you – this isn’t nearly as deep into the horror genre as people seem to think. And while I wouldn’t shelve it in the YA section, and it does have some fairly triggering content, I also wouldn’t say it is absolutely not for teens, either.
Immediately, The Hierophant’s Daughter gave me The Library at Mount Char (Scott Hawkins) vibes. We have these self-proclaimed gods (or Martyrs in this case) who are doing things both with and without the notice or consent of the humans around them. I can’t figure if they are meant to be a take on the vampire mythos or the zombie mythos – or maybe a bit of both.
I am going to be nitpick-y about the use of the term Martyr as a god-equivalent in The Hierophant’s Daughter because a martyr is someone who is killed because of their faith. This was one point that constantly dragged me out of the story, as I was always fighting my internal editor saying “That isn’t what a martyr is, though!”
M.F. Sullivan manages to build a very believable near(ish) future world with minimal info dumps, though the sparse background does leave the reader hungry for specific details. Note for others: there is a timeline in the back that was very helpful, if a little spoiler-y. I encourage you to read it once you are through the first few chapters, as it will hopefully help clarify some of the places and such.
Some of the details are absolutely delightful – like the Lamb’s horns and their purpose – while others seemed repetitive. There are only so many times a character can be betrayed, in my opinion, before it stops being shocking and starts being boring. While I wouldn’t personally classify The Hierophant’s Daughter as horror, there are some horrifying elements – namely the way the Hierophant uses technology against his subjects. Considering how devoted we are today to social media etc. I don’t see this being a prediction that is too far off…
I do really like that M.F. Sullivan has woven different races and sexualities through The Hierophant’s Daughter without it seeming like it was forced for diversity points. The main character, Dominia, is from what we know as Italy, and she is a lesbian. There is a cabal of female sex workers, one of whom is transgender, though I do feel like her story may have been handled a little clumsily. As a cis woman though, I don’t know if that is accurate and it was actually bad rep, or if I read too much into it and it is fine.
Overall, the story goes at a decent pace and sees our main character fleeing from her life as the military arm of the god-studded Family of the Hierophant and feeling compassion for the humans she has been taught all her life are beneath her. There are some really great lines that illustrate Dominia’s growth and her learning to be a better person (er, Martyr), and that is something that I can really get on board with.
I also have a theory about a character, and if anyone else has read this, I would love to talk with you about it!
CONTENT WARNINGS (Oh boy, this book is full of them)
Violence, murder of children, genocide, concentration camps and ghettos, moderate gore, military action, suicide, stillborn child, parental abuse, spousal abuse, family abuse, slavery, government censorship, cannibalism, poverty, war
About M.F. Sullivan
M. F. Sullivan lives and works in Ashland, Oregon, having completed THE LIGHTNING STENOGRAPHY DEVICE, the psychedelic follow-up to the transgressive DELILAH, MY WOMAN. Her forthcoming series, THE DISGRACED MARTYR TRILOGY, will be released over nine months from May 2019 through January 2020.
Apologies, but this giveaway is US ONLY
- 2 winners will receive a Painted Blind Publishing/Holy Martyr Church logo t-shirt
- 5 winners will receive an ARC of The Hierophant’s Daughter
So, have you read this book, awesome nerds? What did you think? Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway if you are in the US!
Stay bookish, lovelies! ♥