"Southsayer," by Alia Hess
Cozy Literary Post-Apocalyptic / Sci-Fi
New to the Travelers Series wasteland? Start here! This is Book IV in the series but a brand new standalone adventure with extra fun twists for new readers.
Sometimes it's hard to make the right choices, even with a god whispering in your ear.
Jack Daughter has been trying for years to find happiness, but no matter where he runs to, the memory of the little sister he abandoned haunts him. Terrified of her rejection, he follows a merchant caravan into the Southern post-apocalyptic wasteland instead of seeking her out. He hopes more distance between himself and America will help fade his guilt of past wrongs.
Despite The South being a territory of fear and legend, his caravan is eager to capitalize on an unseized financial opportunity. Tempers flare and party members turn hostile, as the South's fantastical--but deadly--flora and fauna tries to consume them all. If Jack doesn't leave The South to find his sister soon, it might be too late.
When a "god" of painted light arrives offering assistance to find Jack's sister, it seems too good to be true. But no one else can see Jack's god, and his messages are cryptic. Is this mysterious being Jack's last chance at redemption? Or is it just another trick of The South, luring him into danger?
Book IV of the Travelers Series by Alia Hess. Fans of the cozy, optimistic apocalypse of Carrie Vaughn's Bannerless, the character-driven journeys in Station Eleven, and Fallout's Wild Wasteland perk, will love SOUTHSAYER.
I was thoroughly impressed by this week’s read, y’all. I’ve only read a few post-apocalyptic novels in the past, and they’ve been very much hit or miss with me. This one? A definite hit. Southsayer by Alia Hess is book 4 in her Travelers series but it is billed as a standalone that can be used as an entry point into her established series for new readers. As someone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading this author before, I can attest this book does as it says. It introduced me to the world in an effortless fashion and left me wanting more, more, more!
The character at the heart of this story is non-binary and trans masculine. But rather than having the story focus on the struggles related to Jack’s identity, the author instead gave Jack an adventure and a purpose outside of dwelling over his gender. All I can say is… thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I am a champion of stories that focus on LGBTQ+ characters but whose LGBTQ+ status isn’t the driving purpose of the plot. Yes, there are places and times for such stories, but LGBTQ+ characters deserve to have their sexuality and/or gender be as much of a non-issue as they are for the MCs in cishet novels. It simply is who they are. It doesn’t have to be a central plot point or primary focus any more than a cishet MC’s sexuality and/or gender would be.
Okay, hopping off my soap box. (But, yes, seriously… thank you, Alia. We need more rep just like this in the world!)
This story and the characters it supports are just all around wonderful. They evoked emotion, piqued my interest, and kept me guessing as to what might happen next. I adored the “positive” spin on the post-apocalyptic genre. I feel like that’s an angle far too few authors have considered. (Not to say I have a great deal of experience in that genre, but this is certainly the first of its kind I’ve even heard of!)
I would heartily recommend this story to anyone who loves adventure, strong character depth, and unique twists on old classics.
So, what are you waiting for? Southsayer is available for your immediate reading pleasure! It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited!
Until next time,