Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1) by Krystle Matar

Chosen as a finalist for the SPFBO #7 competition in 2021, Legacy of the Brightwash has been on my TBR for quiet some time. The release of the audio book made this a no brainer for me and I couldn’t be more pleased. A grimdark murder mystery set in a dark city while dangling several romance threads along the way. I usually don’t enjoy romance troupes in the books I read but they were so well done and did nothing but add to the plot and characters in everyway. I will reveal my own bias and say I probably won’t have picked this book up if not for the audio but now I am hooked!

Tashue has always put his faith in the Dominion and has devoted his life to the law as a regulation officer. Follow the law and you will be safe is what his mother always use to say before the Dominion tossed her in the Rift for being tainted. Tashue is a retired army officer and he believes in the law so much that he helped the Dominion incarcerate his son Jason for being tainted and failing to register. Now Tashue has to go about his daily life while his son withers away in prison. Now a dead girl turns up near the Brightwash river with strange tatoos on her neck and no one seems to care one ounce for the girl except Tashue. This is one mystery that will shake the city as we know it. Stella is a tainted healer who works in the Dominion while trying to raise her daughter. Tashue so happens to be her regulation officer and their relationship starts to become more than just a professional one. As the investigation into the dead girl starts to take shape, Stella knows more than what she is telling people and it is soon revealed that she is running from her past. A past that will not stay hidden for long.

Tainted are people who have the ability to use magic like powers to help the Dominion in various ways. These can be brightmen with the ability to create fire, healers for the hospital which is a rare gift, and many more. Once a tained is recognized they are required to register with the Dominion or be thrown into the Rift prison system. Tainted citizens are looked down upon as less than human, can not date, reproduce, or marry without the Dominions permission. I’m afraid it gets worse! Within the Rift there is a breeding program for Tainted individuals to give birth to Tainted children with great skills. You are only kept alive as long as you can perform your duty. This is the world that Tashue and Stella inhabit.

Tashue is one of the most complex characters I have ever come across. Loyal and trustworthy to a fault but lives with a great deal of regret and pain for his past decisions. He thought by doing what he was told to do his whole life, he would be a happy man with a family. The reality is the world is a much harsher place than that. The same people who claim to be protecting him are hiding a great deal of information and it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Don’t miss this slowburn, grimdark, and romance filled novel and it will surprise you with every single chapter.

It is easy to see why this book was voted to be finalist for SPFBO. If you are a fan of slowburn gaslight fantasy, with grimdark scenes, and romance mixed in than don’t miss this epic debut. I have only one final thing to say to the author. When is the sequel coming?!?!?!?!


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