The Marsh People by M. Valentine Williams
Award-Winning Finalist in the Young Adult category of the 2019 International Book Awards
In the battle between the authoritarian, all-powerful State and its imprisoned slaves, whose lives are controlled by The Masters, there are a few winners.
People have been rounded up from the villages by dogs controlled by the Masters and forced to live and work in decaying, inhuman conditions. Provided with basic food and shelter, they have little else, but like automatons, rarely do they rebel.
Scummo meets Kelpin. Her mother is dead. Scummo is moved to pity by this child, knowing that if she‘s taken to the Orphanage, she‘ll be killed. Risking all, he leaves the City taking her with him. They escape not knowing how they‘ll survive in the alien landscape outside. The invisible Masters watch their progress with interest.
The pair travel through marshy, giant eel-infested lands, eventually meeting others living as outsiders, with Bethyl as their leader. Life is uncomfortable and unpredictable, but they learn about freedom, co-operation and compassion and must fight for their survival at times when rival groups try to take over. The Masters watch them.
A dystopian novel pitting outsiders against inhuman tyrants.
Who will win?
‘There was a lot of great imagination on show – Scummo and Kelpin’s world was horribly realised, and the psychology behind the apathy of the city dwellers to do anything to change their lot all too believable. I loved the vicious eel creatures that dwelled in the water, ready to pick off any unsuspecting swimmers, and all the time there were little details that suggest the author knows a lot more about the world than she felt the need to let on. Another thing I really like in a dystopian novel.’
Liberty Gilmore, book reviewer, writer and blogger