Imagine a world where public opinion is measured by real units and offending people whose behavior results in accumulating a high amount of units, get shipped off to an isolated location to live out a predetermined sentence.
The concept of Saltblood by T.C. Parker is quite terrifying, actually. Public opinion is so fickle and subjective. I hate the thought of a majority of people who don’t really know you passing judgment with real consequences based on perceived reality; your reputation and not your character. No facts, just opinions. The power to strip you from your life and throw you away.
T. C. Parker makes this terror a reality for the characters in Saltblood. Robin finds herself on a boat headed to “Salt Rock=,” a remote island in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Through Robin’s experience, readers settle into a harsh new world where the new “guests” meet the ones who currently reside there. As time goes by, Robin makes friends and begins to explore her new surroundings. Much to the entertainment of the author’s audience, the island has some dark mysteries. The suspense is amplified when Robin makes some discoveries and gets closer to learning the truth about her situation.
This is an intricately plotted story with well developed characters who become “flesh-and-blood real” to readers through authentic dialogue and carefully crafted backstory. The pace is leisurely with periods of intensity and a few lulls. My favorite is the first third of the story dedicated to world-building and set up.
The mysteries that eventually emerge are compelling but I enjoyed the complex dynamic between the guests and the law enforcement on the island more than the creature-feature storyline. In regards to the indigenous people that live and work on the island, I had a unique reading experience because I live in Washington, which was home to an island prison system known as McNeil Island — home to over 200 registered sex offenders. It’s a pretty complicated story and people should totally look it up, but I think that knowing the real life story of McNeil Island gave me a huge advantage when reading Saltblood. I was able to easily visualize everything in immaculate detail.
This book is a great introduction to Parker’s work. Once I finished, I immediately added the book to my shelf of authors I’d like to read more from, and I think you will, too.