Iris is a young woman who is hiding a secret. She is one of the ‘hollow’ and has no soul. The fact that she lives in a society that judges people by the ‘purity’ of their souls and where the Order check on them using a lantern that can project your soul for all to see, means that she is in constant danger from the authorities and survives by finding and selling artefacts to the Countess Cavendish, a con artist and female Fagin. However, when Iris is tasked with retrieving a ring from a noble house, she is amazed to discover that it somehow gives her back her ‘Spark’, one part of her soul. This means that she can suddenly be tracked by the authorities and leads to all kinds of dangers. As Iris starts to remember vague memories from her past, she starts to question where she comes from and why her memories and soul were blanked out. Together with a young man called Evander and other members of the resistance against the Order, Iris begins to understand the past and works towards bringing down the Order and the all-powerful Chancellor, who runs it. The question is, will they succeed in their task?
This story was something of a revelation; I absolutely loved the characters and the overall plot. It is full of action, adventure and some romance, but above all, it is about what it means to be a human being and the various aspects of the ‘Soul’ that we often take for granted. The author has created a world where no one feels safe and there is a constant fear that they will be found wanting in at least one of their five parts of the soul. The concept of a society that is governed by fear and an all-powerful dictator has become a regular feature of many books for the Teen market, however it could be said to reflect the realities of life that young people are presented with in the world around them. This is one of those books that fully deserves to be considered a five-star rating and I look forward to reading more by this author.