Author Thorn Osgood’s UNSEEN TERROR follows human Corilan, her Lumenian husband, Earthos, and their mixed-raced children as they investigate a series of brutal attacks in a futuristic society. The assaults are doubly shocking since Aggressive Behavior Eradication injections (ABE) have all but eliminated personal violence. People aren’t aggressive toward each other and everybody has personal robotic guards, adding to the level of security. On the surface it appears the ultimate Utopian “safe space.” (Everybody cares about the environment and eats healthy, too.) There don’t seem to be any weapons around. And the first two attacks leave victims with nothing more serious than bruises, scrapes, and hurt feelings.
But things are seldom as they seem, and violence often snowballs into something bigger. The invisible attacker targets family members of Organic Earth 75, a group of government leaders. The beatings become increasingly violent and hit closer to home for Corilan and her family. Corilan’s son, Raekon, believes the attacker is an escapee from Thistlebriar, a community of exiles who refuse the ABE shot. But others, including human President Bartle, feel a Lumenian is to blame. After all, Lumenians are a race of aliens that spend most of their lives as invisible essences.
Despite being the fourth novel in Osgood’s The School of Ancestral Guidance series, UNSEEN TERROR stands on its own as a satisfying who-done-it. Osgood’s true literary power is her detailed world-building and character development and much of the novel’s tension comes from the Lumenian/human cultural clashes within Earthos and Corilan’s blended family. Additionally, Corilan struggles with being both a mother and a community leader. Raekon walks a fine line between following his crime-solving instincts and not ruffling feathers — either politically or within his own family. Poor Sohma is young, gifted and androgynous and along with her sister, Kalyra, enjoys several visits to Lumenian social clubs /sex parties, where they learn as much about themselves as their pleasure partners. These scenes evoke a sexual liberation reminiscent of “grokking” in Robert Heinlein’s A Stranger In A Strange Land.
UNSEEN TERROR packs an emotional wallop in the final act, as the escalating violence reaches a boiling point. The nature of violence and the toll of justice are heavy, and often life-changing. It will be interesting to see where Osgood takes readers, and her characters, next.
Thorn Osgood’s science fiction mystery is brought to life by detailed world-building and character development as realistic aliens and complex humans struggle with clashing cultures and blended families.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader