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Friday 8 July 2022

‘The Wall’ by L.J. Sellers

Published by Spellbinder Press,
17 May 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-73454185-4 (PB)

Jayla lives with older sister Kiren and their young brother, Toby who has learning difficulties.  Their mother died during childbirth, and they don’t know who their father is, or even whether he is still alive.  These young people have been given a home of sorts but must fend for themselves within “the enclave” - a dystopian community controlled by the Central Authority.  Surrounding the enclave is The Wall.  It dominates everything, and those who live inside believe that “savages” roam the land beyond, seeking to breach the structure and destroy those within.  The siblings have been born into a group who are required to do tedious manual labour, including the repair and maintenance of the wall.  These lesser mortals must keep their mobile phones on so that they can be easily monitored, directed and controlled.  Any suggestion of rebellion against the status quo is dealt with quickly and harshly.  At the beginning of the novel, Jayla accepts her lot in life, considers herself a Loyalist and assumes that her neighbours feel the same.  Sister Kiren, however, has a freer spirit.

Tragedy strikes early in the narrative when, during their morning’s work, Kiren strays beyond the wall.  Jayla is left waiting anxiously on the other side, but before long she must return to her brother and begin her afternoon tasks.  As the day continues Jayla hopes her sister will find her way home.  Then the Central Authority summons all citizens to a meeting, and there Jayla discovers that her sister has been killed.  The heartbroken girl loses control of her emotions and is immediately criticised by members of the community and arrested by an Enforcer.  Fearing for Toby, she asks an official, Ronin, to check on him.  Against his better judgement Ronin visits the girl’s home and takes Toby under his wing.  As Jayla begins to question her loyalty to the enclave, Ronin also experiences disquiet at the casual brutality of the regime.  Life becomes even more complicated when he is promoted to the rank of Enforcer but realises that he is falling in love with a girl from a class lower than his.  This forbidden love is just the beginning of the couple’s worries.  It appears they are not the only ones who seek to challenge the cult-like leaders of the enclave and before long they too find themselves straying into dangerous territory.  Their rulers are not going to relinquish power without a fight!

L.J. Sellers’ novel bursts with energy and romance and I was rooting for Jayla and Ronin all the way.  The authoritarian characters exude just the right amount of megalomania, and the setting is suitably oppressive for the story.  The plot is tight and plays out through a fast-paced, exciting narrative. 

The Wall has a wide range of appeal to readers of romance, fantastic fiction, thrillers and mysteries.  Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.

Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series, a Readers Favorite award winner, as well as provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and RT Reviews, and her Jackson books are Kindle bestsellers as well as top-ranked novels. L.J., who resides in Eugene, Oregon where her novels are set, is also an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. When not plotting murders, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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