Witch-blooded robber Bridget has made a reputation for herself in the capital city, but she’s not interested in the attention of the Thieves’ Guild–and she’s not bothered by the rumors of urchin kidnappings, either. With winter coming, she’s looking out for herself and no one else.
Until she picks the wrong pocket, and recognizes her estranged brother Teddy.
Young craftsman Theodor arrives in the capital ready to take the final step toward his dream career as Lord Engineer of Arido. His apprenticeship with a renowned city engineer comes with new rules and challenges, but it’s worth it for the exposure to the Imperial Council.
While spying on her brother, Bridget overhears a secret meeting that reveals a cruel plot. After more than a decade apart, Theodor and Bridget must reunite to stop a traitor whose plan threatens not only their city, but the whole empire.
Set seven years before the events of From Under the Mountain, The Traitor’s Tunnel is the story of two young people presented with a choice–to protect themselves, or to protect others–the consequences of which will change their lives forever.
I was fortunate to be on Twitter when C.M. Spivey offered to give out free advance copies, so naturally I jumped on that. Everything about this book sounded incredible, including it being ownvoices for asexuality, and it did not disappoint.
Estranged siblings Bridget and Theodor are the protagonists, and they’re both queer. Theodor is asexual and in a long-term M/M relationship with Leander. Bridget is currently in an F/F relationship with Keaton, and has had relationships with men in the past. There are also a few characters with brown skin, including both love interests and Bridget’s former partner, Micah. Children’s genders are not assigned at birth but decided by the children once they reach a certain age. Until then, “ze” pronouns are used. There is a passing reference from a female character about an ex-wife, which also provides the clue that same-gender marriages are normal. Asking for consent before initiating romantic contact is also completely normalised. This whole story world is a bloody breath of fresh air.
Theodor and Bridget are compelling protagonists from wildly different worlds, being that Bridget has been thieving for years while Theodor was raised in a more sheltered environment. Bridget tends to be more action-oriented while Theodor, even though he is ambitious, is more anxious and cautious. His relationship with Leander has the expected familiarity of a long-term relationship, the both of them knowing each other so well that they sometimes don’t even need to speak in order to communicate. There was something really comforting in that. The author really did a great job making all the inter-character relationships fit together as wonderfully as they did. I just really love these characters, okay?
I did initially fear the plot would drag a bit, but my fears were soon thrown out the window. All that setup is absolutely necessary for anything in the plot to make sense and it’s all fascinating stuff anyway. There are multiple villains and the one most prominent in the story is that mind-bending kind where you’re not exactly sure they’re a villain for quite a long time. There is a huge disconnect between the way both protagonists perceive this character which only adds to the mystery.
THE TRAITOR’S TUNNEL is a great little book with refreshing worldbuilding and utterly compelling characters. I’m really glad I read it and, quite frankly, the whole thing has refreshed me after this weird reading slump I’ve been in.