Reviews | Written by Andrew Marshall 25/07/2020



In the far future, a disparate assortment of women are thrown together as a resistance movement battles an empire’s megalomaniacal expansion across the galaxy, leaving strip-mined planets and genocide in its wake. They each possess particular skills and knowledge essential to their mission, but if they fail, the lives of millions will be forfeit.

Science fiction is often mischaracterised as being little more than the likes of weird aliens, spaceship battles and laser gun duels, and while none of these are in any way bad things, Seven Devils, the initial instalment of a duology of novels, is first and foremost a character piece.

The viewpoint perspective changes almost every chapter, with practically every sentence expanding upon the reader’s understanding of she whose thoughts we are currently privy to. Additionally, events frequently jump back in time months and years to provide background information that further augments our understanding of each woman and how the life and trials she overcame shaped her into the person she grew into. Some of them are even positioned to play out like tragedies, previously mentioned details clueing the reader into what happened to the characters involved but helpless to do anything except continue reading as proceedings play out and the doomed stumble towards their inexorable fates.

The life each character led – be it engineer, soldier, pilot, courtesan or even princess – made her a prisoner of the Empire, and it’s only through taking charge of her own existence that she has any hope of developing it into something individually meaningful beyond that of an insignificant cog in an insatiable and murderous machine. The core group is also pointedly high in representation, made up of a range of ages, races, queerness, and gender identities.

As for the setting, the naming conventions regularly invoke ancient Greece, with a majority of proper nouns a reference to the civilisation and its mythology. It suggests a homeworld where the culture never fell, but its focus on knowledge and scientific advancement continued to flourish and lead to humans leaving their ravaged planet and seeking new homes among the stars. However, along for the ride was the patriarchal misogyny it held up and then thrived under the new interstellar order, with people genetically engineered in batches for a specific use then mentally conditioned to never question instructions, and only a peasant class spared from the mind obfuscation, instead being pacified with drugs to keep them compliant.

Powerfully feminist and meticulously constructed, Seven Devils is a mesmerisingly gripping space opera and a perfect combination of the skills of two talented writers fusing together into a singular distinct voice telling a powerful and compelling tale of courage and fear, loyalty and betrayal, regret and redemption, where a person can remain a glorified slave to soulless regime, or they can defy their destiny and carve their name in starlight across the heavens.

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