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A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

306 pages, Paperback

First published February 23, 2017

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Rebecca Crunden

16 books468 followers

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Profile Image for Vaishali • [V.L. Book Reviews] .
271 reviews167 followers
May 21, 2021
R A T I N G: 4 stars to A Touch of Death! ★★★★

'Just because our world is wrong doesn't mean people don't enjoy the binds which are holding them in. At least their binds are safe.'

'The look he gave her was impossible to decipher, but after a few moments he nodded and looked ahead at the road, squinting in the sunlight, his eyes slightly amber - with blood or nearing death, Catherine didn't know - and his skin yellowing; even so, there was something undeniably strong to his posture, as if not even the promise of imminent death frightened him.'

A thousand years forward, a Kingdom of deference and compliance is encouraged while freedom, temerity and knowledge of the historical past is an expressly outlawed sacrilege. With an impregnable intolerance to disobedience, the new Kingdom is an oppressive regime dressed as a present-day utopia. One with an organisational structure that preys on tyranny and savage punishments to await both small and sizable infractions to the law. Not even the rich are resistant to the heartless hand of the law.

Catherine Taenia and Nathanial Anteros are both children to families of high society in the flush privilege of Cutta. To Nate, notorious opposer to the Crown, a life under legislation has always been a humid, unlivable nightmare, and to sheltered Kitty, you can’t be broken by safety. So when the least favoured Anteros brother appears over two years later after being saved from the gallows by the skin of his teeth, he brings the type of lawbreaking trouble to their lives that Kitty has long since detested him for. Only, it might be the beginning of the end this time when a miscarriage of science becomes a drip to their veins. It’s a positively painstaking touch of death.

When the man she loves, the law-abiding opposite to his wild brother, is taken by arrest, Kitty is forced on the run with the brother she hates; their destination the banned wilds of the Outlands, home to their enemy and a banned land untouched by Kingdom dwellers. Hunted by enforcers, a price on her head, running with a known dissenter, plagued by a bizarre abnormality and exposed to uncharted curiosities and disturbing verity, Kitty is as misplaced as she’s ever been. She’s now having to place her store of faith in a rebel she condemns. Far away from a city rich with convenience and welfare, out of touch with the certainty of a planned life, not even their family names can save them now. Kitty and Nate are renegades.

Wow. What a book. One that eclipses the expectant as much it monopolised the entirely of this reading excursion for me. This dystopian survivalist adventure is a gut punch to a believable repressive society of endorsed censorship. I inadvertently took a long leave from the dystopian scenery because I naturally gravitated to other genres as one does when the curious bug propels you to test the deep blue of the written world. I owe a debt of gratitude to Rebecca Crunden for a not-so-gentle reminder to switch lanes back to an old friend from time to time. A Touch of Death is a well-built and weighted opening volume to the Outlands Pentology. A brilliantly coasting story that reads authentically, with prose as plain as its blatant grounding gravity.

If my memory works well enough, there are a few tells to an impactful dystopian: an extreme conceptualised state of poverty and neglect where suffering humans are shackled by some social or political force, one that pushes to an extremity that merits a retaliatory extreme. There’s a need to restore humanity or humane rationale. This is where the reformists are built from normal people wanting progressive revisement, not for hero-worship esteem but for necessity - we call them the mavericks…

Then there’s a conspicuously tainted setting that relativises that privation and deficiency. And lastly, characters who are skinned enough to court tenuous hope within setting, and whittled by the condition of the earth, bring forth the humanity to take us through the pain of winning something bigger for themselves. A Touch of Death frames the importance of these dystopic elements. Working in tandem, they adjacently betray a plausible story in passing. But as always, It’s the characters who make me visceral with faith and care. Every feature motivates the onerous struggle of a malfunctioning civilisation and the obstacles in place. I willed, wished and coveted the best for these dejected characters. I was with them, for them and followed them every resonant moment of the way.

This story doesn’t camouflage the impact of authorised abuse and persecution, and it’s a reality we really get to see most prominently through the wonderful, wounded, resistant Nate. Bad boy to the Crown and just about everyone else, he’s a champion to me. A true dreamer made to wilt from drought of a free life. His heart as aflame as his hair, he’s alert enough to pay attention to what’s deeply insufferable about the world. Having been a firsthand recipient of the Crown’s discipline, he’s aware, knowing, daunted and sees the Outlands as the free lands. It’s through characters like Kitty and Nate, Thom, Evander, Zoe and Tove that we taste the hope and the burn and the cinder; as they challenge the King’s power and risk the aftermath.

Now, Nate is a changed man. After losing so much, his faith is as brittle as his direction and only his soul-bonded connection to his brother keeps him whole and alive. He might be more attuned to the life of a criminal, but he’s perhaps more emotionally astray than Kitty. A brilliant character to front this story with her, he just might be my favourite! It takes Kitty longer to lose her hate for Nate and filter through bigotry of the law. You’ll be roped into the heartache, the tumult and the depressive unrest. A Touch of Death is a misadventure of the spirit as much as it twists and treads the surviving undertow.

What’s to be loved about these characters is their definition and durability, it attests to the complications they’re presented with. Fitted to this dystopian, Nate and Kitty’s resistant partnership to fragile friends to post-friend uncertainty develops at pace steady to the temperament and temperature of the survival conflict. The strong and very human characterisation is needed in lieu of a world without humanity. I have big plans for their budding romance and I’m praying to the book gods that their haunted souls twine deeper! Kitty might have nested in the privilege of Anais, but it’s her character-defined ability to assimilate to frightening change that surprised me. She’s tougher than you might think.

There is a long way to go before the silhouetted future catches sight for Nate and Kitty, and the for the forthcoming entirely, but I’m itching all over to see how they’ll stray from the struggle (and knuckle-fisting thin air as i hope they’ll be ok!). My heart wrenched from pillar to post as they made friends only to suffer the fates of the law. While this is only the gradually-paced first of a five-parter, it’s clear by means of an abstract backstory and abridged details that there’s more to peel back before I’m sure we’ll be face to face with some bigger secrets. So exciting! Most stories enable the ability to easily predict future conditions and plot possibilities, and this is the first time in a while that I’m near vacant with guesses…

Interesting world-building carefully pulls the blinds to a developed and declined post-war kingdom. While a reader might want streamlined specifics, and though I wouldn’t have denied more transparency, I didn’t mind being in the dark because there’s an interestingly cautious world imagined in A Touch of Death. Almost old-world with arranged partnerships, extreme punishment and a micromanaged society. It has the retrofuturism of science fiction and the retrograde of a dystopian post-apocalypse with tradition, transportation and the other parts of practical life that’s modern, futuristic and anachronistic.

Being members of nobility might plead concession but it’s not a free life as Kitty learns we’re never as safe as we believe we are. Now’s she’s open to a life of bereavement, disease and detriment, swaying under the strain of survival and paying for mistakes she didn’t make. Ignorance might cushion a pipe dream but it consents to scores of sin. Outrunning the risk of capture, the Kingdom looks soulless, privilege looks hollow and her heart bleeds bare as she wonders how choice could be more than just a liberty.

This is a world where anyone can become an enemy to king and kingdom by chance and misstep, where nobody is encouraged to have a mind outside of law. To disturb lawful propaganda is a death sentence and to live prostrate through restriction is fostered. It made me think about the potential for regression after any natural/made disaster. The disease thread gripped and the idea that only the rapid decline of mortality can come from an unsparing precept, through small mischief to outright radicalism made for reflective reading. It’s a severe setting that initiates a deep need to see the characters survive and stand tall by any means.

Rebecca Crunden envisions a dystopic habitat where the rich live uncaring and the starved sit apart in an organised regime of oppression, one where real freedom is as marginal as the mass population. While every written element of this fashioned fantasy world heightens the despotic setting, it’s the measure of these characters, whose lives are made visceral with urgency and uncertainty that is so strong. It’s the fraught, taut fatalism and the hope of love and friendship that stirs the sober and the reflective insight that sees to state and condition.

A Touch of Death is an atmospheric post-apocalyptic fantasy that underscores a stern illustration of a present dystopian. A world that marks a dehumanising system and spotlights heartworn characters weathering obstacles through a censored culture of written and applied propaganda. With genre divisions of science fiction and romance, it’s worthwhile and creative. A dramatic map of brutalisation and recession mirrors a dystopic downstream where superheroes don’t exist and real people are famished for free will. This book is an on-the-edge-of-suspense debut of deep intrigue and Crunden writes characteristic to a draconion scenery.


A big thank you to Rebecca for sending over a copy for review!

C O N T E N T_W A R N I N G: General warnings and descriptions for abuse, violence, blood and torture. Mentions severe punishments as execution, authorised rape, beatings and whippings. Also mentions drugs and exhibits instances of smoking and drinking. Describes some specifics of declining health and emaciating bodies. There are also attitudes inclined to death and mildly describes a suicide attempt.


Visit my blog for more reviews: V.L. Book Reviews
T W I T T E R: @VicariousHearts
I N S T A G R A M: @Vicarious.Hearts


E X T R A_T H O U G H T S:
Profile Image for Adrian.
552 reviews196 followers
March 22, 2019
Wow this was a real rollercoaster of a ride and I cannot wait to find out what happens to Nate and Kitty.

Review to follow tomorrow but a solid 4 ⭐️

Well it was indeed a very solid 4 stars, a great story line that grabbed my attention more and more as I moved through the book. As post apocalypse novels go it was well formulated and utterly believable. I enjoyed the dictatorial world view with "royal" families and other privileged individuals vs the poverty and hunger of the general populace.
In this "world" we are introduced to two very privileged families that become involved in a potential underground movement. Needless to say there is not enough support and it all goes wrong. Various adventures ensue that introduce us to different parts of the kingdom and what is out beyond the borders in mutant country.
Without wishing to give away too much our heroes meet up with some potential allies and then disaster ensues and we are left wondering where it can go from here. Onto book two I am guessing.

A big thank you to Rebecca for the chance to read the first in her series of books.
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 16 books468 followers
Shelved as 'my-books'
August 2, 2022
// a note from the author //

I’m delighted to share that A Touch of Death placed 8th in the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition!! The competition really was absolutely excellent and I’ve come across so many wonderful sci-fi books as a result. I can’t wait to read more of the amazing books put forward and I encourage everyone to keep up with the competition!

And the covers of the semi-finalists of the first SPSFC!

For anyone who wants to check out the full list of semi-finalists, there’s a wonderfully helpful Goodreads list! Be sure to check them out, they look great!

FYI: There is a map for the Kingdom drawn by a dear friend of mine whose cartography skills far surpass my own, and who has graciously allowed me to share it. I’m hoping for future editions of the book to have map(s) inside, but for now it’s available on my blog here: A Map for The Outlands Pentalogy.
Profile Image for Stjepan Cobets.
Author 13 books490 followers
September 6, 2021
My rating 4.6

The first book in the series “A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy # 1)” by Rebecca Crunden simply pulls you to read it to see what happens to the characters in the book. The plot of the story is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world a thousand years into the future after catastrophic events that changed the world. Most of the surviving population lives in the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The world and the characters are very well described and you don’t feel like the writer is slowly and surely dragging you into that dark world where the action takes place. The characters thrilled me, and the space is just the way it should be and it’s easy to imagine it in your head as you read the book.

And now a little about the story; Catherine Taenia lives in a perfect world and in happy love and fellowship with Thom. This perfection is only disturbed by Thom's brother Nate, who is rebellious and does not like him at all. But the sequence of events that will happen when she and Nate go on a mountain adventure in a dangerous area will change her life. The storm that caught them will force them to find shelter where she will be stabbed on a test tube and it will change her life. Although she is not conscious after that harmless sting, her life will move in the direction of discovering the true truth about the world in which she lives. Nate and she will find themselves in imminent danger of life because there was an infection in that test tube that should have remained deeply buried in the past. Everything she believed and loved would collapse like a tower of cards. Catherine, Nate's and the lives of all she loves will be in danger, and she will have to flee from the perfect place where she lived. The world she knew or thought she knew would show her dark side, her future would become uncertain as she became a fugitive.

I would recommend the book to fans of science fiction of the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres.
Profile Image for Beenish.
306 reviews331 followers
November 3, 2021
~ review to come ~

Small places were usually forgotten about. There was safety in that.

Getting to this one after all!
(free from studies and the reading slump)

ps: thank you Rebecca for being so patient.

Because, why not try reading new dystopian books when I've finally decided to read Hunger Games as well? 🙈
December 20, 2020
I think I will be devouring this series in the same way I did Lindsay Buroker and Pippa DaCosta's work.

I've always had a soft spot for a misunderstood bad boy who fights for what is right, so Nate was everything I could want in a hero. Kitty was the perfect foil to him, their personalities and strengths helping them battle the trials littering the pathway. I found myself sucked into the story, the author's prose exactly to my liking, not to verbose or flowery but with world building and detailing that allowed me to picture situations and settings.

The title should not be ignored, there is a LOT of death, turmoil and heartache to endure in this book. I may even have shed the odd tear. Though the book is set in a far dystopian future it had an almost steampunk feel, with a blend of futuristic and old fashioned technology, archaic traditions and cross-era clothing. Almost Planet of the Apes but with mutants rather than apes, and the humans still in charge. The theme of battling against a corrupt dictatorial regime is nothing new, but the execution, the characterisation and the setting made this stand out, and definitely left me wanting more.

Recommended to fans of Kate L. Mary, Robert J Crane, and the aforementioned Lindsay Buroker, all I can say is - WOW I loved this book, even if the ending did make me want to sob!
Profile Image for Sofia.
244 reviews59 followers
November 4, 2020
Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Check out the review on my blog: https://sophsbookworld.wordpress.com/...


To be honest, over the years I kind of fell out of love with dystopian novels. I think it’s because there’s only so much difference you can make between dystopian books and they all start to mend together and look alike. However, when the author contacted me about reviewing this book, this seemed like something I would like. This was an interesting book and I enjoyed reading it, mostly because I haven’t read something similar to this in a long time.

It tells a story of this kingdom where everything seems perfect and everyone is rich. There are no sicknesses and every injury and skin markings can be fixed in a matter of seconds. However, beneath the closed doors, the situation is much different. Every act of rebellion is punished by death.

Catherine is a daughter of King’s Hangman and is betrothed to her love Thom. However, everything changed when his troublemaker brother comes back into their lives. Suddenly, Catherine and Nate catch this weird sickness and in fear of being captured and executed by the kingdom they run away.

The world building was very interesting to me, especially considering this world is supposed to be our world but thousand years into the future. I also like how even though it’s supposed to seem futuristic, perfect and harmonic, it actually isn’t because the citizens don’t have any freedom beyond the walls. It might be a metaphor to some of today’s countries where things are very similar even today.

Even though they used to hate each other Catherine and Nate must work together in order to survive the wilderness. They are on run so they cannot trust anyone but each other. But Nate doesn’t ate Catherine like she used to hate im, as a matter of fact, he is in love with her. She, however, loves his brother and is not able to show him the same affection. I like how this wasn’t romance centered and I’m hoping that in the rest of the series, as weird as this sounds, Catherine will not end up together with Nate. I view their relationship as friendship and nothing beyond that and I’m hoping it will stay that way.

To be honest I wasn’t that into the whole plot at the beginning, but as the story progressed it got much better for me and I ended up rating it 4 stars. I flew through this because it was interesting and easy to read. It’s quite a good example of a nice, readable dystopian book with hints of adventure. I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next book.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,030 reviews329 followers
July 11, 2019
I enjoyed this book, dystopias are a favorite genre of mine and I really liked the opener for this book, it caught my attention and kept me wanting to continue reading. I do wish there could have been a bit more worldbuilding, perhaps a map, to help the reader visualize the world better.

The story itself was also pretty interesting, but it ended pretty abruptly. I was a little confused at first, wondering why the author might go for a bit of a fatalistic ending (it's not a cliffhanger, don't worry!) before I saw that it was part of a series.

However, that got me to thinking. This book can be read on its own, if you are satisfied with a somber and more stark/realistic ending. But if you want more, and to find out what happens to Nate and Kitty, then happily, there are more books!
Profile Image for Audrey.
153 reviews18 followers
March 24, 2021
Before I start this review I want to thank Rebecca for sending me a copy of her novel.

This is a solid dystopian post-apocalypse story, that has a hint of criticism at monarchy. This story is situated in the future after war and mutation. The plot was on the slowly built side at times but it was never boring due to the great characterization of every single character presented. There wasn't at any point in the story where I found the characters being unrealistic. Which made them feel human in a society filled with rules and a lack of humanity. My only concern is that when I did complete the book which ends on a bittersweet note, I found it hard to think that there were multiple sequels. Since this story could have been a stand-alone. But I guess that just makes more opportunity for me to jump right into this universe.

Ps. You should follow the map while reading.
Profile Image for TeaAndBooks.
81 reviews94 followers
July 9, 2020
Dystopias are undoubtedly a genre I truly appreciate as I believe they are the key to being novels of warning, showing a bleak and negative prospect of the future.

As far as dystopias go, this was excellent! I truly enjoyed the premise of the novel and found the theme of a post apocalyptic society to be very effective!

There was a very clear and well developed relationship between Catherine and Nate and I believe the author has done an incredible job of creating this character development. I really enjoyed this book and I believe characters are a key to a story’s credibility which is why I’m so pleased the characters were so great!

I found that I would like just a little bit more to see the origins and background of this new world and have to admit I was slightly confused at the start. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a negative thing as it is still possible to become to entranced by this story that you can overlook this. More importantly, it is often the unknown that keeps a story captivating!

Overall, a great read and I would highly recommend! I honestly need more!
Profile Image for Darcey.
913 reviews192 followers
January 13, 2021
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

4 unique stars 🙂

This book was quite strange. It started off in the middle of action and then progressed through the storyline in leaps and bounds, too quickly in some sections and too slowly in others. At the beginning of the story I could barely keep up with what was happening, things just seemed so abrupt and random, but eventually I worked out what was happening and I became fully immersed in the story.

I really enjoyed this book! Apart from the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the novel, and I quite liked the world-building and dystopian version of Earth. I also really liked the characters! They were realistic and quite relatable, and I loved Kitty’s loyalty and Nate’s humour.
Kitty’s confidence and ability to stand up for herself was refreshing and inspirational, and I loved reading the story from her perspective. She may have had her damsel moments, but they were few and far between, which I appreciated.

“She glared at him. ‘My life is my own to risk'”

Damn right, Kitty! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

I also really loved the relationship development between Nate and Kitty. Kitty loathed Nate at the start of the book, but throughout the novel she saw how good he was deep down, and she began to care for him and love him, developing a close friendship with Nate. I can’t wait to continue the series and watch their relationship develop even more, they’re so damn adorable!

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel, and I can’t wait to read more by the author! Thank you to Rebecca Crunden for the free copy :)).
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews54 followers
February 29, 2020
It is the last weekend of February and I am ending the month with A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden. This novel begins a thousand years in the future. The world has collapsed but a kingdom has been established. There is only one language, one religion, and the king is the center of it all. However, the kingdom is split into the wealthy and the poor. Nate Anteros speaks out against the king and is sentenced to death. He is in luck because he is the son of the king’s favorite. Years later, he reappears, a mistake is made, and he is on the run with Catherine Taenia, who happens to be his brother’s fiance. The kingdom is evil but the Outlands are filled with more danger…

This book has so many elements that caught my attention. It is not only a dystopian novel but it has romance and science fiction tones. I did enjoy the world-building! Some of the things were pretty typical for a dystopian world but it did leave me wanting to know more, especially the history of how it all came to be. I did love the characters. They have lived a life of privilege and it shows, especially when exposed to the suffering of others. The two main characters did bicker quite a bit and something of it was a little repetitive.

The major issue I had is the beginning can be confusing. The characters and world aren’t fully explained and left a lot of unanswered questions. I think this is a great series for those who love dystopian novels and it has the potential to be a phenomenal series. I rate it 3 out of 5 stars!

Thanks to the author for the opportunity to read the book!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Ross.
142 reviews20 followers
February 6, 2021
I was provided with an e-copy of the book by the author in exchange for a honest review.

Do you know those books you know you'll like (perhaps even love) since you read the first sentence? Those books whose writing style is so, so good you fall in love with it after reading just one sentence and that you know the writing style will be perfect for the story being told even though you have no clue what the story will be about, because everything you have read so far is the synopsis and the first sentence?

It happens to me from time to time. There are a few special books that manage to do that and therefore I will never be able to forget. And if I am being honest, I didn't expect this one to be one of them. I was expecting a good adventure story capable of entertaining me for as long as it would take me to read it, but I wasn't expecting to fall in love with the writing style after just one sentence.

But that's what happened. The first sentence may be quite brutal and catch you off guard, because you were expecting anything but that, but it isn't anything that special. If you are a fan of science fiction or fantasy, you have seen similar. And yet, for some reason that first sentence was enough. Enough to make me immediately like the book, to make me want to keep reading and dive deeper into that world, that story, that book. Enough to make me absolutely love the writing style and want to get more of it.

Honestly, the book could have turned out to be the worst book I've read in years (which is not the case at all), I would have found it worth reading just for the writing style. Yes, I felt in love with it that hard.

However, I am glad the writing style isn't the only good thing about this book. Far from it even. The characters are also amazing. They are so easy to connect with and so easy to like! Kitty is so independent and courageous, but at the same time has this desire to go back to the time when her life was easier and that makes her such a complex and interesting character, I couldn't help wanting to know more about her. And I don't think I have seen a male protagonist as good as Nate in quite a while.

The way male characters are portrayed is quite toxic most of the times. It's a exaggeration of the idea of masculinity and what actually makes a man (as if there was any right formula to be one) that ends up making men in books look more like rocks than human beings. Men can't cry, can't show fear, can't be weak. To see any of those is portrayed as weakness. And with Nate, Crunden teared that idea apart and created a strong, brave man that has everything he needs to be a serious candidate to my list of fictional boyfriends and still feel like a human. He cries, he feels pain and shows it, he shows fear. He doesn't have the answer or the solution to every damn problem as if he was some kind of wizard. He can be sick, he can feel pain, he can cry. He can do all that and not be judged as being less of a man than he would if he didn't do any of those things. He is portrayed as a human being, with qualities and faults and emotions that, just like everyone else, he can't always keep hidden no matter how much he tries. That's what makes Nate such an amazing character and what makes me like him so much.

I do wish I could have got more about the siblings Nate and Kitty met near the end of the book. First of all, because the way they all met was a bit weird, especially because Nate and Kitty trusted them so easily. I mean, they could be trying to earn their trust, so they could turn them in to the guards, for all they knew! And yet they trusted them so easily... That felt forced, so anti-Nate and like Crunden was too tired to make an effort to explain where that easy trust came from. To get to know them better would have made it easier for me to ignore that detail, because I would be too busy liking them to care.

But I also wished to have more information about them because they truly seem interesting and their past is quite intriguing and I would have liked to know more about it. Hopefully, I can get more about them in the next books!

The world is also a reason for me to like the book. It is the common world. War devasted, with a tyranic king and all. But it is quite developed through the story, with several references to its past and the mutants and that made me really curious about it. However, the world and the plot itself would have won a lot if there was more than just references to the problems of the kingdom. We get to see Katty changing her perspective of the world and starting to think as Nate does, but we don't get anything but references to why that change occurs. Aside from the experiments, we get very little reasons for Kitty to change her mind, because even if the hunger is referred, neither Katty suffers from it nor she actually sees it or its effects until they meet the siblings.

Speaking of the plot, as you've probably already understood it wasn't perfect. But it has a quite good pace and is action-packed to the point you can perfectly ignore any problem the plot has, because none is a major problem, in my opinion. Just small little problems that are easy to ignore and perfectly understandable considering this is a debut. And as much as I hate to admit it, the twist near the end of the book was a genius move. It made everything they went through useless, everything they lost meaningless. And even if it's impossible to deny that it pissed me off, I couldn't help appreciating the irony of everything. And that resulted in me loving the book even more.

To top it all, comes that amazing ending. An ending that pissed me off just as much as the irony of the twist, but that I can't deny that was amazing and made me desperate to get my hands on the second book and read it as well.

Overall, this book was a quite good surprise. I loved it much more than I expected (especially the writing style) and I really reccomed it.

SCORE: 4.25 out of 5.00 stars

You can also find this review on my blog
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews583 followers
November 6, 2019
The last of humanity lives under a brutal monarchy where the lines are firmly drawn between the favored rich and struggling poor. Welcome to Rebecca Crunden’s A TOUCH OF DEATH, a tale told of the distant future, of what humanity has become and how an unusual disease levels the playing field for two people from divergent backgrounds, making them uneasy allies in a fight for survival, all because of one wrong move. Catherine must give up her sheltered life as he escapes with Nate into a world outside the kingdom walls where mutants and rabids exist and death is almost assured.

Fall into the dark world Rebecca Crunden has created and follow the journey of two people as they struggle to survive, understand each other and deal with the deadly illness that marks their souls for death.

Catherine has so much strength, in spite of her sheltered life, she has proven to be adaptable and often, a force to be reckoned with. Nate has his secrets, he has paid a heavy price for them and these two often argued, cementing the friction between them. It is the chinks in the wall of friction that makes this story riveting as they struggle to survive in an unknown, unforgiving environment. Not a rapidfire read, this is a saga of survival and discovery.

A welcome addition to the dystopia genre, told with raw boldness by an author to keep on eye on!

I received a complimentary Review copy from Rebecca Crunden. This is my honest and voluntary review.

Series: The Outlands Pentalogy - Book 1
Publication Date: February 23, 2017
Publisher: Rebecca Crunden
Genre: Dystopian | Science Fiction | Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
Print Length: 305 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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Profile Image for Cori McCarthy.
121 reviews8 followers
March 1, 2020
I would like to start off this review by thanking Rebecca Crunden for sending me this book for review, because I enjoyed it so much! Okay, I usually don't read books this fast, but I was honestly hooked from page one! I would try to put it down and maybe watch some Netflix or try to clean up around the house, but my mind would wander back to the book and I would find myself reading it again!

The story line of the book would have to be my favorite part. It was unique and personally, I have never read anything like it before. Like I said before, I really couldn't separate myself from it, even waiting in line at Costco, I took my phone out to read a page or two! I also really liked the character development of Catherine and Nate. Throughout the story, you can really see the development with their relationship, and I really loved seeing the hate and dislike relationship they had, turn into love and respect. I also just have to mention, I loved the "aha" moment when I realized how the title played in with the book!

The only thing I would say about this book is that the beginning of the book kind of confused me. It took me a little ways into the first chapter to realize there was a time jump, and I would have liked maybe a little more information or backstory in the beginning. Other from that, I really truly enjoyed this book and was hooked until the very end. I can say with full certainty that I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book, and see where Catherine and Nate's story goes.

"Nate waved his hand. 'I'm fine. It's only a touch of death"
-Rebecca Crunden
Profile Image for Isabella.
99 reviews10 followers
November 16, 2019
Sorry I haven’t posted a review in quite a while! I’m really glad I read this novel, and that I started reviewing books many haven’t heard of. Helping other writers to become more well known (even if it takes baby steps to get there) will always be a joy I have in reviewing.

It was really hard to come up with a reasonable star rating for this one. For me it was a 4 leaning on a 4.5, but for me what would’ve earned a 5/5 would have to be the plot! It was fantasy mixed with a bit of post-apocalyptic mixed with science-fiction. DEFINITELY something I will recommend to my friends. There relationship between Nate and Kitty (Catherine) was also very, very well developed and leaves the reader anxiously waiting to see how they will turn out after the incredible ending!

The only real thing that brought the rating a bit down for me was the beginning. I’d have liked a bit more backstory on the characters so I could really understand how Nate and Kitty somehow ended up traveling through Nitoib (sorry if I misspelled it). It was a bit hazy to me how Thom got Nate out of the prison, although I’m sure it was intended for it to be that way.

Overall, a vivid and straightforward read that sparks a creative imagination in us all. I hope the readers whom decide to check this out enjoy it as much as I had!

Final grade: 4/5⭐️
Profile Image for Karla.
310 reviews98 followers
April 15, 2021
Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book reconciled me with dystopian novels!!

What I liked
I really liked the beginning in medias res. It made for an interesting perspective and it made me want to keep up with the story as the answers appeared along the way. In terms of writing style, I really enjoyed how swiftly and seamlessly the story flew. I think the author did a very good job in terms of pace. There was never a dull moment and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! I really liked reading about Nate and Kitty’s journey and especially when they met the three other travelers, they felt like family and I really enjoyed reading about the group’s dynamic. It was heartwarming.

I used to love dystopian novels more than anything and this book reconciled me with the genre. I think the world building was very clever and rich. There were so many elements that unfolded and that we got to discover as opposed to having a lot of info dumped on us from the beginning. I was very curious and I think the author managed to keep me satisfied even with that ending!! I really like the last 20% of the book where the action really picked up and we could really see the power dynamic. The characters fully came into themselves and I loved that.

What could have been better

I wish we had more tension and angst in terms of the "love triangle'. I was disappointed by the romance aspect in the story because Nate loves his brother more than anything but also loves his girlfriend and I didn't feel the complexity and guilt that he should have had. There was not enough tension and I think that’s why I couldn't rate it higher.
I have to say that I'm also frustrated that . I also would have loved to have a map!! (unless there is one and I missed it? If that's the case, my bad!!)

Overall review

The disease aspect was interesting and I’m glad how that changed the characters’ whole dynamic. Overall this is a quick-paced and enjoyable dystopian novel with a rich world, likable characters and a great friend dynamic. I recommend it for people who enjoy dystopian novels and those who want to slowly make their way back into the genre!
Profile Image for Nina.
50 reviews
March 15, 2017
Crunden's debut novel comes with many interesting twists and turns while drawing on a variety of elements of the dystopian genre, which makes it effortless and exciting for its fans to delve right into this world. Descriptions of the characters' circumstances are vivid and detailed, creating a convincing picture of their plight. The protagonist, Catherine Taenia, from whose point of view the story is told, is someone you instantly like and respect for her tenacity, for her willingness to question long-held believes but most of all for her sense of loyalty. The tragedy that befalls her and Thom does not fail to deeply affect the reader. At the same time, the author creates a provoking yet ambivalent antagonist in Thom's older brother, Nate, a rebel without a cause and a sound moral compass. This being the first installment in a series of five books, it leaves the reader with many questions that could not be answered from Catherine's point of view – namely, what did Thom and Nate talk or even conspire about in the beginning? Can we really be sure about Nate's parentage? Or in terms of intriguing supporting characters: What happened with (Nate and) Matty? "A Touch of Death" will keep you at the edge of your seat, hoping Crunden comes through with the sequel to her well-written debut fast.
Profile Image for Fizah(Books tales by me).
626 reviews53 followers
February 13, 2020
I got this book from the author in return for an honest review.

It is Rebecca Crunden's debut novel. When she asked me to review it, the description was enough to convince me. Dystopian? Why not.

Though my life was going crazy, I tried to read it a couple of times but due to lack of focus/mood/reading block...It took me a month to finish it. My review can be kinda biased due to my mood.

We all know dystopian are kinda same, you don't have enough ground to play around. But Rebecca successfully added a few elements which are new to me and I liked the way the story turned out. The world-building is also different from typical dystopian. Though writing wasn't my cup of tea and kept me from reading it in a short time. There were also a few things which were disturbing for me and I was like Ewww I don't want to read it.

Overall it was a nice book with both good and bad elements.
Profile Image for Catherine Rae.
17 reviews2 followers
February 16, 2020
Read my full review at https://icanonlyblamemyshelf.com/2020...

All in all, I was very impressed with ‘A Touch of Death’. I always find it really impressive when a new author sends through a novel of this quality. It is absolutely at the level of much published YA fiction. The series has bags of potential.

I hope that as the pentalogy progresses, we get to see much more of Cutta and the surrounding world, and get to know a wider cast of characters. With that in the bag, this series could easily be just as successful as some of the better-known dystopia novels.
Profile Image for SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews .
575 reviews331 followers
April 17, 2021

***I received a free copy from the author and chose to leave a voluntary review. Thank you!*** 

It has been a while since I have read a dystopian, so it was nice to delve back into one. What I liked about this book was that it was not just straight dystopian, but had a touch of fantasy and Syfy as well. Plus, we get romance which is also nice. 

I’m not going to lie; the beginning was a bit rough and hard to get into.  It was soo much and confusing, the people, the world and everything going on.  

It took a while but I did finally get into it and enjoyed it.  

The further I get into the book the more I enjoyed it , I really enjoyed the world, the characters as well. There were some minor things but that was more of a personal opinion to me that it shouldn’t matter.... 

One thing is for sure, this book will take you on a wild rollercoaster ride of events and emotions. 

Overall, once I got over the first part of the book, I liked it and got invested into the people and can't wait to see what will happen next.  

It really can go either way. 

I rate it 3.5-4 , but leaning more towards the 4  

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Profile Image for Kato (stolenbybooks).
51 reviews11 followers
April 20, 2021
Thank you to the author, Rebecca Crunden, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Being more of a fantasy reader, it had been a while since I last read a dystopian novel even though I do really enjoy the genre from time to time! That is why I jumped at the chance to read and review this book! Thank you again to Rebecca Crunden for asking me to read and review it! It was definitely a really interesting and unique book; very different from other dystopian books I have read.

First of all, the writing style itself was very enjoyable! It was crisp and clear with apt descriptions of the world and what happens in the story. The language wasn’t too flowery or convoluted, but still had its beautiful moments, all of which made it a really nice and quick read!

“It seemed so strange to just have a hole in her future. Where once everything had been so certain, now she had nothing.”

The story did have a somewhat abrupt and confusing beginning as you are thrust right into the action without having any idea of what was going on. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but I feel like it took a little bit too long for me to get it, making it harder to become invested in the story at the beginning. Nonetheless, once the situation clears up a bit and the action continues you are easily drawn into the story after all! It is action-packed and fast-paced, definitely leaving you wanting more after the rather shocking and unexpectant ending! As I mentioned before, the story was really refreshing and had a unique take on the typical post-apocalyptic fight against the oppression of the regime.

The action in the story really takes you all around the world in which it is set, giving a lot of opportunity to get to know different aspects of the country and the ways in which the seemingly perfect world is actually crumbling around a blooming capital. It gave me an impression very similar to Orwell’s 1984 with some of the ways the government was set up, how bad things happen below the surface even though everything seems okay, and how the characters slowly discover that everything definitely isn’t as it seems. However, I would have liked to know a bit more about how this world came to be, especially the aspect of the mutants and the outlands really interested me, and I would have liked to read more about that aspect.

“Just because our world is wrong doesn’t mean people don’t enjoy the binds which are holding them in. At least their binds are safe.”

Finally, it were the characters that really drove this story and made it come to life. I love how the relationship between the two main characters, Nate and Kitty, was so ambiguous. They clearly had a complicated past with both love and hate between them that gave enough opportunity for their relationship to develop and for the characters themselves to develop throughout the story. Despite some traces of romance, it is the development of their friendship and the friendship with others which lies at the heart of the book, making it stand out from a lot of other dystopian novels.

All in all, A Touch of Death is a great, action-packed dystopian novel that leaves you wanting more! I can definitely recommend it if you love the genre or even if you want to try out the genre as it gives a new and refreshing look on the familiar dystopian story!
Profile Image for Jordan (Forever Lost in Literature).
806 reviews102 followers
February 20, 2020
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

A Touch of Death combines elements of dystopia, sci-fi, a few post-apocalyptic vibes, and a touch of romance thrown in, all of which result in an unpredictable adventure following a few characters on a journey to not only save their lives, but to find some answers about the world they inhabit.

This story takes place in a world that seems similar to our own, but that is much more dystopian in style and lives under the rule of a rather brutal monarchical reign. I found the world-building to be one of the most intriguing components of this book and I felt Crunden did a great job at both developing its realism and also building up a strong atmosphere that really sets the somewhat bleak and cruel tone of both the world and the story. There is a huge privileged vs. poor struggle at the core of this world that added so much to the compelling nature of the story and that also contributed to many of the strong themes. My only sort of 'complaint' (which isn't really a complaint at all) is that I'd love to just learn even more about this world; Crunden lays everything out well, but I'm just so intrigued by how this world developed and all the components that I'm completely open to learning even more and wish I could more.

The two main characters we follow are Catherine and Nathaniel (aka Nate). Catherine was 'matched' and in a relationship with Nate's brother, Thom, and isn't Nate's biggest fan at the start of this story (or for much of it as it continues, either), but the intense and unpredictable events that occur in this story force them to spend more time together than they could have ever expected. Catherine was a surprisingly strong character who experienced some important explorations in finding her own strength to persevere in this story. I found her choices a little confusing at times, but for the most part I really enjoyed following her on this journey and seeing how she adapted to the crazy situations thrown at her.

Nate is a pretty good foil to Catherine in most aspects. He is more of a troublemaker and has a tumultuous and somewhat dodgy past, some of which is why Catherine isn't his biggest fan. He has a mysterious air to him and I really would love to learn more about him and specifics of his past. The beginning of this book has a brief bit that touches on one major event from his past, but I would even love to read some sort of prequel or short story that explores more of his character, as he really was a compelling figure. There are a number of secondary characters that appear in A Touch of Death that I thought were all developed well and that I thought only added good things to this story.

A Touch of Death has strong pacing that wasn't ever too fast or too slow, but rather had a nice balance of moments that slowed down when necessary, but still kept the pace and created a smooth reading experience. Crunden has a lovely writing style that balances eloquent descriptions of setting and emotion with a readable prose that makes it easy to follow the story in the best way.

I don't really have many issues with this story, I'm happy to say! My only minor issues would be that I would have appreciated a bit more background to a few of the main events that happens and information about the world, especially some about the "mutants" that exist and the various places mentioned in this world. There were a few moments where the intensity of the stakes seemed uncertain or confusing, but this really didn't affect my enjoyment and were mostly minimal.

Overall, I've given A Touch of Death 4.25 stars! I really had a highly enjoyable time reading this book and I sincerely look forward to seeing what's next. I wouldn't necessarily call the ending a firm cliffhanger, but it absolutely left me wanting to know what was going to happen next in this story since it is far from over.
Profile Image for Steph Warren.
1,204 reviews19 followers
October 26, 2022
*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

A Touch of Death is a dystopian sci-fi romance adventure, so a bit of something for most readers!

I wasn’t sure quite what was going on at the beginning of the story, as we started with a prison guard watching a battered man arrive to be tortured, then suddenly skip to said battered man trekking through the wilderness with a very grumpy female companion, having apparently broken out of prison and ended up on the run, all ‘off screen’ since we last saw him.

From that point on though, not only did the story make sense, but I was completely hooked on it. The relationships between Thom, Kitty (Catherine) and Nate are believable and compelling in their slow development, and I was tensely on edge throughout the book as I tried to will them to safety. As this is the first in a five book series, of course only some of the main plot can be resolved, as the wider arc carries forward into the next instalment.

And there is plenty of plot excitement to go around! Nate and Kitty are on the run from the government in the dangerous Outlands, and some form of contaminant or disease has turned their own bodies against them. They are in danger on every side, from mutants, law enforcement, ‘rabids’… pretty much anything that sees them probably wants to kill them. Oh, and they don’t get on, so they are constantly bickering and snapping at each other, while stealing sidelong glances… we all know whats going on there, even if they’re oblivious.

The sci-fi and dystopian elements of the story are well-thought out and fascinating, and the characters are engaging too – able to withstand a lot of brutal physical and emotional challenges in their attempt to find answers to what ails them, rescue their loved ones, and simply survive in such a corrupt society. They do have a head start on the last one, as both come from privileged backgrounds, in a society where the rich get every benefit and the poor get left to rot. It was interesting to see how these benefits affected their survival in the different situations they face, as the majority of dystopian novels I have read have featured heroes/heroines that were already struggling to survive before the main plot started.

Overall, I felt this was a really promising series starter and with the interesting new situations introduced towards the end of this book, I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
186 reviews10 followers
August 29, 2020

The story begins when Nate returns back to Anais, the Capital city of Cutta where the rich live. Nate was a privileged kid with rich parents but that was something he never asked for. What he desperately wanted was freedom from the King and his tyranny. He has been rebelling for years with rebel groups and after being caught and sent to the prison he comes back a different person yet with the same beliefs which he had before. He wants nothing to do with King and his Council but he has something that the council needs destroyed and thus the chase begins.
Nate’s character as a rebel was quite well written. His delusions, his fears, his hatred for the system, his sense of rebellion and the wish to never bow down to them could all be felt. Catherine’s character was a contrast to Nate’s but complimented him and the story perfectly. She was smart and brave and willing to sacrifice everything for Thom, her love. For him, she chooses to push aside his hatred for Nate and team up with him.
This was a fast paced fantasy which focuses more on the characters yet the plot was well formed and just as enjoyable. Along with Nate and Catherine, Thomas’s character was one I liked the most. His love for his brother and willingness to go any length for him made him remarkable. I liked the world building and the author tried hard to make it come alive with detailed descriptions of all towns and cities in the kingdom but there were too many names and details which made it hard to keep a track of them all. I also wish we had more details of the King’s regime, of the laws and life the people were made to lead.
Overall it was a fun tale of rebellion and quick read! The characters and the plot kept the book intriguing till the end and I want to find out what happens next. This is the first book in a five book series and I would recommend it to those who enjoy dystopian genre and intricate world building!
Profile Image for Heena Rathore Pardeshi.
Author 1 book252 followers
March 6, 2019
A Touch Of Death by Rebecca Crunden marks a really promising start to The Outlands Pentalogy series. This book has everything that can be expected of a good dystopian story – detailed and extensive world-building, believable characters, intriguing plotline, engaging twists and turns, even pace and oscillating tension. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and can’t wait to read the next one in this series.

The characterization is the backbone of any dystopian novel and thankfully, this book had not only believable and relatable characters but also the ones you easily fall in love with. I liked both Catherine as well as Nate and can’t wait to read more about them in the following parts.

The writing was pretty good and complemented such a tremendous plot well. The pacing was nice and even and the tension kept on increasing and decreasing in sync with the plot structure which kept me hooked throughout the book, from start to the very end. The book ended on a great note, setting high expectations for the sequel.

As I said, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all dystopian lovers.

You can also read this review on www.thereadingbud.com
Profile Image for L..
309 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2017
This is a book I've been looking forward to for a long time, and now that I've finished it I'm happy to say that I'm not disappointed!

A Touch of Death has so many of the things I'm looking for in a good book:
- An intriguing, dystopian universe that I love learning more about throughout the book.
- Great characters that I find myself caring about from the start.
- Intriguing relationships, especially between the brothers Nate and Thom.
- Beautiful, descriptive style of writing that sucked me in from the first page.
- An ending that totally left me craving more.

I enjoyed this book immensely, and I can't wait for the next book in the series to be released.

5 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2018
I don't usually read this kind of book, I am usually more into hard science fiction however I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read. The story was compelling and I was very impressed with the world building. Without too much exposition, the author was able to paint a society that had seen better days and that was in some respects a scary possibility of our future. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to start a new series that will keep them up late turning the page, as I was. I will definitely be continuing on with the next book.
Profile Image for Daniela.
Author 2 books7 followers
January 21, 2019
After eagerly waiting to get my hands on a copy, I am happy to say that this debut from Rebecca was exactly what I was hoping for. The universe she has created was so interesting that I was immediately sucked in. I loved her use of detail as it made everything seem more real and the relationship between Catherine and Nate was awesome to see. Going from people who generally can't stand each other to having feelings is one of my favorite tropes! I can't wait to read the sequel.
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