Infidel (Bel Dame Apocrypha #2) by Kameron Hurley

The sequel to God’s War, a novel I loved and reviewed at the beginning of the year, took me by surprise. I wasn’t aware that it would be out so soon, so imagine my excitement when I received a copy in the mail because Hurley remembered my name! I read it quickly and waited for another reviewer’s review to see if our thoughts matched up. Unfortunately, they were unable to review it due to real life commitments so I got to do it. While Infidel certainly doesn’t suffer from sophomore slump, I was acquainted with the fantastic worldbuilding that Hurley created already and the few new things we learn could never match up. Thus, Infidel isn’t as good a novel to me as God’s War was. Overall, however, it is a solid novel that I will probably be rereading for years to come.

Time marches on…
…And it is now six years after the ending events of God’s War. Hurley doesn’t give you any kind of a primer before dropping you right back in with Nyxnissa. This was something I praised in my review of the first novel—how we were dropped right into the setting with Nyx without any lifelines. But I had trouble remembering what exactly happened in that novel to split up the crew, so I was lost when I started Infidel. I almost wanted to reread God’s War just so I could catch myself up to speed. I wish Hurley had made a few references to refresh our memories so that a reread of the first novel wouldn’t have felt needed. I pressed on and soon I was immersed again with Nyx, but throughout the novel I struggled to remember why Rhys had left Nyx.

Emotional connection
I’ve heard that some people can’t relate emotionally to a character like Nyxnissa, who can quite often be unsympathetic and brutal. For me, this was never a problem. I find that Hurley does a masterful job of portraying a woman who is basically created by her world to be hard in order to survive, and Nyx’s emotions and heart are still relatable to the reader. She always cares for her crews deeply, even though she always knows that one will eventually betray her. She does what is right in the big picture despite the personal consequences to herself. I love that Hurley manages to pull off making Nyx seem like a cold and heartless b**** while also showing that Nyx is doing it because she cares. She will sacrifice the few for the many.

And it’s not as if Nyx comes off as perfect, either. Sometimes she does dumb things, sometimes she is too stubborn, and sometimes she does the wrong thing—and so does everyone else. These are all characters who feel believable and human. I love it when a novel makes me feel, and both God’s War and Infidel achieved that effect. It’s not only Nyx who pulls on my heartstrings or riles my anger—Rhys and Khos suffer devastating losses by helping Nyx. They also ditch her at the end of God’s War, and more about that circumstance comes out in a well-written scene near the end of the novel. I love that it enriches our understanding, interwoven in a small paragraph that’s a blip in the overall storyline but makes the entire story richer and believable.

Can you guess the ending?
Unlike most novels, I was unable to either guess the ending or the villain mastermind behind the rebel bel dames. Instead, I learned along with Nyx, through all her missteps and mistakes as well as her successes and triumphs. It is never an easy time for any of the characters of the novel and everyone suffers. Infidel is just as dark as God’s War, though the consequences don’t have the same weight as the aliens in God’s War did. These consequences hit closer to home and smaller in scope but just as dangerous for Nyx’s country. If God’s War was aliens versus world scenario, then Infidel is more of an internal affair, with two parties in the country with different visions of where it should go and what it should do. Both sides have understandable motivations but you have to decide for yourself if the cost is worth the end game. Does Nyx pick the right side? Is she only in it for the hope of being a bel dame again? Do you agree with her? It’s all thought-provoking.

Why should you read this novel?
Fans of the first novel, God’s War, will definitely enjoy this sequel. I wouldn’t recommend Infidel to anyone who hasn’t first read God’s War because you get very very little background to help you understand what’s gone on before and why certain things matter. Infidel is a superb science fiction read.

About Caitrin Clewell

Caitrin Clewell
Caitrin is a geek and proud of it. You can often find her leaving the library with at least five books. A big fan of fantasy and YA, she also enjoys science fiction, mystery/thriller, and urban fantasy. She also proclaimed herself RD's Guru of Everyth—OOH SHINY THING!

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