Kika Hatzopoulou’s Threads That Bind is a rich, immersive romantasy noir mystery.

Threads That Bind is the first in Kika Hatzopoulou’s Threads That Bind YA series. It is set in the fictional city of Alante, where descendants of the Greek gods live in a deeply divided society.

Io Ora is a descendant of the Greek Fates, the youngest of three sisters, with the ability to cut the threads of fate that connect people to the things they love and to life itself. Io scrapes a living in the poorest part of Alante, the Silts, as a private investigator, a professional breaker of hearts, due to her unique ability to see the silver fate threads that connect people.

But her most recent job puts her in the path of a malevolent creature, one whose life-thread has been severed, which should not be possible. This creature, a wraith, and others like it are being sent to murder people, and Io is hired by the mob queen of the Silts to discover why. She is paired with Edei, the mob queen’s right-hand man, who also happens to be connected to Io by a bright silver fate-thread.

In the course of their investigation they traverse the city, from the richest, most exclusive homes to the poorest, mud-filled streets by the endlessly churning ocean, and encounter a cast of other-born characters, both friend and foe. Io must dig deep inside herself, set aside the shame and guilt and grief she feels for what happened with her estranged elder sister, and save the city of Alante before more people die, or risk the strange apocalyptic warnings of the Muses coming to pass…

The characters are complex, flawed, and multi-faceted, and there is a noir quality to the gritty urban setting and the grim mystery that Io is trying to unravel about the wraiths. She cannot fully trust anyone, and she holds the burden of the divided city, her alienated family, and her own mistakes like a physical weight that only she can carry. But she also has an iron-clad sense of morality and code of ethics, is fiercely loyal to those she loves, and suffers deeply when she cannot save them.

This is a beautifully-rendered and deeply-immersive fantasy story. The world that Hatzopoulou has created is somehow both ancient and far-future, almost stretching into the realms of sci-fi and post-apocalypse fiction, while also being firmly rooted in a realm of mythology and folk tales. It’s also a who’s who of the Greek pantheon, with references to other mythologies as well, such as Egyptian and Middle Eastern, and as a mythology nerd from way back, I am was thrilled to immerse myself in the concepts explored in this story.

This story also explores the complicated and often difficult relationships of sisters and of families. It examines themes of love and loyalty, and also gets deep into the quagmire of justice, class warfare, inequality, legacies of violence, and police indifference. There are many parallels to be drawn between the deep divide of human and other-born and our own world’s inability to respect and care for each other through our differences. This is the new breed of superhero; flawed characters navigating the endlessly churning shades of grey that is the world we live in and all its messiness, and the weight of responsibility that comes with being able to do something about it.

This is an incredibly well-executed, interesting, and imaginative story. The world building is nuanced and considered, the characters so complex and detailed that they could be real people. The author has created a vast, rich society, history, and sense of place in this story, and I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the rest of the books in the series.

This review was first published on the AU Review.

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