BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O’Brien

BirthmarkedRoaring Books Press, 2010

I was immediately swept up in this story.  At the opening, the teenage protagonist Gaia is assisting in an overnight birth by herself. The description of that is harrowing enough, but the worst part comes after the delivery. Gaia feels duty bound to take the baby from its resistant mother. As she walks through the dark with the baby in her arms, the mother follows behind as best she can begging for her child.

Birthmarked is the story of Gaia, the apprentice to her midwife mother. It is set far in the future when water is in short supply and babies are given to the wealthy of the Enclave to meet a monthly quota. Gaia and her parents live in poverty just outside of a high wall where within, there are riches and pleasures that those struggling in its shadow can only dream about. Her whole life she envied the children who were lucky enough to be chosen to live within the Enclave.

After her parents are arrested and taken deep within the walled city, Gaia is forced to take up the role as midwife. It’s then she begins doubting her loyalty to those on the inside. Gaia becomes determined to defy the Enclave and rescue her parents whatever the risk.

This book is a quick read full of action. There’s a predictable love interest, but I found it enjoyable. Just enough give and take on both sides to keep me interested. Caragh M. O’Brien also does a good job with description without droning on and on. Afterwards I was interested to know what else happens to the characters, though I didn’t find the ending wanting.

Luckily, Birthmarked is the first of a three-part series following Gaia’s life. The next two installments are called Prized and Promised. You can read more about these books at Caragh M. O’Brien’s website: http://www.caraghobrien.com/

She’s even written a couple of short stories that fill in the gaps between the three books, plus they’re told from the point of view of Gaia’s love interest. Read them for FREE at: http://www.caraghobrien.com/book/birthmarked/ (scroll to the bottom of the page – titled Tortured and Ruled.) Once you’ve read the first book, I’m sure you’ll want to know what else happens to Gaia and the other characters in the story.

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