The debut novel by Chantell Monique
Once upon a time there were two races: Humans and Aechaihs, a super race of demi-gods who had existed for thousands of years. The two used to co-exist in peace and harmony, ruled by Queen Aniyah, the last Aechaih governor married to a human man, Rhoman. It was under her reign that the Rhoman Massacre took place. Queen Aniyah’s husband, helped by a bunch of other humans, killed the queen and their unborn baby, decimated the Aechaih population and destroyed Human-Aechaih relations. The Aechaihs reacted by establishing a human enclave inside the city, governed by the Tri-Family Council, representing the three most powerful Aechaih families: Haslem, Syon and Tarnicon.
A good 700 years go by since the Rhoman’s Massacre and a thin and precarious balance exists between the two races, with tensions still running high. Until the city wakes up to the news that a human killed an Aechaih.
Fellowship Dancy, a human detective of the Trianah Metropolitan Police Department, is assigned to the case and, despite her wariness towards the Aechaihs, she is willing to do all she can to avoid a war between the two races and see the little privileges humans still have be eroded even more.
Fellowship is well known by the local population for her efforts to maintain peace between the two factions, going beyond her detective job. She understands that education plays a key role in avoiding the further spread of hate and incomprehension, so she also works as a teacher in the local college, where she tries to facilitate integration and keep young humans out of trouble. One day she organises a trip for her class to Queen Aniyah’s Temple. While Fellowship and her students are gathered right outside, ready to go back, she notices something wrong. Gunshots are fired from a car and to protect her students, Fellowship is caught in the line of fire and gets seriously injured. Hyphen Haslem, the heir of Haslem family, is, by pure luck, close to the location and intervenes immediately. The situation appears critical and Hyphen does the only thing he can to save Fellowship: he spreads his wings and flies her to the Septain Memorial, the Aechaihs’ hospital.
Something’s not quite right though: Hyphen is not supposed to fly and the two should’t be able to men-com. Aechaihs used to have wings, but in a past so far it almost seemed like a legend; plus, some can men-com (mentally communicate with each other), but Fellowship is a human and she’s not supposed to have that ability. They blame it on the fact that the injuries she sustained almost killed her, but the two can still men-com even after she’s completely recovered.
Despite his prestigious origins, Hyphen is the family black sheep: he is an inspector, something his father regards as a passing fancy, he has wings, that are recorded as a ‘defect’ on his birth certificate and he absolutely despises his father’s policies inside the Tri-Family Council, consecrated to keep humans in a lower position and using the Aechaih’s murder to justify limiting their existence even further.
Fellowship and Hyphen will find themselves working shoulder to shoulder on the case, and unfortunately two more deaths will follow, in a brutal escalation of tensions. They will be forced to spend a lot of time together and they will find out they have a lot in common, up to the point where they will no longer be able to deny their reciprocal attraction.
This is only the tip of the iceberg… Hypen and Fellowship’s story is everything but conventional and straightforward, not exactly along the lines of “boy meets girl, they fall in love, they are both detectives trying to solve a case and eventually succeed”, but quite the opposite! In an uninterrupted sequence of plot twists and jaw dropping revelations that I will not spoiler, this book is so action-packed it will leave you gasping for air.
A Unique Space for Us is so much more than a fantasy/romance book, if you are willing to read between the lines: the segregation of humans by the Aechaihs recalls very closely the segregation that white people carried out towards the black community – in the US as well as South Africa – something that still has an impact on society today. It’s also led by a very strong female main character who is sassy, black, in her early 40s and absolutely unapologetic about how she lives her life, and God only knows if we need more of these heroines! The narrative is simple, efficient and clear to follow, the story proceeds at a fast pace and glues you to the page. There are the occasional slip ups (for example I would have done with less detailed clothing descriptions and words of endearment such as “baby and sweetheart” between Fellowship and Hyphen), but that perhaps comes down to the fact that this is Monique’s debut novel. These definitely don’t take much away from the story itself that is absolutely brilliant, thrilling, romantic and almost hypnotic.
I really enjoyed this read and I would have probably enjoyed it even more with a nice glass of Zion’s Ink whiskey, as they drink in Trianah. I can’t wait for Monique to give us more!
A Unique Space for Us is available for purchase at: https://amzn.to/3hV6q5l
About Chantell Monique
Chantell Monique believes that love embraces and accepts without conditions, a simple truth found at the heart of her stories. When she’s not creating dynamic couples in magical and contemporary worlds, she’s usually reading or in search of a binge-worthy show. A mental health advocate and self-love enthusiast, Chantell resides in the Midwest with her lovable pooch, Beans (source: https://chantellmonique.com).