In the collapsed city-nation of Alante, the “other-born” are descendants of long-ago gods who have inherited their ancestors’ powers. They are stigmatized and sometimes feared, and they often live in poverty. Still, the people of Alante rely on other-born like the descendants of the Muses and the Furies to provide guidance and order for society.
Io Ora and her sisters, Thais and Ava, are other-born who trace their lineage to the Fates, whose descendants always come in the form of a trio: one to weave the threads, one to pull them out and one to cut them. With their parents dead and older sister, Thais, living far away, Io and Ava do the best they can to get by. Ava sings at the Fortuna gang’s club, and Io works as a private investigator. But the lives they’ve carefully built are threatened when a string of murders sweeps through the impoverished area of Alante. Unnatural wraiths are targeting other-born, so Io is hired by Fortuna’s leader, the Mob Queen, to investigate alongside a stranger named Edei, who is connected to Io by a thread of fate. Soon, Io and Edei are pulled into a tangle of theories and leads, finding danger at every turn, as well as solace in each other.
Kika Hatzopoulou’s debut novel, Threads That Bind, is a high-concept fantasy mystery filled with political intrigue. Drawing on the pantheons of gods from a variety of cultures, Hatzopoulou puts an enticing spin on the idea of inherited godhood: People with powers are feared rather than revered. The frame of a murder mystery allows for a layered narrative that plays on interpersonal and societal dynamics, and the political commentary is well balanced with Io and Edei’s sleuthing. Fans of Amanda Foody’s Ace of Shades or Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows will find a similar atmosphere here.
Despite Threads That Bind’s excellent concept, some clunky moments disrupt the plotting and a few important questions go unanswered. Hatzopoulou has clearly set up the narrative for a sequel, but the story as it stands may leave some readers scratching their heads. Despite these incongruities, fantasy readers who are interested in mythology will likely appreciate this unique take on the genre and enjoy a largely promising start to a new series.