Spire City: A New Infection (Season One: Infected Book 1) is the first book in Daniel Ausema’s serialized steampunk fantasy creation. Ausema’s elegant writing style, cleverly executed plotline, and thought-provoking ideas about the issues that face humanity when living in a totalitarian society—greed, chance, courage, perseverance, the sanctity of friends and family, and a desire to survive—make it quite an impressive start to the series.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Infected Book 1 focuses on the character of Chels, a young immigrant in Spire City. When her mother died, Chels was forced to live in the streets and the abandoned buildings. Some people, like her friend Mikheen, are able to find employment as laborers, but most have to scrounge for any scraps they can find. But the government objects to the street urchins’ presence in the city, and has developed a plan to eliminate them.
There is a serum in the city that turns people into vermin. At any time law enforcement can shoot the poor and homeless with darts or simply scratch them in a crowd. As the infection takes hold and the change completes, rat catchers can simply eliminate the homeless without a fuss. Citizens who might object to the murder of human beings wouldn’t even think twice about rats being trapped or poisoned.
The infection is the perfect plan by a corrupt government, with one small problem—some of the infected do not change all at once. They remain mostly human with a few animal traits. In these individuals the infection can progress for a time and then halt, or it can proceed at a slow but steady pace.
Infected Book 1 is a wonderful introduction to the series and to the steampunk world Daniel Ausema has created. I highly recommend it.