This one is basically an allegory about an abusive marriage, but it went to some interesting places. Dawit/David is immortal. He was made immortal by Khaldun hundreds of years ago in what would become Ethiopia. He can be hurt, but he heals. He can die, but he comes back the next morning. He’s lived multiple lifetimes, married, fathered children, learned different careers and languages. Currently, he’s married to a reporter named Jessica, with a five-year-old daughter named Kira. With this version of family, he’s actually invested, and starts thinking about breaking the Covenant (keeping the immortality a secret) and telling Jessica the truth, and possibly seeing if he could pass on the Living Blood and making her immortal as well, to keep his family together forever.
All that sounds good, EXCEPT. Centuries of basically being a different species has made it really hard for him to think about anybody but himself. He’s very controlling, treats Jessica like a child, and makes sweeping decisions about what he thinks is best. Including KILLING HER PARTNER AT WORK because Peter and Jessica are working on a news story that could possibly discover that he KILLED HIS ELDERLY DAUGHTER. And then comforting her when she’s crushed that her friend and colleague was brutally murdered.
David eventually does decide to tell Jessica the truth (in the most traumatic way possible), and there’s a section in the middle where the tone is just strange. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to be rooting for them, while she’s going on and on about how much she loves him and what it would be like to be together forever, and he’s being such a good husband and father. Is the reader supposed to like David? Do we want them to live happily forever after? Because I did not.
Then it takes a decisive turn into badness, and things got way darker than I expected. I didn’t know until veeter’s review that this was a series, but I am kind of interested to see where things go from here. David’s exploration of the world, and his first visit to America where he promptly gets captured and forced into slavery, are an aspect of immortality I hadn’t seen explored. Usually it’s rich white vampire dudes who have everything they want or need, but what would happen to a 300+ year old Black man who couldn’t die, no matter how much he was beaten? Brutal stuff, but it did not make his later self any more likeable.
Overall, the writing was good, and Jessica was a compelling character, but the tone of the story threw me off a bit. A romance with a redemption arc? A domestic horror story? The tale of a long-suffering immortal just doing his best? It was uneven, but I’ll give the series another book now that I know a bit more what to expect.