There is no need to be alarmed by the “book two” element of Cataveiro; it may be the follow up to EJ Swift’s first novel in The Osiris Project but time has elapsed and the arduous narrative from book one, Osiris, is replaced by new lead characters, a fresh story and some real action.
In fact, the city of Osiris is long lost and forgotten, considered nothing more than an Atlantis-type myth by the Patagonian and Antarctic nations until a ship washes ashore with a lone, mysterious survivor.
Relations are strained between the two nations and unfortunate Antartican Taeo has been politically exiled from his beloved home to Patagonia, where he is made about as welcome as a wolverine in a balloon shop.
Relief arrives in the form of pilot and Patagonian Ramona, who is desperate to find a cure for her sick mother. She encounters Taeo and they exchange favours, which ultimately lead them to Cataveiro, a city of fate and fortune that entices and manipulates travellers into staying so long that they begin to lose themselves.
Cataveiro has a soulful, lonely quality as Taeo and Ramona embark on their solitary missions, haunted by memories of the past and visions of what lies ahead.
Ramona is smart and compassionate, but somehow manages to irritate almost everyone she meets, while Taeo is struggling to get over an unfortunate opium addiction.
Their imperfections keep them grounded and likeable, preventing EJ Swift from slipping into predictable and clichéd characterisation.
The politics of Cataveiro are a little vague and although it is established that there is a cultural, geographical divide, the history is not clear enough and does not really add much spice to the pot. It is unlikely that this trilogy will set the world on fire, but as dystopian fiction goes it is an intriguing world to get lost in.