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The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher – review
In her second book, author Sharon Lynn Fisher has created a variation on a post-apocalyptic world as a setting for a science fiction romance. In The Ophelia Prophecy, rampant genetic engineering led to the creation of a large population of man-insect hybrids, the Manti. Eventually, a plague erupted and killed almost the entirety of the human population in the Bio Holocaust. The few humans known to survive live in seclusion in eastern Utah in the settlement of Sanctuary.
Our human protagonist, Asha, awakens beside the reservoir on the outskirts of Sanctuary. Beside her, a Manti male, Paxton, emerges from a protective cocoon, naked and confused. Neither one of them can remember how they came to be in this predicament, and there is mistrust on both sides. Soon, Paxton’s sister, Iris, arrives in their semi-sentient ship, the Banshee. Asha is taken captive because Pax cannot understand what triggered his instinctual cocoon, and he believes Asha knows more than she is willing to reveal.
While Asha has been studying the history of the Manti and their society in her role as an archivist, the reality is not what she expected. Paxton appears mostly human, especially compared to his sister. While he bears scars from the removal of extra appendages, Iris sports a pair of wings and spikes along her forearms. However, one side-effect of his genetics is that Pax suffers from a hormonal mating drive that is tough to repress. Asha wants nothing more than to return to her home and her family but is also intrigued when the Manti fights his instincts and ensures that she is protected from his urges until his judgment returns to normal.
On the trip to the Manti headquarters in Granada, the Banshee intercepts a distress signal. When Pax and Iris investigate the crash site, they are ambushed by a cell of human refugees whose existence outside of Sanctuary was unknown to Asha. Loyalties are tested, and Asha starts to learn that the Manti may possess more humanity than some members of her own species.
As the story progresses, the author weaves the romantic elements between Asha and Pax. The novel is written from both of their perspectives, so it is apparent to the reader that they feel a mutual attraction. However, there are enough complications to keep them at a distance through most of the book. There are a couple explicit scenes, but they served the plot and character development, so they did not feel gratuitous.
I enjoyed reading about this world that Fisher has created, although the glimpse of it offered in this book did not answer all the questions that I had. For example, while the majority of the genetic experimentation occurred with insect DNA, resulting in the Manti, there is also a character who is a wolf-human hybrid, as well as insect-human crosses with lower levels of sentience. These “others” are hunted by the Manti, but the reasons were not all clear to me. I also wished for a better picture of what had happened in the Bio Holocaust, but it was only back story for this tale. All that being said, this is a standalone novel, and I found The Ophelia Prophecy to be a quick and enjoyable read.