Book Review: Faces in the Water by @TonyaMacalino

Faces in the Water (Shades of Venice Book 1) by Tonya Macalino – 4 stars

Who created that slide of silk across your skin as you reached for your cinematic lover? Who recorded the crushing weight of the grizzly as you fought for your life in the fictional wilderness? It is Lone Pine Pictures’ Alyse Kate Bryant who wraps your body in the story only your mind was privy to before.

A brilliant sensory immersion artist and a wild daredevil, Alyse will do almost anything for the perfect sensory file, but the violent death of her father has her teetering on the very edge of reckless sanity.

For just one night, Alyse seeks refuge in the arms of a beautiful stranger.

And her recklessness finally has consequences.

Now Alyse finds herself trapped in the flooded ruins of Venice, a quarantine camp for the carriers of Sleepers’ Syndrome. But it can never be that simple. Because the Sleepers’ Syndrome carriers who populate the camp are no longer as human as they seem.

The city of legend is bringing its legends back to life.

They come now, Alyse.


This is a ponderous, cerebral book that strays outside my typical fare primarily in its style. It delves into the main character’s psyche while exploring a cyberpunk premise with a twist. While there is action in it, the conflict mostly takes place inside Alyse’s head. It has a sprinkling of political intrigue, as well, and plenty of relationship dynamics.

Although the writing itself isn’t to my taste, I liked the characters and the premise, and the story follows an interesting path. With the focus on Alyse’s mental state, very little actually happens, yet much of it is gripping anyway. Some of the sequences seem like hallucinations, and I was never truly certain exactly how much of what she experiences is truly real, and how much is all in her head.

This book does contain generally tasteful erotica content, which comes as no shock, given Alyse’s profession. There’s also a significant amount of swearing, which some folks find objectionable.

In all, I recommend this book for anyone who likes literary sci-fi on the soft side with a female protagonist.

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