Many thanks to Jason Latshaw, who reached out to me on Instagram wondering if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing his book. I said yes and I’m so glad I did. All thoughts, feelings, and ratings here are my own!
Jason Latshaw grew up in Pennsylvania and worked for J.P. Morgan after college. But his real passion was storytelling. He went to UCLA for grad school and now lives in L.A.
The Threat Below is the first book in the Brathius Legacy series, beginning an epic sci-fi/dystopian adventure. Though it shifts perspectives, the main character is Icelyn Brathius, who lives in a village on a mountain peak, three hundred years after the majority of humanity died in a massacre. A wall protects their village from The Threat Below, human-like creatures who destroyed humanity. But when the water supply on the mountain is threatened, Icelyn has to go on an expedition to find survival for her people–even if it means facing these Threat Belows.
I really enjoyed this book, heavy as it was at 540 pages. The chapters were short and easy to get through and the plot had twists that had me wanting to keep reading. I loved how fast the pace was, despite being a long book. There was always something happening, both on top of the mountain and down below.
Icelyn was not the most likable of characters. I found her proud, arrogant, and selfish–yet she also possessed a love and compassion remarkable for a teenage girl. I’ve said before main characters don’t have to be likable, and I still agree. Icelyn was multifaceted as were her companions–my favorite being Torrain who found purpose in himself. None of the characters are completley likable, but it is their flaws that make them more relatable.
The themes of the book confront issues such as weak, benevolent leadership versus a strong but cruel leadership, religion and the afterlife, dealing with grief, and like Frankenstein, what it’s like for a creator to turn his back–and at what point is he no longer responsible for his creations. The book also explores the ideas of people finding new worldviews that challenges their old, like Icelyn struggling with the fact that perhaps she was not the smartest person from her village. As someone who grew up in a small conservative town and then traveled to Europe, I am very familiar with the cultural shock of learning how narrow our original world is.
As far as dialogue goes, this was where I thought the book perhaps fell flat. Some of it was cringey, but I think the main flaw was that the dialogue was too on the nose. For example, Icelyn may be thinking something and someone would voice those thoughts randomly. There wasn’t a lot of natural communication–it was stilted and corny. But the other elements of the story made up for this flaw.
In conclusion, I really like this book. I would recommend it to sci-fi and dystopian lovers, especially those who like the idea of Frankenstein and the trope of “the wall keeps us safe…or maybe it just keeps us in….”
Overall, I’d give this book four stars.