Inner Sanctum, by Darlene Oakley (Lanico Media House, 2014)
In the mid 2100’s, with a global war raging, underground cities were established as refuges. The plan was to assess the inhabitants’ health at the 50-year mark and then seal them in until those on the surface considered it safe to bring them back.
Around 400 years after its founding, Aurora Cassle and her childhood friend, Den Maron, hold responsible positions in the underground city of Egerton. Aurora’s discovery that the population is declining in numbers and in health coincides with the finding of the forgotten door to the surface.
The mayor insists all citizens must remain in Egerton. Aurora and Den lead those who defy him through the doorway. Aurora’s and Den’s marriages have both ended by this point, and their childhood attraction revives during their early days on the surface.
I found the plot an interesting concept, very well thought-out and researched, especially in terms of how a colony could survive and what medical effects could manifest over generations. The first half of the novel takes place underground, the second on what the people begin to call New World Earth. It’s interesting to watch them rediscover, rebuild and work together.
In terms of story delivery, I couldn’t really engage with the characters. Everything felt a bit distant, except for a few disturbingly sensual encounters between Aurora and Den in the second half. That said, Inner Sanctum is a clean read, and there’s a Judeo-Christian faith element in the latter part as Aurora discovers records of the Old World Earth religions and finds parallels between the Egertonians’ journey and the Israelites of the Old Testament.
I love the cover.
Inner Sanctum is Canadian author Darlene Oakley’s first novel, although she has a long track record behind the scenes as an editor. For more about the author, visit Dar’s Corrections.
[Review copy provided by the publisher.]