"There was Before and then there was Now. Do not grieve the loss of Before. It was a wicked time when people turned away from the Light, and for their sins they were punished. Rejoice in the Light and Rejoice in the Now for it is your salvation."
Set in the very distant future, The Soul Garden is the first in a new series by Cege Smith. We are only given a few details about this world and the rest is left pretty ambiguous. The past is know as Before, where some apocalyptic event occurred that humanity had to drag itself out of, or so I imagine from what we're told.
In this world, babies are born soulless. When a human has no soul their appearance is different; they have grey skin, don't smile, don't generate warmth and have red-rimmed eyes that get redder with age, eventually taking over the entire eye. For babies (or adults) to get a soul they must go through the Soul Distribution Day, where the lucky chosen receive a soul from the Soul Fountain. Souls can also be extracted and this is often a punishment for criminals. Murder results in soul extraction, but as souls are in short demand the extracted souls are "rehabilitated" and re-used.
This era is very "protocol" heavy, adults are assigned jobs at a ceremony, women are expected to give up their jobs once married and even having children is heavily monitored. Couples are selected out of a lottery. Any couple that wants a child applies and then hopes for the best. The population is regulated because there is a shortage of souls. If a couple disobeys the rules and have a child outside of the system, their souls are extracted and the child is left, soulless, in the Soulless Asylum.
An interesting concept for a book. There are aspects of the Soul Ceremony that I found similar to baptism. I'm not sure if it was intended, but before the ceremony at the fountain, babies are soulless, unloved and are seen as unnatural. Then a visit to the fountain with a gathering and incantations gives them a soul. It was an interesting similarity that I saw, maybe just me though.
The story is narrated from the points of view of five people and (given the amount of time we get we each of them) they are relatable, we care for them and the switching of characters adds to the tension that starts to build when we realise the inevitable.
I enjoyed the start of the Twisted Souls series and look forward to the next part. I recommend this to anyone interested in apocalyptic worlds, the supernatural, magic or anyone who is intrigued by the synopsis.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. My opinions are 100% my own.