Reviewed: Burden of Solace by Richard L. Wright
Burden of Solace by Richard L. Wright brings a refreshing depth, balanced with candid humor, to superhero fiction. A book that makes you feel anything beyond boredom is noteworthy, but Burden of Solace made me laugh as much as it made me reflect on how humans treat one another.
The Burden of Solace Story
Burden of Solace highlights the Emergence (activation of super powers) of Dr. Cassie Whalen, a trauma surgeon working in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. She’s been living up to high expectations her entire life, even before the death of her saint-like parents (two doctors), and has developed a temper and brazenness that brings her toe-to-toe with invulnerable superhumans and government officials alike.
She Emerges when she’s attacked by a random woman while out for a jog. Her penchant for helping and healing others manifests itself as the ability to mend virtually any wound in a matter of seconds with a simple touch. She struggles with not wanting the abilities because she wants a normal life, and exohumans live anything but. They are monitored and regulated by the government. Some are locked away, others are allowed to be servants for the public, like Nate Gorman, also known as “Guardian 175.”
The plot revolves around four main issues:
- Cassie’s internal struggle regarding not wanting her gift, but wanting to help people, but not wanting to become a federal slave.
- An arrogant billionaire, Ballentine, who is trying to make sure the exohumans like the ones who killed his family are kept under tight control.
- Nate falling in love with Cassie while he shields her from government detection, even as he disapproves of her attempts to get rid of her healing powers.
- Legislative issues related to exohuman rights and freedoms.
Burden of Solace Highlights
I chuckled at the situations that Cassie got herself into as she learned more about her regenerative gifts. At one point healing the crotch of a man she kicked in the balls, at another finding herself floating in mid-air for the better part of a day because she couldn’t control her levitation.
Much of the narrative language was comical as well. A few examples include:
- “…a timeless archetype meant to grab female psyches by their damp panties”
- “whole-body butt-clench”
- “His pancreas might be upside down.”
- “…she could sense his disgust like a sour fart in the room.”
There are several moments throughout the book that characters share that are clever, heartwarming, and hilarious. For example, when Nate finds Cassie hovering aimlessly acres above the ground, he doesn’t mind taking in the view of this beautiful woman suspended in front of him in a “too-short” dress. It was amusing to experience the growing intimacy in the relationship between Cassie and Nate: from learning his real name, to trusting him with her dangerous secret, to letting him guide her superpower training, to partnering with him to defeat their common enemy.
In Burden of Solace, Wright has put a mirror up to society by reaching into the past (and, some would say, the present), when US citizens were put into internment camps, lynched, or denied their constitutional rights by a government and populace devoid of understanding and overwhelmed with anxiety. This socio-political issue is one that could be an example of what many people who have experienced any number of ‘isms’ have to deal with throughout their lives. Reading as Cassie and Nate navigated personal and bureaucratic mind fields together made it easy to become emotionally invested in the characters and what they were going through personally, professionally, and politically. Nate has a sense of duty that is impressive, even more so when we find out that this sense is not inflexible, but still strong. Cassie’s essence can be accurately expressed in one of my favorite lines in the book: “Big, strong soldiers are trained to combat a lot of things, but tiny, redheaded spitfires are not among them.”
Burden of Solace Shortcomings
Burden of Solace wasn’t as invulnerable as Nate Gorman. However, what flaws there were to be found did not take away from the plot. I’m sure that, should the author choose to refresh the content at some point in the future, these minor issues would be corrected. There were about eleven grammatical mistakes that I noticed as a casual reader (a misplaced comma here, a missing word there), and some repetition (the word ‘smile’ three times in two sentences), but nothing that deterred me from enjoying the story.
Burden of Solace Grade: A
I’d give Burden of Solace a solid ‘A’ grade. Great story, engaging characters (especially Etienne!), and an ending the leaves the audience satisfied, hopeful, and intrigued simultaneously.
If you enjoy superhero tales even the tiniest bit, the romance, mystery, intrigue, and action in Burden of Solace will leave you as eager as I am for the next installment!