Book review: Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation and the Psy-Changling series

(I am trying to post more reviews for books I read and love. This is a new review for an old favorite, the most recent book in the series, Allegiance of Honor, just came out the beginning of the summer!)

It’s somewhat mind-boggling to me that I have not reviewed this series before because this is one of my all time favorites. So this review is WAY overdue. I’ll review this book and then give you a brief overview of my view on the series, which is something like fourteen books now and I’m still not bored.

Fourteen books. Still not bored. Yes, you read that correctly.

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First off, like other reviewers have said, ignore the cheesy US cover. (Unless you can see the updates one, which is oh-so-much better!) The original makes this book look like a typical paranormal romance (not that I don’t love those) but this book is so far from typical. Singh has created a world in the Psy-Changling series that defies categories. It’s paranormal. It’s SciFi. It’s alternate history. And it’s totally believable. The world-building is stellar and the romances are unique and character-driven. No cookie-cutter plots here.

Imagine a world—our world—split into three subspecies of humans. Regular old folks like you and me, Psy humans who have supernatural mental abilities like telepathy and teleportation, and Changelings who shapeshift. Imagine these three groups have existed for most of history and interacted, all adding depth and their unique talents to the world. Interested yet?

Now imagine one of those groups, the Psy, cut themselves off from the others because of fear of their own abilities, madness, and violence. Cut themselves off and cut all emotion out of their lives and the lives of their children, instituting a program called Silence. The Psy join or they die. They cannot exist without the others of their race, and they do not believe their race will survive if they allow emotion to exist. This happens to this world seventy years or so before the start of Slave to Sensation and some of the prologues that Singh writes throughout the series describing the process and progression of Silence are some of the most chilling scenes and scenarios that I have read.

The heroine of Slave to Sensation is a powerful Psy named Sasha Duncan, but she is struggling at the start of the book. In fact, she’s pretty sure she is going insane. Why? Because despite her years of intense conditioning under Silence, Sasha is starting to FEEL. And that, for the Psy, means mental (and possibly physical) death from a Council that controls their race with an iron hand. Sasha would know, because her own mother is part of that Council.

The hero of the book is Lucas Hunter, the alpha of a leopard Changeling pack near San Francisco. He’s ambitious, smart, and ruthlessly protective. When he meets Sasha, something about her rubs him the wrong way… aaaaand the right way! IfyouknowwhatImean. AndIthinkyoudo.

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But Psy don’t feel. They’re basically human robots. Right? RIGHT?

(Of course they’re not robots, and this series has enough steam to power a decent sized generator. In fact, the eventual Psy heroes have all been favorites. JUDD. VASIK. OMG KALEB I CAN’T EVEN.)

So Sasha is in trouble! But she’s no helpless heroine. Lucas wants Sasha big time. He’s a total alpha-type hero, but he’s also a sneaky, sneaky cat. This couple, and this book, defy the expectations we’ve come to have about paranormal romance. Their relationship LITERALLY CHANGES THE WORLD.

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(But, you know, in a good way.)

And the series doesn’t stop. This is probably my favorite paranormal romance series for several reasons. The world never stands still. It only grows in depth and complexity. This is political, smart, action-packed, deep ROMANCE. The relationships are never easy, and they’re never the same. Each couple stands out in a different way, making this one series I’ve re-read multiple times and will continue to re-read.

It’s also a really diverse world, which I appreciate, and the settings hop all over the globe, though a lot of the action is centered in Northern California.

To sum up: read this book, read this series. I love it, and I think my readers (especially those who like the Elemental series) will really enjoy Nalini Singh’s work.

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this!! I am looking forward to reading more of your reviews! (aka – my next reads…)

  2. YES! The Psy heroes! I adore this series so much, but especially any book about the Arrows or the empaths. Or the leopards. Or the wolves… They are all so good! In fact, Nalini Singh and you are two of my favorite authors, since I adore everything either of you write. I love when my favorite authors love each other’s books, so thank you for this post 😀
    Do you read the Guild Hunter series as well? It’s also wonderful 🙂

  3. I only got into Nalini’s writing this year and I have devoured her Psy-Changling and Guild Hunter series. I think a re-read might be in order already. Her world-building is incredible. Allegiance of Honour was a great denoument to this first part of the Psy-Changling story, I can’t wait for it to carry on!

  4. Thanks for the great tip. I have devoured the series. And really, OMG for Kaleb is right. Although I also love Sienna & Hawke.

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