In the Flesh by K L Zolnoski, takes place in a world ravaged by war and an unknown cataclysm. Lands of poor crops and constant battles mar an otherwise beautiful landscape. Tucked safely away from all of the chaos is the Temple of The Three Waterfalls where a great healer named the Holy Sybil trains other healers to go out and cure diseases and defects for the people. Enyeto, an envoy to the prince of a faraway land, is tasked with bringing the daughter of the current Sybil, Lady Evadne, to his ruler for an unknown mission. Lady Evadne is hesitant to leave her family, having no real desire to leave with a stranger or deal with politics that have nothing to do with her. They travel through dangerous lands and battles, picking up various people along the way. Meanwhile, back in the kingdom other plots are brewing behind the scenes. Enyeto must keep the Lady Evadne alive, no matter the consequences.
In the Flesh features a rather pouty, but intelligent protagonist in Lady Evadne. She is smart, an amazing healer, and spends a good chunk of her time expressing her displeasure. The book has a very South American feel, and many of the names classify. While romance is touched on briefly, it is by no means the center of the book. Scientific explanations and complex political disputes find themselves wedged into the plot, often causing the book to read like a recent issue of the Huffington Post mixed with a fantasy novel. The title of In the Flesh honestly does not truly become clear until the final section of the book, and then the title clarifies itself with quite a strike to the head.
K L Zolnoski’s In the Flesh is not designed to be a book that the reader casually tosses to the side when finished. It is designed to cause the reader to think and contemplate. This causes the book to stand out, but sometimes for the wrong reasons. Many readers use fantasy as escapist fare, but one most certainly cannot do that here. If you take your fantasy as more of an allegory this is certainly the book for you.