Cat Rambo’s Tabat is a fantasy steampunk city riven with tensions. In the annual hieratic gladiatorial contests, Winter has had a long winning streak, and the city’s folk are tired of short springs. The Duke’s ancestor promised a democracy after three hundred years of ducal rule, but with the three hundredth year drawing to a close, few believe that the current duke will honor that vow. And the Beasts, the magical creatures whose slave labor and bodies provide the raw stuff on which the city is built and by which it is powered, shudder with barely-suppressed revolt.
Into this explosive mix come two star-crossed characters. Teo is a Shifter, whose people are all shapechangers disguising themselves as humans to avoid attracting official attention. Teo himself has never been able to change, possible because of his shadow twin, his sister who died at birth, and his people promise him as an acolyte to Tabat’s Moon Temples. Unable to abide even the thought of life as a priest, Teo runs away.
Bella Kanto, hero of a thousand penny-wides, is the victorious gladiator whose constant triumphs keep winter ascendant in Tabat. She is also a voracious bisexual with a history of callously dropping lovers once she tires of them. Now Bella finds herself increasingly pulled towards the looming beast revolt, and caring for the refugee Teo. Perhaps most disturbingly of all, she also seems to be falling in love.
I love Beasts of Tabat. You will, too.