Outcast by Louise Carey

January 21, 2022

Outcast is a direct sequel to Inscape. If you haven’t read the first book in this series, then what follows will contain minor spoilers. Consider yourself duly warned!




When a bomb goes off at InTech HQ, everything changes for Tanta’s corporation. Order becomes disorder. Safety becomes danger. Calm becomes chaos.

Tanta is tasked with getting to the bottom of the attack before violence and unrest overtake the city. But even though the evidence points towards rival corporation Thoughtfront, Tanta can’t shake the feeling that she’s missing something.

There’s a dark secret at the heart of the case, one that will reveal more about her own corporation than Tanta would like. And the closer Tanta gets to the mystery, the more she comes to realise something terrible:

Sometimes facing the truth can be the hardest thing of all.

Back in January 2021, I had the opportunity to read the rather wonderful science fiction thriller Inscape by Louise Carey. It was great, you should all read it. This week, the sequel, Outcast, is released. Guess what? It’s also great and you should all definitely read it as well.

The action picks up not long after Inscape’s end.  Corporate agent Tanta has been freed from the constraints of the mental programming she has been following all of her life. The revelation that she has been little more than a puppet for the huge conglomerate InTech has shocked her to the core. Tanta’s unerring devotion to the company is nothing more than a lie.

Tanta has always existed with the reassuring safety net of InTech in her life. With that security evaporating in a split second, she finds herself adrift. For the first time, Tanta is being forced to make decisions on her own. That responsibility is beginning to take its toll. For all intents and purposes, she is discovering what it means to be free. The anxiety and inner turmoil she displays adds an extra layer of tension to every action and reaction Tanta has to make. For an InTech agent, even a conflicted one, indecision cannot be an option. Tanta leads a dangerous existence, hesitation will get herself or others killed. Trying to investigate potential terrorist activities while maintaining her clean-cut corporate facade is becoming increasingly difficult. Ultimately, the question that plagues Tanta is who can be trusted? Everyone she meets appears to have their own agenda. Tanta’s boss, Douglas, is a particularly good example. Self-centred, egotistical, ruthless and power-hungry are just some of the nicer ways to describe him. Tanta has to try and tow the company line and appear to remain obedient or Douglas will start to get suspicious. While a mental game of cat and mouse unfolds, Tanta’s investigation points toward a vast conspiracy whose outcome will fundamentally change the shape of society. She finds herself torn between years of corporate conditioning and her need to do the right thing.

Elsewhere, we also get to learn more about Cole’s backstory. Though the evolution of his character is quite different from Tanta’s, they are both heading towards the same pivotal moment. With all they uncover about InTech, it comes down to a simple choice for them both. Who are they going to choose to be?  Is their corporate Big Brother a benign presence whose failings should be ignored, or is there some better way to live?

Like its predecessor, Outcast is a whip-smart science fiction thriller with real depth. Conspiracies, revelations and more tension than you could wave a big stick at ensure this series continues to deliver on every level. The novel ends with our protagonist at a moral crossroads. The climax of events finds Tanta in the unenviable position of being damned if she does and damned if she don’t. I’m not sure I would be able to make a decision if I found myself in the same place. I cannot wait to see where this goes in the next instalment. Louise Carey’s taut narrative kept me gripped throughout. Rest assured, I will be back for more.

Outcast is published by Gollancz and is available now. Highly recommended.

My musical recommendation to accompany Outcast is the soundtrack to the indie science fiction movie Zone 414 by Raffertie. Some neo-futuristic industrial electronica fits pretty well with the sinister corporate evil of InTech I reckon.

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