Genre: Fantasy, I'd categorize it as grimdark or horror.
The book opens strong with a murder scene and you are drawn into the world. I will admit, I found the guns and the modern policing terms a bit jarring at first, but I soon accepted that.
I found the world interesting. A new power called The Almighty had recently given the Empire technology and police procedures. It gives me post apocalypse vibes and I do like a good post apocalypse world.
I did feel that the magic and other fantastical elements were tacked on. It didn't feel like a true fantasy novel, it felt like a mostly normal mystery novel and then to meet fantasy requirements, the author slapped in some fantasy elements.
Most of the world building was done through some fairly clunky dialogue and a lot of telling (or explaining) not so much showing (or describing).
The three main characters had depth. I'm glad there was a married couple, so often heroes in fantasy are unmarried orphans. The relationship between the three of them, from Sam's dislike of Chapman to his shared love with Khlid, felt real. It saved the story from being boring, the dynamic between those three.
That being said, the rest of the cast felt like walking tropes without much depths.
The names of the real main character, Khlid, annoyed me. Everyone else has normal names. Her name is this unpronounceable mess and it's never explained why she has this weird name and everyone else has names like Sam, Chapman and so on.
I don't like plot twists coming out of nowhere, so good signposting is important. However, there is such a thing as too much signposting. I could see where the plot was going within the first two chapters. More follow below behind the spoiler warning.
The book could have done with a harsher edit. The dialogue needed to be tightened up and the narrative needed some more elements.
The world was interesting, but definitely needed more showing and the fantasy elements needed better integration.
I would recommend this book only to avid fantasy readers who like grimdark or horror.
The death of all three main characters jarred me. Sam's death scene was good, I felt Khlid's grief. Chapman's fate made sense, I liked that as well. Khlid's death felt ... clumsy. It felt as though the author had written themselves into a corner and didn't know where to go.
The appearance of the anointed one was obvious, however, I have a problem with the feel of the Empire vs the actual reality of anointed ones. Nothing in the novella gave me the impression that this Empire was held in an iron fist. The cops were happy to investigate a ministry of defense operation. They didn't speak fearfully of overstepping their bounds or if they did, it was quickly dismissed.
And then there comes this anointed one and he is above the law and literally just does what he wants. It is incongruous with the feel of the rest of the Empire. There wasn't enough signage that the Empire is controlled by an amoral power that has an iron fisted grip through its anointed ones.
Overall, it felt as though the plot had too many signposts and the world didn't have enough. About half the dialogue could have been trimmed and replaced with "showing" scenes demonstrating the nature of the Empire and its ruling force.