The Dowry


Author:Michael J. Nercessian

  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Publication Date: March 4, 2024
  • Number of Pages: 264
  • ISBN-13: 979-8985465921

The Dowry: A Novel by Michael J. Nercessian is a distinct dive into an unsettling, somewhat dystopian world that is equal parts sci-fi and social commentary, through the lens of his protagonist, Talis, Nercessian charts the harrowing quest for societal acceptance and personal fulfillment in a futuristic society where traditional order, technology, and human nature collide. Overpopulation has turned reproduction into a privilege, and Talis and Lark's marriage is unraveling under the weight of their unmet longing for a child. As they navigate a society where the right to parenthood demands an unimaginable dowry, they must face the extremes to which humanity will go for love, identity, and survival. With the stakes stacked against them, do they stand a chance of mending their marriage and having a child?

The book’s strengths are its ability to meld sharp, thought-provoking prose with a well-crafted narrative. Nercessian introduces readers to a world where human reproduction is tightly controlled, and societal worth is dictated by one's ability to “arrive” via an opaque, often merciless algorithm. This narrative conceit provides fertile ground for examining themes of familial loyalty, societal pressure, and the complex nature of identity. Talis, the central character, is deeply developed, pulling readers into her emotional turmoil as she struggles to balance her desires against stringent societal expectations. Through her strained relationship with her sister Anna, who has “arrived,” and her fraught marriage with Lark, who ultimately finds solace in an affair with the battered yet resilient Harriet, the novel deftly explores how ambition and desperation under pressures can corrode personal relationships.


The descriptive introspection offered in scenes like the vivid portrayal of Talis’s father’s methodical, survivalist camping ventures against the backdrop of a forgotten world enhances this multifaceted character exploration. The narrative is punctuated with sharp, sometimes jarring shifts in perspective, from Talis's clear perspective to Lark's fractured thoughts and Harriet's fearless existence. This multi-perspective approach enriches the storytelling, painting a holistic yet disturbing picture of a society on the brink of madness—a remnant theme made clear with the allegory of their failed lunar colony, Pride.


The Dowry is a compelling narrative that merges poignant character exploration with more significant thematic questions about humanity, technological advancement, and what we sacrifice for perceived progress. It’s a chilling, thought-provoking read that leaves one pondering the price of conformity and the true meaning of freedom. Whether you’re drawn by the speculative elements or the intimate human drama, Nercessian’s latest work promises a complex yet rewarding reading experience.

Reviewed By: Eugene Lasha

Reviewed Date: June 11, 2024


Sci-Fi & Fantasy