Review: The Diabolic – by S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic

Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Children’s
Format: e-ARC via Netgalley
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

Trigger & Content Warnings

Attempted Rape/Rape, Torture & Gore, Murder, Slavery, Animal Cruelty.


When this book first came out, there was a lot of hype surrounding the release. Having now read the book I can completely understand why. I found it really easy to get into, and to be honest it was so gripping that I finished it on a bench in town because I didn’t want to stop reading to walk home.

Nemesis was a really interesting main character who was actually much more complicated than she first appeared. I am so happy that she was written with deeper emotions as well as a  fierce protector, willing to do anything for the person she is bonded to. The nature of the bond was interesting too, that she was programmed to love and protect a single person without freewill is honestly kind of gross, but I really liked the relationship that she had with Sidonia, and thankfully that power imbalanced was acknowledged.

In terms of world building, I found this book to be very interesting. Despite its space setting and  very obvious science fiction elements, there are also a lot of familiar fantasy tropes at play making for a unique experience. The society in this world is very problematic, and is portrayed as such. Many people are oppressed by the ruling class, and there are some genetically engineered people who are considered more objects than people. The way they are treated is horrific, as a diabolic, Nemesis is considered to be property rather than a person. In addition to this, knowledge of science and mathematics have been forbidden for all, to attempt to study such things is considered not just a crime, but a heresy. It’s a messy system perpetuated by the elite to keep the population under control, and we learn more about this as Nemesis has to survive in court while pretending to be Sidonia.

This book is really fast paced full of twists and turns and blending genres so well that while elements are familiar the reading experience as a whole is gripping. I was surprised by how easy it was for me to relate to Nemesis as a main character, and I loved how well-developed she is. The is a slight romance plot line, but I honestly really enjoyed how that played out, it definitely built up slowly.

I would say that at times this book is quite graphically violent and gory, and I do think that it’s not for everyone in that respect. In many ways the society is brutal, and this book does not shy away from how terrible it is. I have included content and trigger warnings above to give you an idea of what this book deals with.

Overall the world building and character development were both really strong in The Diabolic, and I was gripped from beginning to end. S.J. Kincaid does an excellent job of blending genres to create something that is both unique and interesting. I like that the book works as a standalone, with the plot nicely resolved at the end of the book. but there is a sequel available if you want to continue to explore the world. I will be continuing on with the series, because honestly, The Diabolic was so surprising that I’m really interested to see where the story goes next.

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