I have been on a bit of a mystery/thriller binge recently, so I was very excited when this science fiction thriller arrived on my doorstep. It is just as addictive as the blurb made it sound and I’m looking forward to continuing the story!
Many thanks to Will O’Mullane and Gollancz for sending me a review copy, all opinions are my own as usual.
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
RELEASE DATE: 21/01/21
SUMMARY: Tanta has trained all her young life for this. Her very first mission is a code red: to take her team into the unaffiliated zone just outside InTech’s borders and retrieve a stolen hard drive. It should have been quick and simple, but a surprise attack kills two of her colleagues and Tanta barely makes it home alive.
Determined to prove herself and partnered with a colleague whose past is a mystery even to himself, Tanta’s investigation uncovers a sinister conspiracy that makes her question her own loyalties and the motives of everyone she used to trust. (from Gollancz)
OPINIONS: This is a well-written and gripping thriller, drawing you into the world of Inscape from the first page. I am usually much more of a fantasy reader than a science fiction one, but this hit the sweet spot for my current obsession with fast-paced mysteries. The story starts with Tanta’s mission going very very wrong – but instead of being reprimanded, she ends up promoted. Tanta is a wonderful main character, flawed, young and inexperienced, but determined and ambitious. Half the time I wanted to hug her, the rest of the time punch her. But most importantly, I was never ambivalent towards her.
There is a sapphic relationship woven throughout the story. But Inscape isn’t a romantic book or one that focuses on a romantic subplot. It is merely there. This is a thriller first and foremost, with a strong focus on the resolution of the mystery. Cole, the second main character, doesn’t remember much. He is smart, but he has a massive gap in his memories. Together with Tanta, he sets out to figure out why his memory was wiped, who they are, and what is going on around them.
The story addresses themes of belonging, human programming and surveillance. It is a great escapist book, and if you’re looking to leave this messed up world for a few hours, it’s a good choice to pick up Inscape. Add it on Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).
This book surprised me in all the best ways. I got the audiobook off NetGalley (massive thanks to PRH Audio!) and I raced through it in like three days. And I was working for most of those days, so you can imagine how obsessive I was about listening! This is a supernatural alternative history of the Space Race and it hit all my sweet spots.
STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶
RELEASE DATE: 04/03/21
SUMMARY: Germany, 1945.
Mia, a nineteen-year-old girl, is sent by the OSS to find Wernher von Braun: Germany’s – and the world’s – foremost rocket scientist. Her mission: stop the Russians getting hold of him.
But von Braun is suspicious. And so he should be.
For Mia is no ordinary girl. She only looks human. And helping the Allies win the Second World War is just one part of her plan . . .
Because there’s an even darker conflict on Earth. A secret struggle thousands of years old. One that has taken generations of Mia’s people.
But can the firing of rockets finally bring about its end?
Can Mia, as the last of her kind, bring the stars down to earth?
And if she succeeds, what will happen to us? (from Penguin Michael Joseph)
OPINIONS: Ok, so this is SO GOOD and you need to get your hands on this. It is an alternative history of the Space Race in the 20th century intertwined with the story of the Kibsu, a sort of anomaly where generations of mothers and daughters appear like clones and possess superior brains for science. We meet them at the point where they’re the 99 – the 99th generation, with Sarah as the mother and Mia the daughter. At the start of the story, Mia is nineteen, and on a mission to extract Wernher von Braun for the Americans at the end of World War 2. The story continues until Mia has her own daughter and they become the 100.
One of my favourite aspects of this was the extensive historical notes at the end of the book, explaining about the sources, further reading and historical figures. Can you tell that I’m a nerd? I also really enjoyed the interludes of earlier generations of the Kibsu, visiting eras such as the Dutch witch trials or the medieval Rus’. A History of What Comes Next is meticulously researched, and in addition to being a wonderful novel and story of its own, teaches the reader much about cultural history.
I loved Mia from the start – she is a young woman, headstrong and determined to find her own path. The narration adds to that, portraying her as she is, with nuance and detail – it sounds as if it’s Mia directly speaking to the reader. The interplay of text and delivery is astounding and adds to the enjoyment of the story. The book is narrated by 5 or 6 different narrators, giving each point of view a distinct character.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are fascinated by space at all or love science fiction, you have to make sure to give this a shot. You can add it on Goodreads here, get the audiobook from Audible here and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).
I haven’t done a blog tour in a while, but this month I’ll be featuring quite a few! Starting out is Sleep Tight by C.S. Green, published by HarperCollins. This is the first in a new mystery series starring DC Rose Gifford, and is being published today! Many thanks to Jen Harlow and HarperCollins for having me, and do check out the posts from my fellow tour hosts!
STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶
RELEASE DATE: 04/03/21
SUMMARY: Even in your dreams you’re not safe. The nightmare is only just beginning…
When DC Rose Gifford is called to investigate the death of a young woman suffocated in her bed, she can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to the crime than meets the eye.
It looks like a straightforward crime scene – but the police can’t find the killer. Enter DS Moony – an eccentric older detective who runs UCIT, a secret department of the Met set up to solve supernatural crimes. Moony wants Rose to help her out – but Rose doesn’t believe in any of that.
As the killer prepares to strike again, Rose must pick a side – before a second woman dies. (from HarperCollins)
OPINIONS: This is an intriguing thriller, a story in which it is not clear whether the events are due to supernatural causes or not. In some ways, it reminds me a bit of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, with its dedicated department for unusual crimes. But that is where the similarities end. Rose Gifford is a young policewoman, raised by her grandmother, who worked as a medium. Much of the story revolves around her childhood trauma and her struggles to let go of her past and people in it.
This is not a super fast-moving book, but rather one that calmly takes it’s mystery and logically approaches it step-by-step. I liked that it did not fall into sensationalist tropes like many crime novels, but rather used it’s case to show issues in the characters lives. This is as much Rose’s story as it is that of the victims of the initial crime. While the basic set up doesn’t make the story stand out, its execution is well done, and I am curious to pick up a follow-up.
Given more airspace, I think the DC Rose Gifford series can develop into a strong brand and tell some great stories. However, my main gripe with the novel is that it doesn’t evaluate the role of the police critically at all. All of the cops are “good guys”, and there is no indication that the police force needs a nuanced take after the events of the past few years.