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Teretha Houston

They have nowhere to run, nowhere to land, and they’re running out of sky.

A pilot and an air marshal struggle against impossible odds to save passengers above the Atlantic Ocean after a predator turns a crippled plane into a flying death trap.

“Remarkably fun novel … with nonstop action.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Houston straps readers into a high-stakes thrill ride. The pulse-racing action will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Fans looking for a thriller with well-rounded characters will rave over this dazzling thriller.”
—Booklife Review

“A thrilling page-turner with a great cast and compelling twists!”
— Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Hugo-nominated, national bestselling author (John Simon, Predator, The X-Files ) and editor of Andy Weir’s The Martian

Quentin Kane hasn’t been a detective for years, but when a strange woman asks the air marshal to help bring down a shadowy organization, he gives in. But the next morning, he wakes up with no memory of the woman or the odd wooden box she gave him.

Eden Stone could fly an F/A-18 through a keyhole but can’t outrun the dark secret that threatens to destroy her career. On her first Boeing 747 flight, the former navy fighter pilot notices that her captain is suddenly behaving erratically. Purple spots develop on his skin, and his eyes turn cherry red.

Eden and Quentin race to find the origin of the strange disease before it takes out the last person who can fly the aircraft, an aircraft that gives increasingly more dire warnings.

The passengers and crew are not alone. Something has awakened in the cargo hold, something created in a secret lab. Now it’s unleashed onboard and could be more lethal dead than alive.

For the survivors trapped 37,000 feet above the middle of the ocean with an apex predator that can turn every inch of the aircraft into a deadly weapon, there is no safe place. The only place where some have any hope happens to be the most dangerous place on the aircraft—the heart of the animal’s lair.

The vicious animal, the bizarre illness, the shadowy organization, and the odd wooden box are all connected. Quentin and Eden must find the link fast to keep the passengers alive until they can reach land—if they can reach land. But it may already be too late.

This fast-paced thriller runs on rocket fuel from the first page until the surprising ending. It explores second chances and shows that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.

It’s Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park blended with T.J. Newman’s Falling with a bit of Stephen King horror at its core.

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Houston's novel is a thriller running on all four cylinders—a nonstop, action-packed story where desperate measures are the only chances for survival.

Prose: Houston's meticulously detailed prose launches at a pace as intense as the danger her characters find themselves in. She builds intrigue and anticipation from start to finish without being overly verbose. 

Originality: This is truly a one-of-a-kind story. Thrillers centered on planes usually use conflict amongst the passengers or a malfunction of the plane to drive the plot, but Houston has created a story in which the danger is as multi-layered as the protagonists being used to save the day.

Character Development/Execution: Houston expertly executes the development of the protagonists' background stories as insight into their current state of mind in dealing with extraordinary challenges. Her cast of passengers is not treated as extras; instead, each person is given a clear voice and persona that shines through in the face of imminent death.

Date Submitted: August 25, 2022

Houston straps readers into a high-stakes thrill ride complete with complex characters and a terrifying monster. Onboard the Combi passenger and freight aircraft lurks a genetically engineered apex predator with a taste for blood. As the dead bodies pile up, air marshal Quentin Kane races into action, desperate to save lives, but the creature is only one problem on this flight from hell. The plane malfunctions over the Atlantic, leaving commercial pilot Eden Stone in charge of pulling a miracle out of the sky. One mistake will cause the plane to plummet into the ocean. As the time runs out, Eden and Quentin must work together to save passengers and survive.

Houston brilliantly weaves Eden’s past fears and trauma into the action, forcing the protagonist to come face-to-face with buried secrets. As a former Navy pilot, Eden understands pressure-cooker situations, but a single moment from her military career causes her self-esteem to tumble into a tailspin. She must figure out how to push past the darkness in her mind, while Quentin’s insecurities rush to the surface as he struggles to reconcile a past tragedy himself if they are going to outwit the clawed monster hunting down passengers.

With a deadly storm on the horizon, fuel running out, and a ravenous creature on the loose, the pulse-racing action will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Be aware blood and gore speckles the pages, but at the heart of this gnarly thriller are sympathetic characters with complicated pasts trying to survive an unthinkable horror. Houston’s witty descriptions (“Reality hit him like a bucket of ice water splashed in his face and then having the bucket crown him a good one too”) add a layer of playfulness to the writing style, building a fun, lightening the tense mood. Action and horror fans looking for a creature-based thriller with well-rounded characters will enjoy this read.

Takeaway: Fans of creature-horror and fast-paced action will rave over this dazzling thriller.

Great for fans of: Hunter Shea, William Meikle’s Infestation.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Hugo-nominated, national bestselling author (John Simon, P

“A thrilling page-turner mixing classic disaster tale with horror and science fiction with a great cast and compelling twists that will keep you turning pages!”

Kirkus Reviews

“Remarkably fun novel…with nonstop action.”