This novel practically buzzes with rich sci-fi elements and elaborate worldbuilding. Paric is put in suspended animation for a year to heal, and while he remains fully conscious, he deals with the curse of being a psyker–a person who can tap into the psychic powers of alien parasites living in the Warp trails of space. Trouble is, the aliens tormenting his mind are at odds with each other and with Paric. After he’s revived, Paric uses his ethereal as well as his physical form to hide from the religious leaders of the Ecclesiarchy who have outlawed psykers, and from the underhive gangs that want to recruit him to exploit his power.
Surtain has a gift for describing the dank, dark underhive world and its stratified life—the rich and powerful at the top, and the desperate and criminal living in the hundreds of layers in the depths. Paric uses these dark corners to his advantage, declaring “In my ethereal form, I could travel the usual alleys and avenues, checking the watchers, guards, and enforcers...” The nuances of this complex world would be clearer with more descriptive anchoring, and a map and glossary would help orient readers in a story that's at times a challenge to keep up with, but Surtain’s creative worldbuilding will dazzle fans of the genre.
Takeaway: An ambitious far-future adventure with elaborate worldbuilding and a labyrinthine plot.
Great for fans of: Jim Meeks-Johnson’s Enemy Immortal, Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A