Title: Dead Silence
Author: S.A. Barnes
Genre: Adult, Science Fiction, Horror
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Dead Silence Summary
A GHOST SHIP.
A SALVAGE CREW.
Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.
What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.
Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.
Content warnings : murder, blood, and gore
I received an ARC from Netgalley and Tor Nightfire in exchange for an honest Review. This kindness does not affect my opinions of this book, which are wholly my own. This post uses affiliate links, and Bookish Valhalla may receive a small commission for purchases made through them at no cost to you.
Narrative style: first person | Perspective(s): single (Claire)
Tags: Science Fiction, Derelict Starship
How I Found This Book
I first caught a glimpse of this book’s existence on my Twitter feed but surprisingly wasn’t already following the author. The truth is I’ve been aching for deep space/derelict starship horror for months. Something new and fresh, dark in the creepiest ways, and with a mystery of WTF is happening to these characters. I craved (and still do) an Aliens/Event Horizon mashup.
So when I found Barnes’s book, I scoured every ARC site so I could get a first read and satisfy my craving. Thank you to NetGalley for having it, and Tor for letting me dig my claws in.
The opening chapters threw me off a bit. Instead of opening with characters heading toward a derelict ship, or even out in space somewhere, the Story opens on a future timeline where the character has already been to the ship.
That sinking feeling in my stomach was already starting, that maybe readers wouldn’t get to see the ship or the story would go a different direction, but I pressed on crossing my fingers so hard for the thing I wanted – a spacey creepfest.
What I Loved About Dead Silence
This book delivered on the creepfest I so desperately craved. Once Claire and her crew got to the ship, it was a wonderful romp through dark corridors, creepy sensations, and floating apparitions – in sight and just out of sight.
What I Wish I Liked, But Didn't
This is more spoiler information and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It’s just personal taste:
This book had two distinct timelines woven throughout the narrative. The story opens on the future timeline which is what threw me off, and halfway through the book they finally resolve into a single path.
Overall, I get why the dual timelines were done. Knowing the story it does make more sense, but here’s why it didn’t work for me.
The story felt jilted doing it this way. One moment I’d be deep in creepfest with the characters trying to figure out why on a lot of unanswered questions, then the narrative would kick me into the future, where the character is still alive, and she’d be explaining what happened instead of readers living the terror.
This story also leaned into a silent amnesia narrative to hide some of the information. Claire couldn’t remember how she got out of the ship, then she couldn’t remember her journey home, then couldn’t remember what happened to half her crew. I think the reason it didn’t work for me is the story leaned too hard into some of these things and even as readers got answers, they never get to experience those horrific moments. Almost like sidestepping a minefield when you wanna see shit blow up.
Is Worthy Of Bookish Valhalla?
Absolutely! Although there were a few frustrating bits to the story, overall I loved it. I would recommend this to anyone who loves space horror, derelict starships, or wants a good feel of what it might be like to walk through the Titanic as it sat on the ocean floor.
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out other reviews from the Valkyries at Bookish Valhalla
K. J. Harrowick is a freelance developer, graphic designer, technical coach, and author of the science fantasy novel, Bloodflower. You can find her reviews on Goodreads, Hàlon Chronicles, Bookish Valhalla, and occasionally Amazon and Book Sirens.
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