Sunday, October 2, 2011

Review of Ilona Andrew's Silver Shark

Title: Silver Shark (Kinsmen #2)
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: NYLA       
Formats: E-novella
Source: Won from Author
Publication Date: September 14, 2011
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The writing duo that is Ilona Andrews could publish their grocery list, and I’d probably buy it. Of course, the reason I feel that way is because everything they write is stellar, and their newest release, the novella Silver Shark, is no exception. Back when I first started reading their Kate Daniels series, I went online and purchased all of their books, including the novella Silent Blade, which is the first in the Kinsmen series. I loved it, but it’s set outside the Kate Daniels world, so I figured this was a one-off and that was it. I was thrilled to learn that they were writing a sequel novella, and when they sponsored a giveaway on their blog, I and about 500 of their closest friends (heh heh) signed up. When the deadline passed and I hadn’t heard from them, I went ahead and paid the $2.99 for the novella at Amazon and devoured it, only to check my email and learn I’d won a copy. Oops. I don’t feel too bad about the 3 dollars, though, as it’s a great novella, and I can’t recommend it enough!
The world of the Kinsmen is very much sci-fi, which is not my favorite genre, but I really enjoy both the storytelling and the romance of this novella. Claire Shannon is a psycher, someone who can use telepathy to attack others’ minds. She lives on a grim mining planet fought over by two mining conglomerates. When the conglomerate she fights for is defeated, she pretends to be a civilian and is deported to Rada, a merchant planet that is run by kinsmen, which are mafia-type family organizations with psychic abilities. Claire’s hired to work as an administrative assistant for Guardian, Inc., a bionet (think psychic internet) security firm run by the Escana family. She becomes the personal assistant to Venturo Escana, owner, CEO, and a very powerful psycher. The two are clearly attracted to one another, but Claire’s psycher abilities must remain secret, or she’ll be returned to her home planet, which means certain death. When she’s approached by fellow refugees for help, she has to infiltrate the bionet, placing her new future in danger.
This novella is outstanding, thanks in large part to the world building. Clare’s home planet of Uley is industrial and bleak, and her new home on Rada is overpowering in color and exuberance. She notices the people of the province of New Delphi constantly smiling, and the women are dressed in brilliant colors, which is completely foreign to her. In fact, a fellow refugee informs her that her new red hair color is too bright, in an attempt to warn Claire that she’ll attract attention, something she would need to avoid on their home planet.  The contrast with her stark experience on Uley is striking, and watching Claire try new foods and manners of dress will draw you in.
Claire’s ability to undergo overwhelming change and remain strong is highly appealing. She manages to hide her psycher powers against overwhelming odds, but when she’s asked by her fellow refugees to risk everything to save their children, she never hesitates to act on their behalf. Her loyalty to them and to Ven, whom she desires but believes she cannot have, is touching. Because of her past, she has no idea how to communicate her feelings for Ven and fears that doing so will jeopardize her new life. She’s an engaging character, because she’s both vulnerable and strong, and you really want everything to work out for her.
My only complaint is that the novella ends without our seeing the final showdown on the bionet. I would have loved to have seen the last battle, but the letter at the end from Ven’s aunt to his mother is a clever way to end the story and made me laugh.
If you’re looking for a short but satisfying read, you really can’t go wrong with this novella. I definitely recommend this one!

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