Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Key of Atrea by Nicholas Marson

The Key of AstreaThe Key of Astrea by Nicholas Marson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jenny Tripper is barely keeping it together: an outsider at school, a ghost only she can see a constant companion, her 17th birthday coming up, and her mother, at the end stages of cancer, has come home for her final days. Living with her Aunt Bea, her mom’s sister, Jenny helps with expenses by reading tarot cards in her aunt’s shop, with the bleak expectation that she will take over the meager living when her aunt passes away. On her birthday, she receives a strange and mysterious puzzle box from her only friend, Michael, but before she can realize its solution her mother dies and she puts it away. Returning to it days later, she finds herself in a parallel universe where the mental anomalies she’d experienced back home were now revealed to be gifts: special powers she needs to learn to understand and control in order to save the Selkans, an alien race being hunted and enslaved by the current galactic rulers, the Tyr.

Jack Spriggan is also just barely scraping by. Previously, in his home star system of Balt, Jack had been an accomplished space fighter pilot but when the First Galactic War was over Balt had been required to dismantle their space fleet, and Jack found himself without his career. Now, in his small workshop on Lan Station, he keeps a roof over his head and food on the table by repairing anything mechanical that come his way. When his friend, Hocco, approaches him to make some REAL money piloting his restored Harbinger spacecraft, the Celestial Strider, he is reluctant at best. Jack is committed to staying on the right side of the law and away from the rebels hiding and running from the Tyr, the peacekeepers and victors of the First Galactic War. But the temptation proves too much and off he goes, not realizing that Hocco’s body has actually been possessed by one of the worst of the Tyr, Admiral Vae Victus himself, and the admiral is hot on the trail of the escaped Selkans.

With elements of fantasy and science fiction, adventure and romance, The Key of Astrea is one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read in a long time, keeping me reading way late into the evening. The story is fast-paced covering a lot of ground, literally planets and parallel universes, in a short span of time. A number of great characters populate its pages. Besides Jenny and Jack, there are a host of good guys, bad guys, and those we’re not quite sure of at times, well defined, and used to build a really good, satisfying story.

Besides the excitement, this is also a coming-of-age story for Jenny and some of her fellow recruits at Cabin, Inc., as they come to terms with their special gifts which, back home, had all been seen as handicaps, and as she deals with the loss of her mother and the discovery of a sister she never knew about. There is a teaser or two at the end that, hopefully, open up the possibility for a sequel. I give this one four of five stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy young adult science fiction/fantasy stories.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

See my original review on Reedsy Discovery!

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