Nev is on a mission. A top secret mission. For generations, families exposed to shadow, an element unlike any other, have gone mad and died from overexposure. But before that happens, these families' descendants have shown evidence of great power. Power that has to be connected to shadow. The key to everything is learning how and why this happens, and harnessing that power in a way that doesn't kill it's host.
Qole is Nev's target. Captain of the Kaitan Heritage, Qole has flying skills that are unmatched and her ability to find pockets of shadow is uncanny. But just as Nev is about to put his plan into action, he's caught by the crew. Moments later, they're boarded by a third party who also wants to study Qole and her ability. And they're not worried one bit about saving Qole in the process.
Now Qole must rely on her would-be kidnapper, Nev, for help. But how can she trust someone who's lied to her from the beginning?
So of course since this one is touted as Firefly meets Dune, I had to give it a shot. And yeah, it's Dune in as much as shadow is as important to the plot as spice is. Seeing as how I never could finish Dune or really wrap my head around it, I'm happy to say that Shadow Run does not in fact have those aspects in common!
As for Firefly, that's a pretty apt comparison. Other than the fact that the Kaitan is operating legally, the rapport between the crew and the depth of the characters is akin to what we got from the beloved space opera.
Shadow itself is a bit hard to fully comprehend, but it's basically energy on a nuclear level. Rather than cancer, those exposed go mad. And Qole has already lost her parents and an older brother to it. Now all that remains of her family are herself and her brother, Arjan. And while they're literally playing with fire continuing to operate as fishers (those hunting and containing shadow to be traded for profit), they're too good at it not to continue.
Nev is a royal. A prince. But his family's situation is precarious, which is why they've been studying shadow to begin with. And apparently they've got spies feeding information to a competing family. Which means Nev and his family must finish their research first, or lose out on the findings. Nev believes his family's cause is a noble one, but Qole and her crew have long known that royals can't be trusted.
And thus we have an even bigger conflict to the tale than Nev and Qole - can Nev's family indeed be trusted to do the things Nev promises? Will Qole be safe in their hands, and are they really looking out for the greater good?
Only time will tell, readers!
AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller work together seemingly seamlessly in putting this tale together. No hiccups or stutters that would indicate where one author's work ends and another begins. Their world building is amazing, and again those characters! Qole, the youngest and most talented captain, took over the ship at just fourteen; Arjan, four years older, has all the faith in the world in his sister and her talents, but fears his impending doom; Telu, a year younger than Qole and mightily loyal to the ship, she's also an ace hacker; Basra, a genderfluid trader with a knack for getting the best deals (and he's got some secrets!); and even Eton, strong arm and cook, he's the oldest of the crew and has more than a few secrets himself, especially considering his training.
And of course then there's Nev. Nev's world and life are infinitely different from that of Qole, Arjan, and Telu. As he and Qole get to know one another, she inevitably begins to trust him but the rest of the crew are still leery...
Shadow Run is a fantastic ride, y'all! And it's the first in the series, which means we can look forward to more!