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Book Review

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Author: Amanda Bouchet
Publisher: Piatkus
403 pages
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 349 42088 2
Publication Date: 01 July 2019

Tess Baily commands a small group of rebels, determined to undermine the rule of the evil Overseer and his Dark Watch henchmen. When the crew discover that there has been a virulent outbreak of disease at the orphanage where Tess grew up, they steal a lab which they believe contains an uber-cure. It is not a cure which they find but a link to Tess’s past and a threat to their future...

Nightchaser (2019. 403 pages) is the first of a trilogy of science fantasy books, written by Amanda Bouchet.

If the description of the plot makes it sound like a bit of a pot boiler, then you’re not far off the mark. I have not read her previous trilogy, but note that it won numerous awards for romantic fiction.

Although Tess and her crew are engaging enough, her situation is somewhat implausible. Putting that aside there are issues straight from the start which gives the impression that, while Bouchet may like science fiction her grasp of the science isn’t great. Admittedly, she is not the only person to do this as the line between science fiction and science fantasy gets increasingly blurred, but when she steals a lab, attaches it to her ship, Tess then complains about the added weight. She would be right if she was talking about mass, but weight requires gravity. So, already a couple of pages in you’re not convinced of the author’s credentials to write serious science fiction.

Forced to flee from her uncle, this is another very small universe cut up the same way that America was in The Hunger Games, with the same problems of poverty and a dictatorial central government. She survives transit through a black hole, only just making it to a dry dock for repairs.

It’s at this point that her previous awards become significant as a good fifty per cent of the book is given over to a bodice ripping romance between Tess and the hunky Shade who has agreed to fix her ship. It ends up taking so much of the story up that the structure is dominated by this portion of the plot.

Even the ending is a little odd. The stolen lab came with a near silent passenger, who promptly leaves the narrative for no known reason, only to pop up again stage left. The ending itself felt like a stage play where all the significant actors make a final appearance, no matter how unlikely that would be.

Given the large amount of space given over to swooning and bodily functions, this is really a Trojan romance hidden inside a science fantasy novel. This romance fantasy may attract young female teens, but I cannot see it having much impact outside of that demographic.


Charles Packer

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