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  • Mandy McHugh

Screams from the Void, Anne Tibbets: A Five-Star Review

Flame Tree has a killer 2021 lineup, and I was thrilled to be approved for Screams from the Void. After a string of YA horror, I was looking forward to diving into something a little meatier and this title did not let me down.

At the tail-end of a two year mission, mechanic Raina has reached her wits end. Her superior officer is degrading, dismissive and verbally abusive, her ex, Ensign Morven, is a ticking time bomb, and the ancient ship is falling apart. But the biggest problem comes when an unexpected foreign biological breaches command, sending the mission, and their survival, into chaos. I loved this book. Told primarily from Raina and Sergeant Pollux's perspectives, I was pleased to see not only a variety of strength-defining moments, but also two iterations of what a strong woman could look like. In Sergeant Pollux's case, she possessed several classic traits: top of her class intelligence, bravery, no-nonsense attitude, limited tolerance for bullshit, yet humanized by the conflict in her past. In her narrative moments, I appreciated the almost visceral foil to Raina's more restrained nature. That didn't make Raina any less strong, however, and I loved the fact that she wasn't portrayed as "book smart." She' was clever, intuitive, and flexible--able to work through difficult problems by experimenting and doing. Rarely do we see both types of intelligence portrayed in female characters, and I think it's so important to acknowledge that these attributes aren't one size fits all. Clashing personalities aside, I think many readers will relate to both voices and their response to crises. And there was *plenty* of crisis. Tibbets did an excellent job with pacing and structure, weaving tension and dread into every chapter. From brutally-graphic gore to that glorious moment of silence right before the creature makes itself known, this isn't the kind of book you'll want to put down, if only to save yourself from the nightmares. On a final note, I will say that there was some subject matter that might warrant a trigger warning. Tibbets explored the complex, oftentimes conflicting, emotions a survivor of domestic abuse might struggle with--and while there were depictions of violence, the descriptions weren't gratuitous, voyeuristic, or suffer-for-the-sake-of-redemption arcs. Overall, Screams from the Void is a fast-paced, insightful, bloody good read that isn't satisfied to rest on its laurels. I'd recommend for fans of the Expanse, the Ryan Reynolds space horror: Life, or anyone looking for a gripping trapped-in-space read. Thank you to Flame Tree and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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