Wednesday, 23 August 2017

In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black

In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black
Published August 1, 2017 by Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: The latest winner of the Ampersand Prize is a genre-smashing kidnapping drama about Tamara, who's faced with an impossible choice when she falls for her captors.
Yet this is no ordinary kidnapping. Tamara has been living on a freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive.
But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople's way of life, and the threats they face from humanity's exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she'll never see her family again … or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?

Cally Black's debut novel, In the Dark Spaces, won the 2015 Ampersand Prize. Tamara lives in secrecy on board a spaceship called Starweaver Layla, along with her baby cousin, Tamiki (nicknamed Gub). Her aunt Lazella smuggled them on board a year ago when she took a job working in the kitchen. No children are allowed so Tamara and Gub rarely speak, instead communicating in facial expressions, gestures and the occasional whisper. Tamara is desperate to grow so she can pass for a sixteen-year-old and earn a spot on the crew, so she spends Gub's nap times sneaking around the ship via the ducting and crawl spaces.

I didn't know much about In the Dark Spaces before I started, but I always enjoy the Ampersand Prize winners so that was enough for me. I really liked going into this with little knowledge because I was absolutely blown away.

I love contemporary reads and they will always be my go-to. While I do have a vivid imagination, my brain can be lazy and prefers to imagine scenarios that are familiar to me. If I read about a character walking along the street and hopping on a bus, I can easily picture that. But when I read fantasy or sci-fi, my brain protests. I read the description of a space ship, for example, and my brain complains "too hard!" In the case of In the Dark Spaces, once the action took off, my brain was happy to go along for the ride.

The story surprised me with its uniqueness and creativity. I really hadn't expected what arrives on the ship and I was both terrified and intrigued. Tamara's actions were understandable and admirable. She's a child who has longed for a home, somewhere to be safe. She's also loyal and brave, always wanting to do the right thing. I adored her. The scenes between Tamara and Gub were so beautiful, and also bittersweet.

The action is fast-paced and thrilling. Once the story got going it did not stop and I was captivated by Tamara's journey. It was dark and sad, but also reflected all too closely our current world.

In the Dark Spaces is an impressive, clever debut. The story is violent yet heartwarming, graphic yet sweet. The plot and pace will trap you, the characters will captivate you, and you'll be hooked all the way to the satisfying conclusion.

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for my copy.

Cover design: Astred Hicks

I love this cover! I didn't really think about it much before I started reading, but once I was into the book, I got it! I think it's really subtle and clever, and I love the colour scheme.

I have a nail art tutorial for this look, you can watch it here or on my YouTube channel.

1 comment:

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