I was delighted to hear my favorite urban fantasy duo has branched out into science fiction. Duo, you ask? Yes, Ilona Andrews is actually Ilona and Andrew Gordon, a married couple of late from Central Texas who met in Composition class and probably keep that initial spark burning by writing romances together.
Ilona describes this novella as a billionaire and secretary romance, except the secretary can kill you with her mind. That's a pretty apt description. Please note, this story is about a fourth the length of standard Ilona Andrews fare. By definition, a novella is a short novel, generally about 17,000 to 40,000 words in length.
What's a girl who's been trained all her life as a psychic weapon going to do when a generations long war on her planet has ended and everyone on her side except the most harmless is slated for death? If you're Claire Shannon, you mute your "psycher" abilities and pretend to be a drone so you can be repatriated on another planet--in this case, Rada.
Claire quickly finds a job on her new world, Rada, a planet which has not seen war and privation. She's working for the billionaire, Venturo Escano, as his personal assistant. While her primary function on her old world was to enter the "bionet", a biological computer system, and fight other psychers, Claire had a cover position as a secretary.
The challenge is, can Claire hide on a mostly peaceful planet, particularly from her boss, Ven, who is an uber-psycher? Silver Shark respects the characteristics of Ilona Andrews's writing with strong characters and depth of detail of the worlds they've created. What impressed me was how they managed to describe the differences between a war-torn and a primarily peaceful society. That's enough to give thoughtful readers pause.
I was wondering how the two of them would handle science fiction. For a short work, their descriptions of the technology were vivid and well-drawn. They were enough to interest sci-fi readers.
The romance angle's much stronger than in most of the team's work. I'm not primarily a romance reader, but I enjoyed the interplay between Claire and Ven.
My recommendation: if you enjoy science fiction, particularly with a sociological spin, you're going to get a nice taste in this novella. If you enjoy romances that take place on new worlds with accessible science fiction, I think you may wish for a bit more romantic build-up, but give the duo a try.
Silver Shark is actually a sequel to Silent Blade, which fortunately is not necessary to read Silver Shark.
Order Silver Shark Kinsmen as an eBook (or hardcover, which ever suits your tastes).
My thanks to Ilona and Andrew for a review copy of this novella.
Rebecca Kyle, October 2011