Chilling Effect

Harper Voyager. Sept. 2019. ISBN 9780062877239. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062877246. SF.
Captain Eva Innocente leads her crew on La Sirena Negra as a small-time cargo smuggler. One thing she has tried to hold true to is honesty and integrity in her business and dealings with her crew, especially after her notorious past. When her sister is kidnapped by syndicate the Fridge, she must perform dangerous, probably illegal services to pay ransom. But family is everything to her, and things get worse as the lies pile up, forcing Eva to test the loyalties of everyone around her. Added to this mess is a jilted emperor who will take Eva’s death instead of “no,” plus a hold full of psychic cats that find their way all around the ship. As Eva contends with the threats in front of her, she must face her failures, past and present, or lose everything she has built. Valdes’s elegant writing is on point, with all the emotional buy-in that comes with a story about families.
VERDICT Featuring memorable Cuban-descended characters, this engaging space opera debut delivers a story that dances between hilarity and seriousness, with all the joy and frustration psychic cats can bring to the mix.
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