Review: Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles #1) by Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller

Shadow Run book cover

This sci-fi book isn’t my normal genre (anymore—when I was young, all I read was speculative fiction). So I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it now. In the end, I quite enjoyed it.

Qole is a 17-year-old prodigy captain/pilot of the spaceship Kaitan. She is carrying on her family’s tradition of fishing for Shadow, a mysterious substance found in space that can be used as fuel, among other things. The whole setup is very reminiscent of Firefly, but I don’t mean in a derivative way. I’ve also seen comparisons to Dune.

The downside of being a fisherman of Shadow is that it poisons people exposed to it, making them lose their minds. But Qole is special because she appears to have some sort of resistance to it. In fact, she’s already “poisoned” by it but it  has given her enhanced abilities rather than driving her crazy.

Nev couldn’t be more opposite from Qole. Where Qole and her ragtag crew are barely scraping by, Nev is a privileged prince. He also happens to be a very competent hand-to-hand fighter due to a lifetime of training. He has a special, very expensive blade that works some sort of magic (I mean that metaphorically—it’s future-science-based). And for reasons that eventually become clearer later, Nev’s family need Qole and her Shadow-resistance to save his family. Nev works his way onto Qole’s ship with the intention of convincing her to come with him, but it doesn’t end up being as easy as he’d hoped.

As this is YA, it’s not surprising that there is a bit of romance involved, but the story is much more than that. The characters are interesting and varied, the world-building is excellent, and pacing is pretty good (though I think it gets a little rushed near the end). Qole is tough and believable without being overly angsty. And the choices Nev has to make near the end are difficult but they work in the novel.

If you like space operas, you’ll dig this one. I plan to pick up the sequel some time.