TITLE: Dead Silence
AUTHOR: S.A. Barnes
AGE RANGE: Adult
PUBLISHER: Tor Nightfire
Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.
What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.
Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.
Somehow, I always knew it was going to come back to this. Me. Alone with the dead.
There are a few specific things I adore: horror in space, search party missions (and similar themes), and conventionally unlikable, flawed narrators that I can’t help but root for from the very first page. Given that Dead Silence was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, I feel very lucky that it held all three of these things and executed them exactly the way I like it. If ever there has been a book that felt specifically “for me”, Dead Silence is that book. It’s one of those stories where, every time I hear criticism for it, I’m thinking, “Okay, sure, I get where you’re coming from… but I liked that about it!”
These people did not die from starvation. Or an environmental systems failure. Whatever happened here was violent and seemingly unexpected.
The entire story is so incredibly atmospheric and gave me the most wonderful mix of Event Horizon and Ghost Ship vibes — which you should probably know were two of the most influential films of my early childhood horror watching and are eternal favorites of mine. The important thing about Dead Silence is that it never felt like it was ripping off another story, but it paid clear homage in many places, and I loved that element of it so much!
And in the end, I suppose that’s what it comes down to. What you can live with or what you’re willing to die for.
Finally, I adored Claire as a narrator. She was unreliable and unlikable in all the ways that I enjoy most, and I loved the depictions of her PTSD and social anxiety (the latter of which hit very close to home!). I found her easy to love and root for, I wanted her to get a happy ending, and I genuinely liked the time that I got to spend inside her head. I would say it’s actually rare that I love a protagonist in a horror novel this much, and that alone — not even counting how much I enjoyed the plot, the other characters, the writing, and the setting — has me incredibly eager to read more from S.A. Barnes!
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.
ableism, forced institutionalization, violence, murder, gore, anxiety, PTSD, sickness
BIPOC side characters, depictions of PTSD and social anxiety
— destiny ♥