‘Dead Silence’: a lot of my favorite tropes packed into one creepy book

July 8, 2022

TITLE: Dead Silence
AUTHOR: S.A. Barnes
GENRE: Horror/Sci-fi/Thriller
PAGES: 343pg
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.

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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.

content warnings →

ableism, forced institutionalization, violence, murder, gore, anxiety, PTSD, sickness

representation →

BIPOC side characters, depictions of PTSD and social anxiety


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. I’m so glad you also liked this! I completely agree that it didn’t feel like it was ripping off other stories at all but still had enough to draw comparisons; I’ve never seen Event Horizon but I watched Ghost Ship a ton and definitely saw the similarities!

      1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, too! 🙂 Oh my gosh, if you’re cool with the body horror elements at all, I HIGHLY recommend Event Horizon. It’s an all-time favorite of mine for sure!

    1. Concur 100%. I couldn’t help but think of those movies, so when I reached Act 3, I was worried about a rip-off. Happily, they proved me wrong!

    1. The fact that my spouse and I are going to be buddy reading this off your review just fills my heart so, so much! P.S. They said your review is really good and they can’t wait to listen to the audiobook! ♥

    1. It’s always so satisfying when a book you’ve been highly anticipating lives up to your expectations. I’m glad to hear this one did for you! 😍 I wish that I wasn’t such a chicken because this sounds really good and I’m kinda tempted to try but also… I’m just The Ultimate Chicken™️? 😂 Maybe I’ll keep it on my radar… Great review, Destiny!

      1. Haha oh no, Dini! 😂😭 I’m sorry to hear that! If you ever feel up to giving it a try, I hope you enjoy it, but definitely don’t push yourself into anything you aren’t comfortable with! It wasn’t the scariest thing I’ve ever read, but it did have some VERY creepy scenes! And thank you so much! 🥰

    1. I just bought this one last week – I’ve seen some great reviews for it. Hoping to read it over vacation. Awesome review!

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