review by Maryom
Katya's World, Russalka, is one of endless ocean with no landmass to interrupt it. The colonists mostly live in sealed environments dug out of the sea bed, moving between them by submarine and rarely seeing daylight.
Katya Kuriakova is just starting her first job as navigator on her Uncle's submarine, Pushkin's Baby. She's expecting a routine start to a routine job, transporting cargo along well-known submarine routes. Then the sub is commandeered by the Federal Maritime Authority to transport the infamous pirate, Havilland Kane, to prison forcing the sub to take the direct route through The Weft, an area of unusually random currents normally avoided. When they disturb something monstrous lurking there, things are never going to be routine again.
Katya's World is what I think of as a proper old-fashioned sci-fi story - set on a world somewhere out in space with strange geography and lifestyles - not so common in these days of paranormal fantasy. With Russalka, Howard has created a complete believable world, thought out its advantages and drawbacks, explored its history - the only thing I felt was slightly lacking was an exploration of the inhabited stations - I hope this will come with later books. On this world he's set an amazing story with pirates, rebels and a monster lurking in the depths that may bring an end to life as the Russalkins know it. It has almost more twists and turns than I would have thought possible!
Katya is a heroine clever and resourceful beyond her 15 years - think of Star Trek's Wesley Crusher crossed with Alien's Ripley and you're getting close. The other characters are equally well developed with unexpected depths and subtleties - not the two-dimensional cut-outs so often found in sci-fi.
Katya's World is just the first of a series - I just hope the rest are as good. It's marketed as Young Adult but I found it a totally compelling read regardless, so don't be put off if you are older than YA.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Strange Chemistry
Genre - Sci-Fi, Adventure, YA/adult
Buy Katya's World (Strange Chemistry) from Amazon