Mother and Monster by Rob Stoakes, 286 pages, Akasha Publishing Ltd., June 29th 2017, Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Space Opera. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
As a toddler, Samantha O’Summer witnessed a massacre by space pirates. Her mother died protecting her. Samantha managed to temporarily defeat the monster, scurry away, and escape in a pod. The Fladres known as Kauldus never forgave or forgot that an infant bested her in front of her crew. Samantha’s pod landed on Danegeld Four, home of the Ansaxo, a peace-loving, kind-hearted race. She was adopted by Elder Omleth, from whom she later takes her mercenary name “Huntress Omleth”. As she grew to maturity under his wise and caring eye, Samantha learned the ways of the Ansaxo, using their technology to protect the prey of the jungle from the predators. Sadly, the pirates return to destroy the Ansaxo while she is off-world. Elder Omleth is among the dead, but remains in contact with her through a holographic form. He exacts a promise from Samantha that she’ll never return to Danegeld Four.
Samantha embarks on a mission, crossing paths once more with her never-ending enemy, Kauldus. The pirates gather and raise Pheliapods, a strong, carnivorous species used by the pirates to wipe out civilizations, including the Ansaxo. Samantha saves their prisoners, the food for the beasts. While there, she finds an infant Pheliapod who imprints on her. This imprinting creates a telepathic bond between them and grants healing and strength to Samantha when acting in defense of her Pheliapod “child”, Gertrude. Realizing who Samantha is, Kauldus makes it her goal to find her, destroy her, and take back the Pheliapod. While Samantha isn’t destroyed, she does lose Gertrude. Samantha heads back to Danegeld Four to rescue Gertrude and avenge the death of her parents at the hands of Kauldus. Will she succeed? Will she survive against such superior foes?
I very much enjoyed this novel. This is a fascinating story about revenge and what we owe those who raised us. Ultimately, this story is about two worldviews clashing: one that states the strong must devour the weak, and the other which says protecting the weak and innocent is the greatest virtue the strong can aspire to. It was fast-paced with a lot of action and well-written, exciting battle sequences. The motives and designs of various factions and characters were well-woven. As the stakes went increasingly higher, I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Samantha could walk away with her life, much less overcome. Samantha’s journey ultimately leads her to better understand herself. She’s freed from the shackles of others’ expectations and embraces who she is deep down- a true hero. I’d recommend this book to science fiction readers.
You can find this book at Mother and Monster.
Mercenary Samantha Omleth was one of the victims of a planetary assault by a vicious band of pirates. Rumours emerge of the pirates trying to breed dangerous animals on the planet she once called home, so when she is hired to investigate she eagerly returns to exact her revenge. Samantha finds that her deadliest enemy is no pirate but her own past.
About the Author:
Rob Stoakes is a writer currently based in Hull, UK, having lived there for most of his life. Ever since leaving school at the age of sixteen, he has been pursuing the arts in one form or another. At college, he studied video games development, and at university in Scarborough he studied digital arts.Both during and after this time he has written short stories across the web, starred in and worked on short sci-fi films and made video games that have been shown at several conventions. He is also a keen sketch artist, and has written articles for several websites.He is currently the co-producer of film and video game based podcast Battleship Potemkast as well as a film reviewer for Movie Metropolis UK. He spends most days writing in local bars, or training in Muay Thai kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.