Chasing Shadows by KN Salustro (The Star Hunters #1)
Star Rating: 5/5
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Buy the book: Amazon
Synopsis (from Amazon): STAND AND PROTECT Star Federation soldiers live by these words as they work to uphold peace across the galaxy. Founded at the start of the Andromedan War, the Star Federation annihilated its enemies and has gone unchallenged since then. Sometimes, powerful forces surface and demand more attention, be they drug lords, pirate crews, or bounty hunters worthy of Alpha Classification, but the Star Federation stands firm. Following the assassination of one of his subordinates, Fleet Commander Lance Ashburn goes on the hunt for the Alpha Class bounty hunter known as the Shadow. One of the best officers the Star Federation has ever seen, Commander Ashburn comes closer than anyone to eliminating the Shadow, but upon meeting her, he learns that a much larger and deadlier enemy roams the stars, one that could destroy the Star Federation. Caught between the Star Feds and her own dark past, bounty hunter Lissa a.k.a. the Shadow is pulled into a battle with no clean escape. With enemies on all sides, she must choose her allies very carefully. Her decisions could save the galaxy or plunge it into war, and this time, the price of enduring peace may be too high.
One of the most delightful experiences I get as a reader is reading a book that doesn't fall into my usual genre and loving it. This is another one of those experiences. I had the pleasure of meeting KN Salustro at BookCon last year when I went as an attendee, and she is so awesome, not to mention hella talented (more on that later). So I went ahead and bought her book without knowing anything about it. I've been trying for the last year and a half or so to support my fellow indies by eschewing my genre tastes and just diving blind into their tales. And it's been awesome! See, I've never really read a book like Chasing Shadows because I've never really been into military sci-fi. Can I call it that? TBH, I'm not familiar enough with all the subgenres of sci-fi to really say, but I feel like that's the right categorization. Space Opera is what's listed on Amazon, and heck if I know what that means. I just know it's light years from my usual fare. He-ey, sci-fi joke. *Ba-dump ch!* 🥁 Anyhoodles, what I can tell you is that it reminded me of Star Trek, which I can totally relate to since I was raised on TNG, Voyager, and DS9. Holla back, fellow Trekkies! I'm a character girl, though, so the space battles and whatnot never really appealed to me. Thus why I have zero books like this on my shelves. And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
There are a lot of things to praise in this book. Character diversity (both alien and human), equality (hooray for equally complex female and male characters!), fantastic action that never stopped throughout the whole book, the descriptions of planets that gave me such visions - seriously people, who needs hallucinogenic drugs when we have books? And KN's verb usage is on point! Gah! I adore her strong verbs! Yes, that's incredibly technical and geeky, but they were so powerful I can't not mention it.
Can we talk about the arkins, though? What the heck's an arkin, you might ask. The little critter in the photo at the beginning of this post. That's an arkin. They're intelligent, space-dwelling, flying, cat-dragon critters, and they are such a fun piece of this universe. I need one IRL, stat! And KN, magical fabricator that she is, makes them! Yeah, she's a frickin' incredible artist too. Her plushies (like my little Cassiopeia) are sold via her Etsy shop, and she has some AH-MAZE-ING Star Hunters-specific planet artwork in her RedBubble and Society6 shops.
Look at the detail on this guy! The wee paw pads (aka smush beans) and the eyes are definitely my favorite parts! And these planets! Soooooo pretty! I don't know what this style of artwork is called, but I LOVE it! 😍
I really only have one critique about the book. There are a few small info-dumps around the beginning, but I haven't dinged the review rating for it because I don't really know that there was a better way to handle it. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to build an entirely new world from scratch, and sometimes you have to just get the information across to the reader in order to move on with the story, especially if it's background info.
So there's my review. If you've read the book and have thoughts, let's discuss in the comments below 👇. Or tell me about a book you ran into that was totally outside of your usual genres that you loved. We can chat about that too.
Thanks for reading!