The Blighted Stars and The Fractured Dark (Orbit, May 23, 2023 and September 26, 2023). Covers by Jaime Jones
Megan E. O’Keefe, author of the The Protectorate trilogy (Velocity Weapon, Chaos Vector, Catalyst Gate) and The Scorched Continent novels (Steal the Sky, Break the Chains, and Inherit the Flame) has what looks like another hit on her hands with a popular new series. The first book, The Blighted Stars, arrived in May, and sequel The Fractured Dark is due in September.
I’m hearing a lot about the first book. It’s a space opera/romance with a fascinating premise (upload your consciousnesses into 3D-printed bodies), rich worldbuilding (a galaxy is ruled by wealthy families, a hunt for unspoiled “cradle worlds,” and a resistance group working to save them through guerrilla warfare), and great characters, including an idealistic resistance fighter stranded on a dead planet with the heir to the Mercator Dynasty.
But what fascinates me is the promise of creepy adventure on a dead planet, and The Blighted Stars sounds like it delivers.
Winter is Coming calls it successful sci-fi horror.
A creepy, immersive book that’s hard to put down… There’s some great horror in this novel; I compared it to Aliens, which is something I thought of again and again while reading. Naira is a badass action heroine who would do Ellen Ripley proud, but some of the things she and Tarquin come across on Sixth Cradle are downright terrifying…
This was easily one of my favorite reads of the year.
BookPage has the best wrap-up of the book I’ve read.
Megan E. O’Keefe’s The Blighted Stars delivers futuristic technology, a power-hungry ruling class, a bit of mystery, a sprinkle of the macabre and a compelling, complicated relationship between its two leads.
In the distant future, the Mercator family maintains a tight control over humanity’s life among the stars. The Mercators mine “cradle worlds,” planets that are lush and unspoiled, for resources, but the side effect is a fungal bloom that eventually kills the planet.
Idealistic, passionate Naira Sharp is a member of the Conservators, a resistance group that tries to save these cradle worlds through sabotage and guerrilla warfare. Tarquin Mercator is the heir to his family’s empire, but he’s a scientist at heart, and he wonders where the planet-killing fungus comes from. Their worlds collide when Naira poses as Tarquin’s bodyguard in order to infiltrate and destroy the Mercators from within. But when their ship crashes onto the newest cradle world, Naira and Tarquin are faced with the supposedly impossible: The planet has already been devoured by the fungus. Together with the other survivors of the crash, they must work together to survive and uncover the truth…
The Blighted Stars would be a terrific starting point for anyone interested in dipping a toe into the space opera subgenre… If future entries in O’Keefe’s Devoured Worlds saga are as exciting as this book, sci-fi fans will be thanking their lucky stars for years to come.
I’m in the market for a good science fiction horror set on a creepy planet, and this one looks perfect.
Back cover of The Blighted Stars
Our previous coverage of Megan E. O’Keefe includes:
The Universe Under Attack: The Protectorate Trilogy
Future Treasures: Chaos Vector
New Treasures: Velocity Weapon
An Epic Steampunk Firefly: The Scorched Continent Trilogy
Future Treasures: Steal The Sky
Here’s the complete deets.
The Blighted Stars (Orbit Books, 488 pages, $18.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, May 23, 2023) — cover by Jaime Jones
The Fractured Dark (Orbit, 544 pages, $18.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, September 26, 2023) — cover by Jaime Jones
See all our coverage of the best new releases in science fiction and fantasy here.