Void Black Shadow by Corey J. White is the second novella in the author’s science-fiction, space opera, galactic empire series Voidwitch Saga. I read the first one about a month or so ago, and positively fell in love with everything about it. Desperate to continue onwards with the narrative and the characters from book one, I sought out the sequel at my local library and final got a chance to read through it. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed at all.
Void Black Shadow picks up very soon after the events of Killing Gravity, and is, in a nutshell, a prison break story. If you’d like to know more about the series, specifically the first instalment, you can read my full, spoiler-free review for it here.
I’m honestly at a loss for words on how to write this review. A big part of me simply wants to gush about all of the fantastic facets that have made me fall in love with it so. These qualities are things that I didn’t realise I was missing from the hard science-fiction genre as of late until I was able to experience them in such a vibrant manner as in the Voidwitch Saga. They vary from a badass and supremely imperfect main character named Mars, to the exquisitely detailed and engrossing world-building, to the epic-level battle sequences, and lastly the brilliant way it’s all brought together to create a unique reading experience.
In Void Black Shadow, similarly to its predecessor, the action picks up almost instantaneously and stays relatively constant until the very last page. Mars is someone who really knows how to get trouble to follow her around like a mad fricking shadow. Unlike other science-fiction books I’ve read recently, the action in this one works wonderfully to engage the reader with feelings of intense apprehension and suspenseful anticipation. In the midst of blood spraying the walls and limbs being twisted and wretched from their respective sockets, you have a character who is severely impacted by what she does and the anger that fuels her abilities to do so. The fighting isn’t just here for decoration or shock value, it tells its own story and enhances the ones surrounding our cast.
Mars is a beautifully flawed person. She had a terribly traumatic upbringing and history that would incite pity from practically anyone. Yet, she doesn’t allow herself to feel like a victim. This works to her strengths as a warrior as well as to maintain her emotional fortitude, however, it also creates a distinct air of short-sightedness that gets her arse into tons of shite, and more often than not, it isn’t limited to simply affecting her alone. Mars’ impulsive tendencies have severe consequences that further contribute to the tightness of the suspense that the series is built upon, which becomes very apparent with the events that unfold in this volume.
The world-building, as aforementioned, is gorgeously crafted. The attention to details with regard to technology, the atmosphere of battling in space and zero gravity, the different planets, the jaw-dropping prison colony, and various sorts people while maintaining a fast-paced and succinct narrative is difficult feat to accomplish. Yet, in Void Black Shadow, that is exactly what we get, and it’s written so bloody well. It became rather easy for me to allow my brain to get utterly swept up into the universe set before me, allowing me to experience everything that Mars experiences on an intimate level. I can also see many of the advancements in technology and the designs of the prisons being a possibility in humanity’s far future. Science-fiction at its absolute best is an entity that is frightening because of how real the potential for these futures become.
A few other minor things that I appreciated include the furry cat critter companion of Mars, named Ocho. It is so damn adorable and probably my favourite fucking thing in the whole series so far. (It’s inspired by cats, of course I’m in love, and of course I probably already mentioned this in my review for the first book.) The last one-fourth is far more emotionally evocative than the rest as personal tragedies leave their mark on the people involved. I almost felt my heart clenching in a literal sense due to the nature of these losses.
With all of the amazing traits that I have gushed over, the novel wasn’t a one-hundred-percent-perfect sell. There are two minor things that irked me a tiny bit, but in the grand scheme of the narrative, they aren’t really that terrible; more so when I realise there’s still one book left for redemption.
The first is the lack of character growth. I witnessed morsels of growth with one or two side characters, but not nearly as much evolution as I had hoped to get from Mars. Given how this instalment ended, I strongly feel (hope) that the growth shall be coming in book three. It would be nearly impossible to ignore it at this specific point in the story. The second element I didn’t care for was a twist that allows the climax to reach its potential. That particular twist felt ridiculously convenient to me. Yes, the results of that twist was anything but convenient, however given the nature of this thing, it made me feel like the result was inevitable as a weak means of balancing those shortcomings out. Either way, motives aside, it was a big detraction from the overall quality of the book. Legit, everything else kicked serious arse, which leaves me confused as to why such a poor choice in progression would have been made here.
Overall, Void Black Shadow was a phenomenal follow-up to its precursor, Killing Gravity. I would even daresay that it was a bit better. If you are in the mood or market for adult science-fiction, galactic empire narratives that don’t shy away from graphic violence and language, with extraordinary writing and craftsmanship, then I highly recommend Voidwitch Saga series to you. Please note: the book is not for people who don’t enjoy gory narratives.
4.75 shards outta 5!
Trigger Warnings: Sequences of graphic violence. Graphic language. Disturbing scenes of torture inflicted on prisoners of war.
Voidwitch Saga Series: