Book Review – Earthrise

Second in my M.C.A. Hogarth series, moving chronologically forward in my knowledge of Micah.

Now, we all know that your friendly neighborhood Rion here is a sucker for a good Kickstarter. I love being able to look at someone that wants to do something, hand them some of my money, and say – directly – “Here, go do it!” with a big smile on my face. After having read and reviewed Rosary for Hogarth, I’d kicked her campaign for Earthrise – mainly because it was 1) a book 2) by an author I was familiar with 3) that was offering a signed copy of the book upon completion for an exceptionally reasonable amount of money.

Sold!So when I finally got my copy of Earthrise after having copy-edited Mindtouch for her, I was ecstatic. Earthrise promised me more Eldritch and more Pelted people and more interesting times in the space world. I am a firm believer in more.

What I got was a distinct feeling of deja vu when I opened the book. It turned out I’d at least read a piece of the original online serial of Earthrise at some other point – possibly when I’d kicked the project – and had utterly forgotten. Luckily, my memory was that I was in favor of the book, and I kept reading.

That is, my friends, the exact thing to do when you’re handed a book. My father’s rule of thumb was that if a book couldn’t hook him in the first 100 pages, he wasn’t going to waste his time on it. Lots of books to read – if it’s not interesting, there are six more waiting to take its place. I’m of the same mind – and Hogarth, as usual – delivered. Reese Eddings, the captain of the wayward ship the book is named for, is a classic anti-narrator; she is gruff and rough around the edges and is a woman in a “man’s world” and is willing to kick any man that says that to her right in between the legs. But she means well, and her crew knows it. It’s a ragtag bunch on a ship that would have been junked by any other captain – but it’s Reese’s ship, and the Earthrise listens to her.

The context of the book is simple: Reese went into debt, and was bailed out by a mysterious benefactor, who said they would call on her to repay in the future. Reese has been toodling on blissfully, hoping that day is far in the future, at the beginning of the novel – when she is contacted by her benefactor and forced to pay the piper. What she is given is the name of an Eldritch – Hirianthial Sarel Jisiensire. What she doesn’t know, is who he is – or why he needs to be found, other than the fact that he’s an Eldritch far from home.

What she finds is a fight against slavers, pirates, the nature of her crew – and herself, more often than not, as she is faced with the utterly unknown.

Characters like Reese have always fascinated me. It’s exactly the type of character I love to write – the one that hates to let anyone get in, but undoubtedly has someone wheedle their way in so to find their much softer interior. Pairing a character that bristly with an Eldritch, the touch-espers who barely understand themselves (and they like it that way, thank you very much) let alone the rest of the world (and they like it that way)…and you get a kind of awkward and tense chemistry that keeps the most wary of readers intrigued. Every move is a time bomb; any altercation could be the last. Reese’s crew knows that she doesn’t really work that way – and for the most part, they’re right – but no one knows about Hirianthial. No one knows the limits of the race whose limits are apparently set so far out, their planet is barred from the rest of the universe.

And of course, Hogarth shows her finesse as a writer by not only making the central characters intriguing and engaging, but by surrounding them with a detailed and deep supporting cast. It’s easy to let friends and colleagues fall to the wayside when your interest lies somewhere else, but Hogarth doesn’t allow you to forget the rest of the crew. Sascha and Irine, the unflappable Harat-Sharii twin set with more to their history than either would normally ever let you see. Kis’eh’t the Glaseah and Bryer the Phoenix, the more somber balances to the extremes of the twins, who pop up in the most unexpected places to help center Reese. And Allacazam, the Flitzbe that reminds yours truly of an exceptionally more useful (and less…prolific) Tribble who gives Reese a safe place to be herself.

The second I heard a sequel was in the works for Earthrise, I’d started saving to held fund the Kickstarter. What Hogarth has done in this novel – and in most if not all of the rest of her work – is given a world filled with characters that the reader can’t help but fall in love with. Her grasp on plot is firm, but never overshadowed by her work with character, and she makes them work so well hand-in-hand that it becomes difficult to see where one begins and the other ends. Wherever Reese and the crew of the Earthrise are going next, I want to be there as well.

And if that doesn’t make a good writer, I don’t know what does.

Pick up your copy of Earthrise here.


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