Book Review: Chilling Effect

Valerie Valdes

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 13th February 2020
spoilers? nope, or minimal at least


A debut space opera that features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her misfit crew . . .

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister is kidnapped, Eva must undergo a series of dangerous missions to pay the ransom. But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead, and her engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Galley provided by publisher

Based on the reviews, this seems a bit of a hit or miss book, and for me it fell squarely into the latter category. It had all the ingredients for me to love it, and yet it fell flat.

Chilling Effect follows Captain Eva Innocente who is forced to work for a crime syndicate after her sister is kidnapped. But she isn’t allowed to tell her crew, and must instead complete the tasks in secrecy. And then obviously the truth comes out and, you know what, I sort of lost track of where the plot was supposed to be going at this point.

I think my main problem with this book was that it was almost trying too hard to be a funny adventurous romp through space (a la Star Trek). Everything happened in a kind of bitty way, and didn’t always clearly connect together, most obviously at the point where everything is revealed and Eva decides that…she wants her ship back? She doesn’t care that this crime syndicate might destroy the galaxy, she just wants to steal her ship back.

Which leads me to my second point. Eva is such a hypocritical and selfish character. Selfish, because she doesn’t tell her crew, but just gets them into increasingly dangerous situations for no apparent reason (from their POVs), and because she just wants her ship back when the rest of the galaxy is at stake. I read one review, about halfway through the book, which mentioned how she seemed to be aiming at “charmingly reckless” but veered more towards general disregard of crew’s safety while claiming to be all about keeping them safe. Hence the hypocrisy. (Not to mention that time she referred to a character as being self-centered when she herself had been so for the entire book. Not that I’m still frustrated by this.) Ultimately, I hadn’t disliked a main character as much as I did Eva in a long time. Also there was hints that she may have been complicit in the deaths of a bunch of people which is why she was out of the game (ha), but like. She didn’t really show much remorse for it. It was never going to be smooth sailing, me and her.

The final thing I really didn’t like was the romance with an insect alien. Like, I do not want to read even the beginnings of potential sex with an insect alien, let alone the foreplay bit. I completely skipped those parts, I won’t lie. Also, I don’t mean to sound like I’m policing how you write sexualities, but Eva was meant to be pansexual and, unless I missed something, that didn’t seem obvious. Of course, the insect alien could have been what that was about. Maybe. But anyways. There are so many simple ways to establish that, and I never felt as though it was established. (Disclaimer: I was skimming after a bit so it’s entirely likely I just missed it.)

So yeah. In the end, it was just another hit-or-miss book that completely missed me.

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