Saturday, May 27, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: "The Hematophages" by Stephen Kozeniewski

Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.
Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.
Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.
But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

So, you must know by now how big a fan I am of Kozeniewski. He always has something new to offer with each book, and The Hematophages is no different. I was wary at first, because I don't read a lot of sci-fi. In fact, outside of Star Wars and Doctor Who, I don't like the genre very much at all. But this book has so many horror elements that I loved it despite it being sci-fi.
Paige is the main character and it's hard not to love her: she's snarky and craves adventure; like most of the author's characters, she has a unique voice and you get to know her well as the story goes on.
In this book there are two horrific creatures: the Hematophages themselves and the other humans who seem to have a devastating self-destructive streak within most of them. Even Paige, who like I said is a really great character.
I think hardcore sci-fi fans might be disappointed that the world-building could have used more plotting or description, but as a horror fan I was glad he didn't take pages upon pages to talk about space and what the worlds are like. It is described better in the actions of people. in how they act and think and well, she's in space. That's more than enough for me.
There's a great amount of humor, more than I would have expected, and it offsets the violence and darkness of the story. All in all, an excellent read from Kozeniewski that I recommend to all horror fans who are looking for something different to tantalize their minds with.


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