Title: Chilling Effect
Series: Chilling Effect, #1
Author: Valerie Valdes
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publishing Date: September 17th 2019
Age Category & Genre: Adult, Science Fiction, Humor
Summary: A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.
Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, 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 after she rejects his advances, and her sweet 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.
T/CW: violence, sexual harassment, casual misogyny, stalking, mental illness, murder, mentions of cannibalism, hospitalization, kidnapping, problematic family, sexual situations
WRITING, CHARACTERS, SETTING
Chilling Effect follows the adventure of our Latinx heroine, Captain Eva Innocente, and her crew, as they travel in space and try to save her sister, Mari. They used to work as courier of small cargos in space until a syndicate kidnapped her sister and she had to follow their—dangerous and mostly involving something illegal—orders to get her back. It was written on third person’s POV and focuses on Eva. And is set on various planets, moons, etc. in this galaxy.
This book is filled with quite unique characters. I really appreciate the creativity and imagination put in creating them. Eva is human, but her crew and majority of the creatures they have encountered in their journey are not. From creatures called quennians with palps and whose emotions you can smell with the help of translators, to tuanns whose skin is green with mouth like petals of unopened rose, to human that can connect their self to the ship making it essentially their second body, to cats that can hypnotize, and many more. Even Eva herself has a mechanical heart. The variety of creatures in this book is amazing.
Eva is such a badass heroine. Not a typical, likable one. She is stubborn, she always does reckless stuffs, she gets into fights and troubles, but underneath she is a good person who struggles with many things and cares about others. I did not connect with her or with any other characters, but I still ended up liking her and the members of her crew. They are their own beings. And are just cool in their own ways.
SPACE OPERA, FOUND FAMILY, PUNS, AND MORE
Chilling Effect is fast-paced and filled with adventure. The action scenes are exciting. Imagining those scenes in my head made me feel as if I was watching an action movie set in space. With some encounters that gave me adrenaline rush.
This also explores what does it mean to not have a tight relationship with your family by blood, for them to be the persons to put you in danger themselves. Despite that, it shows that you can still feel the warmth of having a family who loves you and cares for you even though the ones who are supposed to do so, do not. Hence, I really love the relationship of Eva and her crew and seeing them find family in one another.
I also appreciate how it embraces Eva’s identity as a Latinx, especially by normalizing using Spanish words throughout the book. It also has puns thrown every now and then. And the plot is not as predictable as I expected.
It took me quite a long time to finish this book. It was a struggle for me getting through the first half of it. I enjoyed the second half more. Though I highly appreciate the creativity put in building this world, or galaxy rather, it was just overwhelming for me. It was hard to familiarize myself with this galaxy, as there are just so many details, so many new words, so many new creatures and new planets or stuffs in that space that was hard for me to process. Hence, totally preventing me from being immersed in the story.
There are many technical and scientific stuffs too. I appreciate how hard it must have been to study about those, giving us information about ships, technology and science but given how disconnected I felt with the story especially on the first half, I was just not interested enough to do my own research about them (which I usually do).
I did not really feel the romance between Eva and Vakar. I also want to know more about Eva’s mechanical heart. I do not think we got enough about that. And wish I have seen more of the psychic cats too.
Chilling Effect is a fast-paced and action-packed space opera featuring Eva Innocente and her crew, and their journey of saving her sister, and unraveling secrets in their galaxy. I have found some aspects I really like, but also some that I did not. Still, I ended up liking it as a whole. I have a feeling I will enjoy the sequel more. I am so looking forward to it!
Valerie Valdes’s work has been featured in Uncanny Magazine, Time Travel Short Stories and Nightmare Magazine. Her debut novel Chilling Effect was published by Harper Voyager in September 2019 and Orbit UK in February 2020, with starred reviews in Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. It was also named one of Library Journal’s best SF/fantasy novels of 2019. The sequel, Prime Deceptions, was published in September 2020.
Valerie currently works as a freelance writer and copy editor. She attended the University of Miami, where she majored in English literature with minors in creative writing and motion pictures. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise and has taught classes in speculative short fiction writing.
Valerie has served as a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month for over a decade. In her spare time, she enjoys playing video games, watching cartoons and learning to sword fight. She lives in Georgia with her husband, children and cats.