When Merlon's parents disappeared, his world fell apart. When his best friend died, he lost the ability to enjoy life.
For Captain Merlon Ricosta, Lanier's death, two years prior, feels like yesterday. But when a map from his parents is discovered, he decides to push aside his grief to get closure and follow the route they vanished along eighteen years ago.
Despite political trouble, Merlon leads his crew into the unknowns of strange galaxies in his quest to find out why his parents never returned.
In River in the Galaxy Merlon fights to keep his crew alive and suppress his prolonged grief and depression. But he must face his own struggles in order to protect the ship and the people aboard.
River In The Galaxy is the first novel on the Inner Universe, and the debut novel from Natalie Kelda. This book feels really difficult to classify into a genre, but I think the fairest way to define is by calling it a slice-of-life naval fantasy set up in space, with some elements that could be ascribed to the science-fiction genre. Putting the emphasis on the slice-of-life elements.
Merlon is trying to convince the FA in order to start an expedition to follow the journey where his parents disappeared in the galaxy; and after having to accept unfair conditions, he is ready to start the travel onboard the Lucia, his boat.
This journey will imply traveling across the galaxy, going to investigate the river where they knew his parents were close before their disappearance; and with extra pressure, as FA is asking him to find new riches for them, while having to keep two apprentices as part of the crew.
With this premise, what we have is a great journey across the galaxy, with a strong focus on the relationship between the crew onboard; traveling across space is a dangerous job, but most of the people onboard are the closest to a family that Merlon has.
It is important to remark that Merlon is one of the best depression representations I've read; there are many small details that make it feel accurate (saying as a person who has suffered it myself). A character that doesn't "heal" is a breath of fresh air.
The universe (literally) gives so many Stardust vibes, but with a focus on the details that make it accurate to how dangerous a journey in the exterior space would be (like how nocive radiation would be to the body). The naval fantasy aboard the Lucia will take great part of the spotlight, but we also get to see different cities and cultures, an aspect that I hope is explored more in future books.
Pacing is relatively slow, but I would say that is a part of the slice-of-life characteristics of this story; so it doesn't really bother. There are scenes where the emotional charge is so high, balanced with more mundane ones; a nice equilibrium to make the story matters.
River in the Galaxy is a strong debut, a novel perfect for lovers of Stardust and even I would say Legends & Lattes. I personally want to continue exploring the universe aboard the Lucia with Merlon and the crew.
Danish by birth, Natalie Kelda now lives in the green hills of Yorkshire, UK. She spends her evenings writing, drawing, and creating while only mildly hindered by her adventure cat, Barry.
Natalie has been an active Viking reenactor, advanced martial artist and avid horse rider. She loves to take on new challenges - especially if the activities build experiences that can help with writing the next story or the one after.
Storytelling and inventing new worlds has been a part of Natalie’s life since before she could read or write. Nowadays she mostly writes in English but you’ll often discover hints of her native Danish or some of the other languages she has picked up along the way.