So when the universe falls to pieces, it doesn't mean your life has to, right? That comes later.
Jeane Blake, captain of the spaceship Skylark, makes her living by looting dead worlds, planets fallen prey to naturally occurring wormhole-like rifts plaguing the cosmos. She survives the only way she knows how: avoiding commitment and arguing with her dead foster father's ghost. But when her crew stumbles upon an alien device that could collapse the wormhole network and wipe out all sentient life, they catch the hungry eyes of the Union, a tyrannical empire hunting the sinister tech.
As she flees the Union's brainwashed agents, Jeane is forced to take on a shady mission and gets stuck assisting the runaway monarch of a technocrat planet. Queen Maura Tholis is seeking the aid of an interstellar resistance to reclaim her war-torn world, with another trouble-magnet device as her bargaining chip: a glove that allows her to command AI systems. Jeane couldn't care less about the whole deal, but things become personal when the Union annexes the place she calls home. And it might be her fault.
Reluctant to become weapons in the hands of power-hungry militants and desperate rebels, smuggler and queen join forces. But to save their homes, they must redefine themselves, work with the enemy, and face personal traumas they'd buried long ago-and only stars know which challenge might break them in the end.
Skylark in the Fog is an ambitious and clever space opera novel, the debut of Helyna L. Clove as an author, a space adventure which puts the focus on the bonds between the characters and found family while also showing the vastness of the universe. Enormous stakes are in front of our characters, but that doesn't mean their own problems will disappear by an act of magic.
We have two really different POVs for the story; we have Jeane, captain of the Skylark, a bit mentally broken by the circumstances and her past, trying to get a life for her and her crew as lanehunters. She's really protective of the rest of the members, and to be fair, she's dealing the best she can even when feeling grumpy (and I don't really blame her, certain author has decided that she loves her so much, and love is pain, right?). A last mission brings her to enter in contact with Queen Maura, monarch of a world which is about to be annexed by the Union; and when the Union annexes the place Jeane called home, all become a personal matter. Maura's POV is lighter than Jeane's one, she's more optimistic by nature even when the whole world she's supposed to be leading is in shambles; Clove makes a great job balancing both perspectives.
While the overarching story about the Union fighting to get control over the maximum number of systems is a high-stakes one, this doesn't mean that we also have some smaller character arcs, which allow us to explore more about the past of our characters, putting the emphasis on the bonds we create with others, on how trauma needs to be treated and how those others, that found family, can also be part of the healing.
And let me talk a bit about the worldbuilding, because the author's enthusiasm for space is contagious. The universe shown is vast, but at the same time, Clove manages to keep it simple so it is not overwhelming; cities are welt built and transmit that futuristic sensation that you can expect of the genre, and the space scenes are also accompanied by action that keeps you on the edge of the seat.
I absolutely loved Skylark in the Fog; and these characters deserve a hug after all what they have experienced in the book. If you like epic space-operas with smaller plots that allow you to explore more of the characters, Skylark is an excellent choice; do yourself a favour, and pick it today.
Helyna L. Clove
Helyna L. Clove (she/they) is a lover of the written word, hot comfort drinks, a universe full of stars, and all things neat and kind. She was born in 1988 in Hungary, and was raised in a small village a few miles off the shores of Lake Balaton. Described as someone always having “her head in the clouds”, she spent the first fifteen years of her life mostly consuming books from her dad’s home library, watching some great 90’s sci-fi series and movies, slowly working on her eclectic music taste, and dreaming about being abducted by cool alien friends.
After the arduous years of acquiring her astrophysics degree (because if they were not coming for her, she would damn well at least try and spy on those aliens) she worked as a researcher in Budapest, moving onto the green pastures of South-France in 2018, then Wales in 2022, where she currently lives with her small family of a wonderful boyfriend and Puddle, the tortoiseshell cat. She spends most of her time commandeering telescopes, staring at molecular spectra, writing/reading, cooking, playing video games, and trying her hand at different crafts.
Although she has been, as the Hungarians say, writing to her desk drawer since she was a kindergartener, it wasn’t until 2019 that she stepped out into the world with her stories. In the hell-year of 2020 she finished her first full-length novel, Skylark in the Fog, a light-hearted but honest space opera featuring a grumpy spaceship captain and her wayward friends on a quest to find their metaphorical (and maybe literal) homes, and, if everything goes well which it rarely does, to save the universe as well.
Her current projects include Imbued and Untwined, a new adult/adult dark fantasy duology about magic and love and how those might break the world, a paranormal horror about a team of demonhunters, several other speculative story ideas, and the so-far-untitled sequel to the adventures of the Skylark-crew.