Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater #BookReview #BlogTour

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.
Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.
Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.
The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.
Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

I'm delighted to be opening the blog tour for Lost Solace today, alongside Haley at The Caffeinated Reader. Many thanks to Karl Drinkwater and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novel.

Lost Solace might be a science fiction novel but at its heart it explores a universal story of what it means to be human. At the start of the book Opal is woken alone on a stolen spaceship controlled by Artificial Intelligence called Clarissa who informs her that her burns have healed, although she has lost some nerve endings. It's immediately clear then, that Opal has endured some sort of trauma and there are other hints early in the book too - most notably when it comes to her choosing to rename the AI, Clarissa. We gradually learn a little about her past as the book progresses, although by the end I still felt there was more to be revealed about this intriguing young woman.
There are a few minor characters in the novel but we never really get to know them and Lost Solace is effectively a two character story. It's a bold writing decision but it works really well here; partly due to the fact that both Opal and Clarissa are engaging in their own rights but mostly because the developing relationship between the pair is absolutely fascinating. And of course it's always a pleasure to see female protagonists given the action hero roles!
Lost Solace is set in a future where space travel has evidently become more commercialised, with galactic transport taking place on a huge scale. Technical failures, piracy and terrorism cause ships to go missing but there are also stories about the Lost Ships, which never reached their destination and just disappeared. Legends tell that they sometimes return  - bringing with them unbelievable technology that could earn their finder a fortune. Opal and Clarissa believe they have found such a ship - but what else is on board the mysterious vessel? Opal has to battle her way through the strange environment, relying on Clarissa's assistance as well as her own sharp intelligence and resourcefulness as she faces danger from more than one foe.
As a locked room horror story, Lost Solace is decidedly creepy -particularly when Opal has to open doors without knowing what's lies in wait the other side and she has some terrifying encounters. It's also a high octane action adventure as she faces what seems to be an impossible task. Karl Drinkwater certainly doesn't make life easy for her and the constant danger in her race against time makes for a really exciting read. However, the thrills never come at the expense of character development and it's really the evolving dynamic between the two female leads which I found particularly compelling.  Opal is a strong, principled heroine but she is obviously damaged by her past. Clarissa might be artificial intelligence but the decisions she takes as the book progresses and some of the discoveries that Opal makes should make readers think about the moral questions which need to be asked about the technological advances which will undoubtedly arise as AI advances and becomes more commonplace.
When I read sci-fi books I want excellent world building, interesting protagonists and a well-crafted, thought-provoking story. Lost Solace gave me all that and a fantastic conclusion which ensured I'm looking forward to discovering what lies in store for Opal in the sequel, Chasing Solace.

Lost Solace can be purchased from Amazon UK, Amazon US or find more purchasing links through the author's website.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He's a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.
He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you'll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
When he isn't writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.
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