Clarissa (Lost Tales of Solace) by Karl Drinkwater #BookReview #BlogTour


If you’re reading this: HELP! I’ve been kidnapped.

Me and my big sister stayed together after our parents died. We weren’t bothering anybody. But some mean government agents came anyway, and split us up.

Now I’m a prisoner on this space ship. The agents won’t even say where we’re going.

I hate them.

And things have started to get a bit weird. Nullspace is supposed to be empty, but when I look out of the skywindows I can see … something. Out there. And I think it wants to get in here. With us.

My name is Clarissa. I am ten years old.

And they will all be sorry when my big sister comes to rescue me.

It's such a pleasure to be one of the bloggers opening the tour for Clarissa today. Many thanks to Karl Drinkwater and to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novella.

Having read the full-length Lost Solace book and now three Lost Tales of Solace novellas, I know to expect a gripping story but that's about all I can predict! This reliably excellent series tells separate stories which are linked but which can be read in any order or as standalones. 
Unlike the previous Tales, Helene and Grubane, there isn't an AI character this time, although Clarissa does receive apparent help from a non-human being who at first seems to be a delightful companion but perhaps has a hidden agenda. Clarissa is ten years old and has recently been forcibly separated from her sister, Opal. Those who have read Lost Solace will recognise both names immediately and it's a real treat to finally meet Opal's little sister but new readers needn't be concerned as starting here just means you're beginning the story at a different place. Set thirteen years before the events in Lost Solace, Karl Drinkwater answers a few questions here - but cunningly asks even more! 
As with the previous books, there are only a few characters in Clarissa and indeed most of the action is centred on Clarissa and Gloria, one of the agents who has taken her. Written in the first-person from Clarissa's perspective, her voice is captured perfectly. She's clearly a rather garrulous child but she has a rich inner life too. I loved how she conducts outward conversations which would convince anybody that she is a regular ten-year-old - albeit one recently raised in a slightly haphazard way by her sister - while her simultaneous internal dialogue reveals a hugely intelligent, resourceful child who has clearly learned well from Opal. 
There are striking similarities between Opal and Clarissa, both are thrust into highly dangerous situations and both react with courage and quick-wittedness. Opal doesn't directly feature in the story but Clarissa's recollections of her give us a rather heartwarming further insight into the type of person she was prior to all this, particularly as she chose to name the AI in Lost Solace after her little sister. The comparisons between the two don't end there and this novella captures the horror story feel of the first novel as Clarissa and Gloria are forced to try to escape from a sinister unknown foe on board a floundering, darkened space ship. .As they desperately try to escape, the sense that this will eventually lead to Opal's terrifying tribulations in the future is intriguing and poignant, especially given it's here that we discover what happened to Solace. 
There is also a clever connection to the exploitation of AIs which is explored in Lost Solace, with the other agent who has taken Clarissa, the hot-headed Bradden, announcing he is going to visit a Synthmate Boudoir on board the ship.  As always the world-building is first-rate; unlike the previous novellas, there aren't any excerpts from treatises or documents here but there are authentic looking little drawings which I could well believe were created by Clarissa. Her description and use of RearroBlox Cubes is particularly interesting and are a fascinating addition to this richly imagined world.  
The chilling ending left me wanting more; I look forward to reading the next puzzle piece in this superb series, Ruabon very soon and I've reminded myself that I still need to read the second full-length book, Chasing Solace. Clarissa is another fantastic addition to the Solace world and I continue to whole-heartedly recommend this cracking series to anybody who enjoys exceptional science fiction.

Purchasing links for Clarissa can be found here.

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

About the Author
Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”.
When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake. Not necessarily in that order.