I really enjoyed Space Unicorn Blues, and so when I saw the sequel pop up on NetGalley, I jumped on it as soon as I could!
So thanks to the author, as well as Angry Robot via NetGalley for the review copy.
The Bala, magical creatures, have hidden themselves from cruel and destructive humanity, leaving the galaxy in shambles. Without unicorn-powered faster-than-light travel, mankind is scattered, starving and isolated across the stars. Cowboy Jim has the sole surviving FTL drive, and he and his Reason soldiers are determined to track down and re-enslave the Bala. But on their new planet, the Bala are on the brink of civil war: should they accept Unicorn rule, or follow necromancer Bao Zhi and exact revenge on their human oppressors? Only Captain Jenny, with her new elfin parasite, can return peace to the galaxy.
“Remind me to raise your risk tolerance when I get back,” said Jenny, in a roundabout sort of threat.
“It’s already at maximum,” said Mary.
“Nothing’s ever at maximum if you try hard enough,” said Jenny.
Ahhhh man this book was fun!
Following the events of the last book, the Bala (magical creatures, everything from centaurs to sirens to dryads) have been moved to their new planet, far far away from humanity, who have spent years harvesting them for magical parts.
Jenny Perata is aboard her bright yellow racing striped ship, the Stagecoach Mary, and is determined to find her wife Kaila, a dryad, no matter how long it’ll take. Without the requisite unicorn horn to power the FTL drive, it’ll take her many lifetimes, but she’s still going to try. On her way, she runs into a colony ship with humans aboard, and her guts tell her there is unicorn horn on there somewhere too. So, she investigates, to great shenanigans.
On the other side of the quadrant, Gary Cobalt, half-unicorn, is finding that there is some trouble in paradise. All of the Bala were brought to this planet to flee the slavery and torture at the hands of the humans, but not all of them were being tortured or enslaved. Some of them had quite nice lives back in human space and they’d really like to go back and have access to human technology and things of that sort again. When a centaur MMA fighter starts stirring some of the Bala up to go seek revenge on humanity, it gets even harder for Gary and the other unicorns to avert a Bala civil war.
I started this one late one night before bed, thinking that I could just stop, sleep, and then wake up refreshed to go to work. That was my first mistake. Before I knew it, it was 3am and I was having a lot of trouble putting this one down for that sleep thing.
Space Unicorn Blues was interesting in that it made a character who I wanted to hate likable. Jenny has a long history with Gary, and it isn’t a good one. But, nonetheless, Gary is what he is, and so while he doesn’t exactly forgive her for what she’s done, he understands that she is legitimately sorry for it. I still love Gary’s character. He is exactly what he is, but in this one we get to see far more of the Bala, especially Gary’s father Findae. It’s interesting to see how different from Findae he is.
Jenny both has no use of her legs and suffers from chronic pain as a result of a war injury, and uses a wheelchair much of the time. It’s interesting to see how she navigates space travel, zero-G, and the rather difficult task of moving both herself and her chair through airlocks, tight hallways, and other places that are just not set up to accommodate anyone without the use of their legs. Jenny faces a lot of ableism, as the Reason (the human society) does not generally abide disability.
Jenny’s problem was never with her chair, but with a world that refused to accommodate it.
Despite all of the things that Jenny has done in her life, both good and bad, I couldn’t help but cheer for her. She’s so snarky and has a comeback for everyone, and she absolutely doesn’t let anything (or anyone) hold her back. The ship AI in Jenny’s ship, the Stagecoach Mary, is also snarky AF. She knows Jenny pretty well, and does her best to see a couple of ‘Jenny Perata plans’ from start to finish, despite them being Jenny Perata levels of crazy.
There was plenty going on in this one. Not only is Gary meeting new and often strange creatures on the new Bala planet, Jenny is doing everything from being possessed to getting blown out an airlock in her underpants. So, there’s lots of action, and plenty of it is absolutely hilarious. I have a lot of stuff in this book highlighted just for making me laugh. It’s funny in all the right places, but it’s also serious when it needs to be, and takes on some serious and deep situations. There were times that my feels got suitably jostled. I feel for Gary, especially, who heals from almost any wound, but still suffers PTSD from all that was done to him. Gary is the most unicorn of the unicorns in this one, despite being only half.
So all told, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I liked this one just as much as I liked the first book. Perhaps even a little more! It was brilliant!~ I can’t wait to see what happens next! 5/5 stars!
Thanks again to the author as well as Angry Robot via NetGalley for the review copy.