Cover Image: The House of Styx

The House of Styx

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Member Reviews

I was unable to download this book after I received it because it was archived shortly afterward. But the premise held me, so I bought the book so I could give my review.

First off, a sci-fi book not set on the moon or mars?? What?? Immediately had to read this one. The book was a little rocky to start but after you get past the first third of it... whew. I found myself connecting to these characters, walking the paths they took and hating Venus. I don't want to give too much away but this is a must-read for any sci-fi enthusiast!
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A breath of fresh air- The House of Styx was a riveting sci-fi novel that I will be recommending to everyone. 
THoS follows a group of humans who have colonized Venus. Their settlement is barely surviving, as they are in deep debt – and the families within it – particularly the D’Aquillons, are no exception. A massive discovery on the surface of the planet might just change their situations – if they can do it in time. They must find friends, and navigate the politics of their colony to do so – otherwise the higher ups may just ruin this chance.
The world-building is part of what makes this novel so fantastic. Kunsken does a fantastic job placing the reader right in with the characters. He has thought out every piece of this world from the technology needed to survive, to how the surface of such a severe and unforgiving planet would be. 
The characters are stunning as well. They are personable, and faulty, and marvelous. The cast of characters is uniquely diverse for a science fiction novel. There is trans-representation as well as disabled-representation, and while it shouldn’t be so, that is quite remarkable to find both in the same novel. The characters identities are not the main focus of the novel as well – their situation and their relationships with other are, which is part of what makes this novel so refreshing.
The plot is well thought out, and not forced or rushed. Oftentimes, I see novels where people must be recruited to a cause and they do so without a second thought. THoS is not that in the slightest. People are wary, they need to be convinced. The dynamics of control and power within the colony as well as between people is heavily explored.
Overall, I highly recommend The House of Styx, for its creativity and inclusivity as well as storyline. I cannot wait for the sequel!
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#'The House of Styx' by author # Derek Kunsken is by many "A Must Read". If you enjoy fantasy this is it. Author # Kunsken takes you to the planet of Venus. Storytelling at its finest!!🌟🐾🐾
Thank you,
#Netgalley, # Derek Kunsken, and #Rebellion thank you for the advanced copy
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You can find this review and all of my others over at

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Solaris, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 3.5

Venus is a cruel mistress. She is a Goddess of fury and pain, as the families who are part of Le Colonie know all too well. They live in the clouds of Venus, never able to touch the ground, on plant-like things known as trawlers. They harvest what they can from the atmosphere around them and from the trawlers themselves. Surviving in the only way they know how. But there's something hidden deep within Venus. A wind that shouldn't exist. And if the members of The House of Styx can harness whatever this wind is, they will never have to worry about just surviving ever again, they'd be able to live...

Okay, super brief synopsis, I know, and it's basically just a mix around of the Goodreads synopsis for the book but I didn't want to give too much away as I feel like going into this book with hardly any knowledge is better. So I'll start this review off by saying IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO KNOW CERTAIN DETAILS ABOUT THIS STORY WHICH MAY BE DEEMED AS SPOILERS, DO NOT CONTINUE READING. STOP. TURN BACK NOW! you have been warned :)

So! As you can tell from the synopsis of the story, you aren't given much, all we know is that there is a colony of people who live in the atmosphere of Venus and that one of these families uncover a secret deep within the giant that could set them up for life. There is so much more going on here though. This story was a lot. There is so much happening that at times it felt overwhelming, and it also moved a little slow as this novel is clearly a setup for bigger things to come, and that is totally okay. But be warned, it can be slow going at times.

The story jumps between the perspectives of a few different characters, Pascal, Marthe, and Emile being the main ones, these three are part of the D'Aquillon family who live quite low in the atmosphere and are cut off from majority of Le Colonie after refusing to abort their unborn child when it was proven to have down syndrome. This means that they forfeit any and all help from the government and have to survive on their own, which they have done to a point. The father has a strong hate for the government (for obvious reasons), and doesn't trust them with anything. Pascal is the youngest child, he is an engineer, though engineer seems so trivial for their skills, I'd call them an engineering wizard, myself. I absolutely LOVED this character, and I honestly didn't want to read about any of the others if I'm honest, at least not in the first two thirds of the book. Pacals' character was such a breath of fresh air. This is a character who is dealing with an internal crises as they don't look how they feel and I think that the way their feelings are described was so wonderful. It really gave an insight into how I think most transgender people feel before they accept who they really are, it also hit close to home as I have a friend who is currently beginning their journey down this path so I absolutely loved Pascals' representation and thoughts. Marthe is an interesting character and I ended up enjoying her part of the story quite a lot, she's just trying to do the best that she can and take care of her family, much like her father, knowing that one day she will have to take care of them all, and it's her story that has made me want to continue with the series, because I just need to know... And Emile...Oh dear Emile. I didn't really get the point of his perspective at first, but I feel like by the end, this story wasn't just about the mystery of Venus herself, but it was about a family who are all afraid of making mistakes, that just want to do what's right by themselves, but also by their family. It's a twisted little dysfunctional family unit that are just trying to survive and I'm here for it. By the end, I enjoyed Emile's development, even though it was only small, and I actually look forward to seeing where his character arc goes from here.

The mystery of Venus is what drew me in, and I absolutely adored how the author wrote Venus as though she was a character of her own. She is furious, unforgiveable and downright scary, yet there's a beauty in her ferocity that we uncover as the book proceeds and I just loved the imagery that Kunsken was able to create. There is also a political struggle going on between the government, the banks (who own everything) and the people of Le Colonie themselves, I wasn't so much interested in that part of the story, but it gave it the sense of urgency that a story needs in order to move forward. I will say once again, in the beginning it can get quite slow as we don't actually know what the deal is, with anything really. Stick with it though because it does pick up once things start happening and we have a clear idea on what's going on.

There is also a hint of romance, and it makes me giddy, I absolutely love what Kunsken is doing with these characters and I'm holding out hope that it ends good.

I'm super intrigued by the mysterious wind itself, as I think all readers are. I'm curious to see where the story goes from here as there are so many options and directions it could take. I was left with so many questions, especially because nothing is really wrapped up in this instalment. The initial part of the House of Styx plans has happened, but that's it. This book really is a big setup for what promises to be a huge series. Not necessarily in size, but that there is SO much going on that there's going to be a lot to cover. Initially I wasn't sure if I would continue with this series, but I realise while writing this review, that I will. I need to know what happens. I need to follow this story through to it's conclusion I feel.

All in all, there is a lot going on here. A. Lot. However, this is a setup novel, we had a heap of world and character building going on and it was needed. There is not anything that I would take out to make this shorter or more manageable, it needed every part to be as good as it is. The main reason for my lower rating is the pacing issues, and the fact that for a good chunk of the book I didn't care about anything that was really happening except for Pascals' plot, it wasn't until the end that I cared about any of the other characters or what happened to them. So I wish that I was made to care a bit earlier as it may have been a bit more enjoyable in the beginning. If you love a sci-fi with a mystery at it's center, a wide array of characters that are all different from each other and just shine, and a hint of romance on the side, give this a go. You might love it.
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Kunsken is a fairly new sci-fi writer, with a couple published novels under his belt, and here he scores a huge success in crafting a thoroughly believable immersion into the world of a working-class mining family living in the atmosphere of Venus. Hostile and deadly, the living environment consists of habitats orbiting the planet in various meticulously described layers of gas clouds. Our protagonists are a nonconforming bunch existing at the margins of sosicty,trying to avoid the politics of the power structure in the upper atmosphere by eking out a marginal living extracting elements from the dangerous lower levels of clouds. Kunsken displays masterful abilities to create thoroughly believable characters, including a transgender adolescent coming to terms with gender identity, along with a gripping plot that will have the reader turning pages at a brisk pace. An added bonus is the fascinating Quebecois culture that the Venus colonists retain from their Earth origins. For all the science nerds, there are also plenty of eye-opening marvels of engineering. I'm stingy with my five-star ratings, but this one deserves it.
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Fascinating story about a family rejected in the Mars colonies , penalised for wanting to keep their Down’s syndrome son.
Multigenerational with some amazing concepts and ideas that didn’t always need to be quite so detailed. I read this book with the impression that it was first in a series, but I don’t honk it is, it genuinely appears to be a stand alone. 
Lots to enjoy and discover.
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ARC available from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
HEAVY SCI-FI! Wonderful first chapter. The character interactions are great. The opening is catchy. Great for peeps that love a space opera. Not my personal cup of tea but I can definitely appreciate where it is going.
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Venus is beautiful but she will kill you if you make a single mistake.

That’s the first thing that each member of la colonie has to learn. Living in floating habitats, the colonists have to survive with very limited resources and are at the mercy of Venus all the time.

The D’Aquillon family lives with even less than most. Ostracized from the community since George-Etienne and his wife refused to abort their child with Down syndrome, the d’Aquillons now have to live closer to the surface of Venus. But, “family comes first” for George-Etienne and if it means living in the old Causapscal-des-Profondeurs and fighting even harder for resources, so be it.

Years later, the future doesn’t look good for the family. They have lost three of their members to Venus and are struggling with the lack of resources. Marthe and Emile, two of George-Etienne children are now living in higher habitats. Marthe represents her family in la colonie’s assembly. Her brother Emile, who fled the Causapscal-des-Profondeurs after several heated arguments with George-Etienne, lives with her. He is an artist and, like many artists in la colonie, he doesn’t feel like he belongs on Venus. His only occupations are to drink, smoke weed and follows his cult-leader girlfriend Thérèse everywhere.

On the Causapscal-des-Profondeurs, George-Etienne and his youngest son Pascal (later Pascale), are trying to hold the family together. Their habitat is decaying and la colonie doesn’t have the resources nor the want to help them. They can only hope for a miracle, and this miracle may very well be hiding in the heart of Venus…

I loved The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden so I was very excited to read the first installment in Derek Künsken’s new duology.  I haven’t read a lot of books set on Venus – I know it was a popular setting in pulp SF but it quickly fell in the backside when scientists realized that Venus wasn’t exactly a hospitable place. High pressure, extreme temperatures and acidic rains are not exactly “human-friendly”. However, I really loved how Künsken created a community, la colonie, completely adapted to the complexities of Venus. It was fascinating to read about the organization, the management of resources and the sacrifices that had to be made in order for the community to survive as a whole.

I was also fascinated by the characters. The House of Styx follows several members of the d’Aquillon family: George-Etienne, the father who is ready to sacrifice everything for his children, Marthe the oldest daughter, her brother Emile the poet and Pascale the genius engineer.

My favorites were without a doubt Marthe and Pascale. I loved Marthe because she is the type of character I pretty much always love: she’s competent, she doesn’t take shit from anyone but she’s also kind and understanding. She has a lot of her father’s qualities (the loyalty to her family and the courage) but she is also less stubborn and more trusting than George-Etienne. As for Pascale, I have a fondness for engineers in general and I really loved reading about her and her own journey. In the course of the novel, she discovers why she never felt at ease in her body: she’s not Pascal the second son but Pascale, a woman born in the wrong body. The moment the narration switched from Pascal (he/his) to Pascale (she/her), I cried. I’m not usually a cry-baby but I felt so happy for her because she finally realized who she was.

However, while I was fascinated by the world and I really liked the cast of characters, something didn’t quite click for me with this book. I think it had something to do with the pacing. The book is 500 pages and it took a long time for the plot to move forward. The first half of the book was focused on character and world-building and, when things started moving, I had already lost focus. Even if the pacing was a bit off for me, I will give the sequel a chance. I think I will probably like it more now that the world and the characters have been introduced.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. My thanks to Rebellion Publishing for providing me with a review copy.
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A sci-fi novel set on Venus? Here! Here! 

Unfortunately, this read like a soap opera and it was a DNF at 38%.
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What a good book.  A great work of science fiction that takes place in a fascinating world with incredible characters.
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Thank you to Netgallwy for allowing me to read this book. 

I am a fan of science fiction and thought there would be a lot of action in this book as is usually the case with science fiction. There is a lot of action within the plot as it is definitely plot driven. But as for actual action? Not so much. 

I did enjoy the story and the characters within the story, but I think if there had been more action i wouldn't  have taken so long to finish book.

If you are a fan of science fiction and don't mind a character driven plot, then this book is for you.
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Excellent read! Definitely a gem that I would recommend to others.  Will be watching for more books by this author.
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I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The House of Styx was a pretty interesting read. I mean how cool would it be to live on Venus? Pretty freaking awesome if you ask me. On this planet, we get to see the colonist work, eat, and live. It was pretty cool to figure out how they harvest oxygen because that isn't something that I would automatically think of.

The one thing that I had a like/dislike relationship with was the wording. It was nice of the author to go into such great detail about certain things but at the same time I just felt like piles and piles of information were being dumped on top of me. My poor brain hurt that I had to take a breather, or two, just to digest everything my eyes saw.

Then on top of that, I couldn't really connect with any of the characters in this book. I really wanted to but it just never happened. Besides being disappointed about that, it was just an okay book with some frustrating parts.
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After dealing with very far future antics involving multiple post-human species in The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden, Derek Künsken’s new novel which takes place in the near future, involves normal people and is set in the atmosphere of Venus feels positively grounded. That said, The House of Styx does revolve around a high concept discovery that could change humanity’s understanding of the universe, so there is that.
Pascal D’Aquillon lives with his father George-Ettienne, brother Jean-Eudes and little nephew Alexis. They live in a floating habitat that is part organic and farm the floating, endemic species that live in Venus’s acidic atmosphere. Down in the lower atmosphere they live separate from the main Venusian community that floats many kilometres above them. Living up in that milieu are Pascal’s sister, Marthe and brother Émile. Marthe is a member of the ruling Assembly of Venus but is finding herself sidelined and outmanoeuvred by the president who takes her riding orders from the Bank of Pallas. Émile, who has broken with his father, is seeing an artist and trying to connect more deeply with Venus. Everything changes when George-Ettienne discovers a strange storm in which air seems to be flowing into a cave at the bottom of a Venusian cavern, and he takes Pascal to investigate.
House of Styx is the first volume of a trilogy. So despite its length it is, by the end, almost a lengthy set up for what might come next. After making their discovery, Pascal and his family must recruit allies and pull off a daring heist to secure materials needed to further explore their find. Readers of Künsken’s early works will not be surprised by the heist element of the story, a device that was central to The Quantum Magician. And it is a device that he uses well, after spending much of the book setting up not only the characters who will be carrying out the mission but their adversaries.
While The House of Styx may be considered fairly “hard” science fiction (there is plenty here about the physics and makeup of the Venusian atmosphere), Künsken is also really interested in his characters. In his earlier books, the cast while engaging were all post-human in some ways. The D’Aquillon family, on the other hand is very human, with very human emotions and drives. Central to this is the journey of Pascal, a teenage boy who feels wrong in his body but has no idea how to process how he is feeling. But each of the main characters has a journey to make, and new alliances to build, giving this book plenty of heart.
Venus is a deadly environment. An atmosphere that is mainly carbon dioxide with sulphuric acid clouds, and intense heat and pressure at lower altitudes. Despite all of the familiarity they have with it and joy that the characters get in flying around in the Venusian atmosphere, Künsken never loses sight of the fact that this environment is incredibly dangerous. That there may be good reasons for the austerity measures that the government has put in place. So that while the reader is cheering for the group of underdogs at the centre of the story, it is hard not to consider them a little bit reckless. And Künsken does not let everyone move through unscathed.
The House of Styx is a page-turning opening salvo in what promises to be a great science fiction series. Full of engaging characters managing to live in a dangerous environment but with more than a hint of something decidedly unearthly to be further discovered (if they can avoid the attention of the authorities) in future volumes. And while there is no cliffhanger as such, with so much left unresolved, Künsken makes sure readers will be back for the sequel.
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If you enjoy science fiction, this is fir you. Great world building and great narration.  Enjoyed reading it.
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In The House of Styx, French Canadians have colonized Venus. While the surface is unlivable, they have managed to make a life in the atmosphere of Venus. Every day is a fight to survive. 

The D'Aquillon family lives and dies on the move in Venus' harsh winds, acid rain and terrifying electrical storms. They have lost many family members to the unforgiving planet. When Pascal makes a discovery on the surface of the planet, the D'Aquillons fortunes may take a turn for the better. Of course, for that to happen, they must get find a way to salvage this object and sell it. All while fighting to stay alive.

Derek Künsken's world building is always stellar and The House of Styx does not disappoint! The descriptions of the hardships of living in Venus' hellish atmosphere made me feel as if I were there. The characters are well developed and I was completely immersed in their story. 

If you enjoy hard science fiction, get this book!
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The House of Styx is by Derek Künsken, author of The Quantum Evolution series. It's set in the 23rd century, when Earth has colonised the inner planets and some asteroids. The story is based on Venus, which has been colonised by Quebec (the author is from Canada), and where families live on bio-engineered plant-based dirigibles in the cloud layers, extracting what they can from the atmosphere to survive.
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Heat waves, forest fires, hurricanes, social unrest, a global pandemic. Well…….at least it’s better than Venus! I would like to express my gratitude to Derek Kunsken and Netgalley for providing me a review copy of House of Styx that allowed me to gain some perspective on just what a hostile world looks and feels like. For me, the best science fiction is when the world, the ship, the space station becomes a character.  This has rarely been as true as with The House of Styx. The richness of Mr Kunsken’s descriptions of the character of Venus is the highlight of this book. As the book begins, it is the harsh, threatening, dangerous, frightening features that stand out (to be honest, these features are present throughout). And yet, very early on one experiences the complexities of this character. There is this mysterious, intriguing, maybe even positive and life sustaining side that made me want to learn more and more. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that Venus makes every character better; by that I mean that the human characters are best, at their most interesting, when in contact and context with Venus. Venus quite literally breathes life into these people. And this, for me, highlights a central issue with the book. The richness of and interest in the character of Venus was not matched by that of the human characters. Whereas Venus is intriguing and mysterious most of the human characters are stereotypical and predictable. We have the loving but distant patriarch, the dystopic / hedonistic twenty somethings, the developmentally-delayed youth with savant-like qualities, the teenager struggling with gender identify, the harsh bureaucrat… I could go on but you get the picture. Predictable.   As I said, as much as I learned about Venus (and again I think that Mr Kunsken might have spent time there given his detailed descriptions) I wanted to learn more. I loved the ‘relationship’ between Venus and the main characters and to see their conflicts and interactions. At the end of the book I was left with the feeling that I wonder what next Venus has in store for them and for me. Regrettably, I was left far less interested or invested in the futures of the human. If the next book expands on Venus and its impact on all who interact with her than I am all in. If, however, the next book focuses on ‘human interest stories’ then I am afraid I will tear off my space suit and let the glorious acids of Venus burn me away to nothing. What a way to go.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the chance to review an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book.

I made it through the first 36 chapters, but it has been an effort, and I just can't continue.  There is a lot of social drama, involving a lot of spread out characters, but it didn't present a lot of plot advancement and action.  The author introduced a dysfunctional and socially outcast family, within a dysfunctional and financially strapped colony.  The family found a scientifically and culturally important site, and sought to exploit it for the gain of the family, over the interests of the colony, deliberately destroying sensitive and important relics for their construction materials.  The author also introduces tattoos and branding and drug and alcohol use, among child and adult characters.   The author also introduces various sexual relationships and focus on uncertainty of sexuality on the part of certain characters.  The sexual scenes were not particularly graphic, but I didn't feel they added anything to the story either.  I did not find the story or the characters compelling, and if anything, the decisions the characters made up to the point I stopped reading left me annoyed with them.  Finally, a lot of time was spent talking about the harsh conditions.  Given this was repeatedly done, the descriptions got to be monotonous.

This is not a one star book.  The characters were well developed, and the scenery and society were interesting.  Had the action moved a little faster, I think I could have maintained my interest.  I didn't drop this after just a few chapters, but after half the book, I just could not maintain my interest further.   There are some readers who will find this enjoyable, but I don't fit within that niche.
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This book blew me away! The characters, the setting, all of it: *chefs kiss*. Venus is such an interesting and unique environment to use as a setting and Derek Kunsken really knocked it out of the park when it came to world building. Sci-Fi has always been a favorite genre of mine, so I'm usually very picky. This book however gave me everything I look for in a Sci-Fi book-- perilous adventures, unique and intriguing settings and smart and strong willed characters. Truly a wonderful book.
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