Cover Image: The House of Styx

The House of Styx

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Member Reviews

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book had an amazing plot, but I felt the characters had no depth to them. 

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
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Although the premise of this novel is intriguing and different, I just didn't feel intrigued by story. The beginning sounded absolutely great, but I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought by the end. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a book for me, but I am not giving up on the series. I am still just a little bit curious about what will happen next, so I might try the next volume when it is released.
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Such a great book! I enjoyed reading this one so much! I highly recommend this book. Side note: the cover!!!!
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This book was a depressing slog. It became less of a science fiction read and more of a tale of the have and the have nots, which I feel like we have enough of in real life. I might just not have been in the right frame of mind to be able to read and enjoy this.
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2022 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2022/01/readers-advisory-announce-2022-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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I was very excited about this title, due to that the synopsis really intrigued me. But I had problem with the pacing of the story, sometimes it felt like it was way too much happening and then for another scene that nothing really was done to make the story move forward. I did enjoy it, and I liked the characters, but I got a little disappointed.
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The House Of Styx by Derek Künsken is the first novel in the Venus Ascendant sci-fi series set in the churning clouds of Venus. Künsken creates a story of survival and family values. The atmospheric and visually detailed setting for this story is the highlight of this story. The harsh environment and unrelenting acidic rain in the atmosphere of Venus make for a challenging living environment for its inhabitants. While the rest of the world has taken over other planets in the solar system, the Québécois descendants have managed to inhabit Venus and make a new home. 

We follow the story of the D’Aquillon family, who lives in the lower levels of the atmosphere in their bio-engineered trawlers. Life at the lower levels is harsher, and they have been making their way through life on their own by scavenging, farming, mining, and then selling their supplies in the black market. The D’Aquillon patriarch George-Étienne holds onto his family and refuses to yield to the elites who rule over them. His decisions and discord with the governing parties have made them pariahs in their own society. Now, it is up to the family to come together and solve the issues that threaten the fragile stability they had established over the years. 

The House Of Styx is an exciting story that showcases the author’s sheer talent of excellent world-building and keen attention to detail on the technological and technical aspects. It is a must-read for any sci-fi fans out there. It is unique and innovative and I had a great time reading the story. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the rest of the series. The possibilities are endless. I gave the book 4 stars and I highly recommend everyone to check this book out.
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This was a bold science fiction story. This story takes place on Venus (more accurately the atmosphere). This book has a bit of family drama, drug use and more.
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This was a greatly written book you won't put down.  The creativity and details will keep you turning pages.
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Science fiction is my utmost favourite genre to read. So you can guess I was a little hesitant to go into this! But alas, it turned out to be a great book, just as good as if not better than The Quantum Magician! I loved reading about the various colonies on Venus and the routine activities that made for a nice change from the continuous action found in sci-fi nowadays! I REALLY LIKED IT!
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is AMAZING, such a good story. I can’t put it down.

I highly recommend it
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An excellent read. Derek introduces us to humans living on Venus...his world building is excellent, and I was able to visualise his world easily. What a world it is as well....cruel....Derek describes Venus as a female, not wanting life on her and trying her best to remove humans, but humans as ever prevailing......

The storyline is wonderful, the characters are well thought out and we spent time with them all to understand exactly who they were and why they behaved as they did.

It’s an exciting book, and a wonderful world. I can’t wait to return to see what on Earth...well...Venus is going to happen next!

My thanks to Netgalley and Rebellion for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review
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I *really* wanted to like this book.  The dystopian elements had potential - banks in control and punishing people for choices directly?  Ok.  You've got my attention.
There are some really interesting narrative choices in this book - but none of it seems to quite hit the payoff I was hoping for.  The worldbuilding *IS* excellent and evocative, but, some of it was definitely because it looked like the author wanted the schtick of say, swearing in a certain language, so the colony of 4000 was pulled from a very small pool in that specific linguistic area (French - Canadian).  It rubs me the wrong way because if it'd been, say, Scottish, no one would be comfortable saying 'the 4000 people were from Edinburgh and Glasgow' because...they're not the representative of that nation?  It bugged me.
Characterisation, other than some OTT (I felt) linguistic quirks, just for the sake of having them, was fine.  The book was paced in a way that meant I didn't give in easily, but it wasn't a book that I felt that I needed to finish.
Really good hard sci-fi is something I relish - but, I'm sorry to say that despite loving Quantum Magician, which is a prior book from this author, there was something just not quite...right about this one.
It's not a bad book.  It's just not as exciting or gripping - to me - as I'd like from my hard sci-fi, and I'm a huge sci-fi aficionado.
Worth reading if you like sci-fi, but it's not the trailblazing book the blurb suggests, not to me.  It's not a bad effort, but it's really not up to the hype.  Which is a shame, because it does come close in places.
As a personal note, I think part of what bothered me is Venus isn't related to the Styx.  Pluto is.  It's one of it's moons, and my brain just didn't like the missed allusions that could have been used there.  It's probably a really poor reason to not settle into a book, but when sci-fi is built on believing and investing in a world, the one 'mistake' of a misnamed house (because the river Styx is death, and I assume that's going to become more relevant and overt as the books continue) in my opinion really made the book hard to just relax and enjoy.  The bold and imaginative that I was so desperately trying to keep hooked into got nagged down by 'this isn't the right planet for that name'.  Which I agree, isn't a reason to dock another star, but was a niggle.
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Thanks to Netgalley, Solaris, and the author for an advance copy.

One of the things I look for when deciding which book I'm going to read next is its holistic themes and genres. I don't just mean fiction or non-fiction, science fiction, or action/adventure, but rather all of those things together that as a whole make up how a novel feels. You can have a book that places you center stage in the shoes of one protagonist, and the events that unfold are seen entirely through that one set of experiences. You can also have a novel that, while still full of action and dynamic events, takes a more detached, analytical view of unfolding events. Both are good novels in their own right, they just differ in presentation, and as a result, in flavour, for lack of a better term.

So when I picked up Derek's newest novel I was expecting (based on my prior experiences with <i>The Quantum Magician</i> to read a tale with fully realized characters (and accompanying backgrounds) which have a defined fit in the world they inhabit and can consequently affect changes on that world as a result of their position and drives - and a lot of accompanying explosions. And I got that with this novel. But I also got an exploration of the effects and consequences of colonialism, of class privilege (and warfare), self discovery and personal perseverance and, yes, an overriding conspiracy/mystery, a welcome callback to the same overall theme the author explored previously.

The result is a very fun novel, and a very layered one. While this was present in his first novel, I felt that it was somewhat in the background and took a backseat to the overall story. It's on full display here, and melded with the ongoing narrative to such a degree that it actually makes for a much more fulfilling experience. One of my problems with <i>The Quantum Magician</i> was actually that sometimes the background descriptions and character introductions caused a bit of a speedbump in the overall flow of the story, and I'm more than happy to say that this entry does not have the same problem.

And you actually don't have to read any of Derek's prior work to get into this one, so that's a plus. (Although I do recommend that if this strikes your fancy, you check out the author's other works as well)
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[3.5 rounded to 4 stars]

This was an enjoyable read although it was quite slow-paced in parts. I really did like the characters in this book, they were quite likeable. Each character had something to them, no-one faded into the background as the author did well to diverse characters in sexualities, personalities etc. Some of the newer books I have read both in 2020/2019 feel like they just stick lgbtq+ characters in for the hell of it, but the author was really considerate and was able to provide a solid queer representation. The author used humour really well and was able to create an exciting and diverse science-fiction future. 

So what held me back from giving this full stars: one reason I would say the wording. I always try my best to accustom myself to the way authors write but this was one of those times where I found it pretty hard to stay focused. Nothing negative about how it was written more so the author liked to go in-depth in some of his detail and description to the point my poor brain decided to check out. For that reason I didn’t get through the book as fast as I would have liked, but it did not diminish my overall enjoyment.

If you are looking for a strong character driven book, then this is one for you.
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The House of Syx explores what would happen if there was life on Venus...and an entity that wanted control of it's resources. An interesting and exciting novel.
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This is generally speaking top of the range sci-fi. It is imaginative, powerful and gripping. There are many captivating and evocative scenes here particularly those involving "flying" in the atmosphere of Venus. The idea of transferring Québecois culture to space is a good one. The use of French expressions and exclamations makes the dialogue particularly salty. The plot involving a close-knit outcast family's attempt to survive and exploit a universe changing discovery in the poisonous atmosphere of Venus and the far more poisonous politics of Venus  is engaging.

I would have given it five stars but for the fact that I found some of the character development rather simplistic and I wasn't quite convinced by some of the elements of the cultural backdrop portrayed. Be warned it is the first book of the series and quite addictive.
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I would like to thank Solaris Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book for free. So, you think life on Earth is hard? Imagine living around Venus. No one lives on the surface of Venus. Conditions are much too harsh. The rain that falls from the various levels of clouds above the planet is sulfuric acid and the temperature on the surface will cook you. The Quebecois folk who make up the colonists there live above the planet in giant habitats that float in the winds in the upper atmosphere. George-Etienne D’Aquillons lives with his sons, Jean-Eudes and Pascal(e) and his grandson, Alexis, on the Causapscal-des-Profondeurs. His other son, Emile, and daughter, Marthe, live on the Causapscal-des-Vents. Everything is shared, re-used and rebuilt and don’t even think of going outside without double-checking your space suit and helmet. Like many families, not all of the D’Aquillons get along, but their family ties remain strong. When George-Etienne and Pascal investigate the surface (two of only a dozen or so people to actually visit the surface), they discover a cave with enough resources to make them rich many times over. Their problem is how to mine and extract the minerals there without everyone on the planet wanting to take their find away from them. I believe this was the first scifi story I’ve ever read which takes place around Venus. I enjoyed it very much. There was lots of action, some romance, and a lot of conspiring. Both the story and the characters were great. I especially liked 16-year-old engineer, Pascal, who just wants to feel good about himself. I thought his story was written with a lot of sensitivity. It actually seemed like a lot of the inhabitants of the giant floating habitats just wanted to feel good about themselves, but not all of them will survive. This was a very exciting story. I had a hard time putting it down and I will be looking forward to Mr. Kunsken’s continuation of the D’Aquillons’s story (and not just so that I can learn more ways to swear in French).
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The House of Styx is a really hard book for me to review. I personally didn’t find it an engaging read but usually when I write low starred reviews I have lots of reasons to point to as to why. With House of Styx I don’t really have concrete reasons as to why I didn’t enjoy it and therefore I have put it as a 3 star review. I know that reading is very much a personal taste and what I didn’t enjoy might be someone else’s favourite read so I don’t want to mark it too harshly because of this.

The idea of setting a colony on Venus is an interesting one, as is the concept of these colony inhabitants originally being from Quebec. However, I did feel a little lost in places – I found a lot of the book very hard to picture, especially the trawlers – the large plants that have been modified to become their homes. If there had been a sketch of one at the front of the book along with perhaps an image of the planets ‘rangs’ and how they connected or what they looked like I might have had an easier time imagining the world but it just felt very under-sketched and confusing to me. I also found the Quebec idea was interesting but as no-one on the planet seemed to have any connection to earth or their previous lives the odd French phrases felt a little jarring.

I really liked the idea of the banks being in control of the planet and punishing citizens for life choices such as suicide or keeping a downs syndrome child. This was dark but made for a really interesting family dynamic between the characters. I also liked the portrayal of Pascal, the 16 year old boy struggling to inhabit his trans-gender identity. I think my main problem was that I didn’t understand any of their motivations for being on the planet. No-one can get to the surface and there’s no natural resources that they are sending back to earth. There is also still life on earth, so it’s not as if there’s an event which forced them to move, the bank controls everything so they aren’t an independent state or anything. It just made me question what the point of living in such a harsh environment with no perks was.

I also didn’t enjoy the plot – it was incredibly slow going. I understand that it’s the first book in a series but it felt very much like filler which isn’t what you want from an introduction to a series. We learn about a mysterious resource on the planet which is found by our main characters and kept a secret and then… nothing. We get half baked plans which seem very unrealistic such as building an entire mining colony on the surface when they can’t even survive in ready made homes in much nicer conditions with governmental support. The book then faffs around and doesn’t even give us much in the way of a conclusion to pay off the first instalment.

Overall, The House of Styx was not my cup of tea - with a very slow plot and confusing setting and I will not be on the lookout for the next book in the series I’m afraid. Thank you to NetGalley & Rebellion Solaris for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Loved it.

Sci-Fi is the perfect genre for exploring technological ideals, but also emotional ones.
I loved Emile's turmoil, and found myself empathising with him throughput the tale.  
Who knew Venus would be colonised by the French Canadians! Lol 

The first quarter or so is a slow burner, but the story starts to pull together and a fabulous pace and the tension was so tight I almost.snapped! Loved it!
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