Cover Image: The House of Styx

The House of Styx

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Member Reviews

A huge thank you to Solaris, Derek Kunsken and Netgalley. This is a very positive start to a innovative, original sci-fi series! I loved the characters, the author set up a detailed, imaginative world, and the plot was very interesting and intriguing. I was gripped straight away! The idea of living in floating stations amongst the clouds of Venus has me terrified and fascinated at the same time, we hear a lot about the possibility of life on Mars and the unforgiving atmosphere of Venus and the unlikelihood of sustaining life. 

What really sets this apart to other sci-fi novels in my opinion, is the focus on the importance of family. It's a story of grief, betrayal, love, loss, self discovery, and explores what family means. He explores LGBT issues and ableism in an honest, raw way which tugs at the heartstrings at times. There were a few loose ends which I'm sure would be continued in the sequel!
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Overall, I am not sure how I feel about this book.  The overall storyline and premise is fantastic and engaging.  As soon as the major hook revealed itself, I wanted to know more and how it was going to play out.  However, the sub-plots in the book spoiled this excitement for me.  I have no issue with wanting a diverse book with LGTBQ characters.  However, this book really is not a coming of age (or sexuality) book, it is about the science fiction of living in the clouds of Venus and the discovery of a wormhole.  I feel the overall premise of the book was hindered by Pascal(e)s self-recognition.  I really couldn't figure out how it played in to the overall storyline throughout the book.  It seemed more like a side story that was out of place and did not add to the development of the plot.  All other characters and their personalities seemed to play a part and had an impact on their dynamics.  However, the personality of Pascal(e) was the same throughout the book and his/her transition did not change that.  

I think the book would have been better served to have his transition already take place and to explore that impact on the family and Pascal(e)s life going forward.  

I am eagerly looking forward to the second book in this series as I am interested to see where the story goes and how the family handles the loss of Marthe and the building of their domain on the surface of Venus.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Solaris for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

I’m not usually the biggest fan of Sci-Fi, but the description of The House is Styx immediately drew me in! I’ve never read a book set on Venus and I had high hopes. 

At first I had issues acclimating to the scientific terms and the massive amount of world building used to set up the lives of the D’Aquillions. There were also a lot of French terms and phrases used that confused me at times since I don’t speak even a little bit of French.

After a few chapters, though, I got used to the new world and I felt like the story was adequately fleshed out. The characters were varied and interesting, and there was fantastic LGBTQA+ representation from some of the main characters. 

I would recommend The House of Styx to anyone who likes SciFi stories with lots of world building! Be warned it may be confusing and overwhelming at first, but once you get a few chapters in, it starts feeling more natural. The world of Venus is quite different and it can be hard to wrap your brain around how science and nature works there.
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This one took me weeks to read, not because it was bad, but rather because it was so dense and well written that I took my time to absorb every detail.  There is always something happening - character growth, romance, adventure - this book had it all.  Add the Venusian life, the clouds, and the scientific intricacies, and you'll need to really focus or you'll miss something big!

For most of the book, we follow three of the D'Aquillon family members, getting different perspectives of their lives in the cloud banks of Venus.  Each one of them (Pascal, Marthe, and Emile) have their own struggles to face.  There is great LGBTQ+ representation in this book, without overshadowing the overarching mystery of the plot.

There's also a Down Syndrome character present, which we see even less of in books.  The government urged the D'Aquillon family to abort, since his mental defect would weaken the population - which the parents refused - and the government then refused him medicine.  This added another line of tension to the story.

The main plot is fully based in science, and I'm sure that I'll never be able to explain this part well.  It was so interesting to read, immersive and well thought out, that even a unscientific person like me could enjoy the book.  Also, spoiler - there is a cliffhanger ending...

Derek's writing had me hanging onto his every word with its detail.  I felt transported to the clouds of Venus, feeling the excitement, danger, longing, loss, desperation and fear with the characters.  I haven't read a fictional book with this much diversity in years either!

A definite must-read for Sci-Fi fans!!
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I really enjoyed this sci-fi masterpiece set in colonized Venus! The incredible detailed aspects of the story dragged me in and the themes of family and love really fleshed out this tale. I can't wait to read the next book!
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Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. DNF. I am in an obvious minority in how much I liked this book. The writing and story are both very interesting but when looking at the novel as a whole i just could not get into it. This may be the type of book that you need to get further into to appreciate but I did not wanrt to bore myself until then. Hope you can enjoy it!
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I greatly enjoyed this book. Wonderful imagination, especially the steam-punk like semi-organic habitats, which were very enjoyable. Especially in the second half it was a real page-turner. The plot was nicely complex and were some interesting underlying themes. I wasn't so sure about the pioneer-mentality, anti-government ideas, given the current political climate, but that was at least topical. What was pleasantly more progressive was that unlike many sci-fi books, there wasn't just one male hero's character developed, but more of a diversity of different sorts of people. 

All the stuff about sulphuric acid was very reminiscent of my very first job. I worked in a lab and did a lot of work 'digesting' plant material with a concoction of concentrated sulphuric and other acids in order to determine its nutrient competition. The acid indeed burned like crazy and despite protective clothing, my normal clothes had lots of holes and I had no fingerprints left (much envied by some petty criminals I knew!).

There was just one disappointment. It had a dreadful ending. I don't mean that not everything turned out Hollywood-rosy, that's only good, but there were so many loose ends and unresolved issues. It just finished abruptly with various sub-plots and even quite major plot lines just cut off in mid flow. Unsatisfying. 

Acknowledgement: This review was possible because of a free pre-publication copy made available from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I would also like to particularly thank the publisher who very promptly solved a technical issue.
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This was an enjoyable new story with a really intriguing plot. I definitely couldn't stop turning the page, but was left wanting more... although ultimately a little dense for me, and I did not connect the characters or enjoy the author's approach of leaving way too many questions unanswered. I do, however, thinks this sets up for an AMAZING sequel - one I am genuinely really, really excited for ..... even though I wish this book packed a little more punch on it's own.
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An excellent hard sci-fi, gripping and entertaining. The storytelling is excellent as the world building and the character development.
It's the first book i read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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It was a fascinating premise as I love books which take place in other places than Earth.

The plot was fast-paced and the character development was executed really well.

4 stars
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I thought that this book was very interesting and it held my attention the whole way through. It was a new concept that I hadn't read many times and it was a refreshing take on the genre.

I would recommend this book if you like a good solid story with good characters.
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The House of Styx starts off a little slow, but by the fifth chapter, I was hooked and couldn't wait to see how the plot unfolds. Some time was spent building up the characters in the D'Aquillon family - the protagonists of the story, which made it worth it in the end. The story is set within the harsh environments of Venus - and the author describes a very realistic picture of how a human colony might survive and live there - through the eyes of the D'Aquillon members. The family members discover a secret that Venus holds, and from then on - the House of Styx picks up by showing the political maneuvering within the colony, as well as its unexpected conclusion.

The protagonists in the novel are not one-dimensional, for they come with their own flaws and strengths, and it is easy to resonate with their hopes, and sympathize with their uncertainties. I can't wait for the sequel for this book to be released - this is definitely something I would recommend reading.
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Family division. Gender identity. Ableism. Political Intrigue. Class dynamics. All these elements you wouldn't expect to find in a sci-fi space drama, but here we are. Derek Künsken has created a story as richly layered and volatile as Venus herself. The characters are complicated and damaged and at times, painfully real. 

We can never truly know what it's like to live a life perpetually among the clouds (clouds that are constantly trying to kill you), but Künsken makes you really feel like you're there, flying through sulfuric acid rain and buffeted by constant storms. His action sequences are fast-paced and cinematic. I could definitely imagine watching these scenarios unfold on the big screen. While it did take me awhile to get used to the highly technical and scientific terms, the depth at which details are explained is a testament to the extensive research Künsken has done. 

I've always been drawn to Venus, even as a young child. I loved the irony of a planet that is so beautiful and named after the Goddess of Love, but in reality is incredibly deadly. It is that very beauty that makes her so lethal, but is still determined to hide an ugliness under that myriad of sunset colors. If you've ever struggled with self-worth, this concept is one that is all too familiar. Pascale described it perfectly, "Venus isn't just a mirror. She's every mirror. We all see ourselves in her."
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And... breathe! I have no idea where to start my review, so let me waffle a bit. It took me 4 hours to finish the last 6% of this book. I kept putting it down: "I don't want to know." Picking it back up: "I have to know." And, oh my word, I want to read it all again right now! The setting is Venus. VENUS! The plot is so, so good. The characters? They're gritty and so real that I swear one popped out of my e-reader and slapped me at one point when I actually stopped breathing for a while. Of course, it doesn't hurt the rating that the writing is superb either. If "The House of Styx" is the way sci-fi is going then we're all in for some absolutely fantastic reading in the future.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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All aspects of this book are awesome in their own right. There is sci-fi about humanity living around Venus, trying to salvage whatever they can to survive. Gender identity, love, family, politics, equality for disabled people, they are all important issues and interesting, and they are all wonderfully woven together in this book.

Then why only three stars? It took too long for the story to land. Especially with quite a lot of worldbuilding at the start, and the author trying to cram in the starts of too many of these issues in too fast, it was often quite overwhelming and ... it was not actually confusing (I always got on the right track again pretty quickly), but it did sometimes feel that way.

All in all this book certainly is worth reading. Don't expect it to be easy to read though.
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"She owned her gifts and flaws with the self-knowledge and self-acceptance that created beauty out of nothing."

The book is set in the clouds of Venus and follows the D'Aquillon family.  The father and head of the family, George-Etienne, is widowed and has four remaining children and one grandchild.  They live apart from the rest of la colonie and discover an unnatural wind on the surface of the planet, which defies the laws of physics.  

The world building was exceptional and incredibly detailed.  I have to commend the volume of research which went into this book.  I also liked the diversity of the characters.  Pascal's struggle with his identity was so raw and heartbreaking and I loved the small roles which Jean-Eudes had been taught to help him feel included.  Marthe was such a strong character who I admired so much, and it was easy to will their family to succeed against the government and the bank.  The writing was rich and poetic as well.

However, I felt the descriptions were too detailed and lengthy.  The opening chapters were so difficult to understand and even after finishing, I still don't entirely understand the concept of trawlers and habitats.  I found myself skimming over large descriptive sections and a lot of the engineering terminology put me to sleep.  While I understand everyone spoke French, I didn't like how characters switched back and forth between the two languages when speaking.  I genuinely feel like this book could have been condensed and there were some parts where I actually had to force myself to keep reading.  

That being said, the ending was exciting and I know a lot of readers will love this detailed and scientific novel.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't my cup of tea. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Representation: Queer, Trans, Autistic characters

This book was… not for me. I rated it two stars here, but it would be closer to 2.5 stars. Don’t get me wrong, the idea was soooo interesting, but this book could have been 300 pages shorter. It went in LABORIOUS amounts of detail in describing the different things about living on Venus.

The characters were interesting to read about and varied. You really felt for them and wanted them to succeed. A lot of that was hidden behind the fact that I didn’t want to keep reading the long winded text that could have been simplified. That being said, I appreciated that there were some very diverse characters, along with some neuro-divergent characters.

The plot was good, I really wanted the d’Aquillon family to prevail over the “enemy” of the story, but I felt like this was -A LOT- of build up for following stories and I had a lot of periods of being kind of bored throughout reading. That being said, just because I didn’t love this one does not mean that others won’t! If you like family sagas with lots of science and details, you’ll love this one!
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Far into the future, human beings have colonized most of our Solar System. This book is set in Venus. You know, Venus? The really really hot planet with acid rain? Yeah that one! People living in trawlers, large habitats that float in the Venusian atmosphere, amidst storms that are vicious and unpredictable. It sounds almost painful and it is. Life is very hard for the La Colonie, more so for the D'Aquillon family who live in the lower parts of the atmosphere away from the more elite members and the government. Pascal, the youngest son with an engineering brain along with his father finds a strange phenomenon deep down. On the surface of Venus, there is something strange going on and when they discover what it is, it changes them. Within the caves there is a secret no one knows about and the D'Aquillons need to get there before the government lays claim to it.

This book is so well-researched and amazingly written. The scientific background of the author is obvious in the details. It does get a bit technical at times but nothing too hard. The characters, especially that of Pascal and Emile have so much depth. I didn't know a scifi novel could make my heart ache this much. I didn't expect to be that invested in the characters at all. I liked Marthe too. Pascal's struggles with his identity, his discomfort with his own body, his coming out is well done, even in the chaos of everything that's happening around them. (Need I remind you of balloons floating in the lightning storm pouring sulfuric acid!) And the ending! It was brutal. I don't know what else to say. I loved it!

Oh I am so lucky to have been allowed an ARC for this book because, House of Styx is one of the best and memorable modern sci-fi novel that I have read ever!
Thank you Netgalley and Solaris for this review copy.

(Edit: Links to Instagram and Wordpress have been posted.)
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The book is based on a great irony.  Quebec has always wanted to separate from Canada.  In this very original SciFi Venus in the 2200s is populated by a group of Quebec separatists.   For a SciFi this had the feel of reality - life is tough in the Venus sky, it's too torrid to live on so the people live in various orbiting platforms, resources are tight and need constant recycling, the governing body has to allocate resources on the basis of economic priority, ingenuity is essential and life is dangerous.
One family of outcasts stumble on a possible wormhole, and opening up a potential for many subsequent books, which may lift them from a life of struggle to one of independence from the corrupt government and the Banks that seem to control the government.
But there's more.  Sex, sexual identity, family, loyalty and sacrifice are as much a part of the story as the SciFi bits.  The author puts a lot of effort to describe the conditions around and on Venus and how the people have to adapt to achieve.  
A good start to a potential epic series.
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Not to Mr. K's usual standard

I have been enjoying Derek Künsken's Quantum Magician series and I was surprised to see this new offering popping up when I figured he was busy with the next installment on that. When I started reading I guessed that this was an old ms pulled out of the drawer and dusted off to bring in some bread during the lull while the QM book gains length. I see now that this is intended to be a new series and I am dismayed.

I like my books to be technically plausible and this one doesn't make the grade.

While I will accept that a wormhole can be small and thus can be anywhere, how is it that this wormhole is a one-way glass? If our team can see the distant stars through it, how come the guys on the other side can't see Venus from their side and realize that the outlet is not open space? Why do they throw a stack of drones through the wormhole without a way to pull them back? (I concede that the other guys might have concluded their experiments and figured things out and will show up sometime in a future book, but there are a lot of abandoned, surely expensive drones in the cave on Venus.) The idea that the drones arrive without a way to navigate out of the cave suggests that the other guys aren't able to capture and analyze the gasses being sucked from Venus across the wormhole and determine their caustic composition and calculate the atmospheric pressure of their origin and design drones to navigate. I don't buy it.
I had another set of problems with the characterizations. There seems to be one of every personality type represented as if Mr. Künsken was working from a spreadsheet. I refuse to believe that in this scenario of highly educated technologists that normalizes various sexual configurations, gender dysphoria is not covered in the national health ed course.

Finally, I fail completely to believe that an underpopulated enclave of bio specialists, which is what the Venusians are, by itself can muster the wherewithal to manufacture the air locks and related tech to tame the winds generated by the wormhole. It is impossible that a dozen people can do it while remaining hidden from everyone in the solar system.
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