The House of Styx by Derek Kunsken (Venus Ascendant #1)

the house of styx


The House of Styx
by Derek Künsken

Science Fiction/LGBTQ+/Fantasy

500 Pages

Published by Solaris (18th August 2020)

Book #1 Venus Ascendant series

Purchase from | Booktopia* | Dymocks  | Fishpond AU*| Book Depository* | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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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