In a world of pirates and murderous ghosts, one naval cadet must choose between loyalty and survival.
In the Level’s Naval Academy, officer candidate Silas Hunt stumbles across a secret that could get him hanged for treason. The only hope he has to save his own life and to find justice is to join up with a ruthless pirate captain, a woman known as Mad Dog—even if it means sacrificing everything he’s spent his life working for.
The Verity is just a ship of the line, but for Stacks-born Captain Hollis Ives, it’s not just her first command. It’s her one chance to prove that a woman from the slums can handle a high-ranking naval position—even if it means accepting a posting that’s likely to be a death sentence.
This was a fun read. Space pirates, ghosts, conspiracies and coverups… It was all there, along with a dynamic cast of characters, each with questionable motives.
There are tree main characters, though I think Silas gets the most page time. He wants to do what’s right, even at the cost of his career and his future with the navy, and will go to any lengths to do it. Which is how he winds up with a pirate crew. Silas’ determination was admirable, and I liked how his character evolved throughout the book as he learned that maybe the pirate crew wasn’t so bad.
Then there’s Gracie, also known as Captain Mad Dog. She quite a bit older than Silas, but has the loyalty of every member of her crew. She has a reputation for ruthlessness that every sailor in the navy fears, and she isn’t afraid of upholding it. But she’s good to her crew and will even risk her life for any one of them. She was at times unpredictable, but was always two steps ahead of her enemies. Of the main characters, she was my favorite.
The last is Hollis Ives, a new captain in the navy and the first to make that rank from her background. She’s fiercely determined to prove herself, and often comes across as cold. But she demonstrates her skill and sharp intelligence enough to win over her crew.
What I enjoyed most about this book is that every character had their flaws, every character was likeable in some way, and every character could be seen as both a good guy and a bad guy. And it was so much fun.
Throw into the mix a big coverup by naval high command, a ship full of cargo on the fringe of a black hole, which the navy doesn’t want to lose—and the pirates desperately want—and you’ve got a great story. Add to that the constant threat of your crew members dying and turning ghost, and I don’t think the stakes could get much higher.
The whole concept of the ghosts in this book was an interesting one. Any person with enough cellular damage from space radiation and enough trauma in their past had the potential to turn ghost if they died. And the ghosts were pretty terrifying. They’re full of mindless rage, have claws and wicked sharp teeth, and are drawn to motion and sound. And they kill indiscriminately. It doesn’t matter if you were the person’s friend in life, once they turn ghost you’re at as much risk as an enemy. Ghosts are also difficult to eliminate, making them even more dangerous.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one.