Silver Shark is Ilona Andrews’ second kinsman novella, set in the same future world where genetically enhanced families called kinsmen control vast financial empires. This novella differs greatly from the first, Silent Blade, in that the heroine isn’t a born kinsman, but a refugee warrior from another planet. You’ll find, however, that it is just as fun and compelling a read.
This novella begins on the planet Uley, where the heroine, Claire Shannon, is a veteran of constant war. Claire is a psycher, enhanced in ways that allow her to wage war on the biological internet, crushing the minds of enemy psychers. Claire is facing burn-out, having been in constant battle since she was torn from her mother at the age of fourteen. When Claire’s side loses the war for Uley, she barely survives extermination by her own commander because psychers are considered too dangerous to allow in the general population. She buries her abilities so deeply behind a mental wall that she is allowed to immigrate to the planet of Rada, to find work in the city of New Delphi. Getting a job quickly is paramount, so Claire goes to a job interview before even seeing her new home. She takes the job rather than risking deportation back to Uley and certain death, even though the job is as assistant to – wouldn’t you know it – the powerful head of a kinsman family, an extremely talented psycher.
This story is both very touching and quite amusing. When Claire, the tough campaigner, sees where she is going to be living and walks out onto the balcony to see clean air and gardens, she actually folds up into herself and breaks down crying. Her internal dialog and thought processes as she assimilates into her new culture are priceless. Having come from a place of uniform gray buildings and protein paste twice a day, where even having a houseplant is considered a waste of resources, New Delphi is a huge culture shock. Claire falls instantly in lust with her new boss, Venturo Escana, and her previously asexual existence is history. The wall she built to hide her mind takes continual hits when she’s in his presence. Despite all this, Claire finally has a measure of security, until a debt is called due and she has to risk her new life to pay it.
This story also has wide appeal. While there is much more technical detail, the romance is still very warm and charming, the worldbuilding awesome. You’ll fall in love with Ven. I highly recommend Silver Shark as well.