Weird Space: The Baba Yaga by Una McCormack

Although listed as Book 3, this is a standalone in a universe created by coauthor Eric Brown (he has written two previous books in the universe but I do not believe they share any characters). The story is fast paced, engaging, and with a multi-POV set of threads that weave together by the end. Although the worldbuilding is fairly shallow (there are a lot of mysteries to be explored in this universe by different authors), I enjoyed reading The Baba Yaga through to the end.

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Story: Humans had battled one deadly alien species – only to have another, more powerful and mysterious one appear. Now with a truce in place, political machinations will jeopardize all the peace that has been so hard won and endanger the lives of many. When a colony world is attacked and destroyed by the new alien menace, one group of people will need to connect with another to reveal a galaxy-wide conspiracy.

What we have are two central POVs: Delia Walker is an intelligence agent caught up in the high end politics of human space. Maria is a colonist and the mother of a young daughter; she unwittingly holds the evidence to a devastating truth. Both women are fleeing, one with purpose and the other with desperation. Although I enjoyed Delia’s story much more than Maria’s, both characters are well drawn. A wide collection of supporting characters were similarly fleshed out and distinct.

The Baba Yaga (named for a Russian Legend) had some great action sequences and I enjoyed reading stories of tough women characters who can hold their own.  The contrast of Delia’s worldliness and Maria’s naivete was a smart choice, as were some of the more interesting details about each of their lives. Most of the book is a mystery that the two women have to uncover; there are some twists near the end that I particularly liked.

The book is written in a straightforward fashion and the sci fi never gets in the way of characterization or story. I look forward to reading more from Una McCormack and hope she returns to this universe. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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