Dead Silence, by S.A. Barnes, comes storming out of the gate with some incredible ideas, and an author with the skill to combine them into one delightfully terrifying novel.
Claire Kovalik is on the verge of being unemployed – leading a small crew as they maintain comms stations in the furthest reaches of known space, she’s about to lose the life she’s worked so hard to establish following a childhood tragedy that left her the only surviving member of her family. To say she’s in a bad place about it would be to understate it. Just as they’re about to wrap up their final job, however, they pick up a faint distress signal – the perfect excuse for her to postpone leaving the closest thing to home she has. The reluctance of her team turns to excitement when the beacon leads them to the most famous missing ship in space-faring history; but will they all survive to bring her treasures home?
The crowded isolation of a cruise ship makes them the perfect setting for a mystery, and moving the action into space worked absolutely beautifully here. S.A. Barnes writes expressive scenes that painted a very clear picture of the events of the book, filled them with characters that felt vividly real, and then unleashed her formidable imagination in ways I couldn’t bear to look away from. It really does bring the horror, but the author knew just when to break the tension by cutting to a different moment in time. Main character Claire had me both cheering her on, and questioning if I could trust her – it’s a delicate balance, but one that keeps the reader just uncertain enough, in my opinion.
Dead Silence delivered everything promised in that tantalizing setup, and then some. Easily already one of my favorite releases of 2022, and one I’m hoping will have a chance to scare readers around the globe.