cover image The House of Styx

The House of Styx

Derek Künsken. Solaris, $27.99 (500p) ISBN 978-1-78108-805-0

The intricacies of family dynamics, politics, and coming of age play out against the stunning, deadly backdrop of Venus in this standout work by Künsken (The Quantum Magician). The D’Aquillon family is scraping by in the depths of Venus’s atmosphere—harvesting water and oxygen and gathering metals from volcanic ash in the lowest clouds—when they discover an anomalous storm with startling origins brewing on the planet’s surface. In the more luxurious habitats of La Colonie, drifting just above the upper clouds of Venus, political agendas clash and the first generation of Venus-born humans seek a connection with their inhospitable home through aciding—body art created by applying sulfuric acid to skin. The D’Aquillons must decide whether to share their discovery with the colonial government or use it to their political advantage. To fully exploit their situation, they’ll have to open ranks to new allies and set aside old grudges. Künsken’s vivid worldbuilding is a knockout; the shifting relationships, intriguing politics, well-drawn counterculture, and the haunting atmosphere of Venus combine into a mesmerizing whole. This is a must-read for fans of character-driven sci-fi. Agent: Kim-Mei Kirtland, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Aug.)