Zoë Sumra's Sailor to a Siren was published as e-book by Elsewhen Press in July 2015. The paperback edition was published in November 2015.

Information about Zoë Sumra:

Zoë was born in London, but spent her later childhood living in Lancashire, where she started writing novels at the age of twelve due to extreme boredom. After completing the obligatory epic fantasy trilogy in her teens, she spent four years at the University of St Andrews, where she learnt to fence both foil and sabre and cemented her passion for space opera. She now lives in London with her husband and a collection of swords. When she's not writing or fencing, Zoë works as a print controller for an advertising company.

Click here to visit the author's Twitter page.

Information about Sailor to a Siren:

Sailor to a Siren is a space opera novel with significant nods to the gangland thriller genre.

When Connor and Logan Cardwain, a gangster's lieutenants, steal a shipment of high-grade narcotics on the orders of their boss, Connor dreams of diverting the profits and setting up in business for himself. His plans encounter a hurdle in the form of Éloise Falavière, Logan's former girlfriend, who has been hired by an interplanetary police force's vice squad.

Logan wants a family; Éloise wants to stop the drugs shipment from being sent to her home planet; Connor wants to gain independence without angering his boss. All of their plans are derailed, though, when they discover that the shipment was hiding a much deadlier secret - the prototype of a tiny superweapon powerful enough to destabilise galactic peace.

Crime lords, corrupt officials and interstellar magicians are soon pursuing them, and Connor, Logan and Éloise realise they have to identify and confront the superweapon's smuggler in order to survive. But when, one by one, their friends begin to betray them, their self-imposed mission transforms from being difficult to near-impossible.

Sailor to a Siren is a great debut from Zoë Sumra and establishes her as a name to watch in epic space opera. The depth of her characters, the breadth of her world-building, the ambition and longevity of her story-arcs spanning multiple generations of families, all make this a first step in what is likely to be a fascinating and enthralling universe. This is a universe that has more in common with The Galactic Milieu, Firefly or Babylon 5 than with the likes of Star Trek or even Star Wars. These are stories that Zoë has been thinking about, preparing and crafting for many years; stories that deserve to be told, from a story-teller who deserves to be heard.

A REVIEW OF ZOË SUMRA'S SAILOR TO A SIREN

Zoë Sumra's debut sci-fi novel, Sailor to a Siren, is an addictive, fast-paced and highly entertaining take on an epic space opera novel. It's a novel filled with entertaining action, intriguing characters and good worldbuilding. It contains interesting gangster and thriller elements that set it apart from other similar kind of novels. It gives readers an adrenaline rush through plot twists and surprises.

Sailor to a Siren is a welcome and exciting addition to the space opera genre, because the author successfully blends space opera with a few elements that are often found in crime fiction and thriller fiction. This is something unique and unusual, because you won't be able to find many similar kind of novels. There are a few science fiction novels out there in which the authors combine different genres, but this novel feels refreshingly different from them.

In this debut novel, Zoë Sumra exhibits signs of skillful storytelling with an emphasis on fast-paced action and entertainment. The gradually unfolding story is highly enjoyable, because the author keeps readers wondering what will happen next to the characters. To be honest, it's been a while since I've read anything as good and entertaining as this novel when it comes to fast-paced space opera novels.

I think it's good to mention that Sailor to a Siren is a novel for adult readers, because it contains sex, violence and gritty scenes that are not suitable for younger readers.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

The events take place on a planet that is inhabited by the bird-like Pellites and humans. Connor and Logan Cardwain are lieutenants who work for a gangster, Meris Hardblade. Connor and Logan steal a drug shipment from a rival gang and wonder why it was guarded by a Spellweaver instead of normal guards. They try to find a way to sell what they've stolen. Soon Connor and Logan realise that they've stolen something far more valuable than drugs and find themselves in quite a big trouble. Their lives become increasingly complicated when Logan's old girlfriend, Ellie (Éloise Falavière), appears to their lives. She's a Spellweaver who's trying to prevent drug shipments from being sent to her home planet...

This is the beginning of an enjoyable and fast-paced story that's filled with action and surprises.

Characterisation is good and interesting, because the three main characters - Connor Cardwain, Logan Cardwain and Éloise Falavière - have quite a lot of depth to them. Considering the amount of action this novel contains and how fast the story moves forward, character development works surprisingly well. This is rare in fast-paced space operas, because normally authors emphasise action over character development and thus characters tend to be a bit flat and one-dimensional.

All of the main characters are compelling, because their lives are anything but ordinary. Both of the Cardwain brothers are criminals, but they're strangely likeable and have their own agendas - Connor is interested in setting up his own business and Logan has a lot on his mind because of Éloise. Éloise is a fascinating character, because she's a Spellweaver and has her own secrets.

It was interesting for me to read about what happened to Connor and Logan when they found out the truth about what they had stolen. Their actions and decisions are told in a convincing and satisfying manner.

Worldbuilding is excellent, because the author has created a universe filled with different species, aliens, brutality and interesting magic. Life is cheap and harsh in this universe and anything can happen to those who are not careful about their doings and dealings with various gangsters and people. Nobody can be fully trusted, because betrayal comes easy. You have to be able to look after yourself and your own interests or you'll perish.

The story moves fast forward, which is great. There aren't any boring moments in this novel, because the author keeps things rolling and makes sure that there's plenty of action to satisfy the needs of readers who are fascinated by well written action scenes.

The author's way of writing about sex and sexuality is delightfully graphic and explicit. She writes boldly about sex and sexual situations, because she doesn't censor anything and lets her readers feel the heat and frenzy of sex.

Reading about the Spellweavers and their powers was interesting, because they can use magic. They have different skills that range from Defense to Healing. There are two factions of Spellweavers - the Circle and the Guild - who have disputes and differences over certain things. They refuse to meet terms. I have to mention that I was intrigued by the Spellweavers' magic and its origin, because it was something different. Antimagic is also explored in an intriguing way, because it causes severe discomfort to Spellweavers.

One of the best things about this novel is that Zoë Sumra has created a satisfyingly complex story. Her story becomes increasingly interesting as it begins to unfold, because certain things are revealed to readers (it's pure entertainment from start to finish).

I'd like to write a lot about the plot twists and surprises in this novel, but I think I'd better not go into details about them, because I might write spoilers. I'll only mention as an example that the scene in which Logan meets Éloise again and hears interesting news from her is simply excellent. What Logan hears from Éloise comes as a surprise to him, because he didn't expect to hear that kind of news. There are many other intriguing scenes, but I won't write about them, because that wouldn't be fair to anybody.

I think that careful readers will notice that there's much more to this novel than meets the eye. At first it may seem to be an action-filled novel, but it has quite a lot of hidden depth that is revealed through dialogues and how the characters react to different happenings.

I have a feeling that the author has a lot more in store for her readers and she will continue to write more stories about the same universe, because this novel gives readers a tiny yet fascinating glimpse into the universe she has created. I look forward to reading more novels by her, because she is a talented author who has managed to pack a lot of story into a single novel and she has done it well. (More, please!)

I give this novel strong 4.5 stars on the scale from 1 to 5 stars for its entertainment values and compelling characters.

Zoë Sumra's Sailor to a Siren is excellent entertainment. If you're a fan of space opera novels and action-filled sci-fi stories, please take a look at this novel. It offers you action, complex situations and plenty of entertainment in a marvellous all-in-one package. It's a perfect example of how to write entertaining and fast-paced space opera for adults with compelling characters and gritty scenes.

Highly recommended to readers who want fast-paced action and interesting characters from their space opera novels!

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