Zoë Sumra's The Wages of Sin was published by Elsewhen Press. The digital edition was published in June 2017 and the paperback edition in July 2017.

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, their daughter and a collection of swords. Zoë writes when she’s not fencing, looking after her daughter, or working as a print controller for an advertising company.

Click here to visit her official website.

Information about The Wages of Sin:

The second book in the Underside series

One young woman dies and another vanishes on the same chilly spring night. Connor Cardwain sees no reason to link his cleaner Merissa’s murder to a mystery anchored within a high-end warship sales team, but reconsiders his position when he realises both women were connected to a foreign runaway.

Armed with an enterprising widow, an imperial spy and his own wits, Connor sets out to find the missing woman, in a city streaked with vice and a planet upturned by other ganglanders’ ambition. If he fails to beat arms dealers, aristocrats, pirates and human traffickers at their own game, he and all his team will pay the price – and the wages of sin are death.

The Wages of Sin is graced with a fantastic cover by artist Alex Storer.


Zoë Sumra's The Wages of Sin is an excellent addition to the Underside series. It's just as entertaining and epic as Sailor to a Siren, because the author pays attention to delivering a good and addictive story with an emphasis on fluent characterisation and fast-paced action. It has a fine and well-maintained balance between action, characterisation and plot.

I've often experienced moments of disappointment and frustration when I've begun to read modern space opera novels, because it feels like many science fiction authors don't put enough effort into their writing and create shallow characters that lack depth. The Wages of Sin and its predecessor, Sailor to a Siren, are fortunately perfect antidote to these novels, because they're immersive entertainment for adult readers.

I'm glad to say that, in this novel, the author fulfills the promise that she showed in her debut novel and delivers a rewarding, satisfyingly complex and action-packed story that feels wonderfully fresh and exciting. I was positively surprised by it, because it exceeded all of my expectations.

The gradually unfolding story is highly entertaining, because Zoë Sumra skillfully moves the story fast forward. It's great that the author keeps readers wondering what will happen next and how things will be resolved, because it makes for an addictive and intriguing read. Whether you're a newcome to science fiction or a dedicated fan of the genre, you'll find something to enjoy in this novel, because it will hook you immediately when you begin to read it.

Here's a bit of information about how the story begins:

Connor Cardwain examines the body of a 19-year-old cleaning girl, Merissa. Merissa's killer has beaten her so badly that her face is unrecognisable. Connor has asked for one of Mistress Falavière's cousins and expects a male cousin, but instead gets a female cousin, Yasmine, who will take Éloise's place during her pregnancy... Connor believes that somebody has taken advantage of Éloise's absence to kill one of his menial staff members. Soon he hears from his factory manager, Mina Jai, that somebody has managed to enter the factory during the night... Connor is visited by Atalanta who tells him that Dominic, her father-in-law, who was a powerful Spellweaver, has died and he needs to come to Port Logis. Connor travels to Port Logis to attend the funeral and meets his brother. After the funeral he meets Dominic's wife, Gisele. Gisele tells him how things are and asks for something that surprises him... Soon Connor finds out that a woman, Nerys Capuin, has gone missing on the same night as Merissa was killed...

This marks the beginning of an action-packed story with plenty of surprises.

I'd love to write more about what happens in this novel, because it has many intriguing scenes, but I'll have to restrain myself from writing too many spoilers or I'll end up revealing too much information about the story.

The fluent characterisation is one of the reasons why this novel is different from other novels of its kind. The author has created a compelling cast of characters, because the characters struggle with their own problems and have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Connor Cardwain is a well-created and interesting protagonist. The author writes realistically about him and his deeds. He is barely into his thirties, but he can already feel the effects of the life he has lived on his body. He has built a life for himself, but has to deal with arising problems. The other characters that range from Connor's brother to Gisele are also well-created.

I have to mention that I enjoyed reading about how the author wrote about relationships, responsibilities and expectations between family members. Her subtly complex vision of them is satisfyingly realistic.

This novel has many excellent and well written scenes that impressed me. For example, the scene in which Connor meets Yasmine for the first time is excellent, because he notices that Yasmine is different from Éloise. The scene in which Connor meets his brother, Logan, and Éloise is also great, because Connor gets to see Éloise's other side that she keeps hidden from others (Éloise is normally ruthless, but now she is totally different).

I enjoyed reading about what Gisele asked of Connor, because it came as a total surprise. I won't reveal what happens between Connor and Gisele, but I can mention that what follows is highly entertaining.

I'm impressed by the fluent and believable worldbuilding, because the author effortlessly reveals bits and pieces of information about the world as the story unfolds. The author has created an interesting vision of the universe where life can be cheap and extremely harsh. Brutality is part of the universe and death comes easy to those who are not wary about who they meet and what they do.

I enjoyed reading about Spellweavers and their abilities, because the author writes captivatingly about them. It's great that magic and abilities come with a price: those who use magic have to pay a price for their abilities, because magic will eventually be harmful to them.

Just like Sailor to a Siren, The Wages of Sin is a prime example of how to write compelling, fast-paced and gritty space opera for adult readers who want to be entertained by a good story. There aren't any boring or stale moments in this novel, because the author makes sure that there's always something going on to satisfy the needs of readers who enjoy action scenes.

The Wages of Sin has fascinatingly gritty scenes that will appeal to those who like their space opera with a pinch of roughness. It's great that the author doesn't shy away from brutalities and harsh elements, because they're an important part of the story and its thrilling atmosphere.

I give this novel five stars on the scale from one to five stars, because I found the story entertaining and enjoyed reading about the characters.

My final words are:

I found The Wages of Sin excellent in every regard, because Zoë Sumra has done her best to write an entertaining novel that will instantly hook the reader. This novel is immersive and well written escapism for adults who love fast-paced science fiction novels.

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