Freyas Tears by D Jordan Redhawk is the kind of book I love to happen across. It is so up my alley, it could have been written with me in mind. I’m thrilled I found it, and a little embarrassed to find out it came out two years ago. The story is all space opera with lesbians, and as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get much better than that. This is a trek across space in a leaky boat with one or more saboteurs in their midst, and then it really gets interesting.
The book opens with betrayal and old-fashioned piracy. The crew is forced to heave-to and their cargo is stolen out from under them. In more than a bit of a financial bind, they head off to find another cargo. However, word of their plight has spread and the best jobs have dried up. The ship’s captain, Els, is doing her best to provide for her crew who still haven’t been paid, but is failing miserably. Meanwhile, her lover, Bennie, manages to track down a job. Els is initially suspicious, as Bennie doesn’t share her compunctions on transporting human cargo, but is talked into it.
They bootstrap their ship and its new cargo of medical tissues out into space, but things start going wrong. Els has every reason to suspect that Bennie is carrying on with another member of the crew, but can’t bring herself to believe it. Then the human tissue they’re transporting turns out to be all-too-human, and in the worst possible way. Confronted with a choice between finishing the job and heading for the nearest planet where she can get justice for her cargo, Els chooses the latter. Not only does she have to fight her deteriorating ship and the members of the crew who want to see the cargo delivered at all costs, but the situation is further complicated when the cargo’s owners show up, and they’re not happy.
Elsibet (Els) Ulfarsdottir captains the ragtag crew of the space transport ship Freya’s Tears. She was elected to the post by the rest of her shipmates, but she has doubts about her ability to run the ship and keep everyone safe and paid. She is well aware that some of her crew share her doubts. Els may be a smuggler, but her standards include not touching anything that smells the least bit of slavery. Her morals make it difficult to find work just when they need it most.
Bennie Takahashi is the ship’s medic and Els’ lover. Where the captain is a woman of strong convictions, Bennie own convictions seem to run more to getting paid than to making the galaxy a better place. It’s a little strange for someone in the healing profession to be so brutally pragmatic, but Bennie manages. She’s from a rich family and definitely has trouble doing with less. Her pragmatism rubs Els the wrong way and has put some serious strain on their relationship.
Kasli Holt is the ship’s no-nonsense gunner. She and Els were on their way to developing an understanding before Bennie joined their crew. At the moment, she seems content to stand on the sidelines and offer her support to Els when she asks it. Unfortunately, Els has some serious problems taking that support, especially since there are signs that they’re being played by one of their own.
The rest of the crew: Austin, the pilot; Hrothgar, Els’ brother and the ship’s junior engineer; Robb, the ship’s secondary gunner; Kolodka, the senior engineer.
The Writing Style
I enjoy Redhawk’s writing style. There are no frills to it, but we get a great idea of what’s going on in her character’s head. The story is written completely from Els’ point of view, but the reader never lacks for information. This choice also adds to the claustrophobia and tension of the story. We’re forced to ride along on Els’ shoulder, which was a great authorial choice. The sense of isolation Els feels from Bennie and the rest of her crew grows during the course of the novel, and we’re right there with her.
The characters are well-rounded and each has their own feel, which is no easy feat with so many of them. The story is tightly plotted and leaves no hanging threads. What I liked the most was the sense of claustrophobia Redhawk is able to evoke through her tight view of the main character. As readers, we don’t know who to rely on any more than Els does. The reveal is fantastic and worth every bit of foreshadowing that leads up to it. I’m a pretty in-the-moment reader, so maybe it’s no surprise that I had no idea what was up with the cargo, but I was pretty shocked when that one came to light. Once again, it was easy to imagine what it might be like to be in Els’ shoes.
This isn’t necessarily a con, but Freya’s Tears isn’t a romance. If you’re looking for romance, you’ll want to look elsewhere. I don’t need a romance in all of my lesfic. That three of the characters, including the main one, were lesbians is more than enough for me.
Also, the story is tightly plotted, but I wish I knew a bit more about the motivation of some of the characters. Some pretty nasty stuff happens, but we never know exactly why. Part of that is likely a result of Redhawk’s decision to follow Els so closely. She doesn’t find out why some things happened, so we don’t either. Whether this really is a con, or simply another manifestation of my need to know all the things, I’m not sure.
Freya’s Tears by D Jordan Redhawk is a great, nail-biting story. If you like adventures in space and lesbians—and their relationships—in peril, then you should buy it now. You should also check out Redhawk’s website for more Freya’s Tears goodies.
Excerpt from Freyas Tears by D Jordan Redhawk
His laughter reminded her of better times, of happier times. “I found us some work!”
Despite her misgivings about him, his enthusiasm was contagious. He seemed more like the man she’d met on Ipaya, a fun-loving clown, always looking for a laugh and a good time. She reminded herself that Robb’s idea of suitable work was similar to Bennie’s—anything to pay the bills, regardless of the overall ramifications. “Fantastic. What is it?”
“Cupertech is running colonists to the Fica system. A hundred low berths for lots of coin.”
Her heart sank at the first word out of his mouth. He continued to rave about the “easy gig” of running stasis pods from one point to another even as she invalidated the deal in her mind. When she could get a word in edgewise, she shook her head. “No can do, boyo. Not for Cupertech.”
The familiar anger sparked in his brown eyes, driving away the youngster her brother had introduced to her years ago. “Why not? It’s bank, and we need the money.”
“It’s slavery, Robb. Those aren’t colonists, no matter what your contact told you. You know that.” His mouth turned dour, his face flushing, confirming that he wasn’t an innocent being hoodwinked by a Cupertech agent. When had he become such a nithling? Where had that idealistic kid gone? Had he been this way after Ipaya and she hadn’t noticed when she’d hired him? “Freya’s Tears won’t run slaves. Ever.”
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594933844
- Publisher: Bella Books
D Jordan Redhawks Online
Note: I received a free review copy of this book for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.