T.A. Bruno’s On the Winds of Quasars takes the fun characters and beautiful world-building of In The Orbit Of Sirens throws them into the frying pan, cranks the heat up to HI and rips the burner knob off.
Taking place over two decades after the events of the first book, Quasars follows the children of Denton and Eliana Castus who are kidnapped by a monster who is half auk’nai birdman and half something altogether more sinister. As they try to escape, their parents follow in hot pursuit, all of them unwittingly rushing toward an infinitely dangerous foe from their past.
Quasars is a much tighter book than Sirens mostly due to the fact that the lush world of Kamaria has already been well established and fleshed out. Now that the heavy lifting is done, the narrative is free to focus on more exciting things. So while Sirens felt like an old-school hard sci-fi epic with a wide scope, the sequel switches to a more narrow, fast-paced, adventurous thrill-ride. Bruno’s writing in Quasars is sharp, quick, and keeps things moving for the immediate kidnapping/survival plot, while also uncovering mysteries that tie back into the overarching epic that was teased at the beginning of Sirens. It was a really brilliant choice that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. As usual, Bruno’s characters remain compelling, and I found myself caring for the new characters just as much (if not more so), than the old. Furthermore, the themes of bodily autonomy and control remain just as interesting and chilling as in the first.
If I were to have any criticisms of Quasars it’s just that it made Sirens feel a lot more distantly related. Quasars follows the ~20 year old children of the original book’s protagonists (although Denton and Eliana are still present, but… older), with the third and final installment picking up immediately afterward. While I still enjoyed it, Sirens now feels like a prequel book that existed more to set up the world and concepts of Kamaria as a stage for the final two acts, rather than a first act that flows directly into the next. But maybe that’s just me being neurotic.
Regardless of my weird hangups, T.A. Bruno’s delivered another captivating sci-fi novel in a series that deserves all the praise it’s getting. Look out for my review on the third book At The Threshold Of The Universe coming as soon as I can finish it.