5* Review: The Helion Band – A.J. Mason

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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First things first, The Helion Band does not feel like a debut novel. The author has set the bar so high, that honestly, lord help other brand-new authors who follow in A.J. Mason’s wake.

Superb world building and sensational writing (extra points for the inclusion of a glossary), sees readers follow Rose as she escapes from the House of Aximendes and the clutches of psychotic Queen Penthesilea. But Rose doesn’t leave empty handed, and as Queen Penthesilea learns of what Rose truly has in her possession the chase to reclaim it begins.

No longer safe in Drem, Rose must make a choice whether to flee once again on her own, or to entrust her secrets to her lover, Captain Vash Munro, and put everything on the line for a shot at love.

What follows is an epic journey across the galaxy and as battles rage against the inky black skies, it remains to be seen just what the cost of love and trust will be.

In amongst a captivating storyline that twists and turns at every opportunity, is a solid core of compassion and redemption. And whilst at times, it’s downright impossible not to hate (and i do mean hate) Queen Penthesilea and everything the House of Aximendes stands for, by the end the tides are turning, and we get to see that no-one is above being a product of their upbringing and surrounding environment.

The bounties of action pave the way for the introduction of a whole bunch of supporting characters that are individually well developed, and whilst i certainly enjoyed Rose and Vash as characters, i found myself with a soft spot for Jakub and Bel who both play large parts within the plot. In Jakub we have a no-nonsense, roguish yet wise character, who reminded me of a grandparent figure. And then there’s Bel, the artificial intelligence and for all intents and purposes the technical ‘soul’ of Vash’s ship, who most certainly brings the wit, humour and banter to the party.

The Helion Band does revolve around a fairly heavy topic, concerning domestic abuse – in doing so the story works to show the trauma abuse creates and how abuse can span generations i.e. the abused becomes the abuser. Ordinarily i don’t have any issues with heavy topics in books so long as they are pivotal to the plot and serve an apparent purpose to the heartbeat of the story. In saying this, my one and only niggle with The Helion Band was the inclusion of two instances of references to suicide, which i felt did not add anything to the wider context of what was happening at the time, nor to the story as whole – as such my personal preference would have been for those not to be featured. As i’ve said above i don’t usually have an issue with difficult topics in books, and i wouldn’t negatively review a book solely based on my personal preference, which is why The Helion Band still garners a well-deserved 5 stars from me.

Overall, there truly is so much to enjoy about this book, it is quite frankly outstanding and whilst i won’t spoil the ending for anyone else – I REALLY hope that we get to see more of these characters. I feel like their journey is only just getting started, there’s so many questions still to be answered and I’d willingly upsticks and travel the galaxy with them if i could.

The Helion Band is a rollercoaster story of love, friendship, compassion and redemption and a book i guarantee you won’t be able to put down. As the story draws to a close, Mason leaves readers with something to ponder – What would you be willing to do for the people you love and care about? Where would you draw the line?

I received an ARC of this book for review from Butterworth Books, in exchange for an honest review.

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