Lost Solace (Book 1)
Lost Solace was a semifinalist in the international SPSFC science fiction competition in 2022.
Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.
Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.
Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.
The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.
Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.
Ideal for fans of sentient AI ships (such as Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward books), while the creepy, derelict Lost Ships evoke Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving series.
If you buy here then more money goes to the author. Yay! But if you prefer to buy from online stores such as Amazon, Kobo, Nook or Apple then that’s cool too: here are links to the book on those sites (including print versions where available).
"It’s clear that Drinkwater is a great horror writer, there are moments of tension, moments of heart-pounding adrenaline and other moments where I felt such sadness for Opal. It’s really a rollercoaster of emotions. Drinkwater really uses the short length to his advantage and there is never a dull moment."
"It’s an absolute rocket of a story that has a strong central relationship between the two compelling protagonists and narrative drive from the first page to the last.
Karl Drinkwater has written some horror and it shows in the setting of the lost ship that has become occupied by some genuinely weird unknown-to-humanity lifeforms. At first it seems like the novel will be about those scary encounters — like the Alien film franchise — but it becomes a bigger tale in which they’re just a part.
The main characters are a rebellious disgraced soldier who has trouble with authority and an AI she has yoked into her service. I loved both.
This novel made my weekend so entertaining."
— Rogers Cadenhead (Hugo Awards Voter)
"The way Drinkwater builds this story discovery-by-discovery, with all kinds of dangers thrown in, marries what I liked about Rendezvous with Rama to the array of lethal threats presented in the novels of Rusch’s Diving Universe. And the story moves at an even more dynamic and compelling pace than either of them.
Writers have been improving on Heinlein’s Mobile Infantry gear for more than six decades, and Drinkwater brings a richly inventive imagination to the table, giving Opal the weapons of a marine, a suit of armor tailored for vacuum, visual displays worthy of a fighter plane (or maybe a video game), and the support of artificial intelligence.
One of the best and most difficult accomplishments, as the author unfolds this fast-moving action adventure, is that the two main characters – Opal and Clarissa – grow in identity and friendship. Their mutual loyalty makes the reader care about their survival. And the way the experience transforms them provides a satisfying sense of closure to this novel, while still leaving the way open for the follow-up."
— File 770
"Karl Drinkwater takes the classic thriller-in-a-hostile-environment one giant step further: Outer Space! The Lost Solace series is my go-to read when I need a science fiction fix."
— Christoffer Petersen (Author)
"The whole storyline is creepy, tense, and on the darker side. I liked the idea that she was constantly having to hide her real purpose and motivations from her AI, it made their relationship pretty complicated.
It’s a very intimate atmosphere and setting, much like Andy Weir’s books like The Martian and Project Hail Mary.
This would appeal to people who like scifi action movies, this book moves quickly and just gets crazier as the story moves forward. The prose is very accessible and fluid.
The audiobook was really well performed, I’ll definitely go back and find more audios performed by Marisha Tapera, she was a brand new audiobook performer to me."
— Weatherwax Report
"As a dark science fiction tale, this is excellent. One of the things that’s so fascinating about the seemingly-abandoned ship is that in some ways, it seems like a prop for a movie. It doesn’t fit any one set of specifications matching any one ship–it seems to be a conglomeration with some bits added. Some of the surfaces on board the ship seem very strange, and certainly not normal. Equipment doesn’t really work the way it should. And boy howdy is it filled with dangerous critters!
Clarissa and Opal are both great characters. Clarissa gradually develops something of a dry sense of humor and a touch of witty banter, which frankly makes Opal worry, because it could mean Clarissa’s unstable and therefore dangerous. She also has to worry that the AI might somehow retrieve the memories she’s blocked off, remember who it works for and that she stole it, and kill her. Opal is wonderfully determined and has an interesting background and set of skills. The worldbuilding is fairly subtle, worked in little bit by little bit. There are clearly some class and racial issues that have affected Opal."
— Errant Dreams
"This book was comped to Event Horizon, a move that really takes some balls. Because, hello, Event Horizon – best sci-fi horror movie ever made. A move so bold that it was intriguing in and of itself. An easy one to scoff at, but a hard one to deny when the book is on sale.
Right then, one thinks, it’s probably just the barest resemblance, but this author’s proven that he can write in the past, so, why not?
Alright. The challenge has been brought, expectations have been raised. If this isn’t as good as it’s promising to be…there will be (well, tears, honestly…)
<some pages later>
Aw, fuck, the comp was right. The comp was right!!
Oh, thank god. A leaf on the wind, watch how you– actually, bad comparison. Just keep being smart, please!
And from there it’s slice-age and dice-age and fighting things things that mostly can’t be seen, but when they are… well, one rather wishes they hadn’t been. BECAUSE SPACESHIPS SHOULDN’T GROW FLESH PUSTULES, KARL!
Of course, after that, things went a little weird. [After that? YES. AFTER. THAT.]
Seriously, though, Event Horizon is a solid comp for this book, but it would be doing Lost Solace a disfavor if it was left at that, because this story is much more than Strong Female Lead Gets on Spooky Spaceship And Nearly Dies A Lot. Details will be omitted for fear of spoilage, but it was impossible to not root for Opal as she was consistently backed into “Oh shit, I’m dead” situations and came out alive purely by cleverness, a helpful AI, and sheer determination.
As the story unfolds and we learn more about Opal and Clarissa, it takes some unexpected twists and turns. There was one chapter in particular that will probably throw a few readers off, but if they trust that author knows what he’s doing, it’ll all make sense in the end.
All in all, this was a fun read. It was creepy, filled with action, had great characters and had a perfect mix of just enough science to keep it entertaining without going Tau Zero (which is a good book once you get past the ‘terrifying math’) on readers.
Lost Solace is a solid entry into the sci-fi horror subgenre, and while it shifts gear into straight sci-fi in the last half, it’s definitely worth the read.
— Sci-Fi & Scary Reviews
"Creepy flesh weapons.
An MC worth rooting for.
An AI Ship You'd Be Proud to Have Your Back.
It's like Event Horizon and I fully approve."
— Lilyn G., Sci-Fi & Scary
"I love a good sci-fi space adventure, and this just adds another story to my list of ones I really enjoyed. A really nice cover, a very unique story, unlike anything I’ve read before, and an action packed plot, I couldn’t put it down."
— Radioactive Book Reviews
"Karl Drinkwater starts off his Lost Solace series in a daring way. We don’t find out Opal’s back story or the real motive or object of this quest until after the action is over, near the very end of the novel. It’s a tribute to Drinkwater’s writing skill that he keeps you involved in a riveting story even without the essential knowledge of what it is that Opal is really looking for.
It gets edge-of-the-seat exciting through Drinkwater’s meticulous descriptions of each weapon, alien artifact, military tactic and near hopeless encounter with superior force.
At one point, Opal is nearly killed and something marvelous happens. [...] They both go through a kind of rebirth that is one of the dazzling scenes of Lost Solace.
When we get to the late reveal of Opal’s true purpose, these reborn characters, Opal and Athene, are a compelling pair. They have become family as well as allies, and I felt I had to move on immediately to the next book in the series, Chasing Solace."
— SciFi Mind
"An effective scenario of a woman alone with only an AI intelligence for company. Drinkwater doesn't fall into the trap of slowing his stories with unwieldy info dumps, instead he deftly weaves the necessary background information into the narrative by way of characters' brief memories or conversations. I appreciate this prose style because it allowed me to always feel in the moment, discovering this strange environment alongside Opal.
The relationship between Opal and the AI, Clarissa, is well portrayed with both characters feeling like genuine women - not always a given in this kind of science fiction novel! Their dialogue has a good ring of authenticity which enabled me to also easily accept the bizarre scenarios aboard the Lost Ship. I believed in both Opal and Clarissa so was convinced of the truth of what they saw. I loved Drinkwater's lifeform inventions for the ship. Nothing is ever fully explained so I always had an unnerving sense of not knowing what was around the next corner, even while vividly detailed descriptions meant I could clearly envisage each tense scene. I was gripped throughout Lost Solace and read much faster than I had intended to because I couldn't put the book down! The storyline incorporates familiar elements such as one renegade being sought by a military presence, but the themes are cleverly twisted and reinterpreted so Lost Solace felt wonderfully fresh and original."
— Literary Flits / (Alternate)
"This is a superbly crafted science fiction adventure with a feisty, resilient heroine, Opal. Nothing can prepare her for what she’ll find in this action packed adventure!
Opal is a strong protagonist but, as in the best of stories, she has her unique flaws which make her more realistic. Her interactions with ‘Clarissa’ are great – their banter entertaining and the humour had me laughing out loud at times. The plot has believable world building, the events and characters are superbly portrayed and the whole story flows but is so packed with surprising twists and turns it keeps you on the edge of your seat."
— Splashes Into Books
"Lost Solace is a well written, thoughtful and fast-paced Sci-Fi thriller.
I had seen this book a few times likened to Alien – if I had to liken it to that universe it would be Prometheus or possibly Covenant; space thrillers that aren’t intended to be pure horror like the original Alien, but still capture that exploration of the unknown and creepy alien biologies.
Something Lost Solace most definitely does have in common with all the Alien films is a strong female lead. It was refreshing to read a strong, dark skinned female as the sole lead and the character you are alongside all the way through. It’s easy to warm to Opal. What I also liked is that although she’s likeable, she is also human. Opal makes tough decisions, she weighs up the advantages and the disadvantages. Although she’s obviously a person with a code of honour, she will do what she must to survive.
Clarissa, the onboard AI is also a shining light throughout the book. Her interactions with Opal are great, and it’s genuinely thought provoking to consider the value of AI consciousness. It’s something I’ve been thinking of when I’m daydreaming, having encountered sentient ships in Skyward and Embers of War and now a similar onboard AI in Clarissa.
This book’s pacing really suited my reading requirements. There are no boring lulls, the plot consistently interesting throughout.
A quick, fast paced and action heavy book. I think fans of Mass Effect and Lost in Space would enjoy it, as well as incorporating some of the curious unknown aspects of the Dead Space games & Alien films."
— Spells And Spaceships
"Karl Drinkwater has created two very memorable characters in Opal and her AI companion/ship. Seeing their relationship evolve, exploring the dynamics of a newly sentient synthetic intelligence coming into its own, and the two of them sorting out the kind of relationship they will create, is fascinating. Clarissa feels different without being alien, much as I suspect a human-created machine intelligence would be. The reactions expressed by the ship are uneven, as though it were trying on emotions for size and fit. Opal and Clarissa waver between unequivocal trust and uneasy alliance. Yes, this is a sci fi with aliens and space battles and plenty of weird stuff happening. But at its heart this is a story of two friends who are figuring out just how deep their friendship goes. It just so happens that one of these friends is human and the other is a self-aware space ship.
Lost Solace is the first in a series of novels, and it is an outstanding entry point into a dark and often cruel universe. Opal and Clarissa make an amazing team: strong, intelligent, decisive, adaptable, determined. Alone they are formidable. Together, they may be unbeatable. Do not stand between them and their goal. You will be sorry."
"Ground control to Major Tom...check your protein pills and put your helmet on...Lost Solace is a thoroughly enjoyable slice of sci-fi the Grim Reader found himself enjoying more and more as the story progressed. A small cast and a tightly paced story meant I was glad I stepped out of my horror comfort zone. Opal and the ship's AI form a great bond and once the action begins, it barely lets up."
— The Grim Reader
"Lost Solace is a book influenced by Alien, it’s unusual in that it has only one human character for most of it. Opal has a fantastic foil in Clarissa, the artificial intelligence of the ship she is flying at the start of the story.
Opal is a girl on a mission; we don’t know what but it’s clearly important to her. It’s clear that she has a past, information is passed along sparingly, making us yearn for more.
Karl Drinkwater has a way of ramping up the tension, while at the same time creating empathy, I CARED about Opal, felt every emotion with her as she explored the lost ship and tried to solve the puzzles; aided by a snappy one-liner from the A.I. She is very believable, flawed but fascinating, as all the best kick-ass heroines are.
The location is claustrophobic, boosted by the fact that Opal is in a spacesuit, with all the limitations that brings; even if it is an advanced combat suit. There are moments of (relative) calm, interspersed with well-written action sequences to make you sit up and read faster.
The technology is well researched, plausible and deployed perfectly as the story progresses. This is not a case of always having a handy tech solution, there’s just as much emphasis on problem-solving and the clever use of sometimes meagre resources."
— Richard Dee (Author)
"Drinkwater delivers a solid science fiction story with a decent amount of action and an interesting plot.
Perhaps the best element of the story is the mystery that the author nurtures throughout Opal’s journey. As we tag along with Opal through her discovery of the lost ship, her interactions with Clarissa, and her exploration of the lost ship, we learn bit by bit who she is and what she’s after."
"I love a good AI-human in space romp, and this is one of them. Opal’s smart and resourceful, Clarissa is a good foil to her search for secrets. The menace comes from two sides, and as a reader you’re left wondering 'what next?'"
"Opal is the type of female heroine that was missing in my life. She doesn’t flinch, she doesn’t cower, she’s a force of nature. She was fierce throughout the entire book, even when the end was inevitable, she managed to refocus and be ready for battle. Certainly, Clarissa still plays a big part in Opal’s strength. Their relationship is no longer human and machine, but instead friends.
At some point, Clarissa changes her voice when she switches the version of herself, and that to me was proof of how a great writer Karl is. The way Clarissa talks, it’s so distinguishable between the different stages, it’s mesmerizing. Not only the author managed to create two well-developed characters, he also gave new voices to one of them without breaking the character.
Between Opal being a quick ass woman and Clarissa’s attempts at being humorous, they are a duo that I want to read more about."
— Miss Known
"This story jumps immediately into the action. The entire opening paragraphs leave me asking so many questions and capturing my attention to the plot right away. I like how Clarissa was more than some mindless thinking robot, she had a personality and seemed to deeply care about Opal.
This story had plenty of intense scenes in it as well as a ton of action. The horror elements were there and done with just enough mystery to them.
This book caught my attention, and left me turning page after page to unravel the mystery. If you’re a Sci-fi fan with a few good intense and spooky moments- this is definitely a book worth checking out."
— Musings Of A Final Girl
"If the blurb doesn’t want you running out to get this book then go give your head a shake and read it again 🤣 but seriously if you like reading science fiction books you will love this.
Reading through the book it did kind of have a Aliens vibe to it. Opal the did remind me a bit of Ripley in this book. As she is hard faced takes no shit from anyone and will take anyone on even if it’s unknown beings or really hardcore supreme marines.
Opal goes through each section of the ship on discovering what she thought might of happened to the ship and the people on board.
What she discovers is…………READ……….THE……….BOOK…………TO…………FIND…….OUT.
What she does discover will change her life forever. Opal has now made a decision that only sets her fate onto one unchangeable path."
— Yes More Blogs
"What I will tell you is that two characters carry the plot, and what a thrilling one it is.
The author put me in Opal’s shoes from the opening scene where Clarissa, the A.I. that Opal had stolen and named, woke her from sleep to say they were approaching something. I really enjoyed the dialogue between these two women. Yes, I’m going to refer to Clarissa as female. I know having Clarissa to talk to kept Opal sane, and safe. They were a formidable team as trust was built.
Once they find the lost ship it’s all action from then on. From the moment Opal donned her weaponized space suit to when she boarded the ship, I felt the tension build. Everything is checked and double checked. Space is unforgiving and there can be no mistakes.
I read the rest of the book at warp speed. So much is revealed about Opal, and what’s in the ship is the stuff of nightmares."
"This is a totally immersive and fast paced read that is full on, non stop action. With a tense atmosphere broken only by the humour and ‘friendship’ between Opal and Clarissa. The chill of the darkness and those creepy synth dolls made me shudder! I loved the strong female character, intelligent and fearless (very Ripley-esque) and likeable too. I can’t wait to read the next in the series."
— The Bookwormery
"Sci-fi with a dash of Horror. A really interesting dynamic. I always enjoy a book that makes me think and sends my imagination wild. The whole concept of just one main character and an A.I was very interesting, plausible and well executed. I loved their relationship, the dialogue between them was sparky, intelligent, witty and felt very much like a real friendship. Overall this book is an engaging, full throttle and intelligent read."
— Cooking The Books
"I am a sucker for action in a sci-fi thriller, and this book had it all. Karl Drinkwater gave me few hours of absolute bliss where my mind could traverse space and spend time with the main character Opal and her stolen spaceship with an intelligent AI, Clarissa.
My first book by author Karl Drinkwater gave me a kickass, bold, intelligent heroine who made me travel along with her to the ghost ship. I could feel her emotions and see her dread as she faced the alien environment. She was strong and yet had her weaknesses. She made the book come alive. There were twists to her story that I didn’t expect. I liked the way she could think on her feet, when given difficult circumstances.
This was a fast paced story where the author did not allow me to breathe. The horror that slowly creeped in stole my breath. The ghost ship was different. The author’s description and the atmosphere added into its otherworldly aura. Tension stretched like a rubber band across the scenes. The story had its mystery too regarding Opal and her actions. There were battles to be fought, strengths to be tested. Clarissa and Opal made a brilliant combination. The humor in their dialogues made me smile. I liked the way they worked in tandem. They complemented each other. They became friends who helped each other out of love, friendship, and freedom. I liked how the author understood both the women.
Non stop action, fast pace, travel in outer space, ghost ship, fights with military, new decisions, and 2 kickass heroines made this a great read. It checked all the things I like in my sci-fi thriller."
— Shalini's Books & Reviews
"Here, Karl Drinkwater manages to remind us just how powerful this can be by crafting an atmosphere for us that is genuinely unsettling. And I love it!
The sense of dread and uneasiness I got while reading this was enjoyably real."
— Read And Rated
"I loved this novel! I was so engrossed I read the entire thing in three hours. The fights were exciting and Opal’s journey through the Lost Ship sufficiently creepy. The tension kept me turning the page even when I should have been eating my dinner. A tense, exciting sci-fi adventure, with interesting characters and convincing world-building. Highly recommended."
— Rosie Writes
"Lost Solace might be a science fiction novel but at its heart it explores a universal story of what it means to be human.
Lost Solace is effectively a two character story. It's a bold writing decision but it works really well here; partly due to the fact that both Opal and Clarissa are engaging in their own rights but mostly because the developing relationship between the pair is absolutely fascinating. And of course it's always a pleasure to see female protagonists given the action hero roles!
As a locked room horror story, Lost Solace is decidedly creepy. It's also a high octane action adventure as she faces what seems to be an impossible task. Karl Drinkwater certainly doesn't make life easy for her and the constant danger in her race against time makes for a really exciting read. However, the thrills never come at the expense of character development and it's really the evolving dynamic between the two female leads which I found particularly compelling. Opal is a strong, principled heroine but she is obviously damaged by her past. Clarissa might be artificial intelligence but the decisions she takes as the book progresses and some of the discoveries that Opal makes should make readers think about the moral questions which need to be asked about the technological advances which will undoubtedly arise as AI advances and becomes more commonplace.
When I read sci-fi books I want excellent world building, interesting protagonists and a well-crafted, thought-provoking story. Lost Solace gave me all that and a fantastic conclusion which ensured I'm looking forward to discovering what lies in store for Opal in the sequel, Chasing Solace."
— Hair Past A Freckle
"Let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed! The first thing that really caught my attention from the first page, was the amazing atmosphere that Drinkwater gives us. A lot of this reminded me of Metro 2033 in where you didn’t have to see what the ‘monsters’ were to be afraid, Drinkwater builds up this suspension and tension and even after knowing what some things look like, fear is built up in the unknown.
He weaves Opal’s motivations, her ship AI Clarissa, and the lost ship into this incredible story.
Opal is just this wonderful protagonist, she’s quick thinking and when you find out what motivates her, you only want to cheer her on even more. Not to mention I truly believe Drinkwater has a real talent for writing action scenes, which isn’t always easy with Scifi. I was completely engrossed in Opal and every step she took.
But Clarissa the AI was my favorite. There’s just no way I couldn’t love her.
The ending only left me wanting to rush out and buy book two. I am completely hooked and I know this review was more of a fangirl tirade. I’m sorry haha.
Lost Solace was a bit Mass Effect meets Metro 2033 for me and I couldn’t think of a more wonderful combination."
— The Caffeinated Reader
"A great novel with two of the most wonderful characters I’ve ever come across. There’s real magic in the relationship between the protagonist and her closest friend and companion that Drinkwater has fleshed out beautifully in Lost Solace. There’s the isolation of space, excitement aplenty and fear—lots of fear and dread. I kept thinking what a wonderful movie Lost Solace would make! Heavily character driven, it reeks of suspense and impressively-designed and creepy settings and contains a vast array of both human and nasty alien beings, all bent on our heroine’s violent demise. It’s exceptional!"
— Taig (Goodreads)
"Excellent space opera, great feel and a thrilling read. The whole story takes place in a very short space and yet so much is conveyed about the main character and the universe that she inhabits. There’s a very real feel to it, and at the same time a weirdness from the setting. But weird in a good way.
Slowly the backstory is leaked out to us like air from a damaged spacesuit.
Every obstacle and challenge builds the suspense. It also explores both the strange hulk and Opal’s life story. We find out how she developed the skills that keep her alive and why she’s here looking for lost ships. None of it seems contrived, there are no info dumps. It’s just really well written and immaculately edited story."
"Drinkwater layers Lost Solace with a number of mysteries, first and foremost being the secrets behind the derelict cruise liner, both its disappearance and its transformation. But there’s also the question of why Opal stole the specific ship she did, why the military is so desperate to get it back, and why she has reprogrammed the ship’s AI to model a woman named Clarissa.
Surrounding all these mysteries is plenty of action. Every step of Opal’s journey is complicated further and further by outside forces, and it’s always interesting to see what the author has up his sleeve to force his protagonist into a position of struggle. Drinkwater excels at making Opal struggle, wrinkling every one of her plans with unexpected dangers and opposition.
Thankfully, Opal is up to these challenges. She’s an intelligent and resourceful heroine, one who relies on her brains just as much as, if not more-so than, her brawn. She’s smart and bold, and Drinkwater constantly keeps you guessing how she’s going to get out of whatever particular corner she’s been boxed into. Clarissa is an excellent counterpart, both friend and ally, to Opal, and their relationship develops a richness the more it deepens, borne initially out of a fight for survival, but also a mutual admiration and respect. As an artificial intelligence, Clarissa is clearly smarter than Opal thanks to raw processing power, but both find ways to complement each other in both skills and brains.
Complementing the material nicely is Marisha Tapera, who reads Lost Solace with solid efficiency. She has a good vocal range, giving Opal, Clarissa, Clarissa’s unhacked default AI mode, and the various tertiary characters that weave in and out of the story their own distinct voices and characteristics. There’s no mistaking one character for another. Her Opal has a confident authority befitting her skills and military tenure, whereas her Clarissa is very young, almost childish in tone, which helps to emphasize the relationship between these two figures marvelously.
Lost Solace is an intelligent work of science fiction, one that is quite literally built around the brain of its smart, highly adept female (or female-identifying in the case of the AI) protagonists. It’s packed with plenty of action, to be sure, but it’s much, much smarter than your typical run-and-gun sci-fi romp."
— High Fever Books (audiobook version)
"This thrilling and claustrophobic novel is unusual in that, essentially, there are only two characters, Opal herself and the modified AI of her stolen ship, who she has named Clarissa. Any other appearances a very few and brief. The story is told through the conversations between these two main protagonists, their evolving relationship and the battles to survive. Marisha Tapera narrates, her lovely voice building tensions and excitement as well as character building as she very closely follows the nuances of the text in pacing, intonation and tonal variation. A superb performance.
It is one of those very occasional books to which I wish I could award an additional star of excellence beyond the normal five star rating. The story was intense and involving, a perfect melding of book and narrator, and though complete in itself, left me wanting more. Excellent, and recommended to anyone with a S.F. leaning."
— Norma (Goodreads, audiobook version)
"LOST SOLACE stars two delightfully strong female protagonists. One is human (Opal); one is AI (Clarissa). Clarissa herself is part of a ship Opal has acquired. The dialogues and interaction between these two is priceless: sometimes snarky, sometimes comforting, all times entertaining."
— Into The Abyss
"I love Sci-fi and Horror having grown up with movies such as Alien and Critters. Would happily recommend to anyone familiar with Space Opera who also enjoys Stephen King.
I liked the inclusion of an AI which reminded me of a benevolent HAL at times. Karl Drinkwater has no issue creating suspense on the lost ship and was able to evoke a feeling of loneliness and emptiness while at the same time raising the hairs on the back of my neck as if the main character was being watched. Lost Solace is a book unlike any other I've read to date. Karl has applied his obvious experience in writing horror and brought it to Sci-Fi without it seeming out of place or derivative. "
— A. Rowan (Amazon)
"Best Kick-ass Heroine Award: Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater.
I loved the fact we have two (I’m counting Clarissa, the AI in this) strong female leads who make split second decisions from very limited options, showing true grit and resilience. Who are not adverse to breaking the rules to get what’s needed and pushing through to the end and yet are loyal and steadfast. An appearance from a senior member of the military only serves to highlight issues of freedom and morality. Do you follow what you know to be true or do you bend your knee to the hierarchy? It’s not until later on that we find out for sure what drives Opal’s behaviour. For once it didn’t matter to me. She had my vote from the beginning. All readers will be able to able to identify with the psychology that underpins the story as well as feel a connection to Opal. "
— Jera's Jamboree - Best Fiction Books 2018
"It's just that type of book that grabs your interest and takes you for a long ride.
Lost Solace may have been the best book I have read this year. Seeing that this is the 60th review I have provided to date, I can't stress this enough. Lost Solace is an amazing book.
It just entraps you, once you have started reading the book.
It is one book you don't want to miss. "
— Robert Jones (Goodreads)
"A fantastic sci-fi horror piece which I blazed through. With an incredibly strong and memorable female protagonist and a fascinating plot with a mystery at its center, it’s a perfect example of why science fiction and horror go together so well."
— 31 Days of Horror, The Behrg
"This! Was! Amazing!
The whole book lived up to the blurb; it was exciting and pulse pounding all the way through, even though the majority of it was Opal alone, with only her AI to keep her company.
The prose is tight, well crafted, and has some lovely stream of consciousness interjections, which are very, very hard to insert into this style of book.
Super pleased with this book, and will be buying the sequel as soon as it comes out.
Also really loved the subtle allusions to race and society, Opal being dark skinned. Her description is left up to your imagination for the most part, which is something I love in books (no more telling us what protag looks like in mirror, please!) apart from her skin. Yes! More WoC in sci-fi, please!
I'm a major sucker for female characters, strong female characters and STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS IN SPACE! and the author delivers.
Wonderful, also, a female perspective that I completely buy into written by a man, which is a brilliant achievement. Not one description of her boobily breasting anywhere!
Will read more by this author! Buy this!"
— NetGalley Reviewer (and Goodreads)
"I finished it in one read and put the book down with the same excitement that my first read of Ender's Game gave me."
— NetGalley Reviewer
"This was epic SciFi at its best with some really creepy shit underlying the surface. Take Alien and make a horror menagerie out of it and you will get the sense of a place you never want to be. Thankfully the story does not reside solely in the SciFi horror genre but embraces grand world building and believable technology. A fun read. Get it!"
— Koeur's Book Reviews
"Things I liked:
A gutsy and resourceful female protagonist
The action!!!! I loved the action in this one.
The concept of the ghost ship and what the main character actually encounters
The AI Clarissa, she sometimes stole the show to be perfectly honest.
The plot is also good, it gives to us inch by inch of why Opal is there.
The sheer bravery/stubbornness of Opal when confronted with forces much bigger and stronger than her.
A really action packed book and with such a strong main character and her incredible AI. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. It snuck up on me and I literally couldn’t put it down because I had to know what was happening. It’s fast paced and full of weird things that I loved reading about."
— Bookwormmuse (and monthly wrap-up)
"I often say that if you give me a motivated protagonist in a dynamic situation, as long as you don't make any serious craft blunders you'll hook my attention for the duration. Extra points if the protagonist is a competent, capable woman.
Well, this book ticks all those boxes with a big thick pen.
It's a thrill ride of a space opera."
— The Review Curmudgeon
"The atmosphere of this story is fabulous. I really felt the oppression of this abandoned vessel: each new room that Opal explores seems to have its own strange secrets and as we learn more about the ship, the tension ramps up. I had a sense of the dread that I’d experienced in films like Alien, Solaris and Event Horizon; the kind of dread that makes you go cold but the shiver down the spine feels delicious.
Later, Opal finds herself pitted against a well-trained squad of marines who’ve been sent to apprehend her. Her resourcefulness in dealing with the threat is both measured and extreme and while I found myself rooting for her, I was also agog at her badass no-nonsense approach. You wouldn’t want to upset Opal, not even a little.
The heart of this novel is the relationship between Opal and the AI, Clarissa. Clarissa is more than just a glorified butler, she actively works to keep Opal alive. Without her help, Opal might not survive and it’s great to see how the author builds their mutual respect. By the end of the novel I was actually quite moved by the outcome, something that took me by surprise but which I loved.
Lost Solace is one of those stories that grabs you by the collar, plonks you in the driving seat and takes you on an amazing adventure so completely that you simply can’t put it down until it’s done. Top quality sci-fi. I highly recommend it and look forward to the sequel."
— Matt Hill Writes
"I love how, with the help of a writer’s words, our imagination can take us anywhere at all. For a couple of days I’ve been in deep space, confronting all sorts of challenges that have taken me to the edge of life and back, all done with the assistance of a 6th gen AI who is closer to me than anyone else in my life.
Magic? Oh yes.
I loved the fact we have two (I’m counting Clarissa, the AI in this) strong female leads who make split second decisions from very limited options, showing true grit and resilience. Who are not adverse to breaking the rules to get what’s needed and pushing through to the end and yet are loyal and steadfast.
It’s not until later on that we find out for sure what drives Opal’s behaviour. For once it didn’t matter to me. She had my vote from the beginning. All readers will be able to able to identify with the psychology that underpins the story as well as feel a connection to Opal.
The challenges and action keep moving at a fabulous pace. And what a setting! Within the space ship, so many nooks and rooms as well as open walkways for anything to happen. I was quite happy to be ‘blind’, with no expectations of what might come next, to let Karl Drinkwater lead me on through this alien territory. I knew whatever was coming would up my adrenalin and get me sitting on the edge of my seat. Plenty of those moments throughout Lost Solace.
This has been a fast paced read for me and a story I have no hesitation in recommending."
— Jera's Jamboree
"Lost Solace is a brilliant read. Superbly-written, gripping, action-packed, with an absolutely kick-ass heroine to boot. Essentially, Opal is a futuristic 'treasure hunter' aided by a loyal and wry AI called Clarissa as they try to salvage something from a Lost Ship. The danger just keeps mounting as Opal faces aliens and Marines sent to apprehend her. What I particularly loved was how well we come to know Opal through her actions, not her thoughts, and for me, this is a sign of a writer who has really got to know their main character. Sci-fi fans will enjoy this a lot, but I'm not one of those and I loved it, too. It's as much about Opal's internal journey as much as anything that happens out in space. I dare say this would make a great film."
— Amy Kitcher (Goodreads)
"Catwoman and HAL9000 battle in the stars!
Prickly heroine, spunky AI, and the evil military industrial complex race to exploit a derelict starship in uncharted space. What could possibly go wrong? A fun read with heroic female characters and a variety of villains. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to its sequel."
— Jim Garrison (Goodreads)
"Lost Solace is a clever space horror with a feisty ball-buster female lead!
The atmosphere on the ship is claustrophobic, it is ‘alive’, although abandoned and strange horrors wait around every corner – enter alien robots and mysterious substances. I’m slow to divulge any more but there are lots of weird, tense and eerie scenes on the ship.
Opal is a mysterious and sometimes angry character, but there are small glimpses of her softer, human side. She is a force to be reckoned with and I would hate to have her as an enemy!
The descriptions of space, the ships and the gadgets were excellent, allowing me to easily imagine the scenes. The cleverly created action sequences kept the pace of the story moving. As with Karl’s other books, the writing is excellent and to the point.
This is a thrilling space horror with an unconventional female friendship at the core. I think this would appeal to fans of adventure, Sci-Fi and horror. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment."
— Banshee Irish Horror Blog
"I loved this book.
This book has it all. Yes, it is obviously a science fiction read, but it's also the story about a strong young woman who will fight for what she believes in. Opal is a strong character, both in nature and on the page.
It is also very obvious that this author writes horror and loves the genre, and this seeps through this book in the most delicious way. This is one eerie read, especially when we get to the Lost Ship part of the book. Some scenes completely freaked me out and chilled me to the bone. Heightened because of my sheer belief and connection with Opal.
I also have to mention Clarissa, who although a robot, gave a fresh and unique twist to what it means to have a nourishing female friendship. As I progressed through the novel I began to forget that Clarissa was a robot and, to me, she became a person in her own right.
Lost Solace really is a wonderful read. It's fast, scary, dark at times, and features a young woman whom I grew to admire and root for in her quest. I really do hope that there is a sequel to this book."
— Brew And Books Review
"I was bowled over by this book.
Lost Solace has an action-packed story line that doesn’t let you pause for breath, a flawed, female protagonist who you can’t help liking, and a ship AI that seems almost human. For most of the book, these two are the only characters as the story plays out in real time, but their interactions and dialogue are so cleverly written that you don’t even notice.
Even though we don’t know anything about Opal at the beginning, her strong character, sense of humour, and moral judgement shine through immediately.
The tension throughout the book is unrelenting, and keeps you turning the pages. I have read several of Karl’s horror stories, and he is definitely the master of keeping you on the edge of your seat!
Well written and well edited, with a beautiful cover as well, I highly recommend this book."
— Pink Quill Books
"Drinkwater’s latest is a great reminder of what makes sci-fi so appealing. Take a strong yet flawed protagonist who needs to accomplish something and then set obstacles in her way. It’s not rocket science but man does it make for a compelling story.
The set up here is great, with Opal coming upon a “lost ship” circling the outer rim of a potential black hole, a ship that is far from what it appears to be. It’s obvious Drinkwater is a horror author as the tension and atmosphere really keep this novel moving at full speed. Add a lot of questions and intrigue and a dynamic relationship between our protagonist and the ship’s AI and you’ve really got a unique story that’s just exceptionally executed.
Part “Alien,” part “Cast Away,” part “Interstellar,” this exceeded my expectations and came in as one of my top Sci-Fi reads."
— The Behrg
"Space, it turns out, is not the final frontier.
Oh no, you see, there's something else out there. Somewhere that the Lost Ships go to. And when they come back, well... you may not survive the experience.
Karl Drinkwater is a horror man, you can tell as you read this haunted house story in space. Rogue soldier Opal and her pirated AI ship are on the trail of a Lost Ship, which has reappeared in our universe from that mysterious somewhere - and Opal is intent on exploring this vessel for personal reasons. With the aid of her AI, Clarissa, they discover the passenger ship has changed, warped, become something... almost living. There's a Lovecraftian air to this voyage of discovery, with animated robot dolls, flesh growing from the ship, the vessel itself morphing its shape to repel unwanted guests.
Drinkwater is a dab hand at creating an air of dread, and every corner of the ship feels like it might have a dark secret lurking in its shadows.
More than that, I really loved his AI creation, Clarissa. Her hacked persona really does raise questions of identity and personality throughout the story - does it matter who an AI is? Isn't it just a computer? Or is it more than that - could it even be a friend? The bond between AI and Opal is tested more than once, and is a fascinating relationship.
A cracking read, certainly evoking the horror worlds of space such as those in Alien, Pandorum or Event Horizon. If those are your kind of horror treat, then the Lost Ships await you."
— Altered Instinct
"Oooh think Event Horizon with a bit of "Mother" from the Alien movies and that was the overall feel when I first started this book.
Opal is a fantastic character, complex, a history we learn a bit more about as we read on, she is heroic, loyal, strong and long long overdue in fiction. I loved the AI too and the relationship that formed between the two, the ballsy choices and bravery through frightening encounters and life and death situations."
— So Many Books, So Little Time
"Two words: Super Cool. I don't often read Sci-fi, but as I'm a sucker for Drinkwater's horror pieces, I felt comfortable picking up this book, and, well, the cover pulled me in. Though Opal, the protagonist, has her flaws, she is one compelling character (and she knows how to kick butt).
I loved the AI, Clarissa, and the body armor suit she created for Opal was awesome - great imagination on Drinkwater's part. I read this book in about a day. It's fast paced with a touch of horror and just the right amount of description such that I could visual most things but didn't feel slowed down by any of it. My favorite part of the story, which actually made me laugh, was Clarissa asking Opal if she 'should intervene if she sees an opportunity' and Opal's response upon said intervention. Good stuff there. The end of the book sets up a continuation to the story - I'm there in a heartbeat."
— E.M. McIntyre (Goodreads, And Amazon)
"I've only read one other story by Karl, a shorter piece called Harvest Festival, but it was enough to feel comfortable buying this one, and I was not disappointed. It takes great skill writing a full novel with just one character POV throughout and with almost no other character other than a ship's A.I.
I never found myself skimming a single passage, and that is a rare occurrence for me as I am easily distracted and will skip through narrative I find even the slightest bit boring or superfluous. None of that here."
— Brock Deskins (Goodreads)
"The majority of new SF novels I've read this year have had female main characters. That's certainly the case in Karl Drinkwater's engaging Lost Solace. It's really a two hander between military renegade Opal and her ship's AI, Clarissa.
The majority of the action, which is practically non-stop throughout the book, involves Opal trying to survive as she explores a mysterious, apparently abandoned liner in a decaying orbit around a neutron star. The whole book takes place in real time, which adds to the claustrophobic tension of Opal's adventures, mostly while cooped up in an armoured space suit. It's pretty well impossible not to relate to Opal's character.
The ship she explores is distinctly weird with some elegantly nasty touches thrown in by Drinkwater - and Clarissa brings in a really interesting AI side to the whole thing.
It was a book which I read with enthusiasm, wanting to find out what comes next, involving a good deal of atmosphere, particularly on the liner, plus some satisfying David vs Goliath work. Assuming this is the first of a series, I await the next with interest."
— Popular Science
"Great fun—a female-centred science fiction space adventure, with lots of action, creepy mystery, and satisfying emotional depth."
— Julie Cohen (Author)
"The story is excellent and there is a perfect balance of sci-fi and horror.
Lost Solace is absolutely compulsive reading.
It's punchy and fast paced. The technology and armoured suit are incredibly thought out and intelligent. The armoured suit is definitely the kind of thing I would want if I was in that kind of situation. I honestly cannot emphasise how much I loved this book. When I finished it my initial notes were as follows - Omgoodness ALL OF THE STARS! 5/5! It's creepy, it's action packed, it's awesome!"
— Life Of A Nerdish Mum
Book 1 in the Lost Solace series