Absence of Blade ****
by Caitlin Demaris McKenna

Tired of humans being the good guys in space colonization stories? McKenna shows us Terrans off in space, manifesting destiny again, at someone else’s expense again. Until we meet a few members of the Osk species. They have four legs, snouts and blade arms like Baraca from Mortal Combat. Plus they aren’t happy about a recent turf war with humanity.

I liked how tough it was for me to sort the goodies from the baddies. Everyone had motivation that I could relate to. Ultimately I cast my vote based on the same criteria I use in real life. Are they willing to hurt others to achieve their objective? Do they trivialize the value of a sentient person’s life in some power struggle game?

McKenna has thoroughly developed the Osk people. They display body language and gestures that humans don’t have. They have a martial arts system centered on their bone blades. They remember one another and read emotion by scent. They are also unparalleled martial artists. I know, I know… I already mentioned martial arts. It’s just that I want blades to come out of my forearms.

I received a free copy of this book and I’m under no obligation to leave this review. There are no Osk warriors threatening to shred my briefcase if I don’t leave this review. If you, Dear Reader, choose not to buy this book even though I left a lovely write-up, this little knife armed maniac here will probably just raid the fridge and not choose to cut stuff (send help!). People give me free books because I don’t shut up about the ones I like. You can read a hundred other review and even watch my book club chats at LARC-SciFi(dot)com. Actually, I took so long to get through my TBR and onto this that poor McKenna may have forgotten I have a copy. Sorry!

I hope this turns into a series because my favorite character, the title character I think, has more adventure coming! This is adults only. There is a scene that totally reminds me of the old scifi movie Species.

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