Rook Di Goo by Jenni Sauer (War on Taras; 1)

Book Blurb:

Cadet Elisandra Elis is haunted by the things she’s done.

Fighting on Taras, El has done things that go well beyond the call of war. So when she sees a chance to run, she takes it, joining the Aderyn. The ship is quite literally falling apart but the crew — a pilot with an easy sense of humor, a medic with a heart of gold, and a captain who makes her feel a lot of confusing things — make her question what it means to belong somewhere.

But when she’s faced with an opportunity to save her kingdom — and in turn the galaxy — El is caught between the planet she loves and the crew that has welcomed her as one of their own. Left to question just how much she’s willing to give up for the kingdom that broke her, she must decide if throwing her life away is worth it. Or perhaps she should just keep running; thus far, that’s what she’s proven to be best at.

It’s Cinderella reimagined in this science fantasy retelling about a disenchanted idealist looking for her place in the galaxy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. This review is voluntary and all comments and opinions are entirely my own.

Mary’s Review

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect upon starting Rook Di Goo, what with the unusual but intriguing title (which, it turns out, comes from the original Cinderella) and my not having read anything by the author before. But the fact that it was a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella and the way the author showed her investment and excitement for the story sold me on trying it. And, it turns out, this book was the delightful experience I’d been wanting, made more so by the way it wasn’t held in by the geography of our world.

The themes of found family, loss, and betrayal resonated so deeply, and I found myself empathizing with El more than I thought I could. She beautifully embodies the hurt-but-hopeful character, and she veers away from the traditional Cinderella while uncovering similar themes.

She’s strong, she’s flawed, her decision-making is often flawed, and she can come off as uncaring, especially to those who don’t know her motivations, but the reader is shown the influences and the pain behind her actions and why she deals with certain situations the way she does. She’s unique, loyal, and capable, but also in need of a hug. Even if she doesn’t realize it.

And just like that, breakfast was served—canned hash and tea accompanied by a friendly camaraderie that made El ache. She didn’t know what exactly it was she ached for—perhaps something that might have been, something she lost long ago before she’d ever actually had it.
Was that something one could ache for?

Trapp, Ginger, Leiv, and Gibbs made a wonderful team with El. It’s hard to describe how seamlessly they worked together, how much they gave for each other, how they became her family. The introductory scenes were so well done, and I was sad to see her initiation process into the crew of the Aderyn end. Not that there weren’t still the late night cups of tea with crew members or wrestling with the temperamental comm and engine, but there was just something about the homey peacefulness of the introduction that I loved so much.

It was hard watching her go through what she did, but it made her victories so much sweeter. And her interactions with the Prince Charming were both surprising and delightful. She was loyal and willing to give up everything, even her life, for those she cared about, and that trait, among others, made her memorable.

Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi, retellings, and flawed but flavorful characters.

Grateful for a reason to turn her attention from the console, she spun in her chair to face the medic, enjoying the action more than she probably should have.

“How might I be of service?”

“Ech, are you required to say that?” Trapp asked, spinning away from the controls to face them, brushing a dark curl from his forehead.

El nodded. “It’s part of my training.”

A grin spread across his face. “You should definitely keep it up and often; it’ll drive Leiv crazy.”

“Which is precisely why she shouldn’t say it more than necessary,” Ginger said, giving him a firm, pointed look.


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