4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Anna Kubrin has been travelling for months to get to Mars. She is fortunate to get a position, as the rest of the team has been there for a while and while her position as artist-in-residence is a little controversial, she can bring her skills as a geologist to the planet too. She has left on Earth a husband and small daughter and she is hoping that the year that she will be here with not damage that connection that she had with them.

But not everything seems right on the Mars base. She has a cool reception from one of the members of the team there, but she understands that some might not understand the reason that she is here. When she is shown the room that she will be staying in, she finds a painted note in her style advising her not to trust the colony psychologist. She recognises her writing but has no recollection of writing it. Her wedding ring has been changed too, and the engraving that was inside has gone.

It is not long before she is allowed out onto the surface of the planet so she can gain some inspiration for her art. She heads over to a place that no one has visited before, and behind a rock fits a footprint. It is from a boot similar to hers. There is no explanation as to why it is there and the colony AI is not particularly helpful when questioned about it. In some of the photos that she takes in preparation for her painting, there is something strange in the background of one that isn’t in the others

She wants to find out what happened and have an explanation for these strange events. This is mostly to prove that she is not losing her mind, but as she digs deeper she realises that this might not be a truth that she wants to know after all…

This book threw me a little, to begin with. It didn’t seem to follow the same timeline as the previous book, After Atlas. Part way through, I realised that whilst it is a series, it is the story of a series of events seen from a variety of characters perspectives. This book was much darker than the previous ones for a variety of reasons, that you will have to find out by reading the book. I am not going to say much more than that, just that if you like your sci-fi with an original take on a dystopian future then this series is really good and this is the best in the series so far.

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