Wednesday, 26 July 2017 / 4 Comments

In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black

Title: In the Dark Spaces
Author: Cally Black
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Date of Publication: August 1st 2017
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher


"What will happen when you don't come back?" 

The latest winner of the Ampersand Prize is a genre-smashing kidnapping drama about Tamara, who's faced with an impossible choice when she falls for her captors.

Yet this is no ordinary kidnapping. Tamara has been living on a freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. 

But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople's way of life, and the threats they face from humanity's exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she'll never see her family again … or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?

This ground-breaking thriller is the latest YA novel to win the Ampersand Prize, a stand-out entry with a blindingly original voice: raw, strange and deeply sympathetic. With its vivid and immersive world-building, this electrifying debut is The Knife of Never Letting Go meets Homeland, for the next generation of sci-fi readers. 


My goodness, if I could have read this book in one sitting, I would have. Unfortunately, the need for sleeping and feeding my children meant I couldn't quite do that, but I did read it in a 24 hour period. I have no regrets.

Tamara and her young cousin, Tamiki, have spent their lives hiding on freighters where Tamara's aunt works as a cook. Tamara is used to sneaking around the ship to pilfer supplies, and she's only been caught once. Until today. When the ship is attacked by terrifying crow-like aliens, her only priority is keeping Tamiki safe, even if it leads to her own capture. And when it does, her priority is to stay alive and get back to him, to make sure he's safe. But staying alive will mean working with her captors, and she's forced to do unthinkable things to get back to Tamiki. That is, if he's even alive.

From the very start, I loved Tamara's voice and her use of language. Humanity has spread far from Earth and language has evolved to contain colloquialisms from different languages. I thought this was a really nice touch. Tamara is not formally educated, and this is evident in her speech patterns, but she is intelligent, and is able to pick up the language of the aliens quickly, which is why they decide to keep her around.

In the Dark Spaces poses an interesting moral question - just who are the monsters? And it allows the reader to make their own decision in that regard. There are dark and disturbing moments here, but there is light as well. Family is a really important theme in the story.

The alien society was fascinating. I loved the idea of the Hive (I'm not going to say any more on that, read the book!).

There is no end of drama and excitement here. The story is fast paced and full of action, and even in its quieter moments is fraught with tension. Tamara is brave and full of heart, and I really enjoyed her story. 

Related Posts


  1. This book sounds amazing! Great review. :) Haven't seen much about this one.

    Cass @ Words on Paper

    1. It's only just out this week, but well worth picking up a copy if you like scifi. One of the best I've read for ages.

  2. Ooh this sounds really interesting and I hadn't even heard of it before?! *gasps at self's slackness* 😂 I also love that cover and aliens? Yas I need more alien books in my life. (Also books that you just DEVOUR so fast are amazing!! I love it when I can't put a good book down!)

  3. Great book - couldn't put it down & didn't want it to end at the same time. Keeps you guessing & intrigued the whole way through. Loved it !


Have you read this book or any other good books lately? If so let me know what you think...



Latest Posts


Photo Profile
Taylor Wong Architecture Designer

The Japanese call it Hanakotoba, and King Charles II brought it to Sweden from Persia in the 17th century. Read More


Follow @Instagram