Sep 072023

Kirkus: An ambitious scientist loses herself in her work—literally.

The government and citizens of San Siroco, California, believe Myrica Dynamics privatized the city’s crumbling subway system for the public good. In truth, Myrica did so to conceal Dr. Tamsin Rivers’ quest to develop a new communications protocol involving technological mirrors mounted in subterranean geodesic domes. Success means Tamsin will “revolutionize the world” and be recognized as a genius, but while early results look promising, there’s a problem. Since testing commenced, the city has been sinking three millimeters each week. More perplexingly, Tamsin’s basement has been sinking three centimeters each week—but unlike the rest of San Siroco, “not in a way that impacts the structural integrity of her home.” Tamsin hasn’t yet told anyone about her basement; nobody can definitively link the city’s subsidence with her research, and she doesn’t want Myrica to draw premature conclusions and shut things down. Tamsin begins working from home, hoping the cellar can provide answers; instead, a door appears from which a Tamsin doppelgänger emerges. At first Tamsin’s double, “Prime,” seems sweet and accommodating, but as Tamsin starts losing both time and memories and Prime becomes more assertive, Tamsin regrets her secretive tendencies. Part existential horror, part speculative fiction, and part paranoia tale, Starling’s latest thrills and chills while exploring the contextual nature of identity and the concept of personhood. Diabolical plotting, relentless pacing, and ascetic worldbuilding function in tandem with Starling’s staccato present-tense narration to maximize tension and drive.

At once visceral and introspective.