4 November 2019

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: J.H. Barron

RRP: £7.99 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 4th November 2019

It’s Sarah Penworthy’s sixteenth birthday! The sun is shining, the school bell is ringing, she’s got a birthday party to prepare and there’s that boy she really wants to ask out on a date... But all of Sarah’s plans are shattered when a strange silver ball comes crashing through her bedroom window.

Right from the off, J.H. Barron's 'Sarah: The Empress Of The Galaxy' calls out to Doctor Who fans. The main character's parents are called Ian and Barbara, there's a character called Alpha Centauri (although this one is quite different from the one we know in Doctor Who), and there's even a robot called 'Robot Holmes' - surely a nod to the much-loved Doctor Who script editor of the 1970's!

Peppered with tongue-in-cheek references to cult movies and tv (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek and Sapphire And Steel - to name just a few), oh - and even one for Kate Bush fans, this is a science fiction adventure that has a lot of fun along the way, and despite the genre, is surprisingly rooted in real moments, emotions and decisions.

Sarah, the central character, is 16 years old, and we get a very real glimpse of what it's like to be a girl of her age, and the struggles she faces in her day-to-day life. Barron makes the reader feel her frustration of the monotony of her life, and we too want more for her. It is also rather interesting the way that Barron plays things when Sarah finally does get an opportunity to mix thing up; despite wanting something new, she shows apprehension at the exciting path before her. This was an unpredictable, yet totally believable way of playing the situation.

One of our favourite bits in the whole book was the following exchange between Sarah and Robot Holmes:

“You are to accompany me to the Starship Hound of Love.”

“I can’t do that!” she said.

The robot hovered closer to Sarah’s face, its one great eye piercing into hers. “Do not worry, my Lady,” it assured her, “the teleportation beam is accurate to a degree of ninety-eight percent. The chances of molecular disintegration are very slim indeed.”

“No, no, no!” Sarah blabbed hastily. “You don’t understand— I can’t go anywhere like that! It’s my birthday and I’m going out tonight!”

Barron's use of description for places and people are terrific; there's a particular moment later in the book when Sarah arrives at Voxxen, and Barron's detailing really adds flesh to the world as you feel the almost claustrophobic atmosphere as they venture deeper into the bowels of Voxxen.

There are thrills, twists, turns and enough exciting changes in pace and setting to keep your interest throughout. We were genuinely sad to reach the end of the book and it most certainly left us wanting more.

Without spoiling too much, there's a rather sobering epilogue that addresses the consequences of Sarah's story, and with an ending that unquestionably paves the way for a sequel, we cannot wait to see what adventures Sarah gets up to next.

+  Sarah: The Empress Of The Galaxy is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @JH_Barron on Twitter.

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