Today’s review is about ROXY BUCKLES AND THE FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW. It’s a light sci-fi novella in which Roxy the bounty hunter receives a job to bring a bomber to justice. There are snarky women; humanoid, non-binary feline aliens; and sex-crazed Witchlings that love kidnapping men for a snack.
This review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.
Author: Nicole Little
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Engen Books
Publish Date: October 14, 2022
Print Length: 140
Exterminator ROXY BUCKLES, a bounty hunter-cum-mercenary, lives on Aurora, a highly advanced Earth-2 planet in a solar system on the flip side of the Milky Way. At the helm of Buckles & Associates, Roxy takes down space thugs and alien lawbreakers with relish. Her longsuffering best friend, SUKI KWAN, runs the office with an iron fist. She desperately wants Roxy to let go of the past. But Roxy is consumed by a need for revenge…
Ten years ago, Roxy’s fiancé, SAM SPARROW, a high-ranking fly-guy at The Academy for Intergalactic Law Enforcement, stood accused of a heinous crime – setting a bomb that destroyed The Academy, killing hundreds of innocent people and leaving Suki Kwan with near fatal injuries. Sparrow insisted his innocence but then he escaped custody, disappearing from the authorities’ eyes… That day, Roxy swore she would bring him to justice, one way or another. Perhaps her time has finally come.
ROXY BUCKLES AND THE FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW is a light sci-fi adventure that, at its heart, roots out corruption. Roxy is a bounty hunter with a range of specialties. She can rescue kidnapped men from sex-crazed and hungry Witchlings or set out for murder, take your pick. But one day she gets a lead that Sam Sparrow, her ex-fiance accused of bombing The Academy, is alive. So when someone coincidentally hires her to take out the lead of a rebel group that might be linked to Sparrow, she doesn’t hesitate to deliver justice’s final blow.
This novella was a fun romp into a future with an Earth-like planet and a handful of interesting aliens species. The story briefly focuses on the Witchlings at the beginning. They love kidnapping men and serving them up for a meal that is both a euphemism and literal interpretation. There is also a humanoid, non-binary feline species who act very human-like, yet exhibit amusing cat qualities like loving naps or having litter boxes. I mentally chuckled when I read entertaining gems like that.
Roxy, the main character, is strong-willed and determined. Suki Kwan, her best friend and colleague, matches Roxy’s steely resolve with her own. The blast at The Academy severely injured Suki, so she needs a wheelchair in her daily life, though sometimes feels well enough to use a cane instead. I liked reading about both characters, particularly Suki with her no-nonsense attitude.
The main conflict of the story–is Sparrow to blame or not–is fairly cut and dry. The reveal is not exactly a surprise and thus I felt more build up of the backstory might have created more tension. There is also a smidge of romance with respect to new starts or old flames and which to choose. But I felt like attempts to make amends were a bit rushed or ill-timed given the circumstances. I also didn’t quite understand why the villain did what they did; their reasoning didn’t make much sense to me. Finally, there are some punctuation issues that don’t detract from the story, but, nevertheless, one last editorial pass would have benefitted it.
However, ROXY BUCKLES AND THE FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW is an entertaining foray into the life of one space mercenary. Technical jargon remains very light and the focus is more on the characters rather than the tech. It’s a fun, light, introductory read to anyone looking to stick a toe into the sci-fi genre.
Content warnings: abduction, blood
Reading format: Kindle e-book