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REVIEW: Sanctity – Toshi Drake

Sanctity - Toshi Drake - StarStation

Genre: Sci-Fi, Space Opera

LGBTQ+ Category: Ace, Non-Binary

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

Can a man in emotional turmoil find love on a space station overrun by pirates?

Commander Jax Trest is struggling with a secret pain he finds difficult to share with his friends. When his spaceship, the Padua, docks for repairs at StarStation 86, Trest is ordered to take time off and seek counselling. From his first encounter with Commander Zoagashta, Trest finds himself entranced by the empathic Asyran, and new possibilities for emotional connection open to him.

But when a stalker hints Trest is the target of a Siwu pirate attack that endangers the station, Trest must find the strength to survive a harrowing kidnapping. Trapped in a deadly scenario where he can’t trust his own thoughts, will Trest learn to reach out to the person who offers him acceptance… or will he lose himself to the darkness of an enraged ship’s heart?

Sanctity features asexual awakenings, discovery of one’s true self, sweet courtships, and grumpy/sunshine first loves, along with heart-pounding moments of courageous heroes and villainous pirates. This book is not a standalone and is best read after Entity.

The Review

As I was finishing up Entity by Toshi Drake, the first book in the new StarStation series, book two slipped across my radar when Drake submitted it for possible review. I grabbed it, eager to see where the crew of the Padua went next.

I felt a bit of deja vu when I first started Sanctity. It overlaps with the first book a bit, filling in some of the events on the Padua while Entity’s Michael Collins is trapped on a dead ship. But the story soon moves on to new territory.

Padua, the cephalopod “ship’s heart” who is bonded to Collins turned to Commander Jax Trest when Collins was off-ship, temporarily bonding with him, something that’s not supposed to be possible with a Terran like Trest. When Collins returns, Padua drops Trest like a three-day-old fish, and it’s not an exaggeration to say the whole thing royally fucks Trest up.

When he’s sent to StarStation 86’s Care and Concern facility to recuperate, he meets an enchanting non-binary Asyran named Zoagashta, and he wants to get better for them. But in the course of his treatment, the pirates that targeted Collins come after him too, setting off a cat-and-mouse chase through the station that sends Trest into a very dark place.

It was great to see more of the action on the Padua that we missed in book one because of the single POV nature of that story, and I enjoyed following another crew member on his journey through the ramifications of the events of Entity. Trest is apparently asexual, something that’s shared nonchalantly in bits through-out the story. He longs for and fears having a true connection with another person, an issue that’s heightened by the scars from his time bonded to Padua and its abrupt ending.

If I had any issues with the story, they were minor. Both Entity and Sanctity involve kidnappings and trips down into the depths of the psyche at the hands of Siwu pirates – I hope the next one charts a new direction. And the action peaked about three-quarters of the way through – I felt like the last quarter could have been cut down a bit. But I still enjoyed the way the author used it to resolve the relationship issues between Trest and Zoagashta.

Drake does a great job charting Trest’s journey from broken to healing (if not whole), and I loved the relationship between Trest and Zoagashta (though the latter character could use a little more bite IMHO… LOL).

If you’re down for a little darkness, Sanctity is another thrill ride (this time through the heart of a SpaceStation) with a welcome helping of LGBTQ+ diversity. Read it and have a blast!

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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