Secrets are sentient. In the far, foreign future, a deep-space mission turns catastrophic when the crew’s personal demons become literal demons and seek revenge.
The Ward gathers broken souls for doomed missions. RJ, Kaj, Mazha, and Jace fit the bill perfectly…perhaps too perfectly. A criminal past, a dangerous dream, a tragic accident, and an unbearable shame comprise the secrets that haunt and consume them. They run from their pasts, escape toward their futures, and when the Ward opens a door, they all barrel through, leaving the Protectorate’s interstellar sanctuary for a paycheck and adrenaline.
Once in deep space, however, the secrets they buried burst free from their graves and gain a murderous sentience intent on revenge. The four crewmates must fight to overcome their deepest regrets, or their secrets will destroy them.
But secrets are mortal wounds. They don’t heal easily…and they don’t like to heal, either.
Note: This book has extensive content warnings. Please be aware it’s not for everyone.
The Mortality Experiment is classic Halo Scot. It’s dark, its brutal, it pulls at the heartstrings, and every single character has at least one demon haunting them.
When I first started reading, I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about having 4 different viewpoints all written in first person. But she pulled it off—and did it in spectacular fashion. Every character had their own unique voice and perspective, and even though the chapters were labeled with the character it featured, by the end, I didn’t need that label any more. I knew who was telling the story based on content alone. That was…brilliant, for lack of a better word.
RJ was brash and irreverent. Jace was broken but trying. Mazha was cold and clinical—but once past that façade, she had a heart. Kaj was a sweetheart thrust into a horrible situation, and a writer at his core. As a writer myself, I probably related the most to Kaj, though I also understood Jace’s struggle with food to an almost uncomfortable degree.
Based on the various characters’ stories, I understand why there are so many content warnings for this book. It’s excellent, but there are scenes and themes that may upset some readers. If you’re interested in reading it, I encourage you to take those warnings seriously before you do.
But back to the review. I love Halo’s writing style, which is why I continue to read her work. And it has been a long time since I devoured a book in a single weekend, as I did with this one. It’s a great read for those who enjoy dark, character-driven science fiction.
Side Note: As someone who has read Halo Scot’s The Rift Cycle in its entirety, I appreciated some of the references in this book related to that series. They’re Easter eggs that made me laugh, but probably won’t make sense to those unfamiliar with her work. I love that they were added.