Samantha J. Rose’s novel, What Actually Happened to Isaac Moore, is an imaginative and thrilling story about a man named Isaac who captains a ship. As a child, his mother read him stories of a place called the River that led to other worlds. One of his crewmates, Arnaud, allows him to sail to the entrance to the River, but an angry outburst over the ship’s name causes Arnaud to unleash a furious energy that destroys the crew except for Isaac. It’s soon revealed Arnaud is not an old sailor but an alien woman named Elise. She soon spells Isaac, forcing him to get her to the River and help her home.
On their journey, they meet many alien creatures, including Asael, a man from Elise’s home planet with ice powers; rain, an alien with a death wish; and his friend Nothe who’s trying to keep him alive. There’s Thipka, another Hassune who is part mad from seeing glimpses of the future, and his friends, a girl named Annabel and Gof, the giant creature that protects her. Lastly is Boar, a giant worm who is more intelligent and less murder happy than his relatives. Together they all set out to bring Elise home, where she hopes to undo the damage her uncontrolled powers have caused. Unfortunately, a dark presence in the form of Asael’s Father, who, due to tragedy, is trying to unleash a horrible plan in his hopes of fixing the past. He is plaguing the nightmares of some of our characters, who hope to prevent it from happening.
This gripping book contains an interesting concept of a space river that planets exist along. Each world is unique, with its own trials and histories. These worlds include an array of beings from the Hassune who can not only shapeshift but has blood that can heal to giant worm creatures who hoard metals they mine from their volcano home and kill anyone who gets near them. I love that we have a man from the past meeting a sci-fi world. He argues that spaceships are actual ships and marvels over even our modern things like refrigerators. I especially loved how Thipka’s knowledge of the future led to him learning about The Greatest Show and getting his friends to perform the musical to ghost. This makes for some unique scenes that make this a good read and will have you chuckling throughout. The story takes a slow-burn approach as readers are impressed by the worldbuilding; however, it becomes increasingly engaging as the plot develops.
What Actually Happened to Isaac Moore is a thrilling and unique sci-fi novel that explores themes of coming to grips with the past to create a brighter future. This book will captivate readers with its richly imagined world and well-developed characters.
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