In a world of bugs, magicians, and war, Nyx uses her skills as an ex-government assassin in her role as leader to a team of bounty hunters. She’s good at solving other people’s problems—especially if doing so involves punching people in the face—and she doesn’t shy away from morally-ambiguous choices.

I really like this gritty world that’s turned Nyx into such a hard-drinking, hard-sexing, hard-punching mess. Magicians control biology, specifically bugs, in the name of a religious war in a gritty, punk post-apocalypse. The insect technology is far-reaching, with ground-up beetles powering cars, a communication network based on bug pheromones, and even in Nyx’s body, ehich was rebuilt after her time at the front. Shapeshifters dodge the draft by permanently remaining in animal form.

Four novellas make up this book, each adding a layer of texture to Nyx as she takes one action-packed job after another. But it’s the characters around Nyx that really give the story heart. Rys, the religious magician and group’s moral compass, is always frustrated with Nyx, but only because he cares for her. Combined with the always-high sharp-shooter Anneke and the exotically massive shapershifter Khos, this team never gets out clean.

Highly recommended as a fun adult action-packed scifi with a scoundrel protagonist. I’ve read Hurley’s The Stars are Legion, and am surprised how different this story is!

“Nyx snatched up the bottle and threw herself on the cool ground, and gazed up into the black patch of sky, the great darkness of the celestial plain where no stars were visible. She drank, and gritted her teeth, and wondered at the fact that she was still alive. It felt so fucking good.”