Skip to main content

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Zenn Scarlett has one of the prettiest covers; that sky is all manner of gorgeous oranges, reds, pinks and purples. I really liked this story, and read it in one sitting. Zenn is a studying to be a vet, well an exoveterinarian to be precise. She lives on Mars in the Ciscan Cloister. Times are tough on the red planet, but Zenn has a mission in life and she isn’t going to let anything stand in her way.

Mars is a bit of a pariah; Earth cut off supplies and communication some years ago, leaving the Martian settlers to make do and mend the best they can. The terrain in inhospitable, and even the land successfully colonised is now mostly exhausted. The Cloister is slightly removed from the worst of the problems, although they too have financial worries. Zenn is now the only student there, but they do still make some money caring for and boarding animals from all over. However, alien animals are not particularly popular amongst the rest of the colony.

Zenn is preparing for her end of year assessments, but she seems distracted and definitely not on top form. Uncharacteristic mistakes are creeping into her work, with potential devastating consequences. Zenn’s not completely convinced the errors are her own, despite the weird moments she’s having – can she actually be connecting with the animals is some way? Just when she needs to be most focused, her world is becoming increasingly chaotic and uncertain.

From the brilliant prologue we know that Zenn lost her mother in dramatic circumstances. Her father’s inability to deal his with grief has left Zenn to fend for herself emotionally. She keeps others at arm’s length, quite successfully until Liam starts helping out around the place. He’s from the Town, but appears keen to learn about the animals and how the Cloister works. He also takes a keen interest in Zenn, an interest that she might reciprocate despite herself. There’s also Hamish, a giant insectoid, who’s learning the ropes too. When the strange stuff starts happening I wasn’t sure whether either of them was trustworthy or not, and I was kept guessing until near the end of the story. I liked that uncertainty.

I think I liked the animals best: giant, almost incomprehensibly large, Indra, two-headed dragon- or pterodactyl-like Greater Kiran sunkillers, bad-tempered sandhog. And, best of all, intelligent, hyper-cute rikkaset. I loved them all, although I’m not sure how many of them I could fit into my little house. Zenn’s affection and desire to help all the creatures is evident; they are her priority at all times. She is a determined young woman, to the point of pig-headedness. Fortunately she is also brave, a quality she has to draw on as the story progresses. What starts as a little local difficulty looks to be just the tip of the iceberg.

If I have criticism of the book, it is that we are left on a major cliffhanger. I do enjoy reading series, but I thought this could have stood on it’s own if it had finished a chapter or two earlier – but still have had plenty of places to go for a second book. That’s just my desire to have things sorted out nice and neat though! I enjoyed Zenn Scarlett very much, I thought her world was a good combination of the alien and familiar, and I admired her dedication. I’m looking forward to reading the next Zenn book when it comes out.

Thanks to Strange Chemistry for sending me an advance copy to read and review. Zenn Scarlett is published 2 May 2013 in Paperback.


  1. I really like the look of this one, and totally agree with your opinion of the cover, it really is gorgeous! Great review, I think I'd probably read it for the animals too :)

    1. Thanks Anya! I think you would enjoy Zenn, it's got everything you need for a really good story, plus the animals :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Interview With The Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden and the Borden Murders See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

The story of Lizzie Borden has a whiff of folklore about it, it feels hazy to me, apocryphal perhaps, something half known and uncertain like Washington and the cherry tree or the ride of Paul Revere. Shamefully, I had to Google both the latter two examples to double check they were the events I thought I was referring to. I choose them deliberately though - is it my Englishness that makes these events fuzzy to me? Do these stories live in the American psyche the way Magna Carta, Henry VIII and his six wives, and Jack the Ripper (to select three almost at random) live in mine? 
I remember a book we stocked when I was a very young bookseller at Waterstones in Watford that looked at the psychology of children who murder their parents. The copy on the back of the book talked of Lizzie Borden. I remember half wondering about the case, then shelving the book away and moving onto the next armful. But it stuck in my m…

Super Special Summer Picnic Book Chase

My nieces and nephews and I have a monthly book club, called Book Chase (although it sometimes gains an extra 's' to become Book Chasse). The rules are simple: we all bring something we've read during the last month, talk about it to each other, and eat snacks. We live tweet each meeting with the hashtag BookChase. Sometimes, when we remember, we Storify all the tweets too. This month, we remembered!