Azura Ghost – Retread Reimagined

Azura Ghost, by Essa Hansen, is the perfect example of a great book that science fiction needs more of while simultaneously being “not my jam.” I didn’t really have a fun time with this book; many of the plot elements are drawn directly from story concepts I am just not that interested in. I will get into the specifics of what that means soon, but the long story short of it is I don’t really mesh well with stories about rescuing loved ones in cults. That being said, Azura Ghost is an absolute explosion of cool ideas and excellent character writing and is the exact sort of unique and refreshing story that science fiction needs more of.

Ghost is the sequel to Nophek Gloss, and the second book in The Graven series. If you are just joining us and don’t know anything about Gloss, check out this review and start there. As a refresher, the first book tells the story of Caiden and how he goes from a child slave in a distant universe, through a gauntlet of misery and rapid growing up, to learning to love himself and self actualize. It is a strange story set in a multiverse, with a lovable crew of rogues, that expands the imagination and tells its story primarily through change in the protagonist instead of plots to end existence. Ghost picks up some time after the first book. Caiden has come into his own since the last book and is now traveling the multiverse alone on his ship. The crew that saw him through thick and thin in Gloss has departed and he is successfully making a go of it on his own. When a figure from his past as a slave appears in his midst and starts raising questions, he must turn back to the found family he left to get help investigating this strange new occurrence.

The Graven series has a plot that is very hard to explain from the outside. Really, it’s about a little boy who goes through a lot of trauma and the metaphors for his experience are translated into very powerful science fiction world-building. Ghost continues this trend with a weird angle that took me pleasantly by surprise. The second book in this series is, at its core, about the same things that the first book was about. There is a focus on the difficulties of asking for help, self-blame/guilt, finding agency, self-discovery, found family, growing up, and finding stability in an ever-shifting universe. But while we are covering similar subjects in both books, Ghost never feels like we are retreading the same path.

We are introduced to new characters who are going through the same things Caiden did, but come to different conclusions. Caiden is still struggling with much of his baggage, but now we get to see him using new tools and ideas that he grew into from book one to try and tackle the problem. The Graven has this powerful focus on self-improvement and introspection never being “finished” which makes the cast resonate and come alive to the reader. These are books that will resonate very hard with character readers who like metaphor and stories through character growth. Those who need world-ending stakes and a hard science system to explain how the world works might have a hard time.

As I mentioned before, I personally did not mesh well with the nuts and bolts of the plot of Ghost. The story revolves around a girl that Caiden “abandoned” in book one, and while I think Hansen does a spectacular job of digging into what abandonment means and what working through perceived betrayal means, I didn’t quite find the plot of Ghost as exciting as Gloss. Nonetheless, I still had a great time and definitely recommend the series to anyone who is curious.

With Azura Ghost, Essa Hansen has written a second creative entry into modern science fiction. Her clever character stories and world of fractal realities are catching both to the eye and the heart. She is definitely an author to watch and someone to check out if you are looking for something different than your typical military science fiction adventure.

Rating: Azura Ghost – 7.5/10

Buy this book on

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.

Leave a Reply