Rating: 5 out of 5
In Madeleine Roux’s Salvaged, Rosalyn Devar works as a salvager, going out to “dead” spaceships to clean up the bodies. It’s a cruddy job for someone as highly-educated and competent as she is, but she left her father’s company and walked away to somewhere she could be anonymous and alone. She had been attacked by a co-worker and her father did nothing about it because he couldn’t afford to fire the man. Now a suit from the salvaging company has taken some sort of interest in her. There have been several dead ships recently that seem a bit too similar, so he wants her to keep her eyes open on her next trip out. In return, he won’t fire her for drinking on the job! When Rosalyn makes her way out to the latest dead ship, she finds that not all of the crew is actually dead–and there’s a mysterious alien fungus that has spread out over the ship.
The crew of the ship Roz is checking out is pretty interesting. Rayan is a young scientist who’s trying to analyze the fungus. Misato is an older scientist who came along on the working equivalent of taking a vacation. Edison is the weary captain, and Piero is a security officer who comes across as unusually violent. All of these people think that Roz seems familiar, but none of them know why. Some of them seem to want to stop Roz, while others try to help her. They all make reference to “Foxfire” or “Mother,” and both words seem to refer to the fungal growth.
There’s scientific discovery, human minds fighting against an alien influence, secrets, betrayal, a murder mystery, and more. Mother wants to be found, and Roz and the crew have to stop that from happening–otherwise her influence could spread across the known universe. Speaking of the universe, the worldbuilding is great. Earth is slowly being evacuated due to terrible weather and dwindling resources. The book doesn’t spend too much time on that, just including enough information to set the stage. There’s also great creativity in how the ship is used throughout the plot. I totally plan to read more by Roux!
Content note: trauma from an assault; dead bodies; body horror; violence.
“The others are waking up.”