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Parting Shadows

(Toccata System #1)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Raised by a heartsick AI, she’s programmed to kill. And desperate to flee.

After growing up on an isolated space station, Astra dreams of solid ground. But with an AI guardian plugged into her head--and her nervous system--it’s not like she’s flush with choices. In fact, she’s got just one: use her training to carry out the rogue AI’s revenge. Her first mission? Assassinat
150 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Spells & Spaceships Press
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Grace K
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOWOW this book was unexpectedly one of the best books I've read all year. It's short & sweet, but riveting the whole time. Somehow in this little novella the author manages to build an interesting world, give us dynamic characters, develop a romance, and give us thrills & intrigue galore! I seriously cannot rave about this enough.

The main characters here are SATIS, an AI who had her heart broken by a human man, and the child she raises to avenge her, Astra. Their relationship was so complex and
Kate Swed
May 10, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote it so I guess I'd better have read it!
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I've read a SciFi book that was (what I consider) true SciFi; with no elements of magic or fantasy that get blended in fairly commonly these days.

So I have to admit, I was a touch apprehensive about whether my own tastes had changed. But no. I still love the genre. Especially when it's as well done as Parting Shadows.

Holy crap!

Murderous AI, a cute, sweet romance, a protagonist who shows the best kinds of growth . . . I can't even begin to say how excited I am to start Pha
C.E. Clayton
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Parting Shadows” gets its initial spark from the character Estella Havisham from “Great Expectations”, however, as someone who fails at reading classics, I can confidently say you don’t have to have read Dickinson’s novel in order to understand, or appreciate, the world that Swed presents. Ultimately, this is a story about the layers of a person, of nurture vs. nature almost, and overcoming what you were raised to do in order to live the life of your choosing—without a murderous AI in your head ...more
Chasia Lloyd
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Parting Shadows is the start of a fantastic classic literature-inspired sci-fi series. Parting Shadows in particular takes a look at Great Expectations and goes, "what if it was in space though?"

Well, we get:
- Estella and Miss Havisham...but sci-fi! Goth space assassin + overbearing mother AI bent on revenge!
- Bots who watch soap operas
- Lady pilots with gentle hearts and sharp knives
- Men in love with women who will probably kill them (and maybe that's also kind of hot?)
- Big drama !! Big moral
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed my read of Parting Shadows, and I would like to say a huge thank you to Kate for getting in touch and asking me if I would like to read and review Parting Shadows. I loved it so much and I am so excited for the second and third installments in this series which are due out later this year.

I loved the protagonist Astra, she is so bold and fierce and I do have a weakness for fearless females. But beyond that she is also vulnerable and I loved that we got to see inside her head
Caroline Noe
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Parting Shadows is a sci-fi novella by Kate Sheeran Swed, the first in her Toccata system series.
The premise is clever; a sci-fi update of Charles Dickens' masterpiece Great Expectations, with a jilted, murderous AI, SATIS, standing in for the sad schemer, Miss Havisham. The story is told from Estella's point of view, here named Astra, and is all the more intriguing for it.
The narrative is well-written and moves at a pace, drawing you in, and this is perhaps the only problem I had with it. The b
Kat B.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Okay, two things: One, I don't usually like sci-fi, so me liking this book was as much a shock to me as it was to anyone, and two, retellings of classic novels set in space? Sign me up!

This book is based off of Great Expectations, so if you don't live under a rock, you'll understand the basic premise of the story. Lady is jilted, lady decides to get revenge, lady raises a child to be her tool of revenge. But that's this story at it's most simplistic. After all, we have AI's, assassins, spaceshi
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I'll admit I'm biased - I know the author. We met a few years ago in a workshop and I just adored her writing. I read everything I can of hers. So I was pretty sure I was going to like it already. When she sent me a copy, I was in the middle of another book, but I wanted to see what it was like so I thought I'd just read the first chapter. That was it. I put the other book down and finished this one the next day. The first chapter grabbed a hold of me and never let go.

You can
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I beta read this book)

Loved this Sci-Fi novella! I enjoyed Astra as a main character and loved how her relationships with others develop throughout the book (Henry is such a cinnamon bun, omg). Some good twists that kept me reading and Kate's writing is, as always, amazing.
Jennifer Tooker
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure – I was provided a copy of this book by the authors; however, I have voluntarily chosen to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Parting Shadows is scheduled for a July 9, 2019 release

Raised to kill

SATIS is Astra’s only family. Adopted by the reclusive AI as a small child, Astra’s only interactions outside of her virtual “mother” and nursebot have been encounters with space pirates lured by SATIS so Astra can kill them. She is being bred for a purpose – to seek out and kill the
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I need to start this review off by saying that this book was a real unexpected surprise and I am so thankful to Kate Sheeran Swed for reaching out to me and asking if I would like to review her book. Although I was provided with an eARC copy of this book all the views and opinions held here are my own.

Parting Shadows follows the story of Astra, a badass teenager who has been raised by an AI her whole life. But this isn't a normal AI; this is an AI who was taught to love and care only to have th
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, unlimited
Super cool sci-fi novella about an unstoppable AI and the daughter she raised to act out her revenge.

Content warnings include: (child) abuse, electroshocks, murder, violence, 24/7 surveillance.

I enjoyed reading Parting Shadows a lot!
Astra has been raised by SATIS, a rogue AI who is out for revenge - and Astra is her tool. We get glimpses into the past about how SATIS raised Astra on an abandoned space station, as well as Astra as a young woman out on the mission she was trained for all her li
Paige Green
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Parting Shadows

Author: Kate Sheeran Swed

Book Series: Toccata System Book 1

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Murderous/Heartsick AI

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Genre: Sci-Fi

Recommended Age: 17+ (violence, gore, death (lots of it in detail), some sexual content, murderous AI TW)

Publisher: Spells & Spaceships Press

Pages: 139

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Raised by a heartsick AI, she’s programmed to kill. And desperate to flee.

Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, novella
The usual disclaimer Kate and I are friends. She gave me a free copy of this book that she wrote a sweet note it, but this is my very honest opinion of this novella.

Kate and I tend to agree on most things literary with pretty much two exceptions: The Kingkiller Chronicles (I love them, but agree Kvothe is kind of a tool) and Dickens (Kate loves him, I hate him although appreciate the literary significance). So when I realized Kate's new novella was a retelling of Great Expectations (but in space
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ll admit that I haven’t read a ton of science fiction books, but I do enjoy the genre as a whole especially movies. I’m so glad I got the chance to jump in on this series at the beginning because I have a feeling it’s going to be very popular.

The story is told from varying perspectives and we jump right in to the AI “brain” as it’s betrayed by the human it trusted. It was easy to sympathize with the computer, even if you don’t believe in AI emotions. There’s a human element that the author doe
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
"Parting Shadows" is a short and sweet sci-fi story about a girl whose mother is a vengeful AI.

I picked this book up on a whim when I needed something to read on the bus, and it did the job. It's a short and action-packed science fiction, that I definitely enjoyed for what it was.

Nonetheless, I could have done without the romance. Maybe because the book is so short, it feels like it's thrown in there as an afterthought. I also wanted more: as much as I enjoy short books, this one went by way too
Liz Griffin
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the first things that I picked up on and enjoyed about Kate's writing style is that she knows her audience. Sci-fi readers, in my experience, have great imaginations, and Kate sprinkles in just enough details to let our imaginations take over with familiar sci-fi imagery. In other words, she doesn't bog the story down with paragraphs and paragraphs of description, which would have crippled the story's pacing in this tightly packed 140-page novella. Full review available at my blog.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I ordered the sequel as soon as I finished reading it. This novella was a quick, engaging read that kept me enthralled the entire time.

I wanted to smash the villain to smithereens, recruit Astra to be my personal bodyguard, become best friends with Isabelle, and kiss Henry. The plot twists were completely unpredictable and unexpected, and the character development and political climate were superbly executed.

I believe this us truly how Estrella would have made her mark in space.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
she is lonely and she has been trained to kill by the AI living in her body. It has plans of its own. It wants her to kill someone but it will not stay just that. a jamming device may help her get away. Will she get away? Will she be able to stop the AI plans? See if she can

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An assassin raised by a vengeful AI in, yes please!!!!!!

This book was so much fun! Astra is definitely my kind of character, smart & tough but struggling to figure out how she fits with other people. I absolutely love her. Lots of action and twists along with the emotional ride, and Kate's writing is fantastic as always.
Pat Eroh
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fast-paced action with a great story if you enjoy awesome sci-fi adventures, and this one is really awesome. I love the characters in this book and I can hardly wait for the next book in the series!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
OMG I’m breathless! Where is the sequel???
Jess Peters
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing read! I can't wait to see what happens in the next two novellas in the trilogy!
Astra was such an interesting character to follow, I dont think I have read anything with a character quite like her before. You can see how she grows even through the 135 or so pages of this novella. Even The AI SATIS was such a fascinating character that even though she was the antagonist of this story, I still felt sorry for her.
Overall Kate did an amazing job weaving this tale and creating depth in her
Erin Knuth
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A smartly written sci fi novel with intriguing characters and a Star system worth exploring. The deeper theme of human reliance on tech was interesting and relevant. I was drawn to the characters and their struggles towards allowing their true selves to shine through. So good! Can’t wait to finish the series!
Kerry Sharp
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great premise well delivered

How could an AI take over a human? The premise is handled convincingly. The story is told with pace with no flat spots. The characters are dimensioned and believable.
First in a series but completes the story arc with a good hook. I will be reading more.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not the usual. Wonderfully done! PRAYING SHADOWS!

I have enjoyed this journey through your novel. ! My only daughter is an English major and has 3 children. She would be quite exceptional in a conversation with you! Keep writing!
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I liked it, see blog for full review.
rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2019
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Kate Sheeran Swed loves hot chocolate, plastic dinosaurs, and airplane tickets. She has trekked along the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, hiked on the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in Iceland, and climbed the ruins of Masada to watch the sunrise over the Dead Sea. She holds degrees in music from the University of Maine and Ithaca College, as well as an MFA in Fiction from Pacific University. Her stories are ...more

Other books in the series

Toccata System (3 books)
  • Phantom Song (Toccata System #2)
  • Prodigal Storm (Toccata System #3)

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