Today we have a new novel, released last week, by T.J. Wooldridge: Silent Starsong. It's the first in the series, so here we go.
The story takes place on the planet Cordelier. Some explaining is required here, for you see, the planet is inhabited largely by humans, but they don't come from Earth. In fact, the people of Earth remain largely unaware of their existence. This is never explained in the first volume, but I suspect there's a Battlestar Galactica thing going on. There are other, nonhuman races living on Cordelier, but the only ones we really see are the Naratssets: tiny, vaguely human creatures with dual antennae and oval-shaped heads who are talented telepaths.
Anyway, the protagonist is 11-year-old Kyra Starbard. She comes from a family of people who can listen to the stars and see the future, and her mother makes a fabulous living doing that for people. Unfortunately, Kyra is deaf, so everyone writes her off as defective with dim prospects. Everyone, except her father and grandfather who believe she has latent potential for...well, no one really knows.
One day, they go to a galactic swap meet and Kyra is startled to "hear" a captive Naratsset talking to her. He explains that it's just telepathy, and that his name is Marne. He's not blue like most Naratssets, so he, too, is considered defective. Kyra's father buys him from the trader (slavery is legal on Cordelier) and they take him home to basically be a pet. Kyra's mother for some reason doesn't like Marne, but she lets him stay. For a while they live happily.
However, the United Foundation Consortium (AKA terrorists) want to kill all Starbards, starting with Kyra. A surprise attack shatters her world and leaves her with only Marne to rely on. With her own family plotting against her, can Kyra and Marne muster the strength to make things right?
Silent Starsong is a very good novel. Having a deaf protagonist is a fresh approach that Wooldridge executes perfectly, and the bond between Kyra and Marne is the light that shines in the sea of darkness that is their world. I never felt that the situations they find themselves in were anything but respectful to the deaf. I did feel that they spend a little too much time trying to get one another to show their true feelings, but's that's a minor quibble. The narrative remains thoroughly engaging throughout, and my reading sessions were perhaps longer than could be considered healthy for me.
Bottom line: Silent Starsong is a great story with plenty of heart.