Book Review: Revel in Stark Holborn’s genre bending space western Ten Low

Ten Low

Seeking penance for past crimes, ex-medic Ten Low trudges the unforgiving deserts of Factus, healing those in need and trying desperately to keep a low profile.

But, when she comes across a crashed Accord spaceship and its only survivor, staying under the radar becomes that much harder. Because Gabriella Ortiz is no ordinary soldier; she’s one of the Accord’s genetically-engineered teenage generals, and, as Low discovers, the spaceship crash was far from an accident…

There’s a few words that, when put together, get me very excited. Two of those words are “space” and “western”.

So when Stark Holborn, who had already smashed the Western out of the park with Nunslinger and the absolutely delightful Triggernometry series, decided to take their talents for writing outlaws to the stars, I was absolutely ready for take-off.

And Ten Low did not disappoint!

Blending what past readers already knew Holborn could do with the themes and archetypes of the Western genre, with a well-developed and engaging science-fiction story, Ten Low is a fantastic read. Dodging Accord soldiers, vengeful marshals, desert scavengers, and the ever-present and cult-like Seekers, Low and Ortiz’s adventure is exciting and perfectly paced. Indeed, its concise three hundred or so pages were a welcome reprieve from the too-long horror novel I’d finished a few days earlier.

Led by the conflicted Low and super-soldier Ortiz, Holborn’s cast is varied and intriguing, with just enough enticing backstory dropped about each one to pique interest without ever taking away from the main story. A testament to Holborn’s world-building skills, you’ll be clamouring to know more about every location and every bystander. So, Stark, if you’re reading this: Malady Falco spin-off?

Gritty, engaging, and filled with shoot-outs galore, Ten Low is a space cowboy’s dream. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the likes of The Mandalorian or Firefly, and are looking for a novel that will take you to a similar place, fire up a mare and make for Factus as soon as possible.


Stark Holborn’s Ten Low is out now, through Titan Books. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

Jodie Sloan

Living, writing, and reading in Brisbane/Meanjin. Likes spooky books, strong cocktails, and pro-wrestling.