A Song For The Void by Andrew C. Piazza – Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #8: Round One 1st Place Winner

Today we come to the end of our Round One in the 8th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) with our pick for the winner of the semi-finals!

Congratulations to Andrew C. Piazza and A Song For The Void!

This book will go on to the finalist and compete against nine other books to be the winner of this year’s SPFBO! We wish the author the best of luck and can’t wait to see what the other blogs have picked out for the competition!

You can see the list of finalists and their scores here. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can learn more about the contest here.

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A Song for the Void by Andrew C. Piazza

A Song For The Void (cover)A mind imprisoned is the greatest of hells.

1853. South China Sea. While on patrol between the Opium Wars, the crew of the steam frigate HMS Charger pursues a fleet of pirates who have been terrorizing the waters surrounding Hong Kong.

But now the hunters have become the hunted. Something else has come to the South China Sea, something ancient and powerful and malevolent. Now, the crew of the Charger must face their worst nightmares in order to survive the terrible creature they come to know as the Darkstar.

A Song for the Void is another dark tale in our batch this year. It was a compelling story, with great prose, and a hanging on the edge of your seat feel. It had more horror than we normally enjoy in a story, but the high caliber of the writing and characterization kept us glued to the pages. Below is a selection of thoughts from some of the judges to say, in their own words, why they picked this book as our winner.


I was quickly sucked into this story by its tone and voice, and was hooked till the very end. This is an even higher a compliment than it might seem, as A Song for the Void has a good deal of horror mixed in with its fantastic and historical aspects. I usually don’t gel with horror, so it’s managing to keep me glued to the pages was quite a feat!

I loved the time period, and how well researched the whole song felt. I don’t really know much about this part of history, so I don’t know how accurate it was, but it felt very solid and made it easy for me to settle in.

The topic of drug abuse and naval warfare were blended very well, and both aspects felt like a natural part of the story and characters. Often these things stand out, or feel like they’re an add on, but Piazza managed to really blend it all together in a really great way.

There are visions, hallucinations, fighting, action, and mysteries from the past we only very slowly unravel. And of course, there’s the big mystery hanging up there in the sky!

I had to subtract from the score a bit for the big showdown at the end. It just felt a little flat for me, compared with the rest of the story. This might be due to me not liking horror, or it might actually be a bit anticlimactic. I did really enjoy this anyway though, so still easily an 8/10 for me!


A Song for the Void is well written and attention grabbing in a way none of the other stories were. It is definitely not a happy story though, which was a negative for me.

It very much reminds me of The Terror TV series. I liked that none of the good guys were too good, and had all their own flaws, all that were common at that period in history.

It was very difficult for me to choose between Song and Burning Bright [our second place semi-finalist] since Burning Bright was more well, bright and enjoyable, but ultimately Song was in my opinion the better written book, and I gave it an 8.5/10.


This book was my favourite of our batch, one of hardest to read and one of the hardest to write a review for, but I will do my best. Let’s start with the prose—I am not a visual reader, I rarely see pictures when I read but from the beginning there were a couple of sentences that had me exactly where the author wanted me to be, and straight away I was hooked.

There is a quiet on the sea that speaks to the hole which rests in the centre of our souls.

To express one’s being, to shout to the heavens that something lives and breathes, to sing to the universe the song of what it means to be alive and aware of one’s own existence.

This story is set around the Opium wars between Britain and China, it is a story of identity, consciousness, and what it means to be human. Our narrator, Pearce, is flawed, and this is where reading this book became painful and filled me with empathy for him.

Like Pearce I have lost children and been an addict of opiates and alcohol—did I lose my identity or what it means to be human? I would say no, as I still was a functioning member of society, but I certainly became unreliable, and I would say the same as our narrator—even he admits he is not reliable: 

I’m not sure it’s even me who sits and tells this tale.

The hallucinations on board the ship begin when a strange light, the Darkstar, appears in the sky. It feeds off the crew’s hallucinations (helped by the opium and grog held on board), it lures the crew by encouraging their fantasies, be they happy or sadistic. This is where the mysteries start, with Pearce and a small number trying to fight off the Darkstar’s influence. It is a dark and chilling read, but one that can offer hope.

Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t as strong as the majority of the book, but for me this was well worth the 9/10 score I gave it. I want to give Andrew Piazza huge kudos for getting everything right about drug/alcohol addiction—the initial joy and fun, the mindless control, and then the pain of stopping. Thank you, it is not an easy subject to write about and very few authors get it right.

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Congratulations again to Andrew C. Piazza and good luck in the finals!

We would like to thank all the authors for letting us read their work! We congratulate you on having the courage to enter the contest and wish you all much success in the future!

And again, you can see the list of all the finalists and their scores here. Our judges this year are Julia Kitvaria Sarene, Kerry Smith, Max Freeman, and Jennie Ivins (me). If you’d like to learn more about us, including our likes and dislikes, you can read about them here.

Any queries should be directed at me, Jennie Ivins, via DM (Facebook/Twitter).

Title image background by PublicDomainPictures.


By Jennie Ivins

Jennie is the Editor of Fantasy-Faction. She lives with her math loving husband and their three autistic boys (one set of twins & one singleton). In-between her online life and being a stay-at-home mom, she is writing her first fantasy series. She also enjoys photography, art, cooking, computers, science, history, and anything else shiny that happens across her field of vision. You can find her on Twitter @autumn2may.

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