Upcoming: THE GUTTER PRAYER by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-BIL1-GutterPrayerI stumbled across the synopsis for Gareth Hanrahan‘s upcoming novel on, I think, Amazon a week or so ago, and thought it sounded really interesting. Yesterday, Orbit unveiled the fantastic cover by the ever-excellent Richard Anderson. The first novel in the Black Iron Legacy series, here’s the synopsis for The Gutter Prayer:

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The ancient city of Guerdon has always been. The city must finally end.

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.

The Gutter Prayer is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in January 2019.

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Quick Review: SLAVES TO DARKNESS by John French (Black Library)

FrenchJ-HH51-SlavesToDarknessThe traitors gather for their final push towards Terra…

After a long and gruelling conflict, the traitors at last close upon Terra. But time is dwindling for an attack. Both Guilliman and the Lion are returning with all haste, and their armies could turn the tide. The hosts of the Warmaster must unite, for only then can they attack the Throneworld itself. While Mortarion is sent on ahead as the fleet’s vanguard, it falls to Lorgar and Perturabo to marshal Fulgrim and Angron, both now elevated to daemonhood and perhaps beyond even the will of the Warmaster to command. But Horus lies wounded and as the greatest battle the galaxy has ever know looms, it is up to Maloghurst to hold his fractious Legion together and to wrench Horus himself from the edge of oblivion.

The Traitor legions are preparing for their final push to Terra. At least, that is the plan. After the events of Wolfsbane, Horus is grappling with the wound he received from the Emperor’s Spear, wielded by his loyalist brother Leman Russ. The time has nevertheless come to assemble the Traitor legions and bring the campaign to a close. However, this is easier said than done: all is not well among the Traitors, and with Horus’s status unclear, stresses and fractures appear not only between the legions, but also amongst Horus’s closest aides and commanders… Continue reading

Upcoming: THE BIRD KING by G. Willow Wilson (Grove)

WilsonGW-BirdKingUSG. Willow Wilson is the author of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning Alif the Unseen (an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year) and the critically-acclaimed Ms. Marvel comic series. I’ve long been a fan of her work, and her next novel has really caught my attention. The Bird King is described as “a fantastical journey set at the height of the Spanish Inquisition” and “a jubilant story of love versus power, religion versus faith, and freedom versus safety”, here’s the official synopsis:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret — he can make maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality with his pen and paper. His magical gift has proven useful to the sultan’s armies in wartime and entertained a bored Fatima who has never stepped foot outside the palace walls.

When a party representing the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrives to negotiate the terms of the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, little realizing that her new friend Luz represents the Inquisition, and will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery, and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With everything on the line, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan, and taste the freedom she has never known?

Fatima and Hassan traverse Iberia to the port, helped along the way by a jinn who has taken a liking to them — Vikram the Vampire, who readers may remember from Alif the Unseen. Pursued all the while by Luz, who somehow always seems to know where they will end up, they narrowly escape from her generals by commandeering a ship, and accidentally also the snoozing Breton monk belowdecks. Though they are unsure whether to trust him, because he is a member of the very same faith they are running from, they nevertheless set about learning from him how to crew a ship. And as it becomes clearer both that there is no place on the mainland that they will be safe, and that the three of them are destined to stay together, they set out to do something they never thought possible — to find the mysterious, possibly mythic island of The Bird King, whose shifting boundaries will hopefully keep them safe.

An epic adventure to find safety in a mythical realm, The Bird King challenges us to consider what true love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

The Bird King is due to be published by Grove on March 12th, 2019.

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Quick Review: IN OTHER LANDS by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)

BrennanSR-InOtherLandsAn often amusing and sometimes moving subversion of entrenched fantasy tropes

Elliot doesn’t want to fight, keeps saying the wrong thing, and is definitely the grouchiest human in fantasyland.

Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s… Elliott. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.

I picked this up for my partner when it was released last summer, and she devoured it (and has since read it multiple times). This past week, we started listening to the audiobook on a drive back to the city, and I really liked what I heard: it was funny, a little gonzo, and I enjoyed the way Brennan played with classic genre tropes (and all that in just the first two hours). When we got home, I immediately started reading the book. It’s been a long time since a novel made me laugh out loud, let alone do so multiple times or consistently. In Other Lands did just that. It is not, however, just a funny book: Brennan has also written a story that often packs an emotional wallop. Continue reading

Quick Review: WOLFSBANE by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HH-WolfsbaneLeman Russ tries to put down Horus before the traitors march for Terra…

The time has come for Leman Russ, primarch of the Space Wolves, to fulfil his vow and attempt to stop Warmaster Horus before he breaks through to the Segmentum Solar. In the face of opposition from three of his brother primarchs, Russ withdraws the Space Wolves legion from Terra and makes all haste for Horus’s position. Reports from Malcador the Sigillite’s agents suxggest that Horus is utterly changed, and infused with a diabolical power so great that no man can stand against him. A warrior of Fenris would never willingly abandon his oaths, but with Horus beyond the touch of mortal blades, the Lord of Winter and War may have doomed himself for the sake of honour…

The Horus Heresy, Black Library’s decade-plus-running series chronicling the “history” of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, is finally entering the final stretch. It’s been a long, circuitous journey, but one that has been very rewarding so far. (Save for a slight wobble after the first five novels or so…) In Wolfsbane, Haley tells the story of Leman Russ’s attempt to put down Horus before he is able to marshal the Traitor forces and make a final push to Terra. An interesting novel, it offered a fair amount of insight into the primarchs, the relationship between Russ and Horus, and much more. I really enjoyed this one. Continue reading

Upcoming: AMERICAN POP by Snowden Wright (William Morrow)

WrightS-AmericanPopUSI already have a review copy of Snowden Wright‘s upcoming American Pop — the fictionalized story of the Forsters, the founders of America’s first major soft-drink company. I’ll probably be reading it very soon, though I’ll be holding off on posting a review until closer to its release date (it’s now due to hit shelves until next year…) Now that there’s a cover, though, I decided to feature it on CR. Here’s the synopsis, which caught my attention:

The story of a family.

The story of an empire.

The story of a nation.

Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, an epic saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty — the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company — against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history.

The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more — from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father’s drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age.

Now the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the “infernal twins,” are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability — and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider: who should control the company after he’s gone?

An irresistible tour de force of original storytelling, American Pop blends fact and fiction, the mundane and the mythical, and utilizes techniques of historical reportage to capture how, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “families are always rising and falling in America,” and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory — and the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.

American Pop is due to be published by William Morrow on February 5th, 2019. (As far as I can tell, it will be available on import in the UK, but not sure if it’s getting a full release.) The novel has already been getting some great advance praise. For example, this blurb from Jonathan Dee:

“The House of Forster is built on bubbles; watching each wealth-addled generation try not to blow the family fortune and/or disgrace its name provides not only excellent Gothic fun but a panoramic tour of the American Century — and Snowden Wright’s voice has all the Southern charm and lightly worn wisdom you’d expect from a writer with a name like Snowden Wright.”

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New Books (July-August)

NewBooks-20180804

Featuring: Megan Abbott, Cristina Alger, Guy Bolton, Mike Chen, Myke Cole, Delilah S. Dawson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Downing, Jasmin B. Frelih, John French, Stephen Fry, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Patrick Hasburgh, Sam Hawken, Kevin Hearne, Grady Hendrix, Michiko Kakutani, Gary Kemble, Derek Künsken, Avis Lang, Ian Nathan, Malka Older, George Pelecanos, Melissa Rivero, Justina Robson, Michael Rutger, Brandon Sanderson, Gary Shteyngart, Matt Strandberg, Tricia Sullivan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Sharlene Teo, G.B. Trudeau, K.B. Wagers, Corey J. White, Rio Youers,

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