Featuring: Mary Adkins, David Annandale, Mike Brooks, Christopher Brown, Becky Chambers, Doug Cooper, Edward Cox, Evan Currie, Felicia Day, Rachel Harrison, Justin D Hill, Darius Hinks, Jonathan Maberry, Nathan Makaryk, Seanan McGuire, Téa Obreht, Matthew Quirk, Mo Rocca, Matt Ruff, Joseph Schneider, David Wragg
Mary Adkins, PRIVILEGE (Harper)
Carter University: “The Harvard of the South.”
Annie Stoddard was the smartest girl in her small public high school in Georgia, but now that she’s at Carter, it feels like she’s got “Scholarship Student” written on her forehead.
Bea Powers put aside misgivings about attending college in the South as a biracial student in take part in Carter’s Justice Scholars program. But even within that rarefied circle of people trying to change the world, it seems everyone has a different idea of what justice is.
Stayja York goes to Carter every day, too, but she isn’t a student. She works at the Coffee Bean, doling out almond milk lattes to entitled co-eds, while trying to put out fires on the home front and save for her own education.
Their three lives intersect unexpectedly when Annie accuses fourth-year student Tyler Brand of sexual assault. Once Bea is assigned as Tyler’s student advocate, the girls find themselves on opposite sides as battle lines are drawn across the picture-perfect campus — and Stayja finds herself invested in the case’s outcome, too.
Told through the viewpoints of Annie, Bea, and Stayja, Privilege is a bracingly clear-eyed look at today’s campus politics, and a riveting story of three young women making their way in a world not built for them.
I do like a good campus novel, so I’m looking forward to reading this. Privilege is due to be published by Harper in January 2020.
David Annandale, THE HOUSE OF NIGHT AND CHAIN (Black Library)
The nightmarish house Malveil awaits the return of an old heir, but what awaits him inside?
In a bleak corner of the city of Valgaast, the House of Malveil awaits. A place of darkness, its halls throb with a sinister history. Its rooms are filled with malice. Its walls echo with pain. Now it stirs eagerly with the approach of an old heir. Colonel Maeson Strock of the Astra Militarum has returned home to his ancestral mansion. He is a man broken, both by the horrors of war and by personal loss, and has come home to take up the mantle of Planetary Governor. He hopes he can purge his home world of political corruption and reforge connections with his estranged children. He hopes he can rebuild his life.
Malveil will feast on these dreams. Strock believes he has seen the worst of the galaxy’s horrors.
Malveil will show him how wrong he is.
A new novel under Black Library’s Warhammer Horror imprint. I’ve really enjoyed most of Annandale’s BL fiction, and especially his more horror-tinged stories. Looking forward to this one! The House of Night and Chain is due to be published by Black Library in late October.
Mike Brooks, RITES OF PASSAGE (Black Library)
Lord Azariel, Head of the Navigator House Brobantis is dead. His widow and murderer, the Lady Chettamandey, stands to inherit his power and influence. Her plans for ascension are curtailed when she’s drawn into a dark world of ritual killings and cult murders, with planets being dragged into the warp seemingly at a whim, the threat to Chettamandey’s legacy is dire, and only she can avert potential disaster.
This is Brooks’s first full-length novel for Black Library, and one that sounds both very interesting and rather different to your typical WH40k story. Rites of Passage is out now, published by Black Library.
Also on CR: Interview with Mike Brooks (2015)
Christopher Brown, RULE OF CAPTURE (Voyager)
Defeated in a devastating war with China and ravaged by climate change, America is on the brink of a bloody civil war. Seizing power after a controversial election, the ruling regime has begun cracking down on dissidents fighting the nation’s slide toward dictatorship. For Donny Kimoe, chaos is good for business. He’s a lawyer who makes his living defending enemies of the state.
His newest client, young filmmaker Xelina Rocafuerte, witnessed the murder of an opposition leader and is now accused of terrorism. To save her from the only sentence worse than death, Donny has to extract justice from a system that has abandoned the rule of law. That means breaking the rules — and risking the same fate as his clients.
When Donny bungles Xelina’s initial hearing, he has only days to save the young woman from being transferred to a detention camp from which no one returns. His only chance of winning is to find the truth — a search that begins with the opposition leader’s death and leads to a dark conspiracy reaching the highest echelons of power.
Now, Donny isn’t just fighting for his client’s life — he’s battling for his own. But as the trial in the top secret court begins, Xelina’s friends set into motion a revolutionary response that could destroy the case. And when another case unexpectedly collides with Xelina’s, Donny uncovers even more devastating secrets, knowledge that will force him to choose between saving one client . . . or the future of the entire country.
I very much enjoyed Brown’s debut novel, Tropic of Kansas. This new novel is set in the same dystopian future, and is billed as the “first volume in an explosive legal thriller series”. I really like the idea of a legal thriller series set in a future dystopian setting (and the one Brown has created is eerily familiar-feeling). I’m very much looking forward to reading this. Rule of Capture is out now, published by Voyager in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Review of Tropic of Kansas
Becky Chambers, TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE (Voyager)
At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in subzero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.
A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.
This is a stand-alone novella by the newly-minted Hugo Award winner Chambers. I haven’t read all of the author’s Wayfarer’s series, but I’m very much looking forward to reading this novella. To Be Taught, If Fortunate is published by Voyager in North America (September 3rd) and Hodder in the UK (out now).
Edward Cox, THE SONG OF THE SYCAMORE (Gollancz)
On the broken world of Urdezha, Wendal Finn died on the hostile plains of the wasteland, one more casualty in the endless war between the city-dwellers and the clansfolk. But now Wendal has returned to his home city of Old Castle, possessed by something he brought back from the wasteland, something old and best left forgotten. The spirits are calling it Sycamore, an ancient entity out to avenge all victims of murder. And in a city like Old Castle, no one is innocent.
With his mind trapped inside a dead body, Wendal can do nothing but watch as Sycamore turns him into a serial killer. Until the magicians take an interest in him. Preserving Wendal’s body and trapping Sycamore inside it, the magicians now have the perfect assassin at their disposal. Whenever they need an enemy removed, they can set the killer loose on Old Castle. Between these moments of horror, Wendal struggles to piece together the remnants of his former life. He wants to know why his wife died while he was fighting in the war, but no one will tell him, no one wants him to know. Left to his own devices, Wendal picks at the scabs that cover the dark secrets of the magicians and reveals a threat to every city on Urdezha.
The clans are massing. A supernatural storm is raging across the wasteland. It has already destroyed one city, and now it is heading for Old Castle. And the only one who might prevent oblivion is the murderous entity who the spirits are calling Sycamore.
I’m a big fan of Cox’s work. The Relic Guild was a fantastic debut, set in a gothic and atmospheric world. Well worth checking out, if you haven’t had the chance yet. The Song of the Sycamore is a stand-alone novel, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. It is out now, published by Gollancz in the UK.
Evan Currie, ARCHANGEL ONE (47 North)
An elite squadron must go undercover behind enemy lines…
Humanity has reached an uneasy truce with the Empire — but unless the allies bring the fight to the enemy, extinction is all but assured. In preparation for the inevitable next war, Commander Stephen Michaels is at the helm of the Archangel Squadron, and his orders are simple: go rogue.
Disguised as mercenaries, Commander Michaels and the Archangels seek valuable intelligence on their imposing foe. Their mission takes them deep into uncharted territory, where they make inroads with the Empire, fiercely guarding their true identities and purpose. Fighting for the enemy goes against everything they stand for, but these are desperate times.
As their deception increases, so does the risk. With the Empire’s deadliest secrets within reach, Commander Michaels and the Archangels accept a mission that will take them even deeper into the Imperial fold. They know all too well that one wrong step won’t just end their lives — it could end their entire civilization.
Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from the publisher
Felicia Day, EMBRACE YOUR WEIRD (Gallery)
Felicia Day takes you on a journey to find, rekindle, or expand your creative passions.
Including Felicia’s personal stories and hard-won wisdom, Embrace Your Weird offers:
—Entertaining and revelatory exercises that empower you to be fearless, so you can rediscover the things that bring you joy, and crack your imagination wide open
—Unique techniques to vanquish enemies of creativity like: anxiety, fear, procrastination, perfectionism, criticism, and jealousy
—Tips to cultivate a creative community
—Space to explore and get your neurons firing
Whether you enjoy writing, baking, painting, podcasting, playing music, or have yet to uncover your favorite creative outlet, Embrace Your Weird will help you unlock the power of self-expression.
Get motivated. Get creative. Get weird.
I’ve been looking forward to this new book by Felicia Day (Buffy, Supernatural, et al) ever since I spotted it in the publisher’s catalogue. My interest has only grown considering that I’m going through a patch of creative non-motivation. So, maybe this will help me get out of that funk. I’ll be reading this very soon. Embrace Your Weird is due to be published by Gallery Books on October 1st, 2019 (and will be available in the UK).
Rachel Harrison, (Black Library)
Once an idyllic imperial Shrine World, the planet of Luminata has been corrupted by an ancient and hated foe, its inhabitants driven to madness and butchery by the demagogues of the Word Bearers. The Heretic Astartes have come in force to desecrate the holy world and its most sacred treasure: the chalice of Sanguinius, bequeathed to the people of Luminata by the primarch’s own hand. Such an affront cannot be borne, and Blood Angels Captain Donato and his archangels descend on the world, determined to cleanse the stain of the traitors. However, the Word Bearers are not the only threat to the noble warriors, for with each step towards the stronghold of Dark Apostle Tur Zalak, the siren song of the Black Rage grows stronger. Caught between the blades of the enemy and the flaw in their blood, only by recovering the chalice and killing the heretics will the angels themselves be saved.
An intriguing novella. I read it on the day of release, and I enjoyed it. Some very good characters, solid writing and good action. It was maybe a bit predictable, but also nicely within the frame of a classic WH40k story. Blood Rite is out now, published by Black Library.
Justin D Hill, TERMINAL OVERKILL (Black Library)
In the polluted, sprawling hive cities of Necromunda, life is short. From the decadent heights of the Spire to the murderous deeps of the underhive, those on the climb must be bold and brutal, or face a violent end.
When the barbarous Fettnir, Goliath overlord of the Chemfall Butchers, turns his attention to Escher territory, the result is nothing short of a massacre. Brielle of the Wild Hydras escapes the slaughter and is cast into the deepest levels of the underhive. Determined to avenge her family, Brielle vows that she will end those responsible, but to reach Fettnir and the bounty hunter who murdered her mother, she must first survive… and the darkness is full of horrors.
A new Necromunda novel — it was the first Games Workshop property/game that I really liked, so I’m always eager to read more fiction in the setting. Hill is also the author of the Minka Lesk/Cadia series, which I’m looking forward to reading as well. Terminal Hill is out now, published by Black Library.
Darius Hinks, GHOULSLAYER (Black Library)
Gotrek Gurnisson is back and he’s in the Mortal Realms… his axe is poised and he’s ready for anything!
In the bleak, haunted underworld of Shyish, a vengeful Slayer seeks the Lord of Undeath. Gotrek Gurnisson returns, his oaths now ashes alongside the World-That-Was, his fury undiminished. Branded with the Master Rune of Grimnir, the God that betrayed him, and joined by Maleneth Witchblade, a former Daughter of Khaine and turned agent of the Order of Azyr, the hunt has taken them far and wide through the Realm of Death. Will Gotrek find a path to the Undying King or will the underworlds claim him as their own?
Darius Hinks is a great author — I’ve like all of his Black Library novels and short stories, so the fact that he’s now taking up Gotrek’s story, well, that’s excellent news. In addition to Ghoulslayer, he has also written a short story featuring the character: The Neverspike. (I’ve read it, and it’s a great prequel to the new novel.) Ghoulslayer is out now, published by Black Library.
Jonathan Maberry, RAGE (St. Martin’s Griffin)
A small island off the coast of Korea is torn apart by a bioweapon that drives everyone — men, women, and children — insane with murderous rage. The people behind the attack want Korea reunified or destroyed. No middle ground. No mercy. Soon Japan, China, and the United States are pushed to the brink of war, while terrorists threaten to release the rage bioweapon in a way of pure destructive slaughter. Joe Ledger leads his newly formed band of international troubleshooters in their first mission to stop the terror cell, fighting alongside agents from North and South Korea. With the lives of billions at stake, Ledger is willing to bring his own brand of terror to this frightening new war.
This is the first in a new series, albeit one starring a returning character, Joe Ledger (who stars in another series of 10 books). I don’t know how easy it is to just drop in at this point, but I’m hoping it is — the novel sounds like it would be interesting and entertaining. Rage is due to be published by St. Martin’s Griffin on November 5th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.
Nathan Makaryk, NOTTINGHAM (Forge)
No king. No rules.
England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.
As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people — Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief — become intertwined.
And a strange story begins to spread…
Seanan McGuire, COME TUMBLING DOWN (Tor.com)
When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister — whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice — back to their home on the Moors.
But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.
Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.
This is the fifth novel in McGuire’s Wayward Children series. I really should get around to reading the first one… Come Tumbling Down is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, in January 2020.
Téa Obreht, INLAND (Random House)
In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life — her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.
Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.
Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely — and unforgettably — her own.
Obreht’s previous novel, The Tiger’s Wife, took seemingly everyone by storm. Difficult and ornery person that I am, I managed to completely miss it. After seeing Inland announced, however, I was intrigued, so I snapped it up. Inland is out now, published by Random House in North America and Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK.
Matthew Quirk, HOUR OF THE ASSASSIN (William Morrow)
Framed and on the run for his life, a former Secret Service agent discovers how far some men will go to grasp the highest office in the land…
As a Secret Service agent, Nick Averose spent a decade protecting the most powerful men and women in America and developed a unique gift: the ability to think like an assassin. Now, he uses that skill in a little-known but crucial job. As a “red teamer,” he poses as a threat, testing the security around our highest officials to find vulnerabilities — before our enemies can. He is a mock killer, capable of slipping past even the best defenses.
His latest assignment is to assess the security surrounding the former CIA director at his DC area home. But soon after he breaches the man’s study, the home’s inner sanctum, it becomes clear that something is very wrong. Someone else is here — someone who has attacked the chief right under Nick’s nose. Desperately attempting to save the man’s life, Nick contaminates the crime scene. Now, investigators are sure Nick is somehow involved.
Nick knows he’s the perfect scapegoat. But who is framing him, and why? To clear his name, he must find the truth — a search that leads to a nefarious conspiracy whose roots stretch back decades. The prize is the most powerful position in the world: the Oval Office.
To save himself and the people he loves, Nick must stop the men who rule Washington before they bury him along with their secrets.
Matthew Quirk has a real talent for penning fast-paced thrillers. His debut, The 500, I read in an evening, refusing to go to bed until I’d finished. The sequel, The Directive, was equally fast-paced. The Night Agent, published last year, was another excellent thriller — more substantial, timely, and just as gripping. I’m really looking forward to this next novel. Hour of the Assassin is due to be published by William Morrow on March 31st, 2020, in North America and in the UK. (I’ll read it very soon, but I’ll hold off for a little while with the review.)
Mo Rocca & Jonathan Greenberg, MOBITUARIES (Simon & Schuster)
A charmingly irreverent and rigorously researched book that celebrates the dead people who made life worth living.
Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries — reading about the remarkable lives of world leaders, captains of industry, innovators and artists. But not every notable life has gotten the send-off it deserves. With Mobituaries — the book companion to the CBS podcast of the same name — the journalist, humorist, and history buff is righting that wrong, profiling the people who have long fascinated him — from the 20th century’s greatest entertainer…to sitcom characters gone all too soon… to a shamefully forgotten Founding Father. Even if you know the names, you’ve never understood why they matter… until now.
In these pages, Rocca chronicles the stories of the people who made a difference, but whose lives — for some reason or another — were never truly examined. There’s Thomas Paine, whose Common Sense lit the fuse for the American Revolution—and whose paltry obit summed up his life thusly: “He had lived long, did some good, and much harm.” And then there’s screen icon Audrey Hepburn. She remains a household name, but how much do we know about her wartime upbringing and how it shaped the woman we fell in love with? And what about Billy Carter and history’s unruly presidential brothers? Were they ne’er-do-well liabilities… or secret weapons?
As a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and the host of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, Rocca is an expert researcher and storyteller. He draws on these skills here. With his rigorous reporting and trademark wit, Rocca brings these men and women splendidly back to life like no one else can. Mobituaries is an insightful and unconventional account of the people who made life worth living for the rest of us, one that asks us to think about who gets remembered, and why.
I’ve heard Mo Rocca interviewed a couple of times, and thought he was funny. Then I saw this was available for review and decided to give it a try. The author also has a podcast by the same name, so I should give that a try, too. Mobituaries is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK, on November 5th, 2019.
Matt Ruff, 88 NAMES (Harper)
John Chu is a “sherpa” — a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character equipped with the best weapons and armor, and take you dragon-slaying in the Realms of Asgarth, hunting rogue starships in the Alpha Sector, or battling hordes of undead in the zombie apocalypse.
Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming. For Chu, this is a dream assignment, but as the tour gets underway, he begins to suspect that Mr. Jones is really North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, whose interest in VR gaming has more to do with power than entertainment. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, Chu also has to worry about “Ms. Pang,” who may or may not be an agent of the People’s Republic of China, and his angry ex-girlfriend, Darla Jean Covington, who isn’t the type to let an international intrigue get in the way of her own plans for revenge.
What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Now Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead — because in real life, there is no reset button.
New book by an author who always seems to deliver interesting, thought-provoking and off-beat novels. Looking forward to reading this. (As with many that aren’t published for quite a few months, I’ll hold off on the review until closer to its release date.) 88 Names is due to be published by Harper in March 2020.
Joseph Schneider, ONE DAY YOU’LL BURN (Poisoned Pen Press)
Detective Tully Jarsdel may not be a typical LAPD cop — but he’s the only one who can solve this case
A body so badly burned that it could be mistaken for a movie prop… except for the smell. That’s not something the LAPD finds lying on the street every day. And when Detective Tully Jarsdel is called to the scene, it’s clear to him that something about the placement of the corpse is intentional, even ritualistic. Jarsdel’s former career in academia seems to finally be coming in handy, rather than serving merely as material for jokes from his partner, Morales.
But nothing Jarsdel learned in school can prepare him for the deep evil behind this case, which appears to be as hopeless as it is violent. As Jarsdel and Morales attempt to settle their differences and uncover the motive behind the horrendous crime, they find themselves dragged into the underbelly of a city notorious for chewing up and spitting out anyone dumb enough to turn their back on survival.
Regular readers of CR will know that I’m always on the look-out for new crime novels set in Los Angeles. This is a debut, and the first in a proposed series. Looking forward to reading it. One Day You’ll Burn is due to be published by Poisoned Pen Press on February 4th, 2020.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley
David Wragg, THE BLACK HAWKS (Harper Voyager)
Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.
When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.
All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.
With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.
Prepare to join the Black Hawks.
This is the first novel in a debut fantasy series, the Articles of Faith. Aside from the eye-catching cover, I don’t know much about it or the author. Pitched as “Dark, thrilling, and hilarious… an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch”, I am very much looking forward to reading it. The Black Hawks is due to be published by Voyager, on October 3rd, in the UK and North America.
Various, LORDS AND TYRANTS (Black Library)
Wracked by the ravages of war, the galaxy has known no peace for untold millennia. To exist is to fight. To thrive is to conquer. Once-proud worlds lie in ruins at the hands of traitorous warlords and vile alien despots. Cowed by the unstoppable march of the Ruinous Powers, humanity stands on the precipice of oblivion. All hope is banished. Yet, there are many who take up arms against these horrors. Noble heroes of the Imperium sally forth to do battle while enigmatic Inquisitors explore the shadowy secrets of this benighted era. In the terror of the 41st Millennium, righteous lords and iron-willed tyrants clash to decide who is worthy of inheriting the galaxy.
Argent by Chris Wraight
Lucius: Pride and Fall by Ian St Martin
Whispers by Alec Worley
The Battle for Hive Markgraaf by Justin D Hill
A Brother’s Confession by Robbie MacNiven
Rise by Ben Counter
Flayed by Cavan Scott
A Memory of Tharsis by Josh Reynolds
Left for Dead by Steve Lyons
Unearthed by Rob Sanders
The Aegidan Oath by L J Goulding
Hidden Treasures by Cavan Scott
Carcharodons: The Reaping Time by Robbie MacNiven
The Greater Evil by Peter Fehervari
The Path Unclear by Mike Brooks
Shadows of Heaven by Gav Thorpe
A substantial collection of WH40k short fiction, written by authors both established and new. I’ve read a few of the stories already, but I’m looking forward to catching up with the rest of them. Lords and Tyrants is published by Black Library, and out now.
Review copy received via NetGalley