New Books (October-November)

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Featuring: Luke Arnold, Leigh Bardugo, Timothy Brook, Kacen Callender, Miles Cameron, Andy Clark, Michael Connelly, Nate Crowley, Flea, Denny Flowers, Rana Foroohar, R.W.W. Greene, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, James Islington, Joseph Kanon, Rym Kechacha, John le Carré, Brian McClellan, Graham McNeill, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Tochi Onyebuchi, K.J. Parker, Kate Reed Petty, Tasha Suri, A.P. Sylvia, Timur Vermes, K.B. Wagers, Danie Ware, Elizabeth Wetmore, Ryan Wick

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ArnoldL-FP1-LastSmileInSunderCityLuke Arnold, THE LAST SMILE IN SUNDER CITY (Orbit)

A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic in a compelling debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold.

Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:

1. Sobriety costs extra.
2. My services are confidential.
3. I don’t work for humans.

It’s nothing personal — I’m human myself. But after what happened, to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help.

Walk the streets of Sunder City and meet Fetch, his magical clients, and a darkly imagined world…

I spotted the synopsis for this some time ago, and before I knew who the author was. I haven’t seen Black Sails (but I’ve heard good things). I’m looking forward to giving this a try. The Last Smile in Sunder City is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America (February 25th) and in the UK (February 6th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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BardugoL-AS1-NinthHouseUSLeigh Bardugo, NINTH HOUSE (Flatiron Books)

A tale of power, privilege, dark magic and murder set among the Ivy League elite.

Alex Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. A dropout and the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved crime – the last thing she wants is to cause trouble. Not when Yale was supposed to be her fresh start. But a free ride to one of the world’s most prestigious universities was bound to come with a catch.

Alex has been tasked with monitoring the mysterious activities of Yale’s secret societies – societies that have yielded some of the most famous and influential people in the world. Now there’s a dead girl on campus and Alex seems to be the only person who won’t accept the neat answer the police and campus administration have come up with for her murder.

Because Alex knows the secret societies are far more sinister and extraordinary than anyone ever imagined.

They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living…

A new novel that has been showered with praise from long before it was published. I finished it over the weekend, and I enjoyed it quite a bit (review soon): the world-building, in particular, is superb, and I’m very glad this is part of a series as one can already see the potential scope for this setting. Ninth House is out now, published by Flatiron Books in North America and Gollancz in the UK.

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BrookT-GreatStateUSTimothy Brook, GREAT STATE: CHINA AND THE WORLD (Harper)

Analyzes the last eight centuries of China’s relationship with the world in this magnificent history that brings together accounts from civil servants, horse traders, spiritual leaders, explorers, pirates, emperors, migrant workers, invaders, visionaries, and traitors — creating a multifaceted portrait of this highly misunderstood nation.

China is one of the oldest states in the world. It achieved its approximate current borders with the Ascendancy of the Yuan dynasty in the thirteenth century, and despite the passing of one Imperial dynasty to the next, has maintained them for the eight centuries since. China remained China through the Ming, the Qing, the Republic, the Occupation, and Communism. But despite the desires of some of the most powerful people in the Great State through the ages, China has never been alone in the world. It has had to contend with invaders as well as foreign traders and imperialists. Its rulers for the majority of the last eight centuries have not been Chinese.

China became a mega-state not by conquering others, Timothy Brook contends, but rather by being conquered by others and then claiming right of succession to the empires of those Great States. What the Mongols and Manchu ruling families wrought, the Chinese ruling families of the Ming, the Republic, and the People’s Republic, have perpetuated. Yet a contemporary Chinese idea of a ‘fatherland’ that is, and always has been, completely and naturally Chinese persists. Brook argues that China, like everywhere, is the outcome of history, and like every state, rests on its capacities to conquer and suppress.

In The Great State, Brook examines China’s relationship with the world at large for the first time, from the Yuan through to the present, by following the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people navigating the spaces where China met, and continues to meet, the world.

Described as “do[ing] for China what Mary Beard did for Rome in SPQR“, this sounds like a very good new history of China and its relationship with the world. Brook has a long history of writing about China, and I’m looking forward to reading this very soon. Great State is due to be published in North America by Harper, on March 17th, 2020; it is already available in the UK, published by Profile Books.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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CallenderK-IoB&S1-ConqueredUSKacen Callender, QUEEN OF THE CONQUERED (Orbit)

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people — and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

This is the first novel in a new fantasy series, Islands of Blood and Storm. Hadn’t heard much about it, but had spotted it on occasion via social media. Sounds interesting. Queen of the Conquered is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 12th.

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Review copy received from publisher

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CameronM-M&M3-BrightSteelUSMiles Cameron, BRIGHT STEEL (Orbit)

Every war comes down to the flash of bright steel, even when the air is full of magic…

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to rip the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they must succeed on every front or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together? And can he and his friends overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces? Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is…?

This is the third novel in Cameron’s Masters & Mages series. I haven’t had a chance to read the first two, but I’ve heard some good things about it. Bright Steel is due to be published in North America by Orbit (December 10th), and is published by Gollancz in the UK (out now).

Also on CR: Guest Post on “How I Do Research”

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Review copy received from publisher

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ClarkA-AoS-GloomspiteAndy Clark, GLOOMSPITE (Black Library)

In the dark corners of the Mortal Realms, the mysterious Gloomspite Gitz go to war, following the trail of their abominable deity. Nowhere is beyond the sight of the Bad Moon, not even those places under Sigmar’s protection, like the city of Draconium, sweltering beneath the scalding rain of Aqshy. In this boiling pot of tension, the regent prays to Sigmar for guidance while Captain Helena Morthan puts out fires: blades drawn in the streets, heretical doomsayers preaching the end of days, and insects eating watchmen alive.

When the grieving warrior Hendrick and his warband arrive at the gates with a prophetic warning, Captain Morthan sees a way to save her people. But with Skragrott the Loonking plotting underneath Draconium, and the Bad Moon looming in the sky above, will there be a city left to save?

I’m still finding my way in the Age of Sigmar. When I saw this novel getting a lot of great reviews and mentions on social media, my interest was piqued — I’ve enjoyed a number of Clark’s short stories for the publisher, so I’m intrigued. Gloomspite is out now, published by Black Library.

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Review copy received via NetGalley

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ConnellyM-B&B2-NightFireUSMichael Connelly, THE NIGHT FIRE (Little, Brown)

Back when Harry Bosch was just a rookie homicide detective, he had an inspiring mentor who taught him to take the work personally and light the fire of relentlessness for every case. Now that mentor, John Jack Thompson, is dead, and his widow gives Bosch a murder book, one that Thompson took with him when he left the LAPD twenty years before — the unsolved killing of a troubled young man.

Bosch takes the murder book to Detective Renée Ballard and asks her to help him discover what about this crime lit Thompson’s fire all those years ago. As she begins her inqueries — while still working her own cases on the midnight shift — Ballad finds aspects of the initial investigation that just don’t add up.

The bond between Bosch and Ballard tightens as they become a formidable investigation team. And they soon arrive at a disturbing question: Did Thompson steal the murder book to work the case in retirement, or to make sure it never got solved?

If you’ve been following CR either here or via Twitter, then you’ve probably noticed that I am a fan of Connelly’s novels. In fact, I’ve read over 20 of them this year, and I think he’s probably my favourite crime writer (and in my top five of any fiction). Anyway, this novel brings back both Hieronymus Bosch and Renée Ballard, and I’ll read it later this week. The Night Fire is out now, published by Little, Brown in North America and Orion in the UK.

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CrowleyN-WH40k-SeveredNate Crowley, SEVERED (Black Library)

Few amongst the hierarchies of the Nemesors are as lauded for their military strategy as Zahndrekh. A near peerless tactician, his battlefield acumen has won countless wars for the Necrons of the Sautekh Dynasty. His dauntless shadow is the Vargard Obyron, both tireless protector and eternal companion to the Nemesor.

But when the ghosts of Zahndrekh’s muddled past return to haunt him and he and Obyron are sent to quell a rebellion in the Ghoul Stars, their bond and Zahndrekh’s already fragile sanity is put to the test. Given this mission by the mighty Stormlord himself, Phaeron of the Sautekh, Zhandrekh and Obyron have little choice but to ally with an old acquaintance, a fellow Nemesor called Setekh. Their forces combined, they head for Doahht, a world which harbours both horror and hope in equal measure. What lurks in the darkness beneath the earth of Doahht and what purpose does Setekh have above his ostensible service to the Sautekh Dynasty?

I haven’t read as much of Crowley’s work as I would like. What I have read, though, I’ve very much enjoyed — he always offers an interesting twist on the settings and genres in which he writes. I am therefore very much looking forward to reading Severed. I’ll probably start it tonight, in fact. Book 4 in Black Library‘s second Novella series, Severed is out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Nate Crowley (2015)

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Flea-AcidForTheChildrenUSFlea, ACID FOR THE CHILDREN (Grand Central Publishing)

The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you’d want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star.

In Acid for the Children, Flea takes readers on a deeply personal and revealing tour of his formative years, spanning from Australia to the New York City suburbs to, finally, Los Angeles. Through hilarious anecdotes, poetical meditations, and occasional flights of fantasy, Flea deftly chronicles the experiences that forged him as an artist, a musician, and a young man. His dreamy, jazz-inflected prose makes the Los Angeles of the 1970s and 80s come to gritty, glorious life, including the potential for fun, danger, mayhem, or inspiration that lurked around every corner. It is here that young Flea, looking to escape a turbulent home, found family in a community of musicians, artists, and junkies who also lived on the fringe. He spent most of his time partying and committing petty crimes. But it was in music where he found a higher meaning, a place to channel his frustration, loneliness, and love. This left him open to the life-changing moment when he and his best friends, soul brothers, and partners-in-mischief came up with the idea to start their own band, which became the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Acid for the Children is the debut of a stunning new literary voice, whose prose is as witty, entertaining, and wildly unpredictable as the author himself. It’s a tenderly evocative coming-of-age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity from one of the most renowned musicians of our time.

I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time. I enjoyed Anthony Kiedis’s memoir (and I need to re-read it at some point), and have been a fan of RHCP since Blood Sugar Sex Magick (although, Californication is my favourite and one of the best modern albums ever made). Acid for the Children is out now, published by Grand Central Publishing in North America and Headline in the UK.

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FlowersD-N-LowLivesDenny Flowers, LOW LIVES (Black Library)

Even in the nightmare depths of the underhive, there are heroes… or at least those who’d like to be heroes. Caleb Cursebound is one such soul, but pursued by bounty hunters and desperately outgunned, can he even survive, let alone prove his worth?

Caleb Cursebound, the Underhive’s ninth-most-dangerous man, and his ratskin partner Iktomi are in hiding, having deposed the tyrannical lord of a Necromundan noble house. Pursued by relentless bounty hunters, the pair descend to the remote mining settlement of Hope’s End, the last place anyone would think to look. They soon learn, however, that all is not well in Hope’s End; the people are being terrorised by a powerful Orlock gang, and in desperate need of a hero. Caleb cannot resist the opportunity to prove himself, but there are those who would see his reputation forever tarnished…

Necromunda, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before on CR, was (long ago) my favourite among Games Workshop’s various games. As a result, I’m always keen to read more fiction set on that crime-infested hive world. In this novella, Flowers revisits a character he introduced in Inferno! Volume 4. I’ll read the story in the anthology before diving in to this novella, but I’ll review them together when I have. (Hopefully very soon.) The ninth book in the second Novella Series, Low Lives is out now, published by Black Library.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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ForooharR-DontBeEvilUSRana Foroohar, DON’T BE EVIL (Currency Books)

A penetrating indictment of how today’s largest tech companies are hijacking our data, our livelihoods, our social fabric, and our minds…

“Don’t be evil” was enshrined as Google’s original corporate mantra back in its early days, when the company’s cheerful logo still conveyed the utopian vision for a future in which technology would inevitably make the world better, safer, and more prosperous.

Unfortunately, it’s been quite a while since Google, or the majority of the Big Tech companies, lived up to this founding philosophy. Today, the utopia they sought to create is looking more dystopian than ever: from digital surveillance and the loss of privacy to the spreading of misinformation and hate speech to predatory algorithms targeting the weak and vulnerable to products that have been engineered to manipulate our desires.

How did we get here? How did these once-scrappy and idealistic enterprises become rapacious monopolies with the power to corrupt our elections, co-opt all our data, and control the largest single chunk of corporate wealth — while evading all semblance of regulation and taxes? In Don’t Be Evil, Financial Times global business columnist Rana Foroohar tells the story of how Big Tech lost its soul — and ate our lunch.

Through her skilled reporting and unparalleled access — won through nearly thirty years covering business and technology — she shows the true extent to which behemoths like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are monetizing both our data and our attention, without us seeing a penny of those exorbitant profits.

Finally, Foroohar lays out a plan for how we can resist, by creating a framework that fosters innovation while also protecting us from the dark side of digital technology.

I listened to a podcast interview with Foroohar a little while back, and have been looking forward to reading this book ever since. (It also reminds me that I really need to catch up with Roger McNamee’s Zucked.) Don’t Be Evil is out now, published by Currency Books in North America and Penguin in the UK.

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HughesHallettL-FabulousUSLucy Hughes-Hallett, FABULOUS (Harper)

It’s in the nature of myth to be infinitely adaptable.

Each of these startlingly original stories is set in modern Britain. Their characters include a people-trafficking gang-master and a prostitute, a migrant worker and a cocksure estate agent, an elderly musician doubly befuddled by dementia and the death of his wife, a pest-controller suspected of paedophilia and a librarian so well-behaved that her parents wonder anxiously whether she’ll ever find love.

They’re ordinary people, preoccupied, as we all are now, by the deficiencies of the health service, by criminal gangs and homelessness, by the pitfalls of dating in the age of #metoo. All of their stories, though, are inspired by ones drawn from Graeco-Roman myth, from the Bible or from folk-lore.

The ancients invented myths to express what they didn’t understand. These witty fables, elegantly written and full of sharp-eyed observation of modern life, are also visionary explorations of potent mysteries and strange passions, charged with the hallucinatory beauty and horror of their originals.

Thought this collection sounded interesting, so decided to give it a try. Fabulous is due to be published by Harper in North America (January 13th) and Fourth Estate in the UK (out now).

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Review copy received via Edelweiss

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IslingtonJ-L3-LightOfAllThatFallsJames Islington, THE LIGHT OF ALL THAT FALLS (Orbit)

After a savage battle, the Boundary is whole again-but it may be too late. Banes now stalk the lands of Andarra, and the Venerate have gathered their armies for a final, crushing blow.

In Ilin Illan, Wirr fights to maintain a precarious alliance between Andarra’s factions of power. With dark forces closing in on the capital, if he cannot succeed, the war is lost.

Imprisoned and alone in a strange land, Davian is pitted against the remaining Venerate. As he tries to keep them from undoing Asha’s sacrifice, he struggles to come to terms with his own path and all he has learned about Caeden, the friend he chose to set free.

And finally, Caeden is confronted with the reality of a plan laid centuries ago – heartbroken at how it started and devastated by how it must end.

This is the concluding volume in Islington’s Licanius trilogy. I’ve somehow managed to let this one slip by me (like too many other interesting-looking fantasy series), but I hope to get to it soon. The Light of All that Falls is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on December 10th, 2019.

Also on CR: Interview with James Islington (2016)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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KanonJ-AccompliceUSJoseph Kanon, THE ACCOMPLICE (Atria)

A heart-pounding and intelligent espionage novel about a Nazi war criminal who was supposed to be dead, the rogue CIA agent on his trail, and the beautiful woman connected to them both.

Seventeen years after the fall of the Third Reich, Max Weill has never forgotten the atrocities he saw as a prisoner at Auschwitz — nor the face of Dr. Otto Schramm, a camp doctor who worked with Mengele on appalling experiments and who sent Max’s family to the gas chambers. As the war came to a close, Schramm was one of the many high-ranking former-Nazi officers who managed to escape Germany for new lives in South America, where leaders like Argentina’s Juan Perón gave them safe harbor and new identities. With his life nearing its end, Max asks his nephew Aaron Wiley — an American CIA desk analyst — to complete the task Max never could: to track down Otto in Argentina, capture him, and bring him back to Germany to stand trial.

Unable to deny Max, Aaron travels to Buenos Aires and discovers a city where Nazis thrive in plain sight, mingling with Argentine high society. He ingratiates himself with Otto’s alluring but wounded daughter, whom he’s convinced is hiding her father. Enlisting the help of a German newspaper reporter, an Israeli agent, and the obliging CIA station chief in Buenos Aires, he hunts for Otto — a complicated monster, unexpectedly human but still capable of murder if cornered. Unable to distinguish allies from enemies, Aaron will ultimately have to discover not only Otto, but the boundaries of his own personal morality, how far he is prepared to go to render justice.

I’ve not read anything by Joseph Kanon, yet. However, over the years I’ve picked up The Defectors and Stardust, which I do intend on reading soon. I’m not sure why I keep forgetting about the novels. This latest book has been receiving a lot of pre-publication love, though, and given that I’ve spent most of the second half of the year reading about and teaching Cold War history, I’m rather in the mood for this novel. Hopefully I’ll get it read and reviewed very soon. The Accomplice is out now, published by Atria in North America and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

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KechachaR-DarkRiverRym Kechacha, DARK RIVER (Unsung Stories)

Doggerland, 6200 BC. As rivers rise, young mother Shaye follows her family to a sacred oak grove, hoping that an ancient ritual will save their way of life.

London, AD 2156. In a city ravaged by the rising Thames, Shante hopes for a visa that will allow her to flee with her four-year-old son to the more prosperous north.

Two mothers, more than 8,000 years apart, struggle to save their children from a bleak future as the odds stack against them. 

At the sacred oak grove, Shaye faces a revelation that cuts to the core of who she is; in the wilderness of the edgelands, Shante finds herself unprepared for the challenges and dangers that surround them at every turn.

As Shaye and Shante desperately try to hold their families together in the face of disaster, these two young mothers uncover a terrifying truth: that it is impossible to protect the ones they love.

I hadn’t heard about this novel before the publisher reached out, but the synopsis piqued my interest. I hope to get to it soon. Dark River is due to be published by Unsung Stories on February 24th, 2020.

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Review copy received from publisher

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LeCarreJ-AgentRunningInTheFieldUSJohn le Carré, AGENT RUNNING IN THE FIELD (Viking)

Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.

Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all.

Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heartbreaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age.

I’ve been eagerly looking forward to this novel ever since it was announced. I picked it up on its day of release, and I’ll be reading this very soon. Strangely, given my general interest in espionage and thriller fiction, I haven’t actually read any of le Carré’s. I’ve read and very much enjoyed his memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel (the audiobook version is also excellent). I’ve been slowly buying all of his novels, however, and intend to read them all at some point. This latest will be my first. Agent Running in the Field is out now, published by Viking in North America and Penguin in the UK.

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McClellanB-GoB&P3-BloodOfEmpireBrian McClellan, BLOOD OF EMPIRE (Orbit)

As the final battle approaches a sellsword, a spy, and a general must find unlikely and dangerous allies in order to turn the tides of war in the last book of Brian McClellan’s epic fantasy trilogy of magic and gunpowder.

The Dynize have unlocked the Landfall Godstone, and Michel Bravis is tasked with returning to Greenfire Depths to do whatever he can to prevent them from using its power; from sewing dissension among the enemy ranks to rallying the Palo population.

Ben Styke’s invasion of Dynize is curtailed when a storm scatters his fleet. Coming ashore with just twenty lancers, he is forced to rely on brains rather than brawn – gaining new allies in a strange land on the cusp of its own internal violence.

Bereft of her sorcery and physically and emotionally broken, Lady Vlora Flint now marches on Landfall at the head of an Adran army seeking vengeance against those who have conspired against her. While allied politicians seek to undo her from within, she faces insurmountable odds and Dynize’s greatest general.

The first book in McClellan’s second trilogy set in his flintlock fantasy world. I’ve fallen terribly far behind, but I intend to get caught up ASAP. Blood of Empire is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on December 3rd, 2020.

Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan (2013); Guest Posts on “My Favourite Novel” and “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy”; Excerpt from The Autumn Republic; Reviews of Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, and War Cry

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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McNeillG-WH-ColonelsMonographGraham McNeill, THE COLONEL’S MONOGRAPH (Black Library)

A rare book collection causes terror to former archivist Teresina Sullo when she goes in search of a missing monograph. Her quest takes her into mystery as an ancient evil unfolds around her…

When invited to catalogue the antiquarian book collection of the late Colonel Grayloc – a celebrated hero of the Imperium – former archivist Teresina Sullo is swift to accept. Grieving for her dead husband, she sees an opportunity for distraction and respite from her lonely days as a widow. But something forbidding lurks in the mist-shrouded marshes of Vansen Falls, casting a shadow over Grayloc Manor and veiling the land with ill intent. A missing piece of the colonel’s collection holds the answer to this darkness: a monograph rumoured to contain a detailed account of the infamous ‘Dawn of the Dark Suns’. Obsessed with seeking out this singular tome, Teresina delves deeper and deeper into the mystery at the heart of manor, little realising the true evil which resides there…

This is the only “horror” novella in Black Library’s second series. The Warhammer Horror imprint was launched earlier this year and, so far, the output has been pretty great. True, sometimes it’s difficult to identify what makes a story “horror” as opposed to “set in the horrific WH/40k setting”, but that’s a nitpick. I’ve very much enjoyed pretty much all of McNeill’s work that I’ve read, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this. The Colonel’s Monograph is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Graham McNeill (2011); Guest Post on “Big Versus Small”; Reviews of A Thousand Sons, The Outcast Dead, Angel Exterminatus, Vengeful Spirit, The Crimson King, and Magnus the Red

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MorenoGarciaS-UntamedShoreSilvia Moreno-Garcia, UNTAMED SHORE (Polis Books)

A coming-of-age story set in Mexico which quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists.

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

I’ve read a few of Moreno-Garcia’s novels and short fiction, and enjoyed all of it. I’ve been a bit slow about getting to some of the author’s novels (no idea why), but I really hope to get caught up ASAP. I’m especially looking forward to this one. Untamed Shore is due to published by Polis Books on February 11th, 2020, in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Excerpt from Signal to Noise

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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OnyebuchiT-RiotBabyTochi Onyebuchi, RIOT BABY (Tor.com)

Ella has a Thing. She sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse. A neighbor’s son murdered in a drive-by shooting. Things that haven’t happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability to wreck cities in her hands.

Rooted in the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is as much an intimate family story as a global dystopian narrative. It burns fearlessly toward revolution and has quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are both shockingly human and immeasurably powerful. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by racism. Their futures might alter the world.

This has been getting a lot of pre-publication buzz, and it’s been on my To Read list since the synopsis was announced. I’ll be reading this ASAP. Riot Baby is due to be published by Tor.com on January 21st, 2020, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeK.J. Parker, MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE (Subterranean Press)

As the ironic title indicates, Parker’s latest tells the story of an individual life that takes extraordinary turns. As the story begins, the nameless, dying narrator takes us back to his childhood home in a remote corner of the ubiquitous Empire. The second of three sons, he lives there with his mother in a state of unrelieved poverty. Life eventually becomes so dire that the mother—who can only find work as a prostitute — is forced to sell one of her children. The oldest son, Nico, volunteers to be sold in order to protect his family, and that decision sets in motion everything that follows. Nico’s journey takes him, in time, to the heart of the Empire and the very center of power. Over time, he acquires considerable power of his own and uses it to bring his younger brothers into the circle of his influence, changing their lives forever. Under Nico’s guidance, the middle brother — our nameless narrator — achieves a destiny that will alter not only his own life, but the life of the Empire itself.

Written with wit, economy, and considerable style, My Beautiful Life is at once a profoundly gripping narrative and a rueful meditation on the workings of fate. Equally suitable both for long-time fans and for newcomers to Parker’s fictional universe, it is an essential — and hugely enjoyable — addition to a distinguished body of work.

A new novella from the master of the form — between Subterranean Press and Tor.com, my fondness for Parker’s novellas seems to be well catered to. I read this new novella the same day I received it for review. Highly recommend his work, if you haven’t yet had the chance to read any. My Beautiful Life is out now, published by Subterranean Press.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, and My Beautiful Life

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads
Review copy received from the publisher

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PettyKR-TrueStoryUKKate Reed Petty, TRUE STORY (riverrun)

After a college party, two boys drive a girl home: drunk and passed out in the back seat. Rumours spread about what they did to her, but later they’ll tell the police a different version of events. Alice will never remember what truly happened. Her fracture runs deep, hidden beneath cleverness and wry humour. Nick — a sensitive, misguided boy who stood by — will never forget.

That’s just the beginning of this extraordinary journey into memory, fear and self-portrayal. Through university applications, a terrifying abusive relationship, a fateful reckoning with addiction and a final mind-bending twist, Alice and Nick will take on different roles to each other — some real, some invented — until finally, brought face to face once again, the secret of that night is revealed.

Thought this sounded interesting: it’s being pitched as “by turns a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir”, which could make for a fascinating melange. Hopefully will read it soon, but will hold off on a review until closer to its release date. True Story is due to be published by riverrun in the UK, on August 4th, 2020 — the novel is due to be published in North America by Viking, but I couldn’t find any links this far in advance.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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SuriT-BoA2-RealmOfAshTasha Suri, REALM OF ASH (Orbit)

The fate of an empire rests in the hands of a young woman with magical blood and nothing left to lose, and an outcast prince determined to save his family at any cost…

The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed… including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.

The sequel to the acclaimed, award-winning Empire of Sand. Looking forward to reading this series. Realm of Ash is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on November 12th, 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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SylviaAP-VampiresOfLoreUSA.P. Sylvia, VAMPIRES OF LORE (Schiffer)

Vampire… the word immediately conjures up bloodstained fangs, an aversion to sunlight, bats, garlic, and wooden stakes. These undead immortals have haunted our favorite books, television shows, and movies for decades. This exploration of a seemingly supernatural topic delves into past traditions around the world and how those traditions have affected our pop-culture modern-day monster.

Explore belief systems as well as origins of various notions we all seem to have about vampires, and unearth the bloody dirt about this mystical creature. Discover differences and similarities between the realm of folklore and what modern media has taught us. Did villagers really use wooden stakes, garlic, and mirrors? What about vampires turning into bats or hypnotizing victims? Did they really cause disease, turn into dogs, and sleep in coffins?

Topics are arranged by trait so that the reader can consider each characteristic before believing or dismissing it.

So… if you’re ready, let’s hunt some vampires.

Thought this sounded interesting — I’ve long been interested in vampires and their myths and fiction (ever since I watched and read Interview with the Vampire). Vampires of Lore is out now, published by Schiffer Publishing in North America, and is available via import in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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VermesT-HungryAndTheFatUKTimur Vermes, THE HUNGRY AND THE FAT (Quercus)

REFUGEE CAMPS IN AFRICA ARE SWELLING

And Europe has closed its borders. The refugees have no future, no hope, and no money to pay the vast sums now demanded by people smugglers. But what they do have is time.

AND THEN AN ANGEL ARRIVES FROM REALITY T.V.

When German model and star presenter Nadeche Hackenbusch comes to film at the largest of the camps, one young refugee sees a unique opportunity: to organise a march to Europe, in full view of the media. Viewers are gripped as the vast convoy moves closer, but the far right in Germany is regrouping and the government is at a loss. Which country will halt the refugees in their tracks?

THE HUNGRY AND THE FAT

A devastating, close-to-the-knuckle satire about the haves and have-nots in our divided world by one of Europe’s finest and most perceptive writers, in which an outlandish conceit follows a kind of impeccable logic to a devastating conclusion.

This is the new novel by the author of Look Who’s BackThe Hungry and the Fat is due to be published by Quercus in the UK, on January 23rd, 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley

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WagersKB-FW2-DownAmongTheDeadK.B. Wagers, DOWN AMONG THE DEAD (Orbit)

Gunrunner empress Hail Bristol must navigate alien politics and deadly plots to prevent an interspecies war, in this second novel in the Farian War space opera trilogy.

In a surprise attack that killed many of her dearest subjects, Hail Bristol, empress of Indrana, has been captured by the Shen — the most ruthless and fearsome aliens humanity has ever encountered. As she plots her escape, the centuries-long war between her captors and the Farians, their mortal enemies and Indrana’s oldest allies, finally comes to a head.

When her captors reveal a shocking vision of the future, Hail must make the unexpectedly difficult decision she’s been avoiding: whether to back the Shen or the Farians.

Staying neutral is no longer an option. Will Hail fight? Or will she fall?

This is the second instalment in Wagers’s second sci-fi trilogy (the Farian War) set in this universe. Highly recommended. Down Among the Dead is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, on December 3rd, 2019.

Also on CR: Interview with K.B. Wagers (2016)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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WareD-WH40k-WreckAndRuinDanie Ware, WRECK AND RUIN (Black Library)

Summoned into the service of the Inquisition, Sister Superior Augusta and her pious warriors hunt a dangerous psyker in a den of renegades and secessionists. Will faith and fury be enough to spell victory for the Sisters of Battle?

Having returned from their desperate mission on Lautis, the Sisters of the Bloody Rose are bound for the Covent Sanctorum on Ophelia VII when an urgent and undeniable summons reaches them. One of the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition needs their assistance and will brook no argument.

With little choice and even less knowledge of the mission at hand, Sister Superior and her squad make for the heavily industrialised world of Lycheate and an audience with Inquisitor Istrix. A hunt then begins for the heretic and dangerous psyker-witch known as Scafidis Zale, a task difficult enough without the fact that Lycheate is a den of renegades and Imperial secessionists. Augusta and her Sisters of Battle will need to hold onto their faith and their fury if they are to prevail, but what secrets is the Inquisitor keeping from the Adepta Sororitas, secrets that could damn them all…?

The return of the Sisters of Battle! Some of the characters in this new novella appeared in Ware’s contribution to the first novella series, The Bloodied Rose. I really enjoyed the first novella, as well as Ware’s short stories for Black Library, and was therefore very eager to read more about the characters. So, I started this right away. Full review soon, but I can say it certainly lived up to my expectations: a great sci-fi action story. Wreck & Ruin is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Danie Ware (2013); Guest Post & Excerpt Children of Artifice; Excerpt from Echo Endgame

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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WetmoreE-ValentineUSElizabeth Wetmore, VALENTINE (Harper)

Mercy is hard in a place like this…

It’s February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town’s men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.

In the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramírez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager had been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field — an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law. When justice is evasive, one of the town’s women decides to take matters into her own hands, setting the stage for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences.

Valentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and race, class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear, yet offers a window into beauty and hope. Told through the alternating points of view of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader’s heart, this fierce, unflinching, darkly funny, and surprisingly tender novel illuminates women’s strength and vulnerability, and reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive.

Thought this sounded interesting and quite different from the crime novels I usually (or often, at least) read. Also, and I’m only a little ashamed to admit this, I loved the cover, which really grabbed my attention. Valentine is due to be published by Harper in North America (March 11th) and Fourth Estate in the UK (April 7th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss

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WickR-SafecrackerUSRyan Wick, SAFECRACKER (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)

Safecracker Michael Maven must pull off the most dangerous theft of his long career — or his friends and family will be killed.

Safecracker Michael Maven’s latest job should be simple: steal a rare coin from a New York apartment. Then the coin’s owner comes home with a beautiful woman. So he hides. Then she murders him. So he hides a bit better. Then she tries to take the coin herself, which is the last straw. While Maven narrowly escapes being killed himself, he’s then coerced by her boss, a sadistic drug lord, into a far more complicated, far more dangerous job.

If Maven fails to crack the safe of a rival cartel boss in Miami, his friends and family will die. If he succeeds, they still might. Which means he not only has to somehow pull off an impossible heist, but also outwit two crime bosses as well as the woman, his reluctant new partner.

Thought this looked interesting, and St. Martin’s Press were kind enough to approve my review request. Safecracker is due to be published by Thomas Dunne Books on June 2nd, 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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