Quick Review: PROSPER’S DEMON by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-ProspersDemonAnother magnificent novella from the master of the form

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out — he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

I love K.J. Parker’s short fiction. In addition to his excellent prose, the author is able to pack in so much into his short stories and novellas: they are humorous, subversive, and peppered with historical allusions. Prosper’s Demon is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY by Steph Cha (Ecco/Faber)

ChaS-YouHouseWillPayUSTwo families, connected by a decades-old tragedy

A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in Los Angeles, following two families — one Korean-American, one African-American — grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime

In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She’s distraught that her sister hasn’t spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace’s understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale.

But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence.

This is the second of Steph Cha’s novels that I’ve read — the first being the author’s debut, Follow Her Home (which is also rather good). Your House Will Pay takes a look at race relations from the perspective of members from two minorities — Korean- and African-Americans. It’s sharp, often emotionally wrenching and thought-provoking. It’s also difficult to review without spoilers, but I will do my best. In short, though: I really enjoyed this novel. Continue reading

Quick Review: GHOULSLAYER by Darius Hinks (Black Library)

HinksD-Gotrek-GhoulslayerGotrek continues his journey in the unfamiliar Age of Sigmar

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 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?

Gotrek returns in his first new full-length novel set in the Age of Sigmar. Now in the care of author Darius Hinks (the third author to write the character since the End Times), the irascible, possibly divine dwarf slayer is determined to take down Nagash. To do that, he must venture to Shyish, the realm of the dead… A fun novel, with plenty of action and character development. Continue reading

Quick Review: OPPO by Tom Rosenstiel (Ecco)

RosenstielT-3-OppoUSThe third Rena & Brooks Washington, D.C., thriller

The story of a senator who is offered the vice presidential slot by both parties’ presidential nominees and then gets ominous threats

It’s presidential primary season in Washington, DC, and both parties are on edge. At campaign rallies for all the candidates around the country, there are disturbing incidents of violence and protest and shocking acts of civil disobedience. Rena and Brooks are happy to sit it out.

Against this backdrop, Wendy Upton, the highly respected centrist senator, must make a choice: she’s been offered the VP slot by both parties’ leading candidates. When she receives an anonymous, unnerving threat that could destroy her promising career, she hires Peter Rena to investigate her past and figure out which side is threatening her and what they are threatening her with.

As Rena digs through the senator’s seemingly squeaky-clean past, he must walk the tightrope between two parties at war with each other and with themselves, an electorate that is as restive as it has ever been, and a political culture that is as much driven by money as it is by ideology.

In this third outing for Rosenstiel’s political fixers Peter Rena and Brooks, the fixers are hired to investigate a threat made against a centrist Republican senator who has been approached by frontrunners in both parties offering her the VP slot on their respective tickets. An examination of the devolution of American (presidential) politics, and the dark forces that manipulate the electorate and process, I enjoyed this novel. Continue reading

Upcoming: AXIOM’S END by Lindsay Ellis (St. Martin’s Press)

EllisL-AxiomsEndUSI stumbled across Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis in a Macmillan catalogue, and thought it sounded rather interesting. Pitched as “Stranger Things meets Arrival“, I am quite intrigued. Here’s the synopsis:

An alternate history first contact adventure set in the early 2000’s…

By the fall of 2007, one well-timed leak revealing that the U.S. government might have engaged in first contact has sent the country into turmoil, and it is all Cora Sabino can do to avoid the whole mess. The force driving this controversy is Cora’s whistleblower father, and even though she hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government — and redirected it to her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him — until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

To save her own life, she offers her services as an interpreter to a monster, and the monster accepts.

Learning the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to find the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. But in becoming an interpreter, she begins to realize that she has become the voice for a being she cannot ever truly know or understand, and starts to question who she’s speaking for — and what future she’s setting up for all of humanity.

Axiom’s End is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2020, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THESE WOMEN by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco)

PochodaI-TheseWomenUSThe next novel by Ivy Pochoda, the author of the acclaimed Wonder Valley (which I still have to read), has been unveiled: These Women, a new crime novel that is described as “a serial killer story like you’ve never seen before — a literary thriller of female empowerment and social change”. Due to be published by Ecco in April 2020, I’m really looking forward to this one. Here’s the synopsis:

In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner… These women in the club… These women who won’t stop asking questions… These women who got what they deserved…

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

Pochoda’s Wonder Valley, also published in North America by Ecco, is available in the UK published by The Indigo Press. I couldn’t find anything about a UK release for These Women, at the time of writing.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

 

Upcoming: THE KINGDOM OF LIARS by Nick Martell (Gollancz/Saga Press)

MartellN-LotMK1-KingdomOfLiars

The Kingdom of Liars is the first novel in Nick Martell‘s new fantasy series, the Legacy of the Mercenary Kings. I’ve seen this novel getting some good pre-publication buzz on Twitter, and my interest is well and truly piqued. The North American cover (and an excerpt) were revealed on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog last week. Here’s the synopsis:

Michael Kingman has been an outsider for as long as he remembers. The court which executed his father also exiled him and his family. They branded him a traitor, and the nobles who had been his friends turned their backs, prepared to let the legendary Kingman family die on Hollow’s city streets.

Only they survived.

And it should come as no surprise to Hollow Court, or the King, that they’ve been searching for the truth ever since.

History is written by the winners, truth buried beneath lies until it’s Forgotten. Justice seems impossible in a city where the price of magic is a memory. But Michael Kingman is determined to make everyone remember…

The Kingdom of Liars is due to be published in May 2020, by Gollancz in the UK and Saga Press in North America.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter