Excerpt: THE PUNISHING JOURNEY OF ARTHUR DELANEY by Bob Kroll (ECW Press)

KrollB-PunishingJourneyOfArthurDelaneyToday, we have an excerpt from Bob Kroll‘s upcoming novel The Punishing Journey of Arthur Delaney, which is due to be published by ECW Press on June 7th. Here’s the synopsis:

A 19th-century tale of a father’s greatest regret and path to redemption

Devastated at his wife’s death and stricken at raising two girls and a boy on his own, Arthur Delaney places his children in a Halifax orphanage and runs off to join the Union Army in the American Civil War. The trauma of battle and three years in a disease-ridden prisoner-of-war prison changes his perspective on life and family.

After the war, Delaney odd-jobs his way up the American east coast and catches a schooner to Halifax. There he discovers the orphanage has relocated to a farm in rural Nova Scotia. His children are not there. They and others had been sold and resold as farm workers and house servants through the Maritime provinces, as well as Quebec and Ontario. Their whereabouts is unknown. Arthur Delaney sets out on a punishing 20-year journey across Canada to find them.

This is a heartbreaking, beautifully told story of a father’s attempt to reconnect with his children.

Read on for the excerpt…

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Annotated Excerpt: GLITTERATI by Oliver K. Langmead (Titan)

LangmeadOK-AuthorPic2021Hello – yes! I have been asked by the fabulous owner of Civillian Reader to share an annotated excerpt from my forthcoming novel Glitterati, which is a dystopian satire about fashion, family and the feckless billionaire class.

Simone is a fashionista – one of the fashionable elites, who live in a sumptuous, opulent utopia, with their every whim catered for. Early in the novel, it is only Simone’s strange anxieties holding him back from being one of the most fabulous people around.

Let me introduce you now to Simone, and one of the most acute sources of anxiety in his life…

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Annotated Excerpt: THE COLLARBOUND by Rebecca Zahabi (Gollancz)

ZahabiR-CollarboundUKHCIn The Collarbound, we get to discover a complex world, with khers and mages, fleshbinding and mindlink, lightborns and long-lost giants. I’ve picked this excerpt because it’s a good example of how worldbuilding can be woven into the plot without slowing it down.

This piece is from Tatters’ POV. For the moment, we know little about Tatters except that he is a mage, and that he has a voice called Lal speaking inside his head. We’ve met the head of guards, a kher, and we’ve learnt what khers look like: they’re humanoids with reddish skin, often tattooed, who have long horns that grow out of their foreheads and curve around their skulls, like a ram’s horns.

That’s where we’re at when Tatters and the head of guards meet. She brings him to the watchtower to check he’s on the Nest’s records (he’s trying to sneak into the castle that is the Nest without being invited), and she starts laboriously looking through the entries in chronological order.

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Excerpt: NINE TENTHS by Jeff Macfee (JABberwocky)

MacfeeJ-NineTenthsToday we have an excerpt from Jeff Macfee‘s new novel, Nine Tenths. A blend of mystery and science fiction, here’s the synopsis:

Augment phase technology was rare. The last appearance of anything resembling phase technology was fifteen years ago. I knew the date…

It was the date of the Doctor Dimension repo.

In a world full of “Augments” — humans who use technology to imbue themselves with superpowers of every sort — being an average man would seem a good way to keep out of trouble. Not so for repo man Gayle Harwood. It’s his job to seize enhancements from Augments who fall behind on the payments for their high-tech advantages. And they rarely part with them easily.

Now an infamous job Gayle was a part of long ago has come back to haunt him. An incredibly powerful piece of tech that was supposed to have been turned over to the government is being used again. People are dying, and those in power are convinced Gayle knows something about it.

Unfortunately, they’re right.

And unless Gayle can uncover the sinister secrets of the past and find whoever has hijacked the lost tech and stop them, no superpower in the world is going to be enough to save him…

Read on for Chapter 1…!

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Annotated Excerpt: WHIRLWIND ROMANCE by Sam Thompson (Unsung Stories)

ThompsonS-WhirlwindRomanceThanks for asking me to annotate a passage from Whirlwind Romance. The book is a collection of stories about the moments when our reality falls apart. The stories vary in subject, setting and genre, but most of them hover somewhere between the real and the fantastical — and all are interested in the many ways that the world we have been living in, imagining it was solid under our feet, can turn out to be fragile. Travelling to an unfamiliar country could reveal uncomfortable truths about home, or reconnecting with a long-lost sibling could show your childhood in a new light, or becoming a parent could teach you that you are not who you thought you were. Falling in love could make you realize that the most precious person in your world lives in a different reality from your own; getting lost in a book or a video game could take you further from normality than you intended; living through a global disaster could strip you of the illusions you once believed were sane.

All these scenarios play out in Whirlwind Romance, but for this commentary I’ve chosen the opening passage of ‘The Red Song’. This is the second-longest story in the book: when I started working on it I thought it was going to be a novel, and put in a lot of world-building and plot-planning accordingly, but I found that it kept folding down into a tighter, more allusive kind of text. It tells the story of an English academic, Flora Hardy, who accepts a research fellowship and travels to the remote nation of Hesper a short time after it has gone through a revolution and deposed its long-reigning dictator. Flora is an expert on the literature of the place, but she discovers that she knows little about its present. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE SHADOW OF MEMORY by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)

BerryC-KH4-ShadowOfMemoryUSHCToday, we have an excerpt from The Shadow of Memory, Connie Berry‘s fourth Kate Hamilton Mystery. Due to be published by Crooked Lane Books on May 10th, here’s the synopsis:

American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton uncovers a dark secret buried in Victorian England.

As Kate Hamilton plans her upcoming wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, she is also assisting her colleague Ivor Tweedy with a project at the Netherfield Sanatorium, which is being converted into luxury townhouses. Kate and Ivor must appraise a fifteenth-century painting and verify that its provenance is the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate learns that the halls of the sanatorium housed much more than priceless art.

Kate is surprised to learn that Will had been the first boyfriend of her friend Vivian Bunn, who hasn’t seen him in fifty-eight years. At a seaside holiday camp over sixty years ago, Will, Vivian, and three other teens broke into an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had died under bizarre circumstances two years earlier. Now, when a second member of the childhood gang dies unexpectedly — and then a third — it becomes clear that the teens had discovered more in the house than they had realized.

Had Will returned to warn his old love? When Kate makes a shocking connection between a sixty-year-old murder and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she suddenly understands that time is running out for Vivian — and anyone connected to her.

Now, on with the excerpt!

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Annotated Excerpt: THE BLADED FAITH by David Dalglish (Orbit)

BladedFaith_TP-LP1.inddToday, we have an annotated excerpt taken from David Dalglish’s upcoming new novel, The Bladed Faith. The first in a new series, the Vagrant Gods, here’s the synopsis:

A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods…

Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents — the king and queen — beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader’s court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary “Vagrant” — an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill. 

But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance.

The excerpt is taken from the second chapter of the novel. Now, over to David…

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Excerpt: THE HALF-LIFE OF RUBY FIELDING by Lydia Kang (Lake Union)

KangL-HalfLifeOfRubyFieldingToday, we have an excerpt from Lydia Kang‘s The Half-Life of Ruby Fielding, a historical mystery that takes place in 1942 Brooklyn. Here’s the synopsis:

A spellbinding historical mystery about hidden identities, wartime paranoia, and the tantalizing power of deceit.

Brooklyn, 1942. War rages overseas as brother and sister Will and Maggie Scripps contribute to the war effort stateside. Ambitious Will secretly scouts for the Manhattan Project while grief-stricken Maggie works at the Navy Yard, writing letters to her dead mother between shifts.

But the siblings’ quiet lives change when they discover a beautiful woman hiding under their back stairs. This stranger harbors an obsession with poisons, an affection for fine things, and a singular talent for killing small creatures. As she draws Will and Maggie deeper into her mysterious past, they both begin to suspect she’s quite dangerous ― all while falling helplessly under her spell.

With whispers of spies in dark corners and the world’s first atomic bomb in the works, the visitor’s sudden presence in Maggie’s and Will’s lives raises questions about who she is and what she wants. Is this mysterious woman someone they can trust ― or a threat to everything they hold dear?

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Annotated Excerpt: THE CITY OF DUSK by Tara Sim (Orbit/Hodder)

SimR-CityOfDuskWriting books is so weird.

Ever since I was fifteen I knew for sure that I wanted to be an author. Back then, writing books was so much fun. I got to let my imagination loose, play around with (aka torture) characters, and make up entirely new worlds. There were no deadlines, no pressures, no expectations — just the joy of creation.

Although writing is still fun, I find that it gets harder and harder. So naturally, I like to challenge myself with each new book.

The City of Dusk was certainly challenging. It’s my most ambitious book/series to date: four separate realms, four magic systems, seven POVs. Somehow, it all came together in the end, but the journey was arduous and spirit-shattering. Continue reading

Excerpt: STARS AND BONES by Gareth Powell (Titan)

PowellGL-StarsAndBonesToday, we have an excerpt from Gareth L. Powell‘s new novel, Stars and Bones. The author’s latest highly-anticipated science fiction epic, it was published by Titan Books yesterday. Here’s the synopsis:

Seventy-five years from today, the human race has been cast from a dying Earth to wander the stars in a vast fleet of arks — each shaped by its inhabitants into a diverse and fascinating new environment, with its own rules and eccentricities.

When her sister disappears while responding to a mysterious alien distress call, Eryn insists on being part of the crew sent to look for her. What she discovers on Candidate-623 is both terrifying and deadly. When the threat follows her back to the fleet and people start dying, she is tasked with seeking out a legendary recluse who may just hold the key to humanity’s survival.

Now: on with the excerpt! Continue reading