Quick Review: THE GUTTER PRAYER by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-1-GutterPrayerOne of the most talked-about debuts of 2019

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

Enter a city of saints and thieves…

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost, and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

The Gutter Prayer has been showered with praise pre-publication. After reading it, I can certainly see why: it is one of the most inventive new fantasies I’ve read in a while. The novel is packed full of ideas, multiple unique and innovative twists on popular fantasy elements, and an overall interesting and action-packed story. There’s a lot to like in here, and I’m sure many readers will love this novel. Continue reading

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Quick Review: THE HAUNTING OF TRAM CAR 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-HauntingOfTramCar015A second story in Clark’s fascinating historical fantasy Cairo

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

I’m a newcomer to P. Djèlí Clark’s work, and I must say he is fast becoming one of my favourite new authors. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is a novella set in the same world as the author’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo short story. Both are mysteries, with protagonists tasked with investigating supernatural goings-on in an alternate-history Cairo — one in which djinn, gods and spirits (among others) exist and changed the course of history. I really enjoyed this, and think a lot of others will too. Continue reading

Quick Review: CORAX — LORD OF SHADOWS by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HHP10-CoraxA short novel from the Raven Guard’s Primarch’s pre-Heresy campaigns

During the Great Crusade, it falls to the primarch Corax of the Raven Guard to humble the immense void-cities of the Carinae. Determined to bring these worlds into compliance, he unleashes the might of his Legion and a massive war host of the Imperial Army. But the lords of Carinae are well defended and without remorse.

At the height of the conflict, at the void-city of Zenith, a dread bio-weapon from an ancient time is unleashed. At once, the Imperial force is brought to its knees, as allies are turned against each other and the Raven Guard left to face almost insurmountable odds. As the campaign teeters on the brink of failure, Corax’s desire for vengeance is severely tested against the need for a swift and certain resolution to the war.

In this, the tenth novel in Black Library’s Primarchs series, Guy Haley turns his attention to the Lord of Shadows: Corax, the Primarch of the Raven Guard. A sort-of prequel-yet-parallel series to the New York Times-bestselling Horus Heresy series, the novels focus on a defining moment in the Primarchs’ pre-Heresy lives. So far, the ones I’ve read have been interesting, offering some insight into what has shaped the Primarchs’ characters and also their relationships with the Emperor and their brothers. In Corax: Lord of Shadows, Haley takes a look at the duelling impulses and responsibilities that pull at the Raven Lord and pits them against a ruthless adversary. Continue reading

Upcoming: RULE OF CAPTURE by Christopher Brown (Voyager)

BrownC-RuleToCaptureIn 2017, Voyager published Christopher Brown‘s thought-provoking debut novel, Tropic of Kansas. I rather enjoyed that novel, and have been keeping my eyes open for news of the author’s next book. In August 2019, Voyager are due to publish Rule to Capture. It is described as “Better Call Saul meets Nineteen Eighty-Four“, which is certainly intriguing. It is also the first in a new series of legal thrillers set in the same dystopian world as Tropic of Kansas. Here’s the synopsis:

Defeated in a devastating war with China, 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.

Rule to Capture is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in August 2019.

Also on CR: Review of Tropic of Kansas

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)

MorenoGarciaS-GodsOfJadeAndShadowI haven’t read as much of Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s work as I would like (so many books, so little time!). However, what I have read has been universally excellent. Next year, Del Rey are due to publish the author’s next novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow. Here’s the synopsis, which has certainly whet my appetite:

The Mayan God of Death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

Here we shall begin to tell a story: a tale of a throne lost, of monsters and magic. A tale of gods and of the shadow realm. But this, our story, it begins in our world, in the land of mortals.

It begins with a woman. For this story, it is her story. It begins with her.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it — and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan God of Death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City — and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is due to be published in North America on August 6th, 2019 (at the time of writing, there was no information that I could find about a UK release/publisher). That’s quite a while to wait, but there are plenty of the author’s other novels available now to tide you over. For example: Certain Dark Things, The Beautiful Ones, Signal to Noise and Prime Meridian (to name but four).

Also on CR: Excerpt from Signal to Noise

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Books (November-December)

NewBooks-20181218

Quite the bumper-crop of new ARCs and purchased books pre-Christmas/New Year!

Featuring: Richard Baker, David Baldacci, Josiah Bancroft, Mirah Bolender, Sam Bourne, James Brabazon, Andy Clark, Jared Cohen, Greg Cox, Seth Dickinson, C.A. Fletcher, Mira Grant, Guy Haley (x2), Anthony Horowitz, Greg Iles, Emiko Jean, Katharine Duckett, Ann Leckie, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Karina Longworth, Katie Lowe, Lisa A. Nichols, Mallory O’Meara, Mahvesh Murad, Khurrum Rahman, Matthew Reilly, Alastair Reynolds, Nisi Shawl, Jared Shurin, Madeline Stevens, Tade Thompson, Lavie Tidhar, Nell Zink

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Guest Post: “Identity Motifs in The Goldfinch, The Catcher in the Rye and Life As We Know It” by Weston Ochse

OchseW-AuthorPhotoI was introduced to the idea of The Catcher in the Rye in 1979. I’d heard about this 1950s novel through my parents, both educators. I’d also heard about it through a Freshman English teacher at my High School. The reason I’d only heard about it and not seen it was because I was living in Tennessee and at the time it was a banned book. By banned, I don’t mean that there were any Fahrenheit 451 Fireman to come and burn them up — although I am sure there were those who wished that to be true. By banned I mean that the book was considered an unhealthy read and stores and libraries were urged not to provide them to young healthy minds. So it was with great delight that I was able to buy a copy of the book in 1981 at the local Walden Books store, who provided it from a box in the backroom and sold to me wrapped in brown paper so no one would see what I’d purchased. Continue reading