Excerpt: THINGS HALF IN SHADOW by Alan Finn (Gallery Books)

FinnA-ThingsHalfInShadowToday, we have an excerpt from Alan Finn‘s Things Half in Shadow, a historical and supernatural thriller. Published by Gallery Books in the US today, here is the synopsis:

Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter.

The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy — the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes… a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten.

Now a crime reporter for one of the city’s largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city’s most highly regarded — and by all accounts, legitimate — medium, who dies mid-séance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.

Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, Things Half in Shadow is a riveting thriller where Medium and The Sixth Sense meet The Alienist — and where nothing is quite as it seems…
Continue reading

Review: THE FIRE SERMON by Francesca Haig (Gallery/Voyager)

HaigF-FireSermonUKMuch-hyped debut fails to sizzle

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha — physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

This novel has been enjoying quite some hype on social media, and the premise does sound like an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic dystopia genre. Dreamworks has already acquired film rights for the novel (which is the first in a trilogy), and the Guardians of the Galaxy co-screenwriter has been hired to write the adaptation. It has been described as a “Potential Heir to the Hunger Games“. This had all the makings of an enjoyable, thought-provoking read, one that would rise about the masses of other dystopian novels that are hitting shelves on a monthly basis. I decided to read it early (I received an eARC via the US publisher and NetGalley). Sad to say, I was thoroughly disappointed.

[Minor spoilers ahead. Some not so minor, perhaps.] Continue reading

New Books (November #2)


Featuring: Poul Anderson, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bear, James Enge, Chris Evans, Michel Faber, John French, Joe Haldeman, James M. Hough, Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman, John Love, Brandon Sanderson, Gav Thorpe, Olivier Truc Continue reading

Upcoming: THE GREAT ZOO OF CHINA by Matthew Reilly


I’m a fan of Matthew Reilly‘s novels, but for some reason I’ve allowed his most recent books to fall by the way-side. I thoroughly enjoyed his Jack West Trilogy and also the first few Scarecrow novels. I have, but have not yet read, Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves and The Tournament. His next title sounds pretty interesting, too:

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron,  a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong…

Matthew Reilly‘s The Great Zoo of China is due to be published on November 10th 2014 by Macmillan in Australia, January 2015 by Gallery Books in the US, and February 2015 by Orion in the UK. (Cover above are in that order.) With any luck, I’ll be able to catch up before this novel is released.

Here’s a video of Reilly talking about the book:

Also on CR: Reviews of Six Sacred Stones and Five Greatest Warriors