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

Quick Review: SIREN QUEEN by Nghi Vo (Tor.com)

VoN-SirenQueenThe magic and horror of movie-making…

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill — but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes — even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

“The magic of movie-making”: we’ve all heard people say and write things about Hollywood that sprinkle stardust and the otherworldly metaphors onto filmmaking. In Siren Queen, Nghi Vo asks readers to consider what if it wasn’t actually metaphorical? A clever novel that follows the career of screen star Luli Wei, I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: GOTHGUL HOLLOW by Anna Stephens (Black Library)

StephensA-WHH-GothgulHollowAnna Stephens is perhaps best known for her Godblind Trilogy and latest novel, The Stone Knife. The author has also been writing a fair number of short stories for Black Library, and next year her first will arrive: Gothgul Hollow is part of the publisher’s Warhammer Horror series. Set in the Age of Sigmar, I’m rather looking forward to reading this. You can read a little bit more about it (and some other upcoming Warhammer Horror titles, here.)

The Hollow. A lonely Shyishan town, obscured amongst wild moorland, inhabited by folk of vigilant routine. What remains of the once illustrious Gothghul family endures season upon season of monastic isolation in their castle on the hill. Aaric Gothghul, made callous by loss, shuts himself in his study and broods over arcane texts, while his strange and formidable daughter wanders the forests alone.

But when the town is threatened by a spate of sinister manifestations, the quiet formality of their days end. Worse still, the upheaval disturbs a terrible family secret – a chilling memory that Aaric has kept buried for twenty-five years. Now, father and daughter must set aside their differences and search for answers to an ancient curse that is somehow linked to their past. Aided by a straight-talking sharpshooter and a shrewd man of faith, they seek to fathom the forces that assail the Hollow.

Scholar. Sorceress. Killer. Priest. Four people divided by their secrets and lies, bound together by horror, must unite their strengths to uncover a diabolic mystery – the clue to which they have but one incomprehensible word: Mhurghast.

Gothgul Hollow is due to be published by Black Library in North America and in the UK, in February 2022.

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Interview with WALTER GOODWATER, Author of THE LIAR OF RED VALLEY

GoodwaterWL-AuthorPic2021Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Walter Goodwater?

Good to be back! My name is Walter, and I’m a software guy by day, and exhausted writer by night. (My two kids under four certainly contribute to that exhaustion). I’ve been reading fantasy my whole life, starting with Tolkien in the 5th grade, Dragonlance in the 6th grade, and Terry Brooks in the 7th grade. After that, I was hooked. I love writing fantasy because creating a new world is such an ideal way to shine new light on things in our own world in unexpected ways.

Your latest novel, The Liar of Red Valley, is due to be published by Solaris in September. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It is a horror/fantasy set in Red Valley, a drought-stricken rural California town where magic and monsters are more of a nuisance than noteworthy. Dark, hungry things fly over the town at night. Junkies invite demons into their heads. The local dive bar has an almost human clientele, and a mysterious door in the back no one goes into (unless they are really desperate). People growing up in this town live by three simple rules: Don’t cross the King. Never, ever go in the River. And don’t trust the Liar. Sadie knows these rules as well as anybody, but since her mom died, she’s the Liar now, which means she keeps the towns secrets. And if she’s going to survive in Red Valley, she’s going to have to break some rules. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: WALK AMONG US by Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw & Caitlin Starling (Voyager)

KhawC-VM-WalkAmongUSAn interesting and varied collection of novellas

One of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life with this trio of horror novellas set in Vampire: The Masquerade’s World of Darkness by three brilliant talents: Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, and Caitlin Starling

The subtle horror and infernal politics of the World of Darkness are shown in a new light in Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us, a collection of three novellas that show the terror, hunger, and power of the Kindred as you’ve never seen them before.

I’ve been interested in the Vampire: The Masquerade setting for years. However, I’ve never played a game of the pen-and-paper RPG. In fact, despite buying some of the 1990s-early 2000s novels (which I haven’t had a chance to read, yet), I have quite limited experience with the setting. I played and loved the Redemption video game (I really want them to update it for newer platforms!), and also the first Bloodlines game. Aside from that, before 2021, I had no other experience with it. When Walk Among Us was first announced, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m happy to report that it is a very good, varied collection. Continue reading

Upcoming: CERTAIN DARK THINGS by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Tor Nightfire)

MorenoGarciaS-CertainDarkThings2021Next month, Tor Books are reissuing Silvia Morena-Garcia‘s The Beautiful Ones; in August, Del Rey are due to publish Velvet Was the Night. Fans of Moreno-Garcia’s work can look forward to yet another new book this year: in September, Certain Dark Things is also due to be re-issued! The stunning North American cover for this “pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore” was unveiled earlier today by Night Worms. Really looking forward to reading this. Here’s the synopsis:

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things is due to be published on September 7th, by Tor Nightfire (North America), and Jo Fletcher Books (UK — I’ll add the cover when it’s available).

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Quick Review: VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE WINTER’S TEETH (Vault)

Vampire-Masquerade-WintersTeethTPBAn excellent new comic series, set in the World of Darkness

When Cecily Bain, an enforcer for the Twin Cities’ vampiric elite, takes a mysterious new vampire under her wing, she’s dragged into an insidious conspiracy. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the cities, a rebellious found-family of vampire cast-outs investigates a vicious killing.

As the unlives of the Kindred twine together and betrayals are unearthed, will Cecily be able to escape and save what’s left of her family, or will she be yet another pawn sacrificed to maintain the age-old secret: that vampires exist among the living?

Born from the world of the internationally best-selling role playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade’s critically acclaimed comics debut spins a gripping and tragic tale about the Beast within us all.

Winter’s Teeth, the first Vampire: The Masquerade comic series, is an excellent introduction to the World of Darkness and its vampire culture. Collecting the first five issues, Tim Seeley et al have written a great horror-mystery. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with GAVIN G. SMITH

SmithGG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Gavin G. Smith?

Just some guy… I am a science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. I tend to write quite action-oriented stuff and inject a bit of humour in often gritty stories.

Your novel, Spec Ops Z, will be re-issued by Abaddon next month. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I’m not a great respecter of tight genre boundaries and I think Spec Ops Z straddles a few. It’s set in an alternate 1987 where instead of Glasnost, Russia was taken over by hardliners and launched a first strike against the US using a zombie-inducing “bio weapon”. The protagonists (rather than heroes) are the Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) squad tasked with infecting New York. The squad are a crew of somewhat embittered misfits led by led by Vadim Socorlenski a tired and disillusioned officer once hailed as a “Hero of the Soviet Union”. The squad get infected in New York and then it’s all about them trying to get home in the face of WW3 and a zombie outbreak. It’s kind-of apocalyptic post-survival action horror, I guess. Continue reading

Upcoming: NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH by Cassandra Khaw (Tor Nightfire)

Nothing But Blackened 4c.inddCassandra Khaw is going to have a pretty busy 2021, it seems. In addition to the print/eBook edition of Walk Among Us, and The All-Consuming World, the author’s creepy-looking Nothing But Blackened Teeth will also arrive just in time for Halloween. The awesome cover was unveiled earlier today, and it certainly looks like the perfect novel to read (with the lights on):

A gorgeously creepy haunted house tale, steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is due to be published by Tor Nightfire in North America and in the UK, on October 19th, 2021.

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Upcoming: KING BULLET by Richard Kadrey (Voyager)

KadreyR-SS12-KingBulletLater this year, Voyager are due to publish King Bullet, the twelfth and final book in Richard Kadrey‘s superb Sandman Slim series. I started reading this when I was a lowly intern at Voyager in the UK (a job I still look back on very fondly). I’ve fallen a little behind on the series, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the novels I’ve read so far. I can’t wait to get caught up and see how the series ends. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s been three months since Stark stopped a death cult and a potential ghost apocalypse, and he’s at loose ends. His personal life is a mess. His professional life isn’t much better. And the world… well, the world is going to shit. L.A. is gripped by a viral epidemic that has everyone wearing masks and keeping their distance from each other. But what’s even more frightening is the Shoggot gang and their leader, King Bullet, who revels in the city’s collapse.

Who is King Bullet? No one knows. He seemingly came from nowhere with nothing but a taste for mayhem and an army of crazed killers who follow his every command. What king wants seems simple on it face: Chaos. Destruction. A city in flames. But there’s more to the king and his plans for L.A. and what Stark discovers will change Heaven, Earth, and Stark himself forever.

Richard Kadrey’s King Bullet is due to be published by Harper Voyager in North America and in the UK, on August 17th, 2021.

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