It’s been a good month for books. Many of them have been way up on my list for most anticipated, but it’s also been a really busy work-month, which means I’ve been falling behind a little bit. Things will hopefully pick up in March and April. Until then, here are the novels that have arrived (up to the end of February)… I’ve included an eARC…
Herein: Anne Bishop’s Daughter of the Blood; Ned Beauman’s Glow; M.L. Brennan’s Iron Night; Carolyn Hart’s Castle Rock; Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; Tom Hoyle’s Thirteen; Debbie Johnson’s Dark Visions; Glenda Larke’s The Lascar’s Dagger; Tim Lebbon’s Into the Void; Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon; Chris Pavone’s The Accident; David Ramirez’s The Forever Watch; Marcus Sedgwick et al’s Dark Satanic Mills; Mark Smylie’s The Barrow; Justin Somper’s Allies & Assassins; Tad Williams’s Happy Hour in Hell
Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood (Jo Fletcher)
The Darkness has had a Prince for a long, long time. Now the Queen is coming.
For years the realm of Terreille has been falling into corruption, as the powerful Queens who rule it have turned to cruelty.
But there is hope – a prophetic vision has revealed the coming of a Queen more powerful than any other. And once the foundations of her power – father, brother, lover – are in place, she will emerge from the darkness, bringing freedom.
For she is the living myth, dreams made flesh; not just any witch, but Witch.
The first novel in Bishop’s Black Jewels series (nine books in the US already, and Jo Fletcher Books has picked up the first three so far). I’ve heard some good things, and I’m hoping to try it pretty soon.
Ned Beauman, Glow (Sceptre)
A reinvention of the international conspiracy thriller for a new generation.
A hostage exchange outside a police station in Pakistan.
A botched defection in an airport hotel in New Jersey.
A test of loyalty at an abandoned resort in the Burmese jungle.
A boy and a girl locking eyes at a rave in a South London laundrette…
For the first time, Britain’s most exciting young novelist turns his attention to the present day, as a conspiracy with global repercussions converges on one small flat above a dentist’s office in Camberwell.
I’ve heard only great things about Beauman’s award-winning The Teleportation Accident (which I have recently purchased for future enjoyment), so I was very happy when this arrived in the mail. It’s a slim novel, so I’m sure I’ll easily be able to fit it in between more weighty tomes.
M.L. Brennan, Iron Night (Roc)
Underemployed by day. Undead by night.
Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.
Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.
The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.
Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.
I’ve already finished reading this one. I enjoyed Brennan’s debut, Generation V, a lot – particularly how the author has approached the supernatural and developed her own vampire mythology and history. Iron Night offers more of the same, with an intriguing antagonist and mystery to solve. If you like Urban Fantasy, this is a must-read series.
[The original version of this post had the title of this novel as “Iron Knight”. No idea why… Apologies to the author.]
Carolyn Hart, Castle Rock (Seventh Street)
A young woman is convinced she’s living with a murderer among family members, lodgers, and ranch hands in New Mexico.
Serena Mallory came to the huge New Mexico ranch of Castle Rock as a twelve-year-old orphan. She grew up as the ward of owner Dan McIntire. Now in her early twenties, Serena watches the ranch’s idyllic summer charm disappear when Dan dies in a riding accident. The night before his accident, she overheard him arguing with someone, and since his death, a series of strange accidents has plagued the ranch. Convinced that Dan’s accident was anything but, Serena sets out to find the guilty party.
A new novel in Seventh Streets initiative to bring mid-Century crime and thriller novels back into print. It’s a slim volume, but I do want to try more of these. There have been a couple of great ones already (I’m so behind on reviews!).
Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Hodder)
It is the year 2076, and the Moon is a penal colony for the rebellious and the unwanted of Earth. The exiles have created a libertarian society in order to survive in their harsh and unforgiving environment, their motto being TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Looming over them is the Luna Authority, the heavy-handed Earth administration, who trades life necessities to the “Loonies” in exchange for grain shipments to the starving populations of Earth.
As the situation steadily deteriorates the inhabitants of Luna come to realize that they have little choice but to revolt against Luna Authority in order to save themselves from resource exhaustion and a subsequent environmental apocalypse.
A small band of dissidents emerges to lead the revolution. This consists of a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic, and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike. These people ignite the fires of revolution, despite the near certainty of failure.
“I struggled with this one”… That’s a pretty bold thing for an editor to tell you when they send you a novel. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress will be my first Heinlein novel, and it is also the next title in the Hodderscape Review Project. It sounds great, so I’ll be going in with a relatively open-yet-cautious mind. (The text is printed really small, though…)
Tom Hoyle, Thirteen (Macmillan)
Born at midnight in London, on the stroke of the new millennium, Adam is the target of a cult that believes boys born on this date must die before the end of their thirteenth year. Twelve boys have been killed so far. Coron, the crazy cult leader, will stop at nothing to bring in his new kingdom. And now he is planning a bombing spectacular across London to celebrate the sacrifice of his final victim: Adam.
This YA thriller novel sounds pretty good. Conspiracies, cults, etc. All good! There’s also a kind of tie-in app/game that you can play, although I forget the specifics. It’s in an email, so I’ll find it and include it in the review, when it’s ready.
Debbie Johnson, Dark Vision (Del Rey UK)
Lily McCain is cursed.
With just one touch she can see a person’s future, whether it’s a good fortune or a terrible fate. Afraid of the potent visions she foresees, she distances herself from the world, succumbing to a life of solitude.
But at the touch of a mysterious stranger – who has powers of his own – Lily sees a new, chilling future for herself: one where she is fated to make a terrible choice…
This doesn’t exactly sound like anything special. But, you never know. I might give it a try at some point, but I can’t honestly say it’s a priority.
Glenda Larke, The Lascar’s Dagger (Orbit)
A theft in a faraway land – with repercussions that reach around the world…
The world thinks of Saker Rampion as a priest, a gentle man preaching peace. The truth is, he’s a spy for the head of his faith, posted in the court of King Edwayn.
It’s a time of fear – as a mysterious and monstrous disease sweeps the country – but also opportunity – lucrative trade is opening up overseas, and what’s grown on the Spice Islands is rumored to cure the demonic plague.
However when the king uses his own daughter as a pawn in trade deals, Saker cannot help but get involved. And for his trouble, he may just end up excommunicated, or even dead…
This came with a little sample of star anise… Which was different. The novel sounds pretty cool, too, so this will hopefully be my first read by Larke. It’s been on my radar for some time, and I hope I’ll be able to read it pretty soon.
Tim Lebbon, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void (Century)
On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force — and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.
Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key — risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved — and whose life she must now fear.
Hm. I’m quite behind on my Star Wars reading, and I wasn’t exactly blown away by the Dawn of the Jedi comic books (published by Dark Horse). Also, Lebbon’s fiction that I’ve read in the past hasn’t grabbed me much. So, sadly, I can’t say that I’m itching to get to this. We’ll see, but I will most certainly be prioritising other Star Wars novels I have unread. [If someone would like to review the book for the blog, feel free to get in touch.]
Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon (Hodder)
When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist; Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa; Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.
Lagoon expertly juggles multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives with prose that is at once propulsive and poetic, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.
At its heart a story about humanity at the crossroads between the past, present, and future, Lagoon touches on political and philosophical issues in the rich tradition of the very best science fiction, and ultimately asks us to consider the things that bind us together – and the things that make us human.
“There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.”
Another novel I have already finished – it arrived and, while putting it away on my shelves, I had a read of the first page… And promptly put down my then-current read to blitz through this. It’s an excellent novel, beautifully written. Review sometime next week, hopefully.
Chris Pavone, The Accident (Crown Publishing)
In New York City, Isabel Reed, one of the most respected and powerful literary agents in the city, frantically turns the pages of a manuscript into the early dawn hours. This manuscript – printed out, hand-delivered, totally anonymous – is full of shocking revelations and disturbing truths, things which could compromise national security. Is this what she’s been waiting for her entire career: a book that will help her move on from a painful past, a book that could save her beloved industry… a book that will change the world?
In Copenhagen, Hayden Gray, a veteran station chief, wary of the CIA’s obsession with the Middle East, has been steadfastly monitoring the dangers that abound in Europe. Even if his bosses aren’t paying attention, he’s determined to stay vigilant. And he’s also on the trail of this manuscript – and the secrets that lie at its heart. For him, quite simply, it must never see the light of day.
As Isabel and Hayden try to outwit each other, the nameless author watches on from afar. With no-one quite sure who holds all the cards, the stakes couldn’t be higher: in just twenty-four hours careers could be ruined, devastating secrets could be unearthed, and innocent people could die.
Pavone’s The Expats was an international bestseller, and one I have yet to read (I do own it, but it’s on my Kindle, which means it can sometimes be forgotten when something new, shiny and printed drops into my postbox…). My request for this was approved via NetGalley, so I will probably be reading this very soon, and before The Expats. Given that the story is also related to the publishing industry (in which I currently work), I’m intrigued to see how it’s woven into a thriller – it’s not always the most fast-moving of industries…
David Ramirez, The Forever Watch (Hodder)
The Truth is only the beginning.
The Noah: a city-sized ship, half-way through an eight hundred year voyage to another planet. In a world where deeds, and even thoughts, cannot be kept secret, a man is murdered; his body so ruined that his identity must be established from DNA evidence. Within hours, all trace of the crime is swept away, hidden as though it never happened. Hana Dempsey, a mid-level bureaucrat genetically modified to use the Noah’s telepathic internet, begins to investigate. Her search for the truth will uncover the impossible: a serial killer who has been operating on board for a lifetime… if not longer.
And behind the killer lies a conspiracy centuries in the making.
I’ve never read anything by Ramirez before, but this sounds great. I intend to read it ASAP.
Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, John Higgins & Mark Olivent, Dark Satanic Mills (Walker Books)
Set in a near-future Britain, Dark Satanic Mills tracks a young woman’s journey from the flooded landmarks of London to the vast, scorched and abandoned hills of the North. Framed for a murder she did not commit, the innocent yet resourceful Christy has no other choice but to run for her life.
Both a cautionary tale and a rip-roaring road trip, Dark Satanic Mills is altogether an intelligent, captivating and thrilling ride – told in exhilarating shades of light and dark.
After finishing A Love Like Blood, Marcus Sedgwick’s first novel for adults (which is brilliant, by the way), I wanted to check out more of his work. I stumbled across this, and decided to buy it right there and then.
Mark Smylie, The Barrow (Pyr)
Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this stand-alone fantasy novel with series potential. Set in the world of the Eisner-nominated Artesia comic books.
To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.
When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they’ve struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.
Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin’s sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross-section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, brought together by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books, or get them all killed.
I’ve been hearing some good things about this novel from some other reviewers and elsewhere. It’s been compared to George R.R. Martin and Michael J. Sullivan, so it could be rather cool. It’s also set in the world of a comic book series, which could be interesting. I’m not familiar with the comics at all, so I won’t be coming to this with any preexisting knowledge of the world, etc. But… could be interesting. I’ll try to get to this ASAP (along with all my other Big Book Fantasies that I have to get caught up on…).
Justin Somper, Allies & Assassins (Atom)
They killed his brother. Now they’re coming for him…
As the second prince of Archenfield, Jared never expected to rule. But behind the walls of the castle is a dark and dangerous court where murder and intrigue are never far below the surface.
Now his older brother is dead. The kingdom is his. And the target is on his back. Can he find the assassin before the assassin finds him?
The paperback edition – already have the hardcover, but I’ve been dragging my heels. Not really sure why. I do enjoy the whole Fantasy Assassins/Thieves sub-genre. I’m interested in trying it. We’ll see.
Tad Williams, Happy Hour in Hell (Hodder)
Bobby Dollar has a problem or four of epic proportions.
Problem one: his best friend Sam has given him an angel’s feather that also happens to be evidence of an unholy pact between Bobby’s employers and those who dwell in the infernal depths. Problem two: Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell, wants to get his claws on the feather at all costs, but particularly at all cost to Bobby. Problem three: Bobby has fallen in love with Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands, who just happens to be Eligor’s girlfriend. Problem four: Eligor, aware of Problem three, has whisked Casimira off to the Bottomless Pit itself, telling Bobby he will never see her again unless he hands over the feather.
But Bobby, long-time veteran of the endless war between above and below, is not the type of guy who finds Hell intimidating. All he has to do is toss on a demon’s body, sneak through the infernal gates, solve the mystery of the angel’s feather, and rescue the girl. Saving the day should just be a matter of an eon or two of anguish, mutilation and horror.
If only it were that easy.
An urban fantasy series I’ve always wanted to try. Haven’t read the first novel (The Dirty Streets of Heaven), yet, so I’m not sure how quickly I’m going to get around to this one. We’ll see.