Featuring: Anne Bishop, Carole K. Carr, Joël Dicker, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff, Mark Millar, Gary Meehan, Isla Morley, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, Tom Rachman, Samantha Shannon, Joel Shepherd, F.R. Tallis, David Wingrove
Anne Bishop, Heir to the Shadow (Jo Fletcher Books)
Witch – the Queen who would bring freedom to the realms – has come, but now she is lost in darkness, and has a long road to recovery ahead of her.
While her adopted father, Saeten, waits for her to return to the living world, the third side of the triangle needed to complete the prophecy – the lover, Daemon – walks in the Twisted Kingdom on the edge of madness.
As insidious whispers and dark schemes ferment treachery and betrayal, Jaenelle must make a choice: to protect those she loves, she must be more than an heir, she must become a Queen.
The second novel in Bishop’s Black Jewel trilogy, available in the UK for the first time (as a non-import).
Carole K. Carr, India Black & India Black and the Widow of Windsor (Titan Books)
When Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, Madam India Black is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.
Blackmailed into recovering the missing documents by the British spy known as French, India finds herself dodging Russian agents, seducing spies and embarking on midnight sleigh rides, not to mention ignoring the attraction she starts to feel for her handsome and exasperating British co-conspirator.
These are the first two novels in Carr’s A Madam of Espionage series (of four, with also a couple of short stories). I am quite intrigued by the series, as it looks both fun and different to what I normally read.
Joël Dicker, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (MacLehose Press)
August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day a small New Hampshire town lost its innocence.
That summer Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard along with a manuscript copy of his career-defining novel. Quebert is the only suspect.
Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon blur together. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of “The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America”. But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.
This is one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’ll be reading it next-but-one (it’s always dependent on my mood, as long-time readers will know). Because before that, I’ll be reading (and have actually already started)…
Charlaine Harris, Midnight Crossroad (Gollancz)
Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.
There’s a pawnshop (where someone lives in the basement and runs the store during the night). There’s a diner (although those folk who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident: Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).
If you stop at the one traffic light in town, then everything looks normal. But if you stay a while, you might learn the truth…
The start of a brand new urban fantasy series from mega-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series. This will actually be my first read by Harris, and I will be starting it within a couple days.
Tanya Huff, Valour’s Trial (Titan)
Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is a Confederation Marines marine. She’s survived more deadly encounters and kept more of her officers and enlistees alive than anyone in the Corps. Unexpectedly pulled from battle, Torin finds herself in an underground POW camp that shouldn’t exist, where her fellow marine prisoners seem to have lost all will to escape. Now, Torin must fight her way not only out of the prison but also past the growing compulsion to sit down and give up not realizing that her escape could mean the end of the war.
This is the fourth novel in Huff’s Confederation series – an ass-kicking military sci-fi series. It’s been available in the States for some time, but Titan have been releasing the series over the course of the past couple of years in the UK – and I’m very happy they did!
Mark Millar, Secret Service: Kingsman (Titan Comics)
The world’s greatest secret agent is on the most exciting case of his career. But will the end of the world as we know it take a back seat to training his street-punk nephew to be the next James Bond?
Meanwhile, what’s the secret link between a series of kidnapped sci-fi stars, the murder of an entire town, and a dark secret from inside Mount Everest? Under Uncle Jack’s supervision, Gary’s spy skills and confidence blossom – but when the duo learn what’s behind the celebrity kidnappings, the knowledge comes at a price. The conspiracy begins to unravel, but who can be trusted when so many prominent figures seem to be involved?
I read the first issue of Secret Service when it first came out in the US. It was pretty good. I don’t really know why I didn’t keep reading it… Well, now I have the opportunity to get the whole story.
Gary Meehan, True Fire (Quercus)
Sixteen-year-old Megan is pregnant.
As she prepares to tell her family, the unthinkable happens. Her village is razed by soldiers: her grandfather murdered, her twin sister taken.
On a desperate mission to rescue her beloved Gwyneth, Megan discovers a terrifying truth – that the destruction of her old life is inextricably linked to her unborn child. The feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfilment of a prophecy: one that will put Megan and her new friends – Eleanor, a fiery ex-aristocrat, and Damon, a wayward charmer – at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever known.
This could be interesting. Not sure how quickly I’ll get around to it, but I do hope to read this relatively soon.
Isla Morley, Above (Two Roads)
I am a secret no one is able to tell.
Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in – the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice – between survival and freedom.
Never heard anything about this book or author, before it arrived in the mail. Guess I’ll just have to dive in, see what I find…
Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, The Long War (Transworld)
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind… A new “America”, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth – and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government…
Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation… Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.
The second volume in Pratchett and Baxter’s shared science fiction series, The Long Earth. I haven’t read the first in the series, but I’m willing to give the series a try.
Tom Rachman, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (Sceptre)
Tooly Zylberberg, the American owner of an isolated bookshop in the Welsh countryside, conducts a life full of reading, but with few human beings. Books are safer than people, who might ask awkward questions about her life. She prefers never to mention the strange events of her youth, which mystify and worry her still.
Taken from home as a girl, Tooly found herself spirited away by a group of seductive outsiders, implicated in capers from Asia to Europe to the United States. But who were her abductors? Why did they take her? What did they really want? There was Humphrey, the curmudgeonly Russian with a passion for reading; there was the charming but tempestuous Sarah, who sowed chaos in her wake; and there was Venn, the charismatic leader whose worldview transformed Tooly forever. Until, quite suddenly, he disappeared.
Years later, Tooly believes she will never understand the true story of her own life. Then startling news arrives from a long-lost boyfriend in New York, raising old mysteries and propelling her on a quest around the world in search of answers.
I’ve only read one of Rachman’s short stories, but I’m really looking forward to giving this a try.
Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season (Bloomsbury)
It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city – Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly – as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
I’m hoping to read this pretty soon – I’ve been dragging my feet. I’ve heard mixed things, but I’m going to go in with an open mind.
Joel Shepherd, Shield (Pyr)
Part military SF, part cyberpunk, part grand-scale space opera, and part techno-psychological thriller, the Cassandra Kresnov novels transcend the recently narrow segmentation of the science fiction genre.
In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra’s own branch of the Federal Security Agency.
More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?
I’ve been aware of Joel Shepherd for a little while, having seen his name and novels mentioned in Pyr’s catalogues and on their website for a while. And yet, for some reason I’ve never picked one up. They seem to be in the same sub-genre of science fiction as Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity series (also published by Pyr in the US, and Gollancz in the UK). This is the second in the series, so I’m not sure how long it will take me to catch up and read the first one before moving on to this. It does sound cool, though…
James Smythe, No Harm Can Come to a Good Man (Borough Press)
How far would you go to save your family from an invisible threat?
ClearVista is used by everyone and can predict anything. It’s a daily lifesaver, predicting weather to traffic to who you should befriend.
Laurence Walker wants to be the next President of the United States. ClearVista will predict his chances. It will predict whether he’s the right man for the job. It will predict that his son can only survive for 102 seconds underwater. It will predict that Laurence’s life is about to collapse in the most unimaginable way.
This has a really intriguing premise. I’ve dipped in already, and am not sure what I think. I’ll come back to it when I’m more in the mood for something along these lines. Hopefully won’t be too long.
F.R. Tallis, The Voices (Pan Macmillan)
In the scorching summer of 1976 the hottest since records began Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices. For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime a grand symphony incorporating the voices and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard…
I’ve never read anything by Tallis. Not sure when (or if) I’ll be able to get around to this one, but it does sound interesting.
David Wingrove, The Empire of Time (Del Rey UK)
There is only the war.
Otto Behr is a German agent, fighting his Russian counterparts across three millennia, manipulating history for moments in time that can change everything.
Only the remnants of two great nations stand and for Otto, the war is life itself, the last hope for his people.
But in a world where realities shift and memory is never constant, nothing is certain, least of all the chance of a future with his Russian love…
Wingrove is the author of the multi-volume Chung Kuo series. I have the first book in that series, but for some reason I just never got around to reading it. This novel has a really intriguing premies, though, so I may get to this far sooner than the author’s previous series.
Which of these has caught your eye? Any other books you’ve received recently that you’re excited to get started on?