Upcoming: CONSENSUAL HEX by Amanda Harlowe (Grand Central / Atlantic)

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Consensual Hex has been pitched as “The Craft for the #MeToo era,” which is a pretty intriguing premise. (Very much a fan of The Craft, which I may have seen in the cinema.) Amanda Harlowe‘s debut is a campus novel with a difference, perhaps in the same sub-genre are Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series, but with a dash of The Power?

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to reading this. Here’s the synopsis:

When Lee, a first year at Smith, is raped under eerie circumstances during orientation week by an Amherst frat boy, she’s quickly disillusioned by her lack of recourse. As her trauma boils within her, Lee is selected for an exclusive seminar on Gender, Power, and Witchcraft, where she meets Luna (an alluring Brooklyn hipster), Gabi (who has a laundry list of phobias), and Charlotte (a waifish, chill international student). Granted a charter for a coven and suddenly in possession of real magic, the four girls are tasked by their aloof Professor with covertly retrieving a grimoire that an Amherst fraternity has gotten their hands on. But when the witches realize the frat brothers are using magic to commit and cover up sexual assault all over Northampton, their exploits escalate into vigilante justice. As Lee’s thirst for revenge on her rapist grows, things spiral out of control, pitting witch against witch as they must wrestle with how far one is willing to go to heal.

CONSENSUAL HEX is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of a young woman coming of age, uncovering the ways in which love and obsession and looking to fit in can go hand in hand. Lee, an outstanding, magical anti-heroine, refuses to be pigeonholed as a model victim or a horrific example. Instead, her caustic voice demands our attention, clawing out from every page, equally vicious and vulnerable as she lures us, then dares us, to transgress. Dark, biting, and archly camp, CONSENSUAL HEX announces Harlowe as a significant talent.

Consensual Hex is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in North America (October 6th) and Atlantic Books in the UK (October 8th).

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE OFFICE by Andy Greene (Dutton)

GreeneA-OfficeUS“The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s”, an Oral History

The untold stories behind The Office, one of the most iconic television shows of the twenty-first century, told by its creators, writers, and actors

When did you last hang out with Jim, Pam, Dwight, Michael, and the rest of Dunder Mifflin? It might have been back in 2013, when the series finale aired… or it might have been last night, when you watched three episodes in a row. But either way, fifteen years after the show first aired, it’s more popular than ever, and fans have only one problem–what to watch, or read, next.

Fortunately, Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene has that answer. In his brand-new oral history, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Greene will take readers behind the scenes of their favorite moments and characters. Greene gives us the true inside story behind the entire show, from its origins on the BBC through its impressive nine-season run in America, with in-depth research and exclusive interviews. Fans will get the inside scoop on key episodes from “The Dundies” to “Threat Level Midnight” and “Goodbye, Michael,” including behind-the-scenes details like the battle to keep it on the air when NBC wanted to pull the plug after just six episodes and the failed attempt to bring in James Gandolfini as the new boss after Steve Carell left, spotlighting the incredible, genre-redefining show created by the family-like team, who together took a quirky British import with dicey prospects and turned it into a primetime giant with true historical and cultural significance.

Hilarious, heartwarming, and revelatory, The Office gives fans and pop culture buffs a front-row seat to the phenomenal sequence of events that launched The Office into wild popularity, changing the face of television and how we all see our office lives for decades to come.

I was a latecomer to The Office. When the original UK version first aired, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ricky Gervais. This meant I didn’t rush to watch the American version. A few years ago, though, we gave it a try and quickly fell in love with the employees of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, PA. I’ve now watched the whole series multiple times, and each time it keeps me entertained, laughing out loud. When I learned about this book, I quickly got in touch with the publisher and they were kind enough to send me a DRC. I started reading it almost immediately, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Grand Central/Del Rey UK)

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I somehow missed this until last week. This summer, Guillermo del Toro (director of The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth and many others) teams up again with Chuck Hogan (writer of The Town) for The Hollow Ones, an intriguing-sounding thriller. Here’s the synopsis:

A horrific crime that defies ordinary explanation.
A rookie FBI agent in dangerous, uncharted territory.
An extraordinary hero for the ages.

Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself-it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named John Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, and who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity’s best and only defense against unspeakable evil.

From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. THE HOLLOW ONES is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

The authors previous collaborated on the The Strain trilogy, which has received both TV and comic adaptations. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. The Hollow Ones is due to be published by Grand Central in North America (June 23rd) and Del Rey in the UK (July 16th).

Follow the Author (del Toro): Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Hogan): Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: BY FORCE ALONE by Lavie Tidhar (Tor Books/Head of Zeus)

Tidhar-ByForceAloneUSThe Shites of the Round Table…?

A retelling of Arthurian myth for the age of Brexit and Trump…

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster.
Merlin? An eldritch parasite.
Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer.
Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

A savage and cutting epic fantasy, equally poetic and profane, By Force Alone is at once a timely political satire, a magical adventure, and a subversive masterwork.

Lavie Tidhar is one of the most interesting storytellers writing today. Never shy of tackling sensitive topics and subjects (Hitler and Osama bin Laden to name but two recent-ish subjects), in By Force Alone he turns his attention to the Arthurian myth — in many ways, the closest the United Kingdom has to a founding mythology. This is not the Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, and Lancelot you may know from other popular interpretations: This is an entirely new beast. It is a grim, grubby version of Camelot and post-Roman Britain. It is also very funny, engaging, and gritty. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: FIREWALKERS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

Tchaikovsky-FirewalkersOn a scorched Earth, access to energy can mean the difference between life and death.

Firewalkers are brave. Firewalkers are resourceful. Firewalkers are expendable.

The Earth is burning. Nothing can survive at the Anchor; not without water and power. But the ultra-rich, waiting for their ride off the dying Earth? They can buy water. And as for power?

Well, someone has to repair the solar panels, down in the deserts below.

Kids like Mao, and Lupé, and Hotep; kids with brains and guts but no hope.

The Firewalkers.

Firewalkers is the latest shorter novel by Tchaikovsky. A mystery set in an environmentally ravaged future, it follows a group of firewalkers as they are sent out to investigate some strange energy surges and interruptions. A bleak picture of the future, one in which the very few have left the many behind. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: SEPULTURUM by Nick Kyme (Black Library)

KymeN-SepulturumSomething strange is happening to all the people…

Morgravia Sanctus is being hunted. Hiding in the low-hive of Blackgheist, she pieces together the fragments of her broken memory, trying to regain her past even as a hideous plague sweeps the hive, turning men into monsters…

Morgravia Sanctus is being hunted; why or by whom she doesn’t know. Something terrible has happened to her, a profound trauma that has left behind ‘red dreams’ and a physical agony that can strike at any moment. Her life in danger and her memory fragmented, she arrives in the low-hive of Blackgheist to escape her pursuers and search for ‘the Broker’ – a trafficker in memories and psychic mind manipulation. Soon after, a plague sweeps the city, turning its citizens into blood-hungry monsters. Order collapses, death and slaughter are rampant. Caught up in the carnage, Morgravia must flee once more. But as the ravening spreads, is there any hope of stopping this contagion?

Nick Kyme’s Sepulturum is a great, classic hive city story, with added zombies! Atmospheric, quickly paced, it ticks all the boxes of a great WH40k novel. Bringing the zombie genre firmly into that of the WH40k setting, I rather enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: TROUBLE THE SAINTS by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Tor)

JohnsonAD-TroubleTheSaintsUSThe cover and synopsis for Alaya Dawn Johnson‘s upcoming new novel, Trouble the Saints were met with quite a bit of excitement and anticipation. That cover is certainly gorgeous and is bound to grab attention. I was reminded of it when it appeared on NetGalley earlier today. A cover isn’t everything, of course, and so if you do happen to pick it up, spot the great blurb from N.K. Jemisin, and read the back cover copy, I think your interest will be cemented (mine certainly was):

Amid the whir of city life, a young woman from Harlem is drawn into the glittering underworld of Manhattan, where she’s hired to use her knives to strike fear among its most dangerous denizens.

Ten years later, Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything — not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams.

Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side — and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late — is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

Trouble the Saints is a dazzling, daring novel — a magical love story, a compelling exposure of racial fault lines — and an altogether brilliant and deeply American saga.

Described as “The dangerous magic of The Night Circus meets the powerful historical exploration of The Underground Railroad” the “unsettling” novel is “set against the darkly glamorous backdrop of New York City, where an assassin falls in love and tries to fight her fate at the dawn of World War II.” I think this sounds fantastic, and I can’t wait to read it.

Trouble the Saints is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on June 2nd, 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter