Excerpt: THE DYING GAME by Åsa Avdic (Windmill/Penguin)

AvdicA-DyingGameUKToday, we have an excerpt from a novel I’m really looking forward to reading: Åsa Avdic‘s The Dying Game. Published in the UK by Windmill Books, here’s the synopsis:

‘Oh, it’s really quite simple. I want you to play dead.’

On the remote island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a 48-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees, and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure?

But as soon as Anna steps on to the island she realises something isn’t quite right. And then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins…

The Dying Game is out now, published in the UK by Windmill Books, and in North America by Penguin. Now, on with the excerpt!

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Review: THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman (Penguin/Arrow)

GrossmanL-M3-MagiciansLandUSA most satisfying conclusion to The Magicians trilogy

Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory — but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

The Magician’s Land is an intricate thriller, a fantastical epic, and an epic of love and redemption that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnificent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.

I left this for far longer than I intended: I thoroughly enjoyed both of the previous books in the series, The Magicians and The Magician KingThe Magician’s Land is a great, gripping conclusion, and exceeded my high expectations. This is a must-read trilogy for all fans of fantasy. Continue reading

Upcoming: EXTREME PREY by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

SandfordJ-P26-ExtremePreyUS

The 26th Lucas Davenport novel! After finishing Gathering Prey, I was a little concerned that the series might have ended. Thankfully, a couple of a days ago, John Sandford announced Extreme Prey! To be published in April 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, it sounds pretty interesting:

After the events in Gathering Prey, Lucas Davenport finds himself in a very unusual situation — no longer employed by the Minnesota BCA. His friend the governor is just cranking up a presidential campaign, though, and he invites Lucas to come along as part of his campaign staff. “Should be fun!” he says, and it kind of is — until they find they have a shadow: an armed man intent on killing the governor… and anyone who gets in the way.

Can’t wait to read this. If you haven’t tried the Prey series, yet, I highly recommend it. John Sandford is easily one of my all-time favourite authors.

Review: THE THORN OF DENTONHILL by Marshall Ryan Maresca (DAW Books)

MarescaMR-1-ThornOfDentonhillUSAn interesting start to a new series

Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle.  Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

Maresca’s The Thorn of Dentonhill is the first novel set in the author’s Maradaine world. It is, for the most part, a well-conceived and well-written melange of popular fantasy sub-genres: there’s a university with a magic department, there is some vigilante derring-do and thievery. I had a couple of minor issues, but mostly this was an enjoyable, quite fun start. Continue reading