Upcoming: HELL BENT by Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron/Gollancz)

BardugoL-AS2-HellBentUSHCThe first book in the Alex Stern series, Ninth House was the first of Leigh Bardugo‘s novels that I read.  (I’ve since also watched the Shadow & Bone TV series, which I very much enjoyed.) As a big fan of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series, the “dark academia” aspect caught my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so after finishing I naturally tried to figure out when the sequel would be out — at the time, there wasn’t much information available. A few weeks ago, though, the cover and title were finally unveiled! Hell Bent, due out early 2023, is one of my most-anticipated novels. Check out the synopsis:

Alex Stern returns in another tale of murder and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of hell — even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale. But Alex is playing with forces far beyond her control, and when faculty members begin to die off, she knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if Alex is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

Leigh Bardugo’s Hell Bent is due to be published by Flatiron Books in North America and Gollancz in the UK, on January 10th, 2023.

Also on CR: Review of Ninth House

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Annotated Excerpt: TO CATCH A MOON by Rym Kechacha (Unsung Stories)

KechachaR-ToCatchAMoonUKToday, we have an annotated excerpt from Rym Kechacha‘s latest novel, To Catch A Moon. Due to be published by Unsung Stories this week, here’s the synopsis:

Mexico City, 1955. The painter Remedios Varo sits in her kitchen with her friend, the artist Leonora Carrington. Together they let their imaginations soar beyond their canvases to create new worlds.

In the surreal landscape of her imagination, Varo’s creations take on a life and power of their own. A wheeled spirit of the earth kidnaps a baby star; a woman who is half owl draws herself a daughter; a juggler entrances a crowd of grey-cloaked men, a lion and a goat. The rules that govern this world bend and creak, old alliances break, and an impending apocalypse forges the most unlikely of friendships.

Rym Kechacha (Dark River, British Fantasy Awards finalist 2021) spins a wild fantasy from Varo’s dreamlike imaginings, a world in which the moon’s daughter holds the key to mankind’s fate. Populated by witches, sentient animals, and a lion made of leaves, To Catch a Moon is a bold and fearless ode to the power of Remedios Varo’s timeless paintings.

Now, over to the author…!

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: 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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Upcoming: THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD by T.L. Huchu (Tor Books)

HuchuTL-EN1-LibraryOfTheDeadUSI think I first heard of T. L. Huchu‘s upcoming debut novel, The Library of the Dead, after Ben Aaronovitch blurbed it. The first in a new series, Edinburgh Nights, it looks like a great new urban fantasy series that I’m very much looking forward to trying. I’m particularly looking forward to the Edinburgh setting — I haven’t read much (urban) fantasy set there. Pitched as “Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things“, here’s the synopsis:

A sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

WHEN GHOSTS TALK
SHE WILL LISTEN

HuchuTL-EN1-LibraryOfTheDeadUKRopa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left behind. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will rock her world.

Ropa will dice with death as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And although underground Edinburgh hides a wealth of dark secrets, she also discovers an occult library, a magical mentor and some unexpected allies.

Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

T.L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (June 1st) and in the UK (February 4th).

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Interview with ALICE JAMES

JamesA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Alice James?

Well, it’s not a pseudonym, though I was meant to be called Ruth. Apparently after 52 hours of labour, when I finally deigned to pop out, my mother decided I looked like an Alice. Very kind of her because at that point I would have come up with something less flattering.

But I’m digressing, my all-time favourite hobby after touching my face. I’m a maths graduate who trained as a COBOL programmer who threw it all away to become a writer and editor. I somehow got stuck in finance and worked for Bloomberg, The Sunday Times, the FT, investment magazines, banks, fund managers… you name it. I don’t know quite how that happened, but I met some interesting people on the way. I began writing novels just recently and can’t see me stopping. Continue reading

Interview with CARRIE VAUGHN

VaughnC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Carrie Vaughn?

Person, author, collector of hobbies, usually a traveler but that’s on hold for the moment.

Your new story collection, Kitty’s Mix Tape, is due to be published by Tachyon in October. It’s the final instalment in your Kitty Norville series: how would you introduce the series to a potential reader, and what can fans of the series expect from this book?

The series is about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. She has lots of adventures along the way. Kitty’s Mix Tape collects most of the short stories related to the series I wrote after about 2010 — plus four brand-new, never before seen stories. As usual with the Kitty-related short stories, they often feature the supporting cast, revealing their secret back stories, and including lots of other fun snippets and easter eggs that fans will enjoy. Continue reading

Interview with RY HERMAN

HermanR-AuthorPic (Kate Haag)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Ry Herman?

I was born in the US, but am now a permanent Scottish resident. For most of my life, I’ve been writing and directing theatrical plays, and working a variety of odd jobs. Some of them were very odd indeed – I had one job which could best be described as typing the number five all day long. My hobbies include baking bread, playing tabletop roleplaying games, and reading as many books as humanly possible.

Your debut novel, Love Bites, is due out in July. It looks rather fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a queer romcom with a supernatural twist. After a painful divorce, Chloë is struggling to leave the house. When she’s bullied into a night of dancing by her busybody aunt, she meets Angela, an astronomy Ph.D. student. Sparks fly and romance blooms. The only trouble is, Angela can only come out at night, and has sharp and deadly teeth. Continue reading

Interview with JACKSON FORD

FordJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jackson Ford?

A gigantic flaming sh*thead who thought it would be fun to write paranormal action thriller novels set in Los Angeles, despite never having been there, and is frankly amazed that anything ever came of it. Fortunately, he also happens to be the alter ego of Rob Boffard, who has been to LA and is a much better writer.

Your new novel, Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air, will be published by Orbit in July. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

While it is part of a series, each book can also be read as a stand-alone. You definitely don’t have to start with the first one! Jump in wherever.

The books document the adventures of Teagan Frost, a government agent with psychokinetic abilities who dreams of living a normal life and running her own restaurant. I’d introduce it to the reader by saying: it’s the best book you’ll ever read, and if you disagree, then f*ck you. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE LIGHTS OF PRAGUE by Nicole Jarvis (Titan)

JarvisN-LightsOfPragueI only spotted The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis today on Titan’s website. Sure, the cover was what grabbed my attention, but the synopsis sounds very promising, too. An urban fantasy set in “gaslight-era” Prague, I’m rather looking forward to giving this a try. here’s the synopsis:

In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavica, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischer — a widow with secrets of her own.

When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady — a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle — he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp captured in a mysterious container. Now, as it’s bearer, Domek wields its power, but the wisp, known for leading travellers to their deaths, will not be so easily controlled.

After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavica that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.

The Lights of Prague is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on July 21st, 2020.

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