Upcoming: CREATURES OF CHARM AND HUNGER by Molly Tanzer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

TanzerM-CreaturesOfCharmAndHungerI stumbled across this novel on NetGalley, and it caught my attention. I’ve been aware of Molly Tanzer‘s fiction for a while, and it’s always interesting. The synopsis for Creatures of Charm and Hunger is very intriguing:

Two young witches, once inseparable, are set at odds by secrets and wildly dangerous magic.

In the waning days of World War II, with Allied victory all but certain, desperate Nazi diabolists search for a demonic superweapon to turn the tide. A secluded castle somewhere in the south of Germany serves as a laboratory for experiments conducted upon human prisoners, experiments as vile as they are deadly.

Across the English Channel, tucked into the sleepy Cumbrian countryside, lies the Library, the repository of occult knowledge for the Société des Éclairées, an international organization of diabolists. There, best friends Jane Blackwood and Miriam Cantor, tutored by the Société’s Librarian — and Jane’s mother — Nancy, prepare to undergo the Test that will determine their future as diabolists.

When Miriam learns her missing parents are suspected of betraying the Société to the Nazis, she embarks on a quest to clear their names, a quest involving dangerous diabolic practices that will demand more of her than she can imagine. Meanwhile Jane, struggling with dark obsessions of her own, embraces a forbidden use of the Art that could put everyone she loves in danger.

As their friendship buckles under the stress of too many secrets, Jane and Miriam will come face to face with unexpected truths that change everything they know about the war, the world, and most of all themselves. After all, some choices cannot be unmade — and a sacrifice made with the most noble intention might end up creating a monster.

The novel is the third in the Diabolist Library series, following Creatures of Want and Ruin and Creatures of Will and Temper.

I’m really looking forward to reading this. Creatures of Charm and Hunger is due to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 21st, 2020, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with THOMAS OLDE HEUVELT

HeuveltTO-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Thomas Olde Heuvelt?

I’m a Dutch guy who writes pretty scary novels. I started out pretty young, and even now, after five novels, I look younger than I am. So much that at signings, people always thought I was the minion helping with the book sale instead of the author. Two years ago — I was 30 then — I was having dinner with Peter Straub and Jeff VanderMeer and a bunch of other writers in Washington, and I was asked for ID when the waiters poured the wine. They thought I was their adopted child or something.

Oh, right, serious biography stuff. I also won a Hugo. And I have a novel out internationally in 2016 called HEX.

Your latest novel, Hex, will be published by Hodder in the UK. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Thanks — I’m totally in love with the cover. It’s so creepy! HEX is a creepy book about a modern day town, haunted day and night by a 17th century witch whose eyes are sewn shut. The town is virtually quarantined by its elders to prevent her curse from exploding. Frustrated with being kept in lock down, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in doing so, send the town spiraling into… well, into very dark times, to frame it nicely. Also, I’d say that with HEX, I set off to write the scariest book I could imagine. I took elements from classical horror and tried to turn them around in a modern, twisted way. The witch’s haunting is very rock ‘n’ roll. She’s always there. She walks the streets day and night. She enters your home. She stands next to your bed for nights in a row. The town is bugged with cameras and there’s this control centre that tries to hide her from sight all the time. But besides the supernatural power, it’s a book mostly about human evil. Continue reading

Review: HALF BAD by Sally Green (Penguin)

GreenS-HalfBadPBThe most frustrating novel I still couldn’t stop reading

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

I have very, very mixed feelings about Half Bad. On the one hand, Green writes very well – there isn’t a bad sentence or garbled phrase in sight. The pacing is excellent. But, the story was in many ways deeply troubling, not to mention buried by certain choices the author made to make the novel more “gritty” (as she admits in the author’s acknowledgments at the end). Usually, I drop novels I don’t like very quickly, but with this one I kept reading. Partly because I was intrigued, but eventually because I was hopeful that the story-proper would begin at some point. Sadly, the novel did not properly deliver. Continue reading

Interview with DANIELLE JENSEN

JensenD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Danielle Jensen?

Danielle is an unrepentant daydreamer, which is a highly undesirable attribute for most professions. Life might have gone quite poorly for her if she hadn’t discovered her knack for translating dreams into novels. 

Your debut novel, Stolen Songbird, is due to be published by Strange Chemistry in April 2014. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader? Is it part of a series?

Stolen Songbird is Book 1 in The Malediction Trilogy.  This is the blurb that will be on the back of the book:

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

JensenDL-StolenSongbird2014

What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

Stolen Songbird was inspired by a dream I had about a city buried by rubble. Inspiration comes from everywhere: people I meet, things I see, movies I watch, books I read, etc., and it all sits in my brain waiting to bubble up as parts of plot.

How were you introduced to reading and genre fiction?

Tolkien-HobbitMy dad got sick of reading kid’s books to me when I was little, so he started reading me fantasy novels when I was in grade 1, mostly Tolkien and Eddings. I’m from a family of readers – it is what we do. 

How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry?

It can be tough, but I love it. The people in this business are amazing.

What’s it like, being a (soon-to-be-)published author? Is it what you expected? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?

It’s exciting, but very stressful. I didn’t expect for there to be so much work required of me that had nothing to do with writing another book. I write or do book related work every day, but I’ve learned to recognize when I’m getting an attack of the crazies and need a break.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

I made my first attempts at writing a novel when I was in my mid-twenties, and I look back on my efforts with amusement. I realized I wanted to be an author in 2009, and that was when I decided I was going to throw every ounce of determination I had into getting published. Took a few years, but here I am. 

What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?

It feels like epic/alternate world fantasy is in a stronger place than it was five years ago, which is obviously good for me. 

What other projects are you working on, and what do you have currently in the pipeline?

I’m currently working on Book 2 of The Malediction Trilogy, and after that’s done, I’ll immediately start working on Book 3. I do have other fantasy projects waiting for the day I have some spare time on my hands.

What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?

LarsonSB-DefyOther than the news, I don’t read much non-fiction. As far as fiction goes, I’m currently reading Defy by Sara B. Larson.

What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?

That I can’t sing or play a musical instrument.

What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?

I’m most looking forward to seeing the cover for the sequel, which I’m guessing will be around November.

***

Be sure to check out Danielle Jensen’s website, Twitter and Facebook for more information on her books and writing. Stolen Songbird is due to be published on April 3rd 2014.

Upcoming in the UK: “Black Jewels Trilogy” by Anne Bishop (Jo Fletcher Books)

Anne Bishop’s award-winning BLACK JEWELS trilogy is coming to the UK! The first trilogy in the series will be published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books: Daughter of the Blood (March 6th 2014), Heir to the Shadows (May 1st), and Queen of the Darkness (July 3rd). JFB are publishing the first trilogy in Bishop’s Urban Fantasy series, but in the US the series has already grown to nine books, published by Roc Books. (If they’re as successful in the UK as across the pond, I’m sure the others will soon follow!) Below are the synopses for the three novels, and also the covers for the first two (third hasn’t been unveiled just yet).

Bishop-BJ1-DaughterOfTheBloodUKDAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD:

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.

Bishop-BJ2-HeirToTheShadowsUKHEIR OF THE SHADOWS:

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.

QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS:

Jaenelle Angelline now reigns as Queen-protector of the Shadow Realm. No longer will the corrupt Blood slaughter her people and defile her lands. But where one chapter ends, a final, unseen battle remains to be written, and Jaenelle must unleash the terrible power that is Witch to destroy her enemies once and for all.

Even so, she cannot stand alone. Somewhere, long lost in madness, is Daemon, her promised Consort. Only his unyielding love can complete her Court and secure her reign. Yet, even together, their strength may not be enough to hold back the most malevolent of forces.

This third synopsis was taken from the US edition, as JFB haven’t yet released information, outside of the publication date, for their edition. I don’t imagine it’ll be that different – it is, after all, the same book (there may just be a few tweaks).

Upcoming: “Half Bad” by Sally Green (Viking YA/Penguin)

GreenS-HalfBadI just spotted this via an advert on Goodreads (well-played, Google Ad Algorithm, well-played…). The cover really caught my eye, and I thought I’d share it on here. It’s pretty cool, no? I particularly like the way the blood in the water has been shaped (in a surprisingly realistic way) into a face, in an otherwise minimalist image.

The premise is pretty interesting, but I have a suspicion that it’s perhaps a little reminiscent of something else… If only I could remember what it reminds me of… Anyway. Here’s the synopsis:

One boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

Half Bad will be published by Penguin UK in March 2014. Penguin are also publishing in the US and Canada. It is Sally Green’s debut novel, and the first in a projected trilogy. The author is also on Twitter. Described as “supernatural thriller set in a modern world inhabited by covert witches”, I am pretty sure there are going to be a lot of people interested in reading this. Despite the obvious Harry Potter parallels (justified or not, as they may end up being). There’s a slightly different synopsis on the book’s website:

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled like a dog, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers — before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

I did some Googling, and it turns out that the rights to this novel have already been sold in 25 foreign rights deals. Within 13 weeks of Penguin’s first acquisition. Holy crap, that’s impressive. The Bookseller rightly (perhaps rather tamely) referred to the deal as “unprecedented”. No idea how much it went for in the first place – in secret-publishing-deal-speak, the deal was only referred to as “substantial”. This sort of deal is pretty unusual, so yeah. I’m a bit more intrigued…

Witchblade: Rebirth, Vol.1 – “Unbalanced Pieces” (Top Cow/Image)

Witchblade-Rebirth-Vol.01Writer: Tim Seeley | Art: Diego Bernard | Inks: Fred Benes, Alisson Rodrigues | Colors: Arif Prianto of IFS

In the wake of Top Cow’s Rebirth, Sara Pezzini has relocated from New York to Chicago and struggles to adapt to being a private detective. Pezzini quickly discovers that a change of scenery and occupation hasn’t changed one thing… the Witchblade is still a magnet for the supernatural Quickly drawn into a conflict between two mystical gangs, she must once again balance her responsibility as bearer of the Witchblade with her personal life.

Collects: Witchblade #151-155

I haven’t read a great deal of Witchblade comics, or other comics in Top Cow’s universe (Artifacts, The Darkness), but I’m somewhat conversant in the mythology. I read the first book by Ron Marz, which was itself a reboot/jumping-on-point, but then became distracted by the New 52 and a selection of other books (I’m not proud of it, but… Batman, baby!). After it was announced that Tim Seeley was taking over writing duties, my interest was piqued once again, having rather enjoyed his Hack/Slash horror-comedy series. So I dove in… And rather liked what I found.

I’m not sure that this needs a particularly long review. People who know the series already will know pretty much what to expect – it’s dark, gothic, but also slick. The only major difference is the location, as Sara has moved to Chicago (interestingly, that’s also where Dick “Nightwing” Grayson just moved to in the DC New 52). For new readers, this book has a lot of extra material that gives you some background. It’s not essential to read in order to enjoy this, though, as the concepts are pretty tried-and-true, but with some well-conceived and original developments.

Seeley blends a private investigator storyline and feel with just the right amount of weird in the first issue/chapter to get us intrigued. But then things get really weird – Sara tangles with biker witches, age-sucking creatures with a very strange version of their own ‘Witchblade-armour’, and a strange, supernatural beastie with a long history of fighting bearers of the Artifacts…

Things are not going well for Sara in her new environment, and her sense of displacement and ennui is well written. She’s finding her place, and it’s not going particularly well – on the social, financial, and divine purpose fronts. Add to this a policewoman who has it in for Sara, and a rather unsatisfying romantic (un)attachment with a stage magician harbouring an ulterior motive.

The story is well-written, well-paced and well-realised. Despite my aforementioned lack of fore-knowledge of the extended Witchblade mythos, I didn’t have any trouble following this. It’s weird, it’s sometimes amusing, it’s often creepy. The art team does a great job of bringing Seeley’s story to life on the page in crisp, sharp artwork. It’s eye-catching and vivid. I’m very glad I picked up volumes two and three in the ComiXology sale the other day, as I think I’ll be sticking around for a lot more of this series. I may have to try out the Rebirth The Darkness series, too.

If you are a fan of supernatural stories, filled with the occult, magical and gothic weirdness – not to mention a few gribbly beasties – then Seeley’s Witchblade is absolutely for you. Definitely recommended.