Craig Cormick – The Shadow Master

craigcormick-theshadowmasterIn a land riven with plague, in the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control – the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack…

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Deborah Harkness – The Book of Life

deborahharkness-thebookoflifeA world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

After travelling through time in SHADOW OF NIGHT, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home in France they reunite with their families – with one heart-breaking exception. But the real threat to their future is yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on a terrifying urgency. Using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the palaces of Venice and beyond, Diana and Matthew will finally learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

I was surprisingly blown away by the first book in this series and its sequel drew me in even further. Yet A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night were two very different books. Where A Discovery of Witches was modern day supernatural fantasy, Shadow of Night was very much a historical fantasy. And I was looking forward to seeing what The Book of Life would be. As far as setting goes, The Book of Life is very much more in the vein of A Discovery of Witches, yet with the added benefit of some of the fantastic characters from Shadow of Night. Yet like both of its predecessor the book makes for addictive reading and I had a serious case of book hangover once I finished it.

Of a necessity, talking about The Book of Life will contain some spoilers for the previous books, so if you want to remain unspoiled, beyond the cut will be SPOILERS!   Continue reading »

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Elliott Hall – The First Stone

elliotthall-thefirststonePrivate eye Felix Strange doesn’t work homicide cases. He saw enough dead bodies fighting in Iran, a war that left him with a crippling disease that has no name and no cure. So when Strange is summoned to a Manhattan hotel room to investigate the dead body of America’s most-loved preacher, he’d rather not get involved.

Strange knows that his hiring is no accident. He can’t see all the angles, and he knows he’s being watched. He’s got a week to find the killer, and even less time to get the black-market medicine he needs to stay alive. In a race against time Strange must face religious police, organized crime and a dame with very particular ideas, while uncovering a conspiracy that reaches the very heart of his newly fundamentalist nation.

June’s Hodderscape Review title was an interesting choice. At first blush, Elliott Hall’s The First Stone seemed more a crime thriller than an SFF novel, however there are certainly speculative elements to the story. Most of these are due to the narrative’s dystopian tendencies and near future setting. It made for a fascinating and somewhat chilling world and one whose elements are frighteningly plausible.   Continue reading »

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A Fantastical Librarian Turns Four!

birthdayIf A Fantastical Librarian where human it’d be old enough to go to school today! I’m still amazed that I’ve kept writing all this time and how big a part of my life blogging and the online SFF community has become. Blogging has brought me more than I’d ever expected, something that was emphasised last week by the World Fantasy Award nomination I received for A Fantastical Librarian. To commemorate the blog’s 4th birthday, here are four things blogging has taught me.   Continue reading »

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Flabbergasted: World Fantasy Awards Edition

wfa-logoLast week the World Fantasy Awards short list was announced. I thought it was an interesting ballot with fabulous nominees. So imagine my surprise when this afternoon I suddenly received congratulations on being nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the Special Award: Nonprofessional category. And it’s actually really, really true!! Look it’s there on Locus and everything!   Continue reading »

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Clifford Beal – Raven’s Banquet

cliffordbeal-ravensbanquetGermany 1626: A War, a Witch, a Reckoning…

Richard Treadwell is a young man who dreams of glory and honour on the battlefield—and the plunder and riches that would follow. Newly arrived in Hamburg to seek his fortune as a mercenary in the Danish army, he joins the vast war in northern Germany between the Catholic Hapsburg empire and the Protestant princes of the north. But he has also brought with him an old secret—and with it the seeds of his own destruction.

A young gypsy woman foretells that Richard cannot outrun his fate, and then he is swept headlong into the terrible war. The bloodshed he witnesses among the Danes strips him of conscience and hardens his heart, as the opposing armies close for the battle to decide the future of the kingdom—and maybe his own soul. But even as Treadwell steels himself for the final contest against the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor, an unseen enemy stalks him within his own camp…

The hero of Gideon’s Angel returns to tell how his journey into the supernatural began.

Clifford Beal’s Gideon’s Angel impressed me very much last year and when the author told me a prequel was in the works I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Raven’s Banquet is set 26 years before Gideon’s Angel and is told in memoir form by Richard Treadwell in 1635, so nine years after the main events related in the book and running up to the earliest events recounted in Gideon’s Angel. While the narrative as such stands alone quite well, its ending clearly makes it a prequel and the 1635 arc definitely isn’t resolved. To find out what happened the reader will have to seek out the next book.   Continue reading »

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Blog Maintenance

menatworkI spent my afternoon watching the Tour de France and doing some long over due blog maintenance. I updated my review index, the series pages and the interviews page, so they are all current. I’ve messed about a bit with the side bar, tweaking the way you can browse tags.

But most importantly I’ve switched up my RSS delivery, moving away from FeedBurner, because you never now when it might go poof. So please update your RSS subscription to my new RSS feed linked in the upper right hand corner or by clicking here. I’ve also added the possibility to subscribe to A Fantastical Librarian via email, so you can get all my posts delivered straight to your inbox.  Continue reading »

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Carrie Patel – The Buried Life

carriepatel-theburiedlifeThe gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

The Buried Life, Carrie Patel’s debut novel, intrigued me with its synopsis. It reads as a noir crime novel in a fantasy setting and the lovely cover gives off a bit of a steampunky vibe for me. Yet Angry Robot has filed the book under Science Fantasy, which confused me a bit. Still, I’ll never say no to a crime fantasy novel and I cracked open my ARC for The Buried Life looking forward to discovering where exactly the book would fall on the genre scale. Two chapters in and any such considerations where completely forgotten as I became drawn into the narrative.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Carrie Patel

carriepatel-theburiedlifeOne of this summer’s titles from Angry Robot is Carrie Patel’s debut The Buried Life. Though the synopsis read more like a steampunkish crime novel, Angry Robot dubbed it science fantasy and it intrigued me enough to really want to dig into the story. I also wanted to ask Carrie some questions, to which she gracefully agreed. You can find her answers below. If you’d like to see more of Carrie talking about her book and and writing itself, check out this third Angry Robot Live vidcast with Carrie, Chuck Wendig, Anne Lyle, and Adam Christopher, moderated by Mike R. Underwood. But first, Carrie’s answers to my questions!  Continue reading »

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Jeff Salyards – Veil of the Deserters

jeffsalyards-veilofthedesertersBraylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual. The Syldoonian Emperor, Cynead, has solidified his power in unprecedented ways, and Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder’s effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be complicated and dangerous. Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and Soffjian are at the heart of his plans. The distance between “favored shadow agent of the emperor” and “exiled traitor” is unsurprisingly small. But it is filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian.

Two years ago I was very impressed with Jeff Salyards’ debut Scourge of the Betrayer. I enjoyed this tale of a young, naive scribe hired by a ruthless band of soldiers as  their company’s chroniclers enormously and I was looking forward to reading the second book in the series Veil of the Deserters. Unfortunately, due to the folding and subsequent sale of his publishers, Night Shade Books, to Skyhorse Publishing the publication of the book was delayed and we had to wait until a few months ago to be able to return to Arki’s story. But it certainly was a joyful reunion.  Continue reading »

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