Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Myke Cole – Breach Zone (Headline)
The third book in Myke Cole’s acclaimed Shadow Ops series. The Great Reawakening introduced magic into an already volatile world. Many of those with newfound powers have been conscripted by the US Army … but when the barriers between our reality and the source of this magic starts to fall, they will have to decide who they are really fighting for.
Tanya Huff – The Enchantment Emporium (Titan Books)
The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, and they like to keep this in the family. Alysha Gale is tired of having all her aunts try to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives willing her a “junk” shop in Calgary, Alysha jumps at the chance. It isn’t until she gets there that she realizes her customers are fey. And no one told her there’s trouble brewing in Calgary-trouble so big that even calling in the family may not save the day…
Up-and-coming fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal enchanted fans with award-winning short stories and beloved novels featuring Regency pair Jane and David Vincent. In Without a Summer the master glamourists return home, but in a world where magic is real, nothing—even the domestic sphere—is quite what it seems.
Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane’s family, but quickly turn restless. The year is unseasonably cold. No one wants to be outside and Mr. Ellsworth is concerned by the harvest, since a bad one may imperil Melody’s dowry. And Melody has concerns of her own, given the inadequate selection of eligible bachelors. When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to take it, and take Melody with them. They hope the change of scenery will do her good and her marriage prospects—and mood—will be brighter in London.
Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north. With each passing day, it’s more difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, none of which really helps Melody’s chances for romance. It’s not long before Jane and Vincent realize that in addition to getting Melody to the church on time, they must take on one small task: solving a crisis of international proportions.
Andy Remic – The Iron Wolves (Angry Robot Books)
Thirty years ago, the Iron Wolves held back mud-orc hordes at the Pass of Splintered Bones, and led a brutal charge that saw the sorcerer Morkagoth slain.
Now, a new terror stalks the realm. Orlana the Changer has escaped from the Chaos Halls and is building an army, twisting horses, lions and bears into terrible, bloody hunters, summoning mud-orcs from the slime and heading north to battle the mighty region of Vagandrak where, it said, the King has gone insane.
General Dalgoran searches to reunite the heroes of old for what he believes will be their final battle. But Dalgoran discovers the Iron Wolves are no longer the heroes of legend, and they might just be more dangerous than the invading hordes.
DIRTY MAGIC – IT’S DANGEROUS, ILLEGAL AND TWICE AS ADDICTIVE AS COCAINE
The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realises she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.
Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good.
Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at. But in her vision she sees her client die by another’s hand – and on the wall, written in blood, is a message just for Miriam.
Deborah Coates – Deep Down (Tor)
Now that she’s solved her sister’s murder, Hallie Michaels has left the army and isn’t sure what to do next. Her relationship with deputy Boyd Davies is tentative, there’s still distance between her and her father, and she needs a job. The good news is, she hasn’t seen a ghost in weeks.
All that changes when she gets a call asking her to help an elderly neighbor who is being stalked by black dogs, creatures from the underworld that are harbingers of death. When a black dog appears, Hallie learns, a reaper is sure to follow. And if the dark visions she’s suddenly receiving are any indication, it looks like the reaper is now following her.
Meanwhile, strange events herald the arrival of ghosts from Boyd’s past, ghosts the young deputy isn’t ready to face. Refusing Hallie’s help, Boyd takes off to deal with the problem on his own, only to find that he’s facing something much larger and more frightening than he’d imagined.
Stalked by a reaper and plagued by dark visions, Hallie finds she must face her fears and travel into Death’s own realm to save those she most loves.
A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton – as if I didn’t have enough to contend with!
Supernatural gang warfare? Not on my watch!
The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods – retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself.
Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.
Paul Kearney – A Different Kingdom (Solaris Books)
Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods—once thought safe and well-explored—there are wolves; and other, stranger things. He keeps them from his family, even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend, until the day he finds himself in the Other Place. There are wild people, and terrible monsters, and a girl called Cat.
When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away—or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place. He will become a man, and a warrior, and confront the Devil himself: the terrible Dark Horseman…
Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.
For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.
But sometimes there is truth in rumour.
Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.
Sebastien de Castell – Traitor’s Blade (Jo Fletcher Books,)
Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.
Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.
All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
The search for the shadowy figure known only as the Crowman continues, as the Green Men prepare to rise up against the forces of the Ward.
The world has been condemned. Only Gordon Black and The Crowman can redeem it.
The King is dead. His daughter, untested and alone, now wears the Steel Crown. And a vast horde is steadily carving a bloody road south, hell-bent on razing Steelhaven to the ground
… or the city will fall
Before the city faces the terror that approaches, it must crush the danger already lurking within its walls. But will the cost of victory be as devastating as that of defeat?
Anna Kashina - Blades of the Old Empire (Angry Robot Books)
Kara is a mercenary – a Diamond warrior, the best of the best, and a member of the notorious Majat Guild. When her tenure as protector to Prince Kythar comes to an end, custom dictates he accompany her back to her Guild to negotiate her continued protection.
But when they arrive they discover that the Prince’s sworn enemy, the Kaddim, have already paid the Guild to engage her services – to capture and hand over Kythar, himself.
A warrior brought up to respect both duty and honour, what happens when her sworn duty proves dishonourable?
Tanya Huff – The Wild Ways (Titan Books)
Alysha Gale’s cousin Charlotte is a Wild Power, who allies herself with a family of Selkies in a fight against offshore oil drilling. The oil company has hired another of the Gale family’s Wild Powers, the fearsome Auntie Catherine, to steal the Selkies’ sealskins. To defeat her, Charlotte will have to learn what born to be Wild really means in the Gale family…
Valour and Vanity is a Regency version of a heist movie with a healthy dose of magic sprinkled in.
After Melody’s wedding, the Ellsworths and Vincents accompany the young couple on the their tour of the continent. Jane and Vincent plan to separate from the party and travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs while en route. It is their good fortune that they are not enslaved, but they lose everything to the pirates and arrive in Murano destitute.
Vincent hatches a reckless plan to get their money back. The ensuing adventure is a glorious envisioning of all the best parts of heist narratives, but in a Regency setting with magic.
Saker looks like a simple priest, but in truth he’s a spy for the head of his faith. It’s a dangerous job, and more lives than merely his own depend on his secrecy.
When Saker is wounded by a Lascar sailor’s blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility that comes with it, Saker can only follow its lead.
It will put him on a journey to strange shores, on a path that will reveal terrible secrets about the empire, about the people he serves, and likely lead to his own destruction. The Lascar’s dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.
Seanan McGuire – Half-Off Ragnarok (Daw)
When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend–Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats–is starting to get suspicious.
Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…
The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.
Of course, so do the talking mice.
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
Den Patrick – The Boy with the Porcelain Blade (Gollancz)
A world of betrayals and deceit. A hero alone. A delicate sword. A thrilling new fantasy from an exciting new voice.
An ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.
Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted – but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the ‘insane’ women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.
Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.
Marcus Sedgwick – A Love Like Blood (Hodder & Stoughton)
In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.
Seven years later he returns to the city – and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow…
A LOVE LIKE BLOOD is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man’s life can change in a moment; about where the desire for truth – and for revenge – can lead; about love and fear and hatred. And it is also about the question of blood.