Day two of my Anticipated Books series for the second 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!
Rebecca Alexander – The Secrets of Life and Death (Broadway Books)
In modern-day England, Professor Felix Guichard is called in to identify occult symbols found on the corpse of a young girl. His investigation brings him in contact with a mysterious woman, Jackdaw Hammond, who guards a monumental secret-she’s dead. Or she would be, were it not for magic that has artificially extended her life. But someone else knows her secret. Someone very old and very powerful, who won’t rest until they’ve taken the magic that keeps her alive.
In Krakow in 1585, the Elizabethan alchemist and occultist Dr. John Dee and his assistant, Edward Kelley, have been summoned by the king of Poland to save the life of his niece, the infamous Countess Elisabeth Bathory. But they soon realize that the only thing worse than the countess’s malady is the magic that might be able to save her.
As Jackdaw and Felix race to uncover the truth about the person hunting Jackdaw, it becomes clear that the answers they seek can only be found in the ancient diary of Edward Kelley. Together they must solve a mystery centuries in the making, or die trying.
Robert Jackson Bennett – The City of Stairs (Jo Fletcher Books)
You’ve got to be careful when you’re chasing a murderer through Bulikov, for the world is not as it should be in that city. When the gods were destroyed and all worship of them banned by the Polis, reality folded; now stairs lead to nowhere and criminals disappear into thin air. The murder of Dr Efrem Pangyui, the Polis diplomat something, now whispers of an uprising flutter out from invisible corners and only one woman is willing to pursue the truth.
Jonathan Carroll – Bathing the Lion (St. Martin’s Press)
Neil Gaiman praises as “Brain-smooshing work. As if John Updike were to write a Philip K Dick novel.” A surreal apocalypse novel that tackles a world of domestic strife and fragile friendships.
In Jonathan Carroll’s surreal masterpiece, Bathing the Lion, five people who live in the same New England town go to sleep one night and all share the same hyper-realistic dream. Some of these people know each other; some don’t.
When they wake the next day all of them know what has happened. All five were at one time “mechanics,” a kind of cosmic repairman whose job is to keep order in the universe and clean up the messes made both by sentient beings and the utterly fearsome yet inevitable Chaos that periodically rolls through, wreaking mayhem wherever it touches down—a kind of infinitely powerful, merciless tornado. Because the job of a mechanic is grueling and exhausting, after a certain period all of them are retired and sent to different parts of the cosmos to live out their days as “civilians.” Their memories are wiped clean and new identities are created for them that fit the places they go to live out their natural lives to the end.
For the first time all retired mechanics are being brought back to duty: Chaos has a new plan, and it’s not looking good for mankind…
Chris Evans – Of Bone and Thunder (Gallery Books)
Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.
In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.
Caitlin Kittredge – Black Dog (Harper Voyager US)
Ava has spent the last hundred years as a hellhound, the indentured servant of a reaper who hunts errant souls and sends them to Hell. When a human necromancer convinces her to steal her reaper’s scythe, Ava incurs the wrath of the demon Lilith, her reaper’s boss.
As punishment for her transgression, Lilith orders Ava to track down the last soul in her reaper’s ledger … or die trying.
But after a hundred years of servitude, it’s time for payback. And Hell hath no fury like an avenging Ava …
Mercedes Lackey – Closer to Home (DAW)
Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King’s Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds’ Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.
Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags’ mentor, King’s Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King’s Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?
Susan Murray – The Waterborne Blade (Angry Robot Books)
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.
Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim – for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.
But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.
Mark Charan Newton – Retribution (Tor UK)
Having just solved a difficult case in his home city of Tryum, Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld and his associate Leana are ordered to journey to the exotic city of Kuvash in Koton, where a revered priest has gone missing. When they arrive, they discover the priest has already been found – or at least parts of him have. But investigating the unusual death isn’t a priority for the legislature of Kuvash; there’s a kingdom to run, a census to create and a dictatorial Queen to placate. Soon Drakenfeld finds that he is suddenly in charge of an investigation in a strange city, whose customs and politics are as complex as they are dangerous. Kuvash is a city of contradictions; wealth and poverty exist uneasily side-by-side and behind the rich facades of gilded streets and buildings, all levels of depravity and decadence are practised.
When several more bodies are discovered mutilated and dumped in a public place, Drakenfeld realizes there’s a killer at work who seems to delight in torture and pain. With no motive, no leads and no suspects, he feels like he’s running out of options. And in a city where nothing is as it seems, seeking the truth is likely to get him killed …
The Death House is a home where, in a world where people are safe against illness, children and teenagers who are susceptible to terminal conditions are sent to die.
Their fates are certain. Their lives are in their hands. The question is: what will they choose to do with them?
Daniel Polansky – Those Above (Hodder)
Aeleria: a land where humans have been ruled by a race of extraordinary beings, the Others, for three thousand years. The last uprising was brutally crushed when the Others swept down from their mountain holdfast, bringing death in their wake. All hope seemed lost.
But a single man Bas Alyates walked away from the battle with his back unbent and his will unbroken. For twenty-five years, Bas has lived as a reluctant hero. But when the humans of neighboring Salucia begin to stir after three thousand years of slavery, Bas knows that the time for revolution is ripe – and the age of the Others could finally be at an end.
FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.
FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.
PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.
But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.
Jonathan Strahan (ed) – Fearsome Magics (Solaris Books)
A cabinet of magic! A cavalcade of wonder! A collection of stories both strange and wondrous, of tales filled with wild adventure and strange imaginings. Fearsome Magics, the second New Solaris Book of Fantasy, is all these things and more. It is, we think, the best book you will read all year.
Award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan has invited some of the best and most exciting writers working in fantasy today to let their imaginations run wild and to deliver stories that will thrill and awe, delight and amuse. And above all, stories that are filled with fearsome magic! Authors commited to take part include Christopher Priest, Garth Nix, Catherine M. Valente, Ellen Klages, Isobelle Carmody, Nalo Hopkinson, Frances Hardinge, Scott Lynch, Robert Shearman, Justina Robson, Christopher Rowe, Karin Tidbeck and KJ Parker.
A place of secrets, mysteries and magic.
This is where Reve Dyer hopes to keep herself and her children safe.
But a mysterious figure has haunted Reve for over a decade. And now Reve knows that this person is on her trail again.
In Hawley, where the magic of her ancestors reigns, Reve must unlock the secrets of the Hawley Book of the Dead before it’s too late…
Lavie Tidhar – A Man Lies Dreaming (Hodder)
Deep in the heart of history’s most infamous concentration camp a man lies dreaming. His name is Shomer, and before the war he was a pulp fiction author. Now, to escape the brutal reality of life in Auschwitz, Shomer spends his nights imagining another world – a world without Nazis, without concentration camps, without Adolf Hitler. A world a failed writer known only as Wolf ekes out a miserable existence as a low-rent PI in London’s grimiest streets.
The extraordinary story of revenge and redemption, A MAN LIES DREAMING is an unforgettable testament to the power of imagination.
Ishbelle Bee – The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath (Angry Robot Books)
1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.
John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.
Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down…
Mike & Rachel Grinti – Jala’s Mask (Pyr)
For two hundred years the people of the Five-and-One Islands have survived by raiding the mainland. By shaping the reefs around their islands into magical ships, they can cross the great ocean, take what they want, and disappear where no normal ship can follow.
When Jala meets King Azi of the Five-and-One, she forgets everything her family told her to do. She was supposed to be meek and charming. She wasn’t supposed to be herself. And she wasn’t supposed to fall for him. When the king defies his family and proposes to her, Jala finds herself the islands’ new queen. Now she’s cut off from her family and despised by the king’s advisers. Even her feelings for Azi, that seemed so clear when they were alone, are anything but clear amid the politics of the islands’ ruling families.
On the second night after Jala’s wedding, the islands are invaded by ships arriving on a tide of magical fog. One of the islands is left in ruin. Others haven’t been heard from. And there might be more invaders on the way. If Jala can convince the noble families to work together, they might stand a chance, but she must choose between her family, her love for Azi, and saving her people.
Paul Kearney – Riding the Unicorn (Solaris Books)
John Willoughby is being pulled between worlds. Or he is going mad, ‘riding the unicorn’ as his prison officer colleagues would say. It’s clear to Willoughby it must be the latter. Disappearing in the middle of his prison shift from amongst convicts, appearing in a makeshift medieval encampment for minutes before tumbling back to the real world, Willoughby believes his mind is simply breaking apart.
He finds no solace at home, with a wife who has grown to dislike him and a daughter who can barely hide her disgust. He’s realised he isn’t worth anyone’s time, barely even his own, and falls into drinking and violence gauranteed to bring about his downfall. Except in this other world, in this winter land of first-settlers he is a man with a purpose, a man upon whom others must rely. Persuaded to kill a King so as to save a people, Willoughby finds that in another world, with a second chance he may be the kind of man he had always wanted to be after all.
Juliet Marillier – Dreamer’s Pool (ROC)
In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.
Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.
With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.
Jared Shurin ed. – The Streets of Pandemonium (Jurassic London)
The year is 1923 and the city of Pandemonium is a bustling place, filled with bootleggers, flappers, upper-class snobs, ambitious hoodlums, eager reporters, obsequious politicians, devout Federal Agents and, of course, secrets.
With President Harding’s visit on the horizon, all of Pandemonium’s players – legal and criminal, human and other – are feeling the tension. And Pandemonium’s past can’t stay buried forever.
Pandemonium is a shared world that was introduced in A Town Called Pandemonium and was expanded in the chapbooks 1853, Ash and The Rite of Spring. The Streets of Pandemonium reunites the original, award-nominated writing team of Scott Andrews, Chrysanthy Balis, Archie Black, Joseph D’Lacey, Will Hill, Jonathan Oliver, Den Patrick, Sam Sykes, Osgood Vance and Sam Wilson, plus two new contributors, Sarah Lotz and Molly Tanzer.
The Streets of Pandemonium will be released as “Bonded” (limited edition hardcover) and “Bootleg” (paperback) editions, as well as on Kindle and Kobo.
David Towsey – Your Servants and Your People (Jo Fletcher Books)
Seven years after Thomas returned as a Walkin’, the McDermott family are making a new life; taking a new name as they run from Barkley to the remote outpost of Fort Wilson.
But the teachings of J.S. Barkley are not so easily forsaken – there are those that would see the sinners dead, and they are slowly closing in.
Stephen Blackmoore – Gods & Monsters: Myth Breaker (Abaddon Books)
Growing up an orphan, Louie had conversations with “invisible friends,” could see patterns in the world that no one else could see. In other times he would have been a prophet – someone to make people believe in the gods. But he grew out of the visions, and then into crime as a drug runner.
Now thirty-five and burnt out, he’s had enough. With access to the mob’s money, he plans to go out in a big way. Only he can’t. A broken down car, a missed flight; it’s bad enough being hunted by the mob, but the gods – kicked out of the Heavens, stuck on Earth without worshippers – need someone who can tell their stories, and they aren’t letting him go. And there are new gods on the scene, gods of finance and technology, who want him too. Caught between the mob and two sets of rival gods, Louie hatches a plan that will probably get him killed if it doesn’t get him out.
Stark Holborn – Nunslinger: The Complete Series (Hodder)
The year is 1864. Sister Thomas Josephine, an innocent Visitantine nun from St Louis, Missouri, is making her way west to the promise of a new life in Sacramento, California. When an attack on her wagon train leaves her stranded in the Nebraska Territory, Thomas Josephine finds her faith tested and her heart torn between Lt. Theodore F. Carthy, a man too beautiful to be true, and the mysterious grifter Abraham C. Muir.
Falsely accused of murder she goes on the run, all the while being hunted by a man who has become dangerously obsessed with her. Her journey will take her from the most forbidding mountain peaks to the hottest, most hostile desert on earth, from Nevada to Mexico to Texas, and will be tested in ways she could never imagine.
Nunslinger is the true tale of Sister Thomas Josephine, a woman whose desire to do good in the world leads her on an incredible adventure that pits her faith, her feelings and her very life against inhospitable elements, the armies of the North and South, and the most dangerous creature of all: man.
Jonathan Oliver (ed) – Dangerous Games (Solaris Books)
In a world of chances, one decision can bring down the house, one roll of the dice could bring untold wealth, or the end of everything. In this anthology of all new short stories the players gather, their stories often dark, and always compelling.
The players and the played, this new anthology from Jonathan Oliver (Magic, End of The Road, House of Fear, The End of The Line, World War Cthulhu) brings together brand new stories from an international team of talented authors, each with their own deadly game. This collection is set to include a full house of top authors including Hugo award-winning American writer Pat Cadigan, Brit Gary McMahon, Mexican Silvia Moreno Garcia, plus Tade Thompson, Rebecca Levene and more!