Archive for review

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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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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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 »

By Published Posted in crime, fantasy, review, science fiction | 2 Comments

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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Christine Hurley Deriso – Thirty Sunsets

christinehurleyderiso-thirtysunsetsTo Forrest Shephard, getting away to the family’s beach house with her parents and her brother, Brian, is the best part of every summer. Until this year, when her mother invites Brian’s obnoxious girlfriend, Olivia, to join them. Suddenly, Forrest’s relaxing vacation becomes a mission to verify the reality of Olivia’s rumored eating disorder. But the truth behind Olivia’s finicky eating isn’t at all what Forrest expected. And over the next thirty days, Forrest’s world is turned upside down as her family’s darkest secrets begin to come to light.

When I saw Thirty Sunsets in the Flux catalogue and later on NetGalley, it sounded like it might be an interesting novel. But from the synopsis I’d expected a far different book than I got. That isn’t to say that this is a bad thing, but it was surprising. Note that this review will have spoilers as you can’t really talk meaningfully about this book without giving them. If you want to remain unspoiled for this book, best not continue on, because here be SPOILERS!   Continue reading »

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Gail Z. Martin – Deadly Curiosities

gailzmartin-deadlycuriosityCassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

I first encountered Gail Z. Martin’s Deadly Curiosities world in her short story Buttons in Jonathan Oliver’s Magic anthology. I was immediately charmed by the premise and the characters and the consequent announcement of Solaris’ acquisition of a full Deadly Curiosities novel was a pleasant surprise. This meant that starting Deadly Curiosities came with certain expectations about its setting, its characters, and its subject matter. And Martin certainly delivered on those expectations with a very entertaining tale of supernatural shenanigans, ancients ghosts returning, and the fight of Cassidy and Teag’s life.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, review | 2 Comments

Mark Charan Newton – Drakenfeld

markcharannewton-drakenfeldThe monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.

Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.

Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

When a fantasy novel is announced as a murder mystery set in a secondary world inspired by Ancient Rome *BOOM* I’m done and sold on reading said novel, especially if it’s written by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed before. Super sold on the book, I bought a signed copy at WFC and then, inexplicably, crickets. The book got waylaid by review copies and while I kept eyeing it, reading kept being put on the back-burner. The paperback release gave me the perfect excuse to finally read it. And I’m glad I did. I knew I enjoyed Mark Charan Newton’s writing, having read Nights of Villjamur and his short story in The Lowest Heaven, but Drakenfeld has made me kick myself for not reading City of Ruins, which is on my shelf, and his other Legends of the Red Sun books before. A situation which I’ll have to remedy sooner rather than later.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in crime, fantasy, review | 1 Comment

The Skyscraper Throne Reread Week 22

Welcome back for another stop in the Jo Fletcher Skyscraper Throne Reread. In week 22 we’ve come about halfway in The Glass Republic and I’ll be recapping chapters 29-32. As in the previous posts I hosted there will be spoilers galore. If you haven’t read these books before and want to remain unspoiled, best beware, as Milady says: SPOILERS!!!

cerseispoilers

Continue reading »

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Author Query – Gail Z. Martin

gailzmartin-deadlycuriosityGail Z. Martin was an author whose works have been on my radar for years, but I’d never actually read any of her work until I read and reviewed Jonathan Oliver’s anthology Magic two years ago. Her story Buttons in that anthology charmed me beyond measure and I even speculated about the chances of Martin writing a novel set in this universe. Thus I was rather pleased when Solaris announced they’d be publishing Deadly Curiosities, the first novel set in the world of Buttons. I’ll be reviewing the novel later in the week, but today Gail Z. Martin drops by the blog for an Author Query.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, interview | 1 Comment
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