This August Jo Fletcher Books is publishing the final instalment in Tom Pollock’s Skyscraper Throne trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets and to get ready for it, they’ve organised a massive reread for the first two books, The City’s Son and The Glass Republic. It’s no secret I adore these books and I’m eagerly awaiting the concluding volume to find out how Beth and Pen’s story ends. So I’m really pleased to be part of this reread and today I’ll be your host to the recap and discussion for the relatively short chapters 41-44. Remember, this is a reread, so there will be spoilers galore coming up, so as the lady says SPOILERS! Continue reading
By 17 April, 2014
Posted in article, fantasy
No one hates being a witch quite like Malcolm. But if there’s one thing worse than being a witch, it’s being a Moonset witch. There are very few things in his life that he can control, and after a fight with his siblings, he’s losing his grip on what he’s got left.
A creature as old as Hamelin has crept out of the Abyss, and its siren song has infected the teenagers of Carrow Mill compelling them, at first, to simply be swept away in love. But love soon turns dangerous, as passion turns to violence and an army of sociopaths is born.
The Pied Piper isn’t just a story, and he’s got his eyes set on Malcolm, promising a life of freedom from magic and the shackles of the Moonset bond. As Carrow Mill burns, Malcolm must make the hardest choice of his life: family? Or freedom?
In the sequel to last year’s Moonset, Scott Tracey returns the reader to Carrow Mill. However, we don’t return to Justin’s point of view, instead the story is told from Malcolm’s perspective. It’s an interesting shift, especially as it means we get a different look at the members of the Moonset coven, both past and present. While I enjoyed Darkbound quite a lot and it was a good follow-up to Moonset, there were some things that disappointed me and some troubling aspects to some of Tracey’s word choice and ambiguity as to Mal’s sexual orientation. Continue reading
By 7 April, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
Last God Standing was one of my Anticipated Reads for this spring. As I said in that post “…when I read the blurb I immediately wanted to read the book as it seemed like it would be a really fun read. I love Boatman as an actor, he’s got a great sense of timing, which is key to comedic acting, and it’ll be interesting to see whether this translates to his writing.” Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed with the book. First of all, Last God Standing‘s blurb doesn’t really do it justice; Boatman asks some pretty deep questions in his book and it is far from the comedic fling that it looks like from the blurb. Secondly, I had a hard time connecting to the narrative. I kept getting lost and having to go back a page to figure out exactly what was going on. However, despite these problems, there were things that worked really well in this book. Continue reading
By 4 April, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.
This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with this edition. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Roberts, Ellen Klages, and many many more.
Over the last almost four years that I’ve been running A Fantastical Librarian, I’ve come to appreciate the art of short form more and more. But most of my short fiction consumption comes from reading anthologies and listening to podcasts such as Escape Pod, PodCastle, Lightspeed and Clarkesworld; most of the fiction published in magazines completely passes me by. And when the email about a review copy for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year volume 8 arrived, it plugged that gap nicely, especially given the fact that I was in the process of putting together my nominations for this year’s Hugo’s. What I found in this continuation of Jonathan Strahan’s series of ‘Best of the Year’-anthologies with a new publisher, was a fantastic set of stories, some of which didn’t completely work for me, but all of them interesting. Below I’ll call out some of the stories I really liked and talk in more detail about my favourites. Continue reading
By 3 April, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, science fiction
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.
One of the most beloved and well-worn tropes in fantasy is that of the farm boy turned prophesied saviour. In Stolen Songbird Jensen flips that trope and turns it on its head, not just by turning the farm boy into a farm girl, but by making the outcome of the prophesy uncertain in more ways than one. There is also more than a little hint of the Beauty and the Beast at work here, even if Cécile’s troll husband is as handsome as a girl might wish. Continue reading
By 31 March, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
One of my most anticipated YA novels this spring was Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird. Having just finished the book this weekend, I can say that anticipation was completely warranted. For a full review, check back tomorrow, but today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by Danielle as part of her blog tour. I asked Danielle whether and how Stolen Songbird subverted the classic trope of the The Prophesied One. The following was her answer. Continue reading
By 30 March, 2014
Posted in fantasy, guest post
A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travellers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit.
In a time before our own, wandering bard Talus and his companion Bran journey to the island realm of Creyak, where the king has been murdered.
From clues scattered among the island’s mysterious barrows and stone circles, they begin their search for his killer. Nobody is above suspicion, from the king’s heir to the tribal shaman, from the woman steeped in herb-lore to the visiting warlord. And when death strikes again, Talus and Bran realise nothing is what it seems. Creyak is a place of secrets and spirits, mystery and myth. It will take a clever man indeed to unravel the truth. The kind of man this ancient world has not seen before.
Graham Edwards’ Talus and the Frozen King combines three of my favourite genres into one fascinating tale. The book is a historical crime fantasy, set in an era which I’d not read any books in since reading the first four books in Jean M. Auel’s Children of the Earth series, the Neolithic. As such is more fantasy than historical fiction, a fact corroborated by the author in his Author’s Note, since there just isn’t enough historic fact to create anything but speculative fiction. The Neolithic island community of Creyak did make for an interesting setting and created the ideal stage for what is essentially a locked room mystery. Living on an island without easy access to the main land, means that the murderer is most likely a member of the community. Continue reading
By 24 March, 2014
Posted in crime, fantasy, historical fiction, review
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…
Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade looks to be Jo Fletcher Books’ big spring debut and the campaign promoting this book has been extensive. The first reactions to the book I’ve seen on Twitter have been very enthusiastic, so my expectations were high when I started Traitor’s Blade. From the synopsis I had expected to enjoy the book and taking into account the reactions from those around me, I knew I was in for a treat, but what I hadn’t expected was how much of a treat it would be. Because Traitor’s Blade is a very polished debut with a solid plot, great characters, a lovely world, and most importantly, it exudes a sense of fun that is infectious. Continue reading
By 23 March, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.
But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.
It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.
Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.
And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.
The ideas of reincarnation and past life memories have always fascinated me. On the one hand, the idea is terribly romantic, especially if you also include the notion of soul mates, on the other it also provides a sense of fairness—all those people who lead tragically short, unhappy lives get a chance to experience happiness, while those who have blackened their karma in this life get to work it off in the next. Thus, when I read the synopsis for The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare I was immediately captivated. Here was a look at reincarnation as a form of time-travel, how cool is that? And MG Buehrlen doesn’t disappoint with her debut novel. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare was a blast. Continue reading
By 22 March, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Heroes must rise…
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?
Last year I was quite taken with Herald of the Storm, the first book in the Steelhaven trilogy, so I was very much looking forward to this second instalment called The Shattered Crown. I liked the setting, the tone of the first novel, and the fact that there were many different flavours of type of story in the book. On the other hand I had some difficulties with the pacing and some of the characters. I was hoping that Ford would improve on the points I found lacking and keep everything I liked. And he did, mostly. Continue reading
By 21 March, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review