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 where a disgraced former dictator known only as Wolf ekes out a miserable existence as a low-rent PI in London’s grimiest streets.
An extraordinary story of revenge and redemption, A Man Lies Dreaming is an unforgettable testament to the power of imagination.
After 2013’s wonderful The Violent Century, which I loved, I couldn’t wait to read Lavie Tidhar’s 2014 release A Man Lies Dreaming. Luckily I was in London the week after it was released, so I got to pick up a copy soon after release. And I’m glad I sprung for the hardback version as it’s a beautiful book, physically speaking. The cover is deceptively simple yet very powerful and evocative and is not a dust cover, but has laminated boards, in other words it’s printed directly on the boards. The novel contained within the covers is perhaps not so much beautiful as it is compelling. A Man Lies Dreaming isn’t an easy book to read, at least not for me, but it was absolutely engrossing. Continue reading
By 31 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, review
Next month will see the publication of The Iron Ghost, the follow up to The Copper Promise. Written by Jen Williams, The Copper Promise was oodles of sword and sorcery fun, which I just loved. I’m really looking forward to tucking into this second offering featuring, Wydrin, Sebastian and Frith, but I’m making myself wait until closer to publication. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy this interview with Jen and if its piqued your interest and you haven’t read The Copper Promise yet, go catch up before February 26, when Headline will be publishing The Iron Ghost! Continue reading
By 28 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, interview
War is coming, secrets multiply and betrayal waits in the wings…
The Annurian Empire’s ruling family must be vigilant, as the conspiracy against them deepens. Having discovered her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies. But few trust her, until she seems marked by the people’s goddess in an ordeal of flame.
As Adare struggles to unite Annur, unrest breeds rival armies – then barbarian hordes threaten to invade. And unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn has fallen in with forces mustering at the empire’s borders. The terrible choices they face could make war between them inevitable.
Fighting his own battles is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with two strange companions. While imperial forces prepare to defend a far-distant front, Kaden’s actions could save the empire, or destroy it.
Last year Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades was one of the big debut titles of the year. I enjoyed it a lot. I found it a return to traditional epic fantasy, less of the grimdark, but updated to today. It was also a return to a traditional length, and Staveley’s second book is even bigger. Seriously, this hardback will kill a chihuahua when accidentally dropped on them from a height. With The Providence of Fire Staveley has gone bigger and better in all aspects.The book is just a fantastic follow up to a solid debut and I had a fantastic time with it. Continue reading
By 27 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, review
Elsie Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer’s family gathered around a bright Box God – and what the Box God reveals about something called an ‘industrial meat farm’ shakes Elsie’s understanding of her world to its core.
The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who’s recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can’t fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport …
Elsie is a wise-cracking, slyly witty narrator; Tom dispenses psychiatric advice in a fake German accent; and Shalom ends up unexpectedly uniting Israelis and Palestinians. David Duchovny’s charismatic creatures point the way toward a mutual understanding and acceptance the world desperately needs.
The author of Holy Cow doesn’t really need an introduction, does he? Especially for all my fellow geeks who grew up on X-Files (Mulder <3’s Scully 4EVA!). But I was rather surprised when I was handed the proof copy for Holy Cow with the comment that David Duchovny had written it. I didn’t even knew he wrote! It turns out that Holy Cow is his debut novel and it is a solid debut. It is also very much a book that either works for you or it doesn’t. It approaches some serious real world issues through a humorous lens and its success will depend on whether you can appreciate Duchovny’s – by way of Elsie’s voice – sense of humour and the stances he takes on the issues he addresses. Continue reading
By 16 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, mainstream, review
Peek into the mind and dreams of award winning editor and author Jennifer Brozek. Travel from the weird west to the hidden worlds of Kendrick all the way to the far reaches of space. This collection contains twenty previously published short stories and includes the brand new Kember Empire story “Found on the Body of a Solider.” Enjoy your journey and don’t forget your survival gear. Apocalypse Girl is waiting.
Includes a foreword by science fiction author Jody Lynn Nye.
When I was contacted about reviewing Jennifer Brozek’s new short story collection Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, there were two things that sprung to mind: I remembered hearing her on the SF Signal podcast and really enjoying the episodes and I remembered reading her Valdemar story in Under the Vale and liking her angle of looking at those who are rejected for Collegium instead of the ones who are Chosen. So I was pleased to get the opportunity to read more by Brozek and discover what else she had written. It turns out Brozek is a versatile writer as at home in fantasy as she is in military SF or the Weird West and everything in-between. Continue reading
By 12 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, horror, review, science fiction
One review copy that has been languishing on my digital to read shelf for way too long is Joshua Winning’s Sentinel. One of the reasons I was drawn to accept a review copy of Sentinel was its cover. I love the style of it. And add in the promise of underground societies, evil forces, and a teen trying to figure it all out and I was sold. Continue reading
By 10 January, 2015
Posted in article, fantasy
Last year I read and reviewed Jamie Schultz’s debut urban fantasy Premonitions and really enjoyed it. I was initially drawn to the Hustle and Leverage vibe I got from the blurb, but I was hooked by the characters pretty fast and had a great time with the story. There was one element that had really stuck out to me regarding Karyn’s ability. As I put it in my review: “I liked how Schultz envisioned this power and the way that it debilitated Karyn’s ability to function normally and made her dependent on medicine to cope. It felt like an interesting parallel to having a medical condition that can be managed through drugs, such as epilepsy or diabetes, or perhaps more closely to something like schizophrenia.” So I asked Jamie whether he’d write me a post elaborating on his ideas behind the way he formed Karyn’s abilities. He was kind enough to say yes and sent me the following post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Continue reading
By 8 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, guest post
Yron the moon god died, but now he’s reborn in the false king’s son. His human father wanted to kill him, but his mother sacrificed her life to save him. He’ll return one day to claim his birthright. He’ll change your life.
He’ll change everything.
Smiler’s Fair: the great moving carnival where any pleasure can be had, if you’re willing to pay the price. They say all paths cross at Smiler’s Fair. They say it’ll change your life. For five people, Smiler’s Fair will change everything.
In a land where unimaginable horror lurks in the shadows, where the very sun and moon are at war, five people – Nethmi, the orphaned daughter of a murdered nobleman, who in desperation commits an act that will haunt her forever. Dae Hyo, the skilled warrior, who discovers that a lifetime of bravery cannot make up for a single mistake. Eric, who follows his heart only to find that love exacts a terrible price. Marvan, the master swordsman, who takes more pleasure from killing than he should. And Krish, the humble goatherd, with a destiny he hardly understands and can never accept – will discover just how much Smiler’s Fair changes everything.
In a land where unimaginable horror lurks in the shadows, where the very sun and moon are at war, these five people will discover who they are — and who they’re willing to become.
When Hodder & Stoughton announced their acquisition of the The Hollow Gods trilogy, I thought it sounded amazing and as the first reviews started rolling in I couldn’t wait to actually read it, as some of my favourite reviewers loved it. And once again my trust in them was proven right, because Smiler’s Fair was an amazing book. It is epic, it is grim – the prologue is just brutal – it is complex, it has a fascinating world and slips in elements of diversity almost without calling attention to it. Continue reading
By 31 December, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
A Blackhart can see the supernatural behind everyday crimes. But some crimes hide even greater evils…
Kit Blackhart must investigate why children are disappearing from a London estate. However, their parents, police and fae allies claim to know nothing. And as yet more children disappear, the pressure mounts. Luckily, or unluckily, government trainee Dante Alexander is helping Kit with the case. Yet just as her feelings towards him begin to thaw, his life falls apart. As Kit struggles to unravel his problems and dangerous secrets, she meets fae Prince Thorn in her dreams – but their relationship is utterly forbidden.
Then Kit digs too deep, and uncovers a mystery that’s been hidden for one thousand years. It’s a secret that could just tear down our world.
In a nice cyclical move, the penultimate book I review in 2014 is the sequel to the second book I reviewed this year. Full disclosure: Liz de Jager is a dear friend. This doesn’t mean I haven’t read this novel critically, because I have. Besides, she would kick my ass if she thought I’d cut her slack. But for the sake of transparency I thought it important to mention it upfront.
Vowed is the second book in De Jager’s Blackhart trilogy and returns us Kit a number of months after the ending of the last book. Having physically recovered from her ordeal at the end of Banished, Kit has not escaped unchanged, both magically and mentally. Her magic has bloomed and become for more powerful than it was before, while her heart remains somewhat the worse for wear after the events of the previous book and her separation from Thorn. Now located in London, the irrepressible Kit is working the family business and taking on assignments on her own. This brings us to the case at the heart of Vowed. Because this case she can’t work alone. Her employer demands she work together with Dante Alexander, a member of the Spook Squad. And Kit is not amused with this development. Continue reading
By 30 December, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, YA