Archive for fantasy

Genevieve Cogman – The Invisible Library

genevievecogman-theinvisiblelibraryIrene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Pitched as Dr Who with Librarian Spies, I was sold on The Invisible Library before even reading the synopsis. I mean LIBRARIAN SPIES! Hello, how could I not want to read this book? And The Invisible Library certainly delivered. Cogman’s debut is a tremendously fun, rip-roaring adventure with protagonists that are easy to love and a setting that couldn’t have suited my tastes better, as it’s partly set in an amazing library and partly in a wonderful alternate and magical London, a setting for which I have a huge weakness.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Fantasy April-June

2015Day two of my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. 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!   Continue reading »

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Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith – Stranger

manijabrownsmith-strangerMany generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, “the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. “Las Anclas” now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

Stranger was one of the books I flagged in my anticipated books series six months ago and I did so solely on the basis of the above blurb. It sounded like an engaging post-apocalyptic adventure with a bit of a Weird West vibe, something that I’d enjoyed in several other books earlier in the year. And it was all of that, but it was even more than that. Because this book? This book could be the poster child for the We Need Diverse Books movement. The book features protagonists of colour, sexual orientations all over the spectrum, characters with disabilities, and none of these elements feel shoe-horned in to hit some sort of diversity quota. Instead, the story and its characters feel organic, set in a world that feels true and fully realised.  Continue reading »

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Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2015: Fantasy January-March

2015Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. 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!

Continue reading »

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Tehani Wessely (ed.) – Phantazein

tehaniwessely-phantazeinYou think you know all the fables that have ever been told. You think you can no longer be surprised by stories. Think again.

With origins in myth, fairytales, folklore and pure imagination, the stories and poems in these pages draw on history that never was and worlds that will never be to create their own unique tales and traditions…

The next generation of storytellers is here.

Fairytales and folk tales are some of the most enduring forms of storytelling. It’s no wonder then that fairytale retellings remain a popular staple of speculative fiction. In Phantazein Tehani Wessely has brought together a set of stories that are as diverse as one can imagine, while all fit under the heading of fairytale (re)telling. Not all of the stories are re-imaginings of classic fairytales, some are based on folk tales or myths and some are original, but all of them are new and entertaining. In fact there wasn’t a story that disappointed, something that is rare for an anthology, as there is always at least one story that doesn’t work as well. Not so the stories included in PhantazeinContinue reading »

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Jamie Schultz – Premonitions

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jamieschultz-premonitionsTWO MILLION DOLLARS…

It’s the kind of score Karyn Ames has always dreamed of—enough to set her crew up pretty well and, more important, enough to keep her safely stocked on a very rare, very expensive black market drug. Without it, Karyn hallucinates slices of the future until they totally overwhelm her, leaving her unable to distinguish the present from the mess of certainties and possibilities yet to come.

The client behind the heist is Enoch Sobell, a notorious crime lord with a reputation for being ruthless and exacting—and a purported practitioner of dark magic. Sobell is almost certainly condemned to Hell for a magically extended lifetime full of shady dealings. Once you’re in business with him, there’s no backing out.

Karyn and her associates are used to the supernatural and the occult, but their target is more than just the usual family heirloom or cursed necklace. It’s a piece of something larger. Something sinister.

Karyn’s crew, and even Sobell himself, are about to find out just how powerful it is… and how powerful it may yet become.

I love me a good heist story and Premonitions offers just that with the added bonus of a supernatural twist. Jamie Schultz takes us to an alternate LA where monsters are real, and they’re as often human as not, and deals with a devil are more common than you’d expect. Premonitions was a ridiculous amount of fun due to its twisty story with double and even triple dealing, a crew of miscreants that have great chemistry together and some genuinely bad guys gone worse.  Continue reading »

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Robert Sharp – The Good Shabti

robertsharp-thegoodshabtiThe Good Shabti is a story that spans thousands of years.

In the twilight days of Pharaoh Mentuhotep, a slave stumbles into the path of imperial ambitions. And in contemporary times, a brilliant scientist and her ruthless companions come close to achieving the impossible: the revivification of an ancient mummy. The two stories weave together in a tale that combines science and myth, anticipation and horror…

I only discovered an appreciation for a good mummy tale with last year’s Jurassic London anthology The Book of the Dead. I still think it is their best anthology to date and I absolutely adored it. So when I received this novella by Robert Sharp for review, I was immediately enthused, because yay more Jurassic mummies, which is less anachronistic than it sounds. The Good Shabti also featured a cool and unexpected mix of historic fantasy and SF. Unexpected because I hadn’t expected to find SF mixed in with traditional Egyptian mummies.  Continue reading »

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Kelly Barnhill – The Witch’s Boy

kellybarnhill-thewitchsboyWhen Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. But when the Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

Meanwhile, across the forest lives Áine, the daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” When Áine’s and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over between their two kingdoms?

First of all before I start talking about this book, I just want to say: That cover, you guys! I really love that cover and if anything, it was that cover that first drew me to give Kelly Barnhill’s The Witch’s Boy a closer look. I loved the play with the big shadows and those tiny little figures, and the sense that they were at the edge of the world. It is very fitting to the setting of the book and the villagers’ belief that there is nothing beyond the forest-clad mountains. But mostly it just made for an arresting visual. And all this was even before I read the blurb. When I opened the book and started reading I was sold, as Kelly Barnhill managed to break my heart twice in the span of two chapters, which meant I was in for a treat.  Continue reading »

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M.K. Hume – The Last Dragon

mkhume-thelastdragonThe legend of King Arthur lives on…

King Artor lies slain and Ector, a mere boy, is acknowledged as the legitimate heir to the kingdom. But the land of the Celts is weakened and Ector grows up torn between a sense of doom and duty.

Meanwhile, in the Forest of Arden, it is revealed to young Arthur that he is the Bastard Prince, son of King Artor and Lady Elayne. Trained in the skills of a warrior, Arthur cannot challenge the position of his ruler and childhood friend, but nor can he stand back and watch Briton crumble under the threat of invasion. As the Last Dragon, he must ensure that his father’s legacy lives on…

King Arthur. How many ways can his story be retold and the myths surrounding him be re-invented? Apparently endlessly, as The Last Dragon is yet another Arthur retelling with a twist. Admittedly, M.K. Hume’s version of the story is an Interesting one, with the myth retold in a novel way. In fact, the Arthur who becomes known as the Last Dragon is the mythical Arthur’s illegitimate son and the series Twilight of the Celts, of which this novel is the first instalment, is set after King Arthur’s demise. The series is a continuation of two prior trilogies covering the lives of Merlin and King Arthur. I’ve not read these previous series and while I don’t know how the Matter of Britain has been covered there, familiarity with the original stories and their themes allowed me to find my way in this somewhat uncannily familiar-yet-different version of Arthur’s world.  Continue reading »

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T. Frohock – The Broken Road

teresafrohock-thebrokenroadThe world of Lehbet is under siege. The threads that divide Lehbet from the mirror world of Heled are fraying, opening the way for an invasion by an alien enemy that feeds on human flesh.

Travys, the youngest of the queen’s twin sons, was born mute. He is a prince of the Chanteuse, nobles who channel their magic through their voices. Their purpose is to monitor the threads and close the paths between the worlds, but the Chanteuse have given themselves over to decadence. They disregard their responsibilities to the people they protect—all but Travys, who fears he’ll fail to wake the Chanteuse to Heled’s threat in time to prevent the destruction of Lehbet.

Within the palace, intrigue creates illusions of love where there is none, and when Travys’ own brother turns against him, he is forced to flee all that he has known and enter the mirror world of Heled where the enemy has already won. In Heled, he must find his true voice and close the threads, or lose everyone that he loves.

Teresa Frohock is one of the authors whose work I’ve been aware of for years, who I chat with on Twitter regularly, whose debut novel Miserere is on my TBR pile even, but whose work I’ve never gotten around to reading. However, she’s often referred to as one of the criminally under-read authors of the past few years and many people whose opinion I rate highly love her work. Thus, when offered her novella The Broken Road for review, I said yes without hesitation. And Frohock’s writing is everything it was reported to be. It’s deft, it’s dark, it’s complex, and most importantly it’s highly entertaining. I found Travys’ tale fascinating and my biggest issue with the story was its length; it was just too short, I wanted to spend more time with the characters and their story.  Continue reading »

By Published Posted in fantasy, horror, review | 3 Comments
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