Author Query – Claire North

Claire North has received huge accolades for her first two novels under that name — I say that name as it is an open secret that it is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb aka Kate Griffin — her third novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope was just released in paperback and her fourth novel The End of the Day is out this April. So no time like the present to have her over on A Fantastical Librarian for an Author Query. I very much enjoyed this interview and Claire’s answer for how she shelves her books is one of my favourite ones I’ve received yet. My next goal is my own book nook! I hope you enjoy the interview just as much as I did. And look for reviews of Claire’s books here on the blog in the near future.  Read More …

Margrét Helgadóttir (ed.) – Asian Monsters

They lurk and crawl and fly in the shadows of our mind. We know them from ancient legends and tales whispered by the campfire. They hide under the dark bridge, in the deep woods or out on the great plains, in the drizzling rain forest or out on the foggy moor, beneath the surface, under your bed. They don’t sparkle or have any interest in us except to tear us apart. They are the monsters! Forgotten, unknown, misunderstood, overused, watered down. We adore them still. We want to give them a renaissance, to reestablish their dark reputation, to give them a comeback, let the world know of their real terror.

Asian Monsters is the third in a coffee table book series from Fox Spirit Books with dark fiction and art about monsters from around the world.

If myths and monster stories are universal and timeless, they are separated by place. Even if almost any civilisation has an overlap in the core nature of their monsters, each is rich in their variety often influenced by their environment. You can find dozens of iterations of vampiric entities and shape shifters, of the fey and the possessive. The one creature that appears across the globe in the same guise is the ghost. Be it a revenant, haunt, poltergeist or lingering spirit, be they malevolent or benign—ghosts are of all times and places. As such I found it striking that so many of the stories in Asian Monsters, edited by Margrét Helgadóttir, focused on these apparitions. If the monsters in African Monsters were largely bound by place, the monsters in this volume were bound by people.  Read More …

Margrét Helgadottir and Jo Thomas (eds) – African Monsters

They lurk and crawl and fly in the shadows of our mind. We know them from ancient legends and tales whispered by the campfire. They hide under the dark bridge, in the deep woods or out on the great plains, in the drizzling rain forest or out on the foggy moor, beneath the surface, under your bed. They don’t sparkle or have any interest in us except to tear us apart. They are the monsters! Forgotten, unknown, misunderstood, overused, watered down. We adore them still. We want to give them a renaissance, to reestablish their dark reputation, to give them a comeback, let the world know of their real terror.

African Monsters is the second in a coffee table book series from Fox Spirit Books with dark fiction and art about monsters from around the world.  Read More …

A.C. Wise – The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories

“Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you the Kissing Booth Girl! Lips that beguile. Oh, I promise, the nearest thing to nuzzling an angel can be yours—today!—for a shiny round Seated Liberty I know you carry in your very pockets as I speak.” But to mechanically-inclined Beni, is the ethereal girl who fell from the sky a wish come true or false hope for life beyond the confines of the odd carnival called home. Her story—as well as tales of an order of deep-sea diving nuns caring for a sunken chapel and a high school boy asked to prom by the only dead kid he’s ever met—can be found in A.C. Wise’s newest collection of the fantastical, the weird, the queer and the poignant.

Last year I read and reviewed A.C. Wise’s The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again and I loved it. It was fun, camp, and utterly delightful. So when Wise approached me about reviewing her latest collection, The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, I agreed with alacrity, as I was keen to read more of her work. And while this collection is perhaps less exuberant than the previous one, it is a deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking set of stories, which while spanning the breadth of the speculative genre in space and time, all deal with identity and agency.  Read More …

Jen Williams – The Ninth Rain

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…

Let’s not beat around the bush. I loved Jen Williams’ debut trilogy, the Copper Cat series, and I expected no less from her new series, The Winnowing Fire. And Williams delivered on that expectation in spades with this first book in the series, The Ninth Rain. I fell head over heels for Jen’s new main characters, especially the intrepid Lady Vincenza de Grazon. I did not know I needed Vintage in my life, but I really and truly did.  Read More …

Guest Post: Jen Williams – How Witches Taught Me to Write

Jen Williams is the author of the Copper Cat trilogy, which I absolutely loved to bits. So I was excited to learn that she had a new trilogy coming out called The Winnowing Fire, starting today with the publication of The Ninth Rain. I’ve already read it — look for a review tomorrow — and it is just as amazing as Williams’ previous novels. One thing all of Jen’s books have in common is the fact they all contain an abundance of fabulous women–from Wydrin,  Ephemeral, and Devinia in the Copper Cat books to Vintage and Noon in The Ninth Rain. I asked Jen about what influenced her writing of her heroines as she does and the following piece is her response. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and do check out The Ninth Rain available from all reputable booksellers as of today!

***  Read More …

Zak Zyz – Xan & Ink

Banished from their homeland, two disgraced brothers, a fanatical priest and an escaped slave who venture into the foreboding Kalparcimex, an uncharted jungle teeming with an incredible variety of wondrous and murderous insects. When the legendary ranger Xan refuses to help the adventurers on their quest for redemption, they enter into an ill-advised pact with Ink, a cursed sorceress who stains everything she touches. Caught in the conflict between the two powerful figures, the four banished heroes must confront their darkest desires to escape the Kalparcimex!

Zak Zyz’s second novel Xan & Ink is a tough one for me to review. While I enjoyed the story and the characters, there were elements that greatly bothered me—and no, it wasn’t the armada of creepy-crawlies that inhabited the Kalparcimex. To be able to discuss these things though, I will by necessity spoil some things, so if you do not want to be spoiled this is your warning. Also, I’ll add in a trigger warning for rape as well, both for the book and my review.  Read More …

Stephanie Burgis – Congress of Secrets

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Last April I read Stephanie Burgis’ Masks and Shadows, her first novel for adults and fell absolutely in love with her writing. So I after I finished the book, I was really happy to discover that she had a book set in the same variant of our world coming out in November of last year. Congress of Secrets was everything I hoped it would be and more, taking what I loved about Masks and Shadows and improving on the things that niggled me. Burgis enchanted me once again with Caroline’s tale and I would have loved to have spend even more time in this world.  Read More …

G X Todd – Defender

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

G X Todd’s debut novel Defender, the first in a four-part series called The Voices, was an unexpected surprised when it arrived in the mail. The accompanying information was intriguing, but didn’t reveal much, so going in to the book I didn’t really know what to expect. I certainly hadn’t expected to find a gripping, post-apocalyptic adventure that wasn’t just engrossing in its own right, but also made me think a lot about how we regard mental illness, specifically conditions that include auditory hallucinations, such as schizophrenia.  Read More …

Daniel Polansky – A City Dreaming

M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability, who would prefer drinking artisanal beer to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and when a rivalry between the city’s two queens threatens to turn to all out war, M finds himself thrust in thrust in the unfamiliar position of hero. Now, to keep the apocalypse from descending on the Big Apple, he’ll have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he’s ever acquired – he might even have to get out of bed before noon.

Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steam-punk universes, hipster zombies, and phantom subway lines. Because the city never sleeps, but is always dreaming.

It is no secret that Daniel Polansky is one of my favourite writers. I’ve adored all of his work that I’ve read so far—the only novel remaining unread being Those Below, which is waiting on my to be read shelves. As such, I was super excited to receive a review copy for his latest novel A City Dreaming. Reader, there was squeeing when I opened the package. I even read it close to its publication date in order to review it in a timely manner and then I got stuck. Because I had no idea how to even start to review it. Do not get me wrong, I really enjoyed A City Dreaming; it is an intriguing book with a unique style, but one that might not work for everyone.  Read More …