Theodore Brun – A Mighty Dawn

Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household, he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.

Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

In the past few years I’ve developed a soft spot for vikings. Whether it’s Snorri Kristjansson’s exuberant adventures in his Valhalla Saga or Giles Kristian’s epic historical God of Vengeance, I’ve fallen for the mixture of kick-ass battles, deep mythology, history, and the hint of the supernatural that are often the ingredients of which the story is composed. When I received a review copy of Theodore Brun’s A Mighty Dawn I was excited as it was billed as a mixture of all my favourite viking elements. It was all it promised, though I was quite frustrated with its treatment of women. Despite this, I really enjoyed the book tremendously and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.  Read More …

N.K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night.

Essun—once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger—has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power—and her choices will break the world.

I always struggle when writing reviews for N.K. Jemisin’s books. First of all, I’m always afraid that I can’t do the books justice. Jemisin writes such complex worlds, characters and stories with so many layers baked in that I can’t possibly understand all of it, never mind capture it in a review. Secondly, I just love the books so much that all I want to do is gush and make everyone read it. And that is not conducive to writing a coherent review. This always leads to me procrastinating on actually writing these reviews, but today is the day and I’m just going to push through it and review The Obelisk GateRead More …

Peter Newman – The Seven [Blog Tour]

Years have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in arm and Gamma’s sword in hand.

Since then the world has changed. Vesper, following the footsteps of her father, journeyed to the breach and closed the tear between worlds, protecting the last of humanity, but also trapping the infernal horde and all those that fell to its corruptions: willing or otherwise.

In this new age it is Vesper who leads the charge towards unity and peace, with seemingly nothing standing between the world and a bright new future.

That is until eyes open.

And The Seven awakes.  Read More …

Peter Newman – The Vagrant and the City

This novella is set after the events of The Malice and is best enjoyed after you’ve finished that. It is centred around the Vagrant’s subsequent adventures, and teases a little of what to expect in The Seven too.

I dove right into this novella after finishing The Malice and it was a joy. Because not only do we get a glimpse of how things stand about five years after the ending of The Malice, we also get a new story completely focused on the Vagrant. He remains a unique character and it made me remember how much I enjoyed him in the first book.  Read More …

Peter Newman – The Malice

In the south, the Breach stirs.

Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more.

But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call.

The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers.

Her name is Vesper.

The Malice is the sequel to Peter Newman’s 2015 debut The Vagrant, which I absolutely loved. It made me coin the term lyrical grim, a description I still stand by, and it set the bar high for this sequel. A height the book easily clears, as it is a wonderful read, featuring more of Newman’s lovely prose style. The Malice takes the reader forward in time about a decade and presents them with an entirely new set of main characters, relegating the ones from The Vagrant somewhat to the background.  Read More …

Peter Newman – The Hammer and the Goat

This novelette is set parallel to events in THE VAGRANT and tells the story of what the Hammer that Walks and the goat get up to when left to their own devices…

When I read Peter Newman’s debut The Vagrant two years ago, I completely fell in love with the Goat. The other characters were great, the story was wonderful, the writing style fabulous, but the goat was what won my heart. Thus a story featuring Goat and the amazing the Hammer that Walks as well, was an immediate buy.  Read More …

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 …