Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a permanent part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the first one. 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! Read More …
Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. 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! Read More …
Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the second 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! Read More …
The second day of my Anticipated Books posts and the second half of the fantasy books. 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!
It’s 1337. Genoese mercenaries under the French are harrying the channel ports and Edward III is powerless to stop them. He’s bankrupt, up to his ears in debt to Florentine bankers. He can’t hope to defend his lands in France, which are subject to a vicious scorched earth policy pursued by the French king.
Hal Romsey is a sixteen year old boy, frightened and intimidated by exalted company. But he is a Luciferist – a visionary and a disciple of the devil. He has one of the keys to Hell, and knows how to use it. Hell is willing to ally with England – and thus begins a story that will shake the thrones of medieval Europe and see angels and demons fighting for the future of England and France.
Richard Ford – Herald of the Storm (Headline)
Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States. But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried, once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.
Stella Gemmell – The City (Transworld)
The City is ancient and vast, built up over the millennia, layer upon layer. Once a thriving metropolis, it has sprawled beyond its walls, inciting and waging constant wars with neighbouring tribes and kingdoms – creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.
At the heart of the City lives the emperor. Few have ever seen him, but those who have recall a man in his prime, though he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he truly ever was. And a small number have have come to the desperate conclusion that the only way to stop the City’s incessant war and the constant bloodshed is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.
From the maze-like sewers and catacombs below the City, where the poor struggle to stay alive in the dark, to the blood-soaked fields of battle where few heroes manage to survive the never-ending siege, these rebels pin their hopes on one man:Shuskara. Once the emperor’s foremost general, he was betrayed long ago and is believed to be dead. But, under different aliases, he has survived, forsaking his City and hiding from the man to whome he once vowed his allegiance. Now, the time has come for Shuskara to emerge from the shadows and lead a final bid to free the City from those who have brought it and its people to their knees for so long…
Justin Gustainis – Morris & Chastain Investigations: Play With Fire & Midnight at the Oasis (Solaris)
In Play With Fire houses of worship are burning around the U.S. From churches, to synagogues, to mosques. Usually while the places are full of people. Initially dismissed as random acts of violence, Morris and Chastain uncover the deadly meaning behind the fires, and the terrifying cause they seek to serve. In Midnight at the Oasis Middle Eastern terrorists have conjured a deadly djin that will lay waste to America — unless Morris and Chastain can stop it first.
18 year old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother.
Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.
But she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt.
A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder.
Field Marshal Tamas’s coup against his king sends corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brings bread to the starving. But it also provokes war in the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics and greedy scrambling for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers’ unions and mercenary forces.
Stretched to his limit, Tamas relies heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be Tamas’s estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty will be tested to its limit.
Now, amid the chaos, a whispered rumour is spreading. A rumour about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods returning to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing . . .
But perhaps they should.
Sarah Pinborough – Poison (Gollancz)
POISON is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires. It’s fun, contemporary, sexy, and perfect for fans of ONCE UPON A TIME, GRIMM, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and more.
Mur Lafferty – The Shambling Guide to New York City (Orbit)
Following the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel writer in New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position, though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her résumé – human.
Not to be put off by anything – especially not her blood-drinking boss or death goddess co-worker – Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her assignments turn deadly when the careful balance between humans and monsters starts to crumble – with Zoe right in the middle.
Justin Gustainis – Known Devil (Angry Robot Books)
My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton – as if I didn’t have enough to contend with!
Supernatural gang warfare? Not on my watch!
Every teenage girl thinks she’s different. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realises just how different she is.
Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and, hours later, stepped off it, the only passenger left alive. A hero.
President Chase Williams has sworn to eradicate the menace. Unknown to the electorate, however, he is becoming the very thing he has sworn to destroy.
Each of them is caught up in a war that has been controlled with laws and violence and drugs. But an uprising is about to leave them tied to one another for ever.
Jonathan Strahan (ed) – Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy (Solaris)
Nothing further announced yet, but I loved the The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction last year and I well respect Jonathan Strahan’s chops as an editor, so I’m very much looking forward to this.
Chuck Wendig – Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits (Abaddon)
Exiled to Earth, the gods now walk amongst us, bringing with them their children and their servants and their monsters. Their power is a mere fraction of what it once was, but even a mote of divine magic is awesome – in the truest sense of the word.
Cason Cole knows this firsthand. He’s been serving the gods for the better part of a decade, their leash fastened tight around his neck. But when his most recent divine master gets killed – a thing Cason didn’t even know could happen – he finds himself once more a free man. All he’s got left is a burning need for vengeance against the very gods who forced him to kneel, but he’ll soon discover that getting revenge against the gods is no easy feat. He’ll have to put his life, love, sanity and soul on the line. Will he pay the cost? How priceless is his wrath?
Alex Bledsoe – Wisp of a Thing (Tor Books)
Touched by a very public tragedy, musician Rob Quillen comes to Cloud County, Tennessee, in search of a song that might ease his aching heart. All he knows of the mysterious and reclusive Tufa is what he has read on the internet: they are an enigmatic clan of swarthy,, black-haired mountain people whose historical roots are lost in myth and controversy. Some people say that when the first white settlers came to the Appalachians centuries ago, they found the Tufa already there. Other hint that Tufa blood brings special gifts.
Rob finds both music and mystery in the mountains. Close-lipped locals guard their secrets, even as Rob gets caught up in a subtle power struggle he can’t begin to comprehend. A vacationing wife goes missing, raising suspicions of foul play, and a strange feral girl runs wild in the woods, howling in the night like a lost spirit.
Change is coming to Cloud County, and only the night wind knows what part Rob will play when the last leaf falls from the Widow’s Tree…and a timeless curse must be broken at last.
This is the second standalone novel set in the world of Stephen Deas’ Memory of Flames trilogy. A pseudo-medieval world where life and politics are dominated by massive fire breathing dragons.
Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Headline)
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Kevin Hearne – Hunted (Del Rey/Orbit)
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt – Artemis and Diana – for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, his apprentice Granuaile and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide and seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok – AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living – and still have a world to live in.
Snorri Kristjansson – The Swords of Good Men (Jo Fletcher Books)
To Ulfar Thormodsson, the Viking town of Stenvik is the penultimate stop on a long journey. Tasked with looking after his cousin after disgracing his father, he has travelled the world and now only wants to go home.
But Stenvik is different; it contains the beautiful and tragic Lilja, who immediately captures Ulfar’s heart. Because of her, he persuades his cousin to stay. But Stenvik is also home to some very deadly men, who could break Ulfar in an instant.
King Olav is marching on Stenvik from the East, determined to bring the White Christ to the masses at the point of his sword, and a host of bloodthirsty raiders led by a mysterious woman are sailing from the north. But Ulfar is about to learn that his enemies are not all outside the walls.
Mercedes Lackey – Steadfast (DAW)
Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn’t take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakened Fire Magician. She’s also on the run from her murderous and vengeful brute of a husband. But can she harness her magic in time to stop her husband from achieving his deadly goal?
Will McIntosh – Love Minus Eighty (Orbit)
Welcome to dating a hundred years into the future: Technology has extended the lives of the rich and attractive by decades. The wealthy can arrange to be reanimated multiple times. While in cryogenic dating farms, dead women await lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home . . .
Love Minus Eighty follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms.
There’s Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love.
Veronika, a socially awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will.
And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating centre near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the centuries pass.
Driven out of hell and with nothing to lose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets of our cities. And they’re winning.
As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice – barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over – once again finds herself in the eye of the storm.
But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high; and what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it?
The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell will break loose.
Seth Patrick – Reviver (Tor UK)
Revivers. Able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise. Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation.
In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service. Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain.
Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers. Working with Harker’s daughter Annabel, he becomes determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger . . .
S.M. Wheeler – Sea Change (Tor Books)
The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.
Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly’s quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.
Criminal underworld? He runs it.
Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.
Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.
But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…
Six years into the training of his beautiful apprentice, Granuaile, a large crow swoops down and transforms into none other than the Morrigan, a goddess who insists that Atticus come with her at once. He must leave his apprentice behind, along with his Irish wolfhound, Oberon-and he must also leave his sword. The Morrigan has always taken extreme pleasure in pronouncing the Druid’s mortal danger and imminent doom, so the fact that she won’t reveal the purpose of their journey makes him very nervous. Of course, any time the Celtic Chooser of the Slain drops in unannounced, it’s never good. When she does let slip that she’ll be saving his life in the near future, Atticus is left to wonder . . . will he soon be giving his legions of enemies something to crow about?
One of my favourite urban fantasy series is Kevin Hearne’s the Iron Druid Chronicles. I’ve reviewed Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered on the blog and Tricked is on my TBR-pile. When I saw Two Ravens and One Crow on Netgalley I thought it might be fun to have a quick look-in on Atticus, Oberon and Granuaille. The book is set between Tricked and Trapped, but as I haven’t read Tricked I don’t know whether there are any spoilers in the story for it, there are spoilers for the first three books though, so I’d definitely recommend reading those before reading this novella.
Two Ravens and One Crow takes place about six years after the ending of Hammered. It’s a great little story in which some things from Hammered are wrapped up and perhaps plot points for Trapped and Hunted are set up. It gives us a look at some of the problems Atticus runs into training Granuaille, mostly to do with the physical side of said training, which has them spend lots of time in close contact and gives Atticus some difficulty focusing. Luckily Oberon is there to help him stay on track, which leads to some lovely banter between the two.
The true star of this story, however, is the Morrigan, who shows up to collect Atticus for a little errand. I loved how Hearne manages to deepen her character and manages to humanise her without making her lose her rather scary personality. The Morrigan also shows she is not just The Chooser of the Slain; she is also the Goddess of Battle and can kick some ass accordingly. The knock-down, drag-out fight scene between the Morrigan and an unknown assailant was my favourite part of this novella hands down; not even Oberon could beat it!
Two Ravens and One Crow is the perfect way to warm up for the release of Trapped next month and also a great way to learn a bit more about everyone’s favourite Dark Goddess. If anything, this story has made me dig out my copy of Tricked to read in the near future, because I want to spend more time with Atticus, Oberon, Granuaille and company sooner rather than later. Just a word to the wise, the book is only available in a digital or audio format; don’t look for it in your local brick-and-mortar store.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.
And here is part two of my Anticipated Books (Summer/Fall) 2012 for the Fantasy category. Similar caveats as for Tuesday’s post. The other posts will follow over the weekend and next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the Anticipated Reads post up on the Sunday.
The First Law trilogy was Joe’s take on the great epic fantasy tales. Then, in BEST SERVED COLD he took on a fantasy version of a classic revenge story, and we have a superb tale of war waged in the frozen north still to come.
With this, his next novel, Joe Abercrombie is once again venturing in a new direction, and on a new adventure, with one of the most enduring, powerful and popular characters of the First Law Trilogy. It’s going to be their biggest challenge yet …
We still know little about Abercrombie’s latest, other than that it is a riff on westerns. Adain over at A Dribble of Ink has summed up what we know so far.
Lee Battersby – The Corpse Rat King (Angry Robot)
Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.
Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.
And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.
Just as soon as he stops running away.
Miles Cameron – The Red Knight (Gollancz)
This is a world dominated by The Wild.
Man lives in pockets of civilisation claimed from The Wild. Within men’s walls life is civilised, the peace punctuated by tournaments, politicking, courtly love and canny business. Beyond those walls men are prey – vulnerable to the exceptionally powerful and dangerous creatures which populate the land, and even more vulnerable to those creatures schemes.
So when one of those creatures breaks out of The Wild and begins preying on people in their homes, it takes a specialist to hunt it down or drive it out . . . and even then, it’s a long, difficult and extremely dangerous job.
The Black Captain and his men are one such group of specialists.
They have no idea what they’re about to face . . .
Forget George and the Dragon. Forget Sir Lancelot and tales of Knightly exploits. This is dirty, bloody work. This is violent, visceral action. This is a mercenary knight as you’ve never seen one before.
Rowena Cory Daniels – Sanctuary (Solaris)
For over three hundred years, the mystics lived alongside the true-men, until King Charald laid siege to the mystic’s island city and exiled them. Imoshen, most powerful of the female mystics, was elected to lead her people into exile. She faces threats from within, from male mystics who think they would make a better leader. And her people face threats from true-men, who have confiscated their ships. They must set sail by the first day of winter. Those who are left behind will be executed.
Once they set sail, they face winter storms, hostile harbours and sea-raiders who know their ships are laden with treasure. Imoshen relies on the sea captain, ardonyx, for advice, and Sorne, the half-blood mystic, who has lived among the true-men kingdoms of the Secluded Sea. But Imoshen knows the mystics can’t run for ever. They need somewhere to call home. They need… Sanctuary.
Linda Grimes – In a Fix (Tor)
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.
This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.
Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gearshifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent Ciel’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their first priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.
Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.
Douglas Hulick – Sworn in Steel (Tor UK)
It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the underworld elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince managing the city’s underbelly, he’s learning how good he used to have it.
With barely an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one dies, all signs point to Drothe as wielding the knife. Members of the Kin begin choosing sides – mostly against him – for what looks to be another impending war. Then Drothe is approached by a man who has the solution to Drothe’s problem and an offer of redemption. The only problem is the offer isn’t for him.
Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire’s long-standing enemy, with an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out, fast . . .
Richard Kadrey – Devil Said Bang (Harper Voyager)
While ruling the denizens of darkness does have a few perks, James Stark isn’t exactly thrilled at the course his career (not to mention his soul) has taken. Breaking out of Hell once was a miraculous trick. But twice? If anyone can do it, it’s Sandman Slim. While he’s working out the details of his latest escape plan, Slim has to figure out how to run his new domain and hold off a host of trigger-happy killers mesmerised by that bullseye on his back.
Everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to prove it is to take down the new Lucifer, aka Sandman Slim aka James Stark. Then again, LA isn’t quite the paradise it once was since he headed south. A serial killer ghost is running wild and his angelic alter-ago is hiding somewhere in the lost days of time with a secret cabal who can rewrite reality. And starting to care about people and life again is a real bitch for a stone-cold killer.
Jay Kristoff – Stormdancer (Tor UK)
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father are sent to capture one for the Shōgun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him.
But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Alhough she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu form a surprising and powerful bond.
Meanwhile, the country verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shōgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko uneasy, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shōgun’s crimes, both against her country and her family.
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu are determined to make the Shōgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
Robin Maxwell -Jane (Tor)
Cambridge, England, 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat dissecting corpses than she is in a corset and gown sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of traveling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientific hero, Charles Darwin.
When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father to join an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Africa is every bit as exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined, but Jane quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane finds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.
Jane is the first version of the Tarzan story written by a woman and authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Its 2012 publication will mark the centennial of the original Tarzan of the Apes.
Doyce Testerman – Hidden Things (Harper Voyager)
Watch out for the hidden things . . . That’s the last thing Calliope Jenkins’s best friend says to her before ending a two a.m. phone call from Iowa, where he’s working a case she knows little about. Seven hours later, she gets a visit from the police. Josh has been found dead, and foul play is suspected. Calliope is stunned. Especially since Josh left a message on her phone an hour after his body was found. Spurred by grief and suspicion, Calli heads to Iowa herself, accompanied by a stranger who claims to know something about what happened to Josh and who can— maybe—help her get him back. But the road home is not quite the straight shot she imagined . . .
Brent Weeks – The Blinding Knife (Orbit)
Gavin Guile is dying.
He’d thought he had five years left–now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies. Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.
Chuck Wendig – Mockingbird (Angry Robot)
Miriam is trying to keep her ability – her curse – in check.
But when Miriam touches a woman in line at the supermarket, she sees that the woman will be killed here, now.
She reacts, and begins a new chapter in her life – one which can never be expected to go well.
Tina Connolly – Ironskin (Tor)
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.
It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain — the ironskin.
When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation” — a child born during the Great War — Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.
Teaching the unruly Dorie suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.
Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life — and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.
Stephen Deas – The King’s Assassin (Gollancz)
When Berren makes the mistake of stealing a purse from a thief-taker, it should have condemned him to a short and brutal life in the slave-mines. When the thief-taker offers to train him as an apprentice instead, he can’t believe his luck; but the thief-taker has secrets of his own, scars of a faraway war filled with mercenary soldiers, necromancers who brew potions that can change your destiny, and a psychotic girl-princess with a penchant for cutting pieces out of her lovers’ souls.
Jocelynn Drake – Angel’s Ink (Harper Voyager)
Looking for a tattoo — and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using his unique potions — a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks — to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart’s desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has a price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Towers where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him his right to practice magic. If he disobeys, his punishment — execution — will be swift.
Though he’s tried to fly under the radar, Gage can’t hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead — or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage just might make it through this enchanted world alive.
Max Gladstone – Three Parts Dead (Tor)
A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.
Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot. Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.
But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival.
Kate Griffin – Stray Souls (Orbit)
Sharon Li has just discovered she’s a shaman. And just in time: London’s soul has gone missing. If anyone can solve the mystery and rescue the dying city, she can, but she’ll need help-from the support group she’s just set up for people with magical issues. Among them are a vampire who is O, a druid who suffers from allergies and a lack of confidence, and a banshee looking for an evening class in impressionist art. Now, this motley crew must find a way to save the world …
Chris F Holm – The Wrong Goodbye (Angry Robot)
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.
Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.
Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.
Mercedes Lackey – Redoubt (DAW)
Mags, a young Herald trainee in Haven, the capital city of the kingdom of Valdemar, has talents not commonly found in herald trainees. Recognizing this, the King’s Own Herald decides to train Mags as a spy in order to uncover the secrets of a mysterious new enemy who has taken an interest in Mags himself. Why is an even deeper mystery. The answers can only be found in the most unexpected corners of Mags’ past. Assuming he can live long enough to find them.
Scott Lynch – The Republic of Thieves (Gollancz)
After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke for ever. The Gentleman Bastard sequence has become a literary sensation in fantasy circles and now, with the third book, Scott Lynch is set to seal that success.
Jonathan Oliver – Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane (Solaris)
They gather in darkness, sharing ancient and arcane knowledge as they manipulate the very matter of reality itself. Spells and conjuration; legerdemain and prestidigitation – these are the mistresses and masters of the esoteric arts.
This amazing collection of new fiction has an extraordinary list of contributors, it is to feature an original short story from the international No. 1 bestseller Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveller’s Wife; alongside NYT bestseller Dan Abnett and more modern master of the arts: Christopher Fowler, Gemma Files, Alison Littlewood, Thana Niveau, Robert Shearman, Paul Meloy, Will Hill, Sarah Lotz, Storm Constantine, Lou Morgan, Sophia McDougall, Liz Williams, Gail Z. Martin and Steve Rasnic Tem.
David Tallerman – Crown Thief (Angry Robot)
Meet Easie Damasco: Thief, swindler and lately, reluctant hero.
But whatever good intentions Damasco may have are about to be tested to their limits, as the most valuable – and dangerous – object in the land comes within his light-fingered grasp. Add in some suicidally stubborn giants, an old enemy with dreams of empire and the deadliest killers in two kingdoms on his heels, and Damasco’s chances of staying honest – or even just surviving – are getting slimmer by the hour.
Lee Collins – The Dead of Winter (Angry Robot)
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.
Ian C. Esslemont – Blood and Bone (Transworld)
In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighboring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata. Saeng grew up knowing only the rule of the magus Thaumaturgs — but it was the voices out of that land’s forgotten past that she listened to. And when her rulers mount an invasion of the neighboring jungle, those voices send her and her brother on a desperate mission.
To the south, the desert tribes are united by the arrival of a foreign warleader, a veteran commander in battered ashen mail whom his men call, the Grey Ghost. This warleader takes the tribes on a raid like none other, deep into the heart of Thaumaturg lands. While word comes to K’azz, and mercenary company the Crimson Guard, of a contract in Jacuruku. And their employer… none other than Ardata herself.
Kevin Hearne – Trapped (DelRey/Orbit)
After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.
Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.
Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory – Crown of Vengeance (Tor)
Here, readers will learn the truth about the Elven Queen Vielissiar Faricarnon, who was the first to face the Endarkened in battle and the first to bond with a dragon. She worked some of the greatest magics her world has ever known, and paid the greatest Price.
John Gwynne – Malice (Tor UK)
Set on a continent called the Banished Lands, populated by men and giants, dark forests, dreadwolves and draigs; this debut follows the story of Corban, a young man who just wants to become a warrior, but whose path will lead him to so much more. Populated with original and engaging characters, set in a primal, feral world, soon to become the battleground of angels and demons, this is a tale of love, betrayal, truth and courage. A coming-of-age tale filled with mystery, Machiavellian politics and adventure.
Sam Sykes – The Skybound Sea (Gollancz)
After the misadventures of the first two books Lenk and his companions must finally turn away from fighting each other and for their own survival and look to saving the entire human race.
A terrible demon has risen from beneath the sea and where it came from thousands could follow. And all the while an alien race is planning the extinction of humanity.
The third volume in the Aeon’s Gate trilogy widens the action out dramatically. TOME OF THE UNDERGATES was based mainly on a ship, BLACK HALO moved the action to an island of bones, THE SKYBOUND SEA takes us out into a world threatened with a uniquely imagined and terrifying apocalypse.
Thor, the Norse god of Thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.
One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammerwielding Thunder Thug himself.
So, Thor… other than knowing he’s responsible for Thursday being named Thursday in English and donderdag in Dutch and that there was a film about his comic book character last year, I didn’t know much about him. I certainly didn’t know he was such an unpleasant character, to put it mildly. Needless to say, Hammered relieved me of my ignorance and put me solidly on the ‘Let’s kill Thor’-train that Atticus is on in the book and where he can’t seem to get off, despite looking really hard for the exit.
Hammered is the third book in the Iron Druid Chronicles after Hounded and Hexed. It’s far more directly connected to Hexed, than that was to Hounded and it’s clear that had there not been more books contracted for, this could have been the end of the tale. Luckily, there are and it wasn’t, so we can look forward to Tricked this April. It’s also the first book largely set away from Atticus’ home town of Tempe, Arizona. It was fun to see Atticus exploring the Asgard plane while going in to fulfil his debt to Laksha, which he incurred in Hexed. It was great to explore different planes of existence, not just Asgard, but also the fae world, where Atticus needs to travel to easily transport himself around the world.
As before, we get more and more new pantheons added to the mythology of the book. Not only do we get a deeper look at the Norse pantheon, we also get to meet Väinämöinen, a Finnish god, Zhang Guo Lao, one of China’s Eight Immortals and Perun, the Russian god of Thunder. In addition, after meeting Mary in Hexed, Atticus gets searched out by Jesus in this book. I loved the scenes where Jesus and the Morrigan try to dissuade Atticus from going to Asgard. It showed that sometimes doing what is right – keeping your word of honour to a friend – isn’t the same thing as doing what is wise and that what is right and what is wise will differ from person to person. Also the return of the Hammers of God and Jesus’ summary dismissal of them was brilliant. In just a few scenes Hearne gives a social commentary on the dangers of religious zealotism without straying into moralising or preaching. I really enjoy how Hearne mixes up the different pantheons and mythologies and at the risk of repeating myself; this is what makes this series so special!
In the end, Atticus can’t go back on his given word of honour and he, Leif and four more companions set out for Asgard. On the way there Hearne cleverly gives us the tales of why they want to kill Thor. It’s done in a way reminiscent of the Canterbury Tales, with each character getting a chapter to tell their tale. I definitely got my wished for background history for Leif and as a bonus for Gunnar as well! The dynamic of this group worked really well and I really liked the time we spent with them. The battle in Asgard was awesome, very grim, but at times with some humour infused as well. They don’t all make it out alive, which I found very realistic, but also kind of sad. There is a lot of loss for Atticus in this book, which while painful also stresses Atticus’ humanity and shows that even if he had wanted to he can’t freeze his heart from caring about others.
As with Hounded and Hexed there is a lot of humour in the books and the same sense of fun pervades Hearne’s writing, despite things taking such a grim turn at the end. The one downside for me was the lack of Oberon in this book. Because Atticus is going into battle, he leaves Oberon safely in Tempe and we get far less of Oberon’s funny observations than we did in previous books. I look forward to Tricked to see where Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile end up after leaving Tempe. I’m also curious to see whether Hearne’s fun writing tone will darken to accompany the grim turn events have taken and the myriad of troubles that seem to lie in store for Atticus and company. Hammered is a great continuation of a very good urban fantasy series. The time to get on board with the series is now, before we dive in to the next phase of the story!
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.
With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbour’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.
Last year I read Kevin Hearne’s debut novel Hounded and really, really liked it. I very much enjoyed this take on urban fantasy, with a male protagonist, a blending of just about every pantheon you can think of and the most brilliant wolfhound ever in Oberon. So once I finished Hounded, I was thrilled to know there were already two more books on the way and there would be three more books in the more distant future. Earlier this month I finally got to go back to Tempe, Arizona and Atticus by reading Hexed and I’m pleased to report it was as fun as its predecessor was; Hearne’s writing is as good on second impression as it was the first time.
Between Hounded and Hexed there is a form of continuity, in the sense that decisions and events from the first book have their repercussions in this one, but the story arcs are separate and as such this book could be read out of sequence. However, that would cause the reader to miss a lot of the underlying nuance and some of the in-jokes – French poodles anyone? – which to me make this such a strong series. The elements that did return from the first novel, such as Atticus accepting Granuaile as his apprentice and his reaching a détente with the Tempe witches’ Coven were handled really well. The scenes in which Atticus goes to sign the non-aggression treaty, accompanied by his werewolf lawyer Hal, were really cool and showed how precarious this peace and the trust between the two parties really was.
One of my hopes for the series was that we’d find out more about Atticus’ past, as the glimpses we’d caught during Hounded were tantalising and I wanted more. Hexed delivered this through die Töchter des dritten Hauses; through them we learn more about Atticus’ activities in WWII. These flashbacks were truly enjoyable and lend a depth to Atticus’ character that was less noticeable in Hounded. Perhaps not so much providing history as enriching the universe’s mythology is the number of deities and mythological creatures that stop by to recruit Atticus to their cause, due to his increase in reputation—or rather perceived level of badassery. We meet several new pantheons outside of the Celtic and Christian and it was fun to see they all have similar goals: getting Atticus to promise to kill their particular nemesis. But it’s not just deities who try to recruit him, it’s his friends as well.
Atticus’ circle of friends is growing and while we meet new ones, our acquaintance with those of the previous book deepens. For example, we see a lot more of Atticus’ vampire lawyer, Leif. We learn more about his capabilities and his weaknesses and we see him fighting and kicking ass in a fantastic battle. Another character we get to see more of is Granuaile. As Atticus’ apprentice, she is also a way for Hearne (via Atticus) to give us some more background on Druidic magic and history when Atticus teaches her these things. She also shows how alone Atticus has become as the lone remaining Druid on the planet and how he keeps himself isolated because he doesn’t want to endanger his friends. What I really I like as well is that she’s the one piece of skirt that Atticus doesn’t pursue. Where in the previous book Atticus tended to think more with his loins than his brain, here he is careful to keep it in check around Granuaile.
Hexed contains lots of humour. For example, Atticus’ confusion when he gets seduced by the Morrigan – a rather painful experience, as she’s the Goddess of Death – and it wasn’t about the Morrigan lusting after him at all, it was about repairing some of the damage Atticus had sustained in Hounded or Atticus’ repeated attempts to update Leif’s rather old-fashioned manner of speech. But the most humour is displayed by Oberon. His snarky little commentaries on Atticus’ house guests, his silly obsessions with the strangest things, such as Sixties hippy culture and the Man, and the way he always, always know how to earn a treat, even if he doesn’t do anything, are very entertaining and I just love Oberon to bits.
Hexed is a great sequel, that doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s just as fun and fast-paced as the first book and just as addictive. It’s urban fantasy at its best. If you enjoyed the first book, this is a must-read, because it’s great to return to Atticus’ world. However, Hexed is far more open-ended than Hounded, with a clear hook in place for the third book. As such, I couldn’t wait to get started with Hammered, so I’ve already read that as well; look for a review of it later this week.
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
This must be my year for discovering new urban fantasy, though to be honest, I haven’t read that much urban fantasy to begin with, so maybe that should be discovering urban fantasy period. After reading and loving Ben Aaronovitch’s The Folly series, when I heard about The Iron Druid Chronicles, I had to read Hounded. It’s a completely different form of urban fantasy – where The Folly is a magical police procedural, The Iron Druid Chronicles is what seems to be the more classical supernatural kind of urban fantasy – it is just as good.
Hounded is told in a first-person narrative. The success of this sort of story depends on the strength of its narrator and protagonist. Luckily Atticus is a great one; he’s a fun mix of old soul and modern kid by choice, trying hard to blend in by learning the vagaries of modern language and technology. I would have loved to have learned more of his history and what he’s seen in his long life, but that might be the historical fiction fan in me coming to the surface. In Hounded we only get tantalizing glimpses and hints, hopefully they’ll be explored in future books. The same goes for some background history on the werepack and Leif. I thought the idea of Viking werewolves and a Viking vampire is very cool, especially them teaming up to start a law firm. And their payment plan is quite interesting as well!
Women are Atticus’ kryptonite. Let’s say our favourite druid has a very healthy libido, perhaps fitting for his seeming age of twenty-one, and it leads him into all kinds of trouble. On the one hand, I found this amusing, as you’d think that after twenty-one centuries, he’d have learned to deal with this by now. On the other hand, it was rather annoying to have him be distracted by every bit of skirt walking by! However, the irritation was smoothed away as we learn how there are several goddesses who happily exploit this weakness to manipulate him into doing what they want. You can’t help but groan every time Atticus let’s himself be led astray by his baser urges and misses some pertinent facts during these exchanges, not just with the goddesses, but with mortal women as well.
Oberon, Atticus’ hound, was fantastic! A hound who quotes Star Wars, what can be better than that? I like that Oberon’s voice is still quite doggy and not some all-wise familiar’s, where it is even hard to discern you’re still dealing with an animal companion. For example, when he sees Atticus coming home, he goes all mad with happiness as dogs are wont to do. He has some of the funniest lines in the book and his desire to be the canine version of Genghis Khan, including a harem of French poodles, is classic. I adore Oberon and I can’t wait to read more of him.
The plot centring around Atticus’ conflict with Aenghus Óg about the sword Fragarach is quite interesting too. While it could have been rather straightforward, it is anything but, and it’s the intricacies that make it engaging. At the heart of these intricacies are the Tuatha De Danann and their manipulations. I roundly fell for some of their schemes right along with Atticus. Add to this a coven of witches, who Atticus isn’t sure he can trust, a disgruntled across-the-street neighbour, the lovely Mrs. MacDonagh from up the street and a witch-possessed bartender wishing to become his apprentice, and you can see how Atticus might be feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. However, with the help of both Oberon, and his friendly Viking laywers, Atticus manages to keep his head afloat and manages to come through this conflict, if not unscathed, at least alive.
Hounded was so much fun, I raced through it. It’ll be interesting to see where Hearne will take his characters next in Hexed. Once the book-buying ban is lifted I’m definitely getting Hexed and Hammered! Good news for Hearne (and the reader) is that Orbit has snapped up the UK right to the first three books and even better news is that Del Rey has signed Hearne to deliver three more books in the Iron Druid Chronicles. So it looks like there will be plenty more Atticus and Oberon to enjoy in the future. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, of the different mythologies out there or just looking for a fun read, Hounded is definitely a book to pick and give a try.