Category Archives: Supernatural

Books with a supernatural element (vampires etc)

Paul Hoffman: Scorn (Review) Blog Tour

Paul Hoffman studied English at New College, Oxford before becoming a senior film censor at the British Board of Film Classification. He lives in the United Kingdom.

 

 

After an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong, depressed scientist Aaron Gall wakes up to discover his mind and body have undergone an astonishing transformation. Now bursting with the joys of life, he is inspired to undertake a radical new therapy: to talk to the priests who brutalised him and his school friends, point out the intellectual dishonesty and inhumanity of their religious beliefs – and then eat them. Aaron enjoys the process so much (as well as taunting the police and MI5) he decides to extend his murderous conversations to include the Archbishop of Westminster, recently converted Catholic Tony Blair, the Queen of England – and, finally, the Pope himself. But a Catholic Church that has given the world the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Papal Infallibility hasn’t survived for two thousand years without a reason. Aaron is in for the greatest shock in the history of mankind.

Review

When in 2010 Paul Hoffman burst onto the writing scene with The Left Hand of God i was beyond pleasantly surprised by the rich colourful and original world that had been created. The story was such an eclectic mix of real world names and fantastical armies and lands. With a protagonist that grew with the book, both in power and stature but also in age and experience. Sadly for me the series declined from that epic beginning (though they were still solid 3/5 books)

I wondered what had happened to this highly original and extremely engaging author, when out of the blue i was sent a review copy of Scorn. The cover alone just jumps out at you, again something new different and a bit irreverent.

As ever Paul Hoffman mixes the real with the fantastical, EG: the Queen, the Pope and Tony Blair to name some…. the latter who at one point has a long involved chat with a werewolf… yes i think that gives you an idea that this book has a level of insanity to it, but in every insanity is an element of genius, which once again exists in this book as it did in Left Hand, mix in walking the very fine line of irreverence/ blasphemy with the church which is something to be encouraged as too many authors shy away from pushing that boundary. Scorn has so much…. and yet unfortunately it fails to reach the heady heights that Left Hand of God did… close… but not quite. for me it squeaks a 4/5, which seems damning praise…. because i very very much enjoyed it… but i started and so will end comparing to that splendid book, Left hand of God, still the mans best work…. but if he keeps writing like this i think will even surpass it with this splendidly irreverent, crazy mind bending plot.

(Parm)

Series
Left Hand of God Trilogy
1. The Left Hand of God (2010)
2. The Last Four Things (2011)
3. The Beating of his Wings (2013)
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Filed under Fantasy, Paul Hoffman, Supernatural, Uncategorized

Michael Marshall Smith: Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence (Extract and review)

Michael Marshall Smith's picture

Michael Marshall Smith

Was born and raised — itinerantly — in the USA and the UK: his parents are academics. He has had two radio comedy series and a pilot TV series, and is currently working on screenplays for two feature films and the BBC adaptation of Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. Only Forward was his first novel, Spares his second. He is distressingly young.

book cover of 

Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence

Buy the book

An unpredictable, poignant, and captivating tale for readers of all ages, by the critically acclaimed author of Only Forward.
There are a million stories in the world. Most are perfectly ordinary.

This one isn’t.

Hannah Green actually thinks her story is more mundane than most. But she’s about to discover that the shadows in her life have been hiding a world where nothing is as it seems: that there’s an ancient and secret machine that converts evil deeds into energy, that some mushrooms can talk and that her grandfather has been friends with the Devil for over a hundred and fifty years, and now they need her help.

The publishers have kindly allowed me to provide a small extract from the book….

Extract

Then

Imagine, if you will, a watchmaker’s workshop.

In fact, please imagine one whether you wish to or not. That’s where something’s about to happen, something that won’t seem important right away but will turn out to be – and if you’re not prepared to listen to what I’m saying then this whole thing simply isn’t going to work.

So.

Imagine that thing I just said.

If it helps, the workshop is on the street level of an old and crumbling building, in a town some distance from here. With the exception of the workbench it is cluttered and dusty. The watchmaker is advanced in years and does not care about the state of the place, except for the area in which he works.

It is a late afternoon in autumn, and growing dark. Quite cold, too. It is quiet. The workshop is dimly lit by candles, and the watchmaker – you can picture him in the gloom, bent over his bench, if you wish – is wearing several layers of clothing to keep warm. He is repairing a piece he made several decades ago, the prized possession of a local nobleman. It will take him perhaps half an hour, he estimates, after which he’ll lock up his workshop and walk through the narrow streets to his house, where since the death of his wife he lives alone but for an elderly and bad-tempered cat. On the way he will stop off to purchase a few provisions, primarily a bag of peppermints, of which he is extremely fond. The watchmaker. Not the cat.

The timepiece he is working on is intricate, and very advanced for its time, though the watchmaker knows that were he to embark upon crafting something like it now he’d do things quite differently. He has learned a great deal since he made it. He doesn’t make anything new any more, however. He hasn’t in a long while. The story of his life has already been told. He is merely waiting for its final line.

Nonetheless, his eyes remain sharp and his fingers nimble, and in fact it only takes ten minutes before the watch is working perfectly once more. He reassembles it, and polishes the outside with his sleeve. Finished. Done.

He stands with the piece in his hands. He is aware, through his profound understanding of its workings, of the intricate mechanisms involved in its measuring of time, the hidden movements. He feels these as a subtle, almost imperceptible vibration, like the murmur of a tiny animal cupped in his hand, stirring in its sleep.

And he is aware of something else.

Not one thing, in fact, but a multitude – a cloud filling his mind like notes from a church organ, soaring up towards heaven. He is aware of children, and a grandchild. They cannot be his, because he has none: his marriage, though long and comfortable, was without issue. Aware, too, of the people who had come before him, his parents and grandparents and ancestors, aware not merely of the idea of them but their reality, their complexity – as though he has only ever been the soloist in the music of his life, supported upon the harmonies of others.

He’s aware also that though the candles in the workshop illuminate small areas, there are patches of darkness too, and parts that are neither one thing nor the other. That his entire life has been this way, not forever pulled between two poles but borne instead along far more complex currents, of which ticks and tocks are merely the extremes.

How did he come to be standing here on this cold after­noon? he wonders. What innumerable events led to this?

And why?

He shakes his head, frowning. This is not the kind of thought that usually occupies his mind. He is not normally prey, either, to a feeling of dread – though that is what is creeping up on him now. Something bad is about to happen.

Something wicked this way comes.

He hears footsteps in the street outside. He half turns, but cannot see who is approaching. The windows are grimy. He has not cleaned them in many years. Nobody needs to see inside. His venerable name on the sign is advertisement enough, and as he has gradually withdrawn from the world so he has come to value the privacy the windows’ opaqueness confers.

But now suddenly he wishes he could see who’s coming. And he wonders whether his life is over after all.

He waits, turning back to the bench, busying his hands.

And the door opens.

No, no, no. Sorry. Stop imagining things.

I’ve got this completely wrong. I’ve tried to tell the story from the beginning.

That’s always a mistake. I’ve learned my lesson since, and have even come to wonder if this is what I was dimly starting to comprehend on that cold, long-ago afternoon. Life is not like a watch or clock, something that can be constructed and then wound for the first time, set in motion.

There is no beginning. We are always in the middle.

OK, look. I’m going to start again.

 

Review:

This book is the first time i have read Michael Marshall Smith and i honestly didn’t know what to expect. What i found was such a surprise, the prose/ narrative seemed to match the plot, in that Hannah thought she was living a mundane existence until she found out her Grandfather had been friends with the devil for over 250 years.

I found that Michael Marshall Smith played out his tale in a very matter of fact style, the normal, the every day and the mundane flowing along with the extraordinary happening as if we should almost not bat an eye, showing where the mundane is often so much more than that. The story has a lovely endearing way of showing how a young girl can deal with all that life throws at her both in the ordinary and fantastical, how she and kids in general can be so adaptable. The characterization in this book is sublime and was a true revelation, something that will make me read more of this authors work, his effortless (seemingly) ability to portray and make his characters real and believable is the winner for this book.

A fantastically dark  and funny book that will leave you pondering it for some time afterwards.

(Parm)

 

Series
Ememess Collection
1. Ememess Issue 1 (2012)
2. Ememess Issue 2 (2012)
3. Ememess Issue 3 (2012)
4. Ememess Issue 4 (2012)
5. Ememess issue 5 (2012)
6. Ememess Issue 6 (2012)
7. Ememess issue 7 (2012)
8. Ememess Issue 8 (2012)
9. Ememess Issue 9 (2012)
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Novels
Only Forward (1994)
Spares (1996)
One of Us (1998)
The Servants (2007)
Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence(2017)
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Collections
What You Make It (1999)
Binary 2 (2000) (with Kim Newman)
More Tomorrow (2003)
What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night (2009)
Swallowed By The Cracks (2011) (with S G Browne, Gary McMahon and Lee Thomas)
Everything You Need (2013)
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Chapbooks
The Vaccinator (1998)
Cat Stories (2001)
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Novellas
Diet Hell (2012)
Hell Hath Enlarged Herself (2012)
Being Right (2012)
A Convenient Arrangement (2012)
The Handover (2012)
The Man Who Drew Cats (2012)
Save As… (2012)
When God Lived In Kentish Town (2012)
The Seventeenth Kind (2012)
Autumn (2012)
Later (2012)
Missed Connection (2012)
Two Shot (2012)
The Dark Land (2012)
Enough Pizza (2012)
Everybody Goes (2012)
Maybe Next Time (2012)
More Bitter Than Death (2012)
This Is Now (2012)
The Fracture (2012)
Getting Over (2012)
A Long Walk, For The Last Time (2012)
Open Doors (2012)
To Receive Is Better (2012)
Substitutions (2012)
The Gist (2013)
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Anthologies containing stories by Michael Marshall Smith
Dark Voices 2 (1990)
Best New Horror 2 (1991)
Best New Horror 3 (1992)
Dark Voices 4 (1992)
Dark Voices 5 (1992)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Seventh Annual Collection (1994)
Dark Voices 6 (1994)
The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein (1994)
Shadows over Innsmouth (1994)
The Giant Book of Terror (1994)
The Best New Horror 5 (1995)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Eighth Annual Collection (1995)
Dark Terrors (1995)
The Best New Horror 6 (1995)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Ninth Annual Collection (1996)
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Seven(1996)
Dark Terrors 2 (1996)
Twists of the Tale (1996)
Lethal Kisses (1996)
The Mammoth Book of Dracula (1997)
Dancing with the Dark (1997)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Tenth Annual Collection (1997)
Dark of the Night (1997)
Dark Terrors 3 (1997)
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Nine(1997)
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Eight(1997)
Scaremongers (1998)
Dark Terrors 4 (1998)
100 Twisted Little Tales of Torment (1998)
White of the Moon (1999)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Twelfth Annual Collection (1999)
999 (1999)
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Ten(1999)
Foursight (2000)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Thirteenth Annual Collection (2000)
Dark Terrors 5 (2000)
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Eleven(2000)
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Michael Whitehead: Legion Of The Undead: Rise and Fall (Review)

Michael Whitehead

Michael Whitehead was born in Liverpool, UK and did most of his growing up in Nottinghamshire. He now lives on the edge of Sherwood Forest with his wife and two children.

Growing up he was passionate about Liverpool FC and Heavy Metal. Not much has changed.

He has spent most of his working life as a truck driver, which means a fantastic amount of time spent listening to audio books.

Legion Of The Undead: Rise and Fall

Caught between the undead horde and civil war, the Roman Empire is on the verge of destruction.

Italy is in flames and Rome is under siege by the Risen, while Titus and Otho both lay claim to the title of Emperor.

Centurion Vitus Protus, Praetor Domitius, and their allies face a desperate choice. They must either stay and fight for the City of Rome or leave and survive in the wilderness left behind by the Risen.

Review:

I read Michael’s first book back in March and have to say i was pretty impressed, the story was well paced and despite it being Zombies had a decent level of reality to it with realistic characters. What it lacked was a bit of experience , feedback and editing.

Book Two Rise and Fall, Michael has taken all of that feedback on board, he has sought out a decent editor and between them they have made a very tight very fast paced tale. This book once again gives you all the flavour of the period but with that light historical touch so that you are not seeking the accuracy of historical fiction. His Zombies have more about them than the shambling walking dead who kill by weight of numbers, these bad boys are more along the lines of World War Z, they run they jump they attack. Couple that with Otho and his touch of Nero type madness and the story has quite a frenetic pace to see who will win the power battle for Rome, Titus, Otho… or the Undead. But the real win of this book is that while this cataclysmic tale is going on there is the more immediate/ Intimate family story of friends trying to escape and survive, to make it past the undead and soldiers and just get away from the madness.

I always like to find a new writer who can learn and grow very fast and am really impressed with the huge leap forward Michael has made in the space of 2 books….. i really am looking forward to book 3.

(Parm)

 

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Filed under Michael Whitehead, Supernatural

Steven Savile: Glass Town (Review)

author

Steven Savile is an international sensation, selling over half a million copies of his novels worldwide and writing for cult favorite television shows including Doctor WhoTorchwood, and Stargate. Now, he is finally making his US debut with Glass Town, a brilliantly composed novel revolving around the magic and mystery lurking in London.

GLASS TOWN

There’s always been magic in our world
We just needed to know where to look for it

In 1924, two brothers both loved Eleanor Raines, a promising young actress from the East End of London. She disappeared during the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s debut, Number 13, which itself is now lost. It was the crime of the age, capturing the imagination of the city: the beautiful actress never seen again, and the gangster who disappeared the same day.

Generations have passed. Everyone involved is long dead. But even now their dark, twisted secret threatens to tear the city apart.

Joshua Raines is about to enter a world of macabre beauty, of glittering celluloid and the silver screen, of illusion and deception, of impossibly old gangsters and the fiendish creatures they command, and most frighteningly of all, of genuine magic.

He is about to enter Glass Town.

The generations-old obsession with Eleanor Raines’s unsolved case is about to become his obsession, handed down father-to-son through his bloodline like some unwanted inheritance. But first he needs to bury his grandfather and absorb the implications of the confession in his hand, a letter from one of the brothers, Isaiah, claiming to have seen the missing actress. The woman in the red dress hadn’t aged a day, no matter that it was 1994 and she’d been gone seventy years.

Long buried secrets cannot stay secrets forever. Hidden places cannot stay hidden forever.

The magic that destroyed one of the most brutal families in London’s dark history is finally failing, and Joshua Raines is about to discover that everything he dared dream of, everything he has ever feared, is waiting for him in Glass Town.

Review

Anyone who is a regular reader of my reviews will know that this book is way outside my usual reading material. But look at Savile’s resume so much great writing on so many great shows (and he wrote Slaine…. one of my all time fav 2000ad characters)… i mean… whats not to like.

The story, Glass Town story is an observational mix of London life, old fashioned east end underworld and the supernatural/ mystic providing a backdrop for the dark tale of family secrets and obsession. the author has a intimate grip and feel for the location and also both the periods of this book. But the real win is  the characterization and observational descriptive in the book, it’s just excellent. At first i worried that the author was going to be a little windy in his descriptions, but very quickly i fell into the rhythm of the writing and found that rather than being too much the descriptive writing pulled me further into the plot and wrapped me tighter into the characters and the emotions that drove them.

The imagination behind the supernatural elements and the creatures that are conjured is just hugely impressive, but i should not be surprised for a man who wrote 2 Slaine books (serious… hero worship)… yeah he wrote a few other things as well… but Slaine!! sorry any way…..Glass Town, something fantastical, but yet written in such a way as to be highly believable and realistic.

Took me somewhere very new, and left me hugely impressed and as a dabbler at writing made me reassess my own descriptive writing.

Highly reccomended

(Parm)

 

Series
Slaine
1. Slaine the Exile (2006)
2. Slaine the Defiler (2007)
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Lazarus Initiative (with David Sakmyster)
1. N.D.E. (2011)
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Fireborn 
1. Each Ember’s Ghost (2012)
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Dane Maddock Origins
4. Dead Ice (2014) (with David Wood)
The Dane Maddock Origins Omnibus 1 (omnibus) (2016)(with Rick Chesler, Sean Ellis and David Wood)
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Infinite Frontiers
1. Stellaris (2016)
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Akiri (with Brian D Anderson)
1. The Scepter of Xarbaal (2016)
2. Sands Of Darkness (2017)
3. Dragonbane (2017)
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Byron Tibor (with Sean Black)
3. Winter’s Rage (2017)
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Ogimos: The Origins
Argo (2017)
Shining Ones (2017)
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Novels
Microfax Star Wars (1997)
The Sufferer’s Song (2000)
Secret Life of Colors (2000)
Similar Monsters (2001)
Houdini’s Last Illusion (2004)
Angel Road (2004)
The Fragrance of You (2005)
Laughing Boy’s Shadow (2010)
Last Angel (2010)
The Black Chalice (2011)
Hallowed Ground (2011) (with David Niall Wilson)
London Macabre (2012)
Immortal (2014)
Moonlands (2015)
Ritual (2015) (with Albert Johnson)
Sunfail (2015)
Parallel Lines (2017)
Glass Town (2017)
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Collections
Icarus Descending (1999)
Temple: Incarnations (2007)
eBooks at the Crossroad (2010) (with Ronald Kelly, Elizabeth Massie, Wayne Allen Sallee and David Niall Wilson)
The Forgetting Wood (2010)
Infinities (2011) (with Eric Brown, Garry Kilworth, Scott Nicholson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Anna Tambour)
Worlds Apart (2013) (with Jim Bernheimer, Lauren Harris, Matt Hilton, Laura Howard, Ashley Knight, Laura Bradley Rede, Liz Reinhardt, Aaron Rosenberg and David Wood)
Time’s Mistress (2014)
Crusader Kings II (2014) (with Scott Anderson, Lee Battersby, Luke Bean, Jordan Ellinger, James Erwin, Axel Kylander, Cory Lachance, James Mackie, M Harold Page, Aaron Rosenberg and Joseph Sharp)
Urban Enemies (2017) (with Kelley Armstrong, Amber Benson, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Caitlin Kittredge, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, C E Murphy, Joseph Nassise, Lilith Saintcrow, Craig Schaefer, Jeff Somers, Carrie Vaughn, Jaye Wells and Sam Witt)
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Novellas
For This Is Hell (2012) (with Aaron Rosenberg)
H.N.I.C. (2013) (with Albert Johnson)
King Wolf (2014)
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S

Series contributed to
Warhammer : Von Carstein
1. Inheritance (2006)
2. Dominion (2006)
3. Retribution (2007)
Vampire Wars (omnibus) (2008)
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Doctor Who : Short Trips
Destination Prague (2007)
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Warhammer
Curse of the Necrarch (2008)
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Torchwood
Hidden (2008)
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Primeval
1. Shadow of the Jaguar (2008)
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Stargate SG-1
15. The Power Behind the Throne (2009)
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Ogmios Team Adventure
1. Silver (2010)
2. Solomon’s Seal (2012) (with Steve Lockley)
3. Wargod (2012) (with Sean Ellis)
4. Lucifer’s Machine (2013) (with Rick Chesler)
5. Crucible (2014) (with Steve Lockley)
Ogmios (omnibus) (2013) (with Rick Chesler, Sean Ellisand Steve Lockley)
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Stellar Guild
1. Tau Ceti (2011) (with Kevin J Anderson)
Stellar Guild Box Set One (omnibus) (2017) (with Kevin J Anderson, Eric Flint and Charles E Gannon)
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Latchkeys
1. Unlatched (2012)
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Arkham Horror (with Steve Lockley)
The Sign of Glaaki (2013)
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Kindle Worlds : Shadow Ops
1. Embracing the Shadows (2015)
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Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Greenberger)
Murder at Sorrow’s Crown (2016)
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Anthologies edited
Scaremongers 2 (1998)
Elemental (2006) (with Alethis Kontis)
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Non fiction
Fantastic TV (2010)
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Anthologies containing stories by Steven Savile
Scaremongers (1998)
Scaremongers 2 (1998)
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Angela Slatter : Vigil (Review) Blog Tour.

Angela Slatter

Angela Slatter's picture

Specialising in dark fantasy and horror, Angela Slatter is the author of The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, andBlack-Winged Angels, as well as Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory (both with Lisa L. Hannett). She has won five Aurealis Awards, one British Fantasy Award, and a World Fantasy Award, as well as being a finalist for the Norma K. Hemming Award.

Angelas short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Ofanthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror (Stephen Jones, ed.), The Years Best Dark Fantasy and Horror (Paula Guran, ed.), The Best Horror of the Year (Ellen Datlow, ed.), The Years Best Australian Fantasy and Horror(Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, eds.), and The Years Best YA Speculative Fiction(Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, eds.).

She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships.

Her novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (from Tor.com), and Ripper (in the Stephen Jones anthology Horrorology, from Jo Fletcher Books) will be released in October 2015.

Angelas urban fantasy novel, Vigil (based on the short story Brisneyland byNight), will be released by Jo Fletcher Books in 2016, and the sequel,Corpselight, in 2017. She is represented by Ian Drury of the literary agency Sheil Land.

 Blog tour poster
Vigil  (2016) (The first book in the Vigil series)
vigil

Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds.

The daughter of one human and one Weyrd parent, she has very little power herself, but does claim unusual strength – and the ability to walk between us and the other – as a couple of her talents. As such a rarity, she is charged with keeping the peace between both races, and ensuring the Weyrd remain hidden from us.

But now Sirens are dying, illegal wine made from the tears of human children is for sale – and in the hands of those Weyrd who hold with the old ways – and someone has released an unknown and terrifyingly destructive force on the streets of Brisbane.

And Verity must investigate – or risk ancient forces carving our world apart.

Review
I couldn’t resist reading this when the kind people at Jo Fletcher asked me if i would be part of the blog tour, the cover art alone is totally intriguing, that angelic, yet slightly disturbing image, something added to when you hold the book, not sure if its intentional but it has a waxy, almost slightly slimy quality to it which adds to the weyrd nature of the book.
When reading the book i could not help but make some comparisons to the first time i read Ben Aaronivitch, that sense of something a bit different but also something excellent in the making. While Vigil lacks the humour of Ben’s books (its supposed to)  it has a much more open and in your face Weyrd world, which requires more from the author in making the real world and the Weyrd blend and work hand in hand.
Angela Slatter managed it perfectly, not only did the narrative flow, but it was believable. Thats not an easy thing to accomplish when talking about Sirens, angels, boatmen and many other creatures of Weyrd origin.
Using a half breed (Verity Fassbinder) to cross the boundaries between worlds is a stroke of genius, an understanding of both worlds, and yet retaining that outsider hero element. Every chapter pulled… drove you to the next. I was forcing myself to put it down every night, wanting to see how all the threads of this plot would pull together, so i could finally see the whole Machiavellian plot that the author had kept shrouded until the end.
This series has huge potential for a long run, the characters have so much rich history (not just Verity) there are creatures as ancient as time, knowledge stretching over centuries all of which will lead to some very twisted ideas. The location was exotic and yet familiar, and the clash of normal to Weyrd culture so apt with all the modern culture clashes that the whole book resonates with the reader on a very real level (which is a surprise given the story). Bring on book 2…and 3 and many more.
(Parm)

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Filed under Angela Slatter, Supernatural

Jasper Kent: The last Rite (review)

Jasper Kent

Jasper Kent's picture
UK (1968 – )

Jasper Kent was born in Worcestershire, England in 1968. He attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham and went on to study Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, specialising in physics.

Jasper has spent almost twenty years working as a software engineer in the UK and in Europe, whilst also working on writing both fiction and music. In that time, he has produced the novels Twelve, Thirteen Years Later, Yours Etc., Mr Sunday and Sifr, as well as co-writing several musicals, including The Promised Land and Remember! Remember!

He currently lives in Brighton, with eight rats called Manjula, Lurleen, Alecto, Nyssa, Isolde, Polly, Messalina and Maude, and a person called Helen.

The Last Rite  (2014) 
(The fifth book in the Danilov Quintet series)

Book Description:

Buy the paperback

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Russia – 1917. Zmyeevich, king of all vampires, is dead.

History records that the great voordalak – known across Europe as Dracula – perished in 1893 beneath the ramparts of his own castle, deep in the mountains of Wallachia. In Russia, the Romanov tsars are free of the curse that has plagued their blood for two centuries.

But two decades later and Tsar Nicholas II faces a new threat – a threat from his own people. War has brought Russia to her knees and the people are hungry for change. Revolution is in the air.

Mihail Konstantinovich Danilov – who himself carries Romanov blood – welcomes the prospect of a new regime. Like his ancestors he once fought to save the Romanovs from the threat that Zmyeevich brought them. Fought and won. But now he sees no future for a Russia ruled by a tyrant. He is joined in the struggle by his uncle, Dmitry Alekseevich – a creature born in a different era, over a century before. For more than half his existence he has been a vampire, and yet he still harbours one very human desire; that his country should be free.

But the curse that infects the blood of the Romanovs cannot be so easily forgotten and Mihail soon discovers that it – that he – may become the means by which a terror once thought eradicated might be resurrected . . .

Review

The series so far has been thoroughly dark and entertaining, I had high hopes for the grand finale and what ever Jasper Kent had in store for us, as with the other four books in the series he did not disappoint.

Set during the Russian Revolution a period of dark change, intrigue, betrayal and want in a nation thoroughly torn by the rise of the Bolsheviks and the decline of the Tsarist empire. Jasper Kent continues in the same vein as the rest of the series and concentrates his story and his view on the immediate, those things that impact the everyday man rather than the momentous events of history, this I know has been a point of concern with some readers, but it works for me, the immediacy it creates is worth the loss of the wider history.

The central character of  Mihal Danilov, a man who has lived a life dedicated to the eradication of all vampire kind gives a fatalistic, very Russian outlook on his country  and his role in life. Sometimes that fatalistic view drags on the pace of the plot but the counter POV (which you will have to read the book to find out whom…or i fear i will give spoilers) provides the perfect foil and opposing view to drive the reader forward to an unexpected and thrilling conclusion.

By creating a mix of well researched Russian historical fiction with the authors own take on the  Vampire culture Jasper Kent has created something unique, and thoroughly enjoyable!

(Parm)

Series
Danilov Quintet
1. Twelve (2009)
2. Thirteen Years Later (2010)
3. The Third Section (2011)
4. The People’s Will (2013)
5. The Last Rite (2014)
aka The Last Oprichnik

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Jasper Kent, Supernatural

Sarah Lotz : Day Four (Review)

Sarah Lotz

South Africa
aka S L Grey, Lily Herne, Helena S Paige

Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist who pens urban horror novels under the name S.L Grey with author Louis Greenberg, YA zombie novels with her daughter, as Lily Herne, and is one third of pseudonymous erotica author Helena S. Paige. She lives in Cape Town with her family and other animals.

Book Description

Day Four

The trip of their dreams becomes the holiday of their nightmares: DAY FOUR is Sarah Lotz’s extraordinary, unmissable follow-up to the book that made headlines around the world, THE THREE – perfect for fans of The Shining Girls, The Passage and Lost. Four days into a five day singles cruise on the Gulf of Mexico, the ageing ship Beautiful Dreamer stops dead in the water. With no electricity and no cellular signals, the passengers and crew have no way to call for help. But everyone is certain that rescue teams will come looking for them soon. All they have to do is wait. That is, until the toilets stop working and the food begins to run out. When the body of a woman is discovered in her cabin the passengers start to panic. There’s a murderer on board the Beautiful Dreamer…and maybe something worse.

Review

Day Four is certainly not my normal reading fare, I’m not a fan of horror flicks and tend to avoid the sort of program that messes with your head. But Three was such a good book that it broke the mold for this genre, for me it sits somewhere between supernatural and thriller. Day Four didn’t disappoint and yet its a very different novel… i think the title lends the appearance of a sequel… it is in only the most tenuous way.

The plot is set aboard the Beautiful Dreamer, a budget cruise ship which gets stranded at sea. The story unfolds amidst the drama of various groups coping with the uncertainty of a bleak open calm sea and no sign of rescue, coupled with  day after day of banal updates from “Damien” the crew director. Updates designed to keep passengers mollified but seem to just confirm that they are not going to be rescued. As conditions grow increasingly more rank and odorous, the passengers grow more and more desperate and order breaks down. Couple this with the desperate passengers who become more and more spooked by inexplicable shadowy figures and a distinctly fake showbiz medium suddenly gaining a habit of accurate predictions.

Day Four isn’t a lovable book, the passengers in general are what we all despise in modern society, the idle, the privileged over entitled middle class basting themselves in the sun, treating staff like serfs. When things go wrong and people are left to fend for themselves its all lord of the flies… and with the volume of poop…lots of flies. There is room in this carnage however for some very insightful engaging characters some engaging personalities among all the detritus of humanity.  This is a book of clever description that plays out in the mind of the reader, the rank smells and dire straights that crew and passenger alike are in, seeps off the page, such is the skill of the writer.
I recommend it as a read, its not The Three… its different… good different though.
(Parm)
New Books
Novels
The Three (2014)
Day Four (2015)
Pompidou Posse (2015)
Collections
Dark Harvest (2014) (with Toby Bennett, Amy Lee Burgess, Autumn Christian, Sonya Clark, Carrie Clevenger, Nerine Dorman, Rab Swannock Fulton, D C Petterson, Anna Reith, Liz Strange and Donn Webb)
SL Grey
Novels
The Mall (2011)
The Ward (2012)
The New Girl (2013)
Underground (2015)
House Swap (2016)
Collections
The Lowest Heaven (2013) (with Archie Black, David Bryher, Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Sophia McDougall, Simon Morden, Mark Charan Newton, Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Esther Saxey, Jared Shurin, E J Swift, Lavie Tidhar and Kaaron Warren)

Lily Herne

Series
Deadlands
1. Deadlands (2013)
2. Death of a Saint (2013)
3. The Army Of The Lost (2014)
Novels
Ash Remains (2016)
Helena S Paige
Novels
A Girl Walks Into a Bar (2013)
A Girl Walks Into a Wedding (2013)
A Girl Walks into a Blind Date (2014)

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Filed under Sarah Lotz, Supernatural