It Happened One Doomsday is the first book I’ve read by Laurence MacNaughton. It looks like most of his other work would be classified as supernaturalIt Happened One Doomsday is the first book I’ve read by Laurence MacNaughton. It looks like most of his other work would be classified as supernatural thrillers, although Conspiracy of Angels has a definite urban fantasy vibe. It Happened One Doomsday lands on the border of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with a brisk plot and characters who are, for the most part, likeable. The story relies on the old biblical story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and by far my favorite thing in this book are the steeds of the horsemen; instead of riding dragons or generic monsters (or even motorcycles), the four horsemen drive muscle cars. “A 1969 Dodge Daytona,” he said. When she didn’t reply right away he seemed to mistake her silence for ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
If you’re a fan of heist stories — particularly the planning, the bickering between co-conspirators, the moments when it all goes dreadfully wrong orIf you’re a fan of heist stories — particularly the planning, the bickering between co-conspirators, the moments when it all goes dreadfully wrong or sublimely right — and you also happen to enjoy epic fantasies with vicious fire-breathing dragons and their vast caches of filthy lucre, then you’ll be happy to know that there’s a Venn diagram where those two genres meet, and the center is filled by Jon Hollins’ debut fantasy novel, The Dragon Lords: Fool’s Gold.
In the lovely but oppressed Kondorra valley, humans farm and fish and pay taxes to the Dragon Consortium, a united band of dragons who demand exorbitant amounts of gold every year and take pleasure in using their subjects for aerial target practice. The people are downtrodden, miserable, and in desperate need of salvation from a... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
They live in Chicago. They’re young. They’re hip. They have tattoos. They can serve you any alcoholic drink you can name, and after last call, when3.5
They live in Chicago. They’re young. They’re hip. They have tattoos. They can serve you any alcoholic drink you can name, and after last call, when the bars are closed, they go out for pancakes. And... they are part of a magical society, the Cupbearers Court, protecting innocent citizens, like you and me, from being attacked by demonic monsters. That’s the premise of Paul Krueger’s debut novel, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge.
I mean, come on... we’ve always known alcohol was magical, haven’t we? Krueger’s fast-paced, fun urban fantasy literalizes the idea of alcohol as magic, and bartenders, with their encyclopedic knowledge and their alchemical ability to mix spirits, fruit, botanicals and sometimes fizzy stuff into tasty mind-altering beverages, into wizardly members of a ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
Sherryl Jordan is a New Zealand-based author of young adult and children’s fantasy fiction. In Winter of Fire (1993) she tells the story of Elsha, a sSherryl Jordan is a New Zealand-based author of young adult and children’s fantasy fiction. In Winter of Fire (1993) she tells the story of Elsha, a sixteen year old girl born into the enslaved underclass called the Quelled. As the sun has disappeared from the world, a memory only alive in mythology, the Quelled are forced to mine for the firestones that are the people's only source of warmth. But Elsha has a rebellious spirit and is often in trouble with the brutal overseers at the mine. They are from the upper class, the people known as the Chosen.
Elsha's life is changed forever when she is chosen to be the handmaid of the legendry Firelord. The Firelord is the most important man in the world as he possesses the power to divine for firestones, the life fuel of every person alive. The Firelord's choice is ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
Emma Rios’ I.D. is a graphic story with a good premise, and some flashes of excellent artwork, but overall the illustration style didn’t work for me,Emma Rios’ I.D. is a graphic story with a good premise, and some flashes of excellent artwork, but overall the illustration style didn’t work for me, while the characters and plot weren’t developed enough for my liking.
It begins with a trio of seemingly mismatched people conversing in a coffeeshop, and one of those aforementioned flashes of brilliance come via the page after we see a pull-back view of the three at their table. The next page is a series of fifteen close up of eyes, fingers, hands, and coffee cups conveying in wonderfully expressive and economic fashion the discomfort these three feel.
I’m enjoying the current upswing in H.P. Lovecraft-influenced horror. Modern writers are expanding upon the best elements of his authorial legacy, likI’m enjoying the current upswing in H.P. Lovecraft-influenced horror. Modern writers are expanding upon the best elements of his authorial legacy, like the Elder Gods, inter-dimensional travel, and Things Which Should Not Be, while setting aside (or, with regards to authors like Ruthanna Emrys and Victor Lavalle, directly subverting and confronting) the racism, classism, and sexism. Similarly-minded readers will want to make note of Red Right Hand (2016), Levi Black’s debut novel and a fine addition to the weird fiction genre.
I picked up The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway (2013) because it was free at Audible2.5 stars from Kat, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
I picked up The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway (2013) because it was free at Audible a while back. It’s the prequel to Karina Cooper’s ST. CROIX CHRONICLES which is set in Victorian London and begins with the novel Tarnished. In The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway, we meet Cherry St. Croix, an opium-addicted tomboyish teenage orphan who lives with a wealthy benefactor and sneaks out at night to earn money to support her addiction. She does this by being a “collector,” which is something like a bounty hunter.
This is the story of her first collection attempt. She must bring in a Mr. Strangeway, who is wanted for his various debts. As she tracks him down, she has to hang out in the sooty seedy parts of London where she gets involved with many disreputable characters such as terrorists, traitors, and a man who is exploiting child laborers. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
Every summer I look forward to spending a few days in San Francisco with Lily Ivory, her e4 stars from Kat, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
Every summer I look forward to spending a few days in San Francisco with Lily Ivory, her employees at her vintage clothing shop, her gluttonous familiar Oscar, her sexy boyfriend Sailor, and various other inhabitants of the Haight district where Lily works and lives. These are charming folks who, since they’re set in a paranormal cozy mystery series, tend to bumble into a crime scene every few weeks.
This time, Lily goes to visit a woman who owns a competing vintage clothing shop and who has filed suit against Lily for something Oscar did. Readers won’t be surprised that the woman dies soon after this confrontation and that Lily is, once again, being questioned by the San Francisco police. Being a bit nosey, and having a flexible working schedule, Lily (again) sets out to uncover the culprit and, in the process, explores more of San Francisco (she’s relatively new to the area), meets more of the city’s denizens, and hears some of its old legends. For example, she spends time at a popular dog park, makes friends with a lady who has a cupcake shop, learns a legend about a shoeshine boy’s curse, visits a fashion exhibit at a local museum, and spends the night in a famous haunted house. Along the way, readers will learn some fascinating historical facts about the poisons used in the textile industry. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE ...more
Before I begin my review of Chuck Wendig’s Life Debt, book two of the STAR WARS: AFTERM4 stars from Marion, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
Before I begin my review of Chuck Wendig’s Life Debt, book two of the STAR WARS: AFTERMATH trilogy, I want to talk about myself for a minute. I like STAR WARS. I loved the original three movies. I didn’t like The Phantom Menace, surfed away from Attack of the Clones about two-thirds of the way through, and never saw Revenge of the Sith. Remember that I’m the person who couldn’t figure out why commenters on various sites kept talking about the European Union as part of the Star Wars cycle because I didn’t know that “EU” meant “Extended Universe.” I’m not a capital-F Fan.
What I am is an enthusiastic reader. I enjoyed Star Wars: Aftermath. In fact, I hadn’t made any plans to see Star Wars: the Force Awakens (see my reaction to the prequels, above), but I enjoyed the first book in this three-book series enough that it made me change my mind. With Aftermath: Life Debt, my enjoyment continues. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
Laura Linney, one of Hollywood’s preeminent mainstream actresses of the early 21st centu4 stars from Sandy, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
Laura Linney, one of Hollywood’s preeminent mainstream actresses of the early 21st century, made a pair of highly effective horror pictures in 2002 and 2005 that share a number of notable similarities. The Mothman Prophecies, the earlier film, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, are both products of the Screen Gems/Lakeshore Entertainment production company, and both deal with supernatural events that are purportedly based on real-life incidents. Both films go far in convincing the viewer of the possibility of the bizarre happenings portrayed as being genuine and real (unknowable, highly advanced life forms watching over mankind in the first; demonic possession in the latter), and both, strangely enough, clock in at precisely 119 minutes. But whereas the exorcism film was based on a German case, transplanted here to midland America, Mothman retains its real-life setting and historical basis — the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on 12/15/67; a disaster that killed 46 people — but updates it to modern times. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
Fragment by Warren Fahy horror book reviewsFragment by Warren Fahy I’ve read a number of3 stars from Jason, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
Fragment by Warren Fahy horror book reviewsFragment by Warren Fahy I’ve read a number of reviews and comments that compare Warren Fahy‘s Fragment (2009) with Michael Crichton and Jurassic Park. Fragment and Jurassic Park have similar themes and bare bones basic concepts. Both stories involve humans battling supernatural, prehistoric monsters and self-centered murderous villains on the remotest of islands. Let’s be clear: stop there and consider the comparisons complete. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed Fahy’s debut novel. It’s the perfect summertime beach or pool-side read, and its 500 pages fly by faster than the Hender’s Island Spigers rip apart defenseless characters in Fahy’s book.
The concept of Fragment is pretty cool. A reality TV show follows scientists on a round-the-world science-based cruise and comes across this ridiculously remote 2-mile wide island in the middle of the Pacific. The scientists and crew soon discover the island is full of extremely aggressive and creatively evolved creatures. Madness and mayhem soon follow as most of the cast is eaten within minutes of landing on the island. Once you throw in a couple of strong-willed and morally incorruptible good guys and add your obligatory military tough guys, along with a nasty bad guy, you’ve got yourself a pretty good action adventure. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
I have to confess that Articulating Dinosaurs (2016) by Brian Noble wasn’t quite what I’d4 stars from Bill, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
I have to confess that Articulating Dinosaurs (2016) by Brian Noble wasn’t quite what I’d expected, though that was certainly more my fault for not reading the description closely and in its entirety. Basically, any author/publisher has me at “dinosaurs,” so everything after that is just so much superfluous verbiage. So yes, I can’t say I was at all fully prepared for the academic/critical theory nature of the work, though it didn’t take too many early references to Lacan or Foucault before I figured out my misperception and readjusted my expectations. It’s been a few years (OK, decades) since my crit days, and I can’t say that even when I was reading critical theory that I was wholly enjoying or comprehending it (I do recall doing a lot of back-and-forth page-flipping re-reading with Lacan, for instance. Plus, I’m pretty sure there was swearing). Those memories didn’t quite encourage me to go back and ground myself more fully, so I just forged ahead with Noble’s work, cheerfully acknowledging my ignorance of many of his referents, and you know what — and here’s the key for those of you already thinking you’re moving on — it didn’t matter.
Because while a good amount of abstruse terminology reared its sometimes ugly/intimidating/annoying head (or, for those better versed in such things, its informative/insightful/thoughtful head), I still thoroughly enjoyed Articulating Dinosaurs for its arguments, its real-world concrete examples of points (especially in the form of the lengthy case study of a specific museum exhibit), Noble’s lucid prose (despite the inherent fogginess of some of the critical language), and the way the work places dinosaurs in a sociological/cultural context. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
I think Genevieve Valentine has invented a new subgenre: the fashionpunk political th4.5 stars from Marion, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
I think Genevieve Valentine has invented a new subgenre: the fashionpunk political thriller. So far both books in THE PERSONA SEQUENCE, Persona (2015) and Icon (2016), fit into this fashion-forward category, where appearance is everything… or at least, so it appears.
"… In this light they looked like ghosts or witches, something powerful and untouchable and lovely, even in pencil skirts and jeans and sequin tops and Kipa’s sensible cardigan with the top button of her blouse left undone."
Suyana Sapaki is the Face for a young political jurisdiction called the United Amazon Rainforest Coalition. Faces appear at diplomatic events, committee meetings and general meetings of an international group called the International Alliance, which has replaced the United Nations. Faces cast votes. They cast the vote they are told to cast. They speak the words that are scripted for them by people we never see. They look good; they know how to pose, how to smile and sign autographs, how to walk a red carpet. They are no more “diplomats” than reality television is “real.” In case we’ve forgotten from Persona, the very first page of Icon reminds us that Suyana doesn’t have a life. She has an itinerary. ...review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
A Slip of the Keyboard collects much of Terry Pratchett’s non-fiction. In speeches, artic3 stars from Ryan, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
A Slip of the Keyboard collects much of Terry Pratchett’s non-fiction. In speeches, articles, and letters, Pratchett holds forth on a variety of subjects, ranging from book tours to hats to policies relating to Alzheimer’s and assisted dying. He also discusses Australia, conventions, and his development as a writer.
The book is divided into three sections, and I found the third section, entitled “Days of Rage,” the most powerful. Most of these texts touch on either Alzheimer’s or assisted dying. Eager to move past any taboo related to his disease, Pratchett concisely and generously shares what he experiences before urging his audience to take action. Though many lines stand out in this section, here is one that struck me: “It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases — one was Alzheimer’s and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer’s.” He explains in detail what he could do and what he could not do, and how he works around complications from the disease. Though Pratchett seeks to shape British policy in these texts, they will be emotionally trying no matter the reader’s nationality. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
I consider Margaret Atwood to be a literary treasure. The Handmaid’s Tale. Alias Grace. T3 stars from Bill, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
I consider Margaret Atwood to be a literary treasure. The Handmaid’s Tale. Alias Grace. The Blind Assassin. The MADDADDAM trilogy. Any author would be thrilled to have written a single work evincing such craft and depth. Atwood churns them out on a regular basis. That context is important here, because her most recent work, The Heart Goes Last, is in my mind definitely a “lesser” Atwood and is in several ways a disappointing work. But that’s “lesser” and “disappointing” in relation to Atwood’s other output, which means despite that overall judgment, there’s still a lot of biting wit, some spot-on social/cultural satire, and prose that is always precise, smooth, and that at times delivers lines that strike right you right between the eyes.
Early on it appears we’re in somewhat typical Atwood territory, a sort of near-future dystopia. Financial collapse has wreaked its havoc on the world and the US, and Charmaine and Stan are dumpster diving and living out of their car, having lost their jobs at Ruby Slippers Retirement Homes and Clinics and Dimple Robotics, respectively. Despite their lives being turned upside down and seemingly headed even further in the wrong direction, they still seem sweetly naïve in their love for each other and their continued attempts to climb out of their hole. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
As with most collections, whether they be of stories, poems, or essays, I found Invader4.5 stars from Bill, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
As with most collections, whether they be of stories, poems, or essays, I found Invaders: 22 Tales from the Outer Limits of Literature, edited by Jacob Wesiman, to be a mixed bag overall, with some weak stories, some solidly good ones, some very good ones, and several absolutely great ones, more in fact than I typically find in an anthology, making this an easy collection to recommend.
The authors collected here are non-genre writers known mostly for “literary fiction,” such as George Saunders, Max Apple, Molly Gloss, Jim Shepard, Katherine Dunn, and Junot Diaz. In his introduction, Wesiman says the idea for this anthology came out of the responses he saw to an earlier one (from 2009) entitled The Secret History of Science Fiction, which was “intended to be a serious investigation of the intersection between literary writers who occasionally dabbled in science fiction and science fiction writers who occasionally dabbled in something resembling literary fiction.” The reactions, he states, were mostly positive, save for some that were angry and defensive, accusing the editors (James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel) of telling science fiction writers how they “should write.” The most prevalent critical response, though, he says, was that the genre authors’ stories were superior to their non-genre counterparts, who were “somehow off the mark or ignorantly reinventing old tropes.” ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
Every great novelist has to begin somewhere, and for future sci-fi Grand Master Clifford3 stars from Sandy, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
Every great novelist has to begin somewhere, and for future sci-fi Grand Master Clifford D. Simak, that beginning was his first novel, Cosmic Engineers. This is not to say, of course, that this novel was the first attempt at writing that Simak had ever made. Far from it, as a matter of fact. Cosmic Engineers originally appeared as a three-part serial in the February – April 1939 issues of John W. Campbell’s highly influential Astounding Science-Fiction magazine, and in a slightly expanded book form 11 years later. But before 1939, Simak had placed no fewer than 10 short stories in the pages of ASF and Thrilling Wonder Stories, while at the same time working as a journalist on the Minneapolis Star & Tribune, his “day job” until his retirement in 1976, at age 72.
Cosmic Engineers is an atypical book for this beloved author, displaying little if any of his later, “gentle” style, pastoral leanings, and settings in rural Wisconsin. (There IS one passage, however, in which one of the characters declares “There are some things that never change. The smell of fresh-plowed fields and the scent of hayfields at harvest time and the beauty of trees against the skyline at evening…”) It is, rather, a novel of fairly hard science, a genre that Campbell (an ex-MIT student and aspiring engineer himself) highly favored, mixed in with a goodly dollop of “sense of wonder” writing that was deemed so very essential for Golden Age sci-fi. The result is a just barely pleasing, mixed affair that should come as a surprise to all of Simak’s many fans. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
The year is 1956. A decade ago, Hitler and the Nazis won World War Two, and Germany is n3.5 stars from Ray, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
The year is 1956. A decade ago, Hitler and the Nazis won World War Two, and Germany is now gearing up for the annual Axis Tour: a motorbike race in which the Axis powers — the Third Reich and Imperial Japan — compete to commemorate their victory over Britain and Russia. The race takes riders across seas and continents, from its kick-start in Germany all the way to the finishing line in Japan. Eighteen-year-old Yael, holocaust survivor and death camp escapee, has one goal: to win the race and kill Hitler.
Yael’s story begins on a train. Rewind ten years from the race’s start, and we find an eight-year-old Yael and her mother stuffed into a train like cattle, along with hundreds of other souls destined for a death camp. But before she enters, a scientist picks Yael from the crowd of Jews to become a guinea pig for his experiments: he wants to test a new formula that will alter the appearance of any person to look Aryan. Out of these twisted tests, Yael develops a power: she is able to skin-shift and can transform herself into any appearance she chooses. By altering her face, she escapes the death camp and joins the resistance against the Axis Powers. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more
I really wanted to like The Swan Book by Alexis Wright. I mean, it has so many eleDid Not Finish from Bill, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE
I really wanted to like The Swan Book by Alexis Wright. I mean, it has so many elements I would usually find enticing by themselves or a few at a time, let alone all at once: magical realism, non-linear structure, multiple POVs, moments of high-flying lyricism, biting wit and satire, dystopia, sharp dialogue, a social conscience. But man, did I struggle with this one from just about the beginning. But I kept going. Like I said, all those elements. Plus, rave reviews and awards — those people couldn’t all be wrong, right? And there absolutely were early moments of sheer brilliance, enough so that I kept going, sure I would soon turn the corner and fall in love with it. Sure that the moments would turns into pages then into chapters. And I’d look back and think, “Silly me, what was I worried about?”
So I persevered on my trusty Kindle. Ten percent. Twenty percent. Thirty. Forty. Forty-five. Forty-six. Forty-six point six. Forty-six point seven. Point eight. Point eight-five. Well, you get the picture. ...read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE...more