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Take a trip across time and space with the latest Sci-Fi titles; head to another universe with the latest and greatest Fantasy novels and get your heart pumping with a brilliant selection of Horror.
My heart is full of love for this darkly beautiful and mind-twisting novel. Set in the time of Elizabeth I, a curse given in anguish and hate is set to run amok. At birth Beau is burdened with great beauty and is due to be the cause of the death of his father, while unrelated to the curse, Randa is born a mix of beast and human. And, so begins a story of the greatest highs and the lowest lows, of revenge and hope, love and despair. The first sentence sucked me in, and I was held in thrall throughout. This is a completely gorgeous blend of Shakespearean drama, the very darkest of fairy tales, and the simply wonderful pen of Wray Delaney. I felt a reassuring half-formed recognition as I read, yet at the same time, a prickle of awareness that I was an explorer, charting an entirely new world. I highly recommend The Beauty of the Wolf to anyone who hungers for a bite of difference, with a more than a twist of glorious darkness. I have chosen this as both a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book, it’s fierce, it’s wonderful, I adored it.
From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series that follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel. All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation-a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke. Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn't bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever-even if it means revealing the secrets they've both been keeping. Learn more about the world of the Shadowhunters at Shadowhunters.com.
This is what a reading experience is all about, Ness touches, tests, pushes, strokes, inspires, and I have given this little book my heart. I have hesitated about explaining the background to Ness, but have decided that to know doesn’t unduly shape thoughts. Orford Ness in Suffolk is a shingle island which is constantly changing due to the sea and weather. It is the site of an abandoned military base where research included nuclear weaponry during the Cold War. The author and illustrator know this place, and have created a powerful lyrical read where nature takes steps to stop a crime against the world. It is a wonderful heady mix of novella and poetry-prose, a fantasy creation of word and illustration that took up lodging in my mind. A hagstone, which allows a veiled glimpse to the future or past, sits centre stage throughout the book, the illustrations by Stanley Donwood allowing a viewing station, a pause, before the next taste of action. The words by Robert Macfarlane sing, they just beg to be spoken, to be heard. As I spoke the words, I had the feeling that I was setting them free, and at the final few pages a shiver of emotion skittered down my arms. Ness is a beautiful yet fierce and frightening call, containing a warning that we should be shrieking from the rooftops. I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
This deservedly best-selling series launches with a powerful love story that thrills and chills in equal measure. Sailing from New York, 16 year old Tessa Gray arrives in Victorian London to meet her brother. But nothing goes according to plan and Tessa finds herself instead in the Downworld, a terrifying supernatural place of vampires, demons and warlocks. How Tessa survives before falling in love – the biggest danger of all! – is a terrifying and passionate read. This is a new urban fantasy full of vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters from the bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments series.
Sarah J. Maas devotees certainly have a treat in store with this luxurious collector’s edition of the first book in her outrageously popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The story that spurred the series is here presented in a beautiful black slipcase that’s embellished with gold foiling. The book itself features a stunning gold foil depiction of a forest scene on its cover, lavish metallic ink endpapers, intricate fairy tale-esque illustrative detail on every page, plus a handsome newly drawn map of the Faerie Lands of Prythian. It’s a beguiling package that befits the tale itself, an enchanting story that follows nineteen-year-old Feyre’s magical, epic quest through the beautiful, dangerous faerie lands. Reeling with romance, intrigue and outright “immortal horror”, Feyre’s journey feels timeless in setting and atmosphere, and contemporary in much of its straight-talking delivery.
Faithful fans of the Throne of Glass fantasy phenomenon need never be without access to Celaena’s epic adventures with this limited mini edition of her first epic quest. With its compact format, violet ink decoration and unabridged text, this mini edition of Throne of Glass is the perfect stocking-filler for completest collector devotees, and a glam gift for newcomers to the series. But what of the story printed on the fine-papered glory of this mini-format? It’s a seductive cocktail of all-out action and fighting for survival in a wildly imagined fantasy world, with a smart, sassy eighteen-year-old assassin at its pounding heart. After a year of slavery and being “escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point” Celaena Sardothian is called to the castle and issued with a task that may secure her release. If she succeeds in defeating a band of warriors, she’ll be freed to serve as the King’s Champion. But with evil afoot, and duplicity, distrust and paranoia in abundance, our headstrong, sharp-tongued heroine must summon all her physical and intellectual strength.
This is an absolute belter of a novel. Awaiting you is a stunning, murderous mix of Eastern European folklore and a serial killer, set during 1935 in rural Czechoslovakia. Psychiatrist Dr Viktor Kosarek takes up a position in Hrad Orlu Asylum for the criminally insane to study the ‘Devil’s Six’, while in Prague, a serial killer is announced. The page and a half prologue sets the novel up brilliantly, the last sentence, so starkly delivered, chilled me to the bone. My mind entered the most vividly real locations, I slipped through the streets of Prague and flinched as I entered the Castle. Craig Russell crosses several genres and balances a number of themes seamlessly, which I just adored. My thoughts pushed and pulled at my emotions as they balanced together on a cliff edge. The Devil Aspect, is a dark, haunting whopper of a story and it set my imagination on fire. So good, it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and just had to be one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
Reading a new Frances Hardinge novel is always an adventure into a new, carefully constructed world - where things are never quite as one might imagine as you begin. Here two friends, raised together in poverty and scavenging are leader and led, counterpoint to each other, one believing in friendship above all, the other of a very much darker outlook. They live on one of a series of islands that form the Myriad, each island with its own long dead gods, each with its own strange traditions and stories. The sea surrounding the islands hides many things within it, wrecks, bones as one may expect, but also the undersea where danger lurks ready to take any who venture too far and spit them out utterly changed. In this world Hardinge has created a masterpiece of tension, fear and friendship. A slow coming to the realisation of the world that they inhabit, and a look at power and how it can be manipulated for politicians, gods and evildoers own nefarious ends. It makes your mind race with the adventure but pulls you up to consider the philosophy behind the characters motivations. A truly great read – I think I may have to read it again now!
The Angel of Evil is the fourth book in The Great Devil War series and yet again I raced through it. It’s filled with the same tongue-in-cheek humour as the previous books, but feels much darker. Before I go on, I must stress that it’s essential that you read books one to three in this series first, to understand the concept of Lucifer’s Kingdom, immerse yourself in the cleverly-constructed setting and to follow Philip’s journey into Hell. It feels like there’s less new world building in The Angel of Evil than in the previous books, and Hell and its surroundings felt more familiar and more ‘natural’ - the devils, the condemned, punishment and death. Though this time, Philip travels to the far reaches of Hell to save his friend Satina who has been kidnapped, which means there are some new characters to meet while Hell is under attack from rogue devils. This series is about good versus evil, though not in a conventional way, as devils take the centre stage. As with humans, some are good, some are not so good and some are evil. The narrative is littered with biblical and historical characters that brings a sense of familiarity. There are also a few poignant moments as Philip finally meets someone from his past and decides on his future. This is an ‘alternative’ Harry Potter series. It grows as the series progresses, with twists and turns and an action-packed plot. It’s very easy to read. But some of the descriptions can be quite graphic so it’s not for younger children or the faint-hearted.
A perfect stocking filler for anyone who likes a little spooky darkness to pay a visit at Christmas time. Twelve short stories are set in and around, or somehow connected to the Essex Witch Museum. If you haven’t yet explored the series, don’t worry, you can most certainly enter here. Can I just say that the cover is absolutely delightful, skulls and snowflakes sit perfectly alongside each other, as if they were always meant to be. Some of the stories tiptoe around Christmas, others stomp into it, all verge on the different though, and all have a certain chill factor. Syd Moore has a wonderfully light touch, humour sits alongside the macabre, and I was never quite sure what was going to come next. Can I just say that Doreen and her demonic Hoover was a particular favourite of mine! The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas really is a fabulous little book, full of the weird and wonderful I adored it!
A stunningly beautiful, courageous read, one that crosses through time to 1612, when witchcraft allegations went hand in hand with fear, power and corruption. This is a work of fiction based on real people, local residents, Pendle witches and all. Let me tell you about the cover of this book, which really is very gorgeous indeed. The green leaves sooth, with fiery bursts of orange-red and gold, I then noticed the fox, the ring, pendant, feather… and last of all, the noose, which of course once I had seen, reached out and became all I could see. I tell you this, because the cover reminds me of how I felt about the book, mysterious, yet almost gentle, I let the words take me, I felt myself floating, and then bites of uncertainty and disquiet started gnaw at my awareness. The persecution of the women hammered home while an otherworldly existence lodged itself in my thoughts, and remains there. Deceptively powerful, moving and provocative, Stacey Hall writes with an eloquent pen. Opening a window into a vivid feast of a read, as a debut novel The Familiars stands out from the crowd.
His ‘Dark Materials’, is the story of Lyra, a young girl with an exceptional destiny. Brought up in Jordan College, Oxford Lyra uncovers a secret about her mysterious guardian which leads to some dangerous questioning. It also marks the beginning of Lyra’s search for her friend Roger, a search that takes her to the ice kingdoms of the North where armoured bears rule. Lyra’s courage and stubborn determination lead her on this mission of incredible danger in this brilliant and imaginative story. The author’s vivid imagination and vision is so spectacular and moving that it will leave you almost speechless with admiration and the amazingly diverse characters will be universally admired by all those who read about them. It’s completely original and totally spellbinding; a true classic that will stand the test of time much in the way Tolkien’s famous work has done.
Part hard SF thriller, part interstellar adventure, part noirromance, CENTURY RAIN is the new bestseller from Al ReynoldsComparison: Philip K Dick, Kim Stanley Robinson. Similar this month: None.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. THE BEAUTY OF MURDER, the debut novel by Hastings-based performer Alexandra Benedict, was a memorable cross-time Oxford-set crime thriller with strong supernatural overtones and her follow-up contemporary thriller is equally evocative and colourful and confirms her voice as quite unique: florid, wide-screened, and masterful in the way she builds up wonderful, truly original characters and the most unsettling of protagonists. A once-blind researcher who despite a successful operation insists on still not seeing is the target of a sinister serial killer and troubled London cop Jonathan Dark, who has the power to see ghosts, is caught in the web of murder and intrigue that surrounds them like an evil fog. Add revengeful ghosts helping and hindering the living, loving evocations of London's river and dark side, conspiracies by the handful and characters quite unlike those encountered in your average modern British crime novel and you have a potent cocktail that will linger in your mind and nightmares for ages.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. This first in a planned ‘LA Trilogy’, this is a romp and a half. Set anachronistically in the 1960s in the California city of angels, it features a Raymond Chandler avatar of a robot who always has the right quip on the tip of his tongue as he navigates the muddy waters of some untold conspiracy. Ray is the perfect detective –tireless, logical and efficient- but he’s also the last robot on the planet and finds that no one actually likes him very much. Add Ada, his office gal and supercomputer and you have the classic detective noir setting for a crazy plot which begins, naturally, with a Cleopatra lookalike knocking at his door, asking him to find a missing person and offering to pay in gold, the only currency Ray accepts. The investigation will take him into the heart of an alternate version of Hollywood which is much more fun than the real one. Laughs and fights and chases. What more could you ask for? ~ Maxim Jakubowski
The night watchman of an upmarket London block is drawn to an apartment that’s seemingly been empty for over 50 years but in which he hears curious noises. In parallel a young American woman inherits a property in the same building. Chaos is soon unleashed and efforts to avert it are literally breathless. An impeccable slice of modern horror with a traditional sense of dread and unerring ‘keep the light on’ suspense. A new British horror star is forcefully born!
Shortlisted for the Best Horror Novel at the British Fantasy Awards 2016. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Post apocalypse worlds are very much in vogue and in danger of engulfing the bookshelves, but Neville's approach is innovative and seriously scary, which comes as no surprise as he is fast establishing himself as one the horror field's rising talents with a bang. In a crumbling post-pandemic world, anarchy reigns and a grieving father goes in search of the four-year old daughter who was snatched from his garden. In a world of terrible floods, marauding gangs and unpredictable hurricanes, what remains of the police doesn't care and the father plunges into a panorama of madness on his frenzied quest. With an assured narrative flow and a background sometimes reminiscent of Stephen King in his talent for mapping desolation, Nevill confirms he is one scary, serious dude to watch out for. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. After years in the galleys of erotica editing and pseudonymous writing, Nevill has now firmly put himself in the driving seat of contemporary horror and is spearheading its revival and scooping the genre's awards. His fith novel is a creepy tale involving seemingly haunted houses, macabre puppets, stuffed animals and eerie dolls. Individually all the elements on display have been seen before in countless Hammer movies but Nevill knits his ingredients together with forensic skill and brings the shadowy world of fear to life with uncanny effect and almost sadistic detachment and glee. Read this one under the covers and with the lights on.
Nevill is a young British author who, following a decade or so in the editorial publishing ranks, is now writing full-time. In the tradition of M.R. James' ghost stories and the tradition of the British weird tale he writes about the contemporary world and the insidious way in which fear and dread can infiltrate it. His breakthrough was last year's APARTMENT 16 and his new novel takes a group of university friends into the Arctic wilderness where they stumble upon an old habitation. Enter the horror.
Darkness lives within ...Cash-strapped, working for agencies and living in shared accommodation, Stephanie Booth feels she can fall no further. So when she takes a new room at the right price, she believes her luck has finally turned. But 82 Edgware Road is not what it appears to be. It's not only the eerie atmosphere of the vast, neglected house, or the disturbing attitude of her new landlord, Knacker McGuire, that makes her uneasy - it's the whispers behind the fireplace, the scratching beneath floors, the footsteps in the dark, and the young women weeping in neighbouring rooms. And when Knacker's cousin Fergal arrives, the danger goes vertical. But this is merely a beginning, a gateway to horrors beyond Stephanie's worst nightmares. And in a house where no one listens to the screams, will she ever get out alive?
It begins like a modern version of John Carpenter's sinister SF horror movie THE THING when two research scientists isolated in an Antarctic station stumble across unholy matters hitherto unknown to man and the ensuing catastrophe sees one fall into the clutches of lasting madness and illumination while the other is badly maimed both in body and soul. Decades later, the latter now a drunk and an abject failure is coopted by a mysterious institute to work for them and contact his former colleague now locked away in an asylum to revisit the theories that led to the polar mayhem, and his nightmare begins all over again. Involving PETA, a curious artificial intelligence, the Fermi paradox positing the existence of extraterrestrial life and the convoluted philosophical works of Kant, this complex novel of ideas fires wildly in all directions, with glances towards, of all people, James Joyce and Thomas de Quincey, in a serious attempt to elucidate the nature of reality. Mind-bending, ambitious but always a swift read, an important work of science fiction that will have you guessing all the way.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. It begins like a modern version of John Carpenter's sinister SF horror movie THE THING when two research scientists isolated in an Antarctic station stumble across unholy matters hitherto unknown to man and the ensuing catastrophe sees one fall into the clutches of lasting madness and illumination while the other is badly maimed both in body and soul. Decades later, the latter now a drunk and an abject failure is coopted by a mysterious institute to work for them and contact his former colleague now locked away in an asylum to revisit the theories that led to the polar mayhem, and his nightmare begins all over again. Involving PETA, a curious artificial intelligence, the Fermi paradox positing the existence of extraterrestrial life and the convoluted philosophical works of Kant, this complex novel of ideas fires wildly in all directions, with glances towards, of all people, James Joyce and Thomas de Quincey, in a serious attempt to elucidate the nature of reality. Mind-bending, ambitious but always a swift read, an important work of science fiction that will have you guessing all the way.
A parody was inevitable and so in six chapters all six of the Star War films are chewed up, ridiculed, digested and spat out. All very inventive.Comparison: The others in the series: The Soddit, The McAtrix Derided, The Sellamillion.Similar this month: None.
One of our Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2012. In a world where we have been genetically engineered so that we can photosynthesise sunlight with our hair hunger is a thing of the past, food an indulgence. The poor grow their hair, the rich affect baldness and flaunt their wealth by still eating. But other hungers remain ...The young daughter of an affluent New York family is kidnapped. The ransom demands are refused. A year later a young women arrives at the family home claiming to be their long lost daughter. She has changed so much, she has lived on light, can anyone be sure that she has come home?
Whether you want to join Jonathan Strange on the magic-haunted streets of London or Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch on the wall Fantasy is the genre for you. Authors from Joe Abercrombie to Zen Cho have turned the modern fantasy genre into one of the most exciting and imaginative genres around. They’ve brought magic and wonder, heroes, heroines and people like you and me, together in stories that will delight, scare and mystify you. Whether you want the romance and deceit of court, the shadows of a great city’s alleyways, the clear air of a mountain range, the terrors of a bloody field let fantasy take you to new realities.
There are characters for everyone; Scott Lynch’s charming conmen, Liz William’s artful magicians. Fantasy has worlds for all; Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea, George RR Martin’s brutal Westeros, Ben Aaronovitch’s contemporary London, Naomi Novik’s dragon haunted version of our 19th century. And the genre has a style for each and every reader; whether the playful literary trickery of Angela Carter or the imaginative epic adventures of Peter Brett. Somewhere here there is a story for everyone, so follow us and let your imagination run wild.
Established names like Stephen King and new stars like Lauren Beukes alike have taken horror into the mainstream. And it’s no surprise why – we can’t help ourselves we love a good scare from the safety of our armchairs. But there are any number of authors out there ready and willing to confront you with your darkest fears and, if you’re lucky, take you through them and out into the light again.
There’s always a fresh take on whatever has scared us down through the years. Whether the dark thrills of the demons that haunt the paranormal romances of Cassandra Clare or the hunger of the vengeful ghosts and vampires of Joe Hill. Or the high concept terrors of Sarah Lotz’s work, the insidious chills of Adam Nevill’s urban horrors. Horror can be stealthy like the classic chills of Susan Hills’ ghost stories or screaming in your face like Max Brooks’ terrifying zombies. So step this way and let us put the frighteners on you; scares that are subtle and literary or full-on ‘slap the book shut and turn on all the lights’. Or scares of the best sort – where you don’t know WHAT to expect.
If you’ve ever dreamed about the world our grandchildren will live in, thought about how life could be different, looked at a star and wondered if there’s someone or something there looking at our sun you’ve been wondering about the same things as the great writers of Sci-Fi. Or perhaps you’ve simply wanted to share the excitement and danger of life on an alien world or in the harsh expanses of space? Maybe you’re so busy you wish you had a clone of yourself to do the work while you had the fun of exploring new places and experiences – how would that feel? For both of you?
Sci-Fi is all about these questions and thoughts. And it’s about things we can never experience, perhaps not even thought about yet. It’s about putting you at the centre of wonder and excitement. Whether the wide-screen excitements from the likes of Peter Hamilton and Suzanne Collins, or the noir thrills of cyberpunk by authors such as Pat Cadigan and William Gibson or the intricate speculations of authors like Ian McDonald and Nnedi Okorafor Sci-Fi really does have something for everyone and you’ll find the very best of it here.