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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.
Kesia Lupo's We Are Bound By Stars is a fine follow-up to We Are Blood and Thunder, a richly-realised fantasy epic in which intrigue, trickery and powerful gifts from the gods throng through a cast of colourfully compelling characters. If you’re a fan of female-fronted fantasy, of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J. Maas, this series is sure to be your chalice of char. Beatrice is one of three female mask-makers in the kingdom of the Wishes, a cluster of volcanic islands ruled by a Contessa. As a result of a secret pact the Contessa made with Mythris, patron god of the Wishes, the chosen triplet mask-makers are taught to create masks with powers that aid “the Contessa in discovering and destroying her enemies”, as long as the chain of inheritance remains intact. As a middle sister, Beatrice makes Grotesques, masks that “draw power from expression”, creations with the power to manipulate emotions, but she’s desperate to flee this life of bondage. Then there’s Livio, born into a powerful family, destined to be the first male leader in aeons, but his magic is overwhelmingly wild. When his path collides with Beatrice’s, it falls to them to prevent devastating insurgency, as menacing masked assassins close in on their heels. Can they cut the strings of a controlling puppet master? Can they change the course of destiny? As their tales twist along a troubled path, the sense of time running out, of high-stakes decisions, of human emotions are grippingly evoked within a tangled web of magical trickery.
Oh my word, this hits hard, and with so much power it almost took my breath away. Set in the future it focuses on an antibiotic crisis, no one over the age of 70 is allowed treatment and they are sent to hospitals called ‘The Waiting Rooms’. Although written before the current Covid 19 crisis, there is so much here you can connect to as a reader it feels as though this book was meant for these specific times. The first chapter is provocative, it shocked me and yet introduces the main character and book perfectly. As Kate searches for her birth mother, different time frames and countries sent my thoughts and feelings spinning. This is one of those books that doesn’t sit comfortably in one genre as it crosses from dystopian right through to family drama. It is perhaps best described as a speculative thriller, and boy did it make me reflect. I have been left thirsting for more information, for more knowledge and Eve Smith’s final words when she talks about the inspiration behind the novel are chilling indeed. The Waiting Rooms is a gutsy, thoughtful, fascinating read, and we have chosen it to feature as a LoveReading Debut of the Month.
The Albatross: Contact is the first in a new Sci-Fi series. I loved that this book handles the very real topic of the cost of war on those in the military while presenting it in the guise of an action-packed, alien fighting plot line. In this Sci-Fi plot, when the aliens land, their aim isn’t apocalypse and destruction, but to ask for help in their war against the Forsaken (a very good name for a terrifying enemy race). This book has three different character perspectives which helps to round out the book well. We learn more about Will, his military past and his perception of the alien technology he finds himself surrounded by. We also meet Sarah, another human volunteer and Arthur, who is the leader of the Lumenarian convoy to earth. These different narratives and their interactions offer engaging and comparative insight into alien and human life. I also like the camaraderie built between Arthur and Will, their respective traumas helping them understand each other while also creating a common ground. The book ties together well but leaves plenty of scope for more stories to come. Honestly, as I was reading I was gripped. I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the story only taking useless notes like “I’m a little bit hooked” and, towards the end, “aaahhhhh”. I loved the tension created by the change in perspective, as recent events are recapped from a different set of eyes, all the while continuously moving towards an incredibly climactic final section. I really enjoyed this book and I think it would be a brilliant read for anyone who likes action and/or Sci-Fi epics. I can’t wait to read more. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Is there such a word as bookstruck? Because that is what I'm feeling right now, The Court of Miracles is a debut, the start of a trilogy, and a stonkingly good read. I believe both (older) young adults and adults will fall for this and I suggest just throwing yourself in and letting go. Find yourself in a reimagined Paris years after the French Revolution has failed with some of the cast of Les Miserables… this is what might have been. As well as cast members (with notable exceptions), there are little references to Les Mis to discover along the way which made me smile but please don’t think of this as being a historical tale as you are opening up a whole new world. I think The Court of Miracles would work without already knowing Eponine, Cosette, Gavroche and friends, as some develop in a completely unexpected way and there are a whole host of new characters to meet. Eponine (Nina) the Black Cat narrates, and after her father sells her beloved sister, she becomes a thief in the criminal underworld of the Court of Miracles. She soon finds herself another sister Cosette (Ettie), but in order to protect, she must betray. Opening up the trilogy in the best possible way The Court of Miracles is an adventurous story stuffed full of revenge, courage, and love. While it felt like a wondrous tale in its own right, there is obviously still much to come. I adored it and this oh so readable novel sits as a Debut of the Month, LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month.
Is there such a word as bookstruck? Because that is what I'm feeling right now, The Court of Miracles is a debut, the start of a trilogy, and a stonkingly good story. I believe both young adults and adults will fall for this and I suggest just throwing yourself in and letting go. Find yourself in a reimagined Paris years after the French Revolution has failed with some of the cast of Les Miserables… this is what might have been. As well as cast members (with notable exceptions), there are little references to Les Mis to discover along the way which made me smile but please don’t think of this as being a historical tale as you are opening up a whole new world. I think The Court of Miracles would work without already knowing Eponine, Cosette, Gavroche and friends, as some develop in a completely unexpected way and there are a whole host of new characters to meet. Eponine (Nina) the Black Cat narrates, and after her father sells her beloved sister, she becomes a thief in the criminal underworld of the Court of Miracles. She soon finds herself another sister Cosette (Ettie), but in order to protect, she must betray. Opening up the trilogy in the best possible way The Court of Miracles is an adventurous story stuffed full of revenge, courage, and love. While it felt like a wondrous tale in its own right, there is obviously still much to come. I adored it and this oh so readable tale.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
I think that Game of Gnomes: The Necrognomicon is a cheeky, fun, irreverent fantasy adventure. It is a bit sweary in parts and there is dark and adult humour throughout, I did chuckle aloud as I read. Gassy’s life of crime has rewarded him with a quiet dream home in which he can retire. Until he is roped into traveling to the revived criminal convention to compete in the Crimicompetion, the ultimate test of criminal ability by his friend Borty. I liked the fourth wall breaks and the wordplay between the three gnomes as they head to Crimicon and participate in the Crimicompetition to find and steal the Necrognomicon (try saying that six times fast!). This entertaining fantasy adventure sees everything go wrong, it’s like Despicable Me crossed with Deadpool, and would be good for fans of the latter. This book is not for children but did seem to me to be a mischief-making adventure story adapted with adult language. In the early chapters, I found that there could be a slight rebalancing with the erotica jokes (for my personal preference there was maybe one too many). However, I did enjoy the reaction to the garden gnomes as well as the inclusion of other fantasy creatures throughout the story. I think this book is a bit of daft fun, it feels like a children’s adventure rewritten for adults and is lighthearted, harmless and entertaining.
As the tenth Hunger Games plays out, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the life, trials and roots of eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, President of Panem when we reach the story of the original The Hunger Games trilogy. With the formally powerful house of Snow now teetering on poverty and ruin, Coriolanus is set on mentoring the winning tribute to escape “the endless dance with hunger that had defined his life”, go to university and then “embark on some lucrative profession”. But in a devasting blow, he’s assigned the task of mentoring Lucy Gray Baird, the lowliest tribute from District 12, and “everyone knew what happened if you went to the districts. You were written off. Forgotten. In the eyes of the Capitol, you were basically dead.” But with their fates now interlocked and their survival in his hands, Coriolanus vows to do his best to take care of Lucy. What a twisted, conflicted assignment this turns out to be, and all the more engrossing for being apparently doomed. Though more meandering and meditative than the original trilogy, fans will be fascinated to discover the complex causes of President’s Snow’s villainy, and it’s shot-through with core themes - friendship bonds, betrayal, power and oppression – that devoted readers will relish.
This hard-to-categorise quest story about an inquisitive child – Deon - who embarks on a lifelong mission to find his place in the world, is driven by the author’s desire to share his interest in imaginary realms. As a child, the narrator’s mother asked him “who he wanted to be in future”. Rather than give the expected answer of a superhero, or a fireman or policeman, Deon declares that he will “find a treasure”, but not the usual kind of treasure that’s buried in the depths of the earth or ocean. “I think I want to find a different kind of treasure.” He’s unsure as to what this means, but believes that “I’d come into this world with the word “treasure” deeply coded in me, but as a child I couldn’t have known its meaning.” Throughout his troubled childhood Deon feels “trapped entirely in my own dreamlike identity, filled with mysterious occurrences such as having transmitted, somehow, visions from objects I touched”. Deeply dissatisfied as a working adult, and desperate to “find my place in this world”, Deon decides that he must visit “magical” Glastonbury. Though much otherworldliness spills forth during this pilgrimage (during which he’s informed about chakras and the magic of crystals), the language retains a calmly straightforward tone as Deon’s quest comes to a revelatory climax. One for fans of spiritually-charged fiction.
With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense. Stephen King's incredibly ambitious, heartstoppingly dramatic time travel novel, 11.22.63 is a riveting, high-stakes political story like Under the Dome, a love story like Bag of Bones and a 1950s community like IT. It's also a WHAT IF? story like no one's ever read before - a one thousand page tour de force.
Highly Recommended. More psychological thriller than strict horror I nevertheless wanted to include this because, primarily, it’s a wonderful book but also because it comes with genuine, if non-supernatural, thrills. This is a tight, claustrophobic and gripping tale centred around a group of teenaged female friends. Pinborough, a one-time teacher, has a deft and exact touch when it comes to depicting the voices, enthusiasms and fears of teenage friendship. And hatred. She’s also adept at using the pervasive nature of social media to power and inform her plotting and draw the tension tight around her story. Natasha is found in a freezing river on the edge of a small town. It quickly becomes clear that she died for 13 minutes. What is less clear is how or why she died. Natasha has no clear memory of how she got in the river but as her friends gather around her in hospital it’s obvious that someone does know. What follows is brilliantly judged, twisting journey into the lies, loves and hatreds that can exist in the pressure cooker of female teenage friendship groups. This is an empathetic novel that touches on bullying and power-plays, on the heightened emotions of youth. Pinborough maintains the tension impeccably to leave you always on the verge of knowing what’s happened but never being quite certain. This is perfect for anyone who enjoys the novels of Gillian Flynn or who loved the film Heathers.
Welcome to Sardinia: my hell, my home, my prison, my meditation these past sixteen years. What a place to die. But that's precisely why I was back. When drugged-up Time Traveller and '80s musical burnout Rock Section and his fellow English hooligans get kidnapped during Italia '90, there are ruinous implications. But now Rock has returned to Sardinia one final time to settle some scores and uncover the truth. He believes only Dutch cult leader Judge Barry Hertzog, still incarcerated on the island for the crime, can provide the answers. But through prescription drugs, the persistence of his driver Anna and a quest for the hidden ancient doorways strewn around Sardinia's only highway, the 131, Rock will discover that a greater truth awaits him. Judgement, consequences, hoodwinking on a grand scale, Gnosticism versus agnosticism...131 is a Gnostic whodunit that pursues readers' memories of all previous fiction into a peat bog and impales them with seven-foot-long pikes.
You can view this as a fantasy novel – but it is also an alternative history of epic proportions. Set in the time of James I it involves assassins, demons and incorrigible women.
A debut collection of short stories which won the British Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award and the International Horror Guild Award … Wow! He then went on to write the superb Heart-Shaped Box proving that his launch was not just a lucky break and his literary attention not just because he is Stephen King’s son. This man can certainly write … you’ve got to read him. Most of the tales contain an element of fantasy and/or horror, but some are simply human dramas, and some, like the greatest of science fiction, use an unreal device to address a real problem. Superb. Comparison: Ray Bradbury, Michael Marshall Smith, Clive Barker.
The year is 2312. Scientific advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer our only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system, on moons, planets and in between. But in 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront our past, present and future. The first event takes place on Mercury, in the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. For Swan Er Hong, it will change her life. Once a designer of worlds, now Swan will be led into a plot to destroy them.
Shelley didn't expect her posh new boyfriend Daniel to be enthralled by the quintessence of evil. She's preoccupied with the surprise success of Bessie, the oddly lifelike centrepiece of her Manhattan museum show. Her great-aunt Liza is busy ordering spooky old books from the dusty vaults below Charing Cross Road, while her friend Jack prefers brand-new books and his brand-new lover. When a little leather book arrives, Liza finds it repellent, but doesn't realise it's stained with vampire blood - until too late. Its arcane magic brings Bessie to life, and gives Daniel unimaginable power. As Daniel's supremacy grows, everyone's lives are infected. Soon the vicious vampire infestation rife in NYC threatens to spread to London - and only Bessie and her new friends can stop it...
The first in a three book series full of glitz, glamour and dark magic. Fairy tales are just that as Jane Boyle discovers when her seeming prince charming, Malcolm Doran, turns out to have a dark side and some serious family issues. Perfect for fans of Lauren Kate and Sara Manning. 666 Park Avenue Series:1. 666 Park Avenue2. The Dark Glamour3. The Lost Soul
The extraordinary new novel from one of this or any genre's most talented writers - cutting edge genre writing with an impeccable critical track record.Similar this month: None.Comparison: Richard Morgan, Nick Sagan, Michael Marshall Smith.
This is the sixth novel in the bestselling Outlander series - soon to be a major new TV series. Their love has survived the test of time. But can it survive fate? America, 1772. It is only a few years before the war of independence and the colony seethes with unrest. As battle lines are drawn up and loyalties tested, no one is safe in this new country. Jamie Fraser receives a message from Governor Josiah Martin. He wants Jamie's help to keep the backcountry safe for King and Crown. But Jamie knows what's to come. His wife, Claire, has travelled back from the twentieth century and she knows what will happen to those loyal to the King of England. Exile or death. Neither prospect appeals to Jamie. But Claire knows something else. From her own time she's read an article, dated 1776, reporting the destruction by fire of their home on Fraser's Ridge and the death of those who live there. Jamie hopes Claire is wrong, for once, about the future. But only time will tell...
In a truly beautiful reading experience, encounter the footnotes of a time long ago, meet people capable of committing murder, of holding a stinging need for vengeance, of feeling deep abiding love and friendship. If you see the term fantasy and usually turn away, please don’t, instead choose to step inside and feel the connection to the Italian Renaissance, allow the people to become known, experience their emotions, appreciate the eloquence of the writing. I adore the work of Guy Gavriel Kay, and have done since I was a teenager, epic in scale, intimate in focus, these are books that have allowed me to step outside of myself and experience a different world, though one that feels recognisably ours. You can read this as a standalone, however if you have read some of his other novels, then the land in which this is set will call to you, and there are moments of awareness as you look around and feel the landscape, architecture and even at one point the half-forgotten presence of an age-old entity. I can recommend ‘A Brightness Long Ago’ with my heart and soul, it really is wonderful and so sits as one of my picks of the month.
If you prefer your worlds dystopian, check out our Dystopian Fiction category too!
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.