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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.
A powerful, provocative and quite wonderful modern literary fairy tale, but if you enter expecting ‘happily ever after’ you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather than sugar and spice and all things nice, you’ll instead find a novel brimming with exquisitely sharp and pointed attitude. Thirteen and a half years after Cinderella married the man of her dreams and she’s had enough, she wants out. The prologue pierces love, and binds hate, firmly setting the tone, yet wicked humour and gentle observations also tickle the page. The echoes of well known fairy tales make themselves felt, adding to the enchantment. There is much to take delight in, yet beware, all magic is paid for and you’ll need to be on the look out for hidden snares. I adore the tale that runs alongside the main story, of the two mice that accompanied Cinderella and live in a world circling through an entire civilisation. How easy it is to view what you want to see, rather than what is actually there. As the fairy tale splinters and a shimmer of reality breaks through, I found my thoughts tossed high in the air, and where they will land, I still don’t know. So bright, so clever, and thought-provoking this just had to sit as a Liz Pick of the Month. I danced through the deep dark magic of The Charmed Wife, long live the fairy tale that lives beyond 'happily ever after'.
An absolute whammy of a read, and a must for anyone who enjoys a smart, fast-paced, hugely entertaining blast of speculative fiction. When Jimmy agrees to smuggle data in his headspace, he really didn’t expect it to start talking to him. Honey the bioform bear needs to make contact with an entity on Mars, and Jimmy finds himself an unwitting accessory. While you could definitely read this as a standalone, I really do recommend reading Dogs of War, in which Honey also appears, as an introduction to this fabulous bioform world. Arthur C Clarke Award winning Adrian Tchaikovsky has successfully combined weighty, thought-provoking moments, with a Trump-like baddie, full-on action and smirky humour. And oh, how I smirked, Jimmy acts as a beautifully timed foil to the powerfully intense Honey. This is one of those books where you can just throw yourself and abandon yourself to a fabulous story, knowing you will be entertained throughout. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, Bear Head comes with a colossal thumbs up from me.
This high-octane, smart, whip-sharp novel is one heck of a reality and fantasy clash. It perhaps shouldn’t work, but it does, it really really does and has popped itself on my list of favourite reads. Meet Vern, he is currently hiding out in a Louisiana swamp, he doesn’t trust anyone, loves his vodka, has a thing for Flashdance, oh, and he’s a dragon. Having lived a few thousand years he really doesn’t need the escalating feud between Squib Moreau and crooked Officer Hooke to spoil his peace and quiet. This is the first novel for adults from the bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer. I feel as though Highfire has been waiting for me, to welcome it to my bookshelves. The balance between the different genres is beautifully done. Different emotions skittered through me as I read, there’s violence aplenty, and some wicked smirks waiting to be found too. Highly entertaining and exciting, Highfire is my kind of book, in fact if you could marry books, I’d be Mrs Highfire in no time!
Iatrogenesis is a thrilling science fiction centered around a pandemic, when faulty upgrades of microscopic medical robots, nanodocs, leads to mass mayhem and many lives on the line. I really enjoyed this book and I think it’s a great afternoon read. I would guess that the idea for this book was in part inspired by the events of 2020, and there’s some familiar measures mentioned as ways to stop the spread both before and after the cause of death and illness has been explained. The book starts with an intriguing prologue, and the “what could go wrong” stance immediately lets the reader in on what is exactly about to go wrong. We are then introduced to Dr. “TJ” Short, a doctor in a time where microscopic robots implanted in the blood cure most ailments, who is present as the devastating effects of the upgrades become apparent and becomes central in the fight to stop the spread. I found both the science-fiction and the medical language throughout this book believable and I think the author has done a lot of research to create a believable and well-rounded world that I was eager to learn more about and didn’t want to put down until I found out how it ended. There’s also a bit of a relationship story towards the end too. This is a short Sci-fi thriller that I think is well worth the read.
Matthew William Frend's Life Before Death is a book of two halves for me, one half of which I enjoyed, the other not so much. I thought the author's remit was too ambitious but then, had he chosen to write two separate books, would I have wanted to read the second one and would I have missed out? The majority of the book follows a group of four young Australians in the 1990s who, frustrated by government policies restricting their chosen lifestyle, decide to plant a cannabis farm in the outback. Their road trip to the chosen site, the narrow escapes from both the weather and the authorities and what they do while waiting at a 'safe' distance for harvest-time all make exciting, informative and dramatic reading. The suspense the author builds is incredible and the detailed descriptions of the Red Centre and the wilds of the Northern Territory are amazing, as they're based on the personal experiences of the author when he lived in Oz himself. However, I suppose a story about a group living, sometimes only just surviving, on the edge of 'normal' society, a counterculture, has to go into their reasoning and motivation, their search for the meaning of life. There are surreal descriptions of the mind expansion that takes place when using drugs and experiences that border on the paranormal. The lessons the reader should surely take from this book are to try to live in the moment, be mindful of your surroundings, to truly live before you die, though I doubt that you need drugs to do all that.
Cycles of the Phoenix is a collection of shorter stories previously published separately by C. A Nicholas compiled together for one epic read. Within this book you will find ‘Sanity’s War’ ‘Strange’ and ‘Kaya: Where Have You Gone?’ of the Interlaced Souls series. Cycles of the Phoenix remains within the realm of fantasy while it explores a wide range of topics and themes from war, to Anxiety and PTSD. I thought that this book was very well written, there is a good degree of word-building and I enjoyed the imaginative ways that the author manages to turn both mental and physical struggles into fantastical demons for the characters to face. The most poignant to me are the events in the final pages, but I shan’t risk spoilers by sharing any more. As I’ve said this book does focus on a number of themes, with references to violence and sexual abuse throughout the different stories. I liked how the author used events in the stories to demonstrate that actions can have a long term emotional impact. I enjoyed the author’s style of writing. I found it quite traditional, it reminded me slightly of a style used to tell a story of old knights, which added to the fantasy atmosphere to me. Cycles of the Phoenix is mighty, but I think that it could be enjoyed as one epic tale or by enjoying each of the Interlaced Souls books in turn. This is a book for readers looking for something to think deeply about an analyse.
Firstly I’d like to say I love the play on words with this title. This Soul’d World is presented as a new interpretation on old practices, in terms of looking both outwards and inwards to answer philosophical/ spiritual questions about life with a sci-fi twist. A science fiction adventure that crosses dimensions and themes. I liked that this book uses science fiction tropes to explore philosophical questions. The chapters are short and easy to read, and you find yourself reading “just one more” to progress further in the story. Interestingly, the main character of this story is Callison Trebla, a man about to retire, not a character at the start of a career embarking on an adventure. I liked this characterisation, I think it adds a sense of honest reflection to the more spiritual themes in this book. I was drawn in to this story early on and Callison early on and I was interested to see how the story progressed and in which ways the science fiction elements would be incorporated. I think that this book has a bit of something for everyone, there’s science fiction, spirituality and exploration into people and behaviour with a family that has endured a tragedy. As well as an entertaining story with endearing characters, this is a thought-provoking read that I would recommend for anyone looking for a multi-dimensional book.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits... The Nutcracker for adults, perfect for fans of Robert Dinsdale's The Toymakers, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Stephanie Garber's Caraval 'It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittering clutch forever' Nottingham, 1906 Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. At the wishes of her family, she will be obligated to marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious new neighbour, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in her life. Although Drosselmeier's magic is darker than Marietta could have imagined... When he constructs an elaborate set for her final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself walking through a land of snow-topped fir trees leading to a frozen sugar palace silent with secrets. In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here...
An exquisitely unsettling and fabulous blast of speculative fiction awaits in this provocative, hard-hitting debut novel. An unknown virus that only kills men hits Glasgow in 2025, as it spreads, confusion, lies, and heartbreak follows. As Christina Sweeney-Baird explains in her author’s note, she wrote The End of Men before Covid 19 affected the world. While the current pandemic remained tucked away in my thoughts as I read, this is very much a work of fiction and the focus lies with a female lead society coping with life during and after a pandemic. This is told on a world scale over five years and is set as a gathering of memories, as though this event has already come to pass and you are reading a piercing slice of history. This novel contains a huge number of characters, and I felt as though I was observing them at a distance. Having said that, some characters return throughout the book, and I formed more of a bond, felt more of a connection with them. Short chapters, headed by the day after the outbreak and name of the character ensured my focus remained sharp and on point. There are bubbles of humour to be found along the way, as well as the more obvious emotions. Yes this is so very close to what is happening right now, but it is different enough to make this novel more readable as a result. Joining our LoveReading Star Book collection, The End of Men is a powerful, thought-provoking read that is both epic in scale and intimate in memories
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.
Immensely enjoyable, this high fantasy novel contains characters and a storyline to die for. Oh, and if you think you don’t like fantasy, you might want to think again - this has heaps of drama, action, and thoughtful intrigue, as well as allowing an escape from the reality of the world we are living in. Ashes of the Sun is the first book in the new Burninglade and Silvereye Series. Gyre seeks revenge on the Twilight Order who took his little sister Maya twelve years ago, but when the siblings meet again they find themselves on opposing sides in a war for survival. When it comes to fantasy novels I am a reading fiend, I find that this particular genre offers some of the very best series going and can already safely say that this will be a series I will be camping outside of bookshops for. Django Wexler has built a post-apocalyptic world that you can immerse yourself in, I didn’t stop, doubt, question, just wholeheartedly believed. I grew in knowledge alongside Gyre and Maya, and absolutely loved the combination of technology and inner power. Not only is this a fast-paced beautifully diverse read, I found the humour perfectly timed. In the acknowledgements Django Wexler says that the novel originated after a series of conversations about Star Wars, and you can definitely see some influences as you read. Ashes of the Sun has it all, and comes with the higher than highly recommended tag from me.
If you’re looking for a unique, transportive, immensely satisfying read then I’ll wave frantically and recommend you stop right here. Laura agrees to assess Will to establish if he is still capable of living on his own, she begins to suspect that Will isn't suffering from dementia and that his strange story may actually be true. Keith Stuart is the author of the truly beautiful Days of Wonder and A Boy Made of Blocks, books that touch emotions, encourage thoughts, and cast a spellbinding atmosphere. I was hugely excited to read his latest and it effortlessly joins the others as particular favourites of mine. Each of his novels have been completely different, yet there is a thread of connection. He opens a door to a side of being human that you might not have seen and encourages emotions to flood your heart and soul. The Frequency of Us takes a step outside of what is known, edging into fantastical and I joined the story with trust and belief. Laura and Will formed a connection with each other and in turn with me. Two time frames allow access to the past, creating intrigue and a mystery that just begs to be solved. The ending really spoke to me and set my feelings free to soar. The Frequency of Us is a mesmerising read full of love and hope, and I’m thrilled to recommend it as one of our LoveReading Star Books.
The Briarmen is a fantasy story that has quite a traditional feel about it. First we meet Hamish’s daughter as she travels to meet enny in order to scatter her father’s ashes. During this meeting we are taken back in time to the evacuation of children to the countryside during WWII, when Hamish is first sent to live in Brombury with the Platts and he and Penny first discover the Briarmen. This story did remind me in it’s essence of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, where evacuated children discover something magical in their new home. I loved the imagination used to construct the Woods Beyond The Railway and how the Briarmen are interwoven with reality as the plotline develops. I enjoyed discovering more about Hamish and Penny and watching as their friendship developed. I think that this is a classic story filled with magic and escapism which will remind readers of the books they read when they were little. I also thought the black and white illustrations at the top of each chapter was a nice extra touch.
Oh wow, this is a stunningly readable supernatural crime horror. DS Jamila Patel and DC Jerry Pardoe investigate suspicious and unexplainable happenings in the sewers below London. The Children God Forgot includes the policing team from Ghost Virus, though you can easily read this as a standalone, which in my opinion is always the mark of a great book within a series. I love horror like this, it feels so real you could almost reach out and touch it (though you seriously wouldn’t want to!). While I didn’t want to run screaming, there is enough to make the hardiest of people wince and flinch. There is a goodly amount of horrific gore to be found within the pages including supernatural violence involving pregnancies. Graham Masterton has created a colourful and believable London, fabulously relatable characters, and a supernatural shockwave that carves its wave through both. A number of story lines converge, and meld into one cracking tale. There is a fine balance on hand, plenty of blood and guts yes, there is also fabulous writing, smirky humour, and thought-provoking themes waiting to be found. Raw and smart, the blast of horror from The Children God Forgot makes you wonder what the heck is beneath your feet. Loved it so much, it just has to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.
Excuse me while I rave about this book, it’s so different, so powerful, so fabulous that I’m experiencing reading elation after finishing it. When Wolf Willeford meets Mrs Death, he becomes her scribe and travels with her to view humanity as it circulates from life to death. A renowned performance poet, this is Salena Godden’s debut novel. In 2018 a BBC Radio 4 documentary was broadcast as it followed the novel as it was written over twelve months. Containing poetry, chants, commentary, recollections, moments in time, and all within the most wonderful story, this is a recognisable yet totally unique take on death. Her words entered my thoughts and made me see, search, examine, they entered my heart and made me feel. Small intimate and intricate moments sit alongside huge stories that are all linked by death. My feelings span from humour to heartbreak, from darkness to light, and all the while the story flows with strength and beauty. This is a reading experience that I won’t forget and I just had to choose it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month and of course a LoveReading Star Book. Celebrating life and opening up questions on how we view death, Mrs Death Misses Death is a wake-up call of a book that I will be recommending far and wide.
Return to Emberfall in this feminist fantasy, the thrilling Cursebreaker series, which began with the bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Romantic, commercial and action-packed, this third instalment of Brigid's bestselling YA fantasy series is packed with danger, mystery and romance – perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Marissa Meyer.
From the author of the divinely dark The Binding and several acclaimed novels for young adults, Bridget Collins’s The Betrayals murmurs with menace and the mystery of the grand jeu, an arcane intellectual game that melds music, maths, poetry and philosophy. The novel’s world - at once familiar and strange - is conjured with crystalline clarity and populated by a cast of distinctly charismatic characters. Set in an unnamed disintegrating European country in the 1930s, the story begins when thirty-two-year-old Leo is removed from his post as Minister for Culture and exiled to his former academy, the exclusive Montverre. Here the nation’s cleverest are schooled in the art of the grand jeu, and here Leo is forced to face tragedy from his past as he forms an unsettling connection with the academy’s new female Magister Ludi. Part homage to Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, this boasts a compellingly jolting plot that will keep readers on their toes, and a delicious dénouement - it’s a delight for lovers of literary conundrums. Find out more about Bridget Collins in our 'Putting Authors in the Picture' blog!
Oh how I adored this beautifully crafted and thought-provoking magic realist novel. The Thief on the Winged Horse sits in the real-world as we know it and contains an additional touch of magic. It also sways between genres including crime and relationship, yet feels as believable as can be. A world-famous doll making family is thrown into turmoil when their most valuable doll is stolen. These are dolls that can convey a single emotion to the person who holds them. Only the men in the Kendrick family know how to add the charm, only a Kendrick would know how to take the doll. Kate Mascarenhas adds mysterious layer upon layer to this novel, building an exquisite story. I immediately felt at home, the magic wasn’t meticulously explained, it was just there, sitting almost quietly in the background. This is a book where the world is known, but the enchantment isn’t, and my mind soared as I pondered and explored. I think it would make a perfect read for anyone wanting to take the first step into science fiction and fantasy novels. Multi-faceted, challenging, and entirely captivating, The Thief on the Winged Horse is a truly lovely read.
Deceptively simple, and simply lovely, this thoroughly modern yet ancient fairy tale both stings and enchants with its themes of superstition and prejudice. Edith is being forced to marry the village butcher, when in fact she loves and waits for the shepherd to return to her. When the snow falls, Edith stops speaking and listens in her silence as the village begins to change. Sally Gardener (who also wrote The Beauty of the Wolf and An Almond for A Parrot as Wray Delaney) has the most gentle, yet fierce and evocative way with words. I would read one of her novels, no matter what the genre, but she really does excel when magic touches realism. A crystal clear purity spills from the pages while the richly fulfilling storyline heads towards its conclusion. You may well find that a little piece of your heart breaks, yet there is so much to fall in love with in this striking tale. I’ve chosen The Snow Song as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, it’s a book that sits perfectly as winter approaches.
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.