Dark fantasy

Her Majesty's Royal Coven

Her Majesty's Royal Coven

Author: Juno Dawson Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/07/2022

The first in a supernatural new series from the author of Wonderland, Her Majesty's Royal Coven follows a top secret government department of witches and the deadly threat to the nation that they must confront. Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within. There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple … but now it’s about to get apocalyptic. Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series. A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.

The Final Strife

The Final Strife

Author: Saara El-Arifi Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

A debut that sings, in fact roars with strong vibrant themes, beautiful storytelling, and fabulous characters. Three women sit centre stage as the trials begin to find the next rulers of the Empire, each has different coloured blood and were born to very different roles. This is the first in the The Final Strife series, and Author Saara El-Arifi has created the most compelling world with roots in Ghanian folklore and Arabian myths. A vivid energy crackles into life from the start. The sense of place is immense, I saw, I felt, I believed. The three very different young women who lead in the story, in such different ways, have fascinating characters. The story flows through some thought-provoking topics, from oppression and rebellion through to drug addiction. Love can be found in its many guises including friendship as well as romance. While tyranny rules, this in an inclusive land in terms of relationships and diversity. I would say this is definitely not for younger teens due to content, but is suitable for those heading towards their twenties as well as adults. This first book sets up the continuing story rather wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where we head next. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, The Final Strife, so very clever, bold and provocative has set aflame a new world that promises much, highly recommended.

Star Books
Lapvona

Lapvona

Author: Ottessa Moshfegh Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

With its unique perspectives and bone-deep insights into humanity, Ottessa Moshfegh's writing never fails to amaze, and Lapvona sees her bold brilliance shine once again. Thirteen-year-old shepherd boy Marek lives in the blighted medieval fiefdom of Lapvona, with this setting providing the brutal story-world stage to reveal humanity’s depraved underbelly – greed, corruption, barbaric imbalances between the rich and the poor, with the notion of human suffering being a virtue deployed by those in power. Marek “was a small boy and had grown crookedly, his spine twisted in the middle…his legs were bowed. His head was misshapen”. Told by his father that his mother died in childbirth, Marek loves Ina, the blind village midlife; a wise woman with connections to nature and scared knowledge beyond that of the church. With her house in the woods underlining her liminality, Ina is a woman of miracles. The only sick person to have recovered from the plague, in her forties “sweet and creamy milk” weeps from her breasts. Meanwhile, the village’s depraved governor Villiam literally lords over Lapvona from his lavish hilltop manor, with Father Barnabas on hand to do his dirty work. As famine and drought cause the villagers to starve, he lives to excess away from the death and violence, with Father Barnabas arranging intermittent appearances to maintain the weaponising of religion as a means of control. As the story moves through the seasons and Marek becomes entangled to the lord, brutality and catastrophes mount, and all order is disrupted. With all the rich, brutal language and ambience of a dark folktale, this remarkable novel has deep allegorical resonance.

Audiobooks of the Month
Book of Night

Book of Night

Author: Holly Black Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2022

#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black makes her stunning adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies. Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn't pick, a book she couldn't steal, or a bad decision she wouldn't make. She's spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie. Now, she's trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but going straight isn't easy. Bartending at a dive, she's still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that her shadowless and possibly soulless boyfriend has been keeping secrets from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends back into a maelstrom of murder and lies. Determined to survive, she's up against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, gloamists, and the people she loves best in the world - all trying to steal a secret that will allow them control of the shadow world and more.

Saint Death's Daughter

Saint Death's Daughter

Author: C. S. E. Cooney Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Life gets complicated when Death gets involved. To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be... rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous Lanie Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life. To make matters worse, family debt looms - a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans...

Wild and Wicked Things

Wild and Wicked Things

Author: Francesca May Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Darkly suggestive and consuming, this historical fantasy novel offers a nod to The Great Gatsby. Annie Mason finds herself in an unknown world of blood magic and murder when she investigates her inheritance. This is set just after the First World War, where witchcraft, which had a huge influence in the war, has been all but banned. At the beginning I wondered if I had entered a realm already formed as I found myself hesitating and searching for information that wasn’t immediately available. However, I soon settled in and immersed myself in the stormy and decadent atmosphere, where the urge to live as large a life as possible after the effects of the war hits hard. The plot bubbled along in the background as the characters took centre stage. While Annie and Emmeline throbbed with energy as they explored their feelings for each other, the secondly characters added real depth and flavour before pulling the story together. Author Francesca May successfully evokes the excess of the time, and also balances the abuse, dark magic, and violence that can be found in the story with the innocence of Annie, love and friendship. Chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month, Wild and Wicked Things successfully steals into thoughts and thoroughly provokes feelings.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
A River Enchanted

A River Enchanted

Author: Rebecca Ross Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Sarah J Maas's Crescent City meets Uprooted in acclaimed YA author Rebecca Ross's brilliant first adult fantasy. Enchantments run deep on the magical Isle of Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armour, and the smallest cut of a knife can instil fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that live there find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home, but that mischief turns to malevolence as girls begin to go missing. Adaira, heiress of the east, knows the spirits only answer to a bard's music, enticing them to return the missing girls. But there's only one bard capable of drawing the spirits forth by song: her childhood enemy Jack Tamerlaine. He hasn't stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university, but as Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than first thought and an older, darker secret lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

The Sandman: Act II

The Sandman: Act II

Author: Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs Format: Audiobook Release Date: 22/09/2021

Please note: This content is not for kids. It is for mature audiences only. Just like the original graphic novels, this audio adaptation contains explicit language and graphic violence, as well as strong sexual content and themes. Discretion is advised. Enter the Dreaming again as the blockbuster audio adaptation of “the greatest epic in the history of comic books” continues in The Sandman: Act II. James McAvoy returns to voice Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, in this sequel to the number-one New York Times audio best seller. Journey into a world of myths, imagination, and terror based on the best-selling DC comic books and graphic novels written by Neil Gaiman (returning as the Narrator), and lose yourself in another groundbreaking, immersive drama adapted and directed by the award-winning audio master Dirk Maggs. In the absolutely packed Act II, the dark fantasy resumes and the Sandman expands into the French Revolution, ancient Rome, 19th-century San Francisco, eighth-century Baghdad, and beyond. New and familiar characters abound, voiced by a bright mix of performers, including Kat Dennings, Regé-Jean Page, Emma Corrin, Michael Sheen, Kristen Schaal, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Wright, and so many more, including fan-favorite narrators Simon Vance and Ray Porter. Just close your eyes and listen again as the greatest epic continues. Act II of the audio series The Sandman adapts collected volumes four (Season of Mists) and five (A Game of You) of the comics in their entirety, and most of volume six (Fables & Reflections).

Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire

Author: Jay Kristoff Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/09/2021

From the Sunday Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Nevernight Chronicle, comes this masterful new series. It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness. Gabriel de Leon, half man, half monster and last remaining silversaint - a sworn brother of the holy Silver Order dedicated to defending the realm from the creatures of the night - is all that stands between the world and its end. Now imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity's last remaining hope: The Holy Grail.