October 2014 Must Reads in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for October! What are you looking forward to?


theboywhokilleddemons

The Boy Who Killed Demons by Dave Zeltserman (Overlook-Oct. 16th)

Synopsis-“My name’s Henry Dudlow. I’m fifteen and a half. And I’m cursed. Or damned. Take your pick. The reason? I see demons.”

So begins the latest novel by horror master Dave Zeltserman. The setting is quiet Newton, Massachussetts, where nothing ever happens. Nothing, that is, until two months after Henry Dudlow’s 13th birthday, when his neighbor, Mr. Hanley, suddenly starts to look . . . different. While everyone else sees a balding man with a beer belly, Henry suddenly sees a nasty, bilious, rage-filled demon.

Once Henry catches onto the real Mr. Hanley, he starts to see demons all around him, and his boring, adolescent life is transformed. There’s no more time for friends or sports or the lovely Sally Freeman—instead Henry must work his way through ancient texts and hunt down the demons before they steal any more innocent children. And if hunting demons is hard at any age, it’s borderline impossible when your parents are on your case, and your grades are getting worse, and you can’t tell anyone about your chosen mission.

A very scary novel written with verve and flashes of great humor, The Boy Who Killed Demons is Dave Zeltserman’s most accomplished and entertaining horror novel yet.


spark

Spark by John Twelve Hawks (Doubleday-Oct. 7th)
Synopsis-Jacob Underwood is a contract employee of the Special Services Section, a shadow department in the faceless multinational corporation DBG. Jacob is not a businessman . . . he is a hired assassin . . . and his job is to neutralize problems deemed unacceptable by the corporation. Jacob is not like other employees, nor is he like other people. Suffering from Cotard’s syndrome—a real condition that causes people to believe they are dead—Jacob perceives himself as nothing but a Shell with no emotion and no sense of right or wrong. Emily Buchanan is a bright young second-year associate for DBG, and she has disappeared without a trace. Suspecting she may have stolen valuable information and a fortune from the company, Miss Holquist—Jacob’s handler at DBG—assigns him the task of tracking her down and neutralizing her. Jacob’s condition allows him to carry out assignments with ruthless, logical precision—devoid of guilt, fear, or dishonor. But as his new assignment draws him inside a labyrinthine network of dark dealings, Jacob finds himself up against something he is completely incapable of understanding. Spark is an ingenious and chilling vision of modern-day humanity under constant, invasive surveillance and a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse.


 

anenglishghoststoryAn English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (Titan-Oct. 7th)
Synopsis-A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

A stand-alone novel from acclaimed author Kim Newman.


theshotgunarcanaThe Shotgun Arcana by RS Belcher (Tor-Oct. 7th)
Synopsis-R. S. Belcher’s debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot, was enthusiastically greeted by critics and readers, who praised its wildly inventive mixture of dark fantasy, steampunk, and the Wild West. Now Belcher returns to Golgotha, Nevada, a bustling frontier town that hides more than its fair share of unnatural secrets.

1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party…and the dawn of humanity.

Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness. But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town and its people will be tested as never before—and some of them will never be the same.

The Shotgun Arcana is even more spectacularly ambitious and imaginative than The Six-Gun Tarot, and confirms R. S. Belcher’s status as a rising star.


thelesserdeadThe Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (Penguin-Oct. 7th)
Synopsis-The secret is, vampires are real and I am one.

The secret is, I’m stealing from you what is most truly yours and I’m not sorry…

New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.

The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.

Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.

And neither are the rest of us.


brokensoulBroken Soul by Faith Hunter (Roc-Oct 7th)
Synopsis-Jane Yellowrock is a vampire killer for hire—but other creatures of the night still need to watch their backs….

When the Master of the city of New Orleans asks Jane to improve security for a future visit from a delegation of European vampires, she names an exorbitant price—and Leo is willing to pay. That’s because the European vamps want Leo’s territory, and he knows that he needs Jane to prevent a total bloodbath. Leo, however, doesn’t mention how this new job will change Jane’s life or the danger it will bring her and her team.

Jane has more to worry about than some greedy vampires. There’s a vicious creature stalking the streets of New Orleans, and its agenda seems to be ripping Leo and her to pieces. Now Jane just has to figure out how to kill something she can’t even see….


nyctophobiaNyctophobia by Christopher Fowler (Solaris-Oct 7th)
Synopsis-An original thriller from bestselling author Christopher Fowler that reinventing the haunted house story.

Newly-married architect Callie and her wealthy husband Mateo move to Hyperion House, a grand old home in southern Spain. It’s an eccentric place built in front of a cliff: serene and beautiful, but eerily symmetrical, and cunningly styled so that half the house is flooded with light, and half – locked up and neglected – is shrouded in darkness. Unemployed and feeling isolated in a foreign country, Callie determines to research the history of the curious building.

But the past is sometimes best left alone. Uncovering the folklore of the house’s strange history, Callie is drawn into darkness and delusion. As a teenager Callie was afraid of the dark, and now with her adolescent nyctophobia returning she becomes convinced there’s someone in the darkened rooms. Somewhere in the darkness lies the truth about Hyperion House.

But some doors should never be opened.


wolvesoflondon

The Wolves of London by Mark Morris (Titan-Oct 7th)
Synopsis-Psychology professor Alex Locke is an ex-convict, forced back into the criminal underworld when his daughter is threatened. After he agrees to steal a mysterious Obsidian Heart, Locke is pursued by unearthly assassins known as the ‘Wolves of London’. Soon he discovers the heart can enable him to travel through time, and while it bestows him with his own dark powers, it also corrupts…


wearenotgoodpeopleWe Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers (Gallery-Oct 7th)

Synopsis-From the “exhilarating, powerful, and entertaining” (Guardian) storyteller of the Avery Cates series comes a gritty supernatural thriller featuring a pair of unlikely heroes caught up in the underground world of blood magic.

The ethics in a world of blood are gray—and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people.

Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work.

When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her—and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.


fallingskyFalling Sky by Rajan Khanna (Pyr -Oct 7th)
Synopsis-Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he’s ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters—whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.


broodBrood by Chase Novak (Mulholland -Oct 7th)
Synopsis-Two teenagers struggle with a horrific family legacy, and the woman who has adopted them fights for their lives—and her own.

Adam and Alice are reaching the age when some of the children created by the fertility treatment that spawned them begin to turn feral. Will they succomb to the same physiological horror that destroyed their parents? Every change brings on terror—the voice cracking as it changes, the swelling of the breasts, the coarsening of down into actual hair. Their aunt, Cynthia, oversees renovations to the Twisden family’s Manhattan residence—torn apart by the children’s parents at their most savage—and struggles to give her niece and nephew the unconditional love they never had. Meanwhile, in the world outside, the forces of good and evil collide as a troop of feral offspring threatens to invade the refuge Cynthia is so determined to construct behind the Twisdens’ walls.


theboywhoThe Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue (Picador-Oct 7th)
Synopsis-From the New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child comes a hypnotic literary horror novel about a young boy trapped inside his own world, whose drawings blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, ten-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper, who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all.

In the tradition of The Turn of the Screw, Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a mesmerizing tale of psychological terror and imagination run wild, a perfectly creepy read for a dark night.


fearsomemagicsFearsome Magics edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris -Oct 7th)
Synopsis-A cabinet of magic! A cavalcade of wonder! A collection of stories both strange and wondrous, of tales filled with wild adventure and strange imaginings. Fearsome Magics, the second New Solaris Book of Fantasy, is all these things and more. It is, we think, one of the best books you will read all year.

Award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan has invited some of the best and most exciting writers working in fantasy today to let their imaginations run wild and to deliver stories that will thrill and awe, delight and amuse. And above all, stories that are filled with fearsome magic! Authors include Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Justina Robson, Ellen Klages, Christopher Rowe, Isobelle Carmody, Tony Ballantyne, James Bradley, Karin Tidbeck, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Frances Hardinger, Kaaron Warren, Genevieve Valentine and Robert Shearman.


poisonfruitPoison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey (Roc -Oct 7th)
Synopsis-The hot-as-Hel series with the “Sookie Stackhouse type of vibe” (Paranormal Horizon) is back—but this time the paranormal Midwestern town of Pemkowet is feeling a frost in the air and the residents are frozen in fear….

The Pemkowet Visitors Bureau has always promoted paranormal tourism—even if it has downplayed the risks (hobgoblins are unpredictable). It helps that the town is presided over by Daisy Johanssen, who as Hel’s liaison is authorized by the Norse goddess of the dead to keep Pemkowet under control. Normally, that’s easier to do in the winter, when bracing temperatures keep folks indoors.

But a new predator is on the prowl, and this one thrives on nightmares. Daisy is on her trail and working intimately with her partner and sometime lover from the Pemkowet PD, sexy yet unavailable werewolf Cody Fairfax. But even as the creature is racking up innocent victims, a greater danger looms on Pewkowet’s horizon.


mortalgodsMortal Gods by Kendare Blake (Tor Teen -Oct 14th)
Synopsis-As ancient immortals are left reeling, a modern Athena and Hermes search the world for answers in Mortal Gods, the second Goddess War novel by Kendare Blake, acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood.

Ares, god of war, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She’s ready to wage a war of her own, and she’s never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she’ll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.

Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can’t have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite.

The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra’s hate will get them all killed.

The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can’t, fates far worse than death await.


thedoubtfactoryThe Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown -Oct 14th)
Synopsis-In this page-turning contemporary thriller, National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestselling author Paolo Bacigalupi explores the timely issue of how public information is distorted for monetary gain, and how those who exploit it must be stopped.

Everything Alix knows about her life is a lie. At least that’s what a mysterious young man who’s stalking her keeps saying. But then she begins investigating the disturbing claims he makes against her father. Could her dad really be at the helm of a firm that distorts the truth and covers up wrongdoing by hugely profitable corporations that have allowed innocent victims to die? Is it possible that her father is the bad guy, and that the undeniably alluring criminal who calls himself Moses—and his radical band of teen activists—is right? Alix has to make a choice, and time is running out, but can she truly risk everything and blow the whistle on the man who loves her and raised her?


ofboneandthunderOf Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans (Gallery-Oct 14th)
Synopsis-Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy, filled with “heroic action that keeps fans coming back” (Publishers Weekly).

Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.

In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.


accidentalhighwaymanThe Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp (Tor-Oct 14th)
Synopsis-The Accidental Highwayman is the first swashbuckling adventure for young adults by talented author and illustrator, Ben Tripp. This thrilling tale of dark magic and true love is the perfect story for fans of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, goblin attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

Fans of classic fairy-tale fantasies such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman and will find much to love in this irresistible YA debut by Ben Tripp, the son of one of America’s most beloved illustrators, Wallace Tripp (Amelia Bedelia). Following in his father’s footsteps, Ben has woven illustrations throughout the story.


bathing the lionBathing the Lion by Stephen Carroll (St. Martin’s Press-Oct 21st)
Synopsis-In Jonathan Carroll’s surreal masterpiece, Bathing the Lion, five people who live in the same New England town go to sleep one night and all share the same hyper-realistic dream. Some of these people know each other; some don’t.

When they wake the next day all of them know what has happened. All five were at one time “mechanics,” a kind of cosmic repairman whose job is to keep order in the universe and clean up the messes made both by sentient beings and the utterly fearsome yet inevitable Chaos that periodically rolls through, wreaking mayhem wherever it touches down—a kind of infinitely powerful, merciless tornado. Because the job of a mechanic is grueling and exhausting, after a certain period all of them are retired and sent to different parts of the cosmos to live out their days as “civilians.” Their memories are wiped clean and new identities are created for them that fit the places they go to live out their natural lives to the end.

For the first time all retired mechanics are being brought back to duty: Chaos has a new plan, and it’s not looking good for mankind…


thevinesThe Vines by Christopher Rice (47North-Oct 21st)
Synopsis-The dark history of Spring House, a beautifully restored plantation mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans, has long been forgotten. But something sinister lurks beneath the soil of the old estate.

After heiress and current owner Caitlin Chaisson is witness to her husband’s stunning betrayal at her birthday party, she tries to take her own life in the mansion’s cherished gazebo. Instead, the blood she spills awakens dark forces in the ground below. Chaos ensues and by morning her husband has vanished without a trace and his mistress has gone mad.

Nova, daughter to Spring House’s groundskeeper, has always suspected that something malevolent haunts the old place, and in the aftermath of the birthday party she enlists Caitlin’s estranged best friend, Blake, to help her get to the bottom of it. The pair soon realizes that the vengeance enacted by this sinister and otherworldly force comes at a terrible price.


thedoorinthemountain

The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet (ChiZine-Oct 29th)
Synopsis-The Greece of The Door in the Mountain (Book 1 of a two-part series) is a place where children are marked by gods and goddesses; a place where a manipulative, bitter princess named Ariadne devises a mountain prison for her hated half-brother, where a boy named Icarus tries, and fails, to fly, and a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.


floatingboy

Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly by PT Jones (ChiZine-Oct 29th)
Synopsis-Mary’s life is going fine. Except for being a freshman in high school. And having anxiety attacks. And her dad having no job. So, introduce one boy who can fly, kidnap the little brother she’s supposed to be babysitting, and drop a military quarantine on her town and that should make her anxiety completely disappear, right? Wrong!


blackspringBlack Spring by Christina Henry (Ace-Oct 28th)
Synopsis-A former Agent of death, Madeline Black now has everything to live for, most importantly, her unborn child. But Chicago has become ground zero in a struggle between ancient creatures, and only Maddy can stop the carnage…

The mayor of Chicago has announced a plan to round up the city’s supernatural beings and put them in camps. With her due date looming, Maddy’s best move would be to lay low for a while. But not everyone is willing to respect her privacy. Hounded by tentacled monsters, a rogue shapeshifter, and a tenacious blogger, Maddy turns to her most powerful ally, her uncle Daharan, only to find him missing.

Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, Maddy gets an invitation in the mail—to Lucifer’s wedding. Turns out everyone has been invited, friends and enemies alike. And with that kind of guest list, it’s highly unlikely there will be a happily ever after.


shadowboxerShadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan (Ravenstone-Oct 28th)
Synopsis-Thai martial arts, international crime, celebrity and mythical creatures combine in this masterful new tale of two people facing incredible dangers, from award-winning author Tricia Sullivan.

Nothing she’s faced in the cage will prepare her…

Jade is a young mixed martial arts fighter. When she’s in the cage she dominates her opponents—but in real life she’s out of control.

After she has a confrontation with a Hollywood martial arts star that threatens her gym’s reputation, Jade’s coach sends her to a training camp in Thailand for an attitude adjustment. Hoping to discover herself, she instead uncovers a shocking conspiracy. In a world just beyond our own, a man is stealing the souls of children to try and live forever.


avisionoffireA Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson (Simon 451-Oct 7th)
Synopsis-The first novel from iconic X-Files star Gillian Anderson and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin: a science fiction thriller of epic proportions.

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work.

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.


knifefightKnife Fight and Other Struggles by David Nickle (ChiZine-Oct 10th)
Synopsis-A young man at loose ends finds he cannot look away from his new lover’s alien gaze. A young woman out of time seeks her old lover in the cold spaces between the stars. The fleeing worshippers of an ancient and jealous deity seek solace in an unsuspecting New World congregation. In a suburban nursery, a demon with a grudge and a lonely exorcist face off for what could be the last time.

And when a big city mayor who delineates his mandate by the slash of a blade faces an unexpected challenger … it turns into a struggle that threatens to consume everything.

In KNIFE FIGHT AND OTHER STRUGGLES, David Nickle follows his award-winning debut collection Monstrous Affections with a new set of dark tales that span space, time and genre.

“If the Group of Seven had worked in prose instead of oils— and if they’d been raised on a diet of Lynch and Cronenberg— they might have come close to what David Nickle fishes from his id for our edification.”

-Hugo-winning author Peter Watts, from the Introduction

4 Comments:

  1. Wow! So many great books. I put a bunch on my wish list, especially Brood since I loved Breed and the one by Keith Donohue. Thanks for bringing all these to my attention.

  2. Really looking forward to Faith Hunter’s Broken Soul!

  3. Pingback: Sunday Links, September 21, 2014 | Like Fire

  4. Pingback: Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly | Stephen Graham Jones

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