Happy New Year!! Here are the new releases for January! However, this is by no means a comprehensive list (just ones that I especially have my eye on.) If you have any new releases that I didn’t include, and that you’d like to direct me to, please list them in the comments. Thanks!
January 8th, 2013:
Broken by AE Rought
Earth Thirst by Mark Teppo
The Eldritch Conspiracy by Cat Adams
Doomed by Tracy Deebs (YA)
Farseed by Pamela Sargent (YA)
The Rebels of New SUN by Michael Kinch (YA)
Blind God’s Bluff by Richard Lee Byers
The Crossing by Mandy Hager
Power Under Pressure by Andrew P. Mayer
Impulse by Steven Gould
Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin
American Tropic by Thomas Sanchez
Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus
Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Moon Underfoot by Bobby Cole
The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black
Fear of Beauty by Susan Froetschel
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick
The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi
The Infects by Sean Beaudoin (Candlewick, Sept. 2012)– Nick Sole is seventeen and being seventeen is hard enough. It’s even harder when your mom took off and you have a deadbeat dad whom you’ve nicknamed “The Dude” and a little sister with Asperger’s. Working in a chicken processing plant isn’t much fun either and the smell is even worse, but when Nero gets promoted, he thinks maybe it’s not that terrible. Promotion is all well and good until you get distracted, stab yourself in the hand with a boning knife, and end up ruining thousands of dollars’ worth of product. This lands him in the “Inward Trek” program which seeks to reform juvenile delinquents via, you know, hiking. Nick is swiftly nicknamed Nero and put on a bus to the wilderness, along with other teenage male “clients.” When the boys spot the girls’ bus at a pit stop, they’re excited, to say the least, and when one of the girls, Swann, gets placed with them, they’re instantly smitten, but she’s not having any of it. Oh wait, did I mention that Nick’s crush, Petal, is on board that bus too?
Nero notices a few odd things while they’re stopped for gas, but each instance is dismissed, which you can kind of understand, since heading to a wilderness reform camp isn’t every teenagers dream vacation, so Nero is a little distracted. When they arrive at camp, the counselors decide to eat lunch themselves (some big ‘ol buckets of chicken) and not share with the boys. In the middle of the first night, Nero awakens to find Swann eating chicken from the leftovers. You can see what’s coming, can’t you? The action pretty much starts first thing when the boys wake up. The counselors are no longer human and have obviously been munching on human flesh. It’s a zombie free for all, and the boys must fight for their lives. Swann is also a zombie, and she seems “different” from the others. However, this is neither here nor there, because it’s time to run. Fast.
You may think The Infects is your usual zombie fest, full of blood, guts, and good eatin’, and it has all of that! However, the author has created a world that is our world, but a little to the left of it. You’ll recognize brand names, but they’ve been changed ever so slightly, and usually with a humorous twist. The action is nearly nonstop and I laughed out loud on every other page. Nick is a capable hero, and his determination to find Petal and get home to his sister is what drives his every move. Well, that, and to simply survive. Interspersed among the action are “zombie rules” that are not only true, but absolutely hilarious and you’ll see many winks to pop culture. The Infects is gross, crass, funny, impossible to put down, and a must for zombie fans. It frequently ventures into parody, with fantastic results. The author even manages to throw in some interesting observations about our consumer culture amongst the constant carnage. There’s a twist at the end that I’m not sure how I feel about yet, and that’s a good thing, because it’s obvious that Beaudoin wants you to think a bit, even as you laugh and cringe. I believe The Infects is officially a young adult book, but I would say it’s aimed squarely at older teens. If they’re watching The Walking Dead, they can certainly handle this. The Infects is a very smart, rather twisted, addition to zombie fiction, and never talks down to its intended audience. I’m not a teen, and I nommed the heck outta this book, so snap it up!
Aurora-winning poet Helen Marshall is an author, editor, and self-proclaimed bibliophile.
Her poetry and fiction have been published in The Chiaroscuro, Paper Crow, Abyss & Apex, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Tor.com. She recently released a collection of poems entitled Skeleton Leaves from Kelp Queen Press and her collection of short stories Hair Side, Flesh Side was released from ChiZine Publications in 2012.
Currently, she is pursuing a Ph. D in medieval studies at the University of Toronto, for which she spends a great deal of her time staring at fourteenth-century manuscripts. Unwisely. When you look into a book, who knows what might be looking back.
I recently asked Helen to write about where horror is headed as a genre, she kindly obliged. Please welcome her to the blog!
What Does Magic Realism Have to Offer Horror?
-By Helen Marshall
When originally tapped to write a blog post on new directions in horror, I felt a little bit underqualified. The horror I read, I absolutely adore: but if horror is, to borrow from Kim Newman, the art of going too far, then there’s such a swath of great horror writing that sits just outside my threshold. I was a big scaredy cat as a kid. I’m still a big scaredy cat. But I also like how horror writing gives us the license to go too far. To push at the boundaries. And so, in some ways, this is me trying to work out what my writing has to do with horror, and in other ways, this is me trying to work out how horror works…
But there’s been a recent movement—more a ripple than a movement, really—in the horror genre that’s got me excited. I noticed it first when editing Robert Shearman’s collection, Remember Why You Fear Me—well, first I say in a loose sense: I think people who read Shearman’s work know that he’s doing something a little bit different than everyone else, something blackly funny and scary at the same time. The story that comes to mind is his very twisted “Granny’s Grinning” about a kid who gets a zombie suit for Christmas. But the feeling struck again when I opened Karen Tidbeck’s very excellent collection Jagannath to find a story about a man who falls in love with a zeppelin. There’s something strange going on in these stories. There’s something strange going on and it’s working.
What’s interesting about these stories is neither one of them quite follows the rules for horror but still manage to achieve a similar effect.
So how does horror work? As Douglas Winter says—and has been echoed as a rallying cry for modern horror writers—horror isn’t a genre so much as it is an emotion. But I would argue there is a kind of underlying mechanic to the way that emotion works in fiction, and realism is in some way the key to it. Horror works most profoundly at the moment in which the reader identifies with the character in jeopardy, when the jeopardy becomes a shared experience and when the jeopardy transfers—for just a second—to the reader. To get that emotional punch, that psychic linking, the world has to feel real. Chuck Palahniuk tells a story about how medieval craftsmen making stained glass had to pay extra attention to the simple things in their work—the fold of robes, the curl of hair, the kinds of flowers at the feet. Why? Because if they could get those right—those basic, ordinary, quotidian details—then the saints and monsters would come alive for the peasants in the church. The fantastic would be drawn into the world of the real.
But in both Shearman and Tidbeck’s story, something else is happening. And that something is drawn from absurdist or magic realist fiction: here, they both present the “strange”—their rupture from reality—upfront: they normalize it. They don’t explain it. It simply…is.
“Sarah didn’t want the zombie, and she didn’t know anyone else who did. Apart from Graham, of course, but he was only four, he wanted everything; his Christmas list to Santa had run to so many sheets of paper that Daddy had said that Santa would need to take out a second mortgage on his igloo to get that lot, and everyone had laughed, even though Graham didn’t know what an igloo was, and Sarah was pretty sure that Santa didn’t live in an igloo anyway.”
The prose immediately disarms the reader. It subverts expectations. “Yeah,” it seems to say, “you thought this was going to be scary? You thought this was horror, hey? It’s not.”
So you drop your guard. You give in to the gimmicky, jokey tone of the piece. You accept the logic of a world that allows little girls to put on zombie suits and transform themselves utterly.
But “Granny’s Grinning” (spoiler alert!) is playing a game. What promises to be a story about zombies shifts to a family drama. It’s about Christmas! It’s about preparing the house to be just right for Granny (Granny whose husband just died, Granny who holds the purse strings in her withered, little hands). You come to forget the zombies, because everyone else has forgotten them…but then Sarah puts on the suit. And it’s not a normal zombie suit. There’s a glint of recognition in Granny’s eye. It is just any old zombie. It’s Grandpa. And then that glint of recognition becomes something more. Something terrible.
The story delivers its chilling and very sinister conclusion at the moment when the central oddness—the zombie suit; the funny little gimmick that the reader has come to ignore—gets twisted around on itself. The reader who, thus far, has been encouraged to laugh at Sarah struggling with her clumsy, decomposing body at the dinner table, suddenly has to confront how they have been made to be complicit, how they too have tacitly agreed to serve Sarah’s zombie body up to Granny…
And that’s where the horror lies. Not just in what happens to Sarah, but in what the reader has allowed to happen to Sarah. Just by laughing. Just by accepting the rules of the world that author has created.
Karin Tidbeck plays a similar sort of game in her short story “Beatrice”—here, the physician Franz Hiller falls desperately in love with a display zeppelin at a fair in Berlin, but when he finds his darling Beatrice cannot be purchased, he makes do with a replacement. He houses “Beatrice II” in a warehouse he shares with Anna (Anna too has suffered a similar misfortune in falling in love with a steam engine). The story is delightfully charming in its absurdity. And you come to care for Franz Hiller. You come to love him as he struggles to woo his new, surprisingly taciturn bride. Because he knows, deep down, that this second zeppelin isn’t Beatrice, but he can pretend she’s Beatrice, he can call her Beatrice, and he can hope, oh, he can hope that maybe the one will be so very like the other…
And that’s where Tidbeck gets you. Because suddenly you’re willing to give Franz Hiller the licence to play out his little self-deception. And it’s only when Tidbeck turns the tables, when Beatrice II comes to speak for herself and rail against the slavery—the false marriage—that she’s been forced into, that we see the dark flipside of the world we’ve allowed ourselves to be lulled into accepting. And while Tidbeck doesn’t linger long in the horror of the moment, it carries a heck of a wallop. Because suddenly the position of the reader has shifted. It isn’t a love story. It’s a story about captivity and subjugation.
One of the interesting things Tzvetan Todorov said in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre was that in fantasy (and horror by extension) the fantastic element can never be reduced entirely to metaphor or allegory. Certainly, the fantastic often shares elements with allegory—writers as diverse as C. S. Lewis come to mind, and Tolkien, and even Stephen King—but it’s always doing something else as well. The encounter with the fantastic takes place at the level of the literal.
Magic realism, on the other hand, moves much closer to the symbolic. It plays with metafiction. It disorients. It offers a kind of reticence in which the author deliberately withholds explanations about the mechanics of the fantastic in order to open up a space where the reader is never quite sure of the rules of the game. The literal can become the metaphorical. The literal can breakdown without the story breaking down.
I love that. That’s the kind of chicanery I love pulling in my own writing.
In my collection, Hair Side, Flesh Side, I wrote a story called “Blessed” (which you can read here) in which a seven-year-old girl is given the body of St. Lucia of Syracuse by her dad, only to discover that her mum now feels the need to up the ante, so to speak, by dredging the Seine for the ashes of Joan of Arc. It’s a story that plays the same game as “Granny’s Grinning” and “Beatrice”. It works because if the story can get you to laugh at Joan of Arc lighting herself on fire in order to reprimand a little girl for misbehaving in the second act, then when the little girl suddenly starts behaving like a saint—a genuine saint, the kind willing to mutilate herself to show her devotion—it turns the tables on you.
All writing is a kind of magic trick, really: you show the reader a handkerchief, and then you set-up a distraction while you transform it into a bouquet of flowers. But the intersection of horror and magic realism heightens that effect precisely because it allows the author to go too far—to explode the world they’ve created, to break the rules it seems to run by. Magic realism delights in tricking you. In shifting the ground beneath your feet. And horror, well, horror is the thing that happens once you realize you’ve been tricked, that you wanted to be tricked all along. And that’s what I love in good fiction—that play with the illusion of realism that still manages to snag a piece of you and twist.
Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Pocket Books, Oct. 2009)-Bitter Night has been on my shelf for a while. Staring at me. Beckoning to me. So, over the holiday, I picked it up and could have kicked myself for waiting this long to start this series. Max is a Shadowblade Prime, in service to her witch, Giselle. The problem is, Max didn’t choose this job, Giselle tricked her into it 30 years ago when they were best friends in college. One minute Giselle was asking her a series of what-if questions (what if you never got old, etc), the next minute, she was bound to Giselle and undergoing the worst forms of torture. With friends like Giselle, who needs enemies, huh? Max can only be outside at night, because otherwise she’ll melt into a puddle of goo under too much sunlight and a series of very strong compulsion spells tie her to Giselle and brook no thought of getaway. And Max has tried to getaway, boy has she. She always comes back though (those damn compulsion spells), and continues to fight Giselle’s battles. The problem is that Max is rather devoted to the Shadowblades that she commands, whether she wants to admit it or not, and is even fond of her daytime counterparts, the Sunspears.
When Max meets Alexander, the Shadowblade Prime of a rival witch, sparks fly in more ways than one, and when she finds out that their covenstead, Horngate,might soon be under attack, and the entire human race may be in danger, an uneasy truce with Giselle, the witch she hates and lives to someday kill, may be necessary to save those she loves. The Guardians (big, powerful, ancient suckers) have decided that they’re not happy with what humans have done to the earth, and are planning on a cleansing of sorts. They want the most powerful witches to be their lieutenants in the war to come, but Giselle isn’t too keen on this plan, and she’s not the only one. Max is one tough cookie, but soon she’ll be challenged more than she ever has been before, not only with her body, but with her heart.
Max is my new favorite heroine. Yes, she kicks plenty of butt and is super tough, like all heroines are, but she’s also deeply flawed. She’s been so blinded by her hatred of Giselle that it’s taken her a long time to realize that although she gave up her biological family many years ago, she’s made a new family of sorts with her Shadowblades, and when the possibility that she may lose them looks more and more likely, she’s forced to look inside herself a little more and examine the anger that she’s held inside for so long. It doesn’t help that Alexander seems to awaken something in her that’s more than mere lust.
Lest you think this is your usual urban fantasy novel, think again. Yes, there’s plenty of heat between Max and Alexander, but she’s been closed off for so long, it’s near impossible to let anyone in, but boy does he try, and the author teases you with a possible relationship to come. However, it’s not gonna happen in Bitter Night. Most likely, this is part of what’s going to make you rush out to snag Crimson Wind (with a quickness) after reading this one. See what the author did there? Max certainly recognizes her attraction to Alexander, but she’s most focused on saving the convenstead, and yes, even keeping Giselle safe. There’s so much more to this book than initially meets the eye. I don’t think I’ve seen a character take more physical damage than Max in a single book, and there’s more than enough action to satisfy the most discerning UF reader. The author has created a rather unique universe where witches are extremely powerful beings, and angels can be made to do their bidding. You’ll love her angels too, promise (no flowing robes and halos here-they’re distinctly other and beyond fierce.) Bitter Night is not to be missed for not only urban fantasy fans, but I think fantasy fans would also enjoy this unusual and ceaselessly entertaining series starter. Lucky for you, books 1-4 are already out, so you can race through them one after another (which I fully plan to do.)
Inheritance by Joe McKinney (Evil Jester Press, Oct. 18th, 2012, review copy via the author)-Paul Henninger had a pretty rough childhood. His father, Martin, was emotionally and physically abusive, and his mother was nothing but a shell that seemed to allow the abuse and was emotionally withdrawn and distant, or so Paul has always thought. Paul is now a rookie cop with the San Antonio police, and he’s eager to get on with his life and his career after the tragedy that made up his childhood. He’s married to a lovely woman, Rachel, who absolutely adores him and he’s determined not to carry the darkness with him that his father was so enmeshed in, and so determined to pass on to his son. When Paul and his partner, Mike, are called to the scene of a massive slaughter, it kicks off a chain of events that will forever alter Paul and could bring about the end of the world.
Martin Henninger is dead, and Paul wants to put the past behind him, but when he actually steps into Martin’s past, and discovers the source of the dark magic that’s causing so much death and destruction, he has no idea how to escape it, and soon, such immense power begins to look more and more attractive to Paul, and the hold that his father has on him becomes almost too much to resist. This power was never meant to be used for evil, but it’s been perverted and twisted, and it holds the promise to command the dead, if only Paul would just let it in.
Joe McKinney has done something wonderful with this book. It takes some pretty terrifying subjects like black magic and undead armies, and wraps all of it up in a very satisfying police procedural. The author knows of what he writes, since he has a police background, the inner workings of the San Antonio Police Department are fascinating, and the camaraderie (and competition) within the department adds a whole new dimension to the novel. As Paul fights his own battles with his father, homicide detectives are following the trail of death and are keen to know exactly how Paul is involved, because it becomes very clear at the outset that he very much is.
Inheritance has pretty much got it all: ghosts, zombies, ritual murder, and much more. It’s written with the sure hand that I’ve come to expect of McKinney and the scares come fast and furious. I really liked Paul as the protagonist, and although he is special, is certainly touched by the supernatural, he just wants to be with Rachel, be a cop, and belong to something normal and good. He’s not immune to the pull of the awesome power offered to him, and, in spite of his father’s abuse, he still yearns for his father’s love and acceptance. McKinney didn’t make Rachel a shrinking violet, which I appreciate, and she plays a rather large and important role in the story. I think it’s pretty much a given that cop’s wives must be inherently strong, but Rachel faces some pretty tough battles in order to help save the man she loves so much.
Inheritance is not just a horror story, it’s the portrait of a damaged boy, now a man, who’s desperately trying to stay in the light, and resist the darkness. Martin Henninger doesn’t make this easy, and things get very bad before it seems they may get better, and even that is never certain. Emotional, creepy, and downright scary, Inheritance will take you on a trip you won’t soon forget.
Happy Holidays to everyone! Since most folks are usually in a giving mood during this time of the year, I thought it might be a good time for another giveaway! Up for grabs is an advance copy of Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson (feel free to check out my review). So, check out the details and good luck!!
About FULL BLOODED
It’s not easy being a girl. It’s even harder when you’re the only girl in a family of werewolves. But it’s next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race… Meet Jessica McClain — she just became part of the pack.
In the vein of Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs, a new urban fantasy that rewrites the werewolf myth…
A little while back I gave you a list of my Top 10 Must Reads of January 2013 in Scifi/Fantasy/Horror, so with 2013 right around the corner, I’d also like to give you a taste of what’s coming up in Suspense, and the 10 that I just must get my hands on!
American Tropic by Thomas Sanchez (Knopf-Jan. 15th)
Synopsis-The exotic island city of the Florida Keys is being terrorized by horrific murders committed by a mysterious voodoo assassin. With each new kill, it becomes clear that the skeleton-clad executioner has an ecological agenda. The novel propels us through a complex maze populated by rapacious developers, ruthless scammers, and common folk engaged in heroic acts to save their community.
The characters, from the defenders of America’s only continental reef to the destroyers of marine life, are all swept up in this torrent of horrors. Everyone dreads being the killer’s next victim as the clock counts down to the end of hurricane season and the final dramatic explosion of fear and rage.
With canny perception and striking revelations, American Tropic illuminates a world of dark desires, hidden truths, and colliding destinies.
The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly (Atria-Jan. 1st)
Synopsis-In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of a plane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time.
What the wreckage conceals is more important than money. It is power: a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those for whom it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.
The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others, too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and a serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter. But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets.
Someone has survived the crash. Something has survived the crash.
And it is waiting. . .
Ratlines by Stuart Neville (Soho Press-Jan. 1st)
Synopsis-Ireland 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors, a German national is murdered in a seaside guesthouse. Lieutenant Albert Ryan, Directorate of Intelligence, is ordered to investigate. The German is the third foreigner to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end lest a shameful secret be exposed: the dead men were all Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following World War II.
A note from the killers is found on the dead German’s corpse, addressed to Colonel Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s favorite commando, once called the most dangerous man in Europe. The note simply says: “We are coming for you.”
As Albert Ryan digs deeper into the case he discovers a network of former Nazis and collaborators, all presided over by Skorzeny from his country estate outside Dublin. When Ryan closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? Ryan learns that Skorzeny might be a dangerous ally, but he is a deadly enemy.
Die Easy by Zoë Sharp (Pegasus-Jan. 8th)
Synopsis-Professionally, she’s at the top of her game, but her personal life is in ruins. Her lover, bodyguard Sean Meyer, has woken from a gunshot-induced coma with his memory in tatters. It seems that piercing back together the relationship they shared is proving harder for him than relearning the intricacies of the bodyguard business. Working with Sean again was never going to be easy for Charlie, but a celebrity fundraising event in aid of still-ravaged areas of New Orleans should have been the ideal opportunity for them both to take things nice and slow. Until, that is, they find themselves thrust into the middle of a war zone.
When an ambitious robbery explodes into a deadly hostage situation, the motive may be far more complex than simple greed. Somebody has a major score to settle, and Sean is part of the reason. Only trouble is, he doesn’t remember why. And when Charlie finds herself facing a nightmare from her own past, she realizes she can’t rely on Sean to watch her back. This time, she’s got to fight it out on her own.One thing is for certain, though—no matter how overwhelming the odds stacked against her, or however hopeless the situation may appear—Charlie is never going to die easy.
Rough Men by Aric Davis (Thomas & Mercer-Jan. 22nd)
Synopsis-For his entire adult life, ex-criminal Will Daniels has been running from his past. Now, in the wake of his son’s gruesome death, he’ll turn around and embrace it.
After learning his boy got his head half blown off while helping a couple of punks rob a bank, Will tries — oh, how he tries — to just let the police handle the investigation. But as legal channels fall well short and Will’s helpless fury mounts, it’s only a matter of time before he dishes out a more personal brand of justice.
Armed with a dark past and brutal skills, Will is perfectly equipped to hunt down his son’s killers. Unfortunately, his violent quest for revenge may destroy him and everything he loves before it’s over.
Little Elvises (Junior Bender #2) by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Press-Jan. 29th))
Synopsis-LA burglar Junior Bender has (unfortunately) developed a reputation as a competent private investigator for crooks. The unfortunate part about this is that regardless of whether he solves the crime or not, someone dangerous is going to be unhappy with him, either his suspect or his employer.
Now Junior is being bullied into proving aging music industry mogul Vinnie DiGaudio is innocent of the murder of a nasty tabloid journalist he’d threatened to kill a couple times. It doesn’t help that the dead journalist’s widow is one pretty lady, and she’s trying to get Junior to mix pleasure with business. Just as the investigation is spiraling out of control, Junior’s hard-drinking landlady begs him to solve the disappearance of her daughter, who got involved with a very questionable character. And, worst news of all, both Junior’s ex-wife and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Rina, seem to have new boyfriends. What a mess.
Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman (Soho Press-Jan. 8th)
Synopsis-Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America from the award-winning author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery; a page-turning literary triumph.
The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton (Picador-Jan. 29th)
Synopsis-Fifty million dollars has disappeared into thin air from the accounts of one of the richest men in the Philippines, Tommy Ordonez. His one hope is Ava Lee—-sleek, capable forensic accountant and sleuth. With the help of her Triad-connected partner, Uncle, Ava follows the money trail from San Francisco to Costa Rica to the casinos and illegal gambling dens of Las Vegas. Meanwhile, a vengeful adversary from Ava’s past has put out a contract on her life, and the shadowy hit man is close at her heels every step of the way. Will Ava recover the stolen cash without stepping into the crosshairs of a growing list of enemies? The first book of an electrifying new series, The Disciple of Las Vegas introduces Ava Lee: a deadly martial artist with a taste for luxury and a mind like a steel trap.
Moon Underfoot by Bobby Cole (Thomas & Mercer-Jan. 15th)
Synopsis-Eighteen months ago, stockbroker Jake Crosby and his daughter Katy narrowly survived a living nightmare at a remote Alabama hunting camp. To save Katy, Jake killed two men — men who were friends and business associates of notorious outlaw and drug-runner Ethan “Moon Pie” Daniels. That night, Moon Pie made a blood promise of revenge. And in Moon Pie’s dark world of violence, such promises are always kept.
Jake Crosby doesn’t regret what he did that night; he knows it was kill or be killed. But he can’t shake the feeling that the horror isn’t over, that Katy and his wife, Morgan, aren’t yet safe — and that retribution is coming. All he knows for sure is that he will do anything — everything — to protect his family. That’s a vow the dangerous Moon Pie will put to the ultimate test on a cold, moonless night deep in the heart of a river swamp.
This riveting follow-up to Bobby Cole’s heart-stopping thriller The Dummy Line deftly explores the perils of revenge…and the profound power of a husband and father’s love.
What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Soho Press-Jan. 8th)
Synopsis-Like the yearning, doomed young clones in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, three teenagers with XP (a life-threatening allergy to sunlight) are a species unto themselves. As seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Allie Kim, they roam the silent streets, looking for adventure, while others sleep. When Allie’s best friend introduces the trio to Parkour, the stunt-sport of running and climbing off forest cliffs and tall buildings (risky in daylight and potentially deadly by darkness), they feel truly alive, equal to the “daytimers.”
On a random summer night, while scaling a building like any other, the three happen to peer into an empty apartment and glimpse an older man with what looks like a dead girl. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that escalates through the underground world of hospital confinement, off-the-grid sports, and forbidden love. Allie, who can never see the light of day, discovers she’s the lone key to stopping a human monster.
Also, coming up on 1/31 is a brand new novella by Joe Lansdale called Dead Aim (Subterranean Press)!
Here’s the write-up (via Subterranean Press): The story begins simply enough when the two agree to provide protection for a woman harassed by her violent, soon-to-be-ex husband. But, as readers of this series will already know, events in the lives of Hap and Leonard rarely stay simple for long. When a protracted stakeout ends in a lethal shooting and a pair of moldering corpses turn up in an otherwise deserted trailer, the nature of this “routine” assignment changes dramatically. The ensuing investigation unearths a complex web of lies, duplicity, and hidden agendas that leads from an upscale Texas law firm to the world of organized crime, culminating in the kind of explosive, anything-can-happen confrontation that only Joe Lansdale could create. Violent, profane, and often raucously funny, Dead Aim is a tautly written, hugely entertaining thriller and a triumph of the storyteller’s art.
From drafty London flats to the steamy Sahara, to the surface of the moon and beyond, The Martian War takes the reader on an exhilarating journey with Wells and his companions.
What if HG Wells didn’t write about an Invasion from Mars but rather lived through it with a long list of his contemporizes (fictional and not) including the Invisible Man, Dr. Moreau and Percival Lowell (the “discoverer” and mapper of the Martian canals?
Wells has graduated from university and is living with his fiancé, barely making ends meet. If it wasn’t for his little fantasy stories, they probably wouldn’t be getting by at all. Out of nowhere, Wells is invited by his famous mentor, the biologist Thomas Huxley, to come to an exclusive and secret meeting. Wells soon discovers that the meeting is a British government think-tank of weapons development to counter the rising belligerency of Germany. Through enemy sabotage, Wells, Huxley and his fiancé, Jane end up on a journey to the moon and beyond to face and end the Martian threat!
Meanwhile, in another part of the world, Lowell bumps into Moreau, and the two team up to light signal fires as a guide for first contact for the approaching Martian spacecraft. Little do they suspect the harrowing journey which will unfold for them after taking the Martian captive.
What follows then is a series of adventures told in the form of a Victorian adventure novel. An all-star cast of characters, exciting adventures one after the other and an ultimate battle for the fate of man and the Earth is very reminiscent of A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Personally, I had difficulty deciding what the novel was trying to do. Was it a complete re-telling of the War of the Worlds and the “real” War of the Worlds never happens? Was it a case of Wells writing the War of the Worlds as a cautionary tale for the future so therefore based more in reality? Both of these have some serious problems in their self-contained universes so I was never able to give this novel the full suspension of disbelief it required. If you are a fan of Victorian adventure novels, you will probably find this to your liking. I suspect this would work a lot better as a movie as opposed to a book.
Reviewed by Peter
Please welcome Felix Gilman to the blog! Felix is the author of Thunderer, Gears of the City, and his newest novels are The Half-Made World and The Rise of Ransom City, which just came out! Felix was kind enough to take a moment to answer my questions and we’ve also got a copy of The Rise of Ransom City up for grabs to one lucky winner!
Your brand new book, The Rise of Ransom City, just came out! Will you give us a teaser?
First thing to say perhaps is that it’s a stand-alone sequel that follows a new character (he had a walk-on in the Half Made World but otherwise new) called Harry Ransom, Professor Harry Ransom if he thinks he can get away with it, the inventor of the Harry Ransom Lightbringing Process, who’s touring the frontier towns drumming up investors in his wondrous Process when he crosses paths with Liv and Creedmoor (who were the protagonists of the last book, and who have a TERRIBLE SECRET) and thereby gets caught up in the events of the Great War, loses his horses and his wagon and a boat, blows some things up, makes his fortune, visits the Big City, sells his soul, falls in love, blows some more things up, and encounters wolves, several deranged gunslingers, and a giant evil train.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your background?
As a small child, I used to hoard school notebooks and fill them with very very long stories that were straight ripoffs of whatever I’d read lately.
At university I talked a lot about being a writer, which isn’t the same thing. And I spent my twenties starting various things and not really finishing anything.
The first thing that I finished was my first book, Thunderer. I wrote it during a six-month period between jobs.
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
Trying to create a mood of strangeness, the uncanny, the weird, the grotesque. Playing around with myths and symbols and trying to make new ones.
What are some of your biggest influences?
Michael Moorcock is a huge influence, for mood and tone. Though I wish I could write as short and fast as he does.
Ursula LeGuin. Susan Cooper. Mervyn Peake. Alan Garner.
These are all things I read as a child, when you’re really susceptible to bone-deep influence.
What have been some of your favorite reads this year?
This question always embarrasses me because I’m always at least a few years behind the times. My favourite fantasy read this year was probably Steph Swainston’s Above the Snowline, which came out a few years ago. I’ve been re-reading Johann Huizinga’s The Waning Of The Middle Ages in connection with a new thing I’m starting now, and remembered what a beautiful, beautiful book it is. It’s an attempt to capture the “medieval mind” and it sort of reads like the very best sort of science fiction.
What are you reading now?
John Mandeville’s Book of Marvels and Travels, a 14th century account of the various marvels and wonders of the world. Mostly bullshit.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
With the baby. Otherwise sleeping.
The New Year is right around the corner! What’s next for you in 2013?
I’ve got a recently-completed manuscript about Victorian occultists astrally projecting themselves to Mars (inspired by an account in Alex Owens’ fascinating history The Place Of Enchantment, another favourite book of the year). Tentative title: The Revolutions. It should come out late next year, touch wood.
I’m working on a new thing inspired by the John Mandeville book, in which a 14th century bookseller and illuminator goes on a long weird journey to France, the Holy Land, India, and the stars.
Keep up with Felix: Website
About THE RISE OF RANSOM CITY
This is the story Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.
Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of Jasper City, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.
Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.
If you’re reading this in the future, Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end.
Here’s my roundup of book news (and other fun stuff) around the web for the week! Sometimes I add stuff throughout the day on Friday, so be sure you check back over the weekend too!
Also, don’t miss my list of gift ideas for book lovers at the bottom of the post. I’ll try to offer up new ideas every week until the end of December.
Interviews, articles, and more:
Excerpts and such:
Gift Ideas for Book Lovers (and beyond!)!!