Review: The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman
Reviews / January 31, 2018

Now that the Invisible Library series has become firmly established, the storylines are just getting better and better. Thematically, The Lost Plot is more mysterious and adventurous, drawing heavily from Dragon vs. Fae politics, and there are also strong attempts to involve as many world-building elements as possible. That said though, I do feel this installment takes a step away from series arc that has been developing for the last three books; the plot of this one is a lot more “standalone” than the others, which might make it a good jumping on point for new readers, but of course I would still highly recommend starting from the beginning if you can. The Lost Plot once again follows protagonist Irene Winters, an agent of the secret organization known as the Invisible Library whose members are tasked with traveling to alternate worlds to procure rare books (and yes, sometimes that means stealing them). When the book begins, Irene is offered a business proposal by a mysterious stranger. The would-be client, clearly a dragon, wishes to pay handsomely for her services to obtain a rare copy of Journey to the West, one of Chinese literature’s greatest classics. However, because of the Invisible…

Review: Blackwing by Ed McDonald
Reviews / October 10, 2017

While it may be a little bloated at times, which unfortunately weighs the story down in its later sections, overall I have to say Blackwing is a pretty solid debut. Writing vividly and originally, Ed McDonald has managed to pull off something few authors have been able to do in recent years—open my eyes to a new way of doing grimdark. In this novel we follow our protagonist Ryhalt Galharrow, who is a bounty hunter and captain for the Blackwing, a mysterious organization which serves one of the powerful ancient entities known as the Nameless. His patron, called Crowfoot, is a ruthless master who communicates through a tattoo on Galharrow’s arm, bursting forth from his skin in a form of a raven whenever he has orders to give. In this way, Galharrow receives his latest mission which takes him and his crew into the Misery, an expansive wasteland created when the Nameless unleashed a devastating weapon called the Engine against their enemies the Deep Kings. As a result, corrupted magic runs rampant in the Misery, along with the forces of the Deep Kings still lurking and waiting to strike at unsuspecting victims. Galharrow now must lead his squad into danger,…

Review: Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Reviews / June 8, 2017

Caitlín R. Kiernan’s new novella is an odd beast. Take our universe and turn it a few degrees to strange and this is the world of Agents of Dreamland. It begins with a meeting between two people who are apparently government agents, takes a journey into the mindset of cult members and reaches out into space as a NASA probe falls silent beyond the orbit of Pluto. Kiernan is best known for her lyrical dark fantasy and extraordinarily weird short stories. This novella is somewhere in-between. We begin with the Signalman, a special agent getting off a train in the blistering heat of a 2015 Arizona. He is to meet Immacolata who has information for him. Something strange happened and they need to work out what. She writes as if this is hard-boiled noir. Meanwhile, a typically charismatic-type has founded the Children of the Next Level. This is where we meet Chloe. She is an lost, standing on the roof and reaching for the stars. This particular cult offers transcendence into a better future. This short story alternates in styles between the points of views of the Signalman, Immacolata and Chloe. These are highly descriptive and enigmatic chapters. There are…

Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Reviews / March 28, 2017

  I’m embarrassed to tell you that it took me nearly a month to read this book. But wait, before you laugh at me, a book review blogger, for not being able to read a mere 544 pages in a timely fashion, the truth is, I got myself into a scheduling bind and had to abandon Kings of the Wyld and read several books for some scheduled reviews, before I could finally get back to it. And it is perhaps because of the talent of the author that I had no trouble whatsoever picking up right where I left off. Reading Eame’s debut was one of the most fun times I’ve had in a long while, and I honestly cannot wait to see what he’s going to write next. Eames uses the tried-and-true plot of the reluctant traveler—think The Hobbit with an aging mercenary and you’ll have an idea of what to expect—well, sort of. Clay Cooper is a guard and lives in the small town of Coverdale with his wife Ginny and his young daughter Tally. He used to be part of a group of mercenaries called Saga, back in the days when merc bands swept through the Heartwyld,…

Review: Wintersong by S Jae-Jones
Reviews / March 9, 2017

Plain, dutiful Liesl has given up her dreams of music to help her mother tend their inn, but when she was a child she played in the woods with the Goblin King. Her beautiful younger sister Käthe is tone deaf, engaged to the man Liesl once hoped to marry, but she dreams of bigger places than their small village in the Bavarian forest. But the Goblin King does not forget and if he does not take a bride the world will fall into eternal winter. Which sister will he take? Which sister will he keep? I have a soft spot for books that take well-established sources and weave old tropes into something magical and new. In Wintersong, S Jae-Jones takes an inch of Labyrinth, a pinch of Rossetti’s Goblin Market, and a hint of the Rape of Persephone to create a Germanic fairytale romance: dark, Gothic, and sultry. The disadvantage of retreading a well-worn path is that it can rob a story of surprises. Thankfully, Jae-Jones can write – her prose is as lush as her narrative – so even when things feel a little too familiar (peaches, masked balls, heterochromia), they’re still a delight to read. The better news is that Wintersong lays out its stall, entices you to buy something familiar, then sweeps you off to a dimly-lit…

Review: Everything Belongs to the Future by Laurie Penny
Reviews / February 8, 2017

Everything Belongs to the Future is the debut fiction novella by renowned author and journalist, Laurie Penny. As well as her non-fiction books exploring gender, sexism and capitalism, she writes The Guardian, The Independent, Salon, The New Inquiry and many more. Penny crams a decent amount of plot into not so many pages. We’re almost 100 years hence and the rich can almost literally buy time. Or rather an extension of life from the moment they take the medicine; a kind of ‘Fountain of Youth’ wrapped up in a blue pill. We’re in a divided England. The gaps between the haves and have-nots is wider than ever. Specifically, we’re in Oxford. A group of activists are living in a co-op house and are plotting against those who’ve been ‘fixed’. You see, the scientist inventor of this remarkable technology has fallen in with our perfectly representative house-mates. Nina and Alex, Margo and Fidget are the kind of activists that you’d imagine Penny might know in real life. Scruffy, punky, gender fluid and sexually diverse. Which is a good thing in theory but a little obvious from Penny. I’d have liked a little more stereo-type mould-braking. Inventor Daisy, who is all but…

Review: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
Reviews / January 31, 2017

I loved the premise for Six Wakes when it first made its way onto my radar, but I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading. This is one of those happy occurrences where the book was way better than I thought it would be. Mur Lafferty, welcome to my “must read” author list! I had so much fun with this story, and there were so many twists and turns, secrets and lies, and characters who didn’t even know whether they were lying or not. The entire story takes place on the generation spaceship Dormire, in very tight quarters, and revolves around seven key characters. Not only is this a top-notch science fiction story about cloning, space travel and a group of people forging their way into the future, but it’s a damn fine “locked room” murder mystery as well. This isn’t the first story I’ve read where a group of characters wakes up from some unknown event, only to discover they’ve lost their memories, but it’s definitely the best. Lafferty takes the idea of cloning in a new direction and adds a political layer to her story that deals with clones versus humans. In the…

Review: Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn
Reviews / December 6, 2016

I do love when publishers decide to re-release older books in order to make them available to a new audience, and when I heard about Dragon and Thief, a book originally published in 2003, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Timothy Zahn before, and this seemed like a great opportunity. Dragon and Thief is the first in the Dragonback series, and I’m assuming if this does well, Tor will continue to publish the series. My reaction in three words? Cute and charming. Although I have seen the “young adult” moniker floating around, I feel this book falls firmly in middle grade territory, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to kids ages ten and up. Which was slightly problematic for me, because this story felt very young. There is absolutely no swearing, very little violence, and the dialog felt a bit old-fashioned to me (Jack uses expressions like “I will be dipped in butter” a lot). These things aren’t bad, don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying perhaps I wasn’t the best audience. But despite that personal drawback, Dragon and Thief is full of cool ideas, interesting relationships, and best of all,…

Review: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
Reviews / September 7, 2016

The Fifth Season was one of my top ten books of 2015, and so I was beyond excited to start reading the second book in the series, The Obelisk Gate. I’m happy to say it was a more than worthy follow-up and I enjoyed it immensely. I have to admit I enjoyed The Fifth Season just a touch more, due to the slower pace of The Obelisk Gate and a slightly more confusing story structure. But overall this is a wonderfully intricate story with multilayered characters, a story that demands you pay attention and savor every new revelation. As she did in the first book, Jemisin treats her readers as intelligent beings and forces you to make many of the connections without spelling everything out. Be warned: this is a series you must read in order. Do not attempt to read The Obelisk Gate without reading The Fifth Season first. You will be lost, I guarantee. Also, there are some mild spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the first book. Jemisin’s story alternates between two main points of view, with a third (and even a fourth, if you count the “interludes”) thrown in at times just to shake things up….