Edgar Allan Poe; The Raven - A Pop-up Book
Published by Abrams 9th August 2016
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a
quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping,
suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my
chamber door . . . Edgar Allan Poe s The Raven is one of the most widely
recognised poems in the English language. When it first appeared in the New York
Evening Mirror, in 1845, the poem made Poe an overnight sensation. Master paper
engineer David Pelham amazes us once again with his pop-up design to interpret
this haunting love story.
As someone who has made up an entire language for an unpublished five-volume fantasy series, I found the original essay absolutely fascinating - very interesting to discover the origins of Tolkien's LOTR character names and place names. The examination and dissection of his essay was less interesting, but this is an essential read for anyone wishing to delve deeper into the machinery of Tolkien's ground-breaking fantasy writing. Superb!
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Rich Handley (ed.): Star Trek The Classic UK Comics - The Complete Series Volume 1 1969-1970
Published by IDW 26th April 2016 (Review copy kindly supplied by Diamond Book Distributors)
In 1969, six months before the Star Trek TV series premiered in England, British comics readers were introduced to the characters in an original comic-book series. The stories were serialized, generally 2 to 3 pages at a time, in 257 weekly magazines spanning five years and 37 storylines. These extremely rare comics have never been published in the United States. Star Trek fans will quickly note that the comics were not written with strict adherence to Star Trek’s core concepts. But it’s precisely that “offness” that makes them so eminently readable and deserving of a proper reprinting. They’re unique in the annals of Star Trek and fans have gone without them for far too long.
I Brilliant throwback to the fantastic days of pulp fiction - I can just see a copy of Amazing Stories featuring this most excellent novel!
Zillah Bethel: A Whisper of Horses
Published by Picadilly Press August 11th 2016
A gorgeously lyrical journey of discovery across a reimagined Great
Serendipity loves horses. No-one in Lahn Dan has ever seen one,
apparently they died out before the Gases - but there are statues of them around
the city, paintings and drawings too if you know where to look. And there's the
little lost wooden horse Mama gave Serendipity when she was little.
Mama dies, Seren is taken under the wing of Professor Nimbus, a storyteller.
Nimbus is kind and knowledgable, but Seren has started to question the
Minister's rule and life beyond the high, impenetrable Emm Twenty-Five wall.
Hidden among Mama's few possessions was a map which suggests there is life
outside of Lahn Dahn, and a place where horses live and roam freely - out beyond
the wall and the Minister's grip. So, with the help of a trader boy called Tab
and his little dog Mouse, Serendipity heads into the unknown, searching for the
beautiful creatures she's always dreamed of.
Excellent thriller with undertones of fantasy a la Christine by Stephen King. R W Strachan keeps you guessing to the last. Superb..
Michael Forester: Dragonsong
Published by Matador, 28th May 2016
A bardic epic fantasy in rhyming Old English, an allegorical masque of good
and evil in an Authurian tradition.
Rebekah, daughter of Merlin and
noblewoman of Albion has been driven to madness by the murder of her lover
Vidar. In her torment she bargains with the Prince of Demons to turn her into a
dragon. Once transformed, she seeks to take revenge upon her father, Merlin,
whom she is fooled into believing is responsible for Vidar’s death.
Behind the subterfuge stands Oberon, Captain-King of Elves, who cannot
foresee the devastation his jealousy and unrequited love for Rebekah will
unleash upon the world of Gaia. Its salvation depends upon Merlin travelling
back in time to find a pure hearted warrior, Lady Attie, who, together with
Michael, seer of Albion, must take the Sleep Stone from the gates of Hell to
persuade the dragon to sleep. But if they are unable to return the Stone to the
mouth of Hell in time, the demon army will awaken and ransack Gaia in a war that
will destroy its existence. Time is the solution to Gaia’s destiny – but only if
the gods of Asgard can find a way to stop it.
Dragonsong is a unique
epic fantasy that explores fundamental themes of good and evil, jealously and
revenge. Woven together with a gripping and powerful plot, the pattern of the
language, the musicality of the form and the profound emotions invoked carry the
reader to extremes of human experience and capability at both its best and
Well, this is something altogether different in the world of fantasy literature - I can't remember reading anything quite like it! A lot of work has gone into this unique and thoroughly engaging story - Michael Forester's dedication to his art will not go unnoticed. Extraordinary.
Michael Newton (Ed.): Victorian Fairy Tales
Published by Oxford World's Classics 26th May 2016
'The Queen and the bat had been talking a good deal that
The Victorian fascination with fairyland vivified
the literature of the period, and led to some of the most imaginative fairy
tales ever written. They offer the shortest path to the age's dreams, desires,
and wishes. Authors central to the nineteenth-century canon such as W. M.
Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Ford Madox Ford, and Rudyard Kipling wrote fairy tales,
and authors primarily famous for their work in the genre include George
MacDonald, Juliana Ewing, Mary De Morgan, and Andrew Lang. This anthology brings
together fourteen of the best stories, by these and other outstanding
practitioners, to show the vibrancy and variety of the form and its abilities to
reflect our deepest concerns.
In tales of whimsy and romance, witty
satire and uncanny mystery, love, suffering, family and the travails of identity
are imaginatively explored. Michael Newton's introduction and notes provide
illuminating contextual and biographical information about the authors and the
development of the literary fairy tale. A selection of original illustrations is
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's
Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the
globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship,
providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features,
including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify
the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
The Victorians were fascinated by fairy stories, of course, and this anthology bears witness to that. This is a beautiful and fascinating addition to the Oxford World's Classics series, and one that is close to my heart. A wonderful book.
Stephen Graham Jones: Mongrels
Published by Harper Voyager 19th May 2016
A spellbinding and surreal coming-of-age story about a young boy living on
the fringe with his family – who are secretly werewolves – and struggling to
survive in a contemporary America that shuns them. He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he
lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly
make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are
mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the centre of Mongrels
must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits
with the people on the other side of the tracks. For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and
narrow escapes―always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the
law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if
their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from
for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change. A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and
present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his
family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world.
An altogether original and novel take on the werewolf literature that dominated YA fantasy for quite a while. Super read.
James Maxwell: Golden Age The Shifting Tides Book 1
Published by 47North 1st May 2016
The first book in an epic fantasy series by James Maxwell, author of the bestselling Evermen Saga. The discovery of a strange and superior warship sends Dion, youngest son of the king of Xanthos, and Chloe, a Phalesian princess, on a journey across the sea, where they are confronted by a kingdom far more powerful than they could ever have imagined. But they also find a place in turmoil, for the ruthless sun king, Solon, is dying. In order to gain entrance to heaven, Solon is building a tomb—a pyramid clad in gold—and has scoured his own empire for gold until there’s no more to be found. Now Solon’s gaze turns to Chloe’s homeland, Phalesia, and its famous sacred ark, made of solid gold. The legends say it must never be opened, but Solon has no fear of foreigners’ legends or even their armies. And he isn’t afraid of the eldren, an ancient race of shape-shifters, long ago driven into the Wilds. For when he gets the gold, Solon knows he will live forever.
As far as I can make out, Sarah's books are intended for young adults - but she's far too good to be confined to such a niche audience. Ordinarily I would have this as my book of the month, but along came Timebomb and that was that. But this is superlative fantasy on an epic scale - all the elements are there, and anyone with a passing interest in the genre will not be disappointed. I would go so far as to say that Sarah is the most important and best writer of pure fantasy around at the moment.
The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its eighteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.