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march 2018 - science fiction and fantasy

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Tomi Adeyemi: Children of Blood and Bone

Published by MaMacmillan 8th March 2018

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone. They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. NOW WE RISE. Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden. Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy. The movie of Children of Blood and Bone is in development at Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions with the incredible Karen Rosenfelt and Wyck Godfrey (Twilight, Maze Runner, The Fault In Our Stars) producing it.





Deon Meyer: Fever

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 22nd February 2018

I want to tell you about my Father's murder. I want to tell you who killed him and why. This is the story of my life. And the story of your life and your world too, as you will see. Nico Storm and his father drive across a desolate South Africa, constantly alert for feral dogs, motorcycle gangs, nuclear contamination. They are among the few survivors of a virus that has killed most of the world's population. Young as he is, Nico realises that his superb marksmanship and cool head mean he is destined to be his father's protector. But Willem Storm, though not a fighter, is a man with a vision. He is searching for a place that can become a refuge, a beacon of light and hope in a dark and hopeless world, a community that survivors will rebuild from the ruins. And so Amanzi is born. Fever is the epic, searing story of a group of people determined to carve a city out of chaos.


This is the long-awaited paperback version of a serious rival tp Stephen King's The Stand (although I'm not as engaged with the characters as with King's), and Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which I found one of the most depressing books I have ever read. Very dark and lonely in places.


Ruby Smith: Galleon

Published by Matador 28th January 2018

Galleon is a fantasy, steampunk novel, which questions an individual's role within society and where those without power are looking to get it in any way they can. Set in Gallow, in the world of Eera, the population is facing a tumultuous change and nowhere is that more apparent than in its capital, Cerrano. A city made up of immigrants and inventors, those without magic are beginning to question their low status in society, railing against their position as lesser. Played out through three protagonists, Galleon introduces a world where sexuality is unlabelled, females are predominantly in charge, and power is entrenched with those who have always held it. Fifteen year old Greycoat cadet Lara Key has been trained since birth to be the perfect officer and, when sent to Cerrano to fulfil this role, finds herself in a city of colour and chaos that shakes loose the passions her trainers spent so long beating down. Inventor Watterson Teach, co-leader of the influential Steam Syndicate and father to liberationist agitator Evie, is struggling. He and his friend Modesto Cinnabarr find themselves embroiled in a scandal as their third business partner and oldest friend dies under strange circumstances, leaving them to keep the Syndicate afloat as the city closes in around them. Ridley Ripley and her quick-tempered girlfriend Friday return to Cerrano in the hopes of leaving their troubles behind them. However Ridley is a Shadow, a race of people from the far north with distinctive features and an even more unforgettable history. Galleon is similar to the work of Michael Ondaatje for composition and poetic use of description, Neil Gaiman for world building and characterisation, and Joe Abercrombie for grit in a fantasy setting.


What better way to celebrate watching the next instalment in the Star Wars saga than to settle down with a collection of brilliant short stories about the casino city of Canto Bight which features in the film? There are stories by Star Wars veteran authors and by newcomers, and they are all superb and capture the essence of the Star Wars universe.

Michael Marshall Smith: Hannah Green and her Unfeasilbly Mundane Existence

Published by Harper Voyager 22nd February 2018

An unpredictable, poignant, and captivating tale for readers of all ages, by the critically acclaimed author of Only Forward. There are a million stories in the world. Most are perfectly ordinary. This one… isn’t. Hannah Green actually thinks her story is more mundane than most. But she’s about to discover that the shadows in her life have been hiding a world where nothing is as it seems: that there's an ancient and secret machine that converts evil deeds into energy, that some mushrooms can talk ― and that her grandfather has been friends with the Devil for over a hundred and fifty years, and now they need her help.


This may well turn out to be what the world we live in is waiting for, someone with the ability to control the temperature and alleviate the effects of global warming... A super piece of fantasy/SF that will get you thinking...


Anna Smith Spark: The Court of Broken Knives

Published by Harper Voyager 5th February 2018

Perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence and R Scott Bakker, The Court of Broken Knives is the explosive debut by one of grimdark fantasy’s most exciting new voices. They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust. In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it. Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built. The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.


Shades of Robert E Howard - short stories in the fantasy genre are now few and far between, and this anthology from Mark Lawrence is most welcome.


Lara Starr: The Star Wars Cookbook

Published by Chronicle Books 12th February 2018

Awaken your inner Force with 29 intergalactic breakfast recipes. Fuel up with Hans Soloatmeal, battle hunger with Admiral Ackbars, and so much more! These easy-to-make, mouthwatering recipes feature characters and scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And photographs featuring Star Wars figurines re-creating epic moments from the films provide an extra helping of humour. Recipes include: C-3POat Pancakes; Parfait de Resistance; Maz Kanata Frittata; Luggabeast of a Quiche; Reysin Bread; Breakfast Poe’Boy; Kanjiklub Sandwiches; Breakfast Tako-danas


Shades of Robert E Howard - short stories in the fantasy genre are now few and far between, and this anthology from Mark Lawrence is most welcome.



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth 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.