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UK Books Received- 12/2007  Next Month / Last Month
In order to provide timely reviews, we prefer to receive Advance Reader Copies of books when possible. Send books to Gayle Surrette c/o SFRevu, 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613

Bantam Books Ltd

Mistral's Kiss (Meredith Gentry 5) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Bantam Books Ltd 19 November 2007 / £6.99) - The mass market edition of Laurell K. Hamilton's Mistral's Kiss, the fifth in her Meredith Gentry series.

"Herein lies the sensual, twilight world of Meredith Gentry, where the erotic and the exotic, the decadent and the deadly collide. You have been warned..."

Ooer!

Gollancz

Black Man (Gollancz S.F.) by Richard Morgan (Gollancz 01 November 2007 / £7.99) - Fasten your seat-belts. Not six months after its original hard cover release, Richard Morgan's richly applauded novel Black Man is now available in mass market paperback. Morgan has risen through the ranks of genre hierarchy and is now deservedly regarded as one of the biggest names around. Click on the titles for my reviews of Morgan's Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Market Forces and Woken Furies - and here you can read my exclusive interview with the author at the time of his first novel.

Black Man (Published by Del Rey in the US in June under the title Thirteen) is described as "... an unstoppable SF thriller but it is also a novel about prejudice, about the ramifications of playing with our genetic blueprint. It is about our capacity for violence but more worryingly, our capacity for deceit and corruption."

Dead As A Doornail (Gollancz S.F.) by Charlaine Harris (Gollancz 08 November 2007 / £6.99) - Charlaine Harris has developed a likeable series of supernatural thriller novels featuring her protagonists Sookie Stackhouse. Gollancz release the mass market edition of Dead as a Doornail, which is, I think, the fifth title in the series. Check out Gayle's review from our May 2005 issue.

"Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in a little bar in a small town deep in Louisiana. She's funny and pretty and well-mannered, but she doesn't have that many close friends - mind you, that's not so surprising when you consider how few people can appreciate her abilities as a mind-reader. It's not a quality that has the guys beating down her door - well, unless they're vampires or werewolves or the like ...but they're not just supernatural freaks, some of them are friends, even family ...And much as Sookie might want a quiet life, when she's around, things just seem to happen ...like her brother, who appears to be changing into a were-panther. He's not that bothered, but someone doesn't like it - someone's trying to wipe him out, as well as the rest of the shape-changing population, and that mean's Sookie's got just a month, before the next full moon, to find out who wants her brother dead, and stop the fiend."

Galactic North (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 08 November 2007 / £7.99) - The latest short fiction collection by British SF author Alastair Reynolds, whose superb work I've covered here on a few occasions - see my reviews of Diamond Dogs, Chasm City, Century Rain, and Pushing Ice.

Galactic North is released in mass market paperback by Gollancz, and features eight novella and short stories, included three appearing in in print for the first time. Recommended.

Good Omens (Gollancz S.F.) by Terry Pratchett (Gollancz 18 October 2007 / £9.99) - Catching the global wave of celebration of all things Neil Gaiman related, Gollancz sensibly reissue his 1990 collaboration with that other genre juggernaut, Terry Pratchett. Greet the comedy apocalypse that is Good Omens with this brand new hard cover edition.

"The end of the world has never been funnier" -- Clive Barker

Light (Gollancz) by M.John Harrison (Gollancz 01 November 2007 / £7.99) - Gollancz reissue M. John Harrison's 2002 novel Light, loudly hailed as a masterpiece by reviewers and critics alike... except for me it seems! As if you prove exactly how subjective this reviewing lark is, I just didn't get this novel at all when I first read it, and in fact found the entire thing pretty baffling. Just about everyone else, it seems, disagreed! We're re-running my original review, but on taking another look at both the novel and my thoughts about it, I can't say that I've changed my mind. (Note the new Gollancz release features a different cover to that shown.) (see review)

Swiftly (Gollancz) by Adam Roberts (Gollancz 20 March 2008 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Due from Gollancz in March 08, this new Adam Roberts novel, Swiftly. Roberts, whom I always think must be the hardest working writer in the world, is a real shining gem of British genre fiction and one with many, many facets. No two books of his are alike, and his particular skill is extrapolating an entire novel from the kernel of singular idea.

Swiftly, not to be confused with Robert's short story collection of the same name, published by Nightshade Books, is essentially a sequel to Gulliver's Travels. "...a tale of illicit love, betrayal, war and plague set in a world where Gulliver's account of his fantastical voyage was all too true. It is a novel of immense ambition; at once an awe-inspiring account of a universe of infinite variety and a celebration of intimacy."

Harper

Three Days to Never by Tim Powers (Harper 01 December 2007 / 3.79) - Tim Powers's latest masterpiece is released in mass market paperback in the US and is included in this column because...well, because I can include whatever I like here :-)

Amazingly Three Days to Never has yet to be published here in the UK, but that shouldn't stop his many loyal British readers from tracking a copy down. Check out this moderately good Powers web site and my thanks to new reviewer Andrew Brooks for his appraisal of this new release and accompanying interview with Powers.

[Editor's Note: Three Days to Never also reviewed in our October 2006 issue.] (see review)

HarperVoyager

Confessor (Sword of Truth 11) by Terry Goodkind (HarperVoyager 19 November 2007 / £20.00) - The final book in one of the greatest epic series of all time: The Sword of Truth. Descending into darkness, about to be overwhelmed by evil, those who remain free find themselves powerless to stop the dawn of a savage new world, while Richard faces the guilt of knowing that he must let it happen. Alone, he must bear the weight of a sin he dare not confess to the one person he loves and has lost. Join Richard and Kahlan in the concluding novel of one of the most remarkable and memorable journeys ever written. It started with one rule, and will end with the rule of all rules, the rule unwritten, the rule unspoken since the dawn of history. When next the sun rises, the world will be forever changed.

Jonathan Cape

Martin Martin's on the Other Side by Mark Wernham (Jonathan Cape 24 January 2008 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: An interesting début already being touted as a major release early next year.

"An astonishing début told in a unique, crazed voice, Martin Martin's on the Other Side breathes new life into the dystopian tradition. Like A Clockwork Orange and 1984 before it, this is a skewed and frightening vision of the not too distant future - but also an unforgettably funny one."

Monkeybrain

The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club by Kim Newman (Monkeybrain 15 November 2007 / £7.57) - Kim Newman's latest short story collection, a trade paperback issued by Chris Roberson's Monkeybrain Books, very conveniently in time for my arrival at the recent World Fantasy Convention.

The Secret Files of the Diogenese Club brings together further tales of eccentric strangeness, following on from last years The Man From the Diogenese Club. I don't tend to read a lot of short fiction, but I'd gladly read anything written by Newman, a true master of the form. Very highly recommended and reviewed this issue. (see review)

Night Shade Books

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams (Ed) (Night Shade Books 01 January 2008 / £7.57) - Uncorrected Proof: 2008 will launch with this superb new anthology put together by John Joseph Adams, Wastelands. Given that this is a collection of "Stories of Life After Apocalypse" it might not be the most optimistic start to a new year, but at the same time, Adams has put together an extraordinary grouping of stories by top drawer names. Wastelands will be published by Nightshade Books and will feature tales by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Letham, Orson Scott Card, Gene Wolfe, and Octavia Butler. Newer writers will be represented too, amongst them Tobias Buckell, Richard Kadrey, Cory Doctorow and Paolo Bacigalupi. Recommended.

Orbit

A Sword from Red Ice (Sword of Shadows) by J.V. Jones (Orbit 21 October 2007 / £18.99) - J. V. Jones has kept fans for her Sword of Shadows series waiting quite some time for the appearance of book three in the cycle. A Sword from Red Ice finally appears in the form of this smart hard cover from Orbit.

"The Long Night has begun. The Endlords and their dark army of Unmade prepare to unleash untold destruction upon the world. Every Sull warrior must step forward and fight, or risk the North falling into eternal darkness. Key to mankind's survival is the sacred warrior Ash March. But for Ash to realise her true potential as a Reach, and become the Sull's greatest weapon, she must keep herself safe as the perils that surround her multiply. Raif Sevrance has an equally perilous task. The exile must travel to the barren wastes of the Red Glaciers and recover the legendary sword named Loss. For Sull legend decrees that he who wields the Sword from Red Ice will bring terror to their enemies. But fulfilment of these goals may yet come too late. In the remote reaches of the Bitter Hills, the Endlords' minions have made a cataclysmic discovery: a crack in the Blindwall, an ancient and unguarded passage leading directly into the realms of men."

Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin (Orbit 06 December 2007 / £6.99) - The follow-up to Jennifer Rardin's Once Bitten, Twice Shy - a paperback original released by Orbit.

I'm Jaz Parks. CIA assassin. Black Belt. Belly dancer at the Corpus Christi Winter Festival. The last is cover for my latest mission: retrieve a vital piece of biotechnology by killing the maniac who stole it. The thief is not your run-of-the-mill nut job, either. He's Chien-Lung, an obsessive vamp who's invulnerable while wearing his armour - which is constantly.

Then there are the reavers, ancient fiends who murder innocents and eat their souls. Only I can sense them. So it's not long before they want me dead, dead, dead.

And did I mention the nightmares? They're not your garden variety sit-up-and-screamers. These suckers may actually kill me before the reavers do.

Firemask (Last Legion) by Chris Bunch (Orbit 01 November 2007 / £6.99) - Book two in Chris Bunch's Last Legion sequence - explosive military SF.

"The Cumbre system is in a highly vulnerable position. Weakened in the aftermath of a vicious civil war, this collection of far-flung worlds is short on supplies and shorter on support. And the distant human Confederation government remains ominously silent. Now they stand in the path of an alien race bent on universal domination. Only the never-say-die members of the Legion stand in their way ...Previously driven from this planetary system, the alien Musth have returned in force. Outmanned and outgunned, the planetary government soon surrenders. Escaping capture, the surviving Legion soldiers scatter. Now, Garvin Jaansma and Njangu Yoshitaro conduct their own war - their way. Under their leadership, the troops take their fighting to the streets in a brutal guerrilla war against their oppressors - and against the odds."

Homefall (Last Legion) by Chris Bunch (Orbit 06 December 2007 / £6.99) - The final title in Chris Bunch's Last Legion series, issued by Orbit this month along with the third book, Stormforce.

"The Last Legion has questions that need to be answered. Questions that have now become a priority ...Why has there been no word from the Confederation: the Legion's own government and the power behind a thousand star systems? Against all odds, the Last Legion managed to reclaim the volatile Cumbre star system. Isolated at the edge of the galactic empire and outnumbered, it was a hard-fought war. And it was won without any help from the human Confederation government. The Confederation remained ominously silent throughout. Now, to answer these questions, the Legion must travel across galaxies to gather information. But can they keep their mission a secret from enemy forces - and will they have time to discover the truth?"

Spirit Gate (Crossroads S.) by (Orbit 13 November 2007 / £7.99) - A new novel from Kate Elliot, author of the truly epic seven book Crown of Stars cycle.

Spirit Gate - already published last year in the US by Tor - now reaches the UK, courtesy of a trade paperback edition published by Orbit.

"A haunting tale of individuals swept up by the chaos of war, this is fantasy adventure at its best - rich in texture, filled with colour and excitement."

Star Wars Republic Commando: True Colours v. 3 (Star Wars Republic Commando 3) by Karen Traviss (Orbit 01 November 2007 / £6.99) - As the savage Clone Wars rage unchecked, the Republic's deadliest warriors face the grim truth that the Separatists aren't their only enemy - or even their worst. In the Grand Army's desperate fight to crush the Separatists, the secret special ops missions of its elite clone warriors have never been more critical ...or more dangerous. A growing menace threatens Republic victory, and the members of Omega Squad make a shocking discovery that shakes their loyalty. As the lines continue to blur between friend and enemy, citizens - from civilians and sergeants to Jedi and generals - find themselves up against a new foe: the doubt in their own hearts and minds. The truth is a fragile, shifting illusion - and only the approaching inferno will reveal both sides in their true colours.

Stormforce (Last Legion) by Chris Bunch (Orbit 06 December 2007 / £6.99) - Book three in Chris Bunch's Last Legion sequence. Orbit also release book four, Homefall this month.

"On the outer fringes of civilization, a lone military force struggles to keep the peace in a volatile star system. With no incoming communications from the Confederation Empire as guidance, only the Legion can stop a grasping tyrant from expanding his territories ...The dual system of Larix and Kura is controlled by dictator and self-styled Protector Alena Redruth, and he now has his eye on the Cumbre system. His spies monitor the Legion's activities, but information can flow both ways ...Legion Intelligence Officer Njangu Yoshitaro will pose as Redruth's agent and infiltrate the upper echelons of the dual system's government. It is a corrupt hierarchy comprised of petty autocrats vying for control. Njangu can use these shifting loyalties to his advantage - unless the dictator discovers his identity first ..."

The Curse of the Chosen (Song of the Tears) by Ian Irvine (Orbit 29 November 2007 / £12.99) - Orbit's official web site recently announced that their author Ian Irvine, one of Australia's top fantasy writers, currently has more than one million books in print worldwide!

This staggering achievement will only have been helped by the release of The Curse of the Chosen, "The second sweeping volume of an epic tale of hope against the odds...". A large format trade paperback from Orbit.

The Devil's Right Hand (Dante Valentine Novel) by Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit 01 November 2007 / £6.99) - The third Dante Valentine novel by Lilith Saintcrow. A mass market paperback from Orbit.

"Meet Dante Valentine. Necromance. Bounty Hunter. Dante Valentine is short on sleep and far from happy. She's just signed away seven years of her life - and her partner's - to hunt down four rogue demons that have escaped from hell. Maybe she'll find them. Maybe they'll find her. Nobody said it was easy being the Devil's right hand. Dante Valentine is licensed to raise the dead: a fully accredited Necromance in an world where a range of psionic Talents have been harnessed to help mankind. Not that mankind always appreciates this. She's one of the best in her field to survive training, and has an emerald embedded in her forehead to prove it. She's also dangerous and prickly with a suicidal streak. Who better to make a contract with the Devil - but what will happen when the deal turns sour and all hell breaks loose?"

The Escapement (Engineer Trilogy) by K.J. Parker (Orbit 06 December 2007 / £12.99) - The final part of pseudonymous author K.J. Parker's Engineer trilogy, issued in trade paperback by Orbit.

Condemned to death, the engineer Ziani Vaatzes escaped from Mezentia. His implacable determination to return home led him to contrive an intricate plan to bring down the Republic, a plan which require a war. He regrets the deaths. But he had no choice.

Duke Valens dragged his people into the war to save the life of one woman. Then he killed her husband. Now, allied to the nomadic barbarians who have the manpower to defeat Mezentia, the Duke regrets the evil he's done. But he had no choice.

Secretary Psellus never wanted to rule the Republic, or fight a desperate siege for its survival. Trying to make sense of how it all happened, he finds himself compelled to investigate the circumstances of Vaatzes' crime. He is terrified of what he might find out, but he has no choice.

The machine has been built. All that remains is to set it in motion.

The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke (Orbit 06 December 2007 / £7.99) - Ligea Gayed has been lied to once too often. Now she has turned against her former employer, the secretive Brotherhood of the Tyrans Empire, and must evade Favonius and his Jackals while also recruiting others to fight with her. Yet, despite her best efforts, a rebellion is hard to come by. Except within her own family, of course. Ligea's son, Arrant, is prey to feelings of inadequacy, and is angry about his mother's relationship with a man who is not his father. Unable to accept what is happening to him, he becomes susceptible to the blandishments of his mother's enemies. Worse still, in the middle of a war he is a Magoroth unable to control or use his power in a constructive way. In seeking to punish Ligea for her relationship with Brand, Arrant and those around him might well lose everything ...

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (Orbit 04 October 2007 / £9.99) - Seasonal silliness from the prolifically silly Christopher Moore. The Stupidest Angel is a "heart-warming tale of Christmas terror". A hard cover release from Orbit.

"'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas and little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. Josh is sure he saw Santa take a shovel to the head and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please Santa, come back from the dead! But coming to Earth seeking a small child whose wish needs granting is none other than Archangel Raziel. Unfortunately, he's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch and before you can say 'Kris Kringle,' he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen."

Penguin Classics

A Science Fiction Omnibus by (Penguin Classics 29 November 2007 / £9.99) - That Penguin have chosen to reissue this Brian Aldiss early 60s anthology adds a certain (well deserved) respectability to it. One can only hope that in true SF style, it proves to be 'the shape of things to come'!

Aldiss provides a new introduction to this collection of SF stories from times passed, and the content additionally includes some newer pieces that were not in the original release.

"...these stories portray struggles against machines, epic journeys, genetic experiments, time travellers and alien races. From stories set on Earth, to uncanny far distant worlds and ancient burnt-out suns, the one constant is humanity itself, compelled by an often fatal curiosity to explore the boundless frontiers of time, space and probability."

Sceptre

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon (Sceptre 01 November 2007 / £12.00) - Originally published in fifteen separate instalments in The New York Times, Michael Chabon's episodic adventure, Gentleman of the Road is now collected in single swashbuckling volume. I love the "Boy's Own" feel of the design of this book published as a smart, small hard cover by Sceptre - far nicer than the US edition that appeared from Del Rey in October. And I love the sentence that opens Chabon's afterword too... "The original, working - and in my heart the true - title of the short novel you hold in your hands was Jews with Swords."

Solaris

Black Magic Woman (Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigation) by Justin Gustainis (Solaris 07 January 2008 / £7.31) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: "Black Magic Woman is the best manuscript I've ever been asked to read" -- Jim Butcher

That's a staggering endorsement, given that Butcher is the one of the top selling writers of the kind of fiction that Solaris refer to as the "magic detective" sub-genre of Dark Fantasy. The manuscript in question is Black Magic Woman, by Justin Gustainis and looks to be an exciting and worthy addition to the Solaris list. Gustainis has web site here, and announces that even before publication, Solaris have bought a second novel in this series and optioned a two further title - all of which would indicate that this is something special.

Blue War (Punktown) by Jeffrey Thomas (Solaris 03 March 2008 / £3.89) - Uncorrected Proof: Having made a hugely impressive impact on the scene with their initial slew of releases, Solaris now bring forth the next round and it looks to be as equally impressive as the preceding list of titles.

Jeffrey Thomas's Deadstock was one initial Solaris release that received particularly good reviews and now a follow-up, Blue War is scheduled for released in March 2008.

"A jungle of blue vegetation in another dimension. Cloned human remains discovered in an otherwise empty city. The impending threat of a second inter-dimensional war. Just case for private investigator Jeremy Stake, the man with chameleon-like abilities he does not want but cannot ignore. When Stake is called in to investigate the significance of the cloned remains and the bizarre organic facsimile of Punktown that is growing out of the jungle, he finds himself drawn into a murky plot that could re-ignite the war between humans and Ha Jiin. Now he must find a way to stop it before it's too late — for everyone. "

Kethani by Eric Brown (Solaris 05 May 2008 / £10.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: An early look at this forthcoming Eric Brown novel, not due for release until May 2008.

Solaris are touting Eric Brown's Kethani as his breakout work, and I do hope this is the case. Brown's previous novel Helix published earlier this year by Solaris received mixed reviews, though I was greatly impressed by Starship Summer, his recent PS Publishing novella.

The Blood King (Chronicles of the Necromancer) by Gail Z. Martin (Solaris 04 February 2008 / £3.89) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The second book in Gail Z. Martin's fantasy sequence The Chronicles of the Necromancer.

The Blood King will be released in February 08 and follows on from The Summoner, one of the Solaris lead launch titles. High fantasy aimed at readers of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind and George R.R> Martin.

Visit Gail Z. Martin's web site .

The Dragon's Nine Sons: A Novel of the Celestial Empire by Chris Roberson (Solaris 04 February 2008 / £10.99) - Uncorrected Proof: The forthcoming novel from the supremely talented Chris Roberson, a young writer who work I admire very much indeed - see my reviews of Paragea and Set the Seas on Fire. This new novel, The Dragon's Nine Son's "...marks the start of the epic Celestial Empire sequence, one of the most original and exciting series in modern science fiction." Check out the Solaris web site for more on this and do take a look at Roberson's excellent and informative web site.

" A disgraced naval captain and a commando who knows secrets he should never have learned are picked to lead a suicide mission, piloting a salvaged Mexica spacecraft to Xolotl, the asteroid stronghold of their enemies, armed with enough explosives to reduce the Mexica base to dust. But when they arrive to find dozens of Chinese prisoners destined to be used as human sacrifices, their suicide mission suddenly becomes a rescue operation."

Tor

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier (Tor 07 December 2007 / £14.99) - The magical sequel to Wildwood Dancing -- a beautiful young adult fantasy tale set in the glamorous world of Istanbul.

The new novel from Juliet Marillier, Cybele's Secret is published in hard cover by Tor UK. We're re-running Juliet McKenna's review of Marillier's previous novel Wildwood Dancing in this issue (see below) and Juliet will be reviewing this sequel in our January 2008 issue. (see review)

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (Tor 07 December 2007 / £7.99) - The mass market edition of Juliet Marillier's lyrical fantasy Wildwood Dancing, issued by Tor UK. We're re-running Juliet McKenna's enthusiastic review of the original hard cover release from our Jan 07 issue. (see review)

Yen Press

Alice on Deadlines: v. 1 (Alice on Deadlines) by Shiro Ihara (Yen Press 14 November 2007 / £5.21) - As punishment for slacking on the job, the shinigami Lapan is ordered to go to the Human Realm in the body of a skeleton to retrieve a wandering soul. However, much to Lapan's lecherous delight, a slip-up lands his soul in the body of the young Alice, a buxom student at an all-girls' school. With the skirt-chasing Shinigami (as Alice) leaving a storm of sexual harassment allegations in his wake, whatever is poor, beskeletoned Alice to do?!

Black God: v. 1 (Black God) by Dall-Young Lim (Yen Press 22 October 2007 / £5.99) - Wending his way home after a bender one evening, master moocher and game programmer Keita Ibuki decides to satisfy a craving for ramen at a noodle stand.Instead of slurping soup, though, he surrenders his meal to a manic girl who, unbeknownst to Keita, is a Mototsumitama, a guardian of the coexistence equilibrium. When his new acquaintance is attacked, Keita gets caught in the crossfire and loses an arm.Awakening from the shock of his injury, Keita finds himself back in his apartment... arm intact!But just whose arm is it?!

Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning v. 1 (Spiral) by Kyo Shirodaira (Yen Press 22 October 2007 / £5.99) - "I'm going to uncover the mystery of the 'Blade Children.'"World-class detective Kiyotaka Narumi's last words prior to his sudden disappearance continue to haunt his younger brother, Ayumu. The cheeky 10th-grader becomes further embroiled in the mystery when he is mistaken for the prime suspect in a murder at his school. Led by Ayumu's sister-in-law, Kiyotaka's wife and fellow detective, Madoka, the investigation into the murder gives Ayumu a chance to clear his name. But in doing so, he not only uncovers ties to the Blade Children but also more questions than answers about who and what they are.

The World of Quest: v. 1 (World of Quest) by Jason Kruse (Yen Press 14 November 2007 / £4.74) - In the land of Odyssia, former hero Quest unwillingly becomes the bodyguard to Prince Nestor, a young smart-alec who knows the whereabouts of a mystic dagger that is key to ultimate power. Together, they'll face creatures, bounty hunters and other evils vying for the weapon. In the meantime, they'll have to deal with each other.

Zombie-loan: v. 1 (Zombie-Loan) by Peach-Pit (Yen Press 22 October 2007 / £5.99) - Michiru Kita's a weak-spirited girl who has a hard time saying what's on her mind. One day, she notices mysterious, ring-like markings around the necks of two of her classmates, Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana--two boys who miraculously survived a horrible accident six months ago. Michiru, possessing the rare ability to see these rings, knows that they warn of impending death. Thinking that, perhaps, she can do something to save her classmates' lives, she approaches them... but it seems the boys have already made a different kind of deal and garnered themselves a heavy debt by doing so.

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