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UK Books Received- 02/2010  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

Atlantic Books

Declare by Tim Powers (Atlantic Books June 2010 / £8.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Powers's World Fantasy award winner, Declare finally gets it's UK release almost ten years on. Ridiculous when you think about it! A big fat pat on the back to Corvus, the new genre friendly imprint at Atlantic, who have not only taken this one on - but also four other Powers novels, including his forthcoming The Lights Along the Shore, which we'll be seeing some time in 2011. Meantime, and to wet the appetites of British and Commonwealth readers, here's Powers's supernatural spy masterpiece, due for relase in B-format this coming June...

"As a young double agent infiltrating the Soviet spy network in Nazi-occupied Paris, Andrew Hale found himself caught up in a secret war that culminated in a night of terror, death and failure on the icy slopes of Mount Ararat in 1948. Fifteen years later, with the Cold War at its height, a mysterious phone-call offers him a chance to return to the mountain. Returning means confronting the nightmare that has haunted his adult life: a lethal unfinished operation code-named Declare. Hale has to return – he knows what is at stake. But he also knows that he can’t trust anyone and that his survival will depend on more than just his hard-won tradecraft...

From the corridors of Whitehall to the trackless wastes of the Arabian desert, from the ruins of post-war Berlin to the KGB torture chambers of Cold War Moscow, Hale, the fiery and beautiful Communist agent Elena Teresa Ceniza-Bendiga, and Kim Philby, enigmatic traitor to the British cause, are inexorably driven towards a deadly confrontation on the high glaciers of Mount Ararat, in the very shadow of the fabulous and perilous Ark."

Bantam Press

The Golden City (Fourth Realm Trilogy) by John Twelve Hawks (Bantam Press 07 January 2010 / £16.99) - The third and final novel of The Fourth Realm trilogy by the Kendo Nagasaki of thriller writing, Mr John Twelve Hawks (not his real name!). I didn't get on at all well with the first book in this sequence, The Traveller, which I reviewed back in 2005. A second book , The Dark River passed mercifully by me and I'm afraid, after our first encounter Mr TH's new on, The Golden City, published in hardcover by Transworld is not one for me. May you fare better than I.

"A world that exists in the shadow of our own ...John Twelve Hawks' previous novels about the mystical Travellers and the Brethren, their ruthless enemies, generated an extraordinary following around the world. In "The Golden City", Twelve Hawks delivers the climax to his spellbinding epic. Struggling to protect the legacy of his Traveller father, Gabriel faces troubling new questions and relentless threats. His brother Michael, now firmly allied with the enemy, pursues his ambition to wrest power from Nathan Boone, the calculating leader of the Brethren. And Maya, the Harlequin warrior pledged to protect Gabriel at all costs, is forced to make a choice that will change her life forever."

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

The Liberators by Philip Womack (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 01 February 2010 / £6.99) - It remains to be seen whether Bloomsbury discovery Philip Womack will be the successor to the crown worn by J.K. Rowling (also a Bloomsbury discovery, hence the comparisons) - some newspaper reports said as much when the publisher acquired his début novel The Other Book some time ago. Perhaps this second book from the children's author will clarify matters. The Liberators is published by Bloomsbury as trade paperback this month.

"On his first trip to London to stay with his glamorous aunt and uncle for Christmas, Ivo Moncrieff steps off the train and stumbles into a nightmare. As he is waiting on the tube platform, a stranger thrusts a mysterious object into his hand, desperately muttering some unfamiliar words to him. On-board the tube moments later, the carriage next to Ivo's is overcome with panic and when they enter the next station the passengers disembark to find that the stranger's body has been brutally dismembered. Ivo guesses that perpetrators must want the object, and if they find out he has it, he will be their next target. But the attack on the tube is part of a larger scheme to bring chaos to the heart of London. As the capital seems in danger of sliding into anarchy, Ivo faces a race against time to break the ancient power of the Liberators, a power that has lain dormant for centuries but now threatens to destroy society itself. Philip Womack has written a gripping and thought-provoking tale that entertains at the same time as it explores what it means to be human and to be free."

Christoffel Press

The Crystalline Piazza by Martin Wilson (Christoffel Press 26 March 2009 / £9.99) - I can't tell you much about this one which arrived in the mail recently. I don't know of Martin Wilson and couldn't find much on googling for the name bar this scant page for Christoffel Press. The book itself, The Crystalline Piazza, offers no further insight although a quote on Amazon UK showers Wilson with praise. What is slightly concerning is that quote is from a 1988 edition of Interzone and thus implies no further (quotable) praise has been forthcoming in the intervening twenty two years! #PRFail.

"The twenty stories in "The Crystalline Piazza" display the full range of Martin Wilson's abilities as a writer of imaginative fiction. The stories are marked by dissolving and reforming realities. Amidst surrealist landscapes, lost souls grope towards obscure destinies. A race of terminal beachcombers collects the remnants of civilisation. An arrivee in the Heavenly City discovers where his ultimate residence is to be. A cyclic process takes one inhabitant of a house of the living dead to another house that differs subtly from it. The writing combines a precise, almost mathematical style with a symbolist aesthetic of aloofness. Martin Wilson describes his stories as 'metaphysical' after the paintings of De Chirico, which he says have profoundly influenced him."

Gollancz

A Matter Of Blood: The Dog-Faced Gods Trilogy by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz 25 March 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The talented British author Sarah Pinborough has been published in the US for some years, her dark thrillers released over there by Leisure Books. It has taken some time though for her to break into the marketplace here at the level she deserves and I am delighted therefore to see her new supernatural crime story, A Matter of Blood (the first in The Dog-Faced Gods trilogy) is receiving a big push from Gollancz.

"The recession that grips the world has left it exhausted. Crime is rising in every major city. Financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world's wealthiest men. But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he's haunted by the deeds of his past, and he's got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve - not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies. Then Cass Jones' personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide - leaving Cass implicated in their deaths. And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it's time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself - only to discover that all three cases are linked... As Jones is forced to examine his own family history, three questions keep reappearing: what disturbed his brother so badly in his final few weeks? Who are the shadowy people behind The Bank? And, most importantly, what do they want with DI Cass Jones?"

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris (Gollancz 21 January 2010 / £12.99) - With fans having to wait a little for a new Sookie Stackhouse novel along with the new series of True Blood, the current hunger for Charlaine Harris's work can perhaps be satisfied with this release of Grave Secret, a new novel in her excellent Harper Connelly series. If you're a Sookie addict, this is a series you'll want to get your hands on.

"When she was 15, Harper Connelly was struck by a bolt of lightning, which left her with a spiderweb of red over her body, headaches, and episodes of weakness. Sometimes her right hand shakes. And she can find dead people. It's taken a while, but at last Harper's pretty happy with her life: she's making a living, using her unique talent to help people, and she's got a lover - her stepbrother Tolliver. That creeps some people out, but though they grew up together, and got each other through the real bad times - their parents' drug-use, the abuse, the disappearance of Harper's elder sister Cameron - they're not blood relatives. Then Tolliver's dad arrives on the scene, seeking forgiveness for the sins of their youth, and the police get a tip-off that after all these years, Cameron's been spotted in a mall. With all this going on Harper realises life is getting a little complicated, but she doesn't expect those complications to include Tolliver getting shot, or watching a cop die taking a bullet for her. Harper can find dead people, but now it's clear someone wants her dead..."

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey (Gollancz 21 January 2010 / £14.99) - Jacqueline Carey (a brilliantly talented writer by anyone's yardstick) moves UK publishers to join the top drawer talent at Gollancz. Naamah's Kiss is "... driven by a headstrong, passionate heroine... a tale of destiny, heartache, war, magic and romance in a vibrant historical setting."

"Once there were great magicians born to the Maghuin Dhonn; the folk of the Brown Bear, the oldest tribe in Alba. But generations ago, the greatest of them all broke a sacred oath sworn in the name of all his people. Now, only small gifts remain to them. Through her lineage, Moirin possesses such gifts - the ability to summon the twilight and conceal herself, and the skill to coax plants to grow.

Moirin has a secret, too. From childhood onward, she senses the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life; the bright lady, and the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, it isn't until she comes of age that Moirin learns how illustrious, if mixed, her heritage is. The great granddaughter of Alais the Wise, child of the Maghuin Donn, and a cousin of the Cruarch of Alba, Moirin learns her father was a D'Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire.

After Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood, she finds divine acceptance...on the condition that she fulfill an unknown destiny that lies somewhere beyond the ocean. Or perhaps oceans. Beyond Terre d'Ange where she finds her father, in the far reaches of distant Ch'in, Moirin's skills are a true gift when facing the vengeful plans of an ambitious mage, a noble warrior princess desperate to save her father's throne, and the spirit of a celestial dragon."

The King of the Crags by Stephen Deas (Gollancz 15 April 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Stephen Deas's follow up to his acclaimed dragon fantasy The Adamantine Palace. This sequel, entitled The King of Crags is due from Gollancz this coming April and one cannot argue with a Joe Abercombie cover quote that describes Deas's work as 'Fast, sharp and ruthless!

"Prince Jehal has murdered, poisoned and betrayed his way to the top. There is a new speaker for the realms, his opposition has been crushed, now he just has to enjoy the fruits of power. And yet . . . He feels more for the wife he married for power than perhaps he should and his lover knows it. And out in the realms those loyal to the old regime are still plotting. and there are rumours that the Red Riders, heralds of revolution and doom are on the ride. And still no-one has found the famous white dragon. The dragon that, if it lived, will have long since recovered from the effects of the alchemical liquid fed to the dragons of the realms to keep them docile, to block their memories of a time when they ruled and the world burned . . . Stephen Deas has created an epic world, vivid characters, a plot full of betrayals and the most awesome dragons fantasy has seen."

HarperVoyager

Rides a Dread Legion (Demonwar Saga 1) by Raymond E. Feist (HarperVoyager 07 January 2010 / £7.99) - The brand new Raymond E. Feist novel - the first in a new fantasy sequence - is released in paperback by Harpercollins Voyager.

"Ten years after the cataclysmic events of Wrath of a Mad God took place, Midkemia now faces a new danger thought buried in myth and antiquity. A lost race of elves, the taredhel or 'people of the stars', have found a way across the universe to reach Midkemia. On their current home world, these elves are hard pressed by a ravaging demon horde, and what was once a huge empire has been reduced to a handful of survivors. The cornerstone of taredhel lore is the tale of their lost origins in the world they call simply 'Home', a place lost in the mists of time. Now they are convinced that Midkemia is that place, and they are coming to reclaim it. Ruthless and arrogant, the taredhel intend to let nothing stand in their way; but before long, Pug and the Conclave realise that it's not necessarily the elves, but the demon horde pursuing them where the true danger lies. And hanging over Pug always is the prophecy that he will be doomed to watch everyone he loves die before him!"

Headline

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (Headline 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - A début novel from Jonathan L. Howard, a British game designer whose credits include titles such as Broken Sword. Howard's first foray into fiction looks very promising indeed - Johannes Cabal The Necromancer is a witty fantasy that is now released in mass market paperback by Headline and "...combines the chills and thrills of old-fashioned gothic tales like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the mischievous humour of Wicked, and the sophisticated charms of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and spins the Faustian legend into a fresh, irreverent, and irresistible new adventure."

Michael Joseph

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman (Michael Joseph 07 January 2010 / £12.99) - Philip Hoffman's loudly fan-fared historical fantasy (is it truly either?) is published in hard cover by Michael Joseph. Reviewed elsewhere in this issue.

""Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary."

The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a vast and desolate place - a place without joy or hope. Most of its occupants were taken there as boys and for years have endured the brutal regime of the Lord Redeemers whose cruelty and violence have one singular purpose - to serve in the name of the One True Faith.

In one of the Sanctuary's vast and twisting maze of corridors stands a boy. He is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old - he is not sure and neither is anyone else. He has long-forgotten his real name, but now they call him Thomas Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming, violent and profoundly bloody-minded. He is so used to the cruelty that he seems immune, but soon he will open the wrong door at the wrong time and witness an act so terrible that he will have to leave this place, or die. His only hope of survival is to escape across the arid Scablands to Memphis, a city the opposite of the Sanctuary in every way: breathtakingly beautiful, infinitely Godless, and deeply corrupt. But the Redeemers want Cale back at any price… not because of the secret he now knows but because of a much more terrifying secret he does not." (see review)

Mira Books

Divine by Mistake (A Goddess of Partholon Book) (MIRA) by P.C. Cast (Mira Books 15 January 2010 / £6.99) - Better known in the UK as one half of the team behind the phenomenally successful YA House of Night books, PC Cast now has her solo efforts published here in the UK by Mira. A NYT bestseller in her own right, PC's novels have received the Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers' Best, and the Laurel Wreath. Reviewed in this issue by Liz de Jager.

"The only excitement Shannon Parker expects while on summer vacation is a little shopping. But when an antique vase calls to her, she finds herself transported to Partholon, where she's treated like a goddess. A very temperamental goddess...

Somehow Shannon has stepped into another's role as the Goddess Incarnate of Epona. And while there's an upside – what woman doesn't like lots of pampering? – it also comes with a ritual marriage to a centaur and threats against her new people. Oh, and everyone disliking her because they think she's her double.

Somehow Shannon needs to figure out how to get back to Oklahoma without being killed, married to a horse or losing her mind... " (see review)

Orbit

Fall of Thanes (Godless World) by Brian Ruckley (Orbit 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - The mass market release from Orbit of Fall of Thanes, the third novel from new British fantasy author Brian Ruckley, who has been given a big push by Orbit and has consequently received a lot of critical attention.

"Tension between the clans of the Black Road and the True Bloods is mounting, as each side in the conflict becomes ever more riven by internal dissent and disunity. And Aeglyss the na'kyrim continues to spread chaos in the world, exerting a dangerous, insidious influence over events both near and far. As events mount to a climax, the world will change and no side can anticipate the twisted pattern of what lies ahead."

Mr Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit 21 January 2010 / £12.99) - Robert Jackson Bennett's assured début Mr Shivers is an impressive first novel indeed. Set in the time of The Great Depression, it is a bleak revenge tragedy that drives inexorably forward through a fantastically dark and dusty landscape - think Carnivale meets The Gunslinger. Publisher Orbit clearly (and with good reason) have high hopes for Bennett, releasing this on both sides of the Atlantic in hard cover. The first acquisition for keen-eyed editor Dongwon Song, this is definitely one to watch. Reviewed this issue by Liz de Jager.

"It is the time of the Great Depression. The dustbowl has turned the western skies red and thousands leave their homes seeking a better life. Marcus Connelly seeks not a new life, but a death – a death for the mysterious scarred man who murdered his daughter. And soon he learns that he is not alone. Countless others have lost someone to the scarred man. They band together to track him, but as they get closer, Connelly begins to suspect that the man they are hunting is more than human. As the pursuit becomes increasingly desperate, Connelly must decide just how much he is willing to sacrifice to get his revenge." (see review)

The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers (Orbit 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - A third Avery Cates novel from Jeff Somers by way of Orbit UK. I was impressed by the first title in this sequence, The Electric Church (reviewed back in our Oct 07 issue). The Eternal Prison is a paperback original - the US release of which was reviewed last year by our esteemed leader Ernest Lilley.

"Avery Cates is a wanted man. After surviving the worst bioengineered disaster in history, Cates finds himself incarcerated - in Chengara Penitentiary. As Chengara has a survival rate of exactly zero, the System's most famous gunner must do some serious plotting. And a betrayal or so later, he achieves his goal. At a price. All he has to do next is defeat some new personal demons, forge some unlikely alliances, and figure out why the people he's killed lately just won't stay dead. Plus pull off the biggest assassination of his career ..."

The Hundred-Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy 1) by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - A début by American author N.K. Jemisin marketed by Orbit - who release this paperback original on both sides of the Atlantic this month - as combining "...the intricate politics of George R.R. Martin with the magic and mystery of Neil Gaiman and the vision of Michael Moorcock."" - which aside from being a bit of a complicated sounding recipe, is quite a claim!

"Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together."

Orion Childrens

Savannah Grey: A Horror Story by Cliff McNish (Orion Childrens 04 February 2010 / £8.99) - Cliff McNish was born in Sunderland, but has spent most of his life in the southeast of England. His first book was The Doomspell, inspired by a story he told his young daughter. Since then he has published The Silver Sequence and the highly-acclaimed stand-alone supernatural thrillers, Breathe (winner of the Salford and Calderdale book awards) and Angel. His books have been translated into 17 languages, and are published to acclaim in the US.

"It's a difficult time for fifteen-year-old Savannah Grey - she's settled into her latest foster placement, but her body is acting strangely. Then other strange things begin to happen: nature, it seems, is exerting an overpowering force on the world. Birds behave erratically; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah discovers she has supernatural powers. Meanwhile, she feels drawn to the new boy Reece whose life is even stranger than hers. Quickly Savannah and Reece realise that nature has a purpose for them both. For they are on course to meet the vile and evil Ocrassa, who wants to destroy the world by corrupting nature. And it wants Savannah Grey to help realise its savage intent." (see review)

Piatkus Books

Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by (Piatkus Books 18 February 2010 / £9.99) - A strong candidate for both my fave release of the month and also for this month's best cover. Zombie - a book with a no-nonesense, 'does what it says on the tin' title is an anthology of, er, zombie stories put together by Christopher Golden. With a stellar cast list, this is fantastic value for money, choc full of flesh-eating nastiness from the likes of some of the best names in genre fiction - Joe Hill, Mike Carey, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelly Armstrong, John Connolly, Max Brooks, Tim Lebbon &etc. Read it or they'll eat your brains!

"RESURRECTION! The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in backyards, car parks, shopping centres. They devour our neighbours, dogs and policemen. And they are here to stay. The real question is: what are you going to do about it? How will you survive? How will the world change when the dead begin to rise? Bram Stoker-award-winning author Christopher Golden has assembled an original anthology of never-before-published zombie stories from an eclectic array of today's most popular horror, fantasy, thriller and literary writers. Inside are tales about military might in the wake of an outbreak, survival in a wasted wasteland, the ardour of falling in love with a zombie, and a family outing at the circus. Here is a collection of new views on death and resurrection. With stories from Joe Hill, John Connolly and many others, this is a wildly diverse and entertaining collection - the last word on the undead."

Robinson Publishing

Shades of Midnight (Midnight Breed) by Lara Adrian (Robinson Publishing 07 January 2010 / £6.99) - Constable & Robinson, like virtually everyone else in the publishing business, have their particular brand of Supernatural Romance (a.k.a Vampire Porn). Lara Adrian is a highly successful author of such, her series of Midnight Breed novels having reached the New York Times best-seller list - no mean feat in what is an extremely competitive marketplace. Shades of Midnight is the seventh book in the series and is published this month in paperback by Robinson.

"Her sanctuary has become her blackest nightmare...Life is tough in the Alaskan tundra but lately something wholly inhuman has let itself loose on the territory, leaving a wake of unspeakable carnage. For bush pilot Alex MacGuire the wreckage is especially chilling - Alaska is the place she fled to after her mother and brother were brutally murdered in Florida. When the Midnight Breed is alerted to this slaughter, they send Kade to quell the danger and ensure Alex does not learn the truth behind the attacks. And soon Alex will be tested by the threat of otherworldly evil, and by her unexpected desire for Kade, a man she should fear but who has become her seductive guide into an erotic realm of blood and darkness."

Spectra Books

Blackout by Connie Willis (Spectra Books 02 February 2010 / £15.78) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: I'm still sure if this is scheduled to come out here in the UK, but this US proof of Connie Willis's new novel Blackout was my holiday reading this year. Willis has long been a favourite of mine and this, her first new novel since 2002, takes place in the same time-travelling worlds as her award winners Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. A limited edition will also be available from Subterranean Press. Reviewed this issue.

"The narrative opens in Oxford, England in 2060, where a trio of time traveling scholars prepares to depart for various corners of the Second World War. Their mission: to observe, from a "safe" vantage point, the day-to-day nature of life during a critical historical moment, As the action ranges from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the manor houses of rural England to the quotidian horrors of London during the Blitz, the objective nature of their roles gradually changes. Cut off from the safety net of the future and caught up in the "chaotic system" that is history, they are forced to participate, in unexpected ways, in the defining events of the era." (see review)

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