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UK Books Received- 04/2010  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

Angry Robot

City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates (Angry Robot 04 March 2010 / £7.99) - A big box of Angry Robot titles hit SFRevu Towers last week - a mix of new titles and some older releases that I'd missed. Hat's off to this tirelessly energetic new imprint who continue to carve out their market share with edgy and exciting new work

First up is City of Dreams & Nightmare by Ian Whates, a British writer, editor and publisher (of Newcon Press) who is having a busy few months. Although he's been around a while, this is Whates's début novel and put me in mind of the kind of SF I read as a youth. I don't think there's anything particualrly new or innovative here, but Whates delivers an assured, entertaining and solid work of fantastical city-based SF.

"They call it the City of a Hundred Rows. The ancient city of Thaiburley is a vast, multi-tiered metropolis, where the poor live in the City Below and demons are said to dwell in the Upper Heights.

Having witnessed a murder in a part of the city he should never have been in, Tom, a lowly street-nick, has to run for his life through the City Below, Thaiburley’s unsavoury basement world. Accused of committing the murder himself, he is pursued by sky-borne assassins, Kite Guards, and agents of a darker force intent on destabilising the whole city. His only ally is Kat, a renegade like him, but she proves to have secrets of her own..."

Dead Streets: Bk. 2: The Matt Richter Series (Nekropolis 2) by Tim Waggoner (Angry Robot 04 March 2010 / £7.99) - Angry Robot release Tim Waggoner second 'Matt Richter. Private Eye. Zombie' novel, Dead Streets, the sequel to Nekropolis, which was reviewed by Liz De Jager back in August last year.

"His mean streets are the city of the dead, the shadowy realm known as Nekropolis. In book one of the series, Richter battled werewolves, vampire lords and gigantic silverfish!

That was nothing to the trouble waiting for him on Nekropolis’ Dead Streets…"

The author's web site is www.timwaggoner.com.

Edge by Thomas Blackthorne (Angry Robot 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - You may not have heard of Thomas Blackthorne, but you'll know (or certainly should) know of John Meaney, the author of both The Nulapeiron Sequence (consisting of Paradox, Context and Resolution) and also the Tristopolis books (Dark Blood - released in the US as Black Blood - and Bone Song).

Mr Blackthorne and Mr Meaney are one and the same, and in Edge the author takes a sharp new direction in this work which has been described by one reviewer as "...an intelligent, slick and brilliantly executed novel with a quite unexpected but superbly scripted ending" -- ScienceFictionandFantasy.co.uk

"Edge - in stores from Feb 2010You thought Big Brother was tough? Try Knife Edge – the reality TV show where wannabe knife fighters are the celebrities in a nation going to hell.

Britain, tomorrow. The ultimate response to knife crime has been instituted by a bankrupt government: duelling with knives has now been legalised. On Saturday nights, the nation sit down to watch the country’s best fighters slash it out on prime time.

When a young boy with hoplophobia (the fear of weaponry) runs away from home, his father hires a former special forces agent to find him. With the help of the boy’s psychiatrist, Josh Cumberland delves into the dark underbelly of the knife culture that has infected his country with no guarantee that the boy is even still alive..."

King Maker (The Knights of Breton Court) by Maurice Broaddus (Angry Robot 04 March 2010 / £7.99) - Maurice Broaddus's King Maker is a novel that I think personifies the the Angry Robot list - it's a fresh and modern take on a well-trodden fantasy trope, delivered with energy, invention and daring and packing a punch that will excite those of us who feel we've seen it all before. in doing so, it also has every chance of capturing new readers who might otherwise be lost to pastimes that require a much shorter attention span! The irresistible tag line is "The Wire meets Exclaibur in this stunning fantasy from the dark streets of America" - now come on people, who could possibly not want to read this book???

"From the drug gangs of downtown Indianapolis, the one true king will arise. The King Arthur myth gets dramatically retold through the eyes of street hustler King, as he tries to unite the crack dealers, gangbangers and the monsters lurking within them to do the right thing. From the drug gangs of downtown Indianapolis, the one true king will arise. The King Arthur myth gets dramatically retold through the eyes of street hustler King, as he tries to unite the crack dealers, gangbangers and the monsters lurking within them to do the right thing. Broaddus' debut is a stunning, edgy work, genuinely unlike anything you've ever read. "

Sixty-One Nails (Courts of the Feyre 1) by Mike Shevdon (Angry Robot 29 October 2009 / £7.99) - Mike Shevdon's Sixty-One Nails has been out for a little while now, but I'm very glad to have got hold of a copy - for C.E. Murphy's cover quote that is is "A Neverwhere for the next generation" is bang on the nail. The comparison is apt - Sixty-One Nails is a London book to the core, one that like the Gaiman series, peels away the top scab of the capital to reveal the place of dark enchantment that lies beneath. Recommended.

"There is a secret war raging beneath the streets of London. A dark magic will be unleashed by the Untained... unless a new hero can be found.

Sixty-One Nails follows Niall Petersen, from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground, into the hidden world of the Feyre, an uncanny place of legend that lurks just beyond the surface of everyday life. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too."

The World House by Guy Adams (Angry Robot 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - Guy Adams's fearless and singular début once again exemplifies the Angry Robot ethos. Described by Stephen Volk as "A quirky, tumbling box of delights full of eccentrics on a wild, wild ride," The World House is an attention grabbing fantasy by an author that Mark Chadbourn calls "...either barking mad or a genius."

"There is a box. Inside that box is a door. And beyond that door is a whole world.

In some rooms, forests grow. In others, animals and objects come to life. Elsewhere, secrets and treasures wait for the brave and foolhardy. And at the very top of the house, a prisoner sits behind a locked door waiting for a key to turn. The day that happens, the world will end…"

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot 04 February 2010 / £7.99) - The second novel by Australian author Kaaron Warren to be published by Angry Robot, and Walking the Tree is a very different sort of book from her dark and disturbing horror novel Slights. A thoughtful piece of SF with definite feminist leanings, this one might well alienate some of the readers Warren will have attracted with her début.

"Botanica is an island, but almost all of the island is taken up by the Tree.

Little knowing how they came to be here, small communities live around the coast line. The Tree provides them shelter, kindling, medicine – and a place of legends, for there are ghosts within the trees who snatch children and the dying.

Lillah has come of age and is now ready to leave her community and walk the tree for five years, learning all Botanica has to teach her. Before setting off, Lillah is asked by the dying mother of a young boy to take him with her. In a country where a plague killed half the population, Morace will otherwise be killed in case he has the same disease. But can Lillah keep the boy’s secret, or will she have to resort to breaking the oldest taboo on Botanica?"

Bantam Books

Succubus Shadows (Georgina Kincaid, Book 5) by Richelle Mead (Bantam Books 31 March 2010 / £6.99) - Bantam's answer to the never ending appetite for Urban Fantasy is Richelle Mead, whose début Succubus Blues garnered impressive reviews (Jim Butcher described it as "Sex in the City meets Paradise Lost"!) and has spawned a number of follow up titles. The latest to be published here in the UK is Succubus Shadows which is issued as a paperback original by Bantam Press.

"Georgina Kincaid has formidable powers. Immortality, seduction, shape-shifting into any human form she desires, walking in heels that would cripple mere mortals child s play to a succubus like her.

Helping to plan her ex-boyfriend s wedding is a different story. Georgina isn t sure which is worse that he s marrying another woman or that she s having to run around trying on bridesmaid dresses. Still, there are distractions. Thanks to her roommate, her apartment s crackling with sexual tension plus there s Simone, the new succubus in town who seems intent on corrupting Georgina s soon-to-be-wed ex.

But the real danger lies in the mysterious force that s taken to visiting Georgina s thoughts. It s trying to draw her into a dark, frightening, otherworldly realm and there s going to come a point when she won t be able to resist. And when that happens, she s going to discover who she can trust, who she can t and that there are far worse places than Hell in which to spend eternity... "

Bantam Press

The Sword of Albion: Bk. 1 by Mark Chadbourn (Bantam Press 13 May 2010 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The Elizabethan era is an attractive one to both writers and readers of genre. There's plenty of gold to mine whether it's the geography, the culture, the history or the folklore. In the hands of the ever-capable Mark Chadbourn it is the swash-buckling adventure of Elizabethan espionage that will snot only delight his existing fans, but also win him a whole host of new ones. The Sword of Albion is due in trade paperback from Bantam next month.

"1588: The London of Elizabeth I is rocked by news of a daring raid on the Tower. The truth is known only to a select few: that, for twenty years, a legendary doomsday device, its power fabled for millennia, has been kept secret and, until now, safe in the Tower. But it has been stolen and Walsingham's spies believe it has been taken by the Enemy. This Enemy is not who we usually think of as our traditional opponent. No, this Enemy has waged a brutal war against mankind since time began, and with such a weapon they might take terrible toll upon England's green and pleasant land...And so it falls to Will Swyfte - swordsman, adventurer, scholar, rake, and the greatest of Walsingham's new breed of spy - to follow a trail of murder and devilry that leads deep into the dark, venomous world of the Faerie. As Philip of Spain prepares a naval assault on England, Will is caught up in a race against time in pursuit of this fiendish device... "

Bundoran Press Publishing House

Defining Diana (The Steele Chronicles) by Hayden Trenholm (Bundoran Press Publishing House 14 April 2010 / $19.95) - Product Description: Found naked and alone in a locked room. The beautiful woman was in perfect health--except she was dead...

It's 2043 and much has changed: nuclear war, biotechnology and all-powerful corporations have ruled the world. Now science is taking DNA manipulation to new, unrestricted levels.

Superintendent Frank Steele is an old-fashioned cop. He commands a small, elite police unit that is handed all of the bizarre and baffling cases no one else can solve. He knows the money, the murders, missing persons and gruesome body shops are all connected. He knows it starts with the girl...

Fourth Estate Ltd

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen (Fourth Estate Ltd 15 April 2010 / £12.99) - I'm rather drawn to The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers - the second novel by Thomas Mullen, whose 2006 début novel The Last Town on Earth was the Chicago Tribune's Best Book of the Year.

I know nothing about Mullen, and little about this book barring its extremely intriguing premise - which is that two depression era bank robbers are gunned down, yet they find themselves awake and full of holes on a mortuary slab - adventure ensues! It just sounds great, no? It's interesting that this is being published by Fourth Estate, an imprint not exactly reknowned for it's genre output. On the face of it, it looks like Mullen is writing in the Chabon, Letham area of the genre - in other words, not genre at all (except for those of us who know what genre looks and feels like!). This is all dandy with me and consequently I can't wait to dip into this one.

"Jason and Whit Fireson, the notorious, bank-robbing duo known as the Firefly Brothers, wake to find themselves lying on cooling boards in a police morgue. Riddled with bullet wounds, the reality is inescapable: they've been killed. But they're alive. It is August of 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression but in the waning months of the great Crime Wave, during which the newly-created FBI killed such famous outlaws as John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd. Across the nation, men are out of work and families are starving, and Americans are stunned and frightened by the collapse of their country's foundations. The Firesons' lovers Darcy and Veronica struggle between grief and an unyielding belief that Jason and Whit have survived, while their stunned mother and straight-arrow third brother desperately try to support their family and evade police spies. And through it all the Firefly Brothers themselves race to find the women they love, and make sense of a world that has come unmoored. Complete with kidnappings and gangsters, heiresses and speakeasies, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers combines the stark realism of a troubled time with all the myth-making magic of the American Dream itself. It is an imaginative and breathless story about being hopelessly outgunned -- and tells a tale of danger, redemption, and love that transcends death. "

Gollancz

Horns by Joe Hill (Gollancz 16 March 2010 / £14.99) - Don't pick this up unless you've got at least a whole single sitting in which you can devour it. Joe Hill's sublime second novel Horns will draw you in and bite down and nothing else will matter until you're done with it - or until it is done with you! This is the very definition of 'unputdownable' - a compelling and irresistible tale of evil and revenge and one of the best books you're likely to read in the coming year. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it!

Horns is published by Gollancz in hardcover, the US release was reviewed by Steve Sawicki in last month's issue.

"Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due."

METRO 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky (Gollancz 18 March 2010 / £14.99) - An interesting acquisition for Gollancz who have in recent years been admirably forward thinking in terms of bringing translated genre works into their market (Spakowski's Gemmell Award winning fantasy comes immediately to mind, as does Max Frei's The Stranger.) The latest qualifying novel is Metro 2033 - a Russian best-selling 'dystopian SF epic' written by one of Russia's best known reporters, Dmitry Glukhovsky and a work that has gone on to become a franchise in its own right - see this Wiki biography of the author for more.

"The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend. More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man's time is over. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro - the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity's last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters - or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct - the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price. VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line. It was one of the Metro's best stations and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro - and maybe the whole of humanity."

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 15 March 2010 / £18.99) - Following the much publicised announcement of Alastair Reynolds's ten book, million pound deal with Orion, Terminal World is the first hundred grand instalment - and is now published in hardcover by Gollancz.

I've been a fan of Reynolds's work for nearly a decade (check out my 2001 interview with him and also my reviews of Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Pushing Ice and Century Rain and am licking my lips at what's still to come from this exceptional SF author...

"Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size. Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different - and rigidly enforced - level of technology. Horsetown is pre-industrial; in Neon Heights they have television and electric trains ...Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue. But when a near-dead angel drops onto his dissecting table, Quillon's world is wrenched apart one more time, for the angel is a winged posthuman from Spearpoint's Celestial Levels - and with the dying body comes bad news. If Quillon is to save his life, he must leave his home and journey into the cold and hostile lands beyond Spearpoint's base, starting an exile that will take him further than he could ever imagine. But there is far more at stake than just Quillon's own survival, for the limiting technologies of the zones are determined not by governments or police, but by the very nature of reality - and reality itself is showing worrying signs of instability ..."

Harper

Birth of the Kingdom (Crusades Trilogy 3) by Jan Guillou (Harper 18 March 2010 / £7.99) - The third volume of the crusades trilogy from bestselling Swedish author Jan Guillou.

"Arn de Gotha has become one of the most feared warriors of the Knights Templar fighting to liberate Palestine with the Crusaders. At the great battle for Jerusalem, a mammoth and bloody struggle where the Christians were finally defeated, Arn is saved from certain death by Saladin, his longtime enemy and trusted friend. Ravaged by wounds and sickness, Arn is at last granted his wish: to return at last to his homeland, it plagued by endless wars. Arn is determined to find her - the woman for whom he was exiled. He must discover if their love could endure so long a separation, and if it can sustain his new quest: the create a new people, a new society, both Christian and Muslim, both craftsmen and warriors, with Arn at its helm, fighting for peace in a savage land."

HarperVoyager

City of the Snakes (The City Trilogy) by Darren Shan (HarperVoyager 04 March 2010 / £12.99) - The final, never-before-published volume in the noirish, gritty urban fantasy for adults from the bestselling Children's author.

"The Cardinal is dead -- long live The Cardinal' For ten years Capac Raimi has ruled the City as The Cardinal. Created by the first Cardinal to rule after him and continue his legacy, Capac cannot be killed. But that doesn't stop his enemies trying. And he has a lot of enemies. In the past Capac's always been content to wait his adversaries out, safe in the knowledge that he can't lose playing a long game. But things are changing. Rival gangs are gaining power in the City. And figures from Capac's past are reappearing -- people only he remembers, the first Cardinal's other creations, who disappeared with him ten years ago. It can only mean one thing. The mysterious Incan priests, the ancient powers behind the City, have never been happy about ceding control to Capac. Now they have a plan to take the City back. And this time Capac really could have a fight to the death on his hands!"

Dragon Haven (The Rain Wild Chronicles) by Robin Hobb (HarperVoyager 04 March 2010 / £20.00) - Robin Hobb takes readers back to the world of her Liveships Traders in Dragon Haven, the second instalment of The Rain Wild Chronicles published in royal hardback by Voyager.

"Return to the world of the Liveships Traders and journey along the Rain Wild River in the second instalment of high adventure from the author of the internationally acclaimed Farseer trilogy. The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the dragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest's amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric. Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicines and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expeditionand will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted. Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience."

The Desert Spear (Demon Trilogy 2) by Peter V. Brett (HarperVoyager 05 April 2010 / £14.99) - Few fantasy authors have made quite the impression in the last couple of years that Peter V. Brett has - even fewer on the reputation of only a single novel. The Painted Man which I reviewed in our September 2008 issue, was a fantastic example of modern day commercial fantasy. It was a great success for the author, for UK publisher HarperCollins Voyager, and for publishers in the many, many territories into which it subsequently sold. And let's not forget the film rights which sold to the team behind Resident Evil. All in all, a pretty successful début!

Brett's highly anticipated sequel The Desert Spear has been eagerly awaited by legions of fans and Amazon pre-orders had the book ranking highly weeks before publication. This success is well deserved and The Desert Spear should be on your shopping list for April.

"The Deliverer has returned, but who is he? Arlen Bales, formerly of the small hamlet of Tibbet's Brook, learnt harsh lessons about life as he grew up in a world where hungry demons stalk the night and humanity is trapped by its own fear. He chose a different path; chose to fight inherited apathy and the corelings, and eventually he became the Painted Man, a reluctant saviour. But the figure emerging from the desert, calling himself the Deliverer, is not Arlen. He is a friend and betrayer, and though he carries the spear from the Deliverer's tomb, he also heads a vast army intent on a holy war against the demon plague! and anyone else who stands in his way. "

Orbit

Changes by Jim Butcher (Orbit 08 April 2010 / £12.99) - The twelfth title in Jim Butcher's evergreen and hugely popular Harry Dresden series. Changes is released in hardcover by Orbit.

"I answered the phone, no big deal, until I heard the message: 'They've taken our daughter.' Harry Dresden, professional wizard, has never faced anything like this. Arianna Ortega, Red Court vampire, blames Harry for her husband's death - and she's out for revenge. So her discovery that Susan Rodriguez had borne Harry a daughter was an unexpected gift. Arianna's next step was to kidnap the girl and she plans to use her blood in a violent ritual sacrifice designed to kill Harry, Susan and their daughter. With the White Council of Wizards and the Red Court in a state of detente, Harry finds himself alone except for a handful of allies - resources utterly inadequate to challenging the Red King and his entire vampire Court. With the life of his child at stake, Susan's humanity hanging in precarious balance and with his own death looming, Dresden must find a new source of strength. In the past, there had always been a line Harry wouldn't cross, and though dark powers have tempted him time and again, he never gave in. But then, only his own life was at stake. "

May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt (Orbit 01 April 2010 / £7.99) - Orbit's top tier comic fantasy author, the prolific Tom Holt see his most recent novel, May Contain Traces of Magic, receive it's mass market release this month. Ready yourselves also for a brand new Holt book Blonde Bombshell which is to be released next month with an all-new cover look.

"There are all kinds of products. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones that stay in the garage mouldering for years until your garden gnome makes a home out of them. Most are harmless if handled properly, even if they do contain traces of peanuts. But some are not. Not the ones that contain traces of magic. Chris Popham wasn't paying enough attention when he talked to his SatNav. Sure, she gave him directions, never backtalked him, and always led him to his next spot on the map with perfect accuracy. She was the best thing in his life. So was it really his fault that he didn't start paying attention when she talked to him? In his defence, that was her job. But when 'Take the next right' turned into 'Excuse me,' that was when the real trouble started. Because sometimes a SatNav isn't a SatNav. Sometimes it's an imprisoned soul trapped inside a metal box that will do anything it can to get free. And some products you just can't return. "

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs (Orbit 01 April 2010 / £6.99) - The British edition of the fifth book in Patricia Briggs' compulsively readable Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series, Silver Borne is an Orbit paperback original. Published last month in the US by Ace, it was reviewed last month by our own Gayle Surette.

"Being a mechanic is hard work. Mercy Thompson, for instance, just spent the last couple of months trying to evade the murderous queen of the local vampire seethe, and now the leader of the werewolf pack - who's maybe-more-than-just-a-friend - has asked for her help. A book of fae secrets has come to light and they're all about to find out how implacable - and dangerous - the fae can be. OK, so maybe her troubles have nothing to do with the job. But she sure could use a holiday ... "

The Mage in Black (Sabina Kane) by Jaye Wells (Orbit 01 April 2010 / £6.99) - The second title in Jaye Wells's urban fantasy series featuring heroine Sabina Kane - an Orbit paperback original and one which featured an impressive cover quote from Charlaine Harris!

"Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. So when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, the reunion puts the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she's some kind of 'Chosen' who'll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny. But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple - but it looks like it wants to bite back.

The Magician's Apprentice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan (Orbit 01 April 2010 / £7.99) - Trudi Canavan's prequel to her best-selling Black Magician trilogy is now published in mass market paperback by Orbit.

"In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer - much to the frustration of her mother, who would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn. When treating a patient at the residence of the local magician, Lord Dakon, Tessia is forced to fight off the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage - and instinctively uses magic. She now finds herself facing an entirely different future as Lord Dakon's apprentice. But along with the excitement and privilege, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. Events are brewing that will lead nations into war, rival magicians into conflict, and spark an act of sorcery so brutal that its effects will be felt for centuries ..."

The Orphaned Worlds (Humanity's Fire) by Michael Cobley (Orbit 29 April 2010 / £10.00) - Scottish author Michael Cobley, perhaps best known thus far for his Shadowkings fantasy trilogy, returned to his science fiction roots last year with Seeds of Earth, the first novel in a major new space opera series (subtitled Humanity's Fire) and a book that was enthusiastically received by readers and critics alike.

The second in the series, The Orphaned Worlds is now published in trade paperback by Orbit.

"Darien is no longer a lost outpost of humanity, but the prize in an intergalactic power struggle. Hegemony forces have a stranglehold over the planet and crack troops patrol its hotspots while Earth watches, passive, rendered impotent by galactic politics. But its Darien ambassador will soon become a player in a greater conflict. There is more at stake than a turf war on a newly discovered world. An ancient Uvovo temple hides access to a hyperspace prison, housing the greatest threat sentient life has ever known. Millennia ago, malignant intelligences were caged there following an apocalyptic war. And their servants work on their release. However, Darien's guardians have not been idle, gathering resistance on the planet's forest moon. Knowledge has been lost since great races battled in eons past, and now time is short. The galaxy will depend on the Uvovo reclaiming their past - and humanity must look to its future. For a new war is coming. "

The Poison Throne: Moorehawke Trilogy, Book 1 by Celine Kiernan (Orbit 01 April 2010 / £7.99) - Originally published by the O'Brien Press in Ireland, Celine Kiernan's début fantasy series was snapped up by Orbit, offering Kiernan the kind of worldwide distribution and market penetration that will be the envy of other first time authors. Essentially a medieval tale of courtly intrigue, its female teenage protagonist, Wynter Moorehawke (for whom the trilogy is named) is the role model for the target demographic - interestingly publishers in other territories are selling this as YA novel. Released this month in mass market paperback.

"Young Wynter Moorehawke returns to court with her dying father. But her old home is cloaked in fear.. Once benevolent King Jonathon is now a violent despot, terrorising his people while his son Alberon plots a coup from exile. Then darkness spreads as the King appoints Alberon's half-brother Razi as heir. Wynter must watch her friend obey his father's untenable commands, as those they love are held to ransom. And at the heart of matters lies a war machine so lethal that none dare speak of it. The kingdom would belong to its master, yet the consequences of using it are too dire to consider. But temptation has ever been the enemy of reason." (see review)

Watcher of the Dead (Sword of Shadows) by J.V. Jones (Orbit 15 April 2010 / £20.00) - Fans of J.V. Jones and particularly of her Sword of Shadows series have had to be patient, for this is a series that has been drip-fed to readers for the best part of a decade. The fourth instalment Watcher of the Dead now arrives in this very smart hardcover release, published by Orbit.

"In the frigid wasteland of the north, Raif Sevrance, Watcher of the Dead, has endured many trials to lay claim to the renowned sword known as Loss. But the price of wielding the legendary weapon is high, and Raif is unsure if he is willing to pay it. Ash Marsh, Daughter of the Sull, still struggles to come to terms with her heritage, and the knowledge that the Watcher, armed with Loss, could be the one who will save the Sull ? or end them. Raina Blackhail, widow of a murdered ruler and wife of his brutal successor, has seen her clan disgraced and has, herself, taken up the mantle of chief. But there are enemies both beyond her gates and within. And in the murky swamps of the Stillwater, two children will learn the secrets of the Marsh clan. Secrets so old they threaten everything ... "

Picador

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (Picador 02 April 2010 / £7.99) - The market for horror and dark fiction of all kinds is really opening up now - as evidenced by the huge number of publishers who attended the recent World Horror Convention in Brighton last month. White is for Witching is further evidence of this - a literary spine tingler by Helen Oyeyemi, the acclaimed author of The Icarus Girl. Published in paperback by Picador - be further details can be found at www.whiteisforwitching.com

"In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly... slipping away from them...

This is a spine-tingling tale that has Gothic roots but an utterly modern sensibility. Told by a quartet of crystalline voices, it is electrifying in its expression of myth and memory, loss and magic, fear and love. "

Solaris

Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science-Fiction by Jetse de Vries (Solaris 15 April 2010 / £7.99) - Shine: a collection of gems that throw light on a brighter future. Some of the world's most talented SF writers (including Alastair Reynolds, Kay Keyon and Jason Stoddard) show how things can change for the better. From gritty polyannas to workable futures, from hard-fought progress to a better tomorrow; heart-warming and mind-expanding stories that will (re-) awaken the optimist in you!

Jetse de Vries has been writing SF since 1999 and had his first story published in 2003. He's been part of the editorial team for the renowned SF magazine, Interzone. Shine is his first anthology. (see review)

Walker Books Ltd

Triskellion 3: The Gathering by Will Peterson (Walker Books Ltd 05 April 2010 / £6.99) - The wonderful Walker Books publish the third title in Will Peterson's Triskellion series - aimed towards younger readers. Peterson is a pseudonym of the writing partnership of Mark Billingham and Peter Cocks. Triskellion 3: The Gathering is published as a B Format paperback.

"Having narrowly escaped the clutches of the Hope Project, Rachel and Adam begin a new life in Australia. Their tranquillity is shattered, however, by the reappearance of Gabriel – and the terrifying adventure that they had hoped was over begins again. Hunted by enemies, old and new, their journey to discover the third, and final, Triskellion takes them home to New York, where they finally learn the chilling truth about their ancestry… "

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