Archive for May, 2011

Review: I am Spartacus – aah, Zombie!

May 27, 2011 - 9:44 pm 2 Comments

Tomes of the Dead: The Viking Dead

Author: Toby Venables

Publisher: Abaddon Books

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  351pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

The Viking Dead Book Cover

Tomes of the Dead is a relatively new and recently established series of books from quality pulp publishers Abaddon, a sub-set of Solaris Books.  As the series title suggests, this is all about The Dead, or rather, the Un-Dead a.k.a Zombies. The series has previously opened up doors for new prolific horror writers such as Gary McMahon, Simon Bestwick and 2000AD scribe Al Ewing. 

The Viking Dead, the latest instalment of Tomes, released in April 2011 is the debut novel by Cambridge lecturer Toby Venables.  If I were to put money on it, I would bet that Prof. Venables area of expertise is Viking history and lore. The setting, background and tone of the novel seems indelibly real

In his novel, the author pits the draugr or Undead against a band of pillaging yet not so evil Vikings.  As you would expect then, there is plenty of rip roaring adventure, tongue twisting character names, violence, battles and gruesome deaths.  As is prevalent in the Abaddon novels, there is also a healthy dose of gallows humour and ironic, self aware wit. 

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Review: All that glitters?

May 25, 2011 - 9:08 pm No Comments

This review was previously published in the BSFG Newsletter.

The Golden City

Author:  John Twelve Hawks

Publisher:  Corgi

Price:  £7.99 

Page count:  488pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

Have you ever wondered what has happened to Dan Brown lately?  Fear not. I am about to reveal all . . .

The bumph that came with my review copy declares “John Twelve Hawks lives off the grid, and only his agent knows who he really is.  He speaks through a digital voice changer so as not to reveal his true identity!” Well, sorry to disappoint Corgi, but I think I know the mysterious identity of the writer. I’d be tempted to put my life savings on it that Mr Twelve Hawks is in fact Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame. 

Apparently, The Golden City is the long awaited conclusion to the Fourth Realm Trilogy.  In John Hawk’s creation, there are six realms, or worlds.  A Traveller can cross over these worlds unaided by the technology required by us mere mortals.  Tagged as a “riveting blend of high tech thriller and fast paced adventure”, the novel finds Traveller Gabriel attempting to find his beloved Maya, a Harlequin, or assassin, who has become trapped in a deadly alternative reality.  At the same time, his brother and fellow Traveller Michael, aligned with the shadowy Brethren, follows his own path to power.  It smacks a little of Charles Stross’ Merchant Princess series meets The Da Vinci Code with a dash of Kane and Abel. Which brings me to my earlier point. We have;

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Review: Autumn: The City by David Moody

May 20, 2011 - 10:39 am 3 Comments

Autumn: The City

Author:  David Moody

Publisher:  Orion Books

Price:  £12.99 (Hardback)

Page count:  278pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

If you read my previous review of Autumn the re-release of Moody’s self published zombie novel, you will be aware that I heaped high praise on the first in the Autumn series.  “For just a short space of two days, the world that is Autumn ruled mine, the addiction that is David Moody flowing through my veins.” And, as I opened my copy of Autumn: The City, low and behold it happened again. I was consumed by the infection!

Less of a sequel, more an expansion of the Autumn universe, the second novel starts at the same juncture, briefly showing the mysterious outbreak that has shattered the world as we know it.  However, where the first novel centres on a small number of survivors and follows their harrowing life changing journey, The City develops the themes and plot Moody originally explored and hits us with visceral action from the start.  It also increases his ensemble cast, diversifying the group of rag tag survivors; following our reactions, our actions, our reliance on society and the traps of civilisation and our need to belong and be with others. In this book, we can more clearly see the scale of the disaster. In The City, Moody has captured the truth of humanity. In some ways it is reminiscent of the 1984 original mini series ‘V’, in its study of the human equation and the strength we possess in the face of adversity.

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Review: A Dash of Quicksilver!

May 20, 2011 - 1:11 am No Comments

Pax Britannia: Anno Frankenstein

Author:  Jonathon Green

Publisher: Abaddon Books

Price:  £7.99 (Paperback)

Page count:  325pp

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

Anno Frankenstein Book Cover

Part of the Pax Britannia series from Abaddon Books, and a continuing adventure featuring the dashing Ulysses Quicksilver, Anno Frankenstein is a high spirited, action packed pulp novel that combines humour, cultural icons and Steampunk in one lively package.

The novel starts in Germany 1943 at the height of World War II as we know it in an alternate reality where Magna Britannia has joined forces with Imperial Russia to defeat the tyrant Hitler.  This is number seven in the very popular Quicksilver series, yet the notable difference here is that for at least half the novel, our hero is Hercules Quicksilver, agent of the crown and father of Ulysses. In the gothic towers of Castle Frankenstein, the Nazis are producing a deadly undead army from the bit parts of deceased soldiers. To defeat the Nazi’s new threat, Quicksilver Senior is assigned a mission by his old pal Winston Churchill. He must travel to Scotland and collect a ‘package’ and then deliver it into the hands of the allies in Germany. Quicksilver is more than a little perturbed to discover the package is the cryogenically frozen Dr Jekyll. He has serious doubts about the potential effectiveness of the fragile doctor against the enemy of Britannia. And that’s just for starters.

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Review: Undead Delight

May 19, 2011 - 10:44 pm No Comments

The Unwashed Dead Author:  Ian Woodhead

Price: From £2.06 (Kindle)

Reviewer:  Theresa Derwin

Immediate vicious attacks on the population of a Northern town by ‘Deadies’, aka zombies leaves the town occupied by the rather dislikeable undead and a number of less than savoury survivors. The plot isn’t of importance here. It is Woodhead’s playful use of a myriad of British recognisable stereotypes that makes The Unwashed Dead extremely good fun.  Like an old pair of socks or PJs, the novel is instantly recognisable and insanely comfortable as Woodhead pits the unlikeliest ‘heroes’ against the undead.

From teenager Kevin, to Ashton who kicks off the novel and ‘wholesome’ upstanding citizens Denis and Ernest, these characters are incredibly realistic, though they do represent the least favourable of British society. With a good use of ‘voice’ the dialogue is a brilliantly accurate representation of what ‘us Brits’ refer to as ‘The Unwashed Masses’; hence the ironic title. 

Woodhead knows his genre, offers plenty of gore and character interaction gives the reader a fun ride. It’s really, rather Chavtastic!