Archive for January, 2012

Review – Dead ‘Good’ Harvest

January 30, 2012 - 4:18 pm No Comments

Dead Harvest (Angry Robot)
Author: Chris F Holm
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count: 416pp
Release date: 1st March 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Book one in The Collector series, Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) is a noir style supernatural thriller that puts a new riff on the ‘soul collector/death’ trope.

Sam Thornton is a Collector, who, as he puts it “I collect scum. The souls of the damned to be precise”. And Sam is good at his job. Until he is sent on a routine ‘collection’ to collect teenager Kate MacNeil, who has slaughtered her family. Or has she? For once, Sam is unable to follow through on his job because the soul he tries to take is untainted and pure. So if Kate didn’t murder her family, then who or what did?

Acting on instinct, Sam kidnaps Kate from Belle Vue Hospital intent on finding out exactly who or what killed the MacNeils. But there are those who want Kates’ soul taken regardless of her apparent innocence.

Written in the first person from Sam’s point of view, the tone is similar to Mike Carey’s Felix Castor novels. The narrative is strong and fast paced and as Sam is the narrator we get insights into his past and the decisions he has made. The relationship that builds between Kate & Sam is both touching and funny, adding depth to an otherwise action packed novel.

Angry Robot has again released another corker of a novel and I eagerly await book two in The Collector series. This is quite simply, dead good!

Review – Cracking Carpathia

January 25, 2012 - 1:51 am No Comments

Author: Matt Forbeck
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count: 416pp
Release date: 1st March 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . . something lurks below.

The infamous Titanic is sinking. As the survivors swim or float in the black icy waters of the Atlantic ocean striving to live, vampires wait beside them, picking off prey one by one, feasting on the floating blood buffet. These vampires are but a few rebels amongst the nest of vampires currently hiding aboard the Carpathia, a fellow ship sent to save as many people as possible from the remains of the Titanic.

As Brody the instigator encourages his people to feast, Dushko Dragomir, ensconced on the Carpathia, leader of the nest, fights to bring his people to the old country where they can hide and live in vampiric peace.

As the crew of the Carpathia rescue survivors we meet three friends, Lucy, Abe and Quin, (named with a specific nod towards Bram Stoker’s Dracula), stuck in the middle of a love triangle as they fight to destroy the evil that hunts the passengers on the Carpathia.

Part historical drama, part romance, part adventure, Carpathia revamps (groan) the vampire genre and there are absolutely no sparkles in sight. Laced with wit, irony and gallows humour, this novel boasts a decent amount of blood and guts, a large dose of humour as mentioned and a dash of romance. The chapters are short and sweet aiding pace and the characters are well drawn.

Added to this is the plight of the passengers from the Titanic as the unsinkable ship does indeed sink, which is brought vividly to life with a sense of historical accuracy.

Though a tad melodramatic at times, it reads like a 1920s pulp adventure and can easily be devoured in one sitting. If you are looking for an intense or grim read, look elsewhere. This novel is a hoot and tremendous fun. Definitely worth checking out!

Review – Transmission

January 24, 2012 - 12:48 am No Comments

Transmission: Ragnarok Vol Two
Author: John Meaney
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 421pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Volume two in the Ragnarok trilogy, Transmission is John Meaney’s latest epic SF Space Opera and spans thousands of years as various characters find themselves intertwined inexplicably through time.

In 8th Century Norseland, we meet Ulfr, a young man who can see the darkness his enemy he tracks through the lands intent on destroying an evil only he appears to see.

In Europe WWII, Gavriela also sees a darkness that few others can see, as the Third Reich closes in. She finds herself adept at code breaking and aides the Allies in their fight against evil.

In 2603, Pilot Roger is mourning the loss of his parents and his planet as he comes to terms with his new life alone, pursued by the same darkness, as he is trained in the espionage skills shared by his father. This is a new life for Roger and he is intent on finding the evil that destroyed his family.

Ulfr, Gavriela, Roger – all are linked through time and through their ability to see a darkness that few others can see.
As to be expected with a second volume in a trilogy, questions do remain unanswered at the close of the novel. However, this power house of SF is an example of why Meaney remains a strong voice in the genre. Meaney’s love and knowledge of the martial arts and hypnosis feed into the novel, as does his scientific knowledge. For science novices, some of the theories explained can be a little confusing, but this does not detract from the readers’ enjoyment.

The characters are well written, the world building is phenomenal and the pace as chapters switch from time zones is just right, keeping the tension levels up. The female characters are particularly strong and literally jump off the page, particularly the WWII code breaker Gavriela. The novel is also steeped in historical accuracy and authenticity.

Though a little hard going at times this novel is a prime example of hard SF done right. I look forward to what volume three of the Ragnarok trilogy holds.