Archive for February, 2013

Merchant of Dreams

February 14, 2013 - 6:27 pm 1 Comment

Merchant of Dreams (Night Masque 1)
Author Anne Lyle
Publisher Angry Robot
Pages/size 424pp
Release Date: 16th Dec 20112
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Starting one year after the events in The Alchemist of Souls, we find Mal and female Coby (still dressed as a manservant looking remarkably like a 15 year old boy), on board a ship searching for some missing Skraylings (alien-like Vinlandic trader race in this world). Mal & Coby find the survivors from the shipwreck on a small island, but they have killed themselves to avoid rebirth as humans and leave only a young boy, Ruviq, alive. Mal suspects that the unease he felt earlier, which lead to finding the dead skraylings, is the skrayling soul trapped in his body responding to those deaths.
For Mal and his twin Sandy share the reborn soul of the skrayling Erishen.

Following the discovery of the skrayling boy, Mal, on Youssef’s ship, sets off to return the boy to his hometown, whilst hoping to convince Ambassador Kiiren to let his mentally unwell brother Sandy return with him to England.

This world that Lyle has created is an alternate Shakespearian history where Mal works for Walsingham as an intelligencer (read spy). The sexual/romantic tension between Coby and Mal is still palpable, as is Ned’s affections for his friend Mal, despite his relationship with actor Gabriel.

This book is far richer if you have read the first novel. The mixed and complex relationships in the novel are vivid; Lyle’s honesty and bravery in creating attraction and love between men and in fact, alien species, does a lot to break down any barriers the reader may have and is realistic. The characters are lively, relatable and we thoroughly enjoy taking part in their adventures. And make no mistake, as the political intrigue increases and the action switches to Venice, this indeed becomes an adventure worth tagging along with.

If you’ve read the first book, this escalates the world and mythology. If you are new to this world, you can read this independently, but if were you, I would buy both books. They are simply brilliant, and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Pendragon Chap Books

February 10, 2013 - 10:31 pm No Comments

The Legend of False Dreaming by Toiya Kristen Finley

“Rue’s ride abandoned her under the awning of a closed bus station……….” So starts a clever little story set in the town of Bronson in the south of New York State.
It is 3am and not a good place to be.
There is a fog in the town, the fog affects people if it is breathed in. The people of the town don’t like outsiders, or ‘trudes, as they are known. Rue plans on leaving Bronson as soon as possible, the only problem?……………………………Nobody leaves Bronson……..ever!
This is an atmospheric tale with good characterisation and a grimy, fog-ridden town that fair comes to life from the page. If anything, the town feels very like the town of Silent Hill, the setting for several computer games. There is an explanation of how Bronson ended up the way it is and really, this could be many towns and cities throughout the country.
All in all, an enjoyable story, just over too quickly for me. 3/5

Crash Day by Jack Mangan

This story promised a lot – set in a future where cars (flying cars at that!) are controlled TrafficScape, a system to get all traffic from A-B with no snarl ups or accidents. Victor Moog is starting his first day in the job and within a week he has discovered plans to sabotage the system. Can Victor foil the plot, save the day and win the girl?
As I said, it promised a lot……………unfortunately, I was disappointed.
When the story starts and Victor meets his new co-workers at TrafficScape it feels very much like a generic episode of The IT Crowd. There is an attempt at humour by having a dog called Play Dead but even that falls flat.
The controlled traffic system is a good idea – there are millions of ‘Nodes’ and once you input your destination your vehicle is moved from node to node. All flows well as no two cars can occupy the same node at the same time. The idea is good but once you realise that moving from one node to another could mean your vehicle may drop from level 11 to level 3 then maybe up to level 7 it all gets a lot harder to believe in – for me the science only works if it is believable and this just doesn’t work for me.
The story itself is not terrible it just didn’t ‘do it’ for me 2.5/5

The Red House by David J Thacker
Finally, we come to The Red House (and yes, I’m saving the best for last). This is the story of a summer, years ago, when John, the narrator of the story, was a young lad.
It was an idyllic summer, as they often seem to be when you are a child, and John spends his days in the woods around the town of Darton with his two friends Colin and Peter. The set up of this little group is as you would expect – the clever kid, the comedian and the sporty kid – and the banter and interplay between them is a joy.
One day, while they are lounging about in the sun they discover another young lad – Lawrence- a shy, scrawny, grubby child. When the three friends befriend the stranger things really get interesting. After getting Lawrence to trust them (with clothing and food) the four spend most of their days together just chatting and hanging around but little is known of Lawrence and where he comes from or why he looks filthy and covered in oil every time they meet.
The reveal, when it comes in the final pages is really well done. I read this book again within days of finishing it for the first time and will read it again in the future I am sure.
The story is reminiscent of Stephen King’s It in style.
I look forward to more from this author in the future – 5/5

Adele Blanc-Sec

February 2, 2013 - 2:04 pm No Comments

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Louise Borgoin
Running Time 106 minutes
Release Date: 15th Aug 2011
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Paris is in peril from a pterodactyl! It is 1911, and in this sumptuously visual film of the 1970s comic book, journalist Adele Blanc-Sec (Louise Borgoin) is in Egypt on an expedition, hoping to find the mummy of an ancient doctor who can help her sister hovering between life and death. Back in Paris, in the dinosaur (Jurassic) section of the museum, a pterodactyl breaks out of its egg, partially controlled by Professor Esperandieu, an elderly scientist, who Adele hopes can help revive the mummy she chooses. On her return to Paris with said mummy (Patmosis), Adele must help save Esperandieu from execution in order to stop the pterodactyl and save her sister.

Complete with Indiana Jones vibe, but full of extreme silliness, this witty and clever film is wonderfully nostalgic, and it is Adele that makes the film. She is a powerfully positive female role who refuses to take orders from men and is successful as a writer and adventurer in her own right. With a marvellous supporting cast and a dizzyingly addictive script, Adele is an example of how films should be made. Simply wonderful!

PS at Eastercon

February 1, 2013 - 2:02 pm No Comments


They say: With our customary upbeat giddy one, the good news is we’re working on a totally far-out fivesome of science fictional gems which we’re aiming to launch at EasterCon on Friday 29 March. The titles are:

UNIVERSES by Stephen Baxter (£25 h/c; £60 sig and s/c)


STARSHIP QUARTET by Eric Brown (£10 p/b)
(Please note that there will be a hardcover edition of STARSHIP QUARTET signed by the author and containing a specially commissioned Starship short story . . . which Eric is writing even as we speak—AREN’T YOU, ERIC?!)


A VERY BRITISH HISTORY by Paul J. McAuley (£25 h/c; £60 sig and s/c and containing three additional stories in a second book housed in the s/c)


MARTIAN SANDS by Lavie Tidhar (£20 h/c; £40 sig h/c)


GROWING PAINS by Ian Whates (£20 h/c; £40 sig h/c)

The PS launch will be the very first Convention event after the opening address, and Nicky, Mike and I would very much like you to be there if you’re able.

The launch will kick off at 5 pm (as soon as the chairperson or whomever has stopped talking, in other words) and the format will follow the tried-and-tested Fantasy and HorrorCon approach of handing the punter a cloakroom ticket with each book purchased . . . each cloakroom ticket may then be exchanged for a glass of wine. We’ll also be offering a generous discount to anyone buying all five books—ie. £85 instead of £100 . . . plus, let us not forget, the best part of an entire bottle of wine (not a bad way to start a convention, I’ve always found).

We’d love to see you there. And you might also mention the event on your blogs and/or websites, not forgetting to twitter and tweet and even moan when an opportunity arises to do so.

Please note that we not be able to put aside convention-signed trade copies to be sold through the website although we will be offering the unsigned quintet at the same price (though without the five glasses of wine, of course!) and the deluxe fivesome at £180 (a saving of almost 20%). Postage will be charged as usual, of course for all purchases made through the website.