Archive for June, 2013

Roadkill

June 19, 2013 - 1:44 pm No Comments

Roadkill

Roadkill
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Publisher: This is Horror Books
Page count: 28pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
The Vindicator is a vehicle, a car, with the blood of the Gentleborn in its metal, and cradles a spirit within its bodywork. It is alive.

This chapbook of road terror starts at 90MPH written in bursts of speed to match the velocity that the car is driving at. The unnamed driver at the wheel longs to be a Boyman. He had always imagined an iron focus – mind and body at one with the ‘V’. But something was going wrong this time, the driver was losing his focus.

All he’d ever wanted was to join the Boymen, “elevated from the heat and plagues, eternally young.” And here he is speeding along The Final Five, the only road worth travelling.

This darkly poetic post apocalyptic chapbook takes you on the journey with the driver as the speed and danger increases, giving us a glimpse into a scary universe that you want to know more about. For me, the chapbook ended too quick, but not in a bad way; I wanted to know more. D’Lacey’s powerful prose captures you from the offset and this is another tour-de-force in the ‘This is Horror’ chapbook series. The cover art is spectacular and it is signed by the author himself. I look forward to seeing what the next book in this series offers.

Buy this from http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/shop/roadkill-joseph-dlacey/

Express Book to Hell

June 15, 2013 - 10:53 pm 2 Comments

Express Diaries

Just back from a day con and saw a package. I opened it . . . I had no bloody idea how beautiful this book was until I opened the front cover. Holy God! I hope to the Lord above the text matches the layout, cover and images, because my first impression was . . . amazing. Amazing. Based on what I’ve opened only one other book gets read before this and the rest join the back queue. I was transported to a different age as I opened the cover. Have you encountered Hell Train by Christopher Fowler? The aura of that book pervades yours. I do hope that’s a compliment. I opened this package and tingled. I’m so glad you insisted on a hardcopy not an ebook. It’s effing beautiful.

Look forward to my review!

Demi Monde Winter

June 14, 2013 - 6:53 pm No Comments

The Demi Monde (Winter)
Author: Rod Rees
Publisher: Quercus Books
Page count: 522pp
Release Date: 29th Sept 2011
Reviewer: Andy Angel

The Demi-Monde – a computer simulation designed for the US military, peopled by some of the most dangerous and psychopathic characters from history, for training the US military in Asymmetric Warfare Environments. It is “the first simulation product ever to be platformed on and operated by the ABBA quantum computer” This computer has enough processing power to simulate sentience in the Dupes (the ‘characters in the simulation’) and herein lies the root of the problem. The US military want to shut the simulation down but the Dupe leaders have other ideas!

They have managed to trap Norma Williams, the daughter of the US President in the Demi-Monde and have shut down all but one of the access ports. Until Norma can be rescued the Demi-Monde continues to exist.

Enter Ella Thomas, an eighteen year old American who is the perfect match (indeed, the ONLY match) for a dormant Dupe in the Simulation, who has to go in, rescue the President’s daughter and get her out.

The first section of this book sets the story up well, telling you all you need to know about the Demi-Monde, while having every alternative chapter actually set in the Demi-Monde. An appetiser, if you will.

The second section, though, really steps things up a gear as Ella enters the Simulation and we are introduced to more of the Demi-Monde’s inhabitants such as Vanka Maykov, who takes Ella under his wing and, one of my favourite characters in the early sections, the disreputable club owner Burlesque Bandstand who has great comedy value.

The world of the Demi-Monde is a semi-steampunk Victorian setting and very well realised. It is split into different sections representing various ‘Real World’ settings, all side by side with the five main sections (Noirville, The Coven, Rodina, The Rookeries and Quartier Chaud) separated by five rivers. Each area has its own belief systems and ideas for rule. This first book in the series deals only with events in The Rookeries and a small part of Rodina.

It is obvious from early on that there is more going on than meets the eye and later books will open the story out even more. Thankfully I have volume two (Spring) near to hand as Winter finishes on three separate cliffhangers.

There is a lot of ‘derring-do’, capture and escape and general rollicking adventure in this book, which means the story rattles along at a good old pace – I reviewed from the Hard Back edition and though it is a chunky doorstop of a book it was over far too soon. The characters are very well defined and believable (the transformation of Trixie Dashwood is especially well done). The world comes to life off the page and feels real, and it also reminded me of the gaming worlds of, for example, Grand Theft Auto, where you are only allowed to play in one section until you have completed set tasks. The other areas are there, you can see them, but you can’t get into them yet – I am looking forward immensely to visiting these places in the remaining three books

Any Other Name

June 12, 2013 - 9:10 pm No Comments

Any Other Name
Author: Emma Newman
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page count: 416pp
Release Date: 6th June 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Following directly on from the first book in the series, Between Two Thorns, Any Other Name continues the tale of Catherine Rhoeas-Papever, inhabitant of the Nether, Aquae Sulis, an alternative version of Bath, steeped in the Regency and Victorian period. In the first book, Cathy has escaped into ‘normal’ society and lives a life as a student in Manchester, until she is kidnapped by her brother and returned to the Nether, where she is told she will marry William Reticulat-Iris, at the wish of her Fae Patroon Lord Poppy.
This sequel begins with Cathy drugged up to her eyeballs on poppy milk on her wedding morning, vaguely aware that the wedding is about to take place, until a spell lifts her haze and she finds herself in a carriage on the way to the ceremony. At the same time back in the normal human world, Cathy’s friend Sam knows he has to return to fae world Exilium to rescue a number of human models who have been kidnapped and are living in slavery. Concentrating on this return, and his promises to Cathy, his relationship with his wife Leanne is drifting further and further apart. She has moved to London and set up a home and is ensconced in her new career. Meanwhile Arbiter (private detective) Max with his rather friendly as yet unnamed gargoyle is investigating a series of murders in the Bath Chapter where the hearts have been turned into stone.
Back to the wedding day and Cathy must either try to live a new restricted life with William, who really wants to be with disgraced Rosa Amelia, or escape the Fae Lords and magic of the Nether to continue her live as a normal human.
Cathy is a strong female figure despite following the etiquette of Nether society when required of her, as she steadfastly attempts to fight the constraints of the pre-Victorian society and the subjugation of women. Adept at sorting out a major crisis, spying and hiding, Cathy’s husband Will wonders how his new wife can be so clever in some things, yet s inept at others. Cathy is a complex character who gradually learns more about herself as the novel progresses. The book itself is cram packed with politics, subterfuge, adventure and plain old fun. The gargoyle sidekick is my favourite character without a doubt and there is an eclectic mix to choose from.
Newman proved her historical knowledge and literary talents in the first book, and like the first book, Any Other Name is incredibly difficult to put down.

Path of Needles

June 3, 2013 - 12:43 am No Comments

Path of Needles
Author: Alison Littlewood
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Page count: 394pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

The new year begins for literature teacher Alice Hyland in April, as the blossom begins to bloom and she sees a fairy tale Blue Bird in her garden, which leaves her a feather on her windowsill. Alice is an expert in fairy tales and seems to live her life ensconced in one, which is why young PC Cate Corbin calls on her expertise when she sees something unusual in a crime scene.
Young Chrissie Farrell is young and beautiful, and on the evening of her being crowned Queen of the Dance, she is abducted and brutally murdered, her body left posed in such a way as to suggest to Cate, that the victim is Snow White. But this is only the first death in what will become a series of murders where expert Alice becomes both consultant and suspect.
Like the original fairy tales themselves, this novel is grim, dark and disturbing. And also rather gruesome!
Littlewood’s knowledge of the origins of fairy tales is well researched and incredibly accurate, adding to the plausibility of the plot. The imagery throughout the novel is striking and vivid, evocative and brutal. Alice and Cate’s relationship is complex and believable as is the police procedural stuff.
With Littlewood’s first novel A Cold Season, she scared and astounded her reader. Many may have asked, can she do it again? Have no doubt, Littlewood’s literary vision is stunning and she has only just started. I can’t wait to see what she does next.