Posts Tagged ‘Jo Fletcher Books’

Corpselight – Verity Fassbinder Book 2 – Angela Slatter

July 20, 2017 - 6:26 pm No Comments

Corpse Light (Verity Fassbinder Book 2)
Author: Angela Slatter
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Page count: 400pp
Release date: 13th July 2017
Online: @AngelaSlatter, @MeadOlivia, @JoFletcherBooks,
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corpselight-Verity-Fassbinder-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01INGSVZI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500570659&sr=1-1&keywords=corpselight

This long anticipated sequel to Angela Slatter’s sole debut novel Vigil, starts answering those lingering questions from the first book, from the off.
The primary one being; is Verity pregnant?
Serious kudos for Slatter for introducing the plethora of issues that come into play once a strong kick-ass heroine is expecting a baby.
Yes, Verity has lost her super-strength (her inheritance from Weyrd father Grigori) and yes she’s tired, on enforced rest and riddled with hormones, but that doesn’t stop her from kicking ass.
Arse-kicking comes in many forms and the most obvious aspects of Verity’s qualities are her intelligence, her fire, her compassion and her ability to see and understand beyond the obvious. There’s a reason she’s the ‘go-to’ person when it comes to liasons with the Weyrd community.
That, my friends, still makes her a kick-ass heroine.
However, Slatter would’ve been nuts to miss the opportunity to play around with the ‘Pregnancy stuff’.
She has great fun writing other characters who poke fun at her condition, whilst sharing with the reader the unexpected difficulties women face whilst pregnant; fro, getting in and out of chairs, to tiredness, emotions, cranky moments and not being able to drink coffee.
That, in my mind, is sacrilege.
It makes for some hilarious gags along the way.
In the midst of her rest period though, Verity is getting kind of bored doing nothing, so when the chance to do some investigation crops up, she dives in.
A spirit or Weyrd creature is taking slinging mud to a whole new level in the house of lawyer Susan Beckett. The entity is creating the equivalent of ‘la boue’; a vile mixture of blood, mud and sewage seen in the streets of France in the 1700s. But Susan Beckett is claiming for the third time in a row from the ‘Unnatural Happenstance’ proviso of her insurance yet she won’t let the company send in their exorcism style clean up crew; just the actual poo cleaning crew. So, what is she hiding?
She’s also not the first legal person in danger in the novel and it makes me wonder; ‘is the only good lawyer a Dead lawyer’!
Although officially on pregnancy leave, Verity is tasked with finding out the cause of the poo-flinging and exactly what their client is hiding.
Then, to top it off, drowned bodies are turning up nowhere near water, in places like cafes. And Verity is called on again, for her advice.
This book is a sheer delight, and whether you’ve read the first one or not, there’s enough exposition that you can enjoy the Sisters Norn in Little Venice, Bela (current boss and ex-boyfriend and the love/hate/detest relationship between him and current beau David), Ziggi (Weyrd taxi driver/protector and surrogate uncle) and a whole host of exotic ‘other’ characters from diverse cultures.
And; word is out that the Boatman is still after Verity to get his knife back. Yeah, that Boatman.
As for the Council of Five, who govern supernaturals in Australia, they have been ‘retired’ or moved on due to the corruption found by Verity in the last book. Perhaps the surprising addition to the new council is Theo, the youngest Norn sister and a wild card.
Rhonda McIntyre police liaison to the ‘Weyrd’ community is the one who calls on Verity for help again, in this book.
In Vigil, she had been saved by an angel after Verity had pulled a few strings but it doesn’t make her any less grumpy, so she delights in calling her friend ‘fatso’ now she is heavy with child. The banter between Rhonda and Verity is an example of sublime writing.
The title of the novel refers to a couple of corpselights hovering in Verity’s backyard, aka ‘Will ‘O’ ‘the’ Wisp’ or foxfire. At the beginning we’re not entirely sure how all of these mystery pieces slot together, but don’t worry, all will be revealed.
This is urban fantasy at its best and I truly hope Verity and all of her supporting cast get to grow and develop and that the series gets the longevity of characters such as Toby Daye by Seanan Maguire.
Slatter knows how to build tension, weave plot strands, write interesting and fun characters with sparking dialogue and add enough dark that the squeamish may let out the odd “urgh”.
This is pretty much superlative and I predict awards next year for Slatter.
Bloody well done!

 

So! Win #Vigil #ebook I’ll buy it for you as a gift if you are one of the ones selected.

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Vigil

July 23, 2016 - 3:09 pm No Comments

Verity Fassbinder Book 1
Author: Angela Slatter
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Page count: 351pp
Release date: 7th July 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

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Jo Fletcher books (an imprint of Quercus) is fast becoming the publisher to go to for high quality, award level genre fiction. So, team up multi-award winner author Angela Slatter with her first full length novel, and you have pure gold.
Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds; daughter of a human — and a Weyrd — she can walk in both worlds. Though she doesn’t have much power herself, her ability to walk between worlds is a valuable asset.  This lands her the job of keeping the peace between both races and ensuring the Weyrd stay hidden.
The Council of Five act as a sort of government of the Weyrd, having arrived over in the past from whatever old country they came from and established themselves. Verity’s  ex ‘Bela’ AKA Zvezdomir ‘Bela’ Vlad Tepes (you may recognise the name) turns up at Verity’s door one eve, looking drop-dead gorgeous as usual, if a little bit goth. He’s arrived in a distinctive purple taxi cab (Verity was injured during her last job for Bela and now sports a limp) driven by Ziggi, her usual chauffeur. Verity clambers into the car, complete with shrunken head Gris-Gris in the window, to find one of the Council of Five sitting there.
Over twenty children have gone missing, some normal, some Weyrd, and Bela is there as chief spy/cop/enforcer to hire her to find out where the children have gone and who has taken them.
This is a solid Urban Fantasy set in an ‘other’ Brisbane where the Weyrd blend in as the homeless, the drunk, the disenfranchised and the alternative community. Angela Slatter’s voice, though distinctively unique and hers, reminds me a little of Jim Butcher (Dresden files) and Seanan McGuire (The Incryptid and October Daye books). Predominantly because Slatter combines high octane, fast paced action with PI Procedural, a whole host of wonderful creatures (not just bog standard vampires and werewolves), a cracking sense of humour and a deeper thread running through it. That thread? Racism, prejudice and treatment of other. Slatter isn’t afraid to veer towards the issue of how ‘other’ is often treated and her cast of characters is wonderfully diverse. Add to this the ongoing tension between Bela and Verity (how can he really beget ex when she blooming well works with him?) and how this affects her, and you have a great addition to the genre, and one I predict will last  the long haul.
Smashing book which kept me reading through the night, as in, couldn’t put down! Splendidly written too.
5/5

Alison Littlewood Double Bill

December 4, 2015 - 4:25 pm 2 Comments

I love Alison Littlewood’s work, and rated A Cold Season back in 2013 as one of my top books of the year, so when I heard she had two books coming out this autumn, I just had to take the opportunity to interview her and review both of those books. The first, is her instalment in the successful and innovative Stephen Jones’ creation, the Zombie Apocalypse series, whilst the second book is the eagerly awaited sequel to that 2013 Judy and Richard book club selection, A Cold Silence. So, firstly, here are my thoughts on these books followed by an interview with the supreme lady of horror herself.

Zombie Apocalypse: Acapulcalypse Now
Author: Alison Littlewood
Publisher: Robinson
Release date: 29th Oct 2015
Page count: 309pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

B

Going loco down in Acapulco as the zombies rise! Yes, prepare for fun and zombie goodness as Littewood brings the franchise to Mexico… Where the Hotel Baktun, shaped like a Mayan pyramid, is getting ready for its grand opening. Waiter Iktan, or Mick, as his badge says spots a stranger milling through the workmen and other crowds, whilst Celeste, wife of singer Colton Creed, has just arrived at the hotel with rich socialite Louisiana, from Leicester. Stacy Keenan arrives at the resort to run security. She was supposed to be running security for the New Festival of Britain, until her boss Moreby, distant descendant of All Hallows’ Thomas Moreby, drags her to Mexico.
When we get there, that’s when the fun really begins as a Russian luxury liner can’t let its passengers onto the island due to a food poisinong outbreak, bringing sickness to the island as some of the Russian tourists just don’t know how to stay down.
Littlewood has expertly captured the vibe, religion, culture and atmosphere of Mexico in this novel, including that of the criminal underworld, which makes an appearance. The Mayan ruins and artifacts also add a sense of Hammer-esque mystery to the book, almost a Vodoun or Egyptian vibe. The novel is interspersed with a selection of excellent and grim ‘photos’ depicting the events in the book, however, as usual it is Joe Robert’s vibrant, gruesome and fun cover art that stands out. Every cover he’s done throughout the entire series is marvellous.
When the zombie – cross that – HRV (Human Reanimation Virus) carnage kicks off, guests and staff split off into factions fighting for survival and the blood, gore, humour and action is gloriously OTT. The chapters are written in multiple points of view, which are instantly recognisable from each other; Stacy, security expert, Mick the waiter, Francisco the criminal, Ethan the teenager, adding the kind of tension and variety experienced in such cinematic classics as The Poseidon Adventure. The dichotomy of a sun-laden resort and the palpable fear and bloodshed works really well, and is emphasised by Francisco’s thoughts; “He had heard pain like that before, but here, in this open, shining place, he could not take it in.”
As the diverse groups try to escape or find out what’s happening, relationships are formed, unexpected bonds are made and the character yet interaction is fulfilling for the readEr
The short chapters, with varying narrators adds pace and tension to the novel, which increases throughout the last quarter.
For those specifically after zombie goodness, there is plenty of gore here, noses, hands, cheeks, lips, stomachs; all sorts of flesh being ripped apart. The lead up to the ending escalates the violence rapidly leading to a very satisfying conclusion. Great fun, with a hint of more to come.

Next up is, drumroll:

A Cold Silence
Author: Alison Littlewood
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Release date: 3rd September 2015
Page Count: 368pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Different in tone from the Zombie Apocalypse novel, A Cold Silence, the sequel to A Cold Season, is creepy from the start. It is a cold, winter night and Ben is walking home towards his Mum’s, convinced there are footsteps following him.
Ben had never been able to leave his mother alone for long, not like his sister Gaila. All day long his mother Cass would paint, stark wintry landscapes and snowy hills. Ben hated the snow, though he didn’t know why. When a friend dies in their old home of Darnshaw, Cass is desperate that Ben stay away from the town. But sure his Mum won’t find out, he heads to Darnshaw for the funeral.
Atmospheric and lyrical, A Cold Silence carries on with the story of young Ben, now an adult, who can’t remember what happened to him as a boy. His return to his old home following Jessica’s death is a journey for him, and there is a new evil lurking.
In every way, Littlewood delivers in this book, though I am loathe to give too much away, so this will be a short one. Suffice to say it’s a gripping book and I envisGe awards in its future. Bravo.

1) Tell my readers a bit about yourself

Well I’ve been writing short stories for years now, so I’ve been hovering around the indie presses for some time. In 2012 my first novel, A Cold Season, was published by Jo Fletcher Books and got picked up for the Richard and Judy Book Club, which surprised no one more than me! Since then I’ve kept on writing novels and short stories, and am loving it.

On a personal level, I was born and bred in Yorkshire, and still live there with my other half, Fergus, in a very old house with suitably creaking doors and crooked walls. We also have a mad dalmatian called Dexter who keeps me busy (and gets me out of the house, which is no bad thing).

2) You’ve joined the Stephen Jones Zombie Apocalypse series. How did the shared world process work?

I’d already produced a short story for Steve for Zombie Apocalypse! Endgame, one of the mosaic novels. So when he asked me if I’d like to write a whole zombie novel set in Mexico, I already knew it would be a lot of fun. I didn’t find the shared world too onerous, as the series is essentially set in our world; it was simply a case of matching up events in the zombie invasion, and occasionally touching on what established characters were doing. Steve made some suggestions in that regard, while I came up with others after a close read-through of the other books in the series.

So the process really offered massive possibilities rather than limitations! As an example, many of the zombies are the shambling variety you’d expect, but there are others who are more intelligent and provide an organising factor. And I had lots of freedom to create my own characters and scenes. Since it was set in Mexico, I’ve added onto the ZA! scenario by combining it with Mayan mythology and ancient gods. There was such huge scope in that, waiting to be tapped into.

I had a whale of a time writing the book. I’d never have thought of writing a zombie novel, but particularly combined with the Mexican setting, it just offered massive potential for scares, laughs, and indeed heart-rending moments. The first draft was pretty quick to produce – I usually hit a wall partway through writing a book, but it just didn’t happen this time round. It was even more fun that I’d expected.

3) A Cold Season got rave reviews and put you on the genre map, what inspired you to return to that world in A Cold Silence?

It was never my intention to write a sequel to A Cold Season, but after it came out, readers started to ask what happened next! It did finish in quite an open-ended way, but it wasn’t until people asked that I began to wonder myself. The problem was, of course, that I didn’t really know, and I didn’t feel I could write a sequel until I had an idea that was big enough to carry a whole other book. I’ve never written anything for the sake of it – I have to get my head and my heart engaged first, or I just wouldn’t see the point.

It took a few years, but eventually I hit on the idea of Acheron, the impossible computer game in A Cold Silence. The first book is about deals with the devil. How much easier would it be, if Faustian pact began to insinuate themselves into technology? And so Acheron puts the player into different scenarios, offering them whatever they desire, but there is a price to pay . . . one unique to each individual.

The novel is set some years after the first book. It’s essentially about the young boy, Ben, when he’s grown up, playing out the consequences of his seriously messed-up childhood. I guess that might disappoint some people, but I always knew, if I did a sequel, it would become his story; the tale has moved on, as I’ve moved on as a writer. Cass is still a presence, however, and each of the main characters has some part to play and a suitable ending to discover. I hopefully got there in the end, and did them justice, though of course that will be for readers to decide!

Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm

August 19, 2015 - 4:43 am No Comments

Edited by Stephen Jones
Illustrated by Alan Lee
Jo Fletcher Books
Page size: 409pp
Release Date: Summer 2014

With the inception of TV series Grimm, and the fascination with all things Grimm or Fairy Tale, it’s no surprise that there have been a plethora of fairy tales retold hitting the literary market. However, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, and this visually stunning hardback, which is surely intended to be a collector’s piece, manages just that.
Edited by genre stalwart Stephen Jones, featuring art work (each story/fairy tale is illustrated) by Alan Lee, this is a beautiful work of art. And to top it off, the writers list is simply a prize for any editor, and lover of dark fiction.
The tome starts with an introduction by Jones, which discusses the Grimm brothers, the oral tradition of folk tales and the dark nature of these stories, some of which are included in this horror anthology.
The book starts with ‘The Wilful Child’ which leads neatly into ‘Find My Name’ by Ramsey Campbell, an alternative Rumplestiltskin in which granny Doreen looks after young Benjamin, who talks about the dark man who visits him at night. The man who speaks to her through the baby monitor, demanding what he wants her to give him. Surreal and dark, this tale really is a twisted story, and the Rumplestiltskin of the story is thoroughly evil. When you read a Ramsey Campbell you know it deep within your bones; like a Barker, a King or a Jackson, there is a distinctive inimitable style to his work that leaves you uncomfortable yet strangely fulfilled. This is the stand out story of the anthology, along with ‘By the Weeping Gate’ by Angela Slatter.
Next up though in the running order worth mentioning is ‘Down to a Sunless Sea’ by Neil Gaiman of Neverwhere fame. Less than a few pages long, this simple, lyrical tale is fascinating and strangely compelling. I’ve obviously heard of Gaiman, as have many within the genre, and on this tale alone, his talent is obvious.
If time were on my side I could relate every story, spoil the plots for the reader and write the longest review in history. Not really a good idea, so this is just a taster.
Suffice to say, with the stunning illustrations, the original fairy tales and new versions of each by a brilliant selection of authors, this is one absolutely beautiful collection. A must have for any horror fan. This is Grim/m with a Capital G

The Unquiet House

September 4, 2014 - 2:28 pm No Comments

The Unquiet House
Author: Alison Littlewood
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Size/Page Count: 304pp
Release Date: 10 April 2014
Reviewer: Jason Kelly
Jason Kelly is an avid horror fan and prolific reader, of all genres, however, he particularly likes horror and crime. Jason has willingly taken on the task of reading horror for Terror Tree whilst Theresa is indisposed.

Alison Littlewood appeared on the horror scene in 2012 with A Cold Season (Ed – reviewed on this site). This was a first rate debut novel. That was followed by A Path of Needles. This book promised to deliver the goods and it sure as hell delivered the goods. This year we have just received The Unquiet House. This is by far Mrs Littlewood’s best book to date. This is much faster paced and creepier than the first two books. She has also to go back in time for various parts of this book.
The book starts with Emma Dean moving into a house that has been left to her by a family member that she has never met. Not long after the moving in the grandson of the former owner appears on the scene. Then we get lots of creepy happenings going on. I won’t say what happens, but believe me things start to get scary for the reader and for the main character. I would also like to say that the book is tense and creepy right from page one
In the second part of the book we jump back in time to 1973. Here we meet Frank, Sam and Mossy. We also see a bit more of the owner of Mire House. We get lots of strange happenings in this book. I think this part of the book is the creepiest part in all. We also get to see a certain person appearing at a window. Towards the end of the book an horrific crime is committed. The crime affects everybody that is involved with it, this even includes the victims
In part three of the book we go even further back in time. This part is set in 1939. In this section of the book we get to meet characters such as Aggie, Will, Mrs Hollingworth & Eddie. This section of the book is just as creepy as the first two parts. We have lots of mysterious goings on and other things that will make you jump. As with part two we have something nasty appear towards the end of this section.
In part four of the book we jump back into 2013. We meet up with Emma & Charlie again. Mysterious things are still happening in Mire House. But as we get near the end of the book everything gets revealed in a satisfying conclusion. The strings get slowly pulled together.
I personally would class this book as a ghost story rather than an outright horror novel. I also believe that with this book Alison Littlewood is moving into Ramsey Campbell territory.

4/5 stars