Posts Tagged ‘Sisters Are Doing It’

The Death House

March 31, 2015 - 12:31 pm No Comments

The Death House
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Gollancz
Release date: 26th February 2015
Page count: 286pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

No one ever comes back from the sanatorium. One day, Toby believes he will be the kid who vanishes from the house. The Death House. He was taken from his home and brought to the house where he now lives with the other boys, watched over by the Matron. He is there because the tests have proved that with him the Defective gene is active. The stability of Dorm 4 is interrupted by the arrival of new boy Tom. Tom nearly got there. He’s seventeen and a half and if it doesn’t happen by age eighteen it isn’t going to happen. The other arrival, unusually is a girl, Clara, who has captured the imagination of the other inmates.
Sitting in the dining room, Toby watches as Ellory sits sniffling, unable to eat. He knows they will come for Ellory tonight.
“Angels of death who only appear in the night to collect sleeping, sick children.”
As he watches, he sees another person awake, Clara, who has also not taken the ‘vitamins’ the children are forced to take at night. His nights are no longer his own.
This quite simply, is an amazing book. Fraught with tension, poignancy, humour and a strange aura of dystopia, The Death House is the most significant YA book to be released this century. Toby is full of anger, his narrative cold, yet emotional all the same as he tries no to remember the good times, the times before. And he’s boss of Dorm 4, determined to hold onto his position of power, protector of the younger boys and role model for them too. The new arrivals are messing with his new world order, the order he has had to accept since being thrown into a van, drugged, and dragged to the house. But strangely, amidst the fear, anger and power plays, there blooms a youthful, touching romance between Toby and Clara. Night-time co-conspirators. Yet Toby doesn’t want to hope for anything because it might just fracture him.
Set amidst the death, and the children’s fear that they too, will get sick, are delightfully innocent moments, such as when the group plays ‘Hide n Seek’ and the brewing relationship between Toby and Clara, which offsets the inherent darkness of this novel. And the touching moments as Clara and Toby try to save the sick bird they’ve found, who they name Georgie.
This is a powerful book; emotional and frightening with a killer ending. An absolute must read.

Agent of Hel Trilogy

January 16, 2015 - 1:06 pm No Comments

Agent of Hel
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc
Page count: 399
Release date: 2nd Oct 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

The inappropriately named Daisy Jo is an Agent of Hel; not Hell the place, but Hel the Norse goddess, who just happens to roam in her small home town of Pemkowet, Michigan. But Hel isn’t the only creature to reside in the town. Pemkowet attracts the tourists because of its eldritch society; werewolves, ghouls, vampires, naiads, fae. You name it, the town has it. And Daisy is perhaps the most infamous of the eldritch, because she is hell spawn; after a night of passion with demon/incubus Belphegor, her Mom conceives her and as well as having her Mom’s Scandinavian colouring, she had her Dad’s black eyes, as black as the pits of – well, you know, and a cute little tail. She also has the dubious honour of being able to bring about Armageddon if she lets loose with the Seven Deadly Sins and succumbs to her passions then claims her birthright. Luckily for Daisy, as well as working as a filing clerk for the police, she gets involved in cases where the eldritch community are involved and gets to investigate. But this time things are trickier than usual. Not only is she investigating an apparent accident by drowning that looks more like murder, but she’s been teamed up with sexy werewolf cop Cody Fairfax, the trigger behind many of her private fantasies.
Brimming with intrigue, sexual tension, humour and great characters, Dark Currents is a fantastic addition to an overwhelming amount of Urban Fantasy flocking the market. It’s difficult to stand out from the crowd in this genre, but Carey manages to do it. There is no questioning her innate talent, especially if you’ve had the chance to read her earlier fantasy novels in the Kushiel’s Legacy series. Carey’s world building is exemplary and she’s not afraid to mix and match her mythical creatures to great effect in this novel. On top of that, the chemistry between Cody and Daisy versus that of ghoul Stefan and Daisy is sizzling and Daisy is a cracking character. A truly enjoyable discovery.

Autumn Bones: Agent of Hel
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc
Page Count:433pp
Release Date: 1st Oct 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

After devouring the first Agent of Hel book, I was addicted and dived straight into the next one. It’s been around a month since the events in Dark Currents and Daisy is now dating Sinclair, the supernatural tour bus guide. In the middle of a relaxing Labor Day weekend, Daisy is called by sometime partner Cody to back him up at Rainbow End, a local gay club. Something strange is going on there; the air is redolent with the smell of sex and pheromones. And amidst the mayhem there’s an orgy going on. At the centre of it is a member of the eldritch community, a satyr deep in rut. Unsure what the hell is going on, Daisy calls in ghoul Stefan to help draw the emotions away.
After the event, Daisy consummated her relationship with Sinclair, but is disturbed to find out his Mom is an Obeah woman, a magic user darker than Voodoo. He also doesn’t bother to tell her he has a twin sister, which Daisy finds out when Emmeline turns up unannounced, threatening Daisy and insisting she dump Sinclair so he can return to his native Jamaica. At the same time, an out of town investor is buying up river front pieces of property setting off alarm bells for Daisy.
After another rollicking adventure with Daisy and the Scooby gang, I am again convinced that this is one of the best Urban Fantasy series out there. Tension, fighting, magic and mayhem, this has everything.

Poison Fruit
Author Jaqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc
Page Count:441pp
Release date: 7th Oct 2014
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

It’s November in the eldritch town of Pemkowet. It’s been a month since Daisy had mind blowing sex with werewolf Cody Fairfax and now he wants to talk. Despite having feelings for her, Daisy isn’t a suitable mate for him, because he needs to breed with a werewolf. It’s his duty to his clan. After a drunken night of girly time and self pity with best buddy Jen, Daisy is tempted to see what could happen with sexy Outcast Stefan. Which is pretty bad timing because he has to go on a mission to Poland.
Back at work at the police station, a man is there to report an intruder; a skeletal old woman with red eyes throttling him and sucking his breath away. Carrying on from the previous novel, Daisy has Lee investigating the mysterious backer buying up local properties. The lawyer organising it all is hell spawn, like Daisy.
As always, this episode of the Age t of Hel, is immense fun. The bogle Daisy meets is an incredibly fun character that I hope to see again.
This installment is rife with emotion and tension, as Daisy reflects on the horror of war, meeting and helping a veteran of Iraq and also meeting an Putcast who survived the Gestapo in Poland. Carey is very clear on her stance with this.
I got the feeling after the tumultuous events in this third novel, that things are coming to a head. Carey will either have to come up with a completely new angle it end the series here, which would be a shame. It’s bloody good stuff!

Orbit Urban Fantasy Trio

October 9, 2014 - 6:28 pm No Comments

Cursed Moon

Author: Jaye Wells
Release Date: Sept 14
Publisher: Orbit
Page count:
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Described as The Wire with wizards, Cursed Moon is the second book in the Kate Prosperous series, and only two books in, author Jaye Wells proves she is an Urban Fantasy force to be reckoned with.
Kate Prosperous is a cop and a magic user, but unlike most magic users, Kate is ‘off’ the magic; she is recovering AA (Arcane Anonymous) member who hasn’t used magic for ten years. Or at least that’s what her sponsor and her team believe, because Kate was forced to ‘cook’ a spell in the first book of this series in order to save her little brother, whom she is now sole carer for. With a complex history including a problem ex, spelling abuse and the death of her parents, and now the new moon, or the ‘cursed moon’ is coming to her town of Babylon, causing all sorts of disruption and mayhem; sex potions thrown about by Leprechauns, temples being robbed and murder.
This was my first experience of Wells’ fiction, and wow, what an introduction! Her narrative virtually leaps off the page; Prosperous is an engaging, and real heroine, the humour is rife within the text and the action doesn’t stop. Wells is also very respectful towards her transgender characters and the subject of addiction, which is prevalent throughout this novel. A cracking new Urban Fantasy series. I can’t wait to read more.

The Ripper Affair
Bannon and Clare Book 3
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Publisher: Orbit
Page count:
Release date: 19th Aug 14
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Debuting in The Iron Wyrm Affair two years ago, Emma Bannon and Archibald Clare are
the ‘Sapphire and Steel’ of Steampunk; intrepid adventurers, explorers and investigators who rely on each other in extreme circumstances to fight for Queen, country and the ‘good’. In their third adventure, things literally start with a bang, as mentath Clare is the only survivor of a court explosion, where he loses assassin and companion Ludovico, shattering his confidence and logic. Equally moved by the event, sorceress Emma Bannon takes Clare under her wing in an attempt to return his stability. But they aren’t given time to sit on their laurels and rest, for Londinium (an alternate historical London) is in danger. There is a violent serial killer lurking in Whitechapel and their Queen, Victrix, needs them to put aside all fear, doubt and anger and help her hunt down the killer. But Clare has been through much; following the events of The Red Plague Affair, the second novel, he is a changed man now immortal, and Bannon has moved heaven and earth to ensure his safety. But how can he deal with the changes she has wrought on him?
Delivering a delightfully original Steampunk universe, Saintcrow has created a duo to equal that of Holmes and Watson, Challenger and Roxborough, or a nineteenth century Mulder and Scully. Bannon is supported in her endeavours by her ‘Shield’ Mikal, who has an unswerving loyalty and love for her. As well as Mikal, Bannon has a number of diverse ‘souls’ in her employ, and she feels honour bound to protect them all.
To the best of my knowledge, Saintcrow isn’t English, yet her recreation of a Victorian alternative England feels very authentic, with dingy, fogged streets, an overwhelming stench and poppy dens.

Night Broken
Author: Patricia Briggs
Release Date: Sept 14
Page Count: 341pp
Publisher: Orbit
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Number eight in the ever popular Mercy Thompson/Hauptman Urban Fantasy series, Night Broken takes mechanic, coyote shifter and wife of local werewolf Alpha Adam, to much darker territory. Adam’s ex wife Christy and mother to their daughter Jesse, has been in veritable pan in the ass for Mercy for quite some time, but she becomes even more if a pain when she phones her ex husband in the middle of the night begging for help. Christy has a stalker, handsome one night stand Juan Flores, who just won’t take no for an answer and sets fire to her apartment complex.
Christy has a way of manipulating people, making them desperate to protect her, so it isn’t long before she’s ensconced in the Hauptmann household, the werewolf pack at her beck and call, as she hides away from her dangerous stalker. If that wasn’t bad enough, Mercy is called upon by cop Tony to help investigate a number of brutal ritualistic murders of blonde women; women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Christy.
Sassy and strong, Mercy has retained her status as a powerful pack member and independent woman throughout this series. Briggs’ dialogue is sharp and witty, Mercy is a fully realised character and the other characters within the novel are equally well drawn. Christy is crafty in her attempts to win back her ex husband, Mercy’s half brother Gary Laughingdog is enigmatic and funny, the father/deity Coyote is mysterious and threatening, and the whole cast is more enjoyable through its sheer diversity. After all, Mercy herself is mixed race as well as being mixed species, Gary is similarily blessed, Tad is part fae, and Warren is a gay werewolf. And Briggs doesn’t shy away from exploring the hatred such diversity can engender. On top of that, her books are wonderfully entertaining, fast pased, emotional and fun.
Whilst I love the whole series however, Night Broken does flag in the middle a little but this does not detract from another satisfying addition to the series, with a cracking battle or two. Overall, I got a lot from this book, as I always do with Mercy, who is both a woman and a character I can relate to. I thoroughly look forward to Shirting Shadows, the new collection of Mercy stories coming this month from Orbit.

The Darkness Within

March 14, 2014 - 6:22 pm No Comments

The Darkness Within: Final Cut
Author: Sam Stone
Publisher: Telos Publishing Ltd
Size: 136 pp
Release Date: 27th Jan 14
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

First published as an audio book, this 2014 is an extended edition, which, according to author Sam Stone contains more gruesome and graphic elements. In the introduction to this edition, Stone relays how the concept of ‘Zombies on a spaceship’ grew into this short novel an expanded version of the novella The Darkness within.
Madison Whitehawk is Chief Engineer on board the ship freedom bound for New Earth and has Native American heritage. Looking out at the planets thinking about the fact that Earth would die soon and humanity had played a big part in making it happen, Madison is reflective. The colonists on board had all been chosen for their DNA, intelligence and ability to breed. First Officer Simon Chrichton calls Madison to his office to talk about the problems with equipment, but can’t help the simmering tension he feels when he sees her at the memory of a kiss they’ve once shared. But will it lead anywhere? For all of the colonists and crew on board, the expectation is that they will form a pairing and mate to ensure the future of the colony. For Syra Connor, her pairing with Ben Walsh is not ideal, but compared to living in her London ghetto it’s a preferable choice. Priddy the engineer has a problem with the colonists; their higher status, nicer quarters, and for some, their arrogance. After the initial set up where quite a bit of the background and some key players are introduced, the action switches to a year later. Joe Banks is outside the ship taking rock samples to see if anything might be harmful to the colonists. The glittering piece of ore leads to unexpected danger for the ship, its crew and passengers.

Part SF, part horror, although this territory has been done before, Stone’s exploration of the male and female relationships and transference of power is interesting here. Syra is initially trapped in her pairing with a man she doesn’t like to be around and who treats her like his property, but she accepts it to begin with because it is better than the life she had. As for the zombies, they aren’t zombies in the traditional sense but are more zombie-like than anything. There is definitely a virus loose on board the ship that starts with Banks, and when things start to kick off, Stone relishes in her descriptions bringing the gross and sickening action to a head. There is a certain feeling of claustrophobia about the text. Though generally confident and a strong character, Madison wears her overalls almost like a suit of armour, or camouflage to protect her and rebuild her confidence when things start getting hairy. It’s also refreshing that the characters are not all white, middle class.
There are list of ‘eew’ moments here! I do believe this is the darkest thing Sam Stone has written. A good solid, visceral dose of SF horror.

Andromeda One Programme

August 12, 2013 - 9:56 pm No Comments

Hi

At last I can present a draft programme for our one day SFF/Horror con on Sat 21st September.

As well as lots of exciting panels/klatches & workshops, we are taking bookings for an Urban Fantasy Walk of Digbeth, Birmingham on Friday 20th September 17:30pm and Sat 21st September 19:30pm. Tickets are £8.00 for an hour walk but including a free guide book to Digbeth including a collection of short stories by local writers telling local urban legends to spook you out. Proceeds go to our sister company Beorma Care CIC, a company set up to support writers and artists with care responsibility & disability issues. Our website will be live soon.

Book your place on the walk now via email at theresa.derwin@yahoo.co.uk.

Payment can be made via paypal at fringewrks@gmail.com or by cash on the day.

Our programme is subject to change, but here it is! We have lots of guests who have yet to select panels they wish to take part in.

Andromeda One Draft Programme