Posts Tagged ‘Titan Books’

ANNO DRACULA 1899 AND OTHER STORIES by Kim Newman. Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

October 21, 2018 - 9:47 pm No Comments

ANNO DRACULA 1899 AND OTHER STORIES by Kim Newman. Titan Books, London, UK. £7.99 paperback. 369 pages. ISBN: 9781781165706
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

Many of the stories in this volume will show up the divide between the old guard of SF/Fantasy/horror readers and the younger generation. Kim Newman is very knowledgeable about films, particularly early ones in the horror genre. Many of his stories reference these.
This particular volume collects eighteen stories, originally published between 1988 and 2015, and the opening of his next novel. Some of these relate to the creations of other writers and are written in an accessible narrative style that reflects the Victorian era when a number of these originate. When you begin to read, make sure your sense of fun is turned up to maximum as Newman has certainly had fun creating many of the stories.
‘Famous Monsters’ is narrated by the off-spring of one of the Martians left behind after the War of the Worlds and relates his career as a film star. ‘Illimitable Dominion’ is also set against the background of the movies, in this case the company starts out making a film based on an Edgar Allan Poe story which is the start of a plague as the who industry becomes haunted by Poe references. The Poe in ‘Just Like Eddy’ is complaining that too many publishers are spelling his name wrong. ‘A Drug On The Market’ follows up the research Dr Jekyll did in creating his elixir, refining the recipe with the intention of making a mass market tonic. The problem is that the effects are addictive. There is always a question as to what happens to ‘monsters’ when they grow old. In ‘The Chill Clutch Of The Unseen’ it is an elderly invisible man who is in search of a last resting place.
Legendary characters turn up, years after they should have died. In ‘Red Jacks Wild’, the persona who was Jack the Ripper is rather miffed because, someone else is killing in a potential hunting ground (six tributes every three years is what Hecate has decreed for him to keep his youth). He is prepared to co-operate with the police to find this killer. The link between them is comics. A knowledge of the characters from various comics play important parts in ‘Übermensch!’ and ‘Coastal City’. In the former, the baby that became Superman landed in the forests of Bavaria and the superhero became a saviour in Germany. In the latter, what was New York has become the home of many superheroes and an attraction for supervillains.
‘The Snow Sculptures Of Xanadu’ and ‘Une Étrange Aventure De Richard Blaine’ delve into the world of film. The former relates to Citizen Kane and a certain Mr Welles visits Kane’s home of Xanadu to see the snow sculptures that haunt the building. The latter references Casablanca but is an earlier episode in the life of Rick Blaine who is coerced by the Germans to help hunt down legendary figures from Paris’s past. They are the soul of the city and the Nazi’s can only truly occupy the city when they have gone.
A few of the stories here are more traditional horror stories, in that film and comic references are kept to a minimum. ‘One Hit Wanda’ is the story of the only song that fans of
the Vanity Brothers want to hear so their stage set consists of playing it over and over again. In ‘The Intervention’ Keith does not admit to having any problems. This is unacceptable to everyone else so he needs to have the situation corrected. ‘Is There Anybody There?’ is a delightful story highlighting the consequences of being an internet predator. It is coincidence that Boyd lives in the same house as a deceased medium. Irene Dobson is the one who first realises that her ‘spirit guide’ is from the future and she takes advantage of Boyd’s knowledge.
Usually, when spirit worlds are in juxtaposition and crossover can occur, the perspective is from the contemporary side of the ‘veil’, but we are ‘The Pale Spirit People’ whose artefacts have disastrous consequences to the tribe that finds them.
There are two scripts within this volume. ‘Sarah Minds The Dog’ is an audio play in which the house/dog/teenager-sitter has the problem of dealing with the deceased dog, a beloved pet. While the start of it may be a kind of urban myth, it quickly descends into black humour. ‘Frankenstein On Ice’ relates the events after the Monster is unearthed and unfrozen in the Arctic wastes.
Along with Mary Shelley’s creation, other monsters are available. For those who like zombie apocalypses, ‘Amerikanski Dead At The Moscow Morgue’ will satisfy need for a short time. Blaming the plague of the West, the Amerikanski are the zombies which are rounded up, killed and taken to the morgue for examination. One of the researchers wants a live one, the director is remodelling a skull reputed to be Rasputin, and all the zombies start queueing up outside the building.
The volume ends with the opening segment of Yokai Town: Anno Dracula 1899,
Newman’s next novel involving vampires as a group of them seek refuge in Japan. It is a taster of what is to come.
Kim Newman is a skilled story teller and there is a lot to like in this volume. Recommended.

WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones. Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

October 21, 2018 - 9:43 pm No Comments

WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones. Titan Books, London, UK. £7.99 paperback. 508 pages. ISBN: 9781785655449
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

Folk tales and fairy tales have long held a place in popular culture. They were the stories told around fires on dark cold nights. Some contained hidden messages, especially for young girls, others were just to delight and rouse the audience. As many were not written down, it is often difficult to decide when the tale was created. These stories have been a source of inspiration for modern writers such as Angela Carter. The best of these adaptations take the heart of the story and reconfigure it for the modern reader. Others, less successfully, merely retell the tale.
In 1859, Christina Rossetti composed a poem called the Goblin Market. The elements within it were likely culled from earlier stories. S. Jae-Jones has taken the essence of Rossetti’s poem for Wintersong. It tells the story of the sisters Kathe and Liesl. Kathe, the younger, is wilful and feels that the world revolves around her. Liesl is the more practical of the two. They have a brother, Josef, who is a talented musician. At a time when women were not expected to have accomplishments, Liesl would compose scores for him. As the time approaches for Josef to perform for a master who their father hopes will take him on as an apprentice, the sisters head into the local town to collect a repaired bow for Josef to use. It is market day. While Liesl knows the danger of tasting the fruit the goblin men tempt them with, Kathe ignores her sister’s warnings. As a result, she will be claimed by the Goblin King as his bride. Unless Liesl can find a way to free her sister, this is a death sentence.
The setting for this story is unspecified. It is sometime in the past, in mid-Europe in a rural community. This makes it slippery, not knowing the context of the events. A hundred years after Rossetti’s poem was written, various critics have tried to analyse it, putting interpretations of it that may or may not have been there. Some suggest it is an exposition against Victorian marriage practices, others that it was an early feminist tract. Whatever the truth, Jae-Jones has missed the opportunity to lace her story with hidden meanings. True, Liesl is denied the opportunity to compose and play in her own right as this was regarded as a male preserve but this is not a startling observation.
If the reader is looking for a retelling of The Goblin Market, then they will be satisfied with this book. I would have liked to see more layers to the events.

Blog Tour for In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

October 12, 2018 - 4:15 am No Comments

Its my turn on the blog tour, so here is my review for this thriller.

In Her Bones by Kate Moretti
Published by Titan Publishing on 2nd October 2018
321 pages

Edie Beckett had a secret that not many people knew about. She worked for the city, was a recovering alcoholic, oh yeah, her mom was a serial killer. Whilst she did not want people to know about her mom, she had an unhealthy fascination with the families of her mom’s victims. You could say she was a stalker, but it all goes wrong when one of the family members is murdered and she is number 1 suspect. Can you find out the truth before she gets arrested?
Edie was damaged goods, she kept herself to herself and would not let anyone get close to her. The closes she got to friends was Detective Gil Brandt, the police officer in charge of capturing her mom who kept a close eye on her and Tim, her neighbour who wanted more than friendship. Her only family was her brother Dylan, although married with a child, he was barely living, and you could see the mental damaged caused by his mom.
As the story progress you get to find out more about Lilith life and crimes thanks to extracts from The Serrated Edge an unofficial biography of Lilith Wade. However, Edie’s childhood was shown as memories and soon becomes clear why Edie was apprehensive about having a life.
Whilst there was a lot of history in the book, the story never got confusing. This was a steady read, however I though at times it was a bit drawn out and I wanted Edie to get on with solving the crime. There was enough twists and red herrings to keep me guessing right up to the end, and I can honestly say I did not have a clue who did the murder.
The topic of mental health was written with sensitively and one scene jumped out at me when in The Serrated Edge extract the psychiatrist mentioned that whilst she had bipolar this was not the reason she was a murder, it was because she was a psychopath. This shows just how much more of an understanding we have with mental health.
There are a lot of thrillers on the market and as a reader of thrillers, I get bored when the storylines are similar. However, I can say that this had a unique storyline.
This was first book I have read by this author and for a thriller it ticked all the boxes.

Wychwood by George Mann

September 28, 2018 - 9:08 pm No Comments

Wychwood by George Mann
Published by Titan Books on 12th September 2017
400 pages

When Elspeth (Ellie) broke up with her boyfriend and lost her job, she needed a plan. Having to move back with her mom in Wilsby-under-Wychwood, an idea is formed when the surrounding woods are cornered off. When a body is found with similarities to a local myth, she thinks she has found her big story.
Elspeth was a likeable character, whilst she was upset with her break up, she did not mope around, and I did not have spend time reading about her constantly crying. Her fascination with myths and legends and her meeting up with her old school friend Peter, a DS in the police force, enabled her to assist the police with their enquiries. Whilst it is unusual for a civilian to go out investigations, it is not unheard off. As a journalist she needed good investigational skills, and this came across when she was digging for a connection between the victims. Some of the other characters were a bit stereotypical, the tortured actor and the doting agony aunt, but I loved this as you can imagine them living in a small village. As for Dorothy her mom, she was just like any mom whose daughter had been away for a few years, doting and feeding her up.
With the local myth the Carrion King playing a big part in the story allowed the author to tell its story and add a fantasy element to the book. However, when Elspeth digs up some history on one of the victims, another mystery comes to light.
Whilst not everything was explained and let’s face it, we can’t explain everything. This was a good read, the pace flowed steadily and before I knew I had finished the story. The twists through out kept me guessing and when the murderer was revealed, it all made sense.
Whilst this is the first book I have read by this author I am off to read Hallowdene, the next book in the series.

Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro

September 17, 2017 - 4:05 pm No Comments

The Usual Sacrifices (Supernatural 15)
Author: Yvonne Navarro
Publisher: Titan Books
Page count: 336pp
Release date: 27th June 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Online: @TitanBooks, #SPNFamily, @YvonneNavarro
TV Bit: Season 10 (Mark of Cain) between ‘The Hunter Games’ and ‘Halt & Catch Fire’

 

Right, for those who haven’t watched TV series Supernatural here’s a brief 30 Sci day update.
Sam and Dean, twenty-something year old brothers, lose their Mom when Sam, the youngest, is 6 months old. A yellow eyed de,on burns her on the ceiling and John Winchester, dad to Sam and Dean, husband to Mary, spends his life as a hunter training the boys to hunt all kinds of supernatural creatures; vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, ghosts; you name it they hunt it. Season 9, Dean hook on the Mark of Cain; basically to save his brother but it causes intense rage and anger. He still has this in S10. So, in this book, Dean is a volcano of emotions about to explode and Navarro manages to weave this thread into the narrative. We can sense Dean’s frustration and attempts to not beat the crap out of people, particularly the Sherriff’s department.
Now for this book itself. It starts with the boys, always the boys, heading off to investigate a new case involving multiple disappearances in Mammoth Cave.
As Lucy the Southern woman they meet points out, as they enter the town with missing people, the Bronwsdale folks aren’t exactly friendly and seem to have forgotten the meaning of ‘southern hospitality’. As the boys pull into a grocery store parking lot to ask a local woman for information she literally runs away yelling “I don’t talk to strangers.”
Just slightly jumpy then.
When they go to the local diner for food, it’s a little like the Slaughtered Lamb in American Werewolf in London; hushed voices and stares, though the diner scene allows for Navarro to show us a familiar characteristic of Dean (his humongous appetite) especially for all things bad for him. The scene is particularly funny. It’s a great opener to get to know the brothers.
It’s here that we get a feel for what might be going on, just like the brothers do.
There have been disappearances – mostly travellers, hitch hikers; strangers.
According to one local, the Mammoth Caves take their due. When two visiting teenage girls related to the new librarian disappear the sheriff and the locals don’t seem to be doing anything to find them.
As Sam puts it; “It’s all pretty and small-town America on the surface, but there’s something really nasty underneath.”
Cinnamon, the local psychic, is a great character. I love when the boys get discombobulated by another person during an investigation- especially when it’s a five foot nothing old woman in a polka dot dress.
The story itself follows the detective/mystery route, but it’s the characters, and the darkness hiding beneath a ‘Pleasantville’ veneer in the town, which makes the book so engaging. As for the dark, this is literally visualised in the caves and caverns that various people, including the boys, explore.
They reflect the darkness hidden by the townspeople and the sheriff, with scenes in the Mammoth Caves pretty creepy and atmospheric.
It’s clear from this book that Titan only commission Supernatural tie-ins from writers who know and love the universe. Sam and Dean are pretty much spot-on and the end scenes with the denouement, as referenced by Navarro, is almost like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine in parts. You’ll figure out why when you read it.
I loved this book.
It’s a great to whet your appetite in the current season break behind S13 returns 12th Oct.
Awesome, as Dean might say.