Posted in 2021, Clive Barker, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Prime Reading, Top Books

Everville by @RealCliveBarker

On the borderland between this world and the world of Quiddity, the sea of our dreams, sits Everville. For years it has lived in ignorance of the gleaming shore on which it lies. But its ignorance is not bliss.

On a mountain peak, high above the city of Everville, a door stands open onto the shores of the dream-sea Quiddity. And there’s not a soul below who’ll not be changed by that fact… Phoboe Cobb, once a doctor’s receptionist, is about to forget her old life and go looking for her lost lover Joe Flicker in the strange, sensual wonderland on the other side of that door. Tesla Bombeck, who knows what horrors lurk on the far side of Quiddity, must solve the mysteries of the city’s past if she is to keep those horrors from crossing the threshold. Harry D’Amour, who has traced the ultimate evil across America, will find it conjuring atrocities in the sunlit streets of Everville.

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It was hope undid them.

1

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(@HarperCollinsUK, 24 June 2020, ebook, 707 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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Barker is one of my favourite writers and I still have a lot of his back catalogue to read. I loved the first book of the art, The Great and Secret Show which I read years ago. I hope he finally finishes the final book in the trilogy. If you’ve read any of Barker’s work you’ll know what to expect – dark, twisted, disturbing, and intense, a blend of fantasy and horror and other stuff that you don’t know what to name. I loved every word of Everville.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, library book, molly ringle, Novel

Lava Red Feather Blue by @mollyringle

On the north Pacific island of Eidolonia, hidden from the world by enchantments, Prince Larkin has lain in a magical sleep since 1799 as one side of a truce between humans and fae. That is, until Merrick Highvalley, a modern-day witch discovers an old box of magic charms and cryptic notes hidden inside a garden statue.

Experimenting with the charms, Merrick finds himself inside the bower where Larkin lies, and accidentally awakens him. Worse still, releasing Larkin from the spell also releases Ula Kana, a faery bent on eradicating humans from the island. With the truce collapsing and hostilities escalating throughout the country, Merrick and Larkin form an unlikely alliance and become even unlikelier heroes as they flee into the perilous fae realm on a quest to stop Ula Kana and restore harmony to their island.

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LARKIN STOOD IN THE PLAZA, FACING THE mist-cloaked hills to the northeast.

CHAPTER 1, DASDEMIR, EIDOLONIA, 1799)

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(@unbounders, 5 January 2021, ebook, 354 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @ @Borrowbox)

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This is a new author for me. I love Fantasy and this blurb made Lava Red Feather Blue sound like something I’d really enjoy. It sounded like such an original, interesting read. I had a great time with this book. I loved the world building. The author does a great job of bringing the place and characters to life. I was hooked after only a couple of pages. I loved the way the relationship between Larkin and Merrick develops. I also loved Ula, she’s delightfully evil.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman

The Sandman Volume 3: Dream Country by @neilhimself

One of the most popular and critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time, Neil Gaiman’s award-winning masterpiece The Sandman set the standard for mature, lyrical fantasy in the modern comics era. Illustrated by an exemplary selection of the medium’s most gifted artists, the series is a rich blend of modern and ancient mythology in which contemporary fiction, historical drama, and legend are seamlessly interwoven.  

Four unique episodes form the tapestry of Dream Country: “Calliope,” “A Dream of a Thousand Cats,” “Façade,” and the acclaimed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—the only comic book story ever to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. Also included is Gaiman’s original script for “Calliope,” with annotations from both the writer and the artist. Collects The Sandman #17-20.

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I don’t have any idea.

PROLOGUE

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(@vertigo_comics, 18 December 2018, ebook, 158 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I really enjoyed Dream Country. I’ve become a massive fan of The Sandman and can see what all the fuss is about. This is a bit shorter than the previous volumes which disappointed me because I got lost in the book and didn’t want it to end so was disappointed when I turned the page to find the original script for Calliope. I wanted more. I thought Calliope was the best episode in this volume, by far, very dark at times, a real delight. I also discovered a much easier way to read the book on my kindle rather than peering at quite small text. Yeah me! I look forward to volume four.

Posted in 2021, Claire McKenna, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, Steampunk

Deepwater King by @mckenna_claire

The sensational follow up to MONSTROUS HEART, a magical tale of intrigue on dark waters and a love story for the ages. The perfect gothic, gaslamp fantasy – ideal for fans of V.E. Schwab and China Mieville.

Since losing her great love to the Queen of the Sainted Isles, Arden must fulfil an impossible promise before she can return home – she must complete the dangerous Rite that will return Jonah’s spirit to the abyssal Court of the Deepwater King.

This sets her off on a journey far out at sea to find believers of the old religion on the oil-slick and mysterious islands beyond the horizon. But such a responsibility will not come without sacrifice, for the Deepwater folk who worship the King require the most desperate payments the soul, and with one man Arden may have to pay the greatest price of all…

Astonishingly original, with world-building to rival the depths of the ocean, McKenna has drawn a rich tale of longing and courage – penning the perfect oceanic steampunk fantasy.

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The history goes like this.

THE SAINT OF THE ISLANDS

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(@HarperVoyagerUK, 24 June 2021, ebook, 352 pages, copy from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I loved the first book, Monstrous Heart and couldn’t wait to read this next volume and now I look forward to the conclusion of the trilogy. Deepwater King picks up not long after the first book ends with Arden determined to perform the ritual to return Jonah’s spit to the court of his Deepwater King. After what happened in the first book it doesn’t take a genius to realise it’s not going to be as simple as that with so many forces aligned against Arden not least his wife Bellis, gone mad with power determined to bring the whole world to it’s knees before her or Jonah’s cousin, the only person Bellis fears. I loved the impressive world building in the book which carries on from the first book. I had a great time with this book.  

Posted in 2021, Bolu Babalola, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, Myth Retelling, Short Fiction

Love in Colour by @BeeBabs

Bolu Babalola finds the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and rewrites them with incredible new detail and vivacity in this debut collection. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines iconic Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from countries that no longer exist in our world.

A high-born Nigerian goddess feels beaten down and unappreciated by her gregarious lover and longs to be truly seen.

A young businesswoman attempts to make a great leap in her company, and an even greater one in her love life.

A powerful Ghanaian spokeswoman is forced to decide whether to uphold her family’s politics, or to be true to her heart.

Whether captured in the passion of love at first sight, or realising that self-love takes precedent over the latter, the characters in these vibrant stories try to navigate this most complex human emotion and understand why it holds them hostage.

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OSUN WAS USED TO BEING LOOKED AT.

OSUN

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(@headlinepg, 20 August 2020, ebook, 219 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I didn’t enjoy these stories as much as I expected to after reading so many rave reviews. I had high expectations for Love In Colour but the book fell a little short for me. I love re-telling’s and different versions of popular myths as well as using old, well told stories as the base for something new. That said, the stories in this collection are all well-written and entertaining. I enjoyed them but I expected something really special and didn’t exactly get that. The stories were a little too modern at times with many focused around social media platforms so they were very similar at times.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman

The Sandman Volume 2: The Doll’s House by @neilhimself

The second instalment of Neil Gaiman’s seminal series, THE SANDMAN VOL. 2: THE DOLL’S HOUSE, celebrates its 30th anniversary with all all-new edition!

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

During Morpheus’s incarceration, three dreams escaped the Dreaming and are now loose in the waking world. At the same time, a young woman named Rose Walker is searching for her little brother. As their stories converge, a vortex is discovered that could destroy all dreamers, and the world itself.

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There are tales that are told many times.

PROLOGUE

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(@vertigo_comics, 20 November 2018, ebook, 224 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I enjoyed this even more than the first volume and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I get why people rave about The Sandman so much. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels but may need to read more in future if the standing and quality is anything like this. This would be fantastic to read in hardback as the kindle version was a little clunky to read at times and I had to mess around with the page view and setting a couple of times. More characters are introduced in this volume and I look forward to seeing how they develop. I thought this was great.  

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Joanne Harris, Short Fiction

Honeycomb by @Joannechocolat

Long ago and far away,

Far away and long ago,

The World was honeycomb, we know,

The Worlds were honeycomb.


The beauty of stories is that you never know where they will take you. Full of dreams and nightmares, Honeycomb is an entrancing mosaic novel of original fairy tales from bestselling author Joanne M. Harris and legendary artist Charles Vess in a collaboration that’s been years in the making. Dark, gripping, and brilliantly imaginative, these magical tales will soon have you in their thrall.

Each original tale is a small piece of the larger picture – a clue or a message, a theme, or a warning – interwoven with the tale of the Lacewing King as he travels the Worlds and encounters a multitude of characters: a toymaker who wants to create the perfect wife; a princess whose heart is won by words, not actions; a tiny dog whose confidence far outweighs his size; and the vengeful Spider Queen, and deadly Harlequin . . .

Turn the page and be swept up in the adventure.

Perfect for fans of Sandman, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s EyePiranesi and The Midnight Library, this tour de force is a beautiful achievement, from two exceptional creators at the top of their game.

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When the Nine Worlds were still very young, there were no stories.

NECTAR

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(@Gollancz, 3 June 2021, ebook, 384 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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This is one of my favourite writers. I couldn’t wait to read Honeycomb. This is collection of linked fairy stories, both light and dark and you need to read each one to understand the themes, links and nuances that connect all of the stories. They are not complete without each other and lead into each other, blend and change each other to make a whole picture. The stories touch on ideas of Norse Mythology explored in other books by the author with references to the Nine Worlds and other creatures. I really enjoyed all of the stories especially uncovering the links between them. This is an impressive collection.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Fantasy Fiction, historical fiction, Myth Retelling, NetGalley, Novel, Pat Barker

#TheWomenofTroy by Pat Barker

Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths.

‘Taut, masterly, wholly absorbing. Still one of the greatest stories ever written. A book that will be read in generations to come’ Daily Telegraph on The Silence of the Girls

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Trojan king Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Amidst her squabbling captors, Briseis — now married to Alcimus, but carrying the child of the late Achilles — must forge alliances where she can: with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, and with wild-eyed Cassandra, the unheeded seer. And so begins the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…

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Inside the horse’s gut: heat, darkness, sweat, fear.

1

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(Hamish Hamilton, 26 August 2021, 320 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I loved The Silence of the Girls and couldn’t wait to read this. I love myth retellings, especially Greek ones so this book was guaranteed to be a treat. I’ve read other books that focus on the Trojan war and the aftermath but none quite like this which is told from the viewpoint of women when most I’ve read have been about the men. I also haven’t read a book which imagines what happened after the Trojan War so I enjoyed this aspect. I loved the way the author explores the complex relationships between men, women, Greeks and the people of Troy. This is a corker.

Posted in 2021, Fantasy Fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, Novel, Rosie Garland

The Palace of Curiosities by @rosieauthor

A luminous and bewitching debut novel that is perfect for fans of Angela Carter. Set in Victorian London, it follows the fortunes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the Flayed Man. A magical realism delight.

Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and settles down to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps…and when Eve is born, the story goes, she didn’t cry – she meowed and licked her paws.

When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste?

Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They will become The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner’s Palace of Curiosities. And there begins a journey that will entwine their fates forever.

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Before I am born, my mother goes to the circus.

EVE, LONDON, NOVEMBER 1831

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(@BoroughPress, 28 March 2013, ebook, 337 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I’ve read and loved other work by the author though this is the first book I actually bought. It won the Mslexia Novel Compensation before it was released and I read and loved the extract published in the magazine when it had the working title, The Beast In All Her Loveliness. I’ve read other books that deal with similar themes and ideas such as circus and freak shows though not one written with such beauty and tenderness and never from the viewpoint of the shows or exhibits in such places. The chapters alternate from the viewpoint of Eve, the Lion-Faced-Girl and Abel, The Flayed Man who seems to be immortal and feels no pain even when his skin is almost stripped clean away and heals no matter how many wounds are inflicted. The connection between them forces Eve to face the harsh reality of her ’marriage’ to Mr Arroner and her true role in his show. This is a beautiful book.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, Genevieve Gornichec, NetGalley, Novel, Top Books

#TheWitchsHeart by @gengornichec

Angrboda’s story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him—and any of his kind—grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family—or rise to remake it.

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Long ago, when the gods were young and Asgard was new, there came a witch from the edge of the worlds.

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(@TitanBooks, 4 May 2021, 342 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I knew I had to read The Witch’s Heart when I read the premise. I’m a huge fan of Norse Mythology and have read a lot of retelling’s and alternative versions. Loki is my favourite characters. The Witch’s Heart touches on events I’ve read in other books but from a completely different perspective, that of Loki’s giantess mistress and the mother of the monsters who will set the end of the world in motion. I couldn’t wait to see where the author went with the story. I really loved this. Angrboda and her monstrous offspring are humanised in the book and I felt empathy for them and their plight against the arrogance of the God’s, specially Odin. I thought this was amazing.