Our recommended books of the month. Page 2.

Every month a book comes along that is just that little bit special, a book that stands head and shoulders above the others that have been read and reviewed. This book becomes our Book of the Month and below can be seen the winners since the award began in June 2009.

Twelve Kings

by Bradley Beaulieu

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she's never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha'ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It's the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother. As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools - they've ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she's ready to face them once and for all.

"Bradley Beaulieu has written a beautiful novel that is intricately detailed without ever feeling overly complicated. The characters, of which there are many, are well written and their lives feel whole, even the characters who may only be seen in a chapter or two. Each character is given a role that will further Çeda and Emre's story. There is a rich mythology flowing through the story and I really enjoyed the history of the Twelve Kings and how, even they are not as harmonious as you would imagine. This is a story that shows how important the narrative you tell will affect your own standing in the world."

12+
10/10

The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats

by Mark Hodder

Sir Richard Francis Burton's expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it should. However, when one of his colleagues turns rogue, the secret falls into the hands of the very people most likely to misuse it. Betrayed, Burton and Swinburne watch in horror as the Empire's elite employ the technology to secure their positions of privilege. When London's parks are transformed into concentration camps, artists and philosophers are declared enemies of the State, and propaganda proliferates, the king's agent finds himself on the wrong side of—the king! Can Burton and his band of hunted revolutionaries overthrow an apparently indestructible and immortal autocrat ... and if so, at what personal cost?

"This book provides a triumphant ending to the series. I remain hopeful that we will see the adventures of the unlikely heroes again in some form or another."

15+
9/10

Stranger of Tempest

by Tom Lloyd

Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. It might never bring a man fame or wealth, but he's not forced to rely on others or kill without cause. Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won't turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough; the mercenaries less stupid and vicious than most he's met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine...

"Although Stranger of Tempest isn't perfect, there are a lot of positives here. I thought this book had a great opening, an awesome ending, and relentless action scenes - with good humour and crew comraderies thrown into the mix for good measure. This can be read as a complete standalone as everything is wrapped up nicely. I am pretty excited about the follow-up Princess of Blood which I believe is due for release July 2017. This is pretty enjoyable fantasy story with a protagonist that cares."

15+
8/10

The Silent Army

by James A Moore

The City of Wonders has been saved by nearly miraculous forces and the Silent Army is risen, ready to defend the Fellein Empire and Empress Nachia at any cost. The power that was hidden in the Mounds is on the move, seeking a final confrontation with the very entities that kept it locked away since the Cataclysm. Andover Lashk has finally come to accept his destiny and prepares to journey back to Fellein. The Sa’ba Taalor continue their domination over each country and people they encounter, but the final conflict is coming: The Great Wave of the Sa’ba Taalor stands to destroy an empire and the Silent Army prepares to stop them in their tracks. Caught in the middle is the Fellein Empire and the people who have gathered together on the final battlefield. The faithful and the godless, the soldiers and killers alike all stand or fall as old gods and new bring their war to a world-changing end. Some struggles are eternal. Some conflicts never cease. The Gods of War are here and they are determined to win.

"The Silent Army is a book that improves on every facet that made its predecessors great. This feels like a satisfying conclusion to the first arc of a much bigger story, because this book ends a bunch of plot threads that began right back at the start of the first book, but it leaves some big threads wide open begging for more. I need more stories set in this world. Please indulge me, Mr Moore."

12+
10/10

The Wheel of Osheim

by Mark Lawrence

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth getting back out alive and with Loki's Key is all that matters. Loki's creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jal's fortune back in the living world. Jal plans to return to the three Ws that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other, larger, plans... The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster and it will crack the world unless it's stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there's nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jal and Snorri face many dangers - from the corpse-hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue; but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim will exert its power. In the end it's win or die.

"This book has everything - magic and sci-fi, humour and horror, truths and lies, and then some more lies. There is no unnecessary obfuscation of secrets within secrets behind secrets - the Red Queen's war is a rather transparent war that creates drama by putting characters in situations with many viable solutions, and not knowing which one the characters are going to pick. This trilogy is essential reading for all fantasy readers."

15+
10/10

Daughter of Blood

by Helen Lowe

Malian and Kalan are coming home, but already it may be too late. The Wall of Night, dangerously weakened by civil war among the Derai families that garrison it, is on the verge of failing. Everywhere their ancient enemy, the Darksworn, is on the move as the threads of an old pattern begin to tighten about Kalan, and Malian searches for answers in the fabled Shield of Heaven, which every account agrees was broken beyond repair. In Grayharbor and in the Red Keep, a child and a young woman are caught in conflict's maw, as whispers gather around Dread Pass and a Darksworn prophecy points to Malian herself being the stake the ancient enemy will drive into the heart of the Derai Alliance.

"Helen Lowe need not be stereotypically compared to George R. R. Martin, for she has as much of the talent with her own way of writing that she should be a household name for fantasy readers the world over. The Wall of Night is shaping up to be a modern classic of fantasy storytelling, and needs to be on your to-read list."

12+
9/10

A Gathering of Shadows

by VE Schwab

Kell is plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, he is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila. As Red London prepares for the Element Games - an extravagant international competition of magic - a certain pirate ship draws closer. But another London is coming back to life, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning. Black London has risen again - and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall.

"Although I wasn't a big fan of A Darker Shade of Magic, I found that I was unable to put down A Gathering of Shadows. The characters are a lot more engaging and the supporting characters feel more well rounded, with the inclusion of other empires the world is far larger and it was really interesting to get other points of view on magic in a world full of it. There are many plot points leading into the next novel, but the cliffhanger really does make you hope that the third book will be coming sooner rather than later as it leaves you wondering what will happen to each of the characters!"

12+
9/10

The Liar\'s Key

by Mark Lawrence

The Red Queen has set her players on the board… Winter is keeping Prince Jalan Kendeth far from the luxuries of his southern palace. And although the North may be home to his companion, the warrior Snorri ver Snagason, he is just as eager to leave. For the Viking is ready to challenge all of Hel to bring his wife and children back into the living world. He has Loki’s key - now all he needs is to find the door. As all wait for the ice to unlock its jaws, the Dead King plots to claim what was so nearly his - the key into the world - so that the dead can rise and rule.

"The Liar's Key does everything a good sequel should do - it moves the story forward whilst improving on every facet of the previous book. Lawrence is getting better with every book, and I can't wait to see how he concludes this story with The Wheel of Osheim."

15+
10/10

Nod

by Adrian Barnes

Dawn breaks over Vancouver and no-one in the world has slept the night before, or almost no-one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand can still sleep, and they've all shared the same golden dream. A handful of children still sleep as well, but what they're dreaming remains a mystery. After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks, the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world arises.

"For me, the story is excellent, dark and doom laden enough to encourage me to read on to the very last page, the characters well created and fleshed-out, this is one for those who like their doom extra dark and disturbing."

15+
9/10

The Sudden Appearance of Hope

by Claire North

My name is Hope Arden. I am the girl the world forgets. It started when I was sixteen years old. A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A friend who looks at me and sees a stranger. No matter what I do, the words I say, the crimes I commit - you will never remember who I am. That makes my life tricky. It also makes me dangerous...

"The Sudden Appearance of Hope is an excellent novel. It's not one that will entertain as much as her previous novels, but one that looks at complex themes with much more depth before providing a biased social commentary. For that reason I can't say that this book is for everyone, there is barely any escapism to be found here. This book will engage you with the prevalent social issues of today (mid-2016), making you pause and think about our pursuit of perfection as defined by Hollywood and the mainstream media."

12+
9/10

Morning Star

by Pierce Brown

Darrow is the reaper of Mars. Born to toil, carved to fight, destined to lead. But he is a broken man. Exposed as a Red in a world ruled by Golds, he has been captured and tortured until he is something less than human. And yet, he is humanity's last chance. He must call on every last ounce of strength in facing a godlike, ruthless enemy. Darrow was born a Red. He became a Gold. Now he must transcend them all and become the hero his people believe he is.

"Pierce Brown finishes his first trilogy with an almighty bang, and has now let us know that there will be more books to come in this universe with a handful of favourite characters returning (those who survived at least). I can think of only a handful of other debut trilogies that have come close to what Brown has achieved, and it's scary to think that Brown will only get better from here."

12+
7/10

Dawn of Wonder

by Jonathan Renshaw

When a high-ranking officer gallops into the quiet Mistyvales, he brings a warning that shakes the countryfolk to their roots. But for Aedan, a scruffy young adventurer with veins full of fire and a head full of ideas, this officer is not what he seems. The events that follow propel Aedan on a journey that only the foolhardy or desperate would risk, leading him to the gates of the nation's royal academy - a whole world of secrets in itself. But this is only the beginning of his discoveries. Something is stirring in the land, something more ominous than the rising threat of hostile nations. Fearful travellers whisper of an ancient power breathing over Thirna, changing it, waking it. In the very heart of these stirrings, Aedan encounters that which defies belief, leaving him speechless with terror - and wonder.

"Dawn of Wonder is, at 710 pages, a big book and one that is undeniably a labour of love for its author Jonathan Renshaw. It's epic fantasy, but epic fantasy with a difference as this is more fantasy in the Robin Hobb and Patrick Rothfuss mould, where the 'hero' is not all-perfect and highly skilled at everything they set their mind too, Renshaw's hero Aedan is intelligent and talented, yes, but he is also flawed, emotionally damaged by his childhood and those scars shape his present and future life."

12+
9/10

Knights of the Borrowed Dark

by Dave Rudden

Denizen Hardwick doesn't believe in magic - until he's ambushed by a monster created from shadows and sees it destroyed by a word made of sunlight. That kind of thing can really change your perspective. Now Denizen is about to discover that there's a world beyond the one he knows. A world of living darkness where an unseen enemy awaits. Fortunately for humanity, between us and the shadows stand the Knights of the Borrowed Dark. Unfortunately for Denizen, he's one of them...

"Knights of the Borrowed Dark is a rip-roaring adventure full of excitement that is well written and contains many of the elements which makes the genre so immersive and enjoyable. This book is ideal for readers 9+, especially those who are currently enjoying Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series. I would highly recommend this book."

0
9/10

Made To Kill

by Adam Christopher

When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the Los Angeles offices of Raymond Electromatic - PI turned hit man and the world’s last robot - he takes on the case of a missing movie star, and is soon plunged into a glittering world of 1960s Hollywood: fame, fortune, and secrecy. But when he uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen, this robot is in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

"A bit like Waiting for Godot, tis also about how Ray discovers what the public really wants to know rather than what is put in the media, and the limited cast of characters gives it a more stylish feel. Adam Christopher's Made to Kill has all the pulpy drama you would expect and namedropped characters from novels and Christopher's sense of humour in a comical sci-fi novel."

15+
9/10

Fellside

by MR Carey

Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life. It's a place where even the walls whisper. And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess. Will she listen?

"M. R. Carey has written a thought-provoking novel that crosses between the rational day to day running of a maximum security prison and gives some thoughts to how well these privatised prisons are run; to the unimaginable concept of the human mind and how it is linked to The Other Place."

15+
10/10

Medusa's Web

by Tim Powers

In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and his sister, Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they once shared… Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film stars… As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott discovers that to protect her, he must unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s past and finally free them...

"The story concerns itself more with mystery and intrigue than out and out horror, but I really enjoyed reading as Scott and Madeline unravel more layers of Caveat's history. Fans of Powers will be thrilled. He is definitely on top of his game for this one. My only criticism is it could have been trimmed down a little here and there, but this is once again proof that Powers deserves his place at the top of fantasy authors today."

12+
9/10

Those Above

by Daniel Polansky

They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword. Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.

"Those Above is an intricately woven story that never feels overwrought but brings us deeper into a rich world with a myriad of characters that feel like individuals rather than background filler. This allows us to focus on the motivations of the four characters as their chapters entwine and gain insight into the world they live in which is full of wonders and misery. "

15+
9/10

When We Were Animals

by Joshua Gaylord

A small, quiet Midwestern town, unremarkable save for one fact: when the local teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild. When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she is surprised that she became a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her home town. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident breaches during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path. For as long as she can, Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harbouring secrets of their own.

"The writing is beautiful: poetic and vivid and this includes the dialogue. This is a book you just need to sit down and read, allow the words to wash over you and experience Lumen’s extraordinarily eventful life. It will stay with you long after the last page is finished."

15+
9/10

Touch

by Claire North

Kepler is like you, but not like you. With a simple touch, Kepler can move into any body, live any life - for a moment, a day or for years. And your life could be next. SOME PEOPLE TOUCH LIVES. OTHERS TAKE THEM. I DO BOTH.

"Touch is yet another triumph for North, and while Kepler may not be as likeable as some of the other North characters, Kepler's story is just as powerful as the stories from North's other characters, with some very deep explorations about life, immortality and the nature of humanity. North is clearly setting the benchmark for the literary style of speculative fiction, and I'm totally on board with anything she writes under any of the pen names she chooses."

12+
9/10

The Bands of Mourning

by Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

"The Bands of Mourning serves as testament to Brandon Sanderson’s status as a master of fantasy storytelling."

12+
9/10

Downfall of the Gods

by KJ Parker

If you visit the Temple and ask nicely for forgiveness, you might get it - assuming you aren't Lord Archias and you haven't killed the Goddess's favorite musician, Lysippus. But even goddesses are expected to follow certain rules, and as much as she wants to punish Lord Archias it seems her troublesome, all-powerful father forbids it. So the Goddess will just have to get around that by forgiving Lord Archias if he can manage some simple - or, rather, seemingly impossible - tasks. A Goddess has to do what a goddess has to do.

"This book is more about the journey, the exploration, and the arguments that lead to the titular downfall of the gods. I can't really tell you what this book has to offer because it is something you have to see for yourself. This is story that needs to be experienced, and I will wholeheartedly recommend that you experience what it has to offer."

12+
9/10

All the Birds in the Sky

by Charlie Jane Anders

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine, a witch, and Laurence Armstead, a mad scientist, parted ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. But as adults they both wind up in near-future San Francisco, where Laurence is an engineering genius and Patricia works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever growing ailments. But something is determined to bring them back together-to either save the world, or end it.

"All the Birds in the Sky is an intense emotional roller-coaster that flits between genres, using both sci-fi and fantasy to get its message across and although it does pit them against each other, the novel never says one is better than the other, each has its place in this story and it is by both of these working together that the best outcome will be found. All the Birds in the Sky is also a very human story focusing on the confusion and mistrust that can come from not understanding the unknown."

12+
10/10

The Serpent

by Claire North

In seventeenth century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse. There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun. But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league... a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles. Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman who is about to play may just exceed everyone's expectations. Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules...

"The Serpent is a short but wonderful story, full of twists I saw coming, and turns I never saw coming. The concept is intriguing, the execution is almost faultless, and all I want is more Gamehouse novellas."

15+
10/10

The Death of Dulgath

by Michael J Sullivan

Three times they tried to kill her. Then a professional was hired. So was Riyria. When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they're asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.

"I’m tempted to jump straight back into The Riyria Revelations – I just want more Royce and Hadrian. Being back in their world is at once wonderful, and fraught with agony as I know I’ll soon have to leave. The Death of Dulgath was not only a fine addition to Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria world, but a great book all on its own. This would serve as a great starting point for anyone wanting to find out about Riyria, and will open the door to other great books."

12+
9/10

The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

by Kim Newman

When her mother finds her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is sent to Drearcliff Grange School in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular 1920s boarding school, Amy learns that Drearcliff girls are special, the daughters of criminal masterminds, outlaw scientists and master magicians. When one of the girls in her dormitory is abducted, Amy and her friends must form a secret, superpowered society called the Moth Club to rescue her.

"The book has a good tone within a self-contained world that has its own rhythm and rules. Kim Newman has written a fast paced story that is full of action and intrigue that makes the book hard to  put down. The characters are engaging as they continue to get into situations that they may not be able to handle when it is not just student versus student, but also children versus adults. This is not a book about sunshine and rainbows, this is a book that at times is very dark, which also has chilling moments throughout. At the same time, this is a really enjoyable read that has given me a new descriptive word of "Crumpets!" for when you need to exclaim. I can see myself re-reading this book time and again."

12+
10/10

The Hollow Boy

by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood & Co. might be the smallest (some might say shambolic) Psychic Detection Agency in London. But its three agents - Lockwood, Lucy and George - are exceptional Talents. And they get results. When an outbreak of ghostly phenomena grows to terrifying levels in Chelsea, Scotland Yard is left baffled. Even more baffling is that Lockwood & Co appear to have been excluded from the huge team of Agents investigating the Chelsea Outbreak. Surely this is the perfect chance for them to show once and for all that they're actually the best in town? Well, that's if they can put aside their personal differences for long enough to march into action with their rapiers, salt and iron...

"My advice to you, dear reader, is to read the Lockwood & Co books then read everything else Stroud has written. He’s the bee’s knees in my opinion and his work is enormous fun to read."

12+
10/10

City of Wonders

by James A Moore

Old Canhoon, the City of Wonders, is facing a population explosion as refugees from Tyrne and Roathes alike try to escape the Sa’ba Taalor. All along the border between the Blasted Lands and the Fellein Empire, armies clash and the most powerful empire in the world is pushed back toward the old Capital. From the far east, the Pilgrim gathers an army of the faithful, heading for Old Canhoon. In Old Canhoon itself, the imperial family struggles against enemies old and new, as the agents of their enemies begin removing threats to the gods of the Seven Forges and prepare the way for the invading armies of the Seven Kings. In the distant Taalor valley, Andover Lashk continues his quest and must make a final decision, while at the Mounds, something inhuman is awakened and set free. War is here. Blood will flow and bodies will burn.

"City of Wonders by James A. Moore is the third book in the Seven Forges series, an epic fantasy interpretation of David and Goliath. Moore did not start out as an epic fantasy author, his roots are firmly planted in the horror realm, and those roots show through here as Moore gives us some truly imaginative and chilling moments. You should really be reading this series."

12+
10/10

Hex

by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she's there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die. The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.

"I do not believe that there has been anything lost in the translation by Nancy Forest-Flier from the Dutch original. Olde Heuvelt has written a compelling story rich in imagination and history which is undeniably haunting. Hex is truly absorbing with an easy style of writing that leads you into the world of Black Spring and keeps you locked into the horrifying events as they unfold."

12+
9/10

Occupy Me

by Tricia Sullivan

Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over. And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.

"Occupy Me is very funny and highly unusual, not least of which is having a main character who isn’t just an angel, but a middle aged, black lesbian. It’s highly imaginative, difficult to categorise, and frequently bizarre. But what it has done is inspired me to go and read Sullivan’s other work because like Lauren Beukes, her stories certainly stand out out from the pack."

15+
9/10

Three Parts Dead

by Max Gladstone

A god has died, and it's up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart. Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis's steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot. Tara's job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who's having an understandable crisis of faith. When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb's courts - and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb's slim hope of survival. Set in a phenomenally built world in which justice is a collective force bestowed on a few, craftsmen fly on lightning bolts, and gargoyles can rule cities, Three Parts Dead introduces readers to an ethical landscape in which the line between right and wrong blurs.

"Three Parts Dead offers a unique experience to traditional fantasy and urban fantasy enthusiasts alike. Gladstone has mixed elements from a variety of different genres to create expansive and complex world, and then allows the reader to explore a single part of this world in detail through a tightly bounded story. I haven't even touched on the gargoyles, the supernatural police force, the extra-dimensional libraries, or the court-room battle arenas. I want to read more Craft books. I need to know more about this world."

15+
9/10

The Goblin Emperor

by Katherine Addison

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir. Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favour with the naive new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the spectre of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend... and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne - or his life.

15+
9/10

The Aeronaut\'s Windlass

by Jim Butcher

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion - to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.

"Up, up, the winds and mists call the Grimm and wildcats. Duty, freedom and protection of family, new and old calls, as War blazes and the few and dedicated will be required to preserve the many. Another great series for a master of the genre."

15+
9/10

Grendel

by John Gardner

When Grendel is drawn up from the caves under the mere, where he lives with his bloated, inarticulate hag of a mother, into the fresh night air, it is to lay waste Hrothgar's meadhall and heap destruction on the humans he finds there. What else can he do? For he is not like the men who busy themselves with God and love and beauty. He sees the infuriating human rage for order and recognises the meaninglessness of his own existence.

"Adam Brown claims that 'mostly though, the novel is just Grendel himself, encountering the rainy, stony earth, the indifferent vastness of the sky, the cold of winter... Grendel setting his will against the inevitability of history.' the reality is that the 'truth' of Grendel, the only proof, evidenced in so much literature, is that he is a monster that encourages imagination and rationalisation of humanity’s endless struggle to rise above Nature. No matter what lies within his breost-hord his meaning is 'You stimulate them! You make them think and scheme. You drive them to poetry, science, religion, all that makes them what they are for as long as they last. You are, so to speak, the brute existent by which they learn to define themselves... You are mankind, or man’s condition: inseparable as the mountain-climber and the mountain'. Indeed. Read this novella for it will make you think and define yourself again.'

15+
9/10

An Ancient Peace

by Tanya Huff

The centuries-long war between the Confederation and The Others, a group of violent alien species, is over. Intergalactic peace is finally restored. Torin Kerr and her crew of ex-Marine friends have gone freelance using their military experience as guns for hire. But this calm equilibrium cannot last. Someone is searching for the lost weapons of the H'san: powerful tools capable of destroying entire planets. Though the H'san gave up fighting long ago, the reappearance of their weapons would no doubt lead to a devastating war. It is up to Torin Kerr and her team to fix this problem before it explodes. But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder and Younger races, the more she fears war might be unavoidable...

"I was so happy to find out that Torin Kerr was back, she is a conflicted protagonist just trying to find her own peace, but knows at this time she is best off helping other people. She is fully determined to keep her people safe and face the challenges thrown at her. Whether she will get her resolution or not remains to be seen, but as long as Tanya Huff decides to keep writing about Torin I will be ecstatically reading her adventures, as it seems that Torin will be facing some uphill battles in her future."

15+
9/10

Six of Crows

by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy, Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone. A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first.

"Six of Crows is a fantastic book, one of the best fantasy heist books going around. It is funny, tragic, witty, silly, murderous, thoughtful and more all in one package. If there is a criticism, it might be that Bardugo tries to cram too much into a single story, but it's not much of a criticism given how adeptly she pulled this story off. YA readers probably had this book on their radar long ago and have probably re-read it a couple of times, so for those people who steer clear of YA for whatever reason, I would highly encourage you to put your prejudices aside and give this book a shot."

12+
10/10

Shadows of Self

by Brandon Sanderson

Waxillium Ladrian has returned to the capital city of Elendel from the far flung roughs. Elendel is crisscrossed by canals and railways and towers reach for the sky but this is still a city of dangers and of magic; Allomancy and Feruchemy can still change the world. Wax faces many more adventures.

"In Shadows of Self you can feel the world, it's mists and people. You can smell the horse leather and the coal in the air and you just want more. "

12+
9/10

A Few Words for the Dead

by Guy Adams

Section 37 is under attack. Toby Greene, a Clown Service agent, is on the hunt. But catching someone whose bodyguard is the relentless Rain-Soaked Bride can be a deadly game. Section Chief August Shining has problems of his own. Under investigation by MI6 and at the mercy of a mysterious entity, has his past has finally caught up with him?

"A Few Words for the Dead was a magical read. The action grips you and pulls you in, the fascinating characters you encounter on the way keep you turning the pages as you share in their adventures and the sheer fun the author had in penning the story. If you want a novel that is an ingenious mix of classical Bond spy atmosphere with a goodly measure of Sapphire and Steel thrown in, look no further than A Few Words for the Dead."

15+
9/10

Down Station

by Simon Morden

A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through... and find themselves on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. The way back is blocked. Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf's cloak and with wolves by his side. He speaks English and has heard of a place called London - other people have arrived here down the ages - all escaping from a London that is burning. None of them have returned. Except one - who travels between the two worlds at will. The group begin a quest to find this one survivor; the one who holds the key to their return and to the safety of London. And as they travel this world, meeting mythical and legendary creatures, split between North and South by a mighty river and bordered by The White City and The Crystal Palace they realise they are in a world defined by all the London's there have ever been.

"This is a very fast paced book, with intense moments of danger as well as being full of wonder. There are so many things to discover in Down not only geographically but historically. I really enjoyed reading about both Mary and Dalip’s journey."

12+
9/10

The Cathedral of Known Things

by Edward Cox

Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force. So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe... And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.

"The Cathedral of Known Things unveils itself slowly like petals opening towards the shining sun, even if the events of the book become more disturbing. With a shock ending that I wasn’t prepared for Edward Cox has written an engagingly detailed novel that I recommend to everyone who likes mystery and magic. The third part of this trilogy should be out next year and it is definitely one of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2016."

15+
9/10

The Handsmaid\'s Tale

by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

"I've been meaning to read The Handmaid's Tale for a long time - it's probably one of the most famous dystopian novels alongside Brave New World and 1984, and maybe because it's so well regarded I hesitated to pick it up in case it didn't meet my expectations. I'm very glad I did eventually get round to reading it because it truly is both disturbing and beautifully written."

15+
10/10

The Price of Valour

by Django Wexler

In the wake of the King's death, war has come to Vordan. The new queen, Raesinia, is nearly powerless as the government tightens its grip and assassins threaten her life. Together with Marcus D'Ivoire, she sets out to turn the tide of history. But as all the powers of the continent rise against Vordan, Janus bet Vhalnich and Winter Ihernglass face a bloody battle against enemies not just armed with muskets and cannon, but dark priests of an ancient order, wielding forbidden magic.

"The Price of Valour may be my favourite yet, in terms of sheer enjoyment. There was very little that could extricate me from the pages of this book and the struggles of the characters therein. Marcus and Raesinia's adventures in the capital were wonderfully fun - as were the unanswered and barely hinted-at relationships blossoming within that group of insurrectionists."

15+
9/10

Legion: Skin Deep

by Brandon Sanderson

Leeds is a genius; his mind contains too much information. And to cope it has split his skills off into individual personalities. They crowd his head, and he lives with them in a vast, empty mansion. While he can call on any one of them to solve a problem, he also walks a line across an all-consuming madness.

"Legion: Skin Deep is an absolutely fantastic read, and while I'd like more and more of it, I think I understand why Brandon Sanderson has kept this to be a series of novellas. Maybe, in time, it will be expanded to full-length status (though that would require a lull in the author's absurdly busy schedule of books to write), but in the meantime, I'm content to read these gems whenever they make an appearance."

15+
9/10

The Whispering Skull

by Jonathan Stroud

Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is desperate for an exciting new case. Things seem to be looking up when the team is called to Kensal Green Cemetery to investigate the grave of a sinister Victorian doctor. Strange apparitions have been seen there, and the site must be made safe. As usual, Lockwood is confident; as usual, everything goes wrong - a terrible phantom is unleashed, and a dangerous object is stolen from the coffin. Lockwood & Co must recover the relic before its power is unleashed, but it's a race against time. Their obnoxious rivals from the Fittes agency are also on the hunt. And if that's not bad enough, the skull in the ghost-jar is stirring again...

"Jonathan Stroud writes skillfully, creating a gripping narrative that moves seamlessly from the comfort of home to the thrills and chills of graveyards and haunted houses. I find that the best authors really show their expertise in the tricky second book of a trilogy - a book which in lesser hands only seems to serve as a bridge to the third and concluding installment, but The Whispering Skull can both stand as an enjoyable stand-alone book and also a one that further fleshes out its characters and the world in which it is set."

12+
9/10

When the Heavens Fall

by Marc Turner

A power-hungry necromancer has stolen The Book of Lost Souls, and intends to use it to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artefact at all cost. However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed.

"All to say, I kind of loved this. It was a nostalgic trip back to the realm of High Fantasy that would make the authors mentioned earlier proud. It is a remix, not a 'cover' per se, of all the brilliant storytelling elements that propelled the likes of Belgarion, Raistlin Majere, Steerpike, Pug, R'shiel Tenragan, to name a few, into the consciousness of those who adore this kind of pure fantasy."

12+
8/10

Day Boy

by Trent Jamieson

Mark is a Day Boy. In a post-traumatic future the Masters - formerly human, now practically immortal - rule a world that bends to their will and a human population upon which they feed. Invincible by night, all but helpless by day, each relies on his Day Boy to serve and protect him. Mark has been lucky in his Master: Dain has treated him well. But as he grows to manhood and his time as a Day Boy draws to a close, there are choices to be made. Will Mark undergo the Change and become, himself, a Master - or throw in his lot with his fellow humans? As the tensions in his conflicted world reach crisis point, Mark's decision may be crucial.

"Day Boy is a coming of age story set in a world of harsh truths, blood, death and survival. It is a poetic story of humanity, of monsters living in the Shadow of the Mountain, bitter cold and open to the burning of the clear night sky."

15+
9/10

Fool\'s Quest

by Robin Hobb

Happy endings never last... Years ago, they freed a dragon from the glaciers on Aslevjal. Then they parted ways, the Fool returning to far-off Clerres, while Fitz finally claimed a wife, a family, and a home of his own. Now, betrayed by his own people and broken by torment, the Fool has made his way back to the Six Duchies. But as Fitz attempts to heal his old friend in Buckkeep Castle, his young daughter Bee is abducted from Withywoods by pale and mysterious raiders who leave ruin and confusion in their wake. Fitz must find a way to rescue his beloved Bee. At the same time it is the Fool's fiercest wish to return to Clerres with the best assassin he has ever known, to gain vengeance and justice. Can Fitz bear to take up the tools of his old trade again, even to avenge his dearest friend and save his child?

12+
9/10

The Rebirths of Tao

by Wesley Chu

The centuries-long schism between the Genjix and the Prophus threatens to plunge the whole planet into a new World War. Roen is the only person who can protect a turned Genjix scientist who holds the key to ending the war.

"Apart from the Enzo chapters, I loved every other part of this book. The relationships forged between characters felt meaningful, there was a lot of laugh-out-loud humour, the action set pieces were fantastic, the way in which the actions of the characters contributed overall to the war were observable and tangible, and it was just a lot of fun. I've read that Chu is writing a new trilogy set in this universe, so I am very much looking forward to that."

12+
9/10

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

by Becky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants. Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years... if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But Rosemary isn't the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

15+
10/10

Aftermath

by Tim Marquitz

What do you do when your life crumbles around you? If you're Frank "Triggaltheron" Trigg you climb into a bottle looking for oblivion. Of course he couldn't even get that right. Alone and adrift, Frank's five month binge is interrupted with a boom. A nuclear one and every bit of chaos and treachery he tried to leave behind comes knocking once more. Caught up in a plot to foment a supernatural revolution, Frank is made into a pawn for both sides. But what does a man with nothing have to lose? Only everything.

"Aftermath is a fantastic Demon Squad novel, one that tells a compelling self contained story while also acting as set-up for the next half dozen books in the series. While it didn't have the emotional gut punches from the first book, it still made me laugh and laugh, and that's one of the main reasons why I read Demon Squad and Tim Marquitz books - to laugh."

15+
10/10

Andersonville by Edward M Erdelac

by Edward M Erdelac

Georgia, 1864. Camp Sumter, aka Andersonville, has earned a reputation as an open sewer of sadistic cruelty and terror where death may come at any minute. But as the Union prisoners of war pray for escape, cursing the fate that spared them a quicker end, one man makes his way into the camp purposefully. Barclay Lourdes has a mission - and a secret. But right now his objective is merely to survive the hellish camp. The slightest misstep summons the full fury of the autocratic commander, Captain Wirz, and the brutal Sergeant Turner. Meanwhile, a band of shiftless thieves and criminals known as the "Raiders" preys upon their fellow prisoners. Barclay soon finds that Andersonville is even less welcoming to a black man - especially when that man is not who he claims to be. Little does he imagine that he's about to encounter supernatural terrors beyond his wildest dreams... or nightmares.

"Simply put, Andersonville seamlessly blends the historical and the fantastical to create a magnificent story that entertains and educates without pushing any particular world views or beliefs on the reader. This is a book has gone the extra mile to cater for all readers with varying levels of familiarity with the American Civil War. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to all fantasy and historical fiction readers."

15+
10/10

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