Our recommended books of the month. Page 5.

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.

The Drowned World

by JG Ballard

Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows up the walls of the Ritz and primeval reptiles are sighted, swimming through the newly-formed lagoons. Some flee the capital; others remain to pursue reckless schemes, either in the name of science or profit. While the submerged streets of London are drained in search of treasure, Dr Robert Kerans – part of a group of intrepid scientists – comes to accept this submarine city and finds himself strangely resistant to the idea of saving it.

"As a piece of post-apocalyptic fiction this is a really interesting idea; usually it is a virus of some sort that wipes people out like in Frank Herbert’s The White Plague, or a nuclear-type disaster such as Walter M Miller Jr’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. I found it a shame that it is not discussed how people are living now most of the world is uninhabitable and the apocalypse itself is seemingly fading into the past, so it is a very narrowly-focused book. However, this does suit the increasing self-imposed isolation of Kerans, Dahl and Bodkin, who all seem indifferent to their future, or the future of the human race. Have they resigned themselves to the end or merely adapting to their landscape? This is an excellent example of post-apocalyptic fiction and well deserves to be hailed as a classic." Cat Fitzpatrick, Fantasy Book Review

15+
10/10

Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu

by Mercedes M Yardley

Her mama always said she was special. His daddy called him a demon. But even monsters can fall in love. Montessa Tovar is walking home alone when she is abducted by Lu, a serial killer with unusual talents and a grudge against the world. But in time, the victim becomes the executioner as 'Apocalyptic' Montessa and her doomed lover, 'Nuclear' Lulu, crisscross the country in a bloody firestorm of revenge.

"AM&NL is a dark supernatural tale about two broken people who are fuelled by raw emotion. It is an intense story, but it is a rewarding story, and I think a lot of people will be able to connect with it. Also, it was recently voted on Reddit (r/fantasy) as the best piece of short fiction for 2013, which probably says more about how great this story is than what I can say in a few short paragraphs."

15+
10/10

Winter

by William Horwood

Storms rage as the worst winter in living memory ravages the human and Hydden worlds. The prophesied End of Days is here and the universe is dying, yet only a few are even aware of the forces at work. Jack and Katherine must help their friend Bedwyn Stort halt this chaos by locating the last gem of Winter, something only he can do. Then it must be returned to the Earth’s unwilling guardian, their daughter Judith. She will need it to try and reignite the fires of the universe. Yet Stort is riddled with uncertainty. He yearns for Judith, as she does for him, but a love between mortal and immortal cannot be. To find the gem, he must solve this conundrum and vanquish death itself. But can he really lead mortalkind to salvation?

"It was a quartet of books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and I looked forward excitedly to each instalment's yearly publication. If you're a fan of Horwood, or simply a fan of excellent stories, particularly those with a strong ecological theme running through, then I would strongly recommend you read the Hyddenworld books. The journey has been a delight, the characters wonderful and the the story woven beautifully."

12+
9/10

The Silvered

by Tanya Huff

The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen - she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader-to save them.

"I really enjoyed the time I spent with the characters and even though the narrative can be quite grim and dark in places the characters still shine so that you hope that there will a glimmer of a happy ending for them. It is also good that although the main characters are Mirian and Tomas we are shown many other characters' perspectives, such as the captured Mages and what they are going through and their will to survive and Emperor Leopold, who is forever trying to expand his Empire by whatever means necessary. Each character has a distinct personality, from the lowliest of townspeople to the mightiest of men." Michelle Herbert, Fantasy Book Review

12+
10/10

The Curse of Chalion

by Lois McMaster Bujold

Battered ex-soldier Lupe dy Cazaril returns home only to be swept up in court and theological intrigue as tutor to the Royesse Iselle of Chalion. Cazaril's honor and courage in the face of not only his former adversaries but the demands of Chalion's five gods shine through in this spellbinding tale of hard-won triumph.

"This is a masterful slow burner of a book, who’s intricate and subtle plotting and engaging characters and thought-provoking insights into faith kept me intrigued, surprised and delighted all through its not inconsiderable length. The characters are real and three dimensional, and a real sympathy for Cazaril is at the heart of the book. The prose understated yet evocative and the description just enough to show you everything without showing you the kitchen sink too."

12+
9/10

The Time Traveler\'s Almanac

by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Time Traveller's Almanac is the largest, most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled. Gathered into one volume by intrepid chrononauts and world-renowned anthologists Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, here is over a century's worth of literary travels into past and the future. The anthology covers millions of years of Earth's history - from the age of the dinosaurs to strange and fascinating futures, through to the end of Time itself. The Time Traveler's Almanac will reacquaint readers with beloved classics and introduce them to thrilling contemporary examples of the time travel genre. The Time Traveller's Almanac includes stories from Douglas Adams, Isaac Asmiov, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, George RR Martin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and, of course, HG Wells.

"Prepare yourselves – the latest anthology from husband and wife team Ann and Jeff VanderMeer is a beast. Clocking in at just under 950 pages this is a thing of great beauty and quite significant weight and looks absolutely stunning. I don’t usually focus on hardbacks, being more interested in the story than the look of the book on my shelf, but for this you need to make an exception – if you buy the eBook you are missing out on such a joy it would frankly be criminal. Even with the dust jacket taken off, the silver inlay on the hard cover itself is very pretty, and inside the same butterfly and cogs design is used to separate out the four sections of the book. This is a publication with clearly a lot of time and effort spent on it." Cat Fitzpatrick, Fantasy Book Review

12+
10/10

Have Glyphs Will Travel

by Edward M Erdelac

Erdelac mixes the Wild West with Jewish Mysticism, Catholicism, American Indian religion, a little Chinese religion, and a lot of Lovecraftian goodness. This is so different to the stuff I normally read, but Erdelac's writing is so good that I can't help but race through episode with a big grin on my face. The Rider is awesome character, and I'm a little sad that the next book will our last adventure together.

15+
9/10

Deathless

by Catherynne M Valente

Child of the revolution, maiden of myth, bride of darkness. A handsome young man arrives in St Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna. He is Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and he is Marya's fate.Koschei leads Marya to his kingdom, where she becomes a warrior in his tireless battle against his own brother, the Tsar of Death.Years pass. Battle-hardened, scarred by love, and longing for respite, Marya returns to St Petersburg - only to discover a place as pitiful as the land she has just fled: a starveling city, haunted by death.

"Full of unique and fascinating characters, Valente weaves fairy-tale storytelling with a far more adult world of war, sex, love and will. The metaphor can get a bit overmuch now and again, slowing down the flow of the story in places, but Deathless is a really unusual and interesting book that was a joy to read." Cat Fitzpatrick, Fantasy Book Review

15+
10/10

Proxima

by Stephen Baxter

The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous Galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light... The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun - and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The 'substellar point', with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the 'antistellar point' on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world? Needle ships fall from Proxima IV's sky. Yuri Jones, with 1000 others, is about to find out... Proxima tells the amazing tale of how we colonise a harsh new Eden, and the secret we find there that will change our role in the Universe for ever.

"This is a riveting novel, and for all its many dramatic plot strands, it holds up well, achieving a high level of gravitas. The future Cold War between the super powers of the UN and China resonate, as does the territorialism and competitiveness. Baxter has managed to create a plausible future, in fact, like a lot of great sci-fi writers, he could in fact be talking about our current world as much as his imagined future one."

15+
9/10

The Waking World

by Tom Huddleston

The Island is in peril. For years the Marauders have raided along the coast, carrying off goods and cattle. Now they're growing bolder, striking further inland, even taking slaves to work their black ships. An invasion is imminent. As the son of a wealthy Law, young Aran should be safe: the underground farmstead of Hawk's Gross lies miles from the sea, and even the killing winds that sweep down from the moors can't penetrate those solid steel gates. But Aran doesn't want to be safe, he wants to be a warrior, whatever his parents might say. When he meets a mysterious stranger, Aran's world changes forever. Can he fulfil his destiny, and turn back the Marauder tide before the Island is overwhelmed?

"I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and I was definitely impressed and its events have stayed in my mind clearly since. I have a feeling that the next book might well be the one that wins me over completely, much as was the case with the Farseer books, and I look forward to reading book two, which I believe the author is currently working on. I would definitely recommend The Waking World to young-adults upwards who have previously enjoyed works by Hobb or Feist, or of course T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, which is of course a significant inspiration for this novel."

12+
9/10

Exit Kingdom

by Alden Bell

The Reapers are the Angels was one of my favourite books of 2011, and is indeed one of my favourite books within the entire dystopian/post apocalyptic genre. I have two things to thank its author Alden Bell for: Firstly for writing a book I enjoyed so much and secondly for introducing me to the work of Cormac McCarthy, whose influence on Bell and his writing is evident in both these works. Any who have read McCarthy's The Road and fallen under its sparse and poetic charm will delight in the two books Bell has produced.

12+
9/10

The Raven\'s Shadow

by Elspeth Cooper

Three moons are rising. They are rising over the snowy Archen Mountains, where Teia struggles through the high passes to carry her warning to the Empire: the Nimrothi war band is poised to invade and at their head stands Ytha. She means to release the Wild Hunt - and with it Maegern the Raven, the Keeper of the Dead. In the desert of Gimrael, the moons are rising over the fires of revolution - flames that have already robbed Gair of a friend and left him alone in a hostile city, unsure even if the Song is still his to command. He has one last duty to discharge, and then nothing will stand between him and his ultimate goal: vengeance. And in the Nordmen's chilly halls, Savin plays out a game in which kings and chieftains and men are but pawns on a chessboard that spans the Veil itself. Three moons are rising. When the trinity is complete, the endgame will begin.

"Characters like Teia and Gair have to use every ounce of their guile, experience and wits to navigate this potential minefield. Cooper manages to weave a web of intrigue and combine this with tough storytelling and wonderfully descriptive prose, keeping the reader engrossed and engaged. If you are not already familiar with her work, then I implore you to read one of her books, you will not be disappointed."

12+
8/10

The Treasury of the Fantastic

by David Sandner and Jacob Weisman

The fantastic, the supernatural, the poetic, and the macabre entwine in this incomparable culmination of storytelling. Imaginative stories of wit and intelligence weave through vivid landscapes that are alternately wondrous and terrifying. Bringing together major literary figures from the 19th and 20th centuries - from Alfred Lord Tennyson and Edith Wharton to Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde - these masters of English and American literature created unforgettable tales where goblins and imps comingle with humans from all walks of life.

"The Treasury of the Fantastic is an amazing collection of 44 poems, short stories and novellas, all fantasy related, all published before 1923. The anthology editors, David Sandner and Jacob Weisman, should be congratulated for managing to collect the rights to so many amazing stories. At the start of the book they openly provide the criteria they used for putting together this anthology. Unfortunately their criteria mean we miss out on a few great authors who were producing their best work right around the cut-off data, authors like Lovecraft and Howard, but that barely takes away from the excellent 44 stories that made the cut and are celebrated in this anthology." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

12+
10/10

The Luminaries

by Eleanor Catton

It is not often I indulge in a Booker Prize winner yet the theme of this caught my eye and a few pages in I realised it was a mystery, bound in an enigma, caught in a puzzle. Those readers who love a good "whodunit", then this is of that ilk; yet, with that plot it is written in a manner that has echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle, it navigates precisely through the labyrinth of a Victorian-era New Zealand with a tenacity that has a style at once of a reporter, of a sleuth, and of a pseudo-arcane mystic.

15+
10/10

When the world was flat (And we were in love)

by Ingrid Jonach

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general. But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love. When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

"When the world was flat (And we were in love) is one of the best YA stories I've read this year. It was charming, it had heart, it had cool science fiction, and it made me feel stuff on the inside. Regular readers of YA will love this book, while I think there is plenty for casual and non-readers of YA too." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

Insurgent

by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth's bestselling Divergent seemed to take the world by surprise, an unexpected book that happened to be released at just the right time to resonate with audiences and critics alike. Telling the story of a dystopian world in which humanity is separated into five factions (Abnegation, Candour, Amity, Erudite, and Dauntless), it follows the experience of a girl named Beatrice who chooses to abandon her selfless Abnegation family in favour of the fearless and brave Dauntless. As it happens, Beatrice is also counted among those who do not perfectly fit in any single faction, a group feared and hated by their society, known only as the Divergent.

12+
9/10

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

by John Joseph Adams

Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological disaster or an ecological/geological disaster it is in the wake of this great cataclysm that the survivors have to adapt and survive.

"There is not a poor story in this anthology and they are all so different in the way they are written and the themes they cover that everyone will find something to like. Of the five stories I mentioned above it is only George R. R. Martin that I had previously read so I will shortly be going on to read novel-length publications by Dale Bailey, Catherine Wells, Nancy Kress and Neal Barrett. And that is exactly what I hoped to get from this collection. So if you're a fan of the post apocalyptic/dystopia genre then you must add this anthology to your collection as it is simply brilliant and if it still available for £2.99 then it is also an absolute bargain. I loved reading Wastelands and hope that many others do too. Very highly recommended." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review

15+
10/10

The Republic of Thieves

by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves is not the explosive return that many people are probably hoping for, but it is still one of the best books I have read this year. There are problems with pacing and the ambitiousness of the plotting, but for me the characterisation more than makes up for it. Welcome back, Scott Lynch. I can't wait to see what happens to these characters next.

12+
9/10

Winter Be My Shield

by Jo Spurrier

Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift - she raises power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the king's torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Rasten, the man sent to hunt her down. Then she falls in with dangerous company: the fugitive Prince Cammarian and his crippled foster-brother, Isidro. But Rasten is not the only enemy hunting them in the frozen north and as Sierra's new allies struggle to identify friend from foe, Rasten approaches her with a plan to kill the master they both abhor. Sierra is forced to decide what price she is willing to pay for her freedom and her life...

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut. It is well written: the characters are great and realistic, and the descriptions of magical feats will leave you craving for more. The story is refreshing, interesting, and, at times, quite horrific (did I mention that there’s lots and lots of torture?) – One cannot ask for more! I for one am looking forward to the next book in the series, you will be too." Fantasy Book Review

15+
9/10

The Year of the Ladybird

by Graham Joyce

It is the summer of 1976, the hottest since records began and a young man leaves behind his student days and learns how to grow up. A first job in a holiday camp beckons. But with political and racial tensions simmering under the cloudless summer skies there is not much fun to be had. And soon there is a terrible price to be paid for his new found freedom and independence. A price that will come back to haunt him, even in the bright sunlight of summer.

"With its strong visuals, compulsive mystery and high drama I heartily recommend this. The Year of the Ladybird is much more than a ghost story."

15+
9/10

Ninja: Death Touch

by Chris Bradford

Ninja: Death Touch is a fun, dangerous adventure where Lord Oda could be victorious in battle if Taka and his friends can't fend off his ruthless army. I liked the death touch aspects of the story at the beginning that the Grandmaster of the ninja clan teaches them. The story is short, but sweet and full of excitement that runs all the way through. Chris Bradford writes books that can grip readers worldwide. He has won several awards such as the Northern Ireland Book Award, enjoys Martial Arts and has trained in samurai swordsmanship, earning a black belt in Kyo Shin Tai-Jutsu, the art of the ninja. Chris knows that his passion for fighting keeps his writing sharp and thrilling, and his art can be seen on the Ninja: Death Touch photo-shoot.

9+
9/10

Chosen

by Benedict Jacka

In writing this fourth book in his Alex Verus series, Benedict Jacka has written the most powerful and emotionally gripping entry into the series as well. Jacka has visibly grown as an author over this series, and I am thrumming with anticipation for what comes next.

15+
9/10

Sandman Slim

by Richard Kadrey

Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles. Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

"Sandman is dark, funny and well written. Kadrey isn’t afraid to slap the bad guys about in inventive and descriptive ways."

15+
9/10

Dreaming Of Zhou Gong

by Traci Harding

Harding should be praised for bringing something original and organic to the fantasy genre, and taking a chance on an ancient chinese backdrop more than pays off. If you are tired of reading the same generic fantasy stuff, then this is the book for you. I got so much joy out of reading this and has become a favourite in the genre.

12+
9/10

Emperor of Thorns

by Mark Lawrence

The path to the throne is broken – only the broken can walk it. The world is cracked and time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne no matter who stands against me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending. This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don't look to me to save you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don't follow me. Follow me, and I will break your heart.

"Simply said, The Broken Empire is a brilliantly written series. Every sentence is just a pure joy to read and carefully crafted. Numerous words like wordsmith and modern fantasy poet spring to mind but you should just find it out for yourself. A perfect ending to a brilliant trilogy and an unpredictable, ruthless and poetic literary masterwork of a great mind."

15+
10/10

The Glass Republic

by Tom Pollock

Beautifully written, wildly imaginative and surprisingly emotional, The Glass Republic continues an exciting new phase in urban fantasy that’s being powered by one author alone.

12+
9/10

Magician\'s End

by Raymond E Feist

The dragons are calling... Civil war is tearing apart the Kingdom of the Isles, for the throne lies empty and rivals are converging. Having spirited his beloved Princess Stephane safely out of Roldem, Hal -now Duke of Crydee- must turn his attention to the defence of the ancient realm so that a king can be anointed by the Congress of Lords, rather than by right of might. But the greatest threat may well lie out of the hands of men. Somewhere in the Grey Towers Mountains something not of this world is emerging. It will require that alliances be made between mortal enemies if disaster is to be averted. Elves and men must stand together, ancient heroes must rise again, dragons must fly and Pug, Magnus and the other magic-users of Midkemia must be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if the whole world is to be saved.

"It's been a fine series, Mr Feist. I hope some more comes, purely out of reading selfishness. You never quite want something you've grown up with to end. Nakor tells us: "Honour without love is a pose, a hollow justification for your acts. It's not what you're willing to fight for, but what you'll gladly die to preserve: a brother, a wife, or your child." ...and, by the very end... this is the message Feist wants to give us all."

12+
8/10

Countdown City

by Ben H Winters

Countdown City explores themes and asks the questions that every good work of dystopian should: How would people behave? What would happen to society? Would shops stay open? Would food be easily available? Simply put, how long would it be before civilization completely broke down? But the question that I think is most pertinent for each individual reader is: What would you do under these circumstances?

15+
9/10

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

"I know this review doesn't really tell you what the book is about, but I think to do so in more detail would spoil what is supposed to be an intimate trip down memory lane to a time when things were much more fantastical than what they are now. This a story that is simple on the surface, but with a depth of immersion that depends entirely on how much you connect with the story. My guess is that the further you are away from your childhood, be it through age or experience, the more you will connect with this story and the more you will fall in love with it." Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

The Screaming Staircase

by Jonathan Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in... For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

"I hold The Bartimaeus Trilogy and stand-alone novel Heroes of the Valley to be amongst the finest fantasy books I have read. So when a new book from their author Jonathan Stroud arrives my expectations are very high. And I was not disappointed as Lockwood & Co - which is aimed at a slightly older audience than previous novels - proved to be another wonderfully entertaining read." Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

Just When Stories

by Edited by Tamara Gray

100 years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote the internationally acclaimed Just So Stories. When Kipling wrote his story of the rhinoceros with the itchy skin, rhino numbers stood at around 65,000. Today, fewer than 3,000 black rhinos survive. The same tragic story goes for too many other animals. Now a glittering array of international authors have gathered together to contribute exclusive and original new stories inspired by Kipling's original volume which focus on the animals which we need to protect today. The title Just When Stories asks the questions: when will the irrational and cruel destruction of wildlife stop? And when will we take action to make it stop? Estimated at between $6 and $20 billion a year by Interpol, the illegal wildlife trade has drastically reduced numerous wildlife populations and currently has some teetering on the brink of extinction. All profits from the sales of the book and associated media formats will be donated in full to WildAid and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Full list of authors: William Boyd, Raffaella Barker, Anthony Doerr, Nirmal Ghosh, Romesh Gunesekera, Witi Ihimaera, Radhika Jha, Hanif Kureishi, Antonia Michaelis, Michael Morpurgo, Jin Pyn Lee, Lauren St John, Kate Thompson, Nury Vittachi, Polly Samson, Shaun Tan, Louisa Young and Angela Young.

"Their are many good reasons why you should buy this book, not least that is an excellent read but also because all the proceeds will go to such a good and worthy cause. If you are wondering what to get your son/daughter, niece/nephew,  grandson/granddaughter for Christmas this year then this would make a perfect gift. Highly recommended." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review

9+
9/10

Dust of Dreams

by Steven Erikson

We’re back with the Malazans marching into the Wastelands to meet up with their allies the Burned Tears and the Perish to head into territory where they believe they will have the final confrontation with the crippled god. But an uneasiness seems to have taken hold of the Malazans as their leader, Adjunct Tavore has grown even more distant and unfocused while crossing the Wastelands. This is added to by the feelings of betrayal from the “sensitives” in the ranks. Definitely a different view of the Malazans to see them so unsure of themsleves.

"As I stated before, a strength of this series is the way in which major characters are eliminated, but I never imagined the scale in which people disappeared this time. I was getting flashbacks of George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords. But for the first time in this series we have a cliff-hanger ending. With the good news is we only have to wait a year to see who survived"

15+
10/10

Spring

by William Horwood

It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation. But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden – little people existing on the borders of our world – have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. His journey leads him to Katherine, a girl he rescues from a tragic accident ¬– it’s a meeting that will change everything. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.

12+
9/10

The Clown Service

by Guy Adams

The Department: Section 37 Station Office, Wood Green. The Boss: August Shining, an ex-Cambridge, Cold War-era spy. The Mission: Charged with protecting Great Britain and its interests from paranormal terrorism. The Threat: An old enemy has returned, and with him Operation Black Earth, a Soviet plan to create the ultimate insurgents by re-animating the dead.

"Once I started to read this I just couldn’t put it down and read it straight through to the end. August and Toby are well fleshed-out and a good match for one another, and the supporting cast, which includes August’s delightful battle-axe sister called April (apparently their parents had better things to be doing than thinking up names), keep the action flowing. I always find London a great setting for books, and this is no exception with its crumbling warehouses, seething crowds and a very British way of doing things. I would highly recommend this book and look forward to the next."

15+
9/10

love songs for the shy and cynical

by Robert Shearman

The first love song in the world, as composed by a pig in the Garden of Eden... The Devil, alarmed when his hobby of writing romantic fiction begins to upstage his day job... A man finding love with someone who has an allergy to his very own happiness; another losing love altogether when his wife gives him back his heart in a Tupperware box...

"This collection of eighteen - seventeen if you can't find the hidden one - short love stories is an absolute delight. We enjoyed it so much that we made it the Book of the Month for December 2009." Fantasy Book Review

15+
9/10

Tales of Terror from the Tunnel\'s Mouth

by Chris Priestley

A boy is put on a train by his stepmother to make his first journey on his own. But soon that journey turns out to be more of a challenge than anyone could have imagined as the train stalls at the mouth of a tunnel and a mysterious woman in white helps the boy while away the hours by telling him stories - stories with a difference.

"Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth will chill and thrill in equal measure and is the perfect kind of scary for children in that it will make the hairs on the back of their necks rise and send shivers down their spine but will not give them nightmares. Delectably dark, and with a beautiful gothic style (perfectly captured by David Robert’s illustrations), this is a book that will appeal to all ages." Fantasy Book Review

9+
9/10

The Death Defying Pepper Roux

by Geraldine McCaughrean

When Pepper Roux was born his aunt foretold that he would not live past 14 years of age. Throughout his childhood his parents haven't bothered with him much, knowing that his life would be short-lived. So when Pepper wakes up on his 14th birthday he knows this will be the day that he'll die. But as the day wears on, and Pepper finds himself still alive, he decides to set off to sea in an attempt to try and avoid death for as long as possible. As time goes on Pepper steps into many roles and personas and has numerous outrageous adventures. But can he stay one step ahead of death? Or will fate catch up with him? And, if he does live, which of his many lives will he choose to adopt? This riot of a story is a wonderful adventure, and Pepper is an unforgettable character who stays with you long after his story has been told.

9+
10/10

Tender Morsels

by Margo Lanagan

Liga raises her two daughters in the safe haven of an alternative reality, a personal heaven granted by magic as a refuge from her earthly suffering. But the real world cannot be denied forever and when the barrier between the two worlds begins to break down, Liga’s fiery daughter, Urdda, steps across it…

"Tender Morsels never once tries to show that life has a happily ever after ending. It shows that life is full of hardship; you will experience hurt, you will watch loved ones die and you will often be afraid. It also shows that live can be full of love, caring and kindness and that it is better to experience something, be it good or bad, than to experience nothing at all." Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

Tigana

by Guy Gavriel Kay

Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be free. A people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the tyrant King Brandin that even the very name of their once beautiful land cannot be spoken or remembered.

But not everyone has forgotten. A handful of men and women, driven by love, hope and pride, set in motion the dangerous quest for freedom and bring back to the world the lost brightness of an obliterated name: Tigana.

"Tigana is so perfect I don’t think I could bear it if Kay wrote a sequel" Interzone

"I was 19 and fresh out of Fionavar when I snatched this book off the shelf. I was totally swept away by the grand scope of the adventure that the young singer Devin d’Asoli found himself in. How could any young person not become the character themselves to live the life of adventure?" Fantasy Book Review

12+
10/10

The Magicians

by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater’s life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead – but a strange envelope bearing Quentin’s name leads him down a very different path to any he’d ever imagined.

"The Magicians is a book that will likely divide opinions leaving very few sitting on the fence. The majority will love it but there will be some that will detest it (ardent Potter and Narnia fans possibly). The fantasy genre always needs an author to come along a show it in a different light and this is exactly what has Grossman has done. He has injected sexual tension and questionable morals into a school for wizards and the result is a rousing, perceptive and multifaceted coming of age story that is both bright and beguiling."

15+
9/10

The Iron Man

by Ted Hughes

The Iron Man: A Children’s Story In Five nights by Ted Hughes does indeed consist of five chapters; designed to be read a chapter per night, although some children may find it difficult to wait a whole day to hear more of this exciting story.

"Starts superbly with a clanking iron giant toppling from a cliff and lying smashed on the rocks below. Then his various parts get up and search for each other. Hughes has never written more compellingly." The Times

"A true contemporary fairy tale deserving of its 'modern classic' tag." Fantasy Book Review

9+
10/10

The Forgotten Legion

by Ben Kane

Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman on his way home from a good night out. At 13 years old, they and their mother are sold: Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome, and their mother into obscurity and death in the salt mines. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family.He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day - and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and of revenge. The lives of these four characters are bound and interwoven in a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and political enmities, but ends far away, where Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius find themselves fighting against the Parthians and overwhelming odds.

15+
9/10

The Dirty Streets of Heaven

by Tad Williams

Sure, he takes the occasional trip to Heaven, but his job as an advocate - arguing the fate of the recently deceased - keeps him pretty busy on Earth, and he's more than happy to spend the rest of his time propping up the bar with his fellow immortals. Until the day a soul goes missing, presumed stolen by 'the other side'. A new chapter in the war between heaven and hell is about to open. And Bobby is right in the middle of it, with only a desirable but deadly demon to aid him.

"Tad Williams has made his urban fantasy come alive with characters who are well-rounded with reason and direction, resplendent with a rich history and back story."

15+
9/10

The Shadowed Sun

by NK Jemisin

Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. And nightmares: a mysterious and deadly plague haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Trapped between dark dreams and cruel overlords, the people yearn to rise up - but Gujaareh has known peace for too long.

"Ultimately, The Shadowed Sun is a more personal tale than The Killing Moon. There is so much to love about it. But I found a few plot threads a little too easy to predict. I loved the characters and identified with each. The story grew organically and weaved together beautifully. And while, as I mentioned above, there is a significant emotional and moral discourse happening here - more so than the first book - for some reason I found myself LIKING the first book just a smidge more. Having said that, read them both. They are two of the best books I heave read all year."

15+
9/10

Endymion Spring

by Matthew Skelton

Who or what is Endymion Spring? A power for good, or for evil... A legendary book that holds the secret to a world of knowledge... A young boy without a voice - whose five-hundred-year-old story is about to explode in the twenty-first century... Set in present-day Oxford and Germany at the dawn of printing, one magical book sets two boys’ worlds alight – bringing them unimaginable danger, excitement and power...

"Endymion Spring is a very, very good book; the characters, particularly those in Mainz, are brought vividly to life and the skillfully described locations are a real highlight. There are, however, times when the feel is more that of a screenplay than a book (there is not doubt that this would, and possibly may, make a very good film) but this is a minor grievance that in no way detracts from what is a fascinating and highly rewarding story." Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

The City and the City

by China Mieville

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984 , The City & The City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

"And yes, this is a great story. Mieville has delivered and lived up to the hype generated by his early work, in particular the Bas-Lag series. While this is a vastly different book to that epic series, there is no change in quality." Charlie White, Fantasy Book Review

15+
9/10

Apartment 16

by Adam Nevill

Some doors are better left closed... In Barrington House, an upmarket block in London, there is an empty apartment. No one goes in, no one comes out. And it’s been that way for fifty years. Until the night watchman hears a disturbance after midnight and investigates. What he experiences is enough to change his life forever. A young American woman, Apryl, arrives at Barrington House. She's been left an apartment by her mysterious Great Aunt Lillian who died in strange circumstances. Rumours claim Lillian was mad. But her diary suggests she was implicated in a horrific and inexplicable event decades ago. Determined to learn something of this eccentric woman, Apryl begins to unravel the hidden story of Barrington House. She discovers that a transforming, evil force still inhabits the building. And the doorway to Apartment 16 is a gateway to something altogether more terrifying...

"You just can’t beat a damn good horror book, particularly one that manages to scare and disturb you late at night, even though you are safe and sound in your own home. Adam Nevill’s Apartment 16 is one such book. The titular apartment is located within Barrington House, an upmarket block in London. It has been empty for fifty years - no one goes in, no one comes out. When Seth - an aspiring artist working as a night watchman - investigates a disturbance after midnight, his experiences change his life forever." Floresiensis

15+
9/10

Returner\'s Wealth

by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

May 2010 will see Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, creators of the multi-million-selling Edge Chronicles, return with a brand-new frontier-fantasy trilogy. The Wyrmeweald series will have Stewart and Riddell’s existing fan-base hoping for much that is new and fresh while also crossing their fingers and praying that it contains the same elements that made the Edge Chronicles so enjoyable and involving.

12+
9/10

Under Heaven

by Guy Gavriel Kay

For two years Shen Tai has mourned his father, living like a hermit beyond the borders of the Kitan Empire, by a mountain lake where terrible battles have long been fought between the Kitai and the neighbouring Tagurans, including one for which his father - a great general - was honoured. But Tai's father never forgot the brutal slaughter involved. The bones of 100,000 soldiers still lie unburied by the lake and their wailing ghosts at night strike terror in the living, leaving the lake and meadow abandoned in its ring of mountains.

To honour and redress his father's sorrow, Tai has journeyed west to the lake and has laboured, alone, to bury the dead of both empires. His supplies are replenished by his own people from the nearest fort, and also - since peace has been bought with the bartering of an imperial princess - by the Tagurans, for his solitary honouring of their dead.

The Tagurans soldiers one day bring an unexpected letter. It is from the bartered Kitan Princess Cheng-wan, and it contains a poisoned chalice: she has gifted Tai with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses, to reward him for his courage. The Sardians are legendary steeds from the far west, famed, highly-prized, long-coveted by the Kitans.

"Under Heaven, inspired by the Tang Dynasty of Ancient China, is as beautiful and enriching a novel as you could possibly wish for. " Fantasy Book Review

15+
10/10

Skallagrigg

by William Horwood

Unites Arthur, a little boy abandoned many years ago in a grim hospital in northern England, with Esther, a radiantly intelligent young girl who is suffering from cerebral palsy, and with Daniel, an American computer-games genius.

12+
10/10

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