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 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

The Ten Thousand

by Paul Kearney

Very rarely does an author manage to leave you heartbroken while still allowing you to have enjoyed the book you’ve read. Steven Erikson managed it in ‘Deadhouse Gates’ and Paul Kearney manages it in his book ‘The Ten Thousand.’ I have just finished reading the book, and feel both dispirited and glad for having read it.

15+
10/10

The Reapers are the Angels

by Alden Bell

God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe... Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves. This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization – and to those who have created a new world order for themselves. When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right, if she can just get him back to his family in Texas then maybe it will bring redemption for some of the terrible things she's done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, has done things that she's not proud of and, along the road, she’s made enemies. Now one vengeful man is determined that, in a world gone mad, killing her is the one thing that makes sense…

"The Reapers are the Angels is a real triumph, a literary fantasy where the zombies are mostly window-dressing. This is a novel more concerned with people and their relationships, with the human spirit and all its flaws and frailties. It's a story driven by the characters' needs to establish some sort of order in their lives, some sort of goal to cling to, and all the pitfalls that arise because of this need. It speaks of resilience and belief, of hope and sorrow, and the need to look for the beauty in life, no matter how hard that might be. An instant post-apocalyptic classic." Speculative Horizons

"A haunting and beautifully written vision of fractured humanity that may soon be regarded as a classic within its genre" Fantasy Book Review

15+
9/10

The Radleys

by Matt Haig

Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can't sleep, can't eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can't go outside unless they're smothered in Factor 50. With a visit from their lethally louche uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopthorpe is about to change. Drastically.

"Pointed, clever and witty." Independent

"The Radleys is a refreshing and original take on a vampire genre that has arguably become rather overworked of late, and the book’s main theme of abstinence is perfect for these debt-ridden times. Using short, sharp paragraphs and sprinkled with delightful asides from the fictional Abstainer’s Handbook, The Radleys is a coming of age story that will appeal to adults, both young and old." Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

Once Walked With Gods

by James Barclay

The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of 100,000 elves lost to the Garonin. The elf who led that fight, Takaar, is blamed for the losses and has gone into hiding. Now the weakened elf race is tearing itself apart in civil war, human mercenaries have arrived in Calius and are ripping the continent apart. Only one elf can unite the elves. And only one elf believes in him. A young warrior named Auum sets out to bring back the shamed hero and save the elven race.

"I loved this book. I loved the characters and the journeys that they took and are to take, and I love the hints of what will come; things that we'll know of in passing and get to see in full and other things which are totally new. Barclay has managed to return to the world of Calaius and not leave us disappointed. Barclay is back and he might very well be better than ever." Fantasy Book Review

15+
10/10

I Shall Wear Midnight

by Terry Pratchett

One of my favourite authors is Terry Pratchett. There’s no secret to that if you’ve spent even a little bit of time browsing FBR; he notches ten-out-of-ten books regularly, in my opinion, and has one of the keenest minds and greatest storytelling abilities I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Not surprisingly then, Sir Pratchett has done it once again with his latest Discworld novel, ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’, the fourth in his Tiffany Aching series, following the trials and tribulations of a girl becoming a witch in a land that doesn’t want a witch.

12+
9/10

White Crow

by Marcus Sedgwick

Winterfold, a place of crumbling cliff paths, deserted churches and ruined graveyards, forms the backdrop for Marcus Sedgwick's latest work, White Crow, a contemporary gothic thriller for young-adults. Rebecca is an unwilling visitor to Winterfold during a long, hot, claustrophobic summer and, against her better judgement, befriends local resident Ferelith. The two girls discover more about each other (and about Winterfold) than either really want to, uncovering frightening secrets that would be best left long forgotten.

"White Crow is an intelligent and thoughtful book whose themes of afterlife, faith and death - both human mortality and the demise of a town itself – are explored delicately. Two strong female leads drive a story that is both chilling and memorable in equal measure. Highly recommended." Fantasy Book Review

12+
9/10

Towers of Midnight

by Robert Jordan

The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One's prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unravelling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to spill out of the Blight. Perrin Aybara is haunted by spectres from his past. To prevail, he must find a way to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it for ever. Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost. The end draws near. It's time to roll the dice.

"Sanderson has done a wonderful job in stepping up to plate and filling the big man’s shoes. The writing flows wonderfully but I still feel, however, that Jordan’s female characters are sometimes lacking. Many seem to me to be copies of each another and too shallow in their ideals. Elayne’s personality has certainly changed for me in this boo. I don’t know if it was due to her pregnancy or the need for her character to develop to drive her storyline along but thankfully, throughout the book, Elayne becomes less annoying (she’s one of my least favourite characters in the story)."

12+
10/10

Dante\'s Journey

by JC Marino

A flash of light and Detective Joe Dante steps through. No longer on the cobblestone streets of 1961 Boston, Joe finds himself in a horrifying new world-Hell itself. Joe was in hot pursuit of his family's killer, drug lord Filippo Argenti, when both were killed, and isn't about to let a little thing like death slow him down. So, with a healthy dose of New England stubbornness and the help of a mysterious guide, Virgil DiMini, Joe must evade angry demons, and search ever-lower through the rings of the original Dante's Inferno in hopes of finding justice for his wife and children. However, Joe will soon discover that behind every sin lies a secret and each secret revealed could land Joe in an eternity of hot water... VERY hot.

"This tale works on all levels, and as well as being a clever exposition of today’s society and its morals, and how far we have fallen, it also works on the level that it is action packed throughout. In the end though, it is a tale of faith and of renewed hope for the future. I often found myself pausing through this book and pondering on things in my life. It is a story which will live long in the memory and that is the highest compliment one can pay to a book. I urge you to give this first time author a try. You will not be disappointed. It is a cathartic experience. It is also a wonderful modern retelling of the classical poem, and one that deserves widespread reading. As for me I will be passing this book onto my family and friends, as well as finally giving Dante’s The Inferno a go." Fantasy Book Review

15+
9/10

Against All Things Ending

by Stephen Donaldson

Score out of 10. 11 and 7, when I am in a light mood and not really concentrating on the book then it’s hard to get into, but when you can settle down and give this book the time it deserves then it’s off the chart. You are left out of breath, waiting until the 4th and Final Thomas Covenant book appears.

15+
9/10

Paths of Intimate Contention

by Walter E Mark

In conclusion, I found the second novel most entertaining. The storytelling is far crisper and the characterisation, now there are more parties, has also improved. There is also an appendix which allows the reader to understand the different words of Kosundo. The book has a strong underlying message of faith and choice, and the consequences that follow. There is also far more emotion and pathos in this book, as well as deception, ambition, betrayal and hope for the future. All in all a solid and entertaining read from a fast improving author. The future looks good for Walter E Mark.

15+
9/10

Never Knew Another

by JM McDermott

Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother Djoss, she hides out in their squalid apartment, living in fear that someday, someone will find out that she is the child of a demon. Corporal Jona Lord Joni is a demon's child too, but instead of living in fear, he keeps his secret and goes about his life as a cocky, self-assured man of the law. The first book in the Dogsland Trilogy, Never Knew Another is the story of how these two outcasts meet.

"All in all Never Knew Another is a must read novel. It’s quick, beautiful, well written and leaves you wanting more (the author has stated that this is book one of a series). The storyline and plot is original and well thought out and beautifully executed. Lovely, dark, and graceful this story is sure to capture your imagination." Fantasy Book Review

15+
10/10

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