This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

20 December, 2013



ISBN: 978-1-44814-184-5
Pages: 49
Publisher: BBC Books/Ebury Publishing
Published: 5 December 2013

On the cover:

Something odd is going on at the Fetch Brothers Golf Spa Hotel. Receptionist Bryony Mailer has noticed a definite tendency towards disappearance amongst the guests. She’s tried talking to the manager, she’s even tried talking to the owner who lives in one of the best cottages in the grounds, but to no avail. And then a tall, loping remarkably energetic guest (wearing a fetching scarf and floppy hat) appears. The Fourth Doctor thinks he’s in Chicago. He knows he’s in 1978. And he also knows that if he doesn’t do something very clever very soon, matters will get very, very out of hand.

   I was very excited when I got approved for this on NetGalley. I've only ever read one Doctor Who story in my life. In the Doctor Who Magazine, in 1988 I think. (I may have that issue somewhere still.) My Doctor Who experience started when I watched the Tom Baker episodes on Super Channel back in the late '80s. And despite watching all the New Who, he's still my Doctor in the sense most Brits use that expression. So that this novella starred the Fourth Doctor just made it even better for me. The risk of having the kind of anticipation I did is that you can be disappointed, but fortunately that didn't happen.

   When it starts out, it quickly becomes clear what the story's monster is doing. This is a Doctor Who monster story after all. The monster works in a way that I thought was very cool, and it certainly managed to grab my interest right off the bat. It doesn't get lots of development through the story, but that isn't a problem, because that's not really what the story is about.
   What is much more central to this story is the characters. There's the Doctor, of course, and he is his jolly old self. (So much so that I wanted to drop everything to rewatch one of the old Tom Baker episodes when I'd finished reading this.) But more important is the person who is really the main character in this story, Bryony Mailer.

   Bryony comes off as a strong character straight from the beginning. Her thoughts make her out as something more than the others. But it still feels a bit vague because several characters are introduce d at the beginning. When the Doctor shows up though, things instantly become clearer. And his appearance make it even more clear that Bryony is central to what is going to happen. She's really an interesting character too, and for me she more or less carried this on her own. She's there with the Doctor all the time, and although we go inside the Doctor's head she is very much the centre.
   There are a couple of other characters that are in the thick of things, but I don't want to spoil anything by talking too much about them. It suffices to say that they have distinct personalities. They are certainly not given as much depth as Bryony, but in a story this short it simply isn't needed and it would take away from the action.

   The storyline is quite full of events. After the introductory pages there is actually some build-up to things kicking off, but when it does it never lets up. This is a story that is written to be read in one go, and it really makes it hard to do anything else either. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding the monster. That is handled well, and the way things are kept back worked perfectly for me. 
   What there is of action is also splendid. There's no real fighting as such, but anyone who has experience with Doctor Who will recognise the type of action Kennedy gives us. It will come as no surprise that there is some running around, at this stage it feels like it is obligatory for any story of Doctor Who, but it has purpose here and leads us on in the story.
   The only thing that I had some problems with was the ending. It felt a bit rushed, a bit too simple after an excellent build up. Not that it was bad, it just didn't feel like it made it quite up to what the story deserved.

   All in all though this is a very good standalone Doctor Who story. The storyline is a good one, and the monster is interesting. The Forth Doctor works very well here, and Bryony is a very nice to be acquainted with, and I hope she'll show up later.
   This isn't a gamechanger in the Whoniverse, but it is a good addition to it. It will give fans a nice story, and for me it was a great introduction to written Doctor Who - as I am sure it would be for anyone who hasn't read Doctor Who before. It has made me want to check out more of the Doctor's written adventures.
   One sentence review: A short and fun adventure for the Fourth Doctor that is lifted by a supporting character that has great potential.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher/NetGalley.

19 December, 2013


   So, there'll be a new Stephen King novel coming in June 2014. This cover is for the US edition coming from Simon & Schuster. Although it's a pretty plain cover, it is very evocative. Looks like we are in for a blood-dripper from King. It's a good cover for a book that would probably sell just as much with just the authors name and the title on it.

   "Marky" Mark Lawrence has a new trilogy coming from Ace 3 June 2014, with a cover by Chris McGrath. It's not exactly a groundbreaking Fantasy cover, but as I've said many times before I like the traditional Fantasy covers. This is a really good one, and it makes me interested in picking up the novel.

   This one is out 1 April 2014 from Strange Chemistry. The art is by Steve Stone. First, lovely dress, and I'm not kidding. Secondly, it really is great art. Very good cover. ( first thought was "Bhelliom", something I suspect is a thought that must have gone through the head of the book's editor too.)

   You may recognise the style of this cover for the first book in a series. It's by Joey Hi-Fi for a book coming 29 April 2014 from Angry Robot Books. As always Hi-Fi has made a great cover. I especially like that the city in the background gives a feeling of the 1950s or '60s Science Fiction covers. This is one I'm looking forward to reading.

   Coming 4 March 2014 from Strange Chemistry we have the first one in a series. The cover is by Chris Moore. I like this one a lot. That could be because it reminds me of the forest where we used to play when I was a kid. But it doesn't really matter, the cover definitely catches my attention.

   Amazing 15 has made this cover for a novel out from Angry Robot Books 27 May 2014. It's the first in a series. This one is really a bit WTF!, in a very good way. It's both creepy and cool...and I really need to get this one based by the cover alone.

   From Gollancz, coming June 2014. With art by Edward Bettison. This one is very subdues compared to most of the SFF covers you see. But that works to its advantage, it stands out among the covers in this reveal. I also like this style of cover, and it certainly makes me curious enough to check out the book.

   Paul Young has made this cover for a 4 February release from Strange Chemistry. I'm a bit late with this cover, and I'm not sure how I missed it. I actually became aware of it when I got the e-ARC. I really like this cover, it's really a great image. And I'll make sure to get this one read before it's released.

   I have no info on who made the images for these two. The titles are Sea of Sorrows for book two (, release 22 July 2014,) and River of Rain for book three (, release 18 November 2014), from Titan Books. -As for if I like them or not? I have one tattoo, on my arm, it's done from a picture of the xenomorph from the first movie.
   The first book is out 28 January, and here is the cover for that.

18 December, 2013


Cover art: Paul Kidby
Cover design and image manipulation: Claire Ward


ISBN: 978-0-857-52227-6
Pages: 374
Publisher: Doubleday (Transworld Publishers)
Published: 7 November 2013

On the cover:

To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it's soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work. As master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital... but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don't always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse.

Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi' t'flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he's going to stop it all going off the rails...

   Discworld has in many ways become the gateway to SFF for many people in the last 30 years, but it has changed quite a bit over the years. It has moved a long way from the parody of the first two books, but you can still see the seeds that lead to this fortieth volume in those books.
   As usual this is a standalone, but I would say that it makes much more sense as the third of the, series-within-a-series, Moist von Lipwig books. And I would advice anyone who isn't planning to read this only because they love (steam) trains to start at the first of those books, Going Postal.
   There's so many elements here, like Commander Vimes and Lord Vetinari, that come with all the baggage from earlier books, that actually reading this on its own would lessen the readers experience to a significant extent in my opinion. And that is also something I see as a problem for the later Discworld books in general, it has become much more of a series than it was. In fact it seems to be almost taken over by Commander Vimes, a character whose story really should have ended with 2002's Night Watch, and he crops up again in a much too big role here.
   Well, that is a bit of context, on to the review of this novel:

   It's obvious that this story is about steam power, or the railway...Except that is only one of three story threads here. There is one about how the goblins, golems, and other such creatures fit into life on the Discworld now that they have gotten recognition. That one is pretty slight here, and is something that has being going on in Discworld books for a long time.  We get a bit more of it here, and it works well as an update into an ongoing concern. But as I wrote about in the previous paragraph, this is another of the elements that has a lot of previous history to it. Although to be fair, this one works pretty well without familiarity with previous Discworld books.
   The second storyline concerns the dwarfs, specifically the conflicts between the orthodox members of the species and those that are open to change. This ties in very much with the railway, that stands as a symbol for progress. And they sort of fit together nicely. I say sort of, there's a problem with the dwarf part being its own thing. For that part of the story the railway is incidental, and it could have been anything. In fact, as it turns out in the end, it's something a bit more important than technical progress that is at the heart of the dwarf side of things. And I feel that this whole side of the story could have been better served by giving it a whole book of its own. Preferably one that wasn't hampered by having a previous leading character at the centre. I just think this story thread has more importance than being relegated to being one of two plot threads gives it.

   That being said, this is actually a really good story. Pacing-wise it is a really fast one, at times reminiscent of an Action Thriller. There is a lot happening, the book is really bursting at the seams with story. (Which can be a problem, as I have already mentioned.) Pratchett has put in quite a bit of good action scenes here, and there s some suspense involved. Although to be fair, it's mostly suspense as to how things are going to happen instead of what is going to happen. It does really pull you along towards the end though. I read to the end through the night, and finished in the morning, I didn't really want to put this down before I'd turned the last page.
   There is a nice build to this story. It starts out rather slow, introducing the railway and the players behind it. Once it gets going though there's a crescendo like building in the events surrounding this new technology. This is done extremely well, and it puts up a very good mirror to our world in that regard. Almost everyone reading the novel can remember events from their lifetime that happened in similar ways that the railways introduction to the Discworld. And as Pratchett has shown us many times before, he is very good at putting things in our world in perspective by using the Discworld.
   Of course that isn't completely problem free. New inventions cropping up has became a sort of Discworld cliche. We saw it in Moving Pictures and Soul Music, and this is the third such outing for Moist van Lipwig. And to be perfectly frank it is starting to feel a bit stale. Mind you, it is still very well done.

   On to the characters, the central one is Moist von Lipwig, a former con man who has become the man who fronts Ankh-Morpork’s forays into modernisation. I’ve liked him as a character before, and I still do to some extent, but he’s getting a bit stale. However, the problem here is that he isn’t really needed. You see, the characters of Dick Simnel, Harry King, and Lord Vetinari's secretary Drumknott actually fill all the needs of the story. They are certainly interesting people, but we only get a glimpse of that, because we have Moist von Lipwig running around doing stuff. Granted, he's a good person to go around giving the reader a glimpse of what's happening. But he's in some ways just fulfilling the role Rincewind had in the earlier books here by running around to show the reader things.
   I already mentioned the problems I had with Commander Vimes showing up. And there is some sense here that he does so only because of his popularity, the same can be said for Lord Vetinari. But they do fulfill their roles when they show up, and so does the rest of the cast. There's just no real new character development here. Dick Simnel, who is very central, doesn't really get to be much more than a stereotypical mechanical inventor/tinkerer.
   All of these characters are actually good, they just lack the depth we have gotten from Pratchett's characters before. They are really more like scenery to the story here, so well drawn and complex characters aren't really this books strength. With something of an exception for the Low King of the dwarf. But as the storyline of the dwarfs get a bit of a short shift here, so does their king. Hopefully we'll see more of the king's story at a later date.

   As a summation, I'll say that this is very much what you'd come to expect from recent Discworld books. The laughs are mostly gone, but there's plenty of smiles. The story is good, and it talks about important issues and shows us our world in a new light. For those who have read Pratchett all along there is a certain disappointment about the lack of something new though. It's a bit stale, and at the same time it feels a bit like there's a rush to get to the "end point" of the Discworld's development before it's too late.

   This is still a very good read though, and one I have no hesitation with recommending. Read it as a Steampunk-inventor novel building to a fast paced Action Thriller towards the end, and I think you will pretty much follow along with what the story is, in my opinion. The social commentary, and the mirroring of our world is still very well done, and is worth picking this up for if you like those kind of elements on your SFF.
   All in all this is good Fantasy, that just lacks that little bit to make the grade into great.

REVIEWS: I Shall Wear Midnight  The Long Earth

LINKS: Terry Pratchett  Transworld Books

03 December, 2013



ISBN: 978-1-48043-819-4
Pages: 410
Publisher: Open Road Media
First published: 15 September 2005
This edition published: 17 September 2013

On the cover:
 (From the publisher's website.)

When a soul goes missing, an occult detective ventures into Hell to retrieve it

When the fourteen-year-old daughter of Singapore Three’s most prominent industrialist dies of anorexia, her parents assume that Pearl’s suffering has come to an end. But somewhere along the way to the Celestial Shores, Pearl’s soul is waylaid, lured by an unknown force to the gates of Hell. To save their daughter from eternal banishment, they come to Detective Inspector Wei Chen, whose jurisdiction lies between this world and the next.

A round-faced cop who is as serious as his beat is strange, Chen has a demon for a wife and a comfort with the supernatural that most mortals cannot match. But finding Pearl Tang will take him further into the abyss than ever before—to a mystifying place where he will have to cooperate with a demonic detective if he wants to survive. It’s easy, Chen will find, to get into Hell. The hard part is getting out.

   In some ways this book sits in the crossroads between several SFF subgenres. There's plenty of Urban Fantasy here, but there's a slight twist in that the "Urban" here doesn't necessarily signify a city on earth. You  could argue that this is Portal Fantasy, as there is extensive travelling in another realm - Hell to be precise. But it isn't really the kind of Fantasy that uses the Bible for inspiration. Hell here means Hell in the sense it is described in Chinese mythology. So the supernatural beings are not the ones you'd expect if you grew up in a society influenced by Old Testament culture. This means that the setting itself is quite different from what you would expect when you hear that you are dealing with demons.

   Williams has done a great job of making the setting come alive. You get a very good feel for the atmosphere of the earthly city of Singapore Three, a bustling Asian metropolis of the not too distant future. However that is not what I would call the main location here, although we spend a lot of time in it. The main location is without a doubt Hell.
   As I said above, this is Chinese Hell, which is a quite different place from the Christian one. It's actually a very interesting place, maybe even worth a visit if you are the adventurous type. There's lots of details about what goes on in this version of Hell, and it really comes alive in the pages of the novel. It's described in such a way that you can see it before you, and it doesn't feel any less real than the Earthly city the rest of the story takes place in.

   Storywise this starts out with what is really become a cliche, a women walks into a detective's office. But we have already been warned by the prologue that this isn't an ordinary Crime novel, and it's a matter of moments before everything takes a completely different turn. Once the supernatural elements are firmly introduced the story really gets going, and when it does it rarely lets up on the fast pace. 
   There is a lot of things happening, and there's several story threads to encompass them all. Although this means that we do jump around a bit in location and point of views, it doesn't mean that it feels disorganised or confusing. Williams manages to keep things going in the direction they are meant to be, and she seems very disciplined in how and when she introduces new viewpoints. There's no feeling of changes cluttering up the forward motion of the narrative.

   There are some of the elements of the Crime novel in the story, we get a central mystery that draws us in. This mystery build very nicely, and it twist and turns around satisfyingly. There are surprises coming at several points, and some cliffhangers will make it a necessity to keep reading. Sometimes the structure of the pacing will remind you of an Action-Adventure Thriller, although the novel stays in the Fantasy bookshelf throughout.
   There's some situations here that are quite humorous, but that doesn't mean the book is Humorous Fantasy, it stays well away from that. This is played straight. Although it must be stressed that this is a fun novel, with plenty of happenings that will bring a smile to your face.

    I always feel that the characters are important in this type of novel,. They are the ones we see the world through, and as such how they function is important to the readers experience. D.I. Chen is a very good character in that respect. He has a lot of depth to him, including the flaws that are so important to adding that third character dimension. Chen is in fact a very welcome acquaintance. He feels like a very natural supernatural detective, an "everyman" supernatural detective if you want. You're very much left with the feeling that this is how such a person would be. To put it very shortly; he feels real.
   Chen isn't alone in the book. He has the support of some very interesting characters. Especially his wife Inara and Zhu Irzh. The latter could almost be said to be the main character, and in some parts of the novel he steals the show. He is however subservient to Chen when it comes to getting this story told, but his importance is near the D.I.'s.
   There are other characters here too that have lesser roles than these three. And all of them are well drawn. Williams is very good at creating characters you can relate to on some level. Even some of the evil denizens of Hell comes across as interesting to know. (But perhaps not spend time visiting.)

   All in all this is very well written Urban Fantasy with a solid world behind it. The setting alone will give this a lot of freshness for those that read this kind of story. It isn't just decorating that sets this story in an Asian locale, the setting is very much integral to the story being told. And the story is a very entertaining one, it's a story that actually could justify the description "fun romp".
   I would recommend this to anyone who likes an action filled and fun Urban Fantasy story, and especially those that want stories set in a city outside Europe or North America. This is highly entertaining, and I for one will try to get hold of the other novels in the series.

NOTE: An e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher/NetGalley.

LINKS: Liz Williams  Open Road Media

20 November, 2013


Cover by Kay Sales


ISBN: 978-0-9571883-6-5
Pages: 71
Publisher: Whippleshield Books
Published: 30 November 2013

On the cover:

 It is April 1962. The Korean War has escalated and the US is struggling to keep the Russians and Chinese north of the 38th parallel. All the men are away fighting, but that doesn’t mean the Space Race is lost. NASA decides to look elsewhere for its astronauts: the thirteen women pilots who passed the same tests as the original male candidates. These are the Mercury 13: Jerrie Cobb, Janey Hart, Myrtle Cagle, Jerri Sloan, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Bernice Steadman, Wally Funk, Sarah Gorelick, Gene Nora Stumbough, Jean Hixson, Rhea Hurrle and Irene Leverton. One of these women will be the first American in space. Another will be the first American to spacewalk. Perhaps one will even be the first human being to walk on the Moon.

Beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, deep in the Puerto Rico Trench north of San Juan, lies a film bucket from a KH-4 Corona spy satellite. It should have been caught in mid-air by a C-130 from the 6549th Test Group. That didn’t happen. So the US Navy bathyscaphe Trieste II must descend twenty thousand feet to retrieve the bucket, down where light has never reached and the pressure is four tons per square inch. But there is more in the depths than anyone had expected, much more.

This is not our world. But it very nearly was.

    Having previously enjoyed the first two Apollo Quartet books (reviews here and here), I was really looking forward to see what Sales would do this time. That's one of the strengths of the Apollo Quartet; the books are themed around the US space program that led to the Moon landing, but Sales does something different with it each time. This time we get pure Alternate History, the timeline doesn't even reach 1970. But Sales sticks to the science so judiciously that this in many ways reads like Hard SF, or more precisely like Hard SF of the 1950s could have been.

   There's two very distinct story threads this time around. The main one concerns female astronauts. And before I even go into this book, I have to commend Sales for digging up some history on this part of the story. Some of that is shown in a short section at the end of the book, but it really is something I want to look into further.
   The story of the female astronauts is also a very gripping one. There's a lot of tension in some of the things that are going on. This is solid storytelling, and it will come out favourably compared to any Science Fiction concerned with human near-Earth space travel. It may feel a bit old-fashioned because of the time it is set in, but that doesn't detract from it as a very compelling story in my opinion.
   With the solid factual base behind it, and Sales' excellent extrapolations from it, this reads very much like a history of human space exploration. Sales also gives us a plausible explanation for why events have turned the way they have in this timeline, and you can see how easily this could have been our world.

   In the other story Sales goes off at the deep end, literally. We're taken on a very deep sea dive outside of Puerto Rico. There's the same kind of tense excitement here as in the other story thread, we are after all in another environment that is hostile to human life.
   We get a slightly different type of story here though, this has a bit more of the Spy Thriller in it, and there's even an element here that comes straight from the fringes of UFOlogy. That is not to say that this lacks in realism in any way. In fact there's not really anything that says this isn't what really happened. At least until the very end.

   Both of the stories are more introspective than action oriented. We follow the inner thoughts of the two protagonists and these are important to the novella. I never missed any action, or more outright Science Fiction elements though.They are simply not needed here, and would just get in the way of what Sales wants to tell us.

   The characters become important in stories such as these, and how you feel about them can be integral to your enjoyment of what you are reading. The two we meet here are nice to get acquainted with. Although this is a novella we do get fairly close to them, and can see what makes them tick in the situations we see them. That the level of characterisation is so good makes this feel like it spans over a much greater number of pages. Sales manages to convey a lot in the few pages he has allowed himself.

   All in all this is a very good novella. The story is compelling in itself but the history behind it, that is given an alternate twist, gives it more depth and punch. This is a story that has importance outside of genre, and deserves to be read widely far outside the confines of SFF.
   This is absolutely brilliant Alternate History, it covers angles that is (as far as I know) ignored within that genre, and stands as a great testament to how serious and close to reality you can get within this genre.
   Sales is again showing that he can write very engaging fiction about space exploration while sticking to the rules of Hard SF. This is fascinating and engaging storytelling with enough depth to satisfy the most discerning reader.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the author.

REVIEWS: Adrift on the Sea of Rains  The Eye with Which the Universe Beholds Itself

LINKS: Ian Sales  Whippleshield Books

13 November, 2013


   Coming from Solaris 29 April 2014. This is a Steampunk novel set in the Far East. I actually feel that information is a bit redundant, the cover has already said that. I must say I find this dragon very intriguing, I really want to know what it is doing, and why. I also think it is a very cool piece of art in itself.

   You may have caught the news that Raymond E. Feist is working on a new series. This is the (US/Canada) Harper Voyager cover for the first book in that series, coming out 6 May 2014.'s a sword in a field. I'm perfectly okay with that, but there's really not much to go on here. Either you like this sort of cover image or you don't.

   I've previously showed the cover for the first novel in this new Shannara series here. This second novel will be out from Del Rey 19 August 2014. This is a trilogy of standalones. I really like the cover this time too. It fits very well with the last one, creating a great series feel.

   The second book in this tie-in trilogy is coming from St. Martins Press 4 March 2014. I think this cover is very good. In my opinion it captures the feel of the TV series even better than the previous one. (That I said was book number three. As far as I can see now, it's the first one.)

   From Orbit comes this book, with a 27 May 2014 release date. From what I can see this is a whole new series. I like the cover a lot. It may have the usual hooded figure, but it does something new with it. And it looks -for want of a better word- inviting.

  Harper (US) paperback cover, release date 22 April 2014. Book five in the Watch series. This has already been out in hardcover, but I wanted to show it anyway. This is a series that was huge some years ago, when the movie came, and then it sort of petered out. I don't think I've heard about it since book three was lined up for a release in English. Not really sure what happened with it. The cover is no more than okay and doesn't do much for me. But it's really different from the movie I saw, so I put it up here as curiosa. Did anyone who reads this read the books? If so, please give me a heads-up about them in the comments.

      From PYR, 8 July 2014 this is the fifth Burton & Swinburne novel. I almost posted the cover for the fourth novel, until I checked the release date and found out it was already out. This is done in the same style, and I really like this one too. I haven't ready any of these books, but the covers make me want to pick them up.

  Out from Tor (US) 20 May 2014. This is the seventeenth book in the Saga of Recluse. I think there was four or five books the first time I became aware of the series. It's one of those that I've never gotten started on. Although the few people I know who have read it talk highly of it. I am actually a fan of this style of covers for Epic Fantasy books. I think this is a really good cover just for that reason. And it is of course also a really good illustration.

   Also from Tor (US), this is the follow up to The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, and is out 6 May 2014. I think it's a really good cover. But I have to say the background figures reminds me of the (PlayStation) Final Fantasy games. Considering the amount of hours I have spent playing those games, that is pretty high praise.

  Out 13 May from PYR. I started with a dragon, so I thought I'd end with one. This is a more Western type dragon, and in some ways this is a pretty traditional cover. Not that it matters. It's a great image in my opinion, and I'll most likely hunt down a copy of this so I can have it in my shelves.

   If you've read any of my previous cover reveal round-up posts you may have noticed something different this time. There's no credits for artists here. That's because I have taken all these covers from different publishers' catalogs online, and that information wasn't available. I'd love to add that though, so if you are the artist or work for the publisher of these books, I'd appreciate it if you could tell me what credits I can add in the comments or by sending me an e-mail to the address in the top right hand corner. Facebook and Twitter is also fine. I want to give credit to those who have made these covers.

11 November, 2013


Cover art by Daniele Serra


ISBN: 978-1-909-34821-9
Pages: 137
Publisher: Fox Spirit
Published: 3 July 2013

On the cover:
Weird Science, Stepford Wives, that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer… Genre fiction abounds with tales of men creating (or attempting to create) the perfect woman.

Now it’s the woman’s turn.

But being female, she’s flexible. She doesn’t just want to create the perfect man. She wants the perfect companion, be it man, beast or washing machine.

   First I'll give a (very) brief spoiler free review of each individual story, and then I'll sum up my feelings on the whole anthology below that.


   A tale of travelling to find a perfect partner. This is a neat little story that has a great high-concept idea backing it up. I really liked this little exploration of it. So much so that I would very much welcome Weimer exploring it in much longer form.


   The combination of funerals and surprise meetings are not unusual in fiction, but Stuart puts a very nice spin on it here. This is an excellent tale that gives us a glimpse into a much bigger story. Stuart certainly shows that he's someone to look out for with this tale.


   What begins with a child's point of view, and seems at first rather mundane, turns into a different type of story in the end. Both fun and a bit sad, and definitely something that makes you thoughtful. Terminiello has written a sweet little tale with quite a bit of depth to it. I like the feeling of being made to reflect while being entertained, and this delivers very well on that.


   A tale that is long enough to take us on quite a surprising journey. I really liked this from the start. It has a great atmosphere to it and enough twists to keep you firmly invested in the story. It's a nice mix of Thriller and Science Fiction. Paget is clearly an author I need to read more of.


   This story is about invention, and more importantly, the inventor. Reid's story starts out as straight forward Steampunk, and it continues in that genre until the end. But there's more important things told here than just that connected to the setting. It does get a bit heavy handed in what it says, but that works very well here. Reid is clearly someone to look for in the future.


   This starts out looking like something completely different from what it turns out to be. This is very well written and has a nice rhythm to it. There's some very important points being made here. Your mileage may vary on whether it is too direct or not. Personally, I liked it a lot.


   Closer to what most people think of when you say Science Fiction than any other story in this anthology. This is about Artificial Intelligence and friendship. It took me a few pages to get into this story, solely because its style is so different from the other entries, but once I did I was stuck in. This is a powerful story. It packs a real punch and gets you thinking. Excellent work by Hines.


   A story of love lost, and a new beginning. Powerful. That's the first word that springs to mind when describing Warom's excellent story. This is a very emotional tale. It grabs you very early on and doesn't let go until long after you have read the last sentence. It's hard for me to come up with the words to describe how good I think this is. I can only urge you to read it for yourself.


   Longing for companionship can be made much harder with an interfering mother at your back. This feels like it's really lighthearted compared to the other stories in this anthology. But while it is fun, it is more than just a surface story. McLeod writes about something I think everyone who who has turned thirty can relate to, or at least empathise with, and she does it very well. I found it a really fun read, and like it a lot.


   Here we have a story of a noble who finds some mechanical artifacts enchanting, and their maker even more so. It takes a while to see where this is going, and it wasn't a big surprise. But that doesn't really matter, you will be happy to come along for the journey. This is well written and it tells a fascinating story. A very good ending to the anthology.


   When I've read anthologies in the past it's usually been some sort of "Best of" or "Mammoth book of", or at least something that has some of the really big names of SFF attached to it. And there has always been at least one dud, stories that for some reason or other I didn't take to, that I could very well do without. 
   This anthology has none of those two things. (Well, the names are arguable. You'll probably recognise some of them.) There wasn't a single story here that I felt wasn't for me, or that I felt was below par. The quality of the storytelling is very high here, above what can be expected from any anthology. It really is consistently very good throughout. Every author in here has delivered something that they can be proud of, and something which I have really enjoyed.
   The only story I feel like singling out from the pack (or should that be skulk?) is Ren Warom's. Even in this field of very good stories her offering stands out. It's slightly above the others in the impact it has, and it is clear that Warom is a very accomplished writer.

   The theme for this anthology is given in the cover copy above. It isn't followed so strictly that it limits the stories we get. Most of them are Science Fiction in some form, but this is a really diverse offering. Even when what the stories tells us is very similar they do it in completely different ways. In fact this is the most diverse themed anthology I have ever read.
   With such a diversity there really is something for everyone here. It doesn't matter if you think Science Fiction isn't your thing, it's used more as means than an end here. This is simply great storytelling regardless of what genre you define it as being.

   Simpson has certainly done an excellent job of putting this together. Despite consisting of ten different stories in different settings, by ten different authors,  this book flows very well as a whole. As an anthology this really is one of the greats, and it is one of my absolute top reads this year.
   I can do nothing else to end this review than urge you to get a hold of this book. Especially for SFF fans this is an absolute must, and its SFF roots shouldn't stop you from grabbing it if you enjoy short stories. This is an anthology that should be read by everyone who enjoys a good story.

NOTE: An e-ARC of this was given to me by the publisher.

07 November, 2013


Cover by Larry Rostant


ISBN: 978-0-85766-281-1
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Published: 29 October 2013

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website)

Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn has everything he ever wanted – his twin brother Sandy restored to health, his family estate reclaimed and a son to inherit it – but his work is far from over. The renegade skraylings, the guisers, are still plotting – their leader, Jathekkil, has reincarnated as the young Prince Henry Tudor. But while he is still young, Mal has a slim chance of eliminating his enemies whilst they are at their weakest.

With Sandy’s help, Mal learns to harness his own magic in the fight against the guisers, but it may be too late to save England. Schemes set in motion decades ago are at last coming to fruition, and the barrier between the dreamlands and the waking world is wearing thin…

   This is the last book in a trilogy, so it's not really an ideal starting point. If you are completely new to the Night's Masque books, I suggest you start with The Alchemist of Souls (review).

   After going abroad in the previous volume, we are back in familiar territory this time; London at the time of Will Shakespeare. A minor supporting character here, but a name that may be familiar to some readers. The Bard isn't the only historical person to make an appearance, there's also some other names that will be familiar to those who have picked up a history book.
   As before the historical backdrop is a major strength of Lyle's. This is in my opinion foremost Alternate History of the kind that can be easily mistaken for Historical Fiction. (If you have a friend who likes Historical Fiction who you want to try SFF, I suggest getting them started on the Night's Masque books.) Those who have read this blog before will know that I like history, and that for me a solid historical background is a great plus for me in a novel.
   Lyle is almost a little to good at it. There were times I wanted to look up some of the character's true history, only for my brain to catch a moment later that they are products of Lyle's imagination. If you find Tudor courtly intrigue an interesting basis for fiction, you'll get plenty of that here. Just not from our historical timeline.

   There's action and suspense in this story pretty much from the beginning. Apart from a very well handled few chapters that gets us up to date there's not any passages in this novel that lack anything happening. The pacing is reminiscent of an Action Thriller, and that works very well. Well, unless you really should be going to sleep. I got so carried away by this story that I had to finish the book, it was past 5 am when I finally lay down to sleep. But let's face it, that is a huge compliment to Lyle's storytelling ability. This is a book it's really hard to put down.

  I mentioned courtly intrigue before, and parts of this story takes place in the middle of the royal court of England. Maliverny Catlyn has certainly circled such places before, but this time he's taken much closer to the centre, and that adds a lot to the stakes this time around. Not that what has happened in the two previous volumes has seemed inconsequential, but now we get to really see what the prize in the game that is being played is all about.
   Lyle does keep the tension high throughout this novel. Once the reader knows who the players really are, it also becomes clear that the outcome is in doubt. That feeling does not let up. It isn't until the final few pages that you get a resolution...of sorts. And that's the only thing I can really say didn't sit perfectly with me in this novel. I am still ambivalent about the ending. It is by no means bad, and it brings the story of this trilogy to a satisfying end. But there's a hint of more here, and I know Lyle is working on something else for now. So I can't really decide if it's teasing  to hint at more, or keeping our hopes -as readers- up that we will be able to return at some point to this excellent world. (I wouldn't mind a short story now and then.)

   Before I finish off this review I need to mention the characters, they are an excellent troupe. Mal is of course great as usual, and Lyle manages to give him even more depth than previously. Coby again gets to shine, and show off that she can handle herself in any situation that is thrown at her. 
   There's other characters in here too, and they by no means become cardboard cutouts. The whole cast here not only supports the story, they have an integral part in it. Even the aforementioned Bard is more than a throwaway reference, he has an actual function in the story.

   As the third book in a trilogy goes, this is an excellent one. I mentioned the only point I had problems with above, but that is really a non-issue. Whether you like Alternate History, Historical Fantasy, or Historical Fiction there is plenty to like here.
   Lyle has given me a great three volume journey through an excellent world that is just slightly skewed from the one we live in. I can state without a doubt that the ~1,500 pages of reading have been very much worth it, and I will not hesitate to encourage others to start on it.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher/NetGalley.

31 October, 2013


Cover by Jon Foster


ISBN: 978-1-59606-308-2
Pages: 201
Publisher: Subterranean Press
First published: 30 July 2010
This edition: 15 December 2011

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)

Maria Isabella Boyd’s success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty…she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn’t pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials—essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay.

Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave who’s been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea.

And now it’s Maria’s job to go get him.

He’s dangerous quarry and she’s a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows his orders. He takes her advice.

And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.

   It's not exactly a secret that I like the A Clockwork Century novels (, see the link to my reviews below,) so I was really excited to finally get my hands on this one. Of course there's a certain danger that you set yourself up for disappointment when you let anticipation build up for any form of art and/or entertainment. Not that I was really worried, Priest has definitely been good to me in that regard previously, and she doesn't disappoint this time either.

   We're at a new location for this series, actually several new locations; Chicago, Kansas City, and Louisville among them. This is very much centered around dirigibles, including the Clementine of the book's title. This makes for a structure that gives is very good for the kind of action adventure structured story we are getting here.
   As before the alternate history aspect is very solid here. It's clear that this is a world that is real enough that we'll do fine without a set location, or a permanent set of characters. And this time Priest has abandoned a story element that has united the other books in this series. There's still a connection to the other novels through some characters. But Priest's world is perfectly capable of supporting independent stories, and I wouldn't mind seeing this alternate Earth explored further in the future.

   The characters here are two very different people (, as stated in the cover copy above). Priest takes their differences and uses it to a great advantages when she showcases their different positions in a world where the US Civil War is still fought. They have some of the same personality traits, but that just highlights how much they come from totally different settings in life even more. Although I must stress that they are certainly much more than just mirror images. They just happen to both be the type of character that can drive this type of action-oriented narrative.
   Having two such individuals in such a short story shouldn't at first glance work, but Priest has made it seem like a completely natural way to tell a story. They do not crowd eachother out, but give us different threads of the same story, and we get a much richer tale because of it.

   The story is really a good one too, although it must be said that it has a bit of a prologue feel to it. Although to be perfectly honest that could just be me wanting to read a six to eight hundred story following where this one ends.
   Writing in such a limited space has left us with a story that is really pared down, there is nothing here that is unnecessary. In that regard this feels like a two hundred page short story. The story itself is not cut down though, it's a full action packed adventure with airship-pirates, spies, and secret weapons. It does in fact have much of the same pacing as an Action Thriller. It's a fast flowing story with action and suspense, but it is still filled with enough details to give us a nice glimpse of the wider world.

   All in all this was a very enjoyable book with more depth to it than I had expected. It's Steampunk with more than a bit of the depth many have said is lacking from the genre. It's also Steampunk that is geared towards the Alternate History end of that genre, it's totally lacking in the Victoriana we so often see. 
   But first and foremost this is a great story with plenty of action. I think it will appeal to anyone who has found Action Thrillers appealing, for those that like Alternate History or Steampunk this is a must. And it is a great "starter book" for those that are curious about the Alternate History end of Steampunk.
   For me this just cements Priest as one of the great writers of modern day Steampunk, and as a SFF author it is worth paying attention to.

REVIEWS: A Clockwork Century reviews.

LINKS: Cherie Priest  Subterranean Press

24 October, 2013


   This cover is designed by Jo Thomson at Tor UK, using Shutterstock images. It's for the first volume in The Blackheart Legacy trilogy, and it will be out in February 2014. I've wanted to read this book for a long time, and I'm really glad it has gotten such a great cover. Really looking forward to getting a hold of this. (And it comes out the month of my birthday too.) -You can read how Liz reacted when she first saw it here.

   For the second book in the Bloodsounder's Arc we have this one, coming from Night Shade Books in early summer of 2014. This is a very traditional character/action oriented Fantasy cover. I like those types of covers, and I like this one.

   From Tor UK, out 10 April 2014, we get this cover. It's really beautiful, there's no doubt about that. I still get a little bit of cognitive dissonance, because this looks more like a movie poster to my brain.

  This is a Joey Hi-Fi cover. Done for South African publisher Umuzi, and the book is due for a April 2014 release. It's certainly different, and downright eerie. But I like that about it, and I think this is a very good cover.

   A Black Sheep cover for a June 2014 Gollancz release. This certainly has a special look, and it really draws the eye. I like for the retro feel it has.

   The final cover today is from a children's book that is published in Norwegian 14 November by Aschehoug. The cover illustration is by Svein Nyhus. This book is based on the viral hit song "What Does the Fox Say?", and is written by the Ylvis brothers (, those who made the song). You can look at the Norwegian press release about it here.

23 October, 2013


Cover art by Darren Tan


ISBN: 978-1-78200-409-7
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Published: 22 October 2013

On the cover:
(From the publishers website)

Born in the dark days of the great crusades, the warrior monks of the Knights Templar vowed to defend pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Yet strangely, there are few historical records of the Templars ever fulfilling this task. Instead, their history is one of bloodshed and conquest, wealth and power, dark secrets and conspiracies. Today, the story of the Knights Templar is intimately linked with the story of the Holy Grail. But what exactly is this ancient artifact, and how has it been used to manipulate history for the last one thousand years? This book, based on the notes of the recently deceased historian, Dr. Emile Fouchet, attempts to unlock the secrets of the Knights Templar. It begins with an examination of their historical origins, their growth in the early middle-ages, and their supposed destruction under the charges of heresy. From there, it uses the clues left by the Templars themselves to reconstruct their secret journeys as they moved the Holy Grail from Europe to the New World and back. It also charts the secret, three-way war that is still being fought between the Templars, the Freemasons, and the Catholic Church. Finally, the book reveals the greatest of all Templar conspiracies, the attempt to found a new world order under the auspices of the European Union.

   The Knights Templar have been a staple of many a secret history through the years. Which is really no wonder considering their relatively short existence, and the manner in which they were disbanded. Their origins during the Crusades, their wealth, and the charges brought against them by the Catholic Church certainly lends itself to speculations around what was really going on.
   Arguably the most famous Templar conspiracy theory surrounds the Holy Grail. It's what, among others, Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code hinges upon. There is a Holy Grail theme here too, but it's not the same one as the one Brown and others have speculated about. And I did find the Grail theory in this book to be a very refreshing one. It goes in a direction that was new to me, even though I have read a lot of these types of theories throughout the last twenty to thirty years. 
    What Davis does with the Grail here ties nicely into another important aspect of the Templars. It adds quite a bit of credence to the theory presented, at least in that part of it. It's where the book is at its strongest.

   Although the book does present a fresh take on the theories surrounding the Templars power in Medieval times, and their supposed survival into modern times, it does suffer from a problem of length. There's simply too much history crammed in to way little room here. This is much more a brief synopsis than a full case made for the theory, and that is a shame because what we get here is mostly very good.
   I would very much have liked to see this spread out over a couple of hundred more pages, and given more depth. But that is really unfair criticism of what this really is, which is a short book that gives us a brief glimpse into a very interesting secret history.

   I'm very interested in history, particularly the Medieval period, so I have read quite a few books about the period the Knights Templar existed in. Davis does the period justice in his writing here. There's lots of well researched information about the period, and that goes for the rest of history up to the present day too. But that is not really the point of such a book like this, the point is more that the story seems believable.
   And mostly this seems very much like real history, something hidden from "the masses". The Medieval parts having to do with events during the Templar's official existence is  pretty solid, and there's no holes in it. When it moves through history towards our time, it does however become a bit to grand in my opinion. There's a bit too much focus on putting the Templars at the centre of a few too many events. And that takes away from both the depth at which things are explored, and the credibility of them.

    When we move into the 20th century the book becomes vaguer. Supposedly because of the death of the person who unearthed the information in the first place. I found this framing device to be a bit cheap. It's not really needed for the plausibility of what is presented, and it has been done so to death in the conspiracy theory novel that it is something that wouldn't seem truthful even if it were to happen in real life.

   To sum up my thoughts, I liked this book quite a lot. It's a nice and brief presentation of a Templar secret history that stands out a bit from the others I have read. It does feel a bit slight because of its few pages, but for someone wanting a quick introduction to these themes it is perfect.
   There's enough here to interest the seasoned conspiracy theory reader, and it is presented in such a way that a newcomer to these sorts of books will get a good grip on it. For those interested in Knights Templar or Holy Grail theories, this is definitively a must-buy. And I would highly recommend it to anyone who found Dan Brown's books enjoyable.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher/NetGalley.

LINKS: Graeme Davis  Osprey

21 October, 2013



ISBN: 978-0-345-54524-4
Pages: 288
Publisher: LucasBooks/Random House Del Rey
Published: 24 September 2013

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website)

Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.

But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity.

Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive.

  This novel brought back a lot of memories to me. It's set two years after the Battle of Yavin (, the destruction of the first Death Star). And it has Leia, Han, Luke, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 in it - this is in the middle of Original Trilogy territory.
   On one hand the nostalgia is a good thing. Star Wars set in that period is the most important thing when it comes to getting me interested in Science Fiction in the first place. On the other hand it means this novel has to compete with the memory of a lot of the comics that Marvel published in the 1980s (and that I read in Norwegian translations). Honestly, I think the two cancel eachother out. The nostalgia is balanced with me having read many stories with these characters. I have already seen these characters outside the movies, so while I want to reminisce, I don't want repetition of what I've seen before.

   Wells has written a story that definitely fits in with the feel of 1980s Star Wars. It captures the action-filled Space Adventure vibe that drew me, and many of my friends, into the world of George Lucas & co perfectly.
   When this story starts out, it concern the practical realities around establishing something that will be familiar to fans of the movies. It's a nice hook, and an interesting look behind the scenes - so to speak - of the rebellion against the Empire. In itself that would be something that is interesting, although to many it could become a bit mundane. But this doesn't go that straight path, it very quickly veers off to become a much more action filled and exciting story.

   There's lots to instantly like here. Pirates, battles, betrayals, peril, action, get the picture (- don't think there's a need for me to sound like an '80s movie trailer). This is fast paced, action filled, with a lot of tension and suspense. Of course there's little suspense as to what will happen with the main characters, most of us have already seen them in two movies set after this. But Wells introduces us to some very interesting new characters that you are never certain where will end up.
   And that isn't the only tension you get in this story. Wells is excellent at getting you close to the action, and feeling the peril the characters are in. Even with the characters from the film you sometimes forget that you know where they are at a later time. Wells pulls you in with writing that makes you live in the moment of the story, and that is a great strength of this novel.

   The characters are important in this story, and of the familiar ones it's Leia Organa that shines the most here. It's good to see her at the forefront of events, and being the one who initiates much of what happens. We get to see Leia in some depth here, and she handles herself very well. Wells manages to show off Her Holiness to great effect and really make her come alive.
   There's also some very interesting new players here, one of them is very much connected to Leia. And that works very well, it means she has someone to play - and show herself off - against. It is also handled well. For me it was in some ways the deciding point of what I felt about the novel. This is something that could have broken this novel for me if it felt artificial, like something put there for the sole purpose of showing off Leia. Fortunately it doesn't. It adds a lot of depth to the story, and raises the stakes. It's the element that lifts this above the average Star Wars Extended Universe story for me.

   All in all this is a great Star Wars story for those that want to reminisce about the days between the end of Star Wars and the beginning of Return of the Jedi. And it is a great place to start for those that wants to know more about the days of the Original Trilogy. It is also a good Space Opera tale in its own right.
   Wells writes great action and adventure set in space, and you don't have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy this novel. I can recommend this to anyone who wants a "fun romp" between the stars.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this book from the publisher/NetGalley.

REVIEW: Emilie & the Hollow World


LINKS: Martha Wells  Star Wars at Suvudu (Del Rey)

16 October, 2013


Cover photograph by Kamil Vojnar/Getty Images


ISBN: 978-1-444-72069-3
Pages: 242
Publisher: Hodder
First published: 5 April 1974
This edition published: 13 October 2011

On the cover:

Carrie White has a gift - the gift of telekinesis.

To be invited to Prom Night by Tommy Ross is a dream come true for Carrie - the first step towards social acceptance by her high school graduates.

But events will take a decidedly macabre turn on that horrifying and endless night as she is forced to exercise her terrible gift on the town that mocks and loathes her...

   Carrie is Stephen King's debut novel, but there is really nothing that tells you that. This reads more like the work of someone who has been writing for quite a while. Someone who has already found their voice, an author who is sure of himself. 

   It becomes clear pretty early on that this novel does have a theme that I'd argue is the Stephen King trope - growing up/coming of age. In this case it is also in some ways a retelling of the "ugly duckling" tale... Except this being King, there's not a Fairy Tale happy ending. The story stays quite far away from that.
   Carrie's coming of age in this novel is something that happens on several levels. There's what happens in the shower at the beginning of the book, her telepathy, and her going to the prom. The last one is the central event of the book, the place where all that Carrie is comes together and reaches a peak.

   Before I go any further, I have to talk a bit about the structure of the novel. I have already said that this is not structured as novels are as a standard, and it isn't. This novel does not have one continuous narrative text. There is a storyline that, with a few exceptions, is continuous, but it doesn't consists of one narrative text. It's a narrative text that is interspersed with book excerpts, official testimonies, and excerpts from news reports/news wires.
   This shouldn't really work. It is disruptive to a "clean" narrative, and something like this will usually mess with the readers "immersion" into the novel. Here it doesn't do that, instead it adds to the atmosphere of what is going on. And it even increases the tension that is building. In my opinion much more so than if this had been handled with different points of view. (There are different points of view in the novel.)

   I mentioned tension in the previous paragraph, and to me that is what best describes what this novel gives you. There's not really much suspense, we are told early on that something major will happen. So even if you somehow have managed to completely miss anything about what Carrie is about, you will not be surprised that something happens.
   What makes this great is that the lead up to the events is a constant building of tension. You know there will be a bang, and at times you almost hold your breath waiting for it to come. There is a sense of impending doom hanging over everything that happens, and a lot of what we learn adds to that feeling. Everything, in and around Carrie, builds up the level of tension. And when all that is finally released, it almost comes as a relief.

   Carrie is a very interesting and sympathetic character. What we learn about her, both about her school life and her home life, makes us feel for her. She is definitely an "other", an the treatment that she is given because of that is something that is both thought-provoking and unpleasant to read about. This is however not a novel that is heavy handed when it comes to trying to make you feel empathy with Carrie. That is something that happens naturally as we learn about her. And even towards the end of the book, it is clear that she is pretty much an innocent.
   There are other characters here than Carrie. Three of them are important parts of the narrative. These characters does not only serve to give us a glimpse into those things that Carrie is not aware of, they also gives us a perspective on Carrie as a person. In this way they are supporting characters, but they are important and integral to the story. 

   This is a very short novel, but one that gives you much more than its page numbers would suggest. The story is excellent, once it has hooked you it will not let you go until it ends. And along the way it will give you a page-turning, tension filled, journey through the darker corners of growing up as an outsider.
   There is no doubt that this is a powerful and accomplished novel. It is arguably one of King's best ones, and is essential for anyone who is a fan of his writing. In my opinion this is also an excellent place to start reading King. And I urge anyone who has not read any of his novels to pick it up. This is Psychological Horror at its best, and a great introduction what makes King such a popular writer.

BONUS LINK: You can see some of the covers Carrie has had through the years over on Hodderscape.

BONUS FACT: I was 44 days old when this novel was first published.