Book Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War is an Asian-inspired epic fantasy that is influenced by the real-world events of the Second Sino-Japanese war and the 1937 Rape of Nanjing. It tells the story of Rin, a war orphan fostered by the local drug dealers in a country town, and her remarkable journey from there to the number one military school, and after as a soldier.
Book Review: The Court of Broken Knives (The Empires of Dust #1) by Anna Smith Spark
The Court of Broken Knives is an excellent grimdark fantasy book which I found super intense to read and left me feeling a bit overwhelmed – in the best possible way!
It follows the story of a group of mercenaries employed by a bored noble with grand ambitions to kill his Emperor and court to usher in a ‘better rule’. One of the fighting men turns out to be rather more than anyone expected and then with double crosses and triple crosses (and maybe even quadruple crosses), the assassination attempt goes tits up and everyone has to deal the best they can with the fall out.
Book Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer (Bright Falls Mysteries #1) by C.T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus
This is a fun urban fantasy murder mystery which follows the adventures of 18-year-old Jane Doe in the Michigan town of Bright Falls as she hunts for the killer of her best friend’s sister, Victoria, after the murder is pinned on Jane’s brother.
Book Review: Godblind (The Godblind Trilogy) by Anna Stephens (published by Harper Voyager)
Godblind is a grimdark fantasy novel that has been on my ‘to be read’ list since it came out this time last year. I was first attracted by the gorgeous cover, then read lots of rave reviews and added Anna Stephens to my must-read female grimdark fantasy authors list. But a year after it released, I still hadn’t quite got around to reading Godblind.
Then I read two of the author’s short stories in two different places: Flesh and Coin in Art of War anthology and Just a Little Murder in issue 15 of Grimdark Magazine and was completely sold. Godblind got bumped up my TBR pile!
Recently I read fantasy novel The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley and was intrigued by the gender systems of the different cultures in the world.
In one country, Dhai, there are five genders and each person gets to pick theirs: female-assertive, female-passive, male-assertive, male-passive and ungendered. In Saiduan there are three: male, female and ataisa.
Book Review: Knee-Deep in Grit short story anthology from Grimdark Magazine
Grimdark Magazine is an excellent digital publication chock-full of articles, reviews, discussion and short stories all focused on the darker and grittier side of fantasy and science fiction. This collection of 25 stories has been collated from tales that have appeared in the mag over the past two years. And WOW, there’s been some good’uns!
Book Review and Author Interview: Song (The Manhunters Book 1) by Jesse Teller (published by Jesse Teller)
The author Jesse Teller kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So below is my review and after is the interview.
Song is a dark fantasy that follows the story of a thousands-of-years-old wizard called Rayph Ivoryfist in a world called Perilisc. Rayph is a powerful guy and, before the novel starts created a magical prison that could hold some of Perilisc’s most vile villains. He rounded up said villains and put them in prison. So confident is Rayph in his prison that he leaves it to travel, only to find out that there’s been a prison break. This is where the book opens, as Rayph discovers that the dangerous inmates are on the loose once again and a couple are out to get their revenge on the wizard, as well as take control by doing away with the King.
Many epic fantasy worlds are loosely based on medieval Europe – for example the bulk of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. There’s lots of reasoning for this, and, personally, I like reading this type of setting. However, it’s always refreshing to read fantasy worlds set in, or inspired by, non-western settings such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
My new fantasy novella, The Sand Scuttler, is set in a desert. The action takes place in Parchad, capital city of the desolate, desert country of Drome, as well as on Jhabia Ridge, a snaking length of rock that juts out of the sand not far from the city.
The inspiration for this setting has come from my travels around the world, and my time living and working in the Middle East in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Below I round up some of the specific locations and experiences that have helped me bring my world to life in The Sand Scuttler.
Jakira sat in the black desert and willed the Sand Scuttler to her. She was running out of time. Her first blood was upon her and when it ran dry, the master would have his way.
Tonight was the last time Big Bulai would allow her out and soon Jakira would be required to warm beds for Master Rasheed, his sons, his male relatives and friends. And then to pleasure Big Bulai. The thought repulsed her, so she quietened her mind and willed it to her.
She knew the creature existed. It had to…
Book Review: Art of War anthology, edited by Petros Triantafyllou (published by Booknest.EU)
This fantasy short story anthology features forty (yes, FORTY!) stories from an incredible selection of self-published and traditionally published authors. All proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to the charity Doctors Without Borders, which makes this anthology all the more special.
Audiobook Review: The Eighth God by Paul S. Lavender (published by Paul S. Lavender)
This grimdark fantasy audiobook was a good listen. It tells the story of a world full of elves, humans, orcs that has enjoyed an uneasy peace for thousands of years, after a mighty battle where seven elves were granted the power of seven Gods to decimate an orc army. Since that time the orcs have kept to their lands and the humans and elves to theirs. But the orcs are twitchy, and spurred on by mysterious allies, they decide to invade.
Book Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (published by Pan Macmillan)
Wow! This book puts the EPIC in epic fantasy! There’s complex political intrigue, devastating betrayal, high stakes, great escapes, dangerous sea travel, large scale battles, love, a touch of magic and plenty of sex.
Stefan M. Nardi is a fantasy author and the editor of the Beyond The Deepwoods fantasy short story anthology which includes my story The Tunnel Runner.
Stefan kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me about his process with his writing partners, more about his novels, his story in the anthology - and more!
Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (published by HarperCollins)
This psychological thriller really packs a punch! The agoraphobic Anna Fox lives as a recluse in her New York City home, never venturing outside. Her only entertainment includes watching old black-and-white movies and watching – and sometimes photographing – her neighbours. When she sees something horrific through the window of her newly-moved-in neighbours’ home, her world begins to crumble.
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