100 word review: Department 19 – Darkest Night

100 word review: Department 19 – Darkest Night

When I started Department 19 it felt like a very well done but pretty standard hero’s journey story: Young teenager discovers a secret government department hunting vampires and of course he’s got a place in it. What’s evolved over five books is something much richer and much darker – the final volume should be humanity’s […]

100 word review: All that Outer Space Allows, by Ian Sales

100 word review: All that Outer Space Allows, by Ian Sales

Ian Sales has finished his Apollo Quartet, and the final book is brilliant. You should read the first three first, as they will loop you into this series of worlds all linked by the Apollo programme, all four obsessively researched, in very slightly alternate histories. The fourth book focusses on the wife of an astronaut […]

100 word review: The Rock and the River, by Kekla Magoon

100 word review: The Rock and the River, by Kekla Magoon

1968, Chicago. Thirteen year old Sam is the son of a prominent civil rights activist, a protegée of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but the Black Panthers have come to town; his older brother Stick believes in their message. What’s amazing about this book is how it does not fulfil expectations: Hollywood will […]

100 word review: Osiris, by E. J. Swift

100 word review: Osiris, by E. J. Swift

I came to this first-in-a-trilogy after reading its sequel Cataveiro – there isn’t much in the way of spoilers and it’s perfectly comprehensible. Osiris is a city at sea, cut off from a world presumed dead. It’s overcrowded but Osiris’ hereditary families live lives of unimaginable luxury whilst the western poor struggle, staying awake at […]

100 word review: Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle

100 word review: Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle

This is an odd creature of a book: it’s based around Trace Italian, a massive turn-based story game, created by a recluse who became terribly disfigured as a young man. Imagine Zork, but played by post. The world and the game sound fascinating as the story uncovers the past of Sean Phillips – it’s not […]

100 word review: Delete, by Kim Curran

100 word review: Delete, by Kim Curran

These books shouldn’t be my thing, but I enjoyed this very much. The first two were enjoyable in the way that you could watch the craft of the writer evolve – the second book just felt more polished than the first – and Curran’s Glaze is a triumph, but this took me by surprise. The […]

100 word review: The Fever, by Megan Abbott

100 word review: The Fever, by Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott is the queen of creepyweirdawfulcompelling. The last book I read of hers made me want to take my skin off and scrub the inside of it clean before putting it back on – this one’s no different. An illness taking hold of girls in a school – it could be an STD or […]

100 word review: Department 19: Zero Hour, by Will Hill

https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/18590476-zero-hour The fourth in Will Hill’s excellent Department 19. Horror and action aren’t really my cups of tea. NEVERTHELESS I’m a fan of Will Hill’s books. They fill the gap that can be read as “mindless fun”, but they’re more than that. The crux of the story: Van Helsing et al were real – and […]

100 word review: Vermilion, by Molly Tanzer

100 word review: Vermilion, by Molly Tanzer

Lou Merriweather is a psychopomp in 1860s San Francisco: She’s androgyne, (allegedly) unattractive, mixed-race Chinese and English, and she unhaunts houses for a living. The first scene shows us her personality: a bit of a rogue, and a woman who isn’t afraid to be mistaken for a man. She has to leave San Francisco, however, […]

100 word review: The Incorruptibles, by John Hornor Jacobs

100 word review: The Incorruptibles, by John Hornor Jacobs

Beautifully enjoyable dustpunk (very) weird western: In an alt-American-Western setting, instead of science you have demons bound up. They heat water for steam. They expand and push bullets. They may – or may not – corrupt a bit of your soul each time you use it. Jacobs has honourable mercenaries riding alongside a ship filled […]