May 152015 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 […]

May 132015
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, […]

May 112015
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 […]

May 072015
100 word review: The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge

In Victorian England, a famous Reverend scientist has secrets, and a personal shame. He has a series of sickly sons, most of whom have died, and the last of whom is writing left-handed. He is driven away from his home by scandal. His daughter, Faith, remains steadfast despite any evidence she has against him. She […]

Apr 072015
100 word review: The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu

This is a debut. It is massive in scope, telling the story of the rise and fall of empires, using classical Chinese storytelling tropes and wuxia heroes. It is breathtaking in its language and ambition. 640 pages of instructive fable and myth and history of a fictional series of countries at war with each other […]

Apr 022015
100 word review: Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes

Detroit, Michigan. A broken city filled with broken people – from the overworked police department through to the underfunded school system, the homeless, and the the transplants trying to make something new out of something broken, or at least having good parties in the city’s apocalypse. What happens when the world starts to break, the […]

Apr 012015
100 word review: The Alex Crow, by Andrew Smith

Welcome to America, kid. Ariel (ah-riel) is adopted into a middle-class American family after he survives the massacre of his entire village during a civil war by dressing as a clown and hiding in a refrigerator. He ends up in summer camp. A very particular type of summer camp. Digital detox camp, filled with all […]

Mar 302015
100 word review: Cakes in Space, by Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve

This book is ridiculous. Let’s get that out of the way. It is the story of a little girl who asks an artificial intelligence robot for “the best cake” before going down into cold sleep on an interstellar spacecraft which is taking her family and hunderds of other colonists on a journey to a new […]