The Changeover: Has lost none of its potency


The Changeover by Margaret Mahy [In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work....

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Our favorite books of 2017


Here are our favorite books published in 2017. Hover over the cover to see who recommends each book. Click on the cover to read our review. Please keep in mind that we did not read...

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Dionysos:  The (sadly) final installment in a brilliant series


Dionysos by George O’Connor With Dionysos, writer/illustrator George O’Connor’s OLYMPIANS series comes to an end after 12 titles and at this point, having reviewed a third of...

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Revelator: A high-proof distillation of horror


Revelator by Daryl Gregory Stella Birch sees her family’s god when she is nine years old, in 1933. Her father has dropped her off in a sheltered valley, the cove, in the Smoky...

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Recent Posts

Sunday Status Update: September 25, 2022

Marion: I finished Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. It’s an optimistic delight of a book with a great octopus character.  Currently, I’m reading a debut mystery novel by Tracee de Hahn called The Swiss Vendetta. The interiors and descriptions are gorgeous.

Bill:  Since my last update, I’ve read:

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez: going on my Best of 22 list
Neom by Lavie Tidhar: linked stories in the same universe as his great Read More

The Spear Cuts through Water: One of the best of 2022

The Spear Cuts through Water by Simon Jimenez

Simon Jiminez’s The Spear Cuts through Water (2022) is one of the most vibrantly original novels I’ve read in some time, an enthralling work of creativity that even as it makes use of some familiar tropes arrives absolutely as its own unique self: richly mythic and startlingly inventive. It will absolutely land on my Best of 2022 list, even it may not be for everyone (though everyone should attempt it).

At its core, The Spear Cuts through Water is a simple quest story told unsimply. Ages ago the Moon Goddess fell from the sky and eventually became captive in the deep dungeons of the Empire. The current Emperor, aged and fearing death, is about to embark on a grand procession, but when the Goddess escapes two young men — Jun and Keema — foes at first and then allies, must escort her through a series of dangers to the coast to p... Read More

WWWednesday: September 21, 2022

Fiyah’s Ignyte awards were announced on Saturday. P.Djeli Clark took home Best Adult Novel for Master of Djinn; Best Young Adult Novel went to Darcie Littlebadger for A Snake Falls to Earth; Best Novella was awarded to Shingai Ngeri Kagunda for This is How to Stay Alive. View all the award winners here.

(You can hear Shingai Ngeri Kagunda read another story here.)

Charlie Jane Anders is now reviewing for the Washington ... Read More

The Shadow on the House: Strange days

The Shadow on the House by Mark Hansom

For the past 35 years or so, I have been so busy trying to experience all the 200 books described in Stephen Jones’ and Kim Newman’s two excellent overview volumes – Horror: 100 Best Books and Horror: Another 100 Best Books – that I was completely unaware, until recently, that there is yet another trusted resource that horror buffs in the know have been using for recommended reading; namely, the Wagner 39 List. It seems that back in 1983, in the June and August issues of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, editor/author Karl Edward Wagner provided a list of the 39 books in the horror arena that he felt were of the highest calibre, or most in need of being discovered by a new audience. The 39 books were broken down into three categories: The 13 Best Supernatural Horror Novels, The 13 Best Sci-Fi Horror Novels, and The 13 Be... Read More

Fantastic Four: Full Circle: A psychedelic journey into the Negative Zone

Fantastic Four: Full Circle by Alex Ross (writing, art, and coloring), Josh Johnson (coloring), and Ariana Maher (lettering)

I just finished reading the recently released Fantastic Four: Full Circle, and though the story itself is not riveting, it is a perfect vehicle for the true point of the graphic novel — the art. And the story is an interesting sequel to the previous Stan Lee-Jack Kirby production, “This Man . . . This Monster,” Issue #51 of the original run on the Fantastic Four (which is available via Amazon’s Comixology services).

In Stan Lee’s Issue #51, with excellent art by Jack Kirby, the Thing is taken in by a kindly stranger who turns out to be a mad scientist who wishes to harm him and ultimately Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four. After putting knock-out drops in the Thing’s coffee, the stranger-scientist uses an invention of his to transform into the Thing (and at... Read More

The Witch and the Tsar: Solid, but a bit flat

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

“Solid” is the best description I can give for The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, a debut novel that shows flashes of hitting its potential, particularly in its folkloric elements, but overall feels a bit flat and overlong.

A retelling of the Baba Yaga mythos, the story mostly takes place during the reign of Ivan the Terrible (1500s), though there are flashbacks to earlier times, thanks to the fact that the main character (who prefers Yaga to Baba Yaga) is immortal, daughter of a human and the Earth goddess Mokosh, dead now for some years. Since then Yaga has been alone, save for her wolf and owl, and quietly helping the people nearby, especially the women. What precipitates her re-entry into the world is a visit from Anastasia, whom Yaga had helped long ago and set her on the path to her current role as Tsarina (Ivan’s wife).
... Read More

Dark Sanctuary: Thanks, Karl!

Dark Sanctuary by H.B. Gregory

A very happy day it was for me – but a very unfortunate day for my bank account – when I first discovered the website for Ramble House books. Specializing in impossibly obscure sci-fi, horror, mystery and “weird menace” titles from the first half of the 20th century, the publisher has an overwhelming catalog of reasonably priced volumes that will surely make any fan of those genres salivate; books, for the most part, that are available nowhere else. I have already written here of Greye La Spina’s wonderful horror novel Invaders From the Dark (1925), only available from Ramble House, and now would like to tell you of a book that I recently read from the company’s Dancing Tuatara Press imprint that is even more of a rarity. The b... Read More

WWWednesday: September 14, 2022

In honor of my birthday, one commenter will get a copy of T. Kingfisher's southern gothic horror novel, The Twisted Ones In this column I discuss my reaction to a re-read of a classic 1990s fantasy novel.

Published in 1998, Someplace to be Flying is not the first entry in Charles de Lint’s NEWFORD series. It’s the fifth book in publishing order, with several earlier works being story collections. In my opinion, it’s a fine place to start the series and get introduced to de Lint’s fictional midwestern Canadian city (probably modeled on Ottawa) and his blend of folk magic, folk music and just folks. The mag... Read More

Rise of the Vicious Princess: A smartly written YA princess novel

Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine

I get a big kick out of reading books not specifically for my demographic. Actually, let me rephrase that. I enjoy reading books that I assume are not written for my demographic. I’m a guy, so stories about princesses are off the table. Perhaps you’re a girl and that John Wick in Space book is not supposed to be your cup of tea. I beg to differ, and love to step outside my comfort zone and read material that is not necessarily written with me in mind. It was under that assumption that I picked up Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine.

The story follows Charis Willowthorn (pronounced Kaw-Ris), the teenage princess of the Fantasy Medieval-ish realm called Calera. Calera is a fairly prosperous country that shares a war-torn continent with a few other kingdoms. They have fancy balls filled with courtesans and fancy folk of one kind or another. Court poli... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 12, 2022

Marion: Right now I’m beta-reading a friend’s manuscript about a friendship between two women; one a resident of an assisted living facility and the other a volunteer there. I’m also more than halfway through Rosewater, Book One of the WORMWOOD trilogy by Tade Thompson, and wondering why I overlooked this one for so long!

Sandy: Moi? I am currently reading another top-notch supernatural horror novel that is available nowhere else today except Ramble House. The book in question this week is Walter S. Masterman’s Read More