Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 2005.01


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Vellum: Empty, pretentious twaddle

Vellum by Hal Duncan

Forty pages into Vellum, I was dazzled. Hal Duncan‘s debut novel appeared to be every bit as phantasmagoric as the tidal wave of advance hype was claiming it was. A hundred pages in, my initial delight was morphing into skepticism. Yes, Duncan is a remarkably assured stylist, but is there any direction here? Is there ever going to emerge a cogent narrative to involve me beyond the author’s obvious gift for lovely and visually evocative prose? By about 175 pages,


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A Princess of Roumania: A vivid cast of characters to love and hate

A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park

When I was a preteen, I was a sucker for books about everyday, average girls who turned out to be long-lost princesses of some obscure country or other. A Princess of Roumania is an original take on that old trope, looking at that girlish fantasy from a couple of new angles.

The story begins during a typical summer vacation for high-school student Miranda Popescu. She’s an average teenage girl in every way, except that she has hazy memories of an early childhood in a distant land and a handful of objects that seem to corroborate those memories.


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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Highly recommended children’s fantasy

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan’s five-book series takes the world of Greek mythology, complete with gods, monsters, titans, Mt. Olympus, heroes, etc. and weaves it into the modern world under the premise that as the gods are manifestations of Western culture and move as the culture moves. And so when Athens was the pinnacle, Mt. Olympus was in Greece, but now that the seat of Western power has moved to America, Mr. Olympus is on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. We all move through a sea of mythical creatures but we don’t see any of them thanks to the cloak of the Mist,


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The Cry of the Icemark: Strong idea but weak execution

The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill

The Cry of the Icemark has some excellent imaginative material to work with, but it’s almost as if once the author struck gold with the idea, he decided to leave it lying in the ground. The Cry of the Icemark therefore ends up disappointing more than rewarding.

It follows 14-yr-old Thirrin, princess and heir to the throne of Icemark, a small northern kingdom threatened by an aggressive massive southern empire and its never-lost-a-battle general.


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Shadowfall: Has its problems, but an engrossing read

Shadowfall by James Clemens

Shadowfall is the start of yet another fantasy series and much of it will sound familiar to fans of the genre. There is a military order of skilled knights with a secret sect, a pantheon of gods, not one but two special swords (not to mention a special dagger), lots of folks with hidden origins, a small band fighting against overwhelming odds, and a quest to undertake to save the world.

Despite the oh-so-familiar trappings, however, and despite some flaws of execution,


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Touched by Venom: Touched by Horror

Touched by Venom by Janine Cross

I’ve been tempted by Touched by Venom for a long time. The cover art is sensual; the blurb is intriguing and contains a promising quote by Jacqueline Carey, one of my favorite authors. Something held me off, though, until recently, but I finally broke down and bought Touched by Venom used.

First of all… yowza. I thought I was into dark fantasy. Little did I know, compared to Touched by Venom,


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The Singer’s Crown: This book has nothing

The Singer’s Crown by Elaine Isaak

When I picked up The Singer’s Crown and read the back of it, I thought it sounded pretty generic, but an instinct told me that I should pick it up and give it a try. I don’t know, perhaps I’m desperate for another Carol Berg or Lynn Flewelling. I’m not exactly sure what tree I was barking up here, because Elaine Isaak’s work made this review less of a “Did Not Finish” and more of a “Barely Began”.


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One for Sorrow, Two for Joy: Nice idea, weakly and palely executed

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy by Clive Woodall

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy is one more in the vein of animal kingdom books, the classic one of course being Watership Down. Sorrow doesn’t approach the skill, majesty, or emotion of Watership Down but that’s hard to fault it for, as few books do. The problem is not that it doesn’t hold up well against a classic but that it doesn’t hold up well against your average book either.


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Singer of Souls: Simply a wonderful little fantasy novel

Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple

Singer of Souls is simply a wonderful little fantasy novel. It’s especially impressive when you take into account that this is Adam Stemple‘s first adult novel (he previously collaborated with his mother, author Jane Yolen, on children’s music books).

The story follows Douglas, a Minneapolis street musician who is addicted to heroin. Trying to get clean, he decides to go to Scotland (where his grandmother lives) to try and make a fresh start. In Scotland, Douglas makes a living as a street performer.


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Beyond the Pale: Stupid heroine ruins the plot

Beyond the Pale by Savannah Russe

Savannah Russe starts with an original premise: What if a vampire became a spy for the U.S. government? Daphne Urban has survived five hundred years and schmoozed with royalty and Romantic poets. These days, though, she’s suffering from ennui. When the government makes her an offer she can’t refuse, she’s resistant at first, but soon realizes her new job is the most excitement she’s had in over a century.

Trouble is, Daphne makes a rather bumbling spy. I realize she’s new to the whole secret agent thing,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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    Words fail. I can't imagine what else might offend you. Great series, bizarre and ridiculous review. Especially the 'Nazi sympathizer'…

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