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]: 2009


Reunion: A lovely story

Reunion by Rick Hautala

As we grow older, we tend to think of childhood as a golden time, when the hours poured through our fingers like water, glistening and plentiful. Summers were especially wonderful, those days when school was out and there was nothing to do but play. But when we call up specific memories, they never seem quite so golden; our friends never seem quite such good friends; and there are terrors that we have worked hard to forget. Perhaps that’s why so many books have been written about that time when we transition from childhood to young adulthood,

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Dracula: The Undead: Just plain bad

Dracula: The Undead by Ian Holt & Dacre Stoker

Have you ever read a book that is so bad that it loops back around to being good? Well, Dracula the Un-Dead (2009) isn’t one of those books. It’s just plain bad. But it nearly provides one of those “so bad it’s good” reading experiences, creating a sense of bile fascination in the reader over the fact that someone could clearly enjoy a source material enough to write a sequel, but apparently hate it so much that they would write it… well,

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Basilisk: Strange mixture of science and magic

Basilisk by Graham Masterton

Graham Masterton is relatively unknown in the United States except among the horror cognoscenti. Although he’s written or edited more than 20 books, he is mostly known in his native England. He can write a slick little work of horror like House of Bones and make it haunt you no matter where you live, though; there’s something about the idea of being pulled right through the walls or floor of your home that can make anyone shudder. It would be nice if he were better known in these parts.

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Eyes Like Leaves: A gifted writer’s beginnings

Eyes Like Leaves by Charles de Lint

The magic is leaving the Green Isles. The Summerlord Hafarl’s staff has been broken, and the Everwinter is coming to blanket the islands in snow forever. To make matters worse, the Vikings are raiding up and down the shore, laying waste to everything in their way. It’s up to Puretongue, leader of the dhruides, to weld together the last scraps of the Summerlord’s power that can be found in the people to create a defense against Lothan, and bring summer and magic back to the isles.

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Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson’s novel Julian Comstock is set in a vastly changed 22nd-century USA — after the end of the age of oil and atheism has resulted in disaster. Technology is mostly back to pre-20th century levels, and the population has been vastly reduced due to social upheaval and disease. Society has become fully class-based, divided into a Eupatridian aristocracy, middle-class lease-men, and indentured servants. The country — which now stretches across most of the North American continent — is involved in a lengthy and brutal war with the Dutch over control of the recently opened Northwest Passage.

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Living with Ghosts: Mixed reviews

Living with Ghosts by Kari Sperring

It took me a long time to get through Living with Ghosts by Kari Sperring. As a fantasy novel, it meets all the requirements in terms of the setting, the use of magic and the plot. I think that it took so long because I had a hard time getting into any of the characters, and for me that is essential to my enjoyment of a book.

Gracielis is a gigolo. He is well-mannered, good-looking and seemingly omnisexual in his willingness and ability to become attractive to anyone.

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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane: On the Edge

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

There are a few tropes that will convince me to pick up almost any book that promises to contain them. I’ll call one of them “Searching for a Long-Lost Book,” and another “All My Forebears Were Secretly Witches.”

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Far North: All of our favorite post-apocalyptic ingredients

Far North by Marcel Theroux

[In our Edge of the Universe column we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

Marcel Theroux’s Far North offers all of our favorite post-apocalyptic ingredients. Our protagonist, Makepeace Hatfield, recalls Stephen King’s gunslinger, Roland, and the spirit of Far North seems to be drawn from the same zeitgeist that made Cormac McCarthy’s The Road so popular.

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The Little Stranger: Sarah Waters is so skillful

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Caution: it is difficult to write about The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters and not give anything away. This post might contain spoilers.

The Little Stranger is a book about a haunted house. Sarah Waters evokes emotion masterfully here. It’s not heart-pounding terror or a nauseated response to some gruesome revelation. She evokes dread, dread and a growing sense of anxiety that has you peering into the shadows and flinching at the creaks and sighs of your own house.

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The Dead Path: The jacket glows!

The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin

Good horror novels must be devilishly hard to write well. There has to be a proper balance between gore and straightforward exposition; between the supernatural and the real; between those who look askance at magic until it is too late, and those who embrace magic regardless of their previous disbelief. Stephen M. Irwin gets the balance just right in his debut novel, The Dead Path.

Nicholas Close becomes enmeshed in the plans of a very, very old witch very early in his life.

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  1. Not sure I can be persuaded on two of these articles. When I was young book-banning meant you couldn't sell…

May 2023