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]: 2015.01


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Mystic: Enchanting

Mystic by Jason Denzel

I almost didn’t read Mystic (2015). I got through about three pages, and I was 90% sure I would put it down. However, I pulled through, and in the end I’m glad I did. This book enchanted me, and once I got used to the thing that bothered me at first (which I will expand on below), it was easy to ignore because there was so much else for me to enjoy.

So what bothered me so much at the start? Honestly,


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Owl and the Japanese Circus: A homage to Indiana Jones

Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Owl and the Japanese Circus (2015), by Kristi Charish, is an urban fantasy that exceeded my expectations. “Owl” is a nickname given to our protagonist, who is delightfully different from most protagonists in this subgenre. She’s got a real Indiana Jones vibe, and her history with archeology and her obvious knowledge regarding ancient artifacts backs it up. She can hold her own, and has an obsession with online RPGs that plenty of people will relate to. Furthermore,


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MONSTRESS 1: Awakening: Demands complete attention, careful consideration

MONSTRESS 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

Every now and then, a story will tip you into a strange new world without any attempt at exposition or context, leaving you to catch up on events in the most exhilarating way possible. You either sink or swim, and MONSTRESS is one such graphic novel, demanding complete attention, careful consideration, and at least two re-reads in order to grasp all of its detail.

We first meet Maiko Halfwolf as she’s put up for auction as a slave – a pretty clear indication of how dark this story can get,


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The Promise of the Child: Ambitious but confusing space opera

The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner

The Promise of the Child (2015), an ambitious space opera that spans centuries and multiple planetary systems, begins with a prologue set in in fourteenth century Praha (Prague), where Princess Eliška, married to King John of Bohemia, meets with a man named Aaron to discuss his help with her son’s ill health. The story then jumps to AD 14,647 … but we will meet Aaron (“the Long-Life”) again.

In this distant future, humanity has spread to many worlds and “prismed”


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The Witches of Echo Park: Complex, surprising, restrained

The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

The Witches of Echo Park (2015) is a book that kind of has me stumped. The publisher sent me this first book in the series along with the second book. I read this one, and I’ve just kind of sat on it, wondering what to say about it. On the one hand, I loved it. It’s a unique, well written spin on what could easily have been a completely typical urban fantasy. On the other hand, I spent a good chunk of the book waiting for something to happen.


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Barsk: A wonderfully thoughtful, imaginative work of science fiction

Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen

When I put in my ARC request for Lawrence M. Schoen’s new novel Barsk, all I knew about it was that the setting involved a group of worlds inhabited by a variety of anthropomorphic space-faring animal species, with the main focus on elephants (thus its subtitle: The Elephant’s Graveyard). C’mon. El-e-phants in Spaaaaaccce! How could I resist? But Barsk is much more than a funny-but-cool premise;


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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Like watching Barney & Friends while eating cotton candy

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers self-published her debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in 2014 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It was picked up and published by Harper Voyager the next year and since then has been included in all sorts of “best of” lists and nominated for major awards. People I trust love this book and I can see why. I don’t love it, and I’ll explain why here, but I encourage you to try it out for yourself (if you haven’t already) and let me know what you think.


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Steeplejack: A good detective story blended with biting social commentary

Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

I knew Steeplejack (2016) was a YA thriller/mystery before picking up my review copy, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as solidly-written and entertaining as I ultimately found it to be. A.J. Hartley has not only created a compelling heroine and a richly imaginative world, but also multiple schemes driving the plot which depend on (and drive) social unrest that strikes extremely close to home in places.

Our story begins in the glorious city of Bar-Selehm, a metropolis which is geographically and culturally reminiscent of Johannesburg,


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The Traitor Baru Cormorant: Original and intelligent

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

(Foreword: actual rating: 5.5/5 stars. Do not read Dickinson’s short story of the same title; it’s a spoiler for the novel’s ending. Consider yourself forewarned. Also, please see my interview with Seth Dickinson.)

Breathtakingly original and carefully crafted, The Traitor Baru Cormorant by debut novelist Seth Dickinson is one of those very few works that straddle the line between “genre” and “literary” fiction. It’s the story of a girl: a lover, a traitor,


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Anne Bonnie Vol. 1: The Journey Begins by Tim Yate

Anne Bonnie Vol. 1: The Journey Begins by Tim Yates

Inspired by real historical pirates like Anne Bonnie, Mary Reed, and Calico Jack, Tim Yates has come up with a fantastical setting and story that will set your heart pounding with non-stop adventure. Anne Bonnie, Vol. 1: The Journey Begins is set in a fictional fantasy setting, complete with carousing pirates, rune-based magic, and a kingdom of elves, but the primary focus is on a high-spirited girl named Ariana and her quest to become as great a pirate as her heroine,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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