Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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Empty Smiles: The fourth and final game begins

Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden

What is it that makes funfairs and carnivals so scary? Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari both take place in carnivals, as do a few significant chapters of Stephen King’s It and several third season episodes of Stranger Things. I even recall that the third book of L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game ended in an abandoned funfair.


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The Morningside: A mostly successful mix of genres

The Morningside by Téa Obreht

The Morningside by Téa Obreht is set in a post-climate change near-future in a partial drowned city called Island City (maybe Manhattan?) that is accepting refugees to repopulate the city with promises of newly constructed/renovated homes for those who come to work. The novel is a mostly successful mix of genres, a sort of magical realist/cli-fi Harriet the Spy if Harriet were also a refugee.

Our main character is eleven-year-old Sylvia, who has arrived with her mother in the titular rundown high-rise where Sylvia’s Aunt Ena works as the super (there is a frame and the tale is told as a flashback from adult Sylvia’s perspective,


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The Magic Order (Book 3): More magic and mystery

The Magic Order (Book 3) by Mark Millar (writer), Gigi Cavenago (artist), Valentina Napolitano (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer) 

Book Three of The Magic Order by Mark Millar features wonderful art by Gigi Cavenago and takes us further along on the journey started in the first two books: The focus is still on the Moonstone family, particularly on Cordelia Moonstone, who is the leader of the Magic Order. This book ends on a cliffhanger, so Book Four will be important to read to get a full conclusion to the story.


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Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S & S Attitude

Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude by Jason M. Waltz (editor) & M.D. Jackson (illustrator)

I don’t know how aware SFF fandom is, but sword & sorcery has had a resurgence of late. Jason M. Waltz and most of the authors featured in Neither Beg Nor Yield have been champions of this subgenre, some for the past quarter century. Mr. Waltz first published sword & sorcery and other great heroic and weird fiction with Flashing Swords Press and later under his own micro-press, Rogue Blades Entertainment.


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The Haunted Stars: Fairlie awesome

The Haunted Stars by Edmond Hamilton

At the tail end of my review of Edmond Hamilton’s The Star of Life (1947), I mentioned that this was the finest novel that I’d read by the Ohio-born author so far, and added that I now looked forward to reading Hamilton’s The Haunted Stars, which seems to enjoy an even greater reputation. Take, for example, these two sources that I have always trusted: The Science Fiction Encyclopedia,


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WWWednesday: March 27, 2024

A single-topic column today.

Fifteen years after Johannes Cabal the Necromancer came out, to acclaim, I finally read it, along with Johannes Cabal the Detective, the second book in Jonathan L. Howard’s series. While I’m not quite sure how I missed them the first time around, I thoroughly enjoyed these first two and the astringent wit with which they are written. I was completely entertained by Johannes Cabal, scientist, necromancer, intelligent and cold-blooded anti-hero who is just human enough to make really big,


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System Collapse: Just as entertaining as all the rest of the series

Reposting to include Marion’s new review.

System Collapse by Martha Wells

The first thing to know about Martha Wells’ System Collapse is that if you can’t dredge up memories of its (chronological) predecessor, Network Effect, you’re going to want to refresh yourself either by a reread (fun enough) or skimming a few reviews, as System Collapse picks up directly afterward and really feels like it could have just been part of Network Effect (you know,


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The Asgardians 1: Odin

THE ASGARDIANS 1: Odin by George O’Connor

What do you do when you finish a 12-title series of graphic novels (THE OLYMPIANS) covering a huge chunk of Greek mythology, one that should be a required purchase for all parents, libraries, and schools? Well, if you’re George O’Connor, apparently you look around and go, “Who’s next?” The answer, it turns out, is THE ASGARDIANS. And thank the Norse gods for that.

O’Connor opens up his new series with Odin,


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The Star of Life: Flash-frozen for extra freshness

The Star of Life by Edmond Hamilton

Anyone who has delved into the writings of Radium Age/Golden Age sci-fi author Edmond Hamilton will be able to tell you that there is a huge difference in both tone and quality between his earliest work and his efforts of some 20 years later. Those early stories and novels were, generally speaking, crudely written fare that yet won the reader over by dint of their great sweep, gusto, imagination, color, and epic scale. But a funny thing happened to the quality of Hamilton’s writing starting in the mid-1940s,


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Dark Waters: “Until next time” is now

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

The third (but clearly not final, given its cliffhanger ending) book in the SMALL SPACES QUARTET sees our three eleven-year-old protagonists once more go up against “the Smiling Man,” an immortal fey creature who loves to make deals and play games with unsuspecting mortals. As I anticipated after Small Spaces and Dead Voices, it’s Brian’s turn to be front-and-center while Ollie and Coco take on supporting roles.

Having received a cryptic note that promises yet another round of the terrifying feud they’ve been dragged into,


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The Magic Order (Book 2): An evil family makes moves against the magic order

The Magic Order (Book 2) by Mark Millar (writer), Stuart Immonen (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), David Curiel (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer)

The second book of The Magic Order continues the story of the Moonstone family that was started in book one. It is equally good even with a new artist taking over the series. At the beginning of the comic Cordelia Moonstone is the head of the Moonstone family and the magic order itself. But there are members of the magical community who do not like her leadership and are plotting against her,


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The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles: Come for the mystery, stay for the great characters

Reposting to include Bill’s new review.

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles by Malka Older

On Jupiter, known as Giant, Mossa, an Investigator, and Pleiti, scholar and instructor, are on a new case, involving the disappearance of a student. As Mossa explores, she finds not one, but seventeen university students, faculty and staff have gone missing. What the two sleuths will uncover in 2024’s The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, by Malka Older, will destabilize Pleiti’s already-shaky faith in the university system,


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The Book of Love: A book only Kelly Link could have written

The Book of Love: A Novel by Kelly Link

The Book of Love (2024) is both a book only Kelly Link could have written and a book only Kelly Link could have written. What I mean by that is that the book has Link’s DNA all over it, all the elements and feel of a Kelly Link story, from statues coming to life and walking off their plinths to ancient temples rising alongside a sleepy seaside town to beautifully stunning transformations and transmutations. There are cats of course.


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Witch King: Good adventure in a lush fantasy world

Witch King by Martha Wells

2023’s Witch King, by Martha Wells, is the first book in a new fantasy series, THE RISING WORLD. In the opening pages we meet Kaiisteron, who goes by Kai, the Witch King of the title. Kai awakens in a strange place, unable to move. He can mentally contact his friend Ziedi, but their magical connection should let him know exactly where she is, and he can’t find her. He can’t find his own body, either.

From there,


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Hedgewitch: The first instalment in a magical new series

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna

Have you ever read a book in which the plot and characterization are best described as “fun but not special” only to completely fall in love with the world in which they’re set? In this case, there’s nothing wrong with the story of Hedgewitch (even if it hews a little too closely to the HARRY POTTER formula for its first few chapters: a magically-gifted child escapes a terrible environment with the help of a flying broomstick and a talking cat) but the construction and ambiance of the setting is just intoxicating.


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The Cosmic Puppets: There goes the neighborhood!

The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick

By the time 1956 rolled around, future cult author Philip K. Dick had already seen 80 of his short stories published, as well as his first novel, 1955’s Solar Lottery. But 1956 would turn out to be an important year for the seemingly indefatigable writer. His second and third novels, The World Jones Made and The Man Who Japed,


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The Truth of the Aleke: A fantastic read

The Truth of the Aleke by Moses Ose Utomi

The Truth of the Aleke is Moses Ose Utomi’s sequel to his fantastic The Lies of the Ajungo, which I said in my review was “as close to perfect a modern parable as I’ve read in some time.” I’m happy to report that if the follow-up isn’t quite as “perfect,” it’s nonetheless a fantastic read, and one that makes me oh so eager to see how Utomi wraps up this loosely connected trilogy set in the Forever Desert.


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The Magic Order (Book 1): King Lear-inspired comic of magic and betrayal

The Magic Order (Book 1) by Mark Millar (writer), Oliver Coipel (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Peter Doherty (letterer)

The first book of The Magic Order by Mark Millar is an engaging story with gorgeous art by Oliver Coipel. The Magic Order is comprised of a group of magicians who protect the world from the threats of other magicians and supernatural dangers. However, this is no Harry Potter story for young readers. Even from the beginning, violent acts are depicted quite horrifically: In the very first scene,


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What Feasts at Night: This Easton outing is less creepy, more scary

What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher

Alex Easton, protagonist of T. Kingfisher’s 2023 novella What Moves the Dead, is back with a second adventure in 2024’s What Feasts at Night. Joining Easton is loyal batman Angus and the unflappable British mycologist Miss Potter. This go-round, Easton and company face less of the science and more of the supernatural.

Alex Easton is Gallacian by nationality (a small imaginary country somewhere in central Europe). Easton is a “sworn soldier,” anatomically female but living as a man as part of the military.


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The Warm Hands of Ghosts: A captivating story

The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden

I was a big fan of Katherine Arden’s WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY and ended my review of that series by saying I was greatly looking forward to seeing what she did next. Well, what’s next is The Warm Hands of Ghosts (2024), a standalone historical novel set in the horrors of WWI that happily mostly maintains the high bar of quality Arden set with that earlier trilogy, though I had a few issues with some elements.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

We have reviewed 8284 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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