Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 2.5

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The Death of Jane Lawrence: This one just wasn’t for me

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Caitlin Starling’s 2022 novel The Death of Jane Lawrence got enthusiastic critical reviews and was nominated for a Stoker Award, so clearly people loved it. In spite of an interesting premise, the book was a disconnect for me. Your mileage may vary.

Jane Shoringfield is an orphan raised by a kind couple after her parents were killed in a war. She is impoverished, and no longer willing to be a drain on the resources of her guardians, she decides to arrange a marriage.


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The Land of the Changing Sun: Underground morons

The Land of the Changing Sun by Will N. Harben

Released seven years after English author H. Rider Haggard sensationally jump-started the “lost world” craze in fiction with his seminal novels King Solomon’s Mines (1885), She (1887) and Allan Quatermain (also 1887), American author Will N. Harben’s only contribution to the genre, The Land of the Changing Sun, is a decidedly second-rate affair that yet manages to somehow entertain.


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I Am Your Brother: Half frustrating, half dazzling

I Am Your Brother by G.S. Marlowe

In the 1971 British horror film The Beast in the Cellar, two aged sisters, well played by Beryl Reid and Flora Robson, hide their homicidal maniac brother in the basement of their Lancashire home, and eventually give way to panic when said brother escapes from his confinement and goes on a murderous rampage. But, it would seem, this was not the first time that an English sibling had suffered a rough time with a monstrous brother kept hidden under domestic wraps. Thus,


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The Malevolent Seven: Bitterness needs nuance

The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell’s 2023 antihero novel The Malevolent Seven has good magical action and lots of sarcastic banter. It has an emotionally tortured male main character in a world that is filled with suffering, death, betrayal and a sense of hopelessness that swamps every action. Generally, I enjoy de Castell’s work, but while this book had enough to keep me reading, ultimately, it doesn’t rank among my favorite works of his.

I say, “enough to keep me reading,” because I very nearly put this book down during the first 50 pages.


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Beyond the Barrier: The pieces just don’t add up

Beyond the Barrier by Damon Knight

In Damon Knight’s 1953 novel entitled The Rithian Terror, the author presented his readers with a vaguely octopuslike menace, the titular Rithian; a spy with the ability to hide itself inside the body of any Earthling. But this was not the last time that the Oregon-born writer would give us a tale featuring a hideous, nonhumanoid alien hiding in plain sight! More than a decade later, Knight, in his novel Beyond the Barrier,


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Battle of the Linguist Mages: Might make a fun video game

Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

My low rating of 2022’s Battle of the Linguist Mages comes from the distance between my anticipation of this book based on its excellent title, and the reality of reading it. I think people who like watching other people play video games will enjoy this book. I don’t, and so I didn’t. Your mileage, as we say, may vary.

Battle of the Linguist Mages is filled with awesome ideas. Here are a few:

  • a “battle language” that changes reality
  • extraterrestrials who live in human consciousness as punctuation marks
  • a powerful,

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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,


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Ralph 124C 41+: The Kramdens, they’re not!

Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback

During the course of any number of my book musings here at FanLit, I have made reference to editor Hugo Gernsback, in whose magazine Amazing Stories – the very first magazine devoted to the type of writing that would one day be called “science fiction,” and which rolled out its first issue in April 1926 – so many wonderful tales and serialized novels first appeared. Gernsback, in truth, was a pretty remarkable figure. He’d been born in Luxembourg City in 1884, and by the time of his passing in 1967,


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Out of Time’s Abyss: Quite the action-heavy affair

Out of Time’s Abyss by Edgar Rice Burroughs

In Out of Time’s Abyss, the last volume of Edgar Rice Burrough’s CASPAK trilogy, we learn what happened to Bradley, one of the adventurers we met in the first novel, The Land that Time Forgot. As we expected, Bradley has frightening adventures on Caspak, is nearly killed by lions, bears, tigers, dinosaurs, etc, and he saves and falls in love with a beautiful young damsel in distress.

In this installment,


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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein: A new spin on a classic horror story

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

We all know Frankenstein: the evil genius, the monster, the frozen wasteland etc. But in The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein (2018), Kiersten White offers a new spin on the classic, through an origins story that traces Victor Frankenstein right back to his childhood, through the eyes of an unlikely heroine, Elizabeth Frankenstein.

We meet Elizabeth when her surname is still Lavenza. She is starved and bruised and about to be thrown out onto the streets,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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