Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4.5

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Treacle Walker: A linguistic romp of a book

Treacle Walker by Alan Garner

Treacle Walker (2022), by Alan Garner, is a little book, a strange book, a layered book, a mystifying book, a linguistic romp of a book, a stimulating book, a delightful book. It may also be, to employ two of the many Google-necessitating words from its pages, a hurlothrumbo or lomperhomack, a macaroni or taradiddle of a book, though I’ll leave it to your own investigations as to whether any of those fit (if those few examples of Garner’s dialect didn’t scare you off,


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A Marvelous Light: An Edwardian fantasy mystery with a Dorothy Sayers vibe

A Marvelous Light by Freya Marske

What struck me first about A Marvelous Light, (2022), Book One of Freya Marske’s THE LAST BINDING trilogy, was the style and narrative tone. Set in an alternate world in the last decade of the 19th century, A Marvelous Light could have featured Dorothy Sayers’s aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey, if Wimsey were a magician and had sex with men. The descriptions and the dialogue sparkle, and the book seems inhabited with real (if, in many cases,


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The Master of the Macabre: A generously stuffed cornucopia of a book

The Master of the Macabre by Russell Thorndike

Ever since I was a wee lad, I’ve been a fan of the type of motion picture known as the “anthology-horror film.”  It was 1965’s Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors that first pulled me in back then, a product of the British studio Amicus, which would go on to deliver six more similar films over the next nine years. Oh … for those of you wondering what I mean by an “anthology-horror film,” simply stated, it is a type of picture with one overarching story line and numerous stand-alone side stories included.


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North Woods: Wonderfully and precisely crafted

Reposting to include Marion’s new review.

North Woods by Daniel Mason

Daniel Mason’s North Woods (2023) is a wonderfully and precisely crafted collection of related short stories that greatly impresses with its varied styles, vividly detailed descriptions, sharp sentence constructions, connecting echoes, and a few unexpected twists and turns. I would have preferred a bit more emotional depth at times, though several of the stories, particularly toward the end, offer up some more than a few moving scenes. Between those moments and Mason’s consummate craftsmanship,


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Hide: The Graphic Novel: Horror in an amusement park

Hide: The Graphic Novel by Kiersten White (original author), Scott Peterson (adaptation), Veronica Fish (artist), and Andy Fish (artist)

Hide: The Graphic Novel is an adaptation of a prose novel that I have not read, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the translation from one art form to another. However, I think Hide: The Graphic Novel stands well on its own. I only knew that this was a horror comic going in, and that was enough to interest me. The plot is an intriguing one: Fourteen strangers are competing for a $50,000 prize.


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Mammoths at the Gates: A tender fable of grief, forgiveness and transformation

Mammoths at the Gates by Nghi Vo 

Mammoths at the Gates (2023) is the fourth of Nghi Vo’s novellas set in the world of the Singing Hills Abbey. Chih, a cleric tasked with gathering oral histories of the world, has returned home after three years, to find old friends, great sorrow, and disruption. The source of the disruption is a pair of war mammoths and their warrior handlers, two sisters, who wait outside the abbey’s gates.

Once inside, Chih learns that most of the clerics have been sent to a distant project.


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Starling House: A dark fantasy set in a vividly depicted realist world

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Starling House is the central mystery of Eden, Kentucky. Eden is a company town, and that company is Gravely Power, who provides energy to a wide swathe of the southeast. They also poison the air, soil and water of Eden. Periodically the government imposes fines, and the Gravelys pay them and move on. Starling House is an isolated mansion in the woods, close to an abandoned mine shaft that goes deep into the earth. There is less “history” about Starling House than there are rumors, and Opal,


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No One Will Come Back For Us: A sampling of one of the best writers around

No One Will Come Back For Us by Premee Mohamed

Premee Mohamed is one of the best writers around, and her first short story collection, 2023’s No One Will Come Back For Us is a great way to get to know her work. Seventeen stories give a good overview of her style—I should say styles, because she’s versatile—and her themes. If you like Lovecraftian elder gods, alternate history, dark science fiction or gothic tales set in elegant, decadent worlds of decay and corruption, check this one out.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

“Below the Kirk,


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The Birds: Book vs. film

The Birds by Frank Baker

In 1963, Alfred Hitchcock, following the cinematic marvels Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960), brought to the screen his fourth masterpiece in a row, The Birds. That latter film, I had long believed, was based on a short story from 1952 by London-born author Daphne du Maurier, also called “The Birds,” and indeed, at the very beginning of the 1963 film a title card does tell us “From the story by Daphne du Maurier.” It is only recently,


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The Snorkel: Mandy, as candy, is dandy

The Snorkel directed by Guy Green

A little-known picture sporting an amusing title, The Snorkel yet reveals itself to be an excellent suspenser; a genuine sleeper that may be finding some latter-day acclaim thanks to the great-looking print in the Hammer “Icons of Suspense” DVD box set. Released in 1958 by Hammer Studios, shortly after the famed British filmmaking independent began its reign of the Gothic horror niche with that year’s The Curse of Frankenstein, the picture is a tale of murder and suspense without being an actual mystery.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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