Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4

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Bird Box: Whatever you do, don’t look

Bird Box by Josh Malerman 

Bird Box, published in 2014, was Josh Malerman’s first novel. Malerman came out of the music scene, breaking into fiction with this moody story of psychological horror. A woman and two four-year-olds take a journey down river, blindfolded, in a world where what you see can literally kill you.

In the opening sentences, Malorie decides that today’s the day. The big house is dark, every window and door covered. Even a trip out to the well,


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The Silverblood Promise: A highly enjoyable stew of fantasy

The Silverblood Promise by James Logan

If any novel can make the case that a cliché is just a poorly executed trope, it’s James Logan’s debut novel The Silverblood Promise, the first in his THE LAST LEGACY series. Rakish, roguish noble? Check. Ancient civilization done in by some sort of cataclysm? Check. Scrappy, sassy street rat? Check. Mysterious, legendary thief? Mysterious, notorious criminal underground? Mysterious ancient artifacts? Unctuous, corrupt, greedy merchant-princes? Check, check, check, check. Heck, we’ve even got dying last words scrawled in one’s own blood (mysterious words,


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The Book That Broke the World: Enjoyable throughout its entire length

The Book That Broke the World by Mark Lawrence

It’s funny that as I was reading Mark Lawrence’s The Book That Broke the World (2024), I kept thinking how it was much more action/plot oriented than its predecessor, The Book That Wouldn’t Burn, which in my head I recalled as far more character and theme-driven. Then, in preparation for writing this review, I went back and read my review of book one and saw that I’d noted how the action “quickens at a relentlessly breathless rate.” So maybe it’s a balance thing?


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The Flying Eyes: Congeal, heal and repeal

The Flying Eyes by J. Hunter Holly

It sports one of the most famous covers in sci-fi paperback history; a piece of art so iconic that I have seen it reproduced in the form of refrigerator magnets! I am referring here to the first edition of J. Hunter Holly’s The Flying Eyes, the cover of which depicts a man and a woman fleeing in abject terror from the onslaught of several dozen – you guessed it – self-propelled, levitating eyeballs!


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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 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 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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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

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