Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4

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Lute: A wonderfully written take on folk horror

Lute by Jennifer Thorne

There are many words I could use to describe Lute by Jennifer Thorne. I could say words like “atmospheric” or “haunting.” I could also say “beautiful” or “terrifying.” Lute is a book that evokes many descriptors, but none really captures the story in its totality. The blurb from Tor Nightfire says “Wickerman meets Final Destination.” That description is about as accurate as it gets. 

Lute is an island off the coast of Scotland,


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UnSouled: Shusterman is a good storyteller

UnSouled by Neal Shusterman

The third book in Neal Shusterman’s YA UNWIND DYSTOLOGY is UnSouled (2013). It follows Unwind and UnWholly, and you’ll need to read those first. I almost gave up on this series because I found the premise to be so unlikely but, while Shusterman has not convinced me that many Americans would choose to have their children “unwound” (scrapped for parts, basically), he’s managed, over three books, to build an alternate history that at least has made me seriously consider the possibility and has challenged me to consider the consequences.


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UnWholly: Another exciting UNWIND story

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

UnWholly (2012) is the second book in Neal Shusterman’s UNWIND DYSTOLOGY. You’ll need to read the first novel, Unwind, first, so I’ll assume you have. This review will contain minor spoilers for that book.

Connor, Risa, and Lev have each escaped being unwound, are hiding from the juvenile authority, and are determined to stop the evil practice of unwinding that their society has embraced. The plot splits into a few subplots as each teenager has their own dangerous road to travel in this installment.


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Bezill: “Let’s Talk About Sex…”

Bezill by John Symonds

And so, I have just come to the end of a lot of nine novels from the remarkable publisher known as Valancourt Books. And what an ennead they were! In chronological order: Ernest G. Henham’s Tenebrae (1898), a tale of fratricide, guilt, madness … and giant spiders; R.C. Ashby’s He Arrived at Dusk (1933), which tells of the ghost of a Roman centurion haunting modern-day Northumberland; G.S. Marlowe’s I Am Your Brother (1935),


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We Are the Crisis: Impressive but not immersive

We Are the Crisis by Cadwell Turnbull

As I was thinking how to start this review of Cadwell Turnbull’s We Are the Crisis, planning on noting how it slots into the category of “one of those books I admired but didn’t fully fall into,” I thought I’d refresh my memory of my thoughts on its predecessor, No Gods, No Monsters. And darn if I didn’t open that review with “the book had me admiring it more than enjoying it.” So I guess we’re both pretty consistent,


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The White Wolf: The other werewolf novel of the 1940s

The White Wolf  by Franklin Gregory

In 1948, future sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson released the expanded version of his novella “Darker Than You Think,” which had appeared originally in the December 1940 issue of Unknown magazine. The resultant full-length novel was a one-shot horror excursion for the author, and would go on to be proclaimed one of the finest fictional treatments on the subject of lycanthropy – that is to say, werewolves – ever written. This reader has experienced the book twice over the years,


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The Hand of Kornelius Voyt: Unclassifiable but most impressive

The Hand of Kornelius Voyt by Oliver Onions

It was English author Mike Ashley, writing in Newman & Jones’ excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books, who first introduced me to the remarkable collection Widdershins, from 1911. While enthusing about the eight splendidly spooky stories therein, and in particular “The Beckoning Fair One,” one of the greatest ghost stories in the English language, Ashley told his audience that in them “we find a portrayal of madness that leaves the reader uncomfortably unsure about the state of reality and sanity.” Indeed,


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Widdershins: An outstanding collection of spooky stories

Widdershins by Oliver Onions

I originally picked up this hard-to-find book after reading of it in Newman & Jones’ excellent overview volume, Horror: The 100 Best Books. Widdershins is a collection of Oliver Onions‘ short stories, and was first published in 1911. Onions was supposedly a meticulous writer, writing and rewriting and rerewriting, changing words repeatedly until he felt that things were just right. And his attention to detail does indeed show. All the stories in this volume are impeccably written,


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Unwind: A gripping story if you can get past the premise

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the near future, after a long bloody war between pro-life and pro-choice armies, the United States amended the constitution to ban abortion but allow parents to “retroactively abort” a child between 13 and 18 years old as long as the child was “unwound” in a process that allows the child’s parts to be given to others, like organ donations. In this way, the child isn’t actually killed, but lives on, a technicality that appeases both sides.

You’d think that few parents would opt to unwind their child,


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Jewel Box: Delightful startling points and beautifully honed sentences

Jewel Box by E. Lily Yu

The pleasure for me in reading E. Lily Yu’s collection of short stories, Jewel Box, was sourced in two of the book’s elements: its what-if premises and its, well, jewel-like language, which glittered precise and edged as any gemstone in a Tiffany’s case. The plots and characters, meanwhile, were more hit and miss for me, which is why I’m not giving it a five.

As is typical for collections, the individual stories varied in their impact,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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