Category Archives: Books

Novel Review: Curious Toys

Hell Gate’s ominous white pavilion looked more like a church than a ride: a church with an enormous red devil perched on the roof… The devil was plaster and lath, but Pin’s mother still crossed herself every time she walked past.

A little late but fit for the season: this novel, released last year by much-lauded, cross-genre writer Elizabeth Hand manages to be a mystery, a postcard to Chicago’s long-gone Riverview Park, a tribute to outsider artist and writer Henry Darger, a coming-of-age story, and a tour of hell. If you don’t know Hand’s work, she has published fourteen novels, and won Nebula, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, and International Horror Guild Awards. She’s also written several licensed works for the Star Wars, X-Files, Twelve Monkeys, and other franchises.

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Novel Review: Rosemary’s Baby

The night was mild and balmy and they walked; and as they approached the Bramford’s blackened mass they saw on the sidewalk before it a group of twenty or so people gathered in a semicircle at the side of a parked car. Two police cars waited double-parked, their roof lights spinning red (35).

Ira Levin’s influential novel remains quite readable, and makes a devilish companion piece to the Halloween season.

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The Were-Traveler, Lovecraft, and Bureau42

The Were-Traveler has been running since 2011, with each issue featuring short fiction (usually quite short) related to a particular theme or topic in fantasy, SF, or horror. Their current issue addresses the problematic legacy of H.P. Lovecraft, the imaginative and monumentally influential author whose racism and xenophobia, extreme even for his time, frequently entered his stories. This were-issue’s weird fiction draws upon Lovecraft’s influence and tropes to examine and critique his less savoury side.

Among the contributors you may recognize a writer from our Bureau.

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Book Review – Peter Green and the Unliving Academy

If Harry Potter was the boy who lived, Peter Green was the boy who died. This initially feels like a Potter knock-off, but that changes quickly. In fact, it may only feel that way to me because the “magic boarding school” genre which I’m told is popular in the UK is not as popular where I am, so the Potter books were my first exposure to it. This is my second.

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Novel Review: The Light Brigade

War was all about the annihilation of truth. Every good dictator and CEO knows that.
“Good find, Dietz,” Jones said.
It didn’t feel like a good find. It felt like I’d made everything more complicated (255).

Kameron Hurley has developed a considerable following over the last decade. Previously, she has been awarded two Hugos and a Sydney J. Bounds Award, and she has been a finalist for the Nebula Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the British Science Fiction and Fantasy Award, and the Locus Award. Her most recent work, The Light Brigade has landed her a 2020 Hugo nomination for best novel.

The winner of that award will be announced this coming weekend.

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Summer Reading: The Glass Hotel

The horizon flipping once, twice, camera flying from my hand.
It felt like plunging into shards of ice (294).

Emily St. John Mandel skips like a stone across genres. Last Night in Montreal (2009) begins as a detective story, but its mystery takes the tale into something else entirely. The brilliant Station Eleven (2014), a literary SF novel about a pandemic starts in the near future, jumps across twenty years into a tale of post-apocalyptic actors and a meditation on what makes us human. It brought her both SF and literary accolades, international fame, and an HBO mini-series deal.

So, naturally, her next novel, published earlier this year, concerns economics, a luxury hotel, and a Ponzi scheme.

However, it brushes against SF and Fantasy/Fabulism, and even features a couple of minor characters from Station Eleven.

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