Books: Coates, Higgins, Kashina, McGuire, Vaughn

Anna Kashina, Blades of the Old Empire. Angry Robot Books, 2014.

WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN. Review forthcoming (I hope) at

Yeah. So that happened.

Deborah Coates, Strange Country. Tor, 2014.

Review copy from Tor. I hope I’ll get to talk about this in my column. It’s an interesting entry in Coates’ rural-contemporary fantasy-with-ghosts. I don’t like it as much as the excellent Wide Open or its immediate predecessor Deep Down, but it’s still a very solid book.

Seanan McGuire, Half-Off Ragnarok. DAW, 2014.

Review copy from DAW. I also want to talk about this in the column. It’s a great deal of fun, although not quite as entertaining, for me, as the Verity Price installments: it’s also interesting to see McGuire’s narrative pattern at work.

Peter Higgins, Truth and Fear. Orbit, 2014.

Review copy from Orbit. Review forthcoming from Higgins has an excellent turn of with prose, and Truth and Fear pulls off its climax with rather more verve and, well, climax than its immediate predecessor, but it is more the second part of a novel-in-three-parts than a book that stands well on its own, and we have yet to see proof that Higgins can bring a narrative to an ultimately satisfactory conclusion.

Carrie Vaughn, After the Golden Age. Tor, 2011.

Copy courtesy of I want to talk about this, and its sequel, in the column too. It is a very interesting take on superhero stories, and one of the few superhero stories I’ve read that’s appealed to me on any bar the most superficial levels. It is doing interesting things with family and privilege, I think, although I’d like to think about it more.

Carrie Vaughn, Dreams of the Golden Age. Tor, 2014.

Copy courtesy of Sequel of sorts (the next generation) to the aforementioned After the Golden Age, and a little bit more straightforwardly a superhero story – and thus less appealing to me. Feels somewhat as though it might appeal to a YA agegroup, but on the other hand maybe not. Interesting and entertaining, on the whole.

Candidate for the Bad Sex Writing Awards

From the book I was reading last night for review. It is too perfect not to share.

The kiss echoed through his body like thunder, overpowering his weakening mind. He stroked her and she responded, shivering and clinging to him as if her life depended on it. A light moan escaped her lips as his hands found the right spots, evoking a response that surged through, forcing out the last bits of reason. All that remained was raw senses, taking over all possible control.Kyth didn’t remember when he suddenly felt that, instead of the shirt, he was touching her bare skin, smooth and firm under his hands, and so hot it burned his fingers. He wasn’t sure how the cloth that separated them disappeared, their contact so sensational that for a blissfully long moment it seemed too overwhelming to bear. He could no longer tell up from down, but it seemed that instead of standing they were lying on a heap of clothes, the rough boards of the deck underneath soft and smooth like the finest bed. His entire being focused on their contact, deeper than one could experience in a lifetime.

He was so strong he could lift mountains. If he let his strength loose, he would crush her with his passion. He tried to hold back, but her arms grasped him with the force that left no way for gentleness anymore. His body moved of its own accord, driven by a force more primitive, more powerful than the conscious mind.

She opened up and yielded to him so completely that he could no longer tell them apart. Each of his senses echoed in her, as they moved against each other, infinitely close, and yet urging for even more closeness. He gave her all his incredible strength, filling her like a vessel so that she could in turn give him the strength of her own. Their bodies, their senses became one, raising them both to heights of passion too big for one person to hold. There couldn’t possibly be anything more in the world Kyth could want, and if he were to die right now, he would die the happiest man that ever lived. He was never going to be afraid of anything anymore. He was invincible. He was immortal.

He was complete.

– from Blades of the Old Empire by Anna Kashina, Angry Robot Books, February 2014.