Three review copies arrived this morning…

Three little books, see how they stand.

Three little books, see how they stand.

Elizabeth Haydon, THE MERCHANT EMPEROR, Deborah Coates, STRANGE COUNTRY, and the second volume of William H. Patterson Jr.’s biography of Robert A. Heinlein.

I have no intention of reading the Patterson: aside from the fact I haven’t read the first volume, I’m reliably informed that Patterson has done a terrible job of writing biography. If anyone should like this copy, if you’re willing to pay postage, I’ll send it to you. (About eight euro, I think, for international postage, unless Patterson’s brick is heavier than anything I’ve ever posted before.)

I have no intention of reading the Haydon either, because I read Rhapsody and lo, it was terrible – I was still in my “Finish every book you start” phase of readership, and I very nearly didn’t make it to the end. So same goes. Postage and I’ll send it on. First come, first served.

As for STRANGE COUNTRY: it’s a lovely book, the conclusion of Coates’ excellent debut rural fantasy series set in North Dakota. I recommend it highly, and I have already discussed it in a Sleeps With Monsters column this spring. It was the ARC I discussed, but this hardback is very shiny. You can’t have it. It’s MINE.

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.

Deborah Coates, Deep Down; Karen Healey, When We Wake; Galactic Surburbia

Two books have I finished lately, and two only.

(Although I’m closing on the final pages of W.H.R. Rivers’ Medicine, Magic and Religion, from the Routledge Classics series: early anthropologists are strangely entertaining, with their “lowly peoples,” “savage man,” and “rude culture.” And by entertaining, I mean, he’s interesting, but I still cringe.)

Deep Down, by Deborah Coates

Deborah Coates, Deep Down. Tor, 2013. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Coates marries the chill of a proper ghost story to vivid characterisation and deeply-felt landscape. Contemporary fantasy, sequel to Wide Open. Great voice. Although Wide Open was very good, this is better. I strongly recommend both of them.

(Longer review on submission elseweb.)

When We Wake, by Karen Healey

Karen Healey, When We Wake. Little, Brown & Co., 2013. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Excellent YA meets brilliant science fiction. I am inarticulate in its regard: I am trying, still, to disentangle the things that I admire about it now, as a work of literature that appeals to me as an adult, from the things that should make it work for its target audience, and I think it comes down to voice. Healey really nails voice: her own authorial voice, and the voice of When We Wake‘s protagonist, Tegan.

It appears that the good folks at Galactic Suburbia like the work I’ve been doing in the column. Since I appear on the shortlist for their Galactic Suburbia award. (Around minute 30.)

This is baffling, and weird, and altogether marvelously validating.