Green Review: The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross (Orbit Books)

The Fuller Memorandum
Charles Stross
Orbit Books
Out Now

We’re used to series having a regularity and rhythm to them. But The Laundry series is a little more erratic to say the least. Not that it’s anyones fault as such. We’ve had two almost full novels, 4 novella/shorts, this full novel and two more still to come (hopefully).

After finishing The Fuller Memorandum I hope Stross has chance to write both The Armageddon Agedna and The Nightmare Stacks and surprises us with a stack of more short stories.

You can take it from the above that I’m a fan of the series right? Just in case you’re in any doubt I love what

Stross has done with The Laundry. When I grow up I want to tell stories like this.

I’d better explain why it’s hitting my buttons then.

I do have this thing that’s been slow burning for Lovecraftian-esque horrors and it’s slowly creeping into my reading see:

as well as the first two book in this series:

In my review of The Jennifer Morgue I said:

In the next one I’d love to see the horrors a bit more horrific just to see how far Bob can cope and I want to know more about the origins of his boss Angleton. And if I’m being picky I’d like to have the pace toned down a little bit to have more time to digest stuff.

I think Stross must have read my review as he’s done all of that and more.

Time has shifted again. Bob is now married to Mo not surprising after the events of The Jennifer Morgue but their connection is forged by what they’ve seen and can’t share with the outside world more than love. They have a strange but understanding relationship. They both agents for The Laundry, a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth.

Stross always seems to come back with something different but retaining all the things you like about Bob and The Laundry. This starts with his unofficial boss giving him a little errand. All he needs to do is check out a disturbance in the Royal Airforce Museum and seeing as he’s all ready going it’s suggested that he checks out a white elephant in Hanger 12B. Unfortunately there is an accident and he doesn’t get chance to investigate the elephant, which is only the start of Bob’s problems.

All The Laundry stories are retold by Bob which gives them an emotional and personal edge that might be lost if they were told in third person. We do occasionally get to see some events retold by Bob from other people’s points of view so we’re not limited to Bob as there a few key moments that we need to see and couldn’t see them any other way.

I really can’t fault Stross for his characterisation. He manages to dish out Chuthu-lian horrors at the same time as making paperclips and the need for an autopsy like inspection of a violin mix in as if it’s normal.

And it is normal to them. Especially having an upgraded Jesus phone with magickal apps plus injecting geek humour by accusing it of a having a strong glamour that just pulls you in. You know what I’m almost convinced they do.

It’s this mix of supernatural and the mundane that makes Stross such a convincing writer. He can pull out the horror and when I said I wanted Bob to suffer I wasn’t sure that Stross could actually do what he did to Bob here. It’s not pleasant and it’s disturbing as it’s not carried out by anything alien but fanatics who believe in something enough that they see what they do as means to an end. And he can also pull out plot twists that have you seeing things completely differently.

You get to see the history of one of the more enigmatic characters in the series so far and what you learn is more ‘oh’ than ‘err’ but only just. I wonder what else Stross is hiding from us?

All the end of the world horror is mixed with Stross personal brand of geek humour and the character could be average-if-he-wasn’t-dealing-with-the-supernatural-Bob, not forgetting the rest of eclectic crew of The Laundry, shows what rich world Stross has created. I’m sad that we’ve only got to see glimpses of it so far. I hope this isn’t the last we see of them.

I’m not sure where we go from here. The Laundry is a hotel corridor of horrors just waiting to be walked down and any door could lead to a nightmare.

Green Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Series but easily read as a stand-alone.
Release: Out Now in Paperbackk
Publisher: Orbit


Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky – a palace above the clouds where gods’ and mortals’ lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history. But it’s not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably.


Where to start the world building, the myth, the main character, the voice? This has got to be one of the strongest debuts I’ve read for a while.

I tend to lower my expectations and criticisms when reading a debut. It’s generally unfair to pour those kind of things over a novice it only leads to disappointment and frustration but from the from page I was captivated.

Jemisin managed to keep me in the palm of her hand until the end. I’d have followed her anywhere. I had total confidence that she knew exactly what she was doing and the story was going to come to a proper and surprising conclusion.

Now there aren’t a lot of writers you can say that about.

I think the way the story is told will either captivate or infuriate readers. It’s full of asides. All relevant. All needed but they might be considered storytelling fluff by those who like their narratives and characters more straight forward.

I don’t. I like my characters to feel like they are thinking and feeling. I like to know that they are affecting events and that events are effecting them.

Yeine is a good character to introduce the reader to the city of Sky. She is an outsider but has to be treated as an insider because of her instant status. Though that is a double edged sword. I guess a complaint could be that she is so wrapped up in your own problems and the problems of her people in the North that she doesn’t explore the world of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms enough.

But that’s for another tale and another time.

That isn’t the focus here. The focus is about who rules this world and the gods that are imprisoned in Sky. Much bigger things are explored in Yeine’s story.

We do find out some interesting things though. Yeine’s own people are led by women and a woman’s status is above man who seem to only be asked to fight when brute strength is needed rather than for their brains.

Her people are thought of as Barbarians but the more you flashes of them it’s hard to not to see the ruling family in Sky as the barbaric race and they have had it right all long even if that does mean they had to brick up what could reflect harmony in this world.

Im Sky indulge themselves (sometimes perversely), they inbreed and rule with a cruel and iron fist. It’s hard to see how Yeine could change this world even if she ened up winning.

But the changes she needs to make have a long history. They start for her with her mother. Who is now dead and the reason that a contest is needed.

Though it starts earlier than that with three gods, one know rules, one is imprisoned and one is dead. And that balance is central to the struggles that take place.

Jemisin has an amazing world creation myth and a solid foundation for her world that it’s hard not to see it as real especially when you get to see how the ending and it’s consequences will play out in a very real way for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

It’s a self contained story but I defy you not to want to read the next one when you see what happens in the finale.


A confident, mature, powerful, feminist, and entertaining debut in fantasy. And in the running for The Reads Top Five  2010.

Green Review: Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley (Orbit)

Title: Seeds of Earth
Author: Michael Cobley
Pages: 656
Genre: Science Fiction
Standalone/Series: Series – Humanity’s Fire
Release: Out 21st Jan 2010 in Paperback
Publisher: Orbit


The first intelligent race to encounter humanity is called the Swarm. They are merciless, relentless and unstoppable. With little chance of halting the savage invasion we send three ships from Earth in the hope of persevering humanity.

150 years later the Human colony on the planet Darien has established a new world for Humanity and forged a peaceful relationship with planet’s indigenous race, the scholarly Uvovo. But there are secrets buried beneath the surface of Darien’s forest moon. Secrets that are going to bring Darien to the attention of other galactic civilisations.


I am seriously impressed with scale and scope of Seeds of Earth. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess I had echoes of The Last Colony but it quickly took at turn and a voice of all its own.

After some unsettling historical episodes the Humans of Darien and the Uvavo have come to understanding which would make an interesting short story but not a novel and defiantly not a sequence.

And conflict there is. Darien is not the haven it first appears. Darien is in the middle of a conflict though one it only is now becomes aware of.

The problem with reviewing most novels is that their plots and storylines rely on having twists and turns. And to delve too deeply into what conflict there is and who with, would I think spoil several of the revelations that Cobley cleverly places. So I’m going to turn my attentions to what I enjoyed in the writing.

The first thing is that the story is told from multiple voice points leading to multiple threads most of the view points are from the good guys though are teasing glimpses into other relevant views like Legion in Chapter 3. And the Epilogue though you’ll wait until the end it’s a great cliff hanger for book 2, The Orphaned Worlds.

I can’t think of a view point that I didn’t enjoy though I was occasionally thrown when starting some chapters as Cobley is still learning the art of moving the story along by short-handing connecting events. And does sometimes resort to info dumping or making the reader do some mental jumps to catch up.

So I did find myself occasionally glazing over or rereading to fill in a few gaps. Those moments didn’t last long and each of the characters has an important part to play in this web of threads that the population of Darien find themselves in.

Everything is relevant and Cobley ends up doing a great job of keeping everything moving along. One of the threads does has some implausible escapes in it, they aren’t laughable, but they could feel more dangerous and edgy in places to make them more plausible.

It’s hard, I think, in science fiction to define and explore spiritually, somehow the surrounding of technology makes a mockery of most concepts of god and religion. But there is a strong spiritual vein here and it has a lot to do with technology and AI and where the lines blur and where you are on each side of the debate.

As with most good revelations of plot points the causes are usually right in front of you and I had a few ‘oh’ moments. That’s always pleasing. One disappointing thing has nothing to do with Cobley’s but his view of humanity. Well it’s more a sadness that the harmony that Darien enjoyed at the beginning couldn’t last but Cobley shows as a darker side to our nature. The way we haven’t really changed or learned gets scarier the more the story enfolds. A lot of political parallels to the here and now can be seen quite cleverly.


Space Opera is my favourite type of sci-fi as it has more emotional resonance and it’s easier to connect to the characters. Cobley has no sentimentality when it comes to his story. There are more than a few moments of thinking ‘he wouldn’t’  or ‘he can’t’ and then he does.

That’s more me being sentimental and wanting everyone to succeed and win but that isn’t realistic, is it? Life isn’t fair and things don’t happen in quite the way you expect.

Seeds of Earth is a bit rough around the edges but there is more than enough to keep you reading and needing to know more. A great first attempt.

Cobley has a strong confident voice with a intriguing and different tale to tell. I’m wondering what layers he’s going to peal back in The Orphaned Worlds.

Green Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher (Orbit)


Title: Turn Coat
Author: Jim Butcher
Pages: 437(hb) 544 (pb)
Genre: Noir, Urban Fantasy, Crime
Standalone/Series: Series – The Dresden Files Book 11
Release: Out Now in Hardback – 4 March in Paperback
Publisher: Orbit


When a man who has in the past been trying to kill you turns up at your door asking for help what do you do? If you’re Harry Dresden you take him in and help him obviously.

And when that person is Morgan, a Warden of the White Council, with other Warden’s chasing to take his head you’ve invited a whole lot of trouble in with him.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

As I read White Night, Small Favour and Turn Coat one after another  and because of their episodic and formulaic nature it does make it hard to reviewing them in isolation and say something completely different.

They are much of a muchness. If you’ve read the other 8 or 9 books you know what your getting. The review basically boils down to how well Butcher manages to match and hopefully exceed the readers expectations based on previous experience.

But in Turn Coat the coat isn’t the only thing that turns. The next one is called Changes and you can see those changes to the status quo starting here. Butcher again invites lots of players to the party but this time the goal and the pace is more focused and calm. It’s less monster of the month and addresses the big underlying threads that have been pulled and weaved since the start of the series.

The Wizards Council and the White Council of Vampires are again involved and Harry has to stop them turning on each other.

This time Butcher doesn’t go in for big battles to make his point. Don’t get me wrong there is a big battle and it’s done with the usual Butcher finesse but Dresden isn’t the centre of the stage for once. The stage belongs to another Wizard with a sequence that brings a whole new meaning to magic.

But what really makes this different is that Dresden finally gets to explore the Black Council and put his findings in front of the council of Wizards.

In Turn Coat he looses somethings and gains others, which I’m  hoping is going to shake things up a bit and bring differences to the formula and the focus – there is only so long that you can keep things going in the background before addressing them.

The influence of the Black Council gets very very scary the more you read especially when you see what kind of reach it has been having and how far back in the series it extends. I just hope that it’s going to come out in the open in the next few books.


There has been nothing wrong with the series so far. I’ve enjoyed them all but looking back I have started to notice a certain pattern and it has slipped into comfort reading for me. Enjoyable and a pleasure to read but nothing that has made me pause and go – oh now that was totally unexpected. There are surprises and lots of new information but nothing outside what is expected, if that makes sense, the are all within the limits of the series.

I’m hoping that from Changes, Butcher through Dresden, is going to extend the world and the working methods of Harry. He needs to finally give Karen the sword, let Molly do more and be seen doing more and generally change the  status quo.

I’ll read Changes in a second but I’m hoping that it will be as surprising as it will be enjoyable.

Green Review: Small Favour by Jim Butcher (Orbit)


Title: Small Favour
Author: Jim Butcher
Pages: 437(hb)
Genre: Noir, Urban Fantasy, Crime
Standalone/Series: Series – The Dresden Files Book 10
Release: Out Now in Paperback
Publisher: Orbit


The trouble with fairy tales for Harry Dresden is that they are mostly true. In this case in the shape of the Billy Goats Gruff and they are out to kill him.

But that’s only a part of his troubles. The Fairy Queen of Winter is has asked him for a small favour. But favours to fairies are never small or without consequence. One of them seems to be that it puts him on the hit list of The Summer Queen. 

Plus Marcone, Chicago’s crime boss, has been kidnapped and Harry has to find him. Not because he really wants it’s  more he’s compelled to for the greater good, and it’s not  going to be easy.

He’s not on  his own he has his own little ‘war council’ who are more than willing to help.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

If this was a TV series I’d guess you’d call this a mythology episode. It’s packed with the older threads coming together and introduces some new ones to excite and confuse.

The Fairy Courts take a background but strong role in the whole affair. As Harry is acting on behalf of Mab, the Winter Queen, it puts him at odds with the Summer Court and with his own  White Council.

If there is one problem with the Dresden Files it can feel like a lot of chess pieces being placed on a board. Butcher keep the action flowing and the pressure on Dresden but there is the sense that a lot of manipulation is going on to make events turn out the way they do either by some of the characters or Butcher himself.

And as the nature of the Fairy Courts is all about manipulation but it’s also the foundation of the Fallen and the way the White Court keeps power and behind all these factions is the interference of the unacknowledged Black Council. Everyone apart from Harry seems to have another agenda. Sgt Murphy and Michael have overriding responsibilities.

The events in Small Favour the focus in  again on The Knights of the Cross and the Fallen. Even though Harry thought that he had dealt with his internal issues with the shadow of Lasciel in White Night he still has the Fallen themselves to deal with.

But a lot of attachment I have for Butcher’s writing is how he deals with consequences. Harry never acts or thinks quite how you’d expect even if he puts his life in danger and he always tries to do the right thing.

The downside is that Butcher keeps putting him up against the impossible. He has grown in both character and power form book to book but sometimes I do wonder how far he can be taken without it looking ridiculous.

But it doesn’t seem to get to that point though it probably would if it wasn’t for Harry and being inside his head and how his friend, and enemies in some cases, are made into rounded characters with a  lot of shades of grey. You can see that the path that Harry makes is a only a few steps from being the wrong one.

Some new things though have teasing and wider ranging consequences for future books like Soulfire, which is a little bit more positive than Hellfire and the introduction of a mysterious and familiar island.


Another rollercoaster ride for Harry Dresden. Even though the one year later and a big bad guy is out to kill Harry is still in force there is a sense of endings and beginnings, which could, I hope, see some changes coming for Harry.  It is packed with connections and lore that will please any fan of The Dresden Files.

And anybody wondering if it’s getting a little tired after ten books, Jim Butcher knows how to please a crowd and continuously pulls a few rabbits out the hat to make sure you have to find out what happens next.

Green Review: White Night by Jim Butcher (Orbit)


Book Info

Title: White Night
Author: Jim Butcher
Pages: 454
Genre: Noir, Urban Fantasy, Crime
Standalone/Series: Series – The Dresden Files Book 9
Release: Out Now in paperback
Publisher: Orbit


Harry Dresden is called in to investigate what first appears to be a suicide but  it isn’t that simple there is a taint of magic in the air – something only a wizard could find. Or more exactly a message for Harry to find.

This draws Harry into investigating a series of murders that have been hidden. The impact ranges beyond his native Chicago as murders in an effort to find the killer but also to save his half-brother, Thomas as the evidence is all pointing in Thomas’s direction.

Harry is always saving someone usually himself from the hornet’s nest he has stirred up and he seems to attract damsels in distress. In White Night it isn’t just one damsel – it becomes a whole group of them. And that expands  what is at stake but also diminishes his chances of save them all.

This includes his new apprentice Molly.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

I’ve read Small Favour and Turn Coat since reading this one so it’s hard to deal with White Night in isolation. But I’ll try.

This is book 9 now and are there any more surprises that Butcher can come up with or is he just being formulaic and playing it by numbers?

Yes and no. I am getting a little tired of the politics of the White Court vs Red Court (two different varieties of vampires)  vs the Wizards Council.

There is enough interesting things happening that I can overlook it but I’m hoping that we are coming to the end of the this focus and it will move on soon, which I’ll come back to when talking about Turn Coat on Thursday.

I guess I like Harry because he could walk away and doesn’t. He tries to do the right thing even when he’s out classed and outgunned and it never feels that Butcher cheats to have Harry win. As even though he usually comes out alive at the end it’s hard sometimes to describe it as as living.

Teaching is a theme in White Night. The role of teaching Molly gives Harry a different view point and teaches both Harry and the reader some important lessons. But he also has to teach the damsels to protect themselves though they have their own protector who is something of a surprise to Harry.

He has also been carrying a Shadow since touching the coin containing one of the Fallen. His Fallen is Lasciel, who he has named Lash and has been with him since Death Masks, takes an important and surprising role in events. One that actually makes you feel sorry for her.

The other thing we get to see is Harry working with another Wizard from the council and see flashbacks to New Mexico and the events that are the seed of a final confrontation, which sees Harry, Ramirez outclassed and outgunned. And there is more than one  cost of, barely, winning.

Butcher has given has Harry a two headed snake – one that is going to come back and bite him in Small Favour especially when you’re dealing with a career criminal.


Despite my weariness from another White Court centred story Butcher kept the pages turning quite rapidly as usual. He’s managing to keep Harry his toes and this reader guessing and reading.

In the end White Night is another satisfying and exciting read. More than enough for me to move straight on to Small Favour being reviewed tomorrow.

Review: The Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey (Orbit)


The Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey
Published by Orbit and Out Now in Paperback

Felix Castor has made it to book five seemingly in one piece though not after more than a few scrapes along the way. You’ll have to read The Devil You Know, Vicious Circle, Dead Men’s Boots and Thicker Than Water for details of those.

This leaves me with a slight problem. How to explain the awesomeness of The Naming of the Beasts without destroying the enjoyment of reaching this point.

So the short review is; if you loved the series so far this is going to knock your socks off so read it! And if you haven’t had the pleasure yet let me introduce you to what you’ve been missing…

The dead of London aren’t staying dead and haven’t been for some years. The newly deceased are coming back to visit or moving back in if they’ve come back into their own bodies (Carey’s idea of zombies are more possessed corpses than the lumbering and brain eating movie variety). Though it’s not only the dead that are returning, things a lot older have also appeared, not only on the streets of London but all over the world.

And that is where people like exorcist Felix Castor come in. His special talents make him a sort of expert in the changes that are coming. Not that he’s enjoying it at the minute.The world hasn’t been too kind too him over the last few books.

In The Naming of the Beasts, his friend Rafi has escaped along with the demon that Castor trapped inside his body. Castor needs to stop the demon and find his friend but he can’t handle it alone. So he turns to the lesser of two evils to give him back-up and joins forces with an old adversary to try to stop the demon before he escapes Rafi’s body and becomes free in the world.

Now I’m a big fan of urban fantasy and I’m an even bigger fan of this series. For all the things going on we have in each book Castor trying to redeem himself by trying to do the right thing for his friends and family and failing because of other peoples agendas.

And Mike Carey is a master of putting Castor through the ringer each time. But he’s not rehashing the story in each book. He has the back story that’s been building from book to book until we get to this point.

And the answers raise more questions than they answer. The balance has twisted away from the living. And Carey plays with that. He takes each of main the characters away from their routines of normality he’s built up in the series so now Castor can’t work alone, Juliet is having more than a few problems controlling herself, Pen is well just Pen and Nicky, he’s wasting away, though he has a plan to save himself.

If this is the penultimate book in the arc then the ending to The Naming of the Beasts is a killer. Something just doesn’t feel right by the end. It’s almost too easy. It feels like Mike Carey has held a few cards back and I have a horrible feeling that Castor’s life is not going to go back to normal after this.

A true roller-coaster ride and a series that a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or quality urban fantasy really can’t miss.

Oh and check the next post to win one of three copies of The Naming of the Beasts

SR Review: In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan (Orbit)

inasheslie.jpgIn Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan
Published by Orbit and Out Now

As above, so below. There is a struggle above. King and Parliament vie for power. Below, there is rebellion in the faerie realm and the Onyx Court. And in a humble bakery in London’s Pudding Lane, a spark will ignite and force all, Roundhead and Cavalier, human and fae, to set aside their differences to save their homes from annihilation.

Brennan’s mastery of mixing history with her faerie world was tested in Midnight Never Come. But as important as the history was Brennan was free their to build a love story around the events without the being tied too strongly to fixed dates and events.

This time history is front and centre though she’s left plenty of room for development the story is constrained by the timing and movement of historical events.

In order to split things up and also to show more sustained development Brennan switches from the slow burning events which lead up to the beheading of King Charles and the restoration of Parliament and the Monarchy to the supernatural fight that takes place during the Great Fire of London.

Because of the limitations of the narrative I did find it a slow going. This isn’t to say that it isn’t enjoyable but due to the timescale it had sometimes lacks a sense of urgency to drags you from one event to the next.

Brennan does do an amazing job of weaving parallels between the real world events with the affects on the fae and vice versa.

We meet some new characters and see the return of others. Lune is immortal but Deven is mortal and can not live forever. Instead Lune has chosen a new Prince of Stone, a mortal to help rule at her side. Anthony’s role is more than ceremonial. He’s Lune’s connection with the mortal world and it’s a connection that works both ways. He needs the fae in the real world as well.

Some great touches are explored like Queen Lune and the long shadow of the Queen she replaced in Midnight Never Come and those events lingering influence over Lunes decisions.

Like Mythago Wood this is closer to my idea of fantasy and what I want from a fantasy story. I want a story that has clever ideas, emotional and characters that can be connected with and getting away from the quest stereotypes, though they of course have their own place in fantasy.

Overall, the tone is different from Midnight Never Come but Brennen takes that foundation and expands on it focusing in on historical events but also fleshing out on earlier characters and new challenges. It does require you to be paying a bit of attention, especially during the leaps in time but they are all flagged if you take a little bit of time.

I’m excited to see the next one is called A Star Shall Fall. How teasing is that!

PS: I was lucky enough to meet Marie when she was doing on the ground research for A Star Shall Fall and her schedule for her London trip was exhausting. I’m always a bit worried when meeting and author that I won’t like the book after meeting them.

Thankfully I did end up liking In Ashes Lie, as Marie has a wonderful sense of humour and is a fascinating person to listen to and she showed that what is presented in each novel is just the surface of the attention to detail she has put in to it.

Review: Thicker Than Water by Mike Carey (Orbit)


Thicker Than Water by Mike Carey
Published by Orbit and Out Now

Thicker Than Water is the fourth and most personal Felix Castor novel to date. Felix is a whistle carrying exorcist, who up until now has been involved in cases rather than been at the centre of them.

A body is found in a car. The road it’s on is overlooking an estate. How does the body relate to the events that are happening in the estate, why is Castor a suspect and why does this lead Felix to his home town of Liverpool. And why is Juliet strangely silent on the cause of the case in hand.

I’ve probably said it before that I’m a big believer in starting at the beginning. I have and will go into a series with some success like the books of Neal Asher and Fred Vargas part way through and work backwards. But there are some series despite having no number on the cover that should be read in order.

The Dresden Files is a series where you get more from it knowing how the dynamics work and what experiences they have gone through and how those events have changed them. Well the Felix Castor novels work like that. Yes you can can read them alone but you’re not going to care as much as you might if you’d read the other three in order.

This is because Mike Carey has been dragging us in from book one, The Devil You Know, on the journey of Felix Castor. Not that is really what it feels like but the impact is definitely felt in Thicker Than Water. You get to meet his brother Matthew, delve into the shaping of Felix Castor through some of the events of his childhood, and find out that things aren’t aways how they appear.

One of the interesting points of this book is the way the whole cast is brought together. They work as a team each having their own roles but their connections aren’t shown in neon and they go deeper than what’s mentioned.

Which is one of the reason why you need to read Castors other investigations. You have to know what he’s risking in the opening scene and why he’s risking it. You have to know why he shouldn’t be teaming up with who he does and why he has no choice.

Carey has let the story off the leash in Thicker Than Water – know that he’s established everyone and can pull those strings/connections, he lets it twist and turn, and peels away layers and layers until Felix is exposed. Felix seems to win only to leave this reader close to tears on the final page.

The good news is that the next one, The Name of the Beast, is out the end of the August it might be September  and it looks like the world if going to Hell.

*** You can can find out a little more about the series in an earlier post.

Review: Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston (Orbit) includes previous reviews and new release preview


Half the Blood of BrooklynA Joe Pill Novel by Charlie Huston
Published by Orbit and Out Now

He’s back. Actually Joe’s been back since I wrote the last review in February 2008. Now this might sound a little strange seeing as I enjoyed the last one so much. And you might be right but before I started blogging about books my usual way of reading was to always have the next one in reserve. The next one, Every Last Drop, has just been released so on this occasion I’ve fallen into my old habits and now I’m back to having Every Last Drop to look forward to.

Half the Blood of Brooklyn changes the game for Joe Pitt in lots of ways and from what I can tell none of them are that positive.

It seems a war is coming. Manhattan is getting crowded. New alliances are needed. So Joe Pitt’s next assignment is to escort someone over the bridge to Brooklyn to see a Clan called The Freaks. This is very much alien territory for both the series and Pitt.

Huston introduces another aspect of religion to the series which is a surprising twist for a series based on the fact that the Vampires here are infected with vyrus, which is seen as something that science can cure but at the same time seen by some as something that has a more spiritual base.

So there is a strange clash going on between science and religion. Pitt’s status quo is tested severely and he has some choices to make.

For a novel of 221 pages of mostly dialogue and sparse description it’s denser and more packed than novels of 3 or 4 times its size.  Huston has a mastery of dialogue, storytelling and atmosphere that a lot of other writers could learn a lot form when creating lean and crisp prose.

I’m sorry that I waited so long to read this but the great news is that Every Last Drop is out now and I’m not waiting that long again before reading more Charlie Huston.

Highly Recommended

Reviews of the previous episodes in this wicked series:


Already Dead, Book 1

There are writers you slip into and writers you have to work at and Charlie Huston is as smooth as warm butter. I was hooked from the opening line, ‘I smell them before I see them’. That’s how we’re introduced to the Vampyre and P.I. Joe Pitt though he doesn’t have a licence and I don’t think they have a licence for what he does.

In this series opener, Already Dead, he has to find a missing girl who just happens to have very rich parents and likes hanging out in places where 14-yeard old girl shouldn’t go. He also has a mess to clear up. And people aren’t making it easy for him.

It’s a compulsive read. He’s created a believable underworld of Manhattan where Vampyre clans have carved-up the island and have ways of keeping their existence out of the sunlight. One of those ways is Pitt.

Huston doesn’t let up with the action but still manages to slip in moments of reflection from Pitt’s recent and not so recent history. For a blood feasting Vampyre Pitt has a quite a heart.

I sucked this book dry and I’m craving my next fix.


No Dominion, Book 2

You gotta feel sorry for Joe Pitt. He can’t seem to help finding himself in serious trouble. Out of blood and out of cash and being behind on the rent Pitt needs a job. Though being a Vampyre and a Rogue it can’t be a 9-5 gig. Unfortunately he’s in the wrong place and the wrong time and a job finds him and it involves a trip Uptown.

Carrying on from the sucked dry Already Dead Charlie Huston delves deeper into the Vampyre Clans on Manhattan.  Huston keeps it simple. We see it all from inside Joe’s head as follows the trail set out in front of him.  But Huston isn’t a simple storyteller not by a long shot. He’s created a deep, dangerous and moral man in Pitt and throws that up against the different Clans who are more establishment than Pitt likes getting close to. And Huston plays on this tension, as well as tensions from the hunger for blood and from his girlfriend who needs him a lot right now.

Huston is a master of set-up and pay-off even if the payoff isn’t what it first appears and in most cases isn’t a pay-off at all but another set-up.  Something is about to go down.

I can’t wait to get my teeth into Half the Blood of Brooklyn, which happens to be out now from Orbit.


Promo of Every Last Drop, Book 4

After a year hiding out in the Bronx, Joe Pitt is given an assignment he can’t refuse. One Clan needs Joe to inform on another, but he’s playing them both while keeping his eye on the main prize: his girl Evie is on the Island somewhere and he’ll do anything to get her back. And in this case, ‘anything’ means coming face to face with the horrendous secret that lies beneath the Vampyre world. It’s a quest that will drive him to the heart of the two most perplexing mysteries of the Vampyre community: how were the Clans originally formed, and where do the powerful ones get all that blood? The search for the answer takes Joe to a dark corner of Queens, puts him face to face with a mythic and savage Clan, and leaves him in possession of a vision he’ll never scrape off his retinas – as well as a bargaining chip that redefines his place in the Vampyre universe.