Ben aaronovitch rivers of london

London and urban fantasy seems to come up enough for it slowly to becoming a trope (or a cliché depending on your love/tolerance but a cliché that works in my opinion). Not only is London a diverse and internationally recognised city it’s old enough to have a life of its own.

And it’s that heartbeat that powers Aaronovitch’s tale (as all good urban fantasy about London does). This time we get a police procedural mixed with the supernatural as Peter Grant probationary police constable’s career takes a different turn when he comes across a body and a while later comes to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last Wizard in England.

Now listening to a book does give you a different feel for it as the reader in your own mind doesn’t get a look in. I have to say that I love being read to and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith encompasses not only Peter Grant but the other characters he voiced along the way. He has a gruff London accent as he read but could easily  sound creepy as he read the dialogue of… oh I’d better not say. But it was very atmospheric especially towards the climax.

There was a point when I was reading that I wondered what the opening had to do with what was going at that point as we seemed to have moved into something unrelated. I didn’t have to wait long. Aaronovitch played me like a fiddle. For a debut (though it’s not his first novel as he’s written a few tie-ins) I’m impressed by not only story which has lots of twists and turns to be compelling and surprising but also the atmosphere and character he injects. Aaronovitch truly captures the spirits of London.

From the opening you’d have to wonder where the rivers part of Rivers of London comes from but Peter and the audience are introduced quite expertly to the power of the Thames and its many children.

By using Grant as a novice magician (it’s better than transferring to the Case Progress Unit) we get to see the revelations that Peter is exposed to as well as seeing him introduce those concepts to his friend and colleague WPC Lesley May who is on bottom of the mundane side of murder investigation.

Aaronovitch packs a lot, but not too much, into his tale. Avoiding cliché and creating new myths of his own. I’ll never look at the Thames quite the same again.

The only negative I can think of is that even though the next one, Moon Over Soho is out I’ve got a wait for a little while until it’s read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith but I have a feeling that it’s going to be worth it.

 

kraken-by-china-mieville-UK

Title: Kraken
Author: China Miéville
Pages: 400
Genre: Urban Fantasy (sort of)
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Release: 7 May in Hardback
Publisher: Macmillan

Synopsis

Deep in the research wing of the Natural History Museum is a prize specimen, something that comes along much less often than once in a lifetime: a perfect, and perfectly preserved, giant squid. But what does it mean when the creature suddenly and impossibly disappears?

For curator Billy Harrow it’s the start of a headlong pitch into a London of warring cults, surreal magic, apostates and assassins. It might just be that the creature he’s been preserving is more than a biological rarity: there are those who are sure it’s a god.

A god that someone is hoping will end the world.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

This is my third novel by China Miéville after reading Un Lun Dun and The City & The City and from what I can tell these three books are a marked shift form his better known and denser Bas-Lag trilogy.

The reason I mention this is that Miéville built up fan base and reputation on his earlier works and it’s a reputation that might put more than a few people off.

To be honest I’ve looked at Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council and been put off myself by their size and potentially complex narrative. Now I don’t know if it’s a change in focus or I’ve formed the wrong impression before but I’ve found other two books of his I’ve read challenging but enjoyable and not as scary as I thought. 

Kraken carries on that trend. This time Miéville tales a more straight forward and linear tale when compared with the mentally and physically segregated space in The City & The City and turns it something more akin to Un Lun Dun’s exploration of a theme, then it was pollution and the environment and this time its religion. A religion based squid worship.

I know what you’re thinking and you’re thinking the octopus-headed monster-god Cthulhu or maybe you’re thinking Clash of the Titans and ‘Release the Kraken’ well it’s more Cthulhu than Titan but this a Kraken that only Miéville could make it.

As the blurb says Billy Harrow is the catalyst that brings about the search for a missing, if dead, Kraken in order to prevent the end of the world. Billy is just a curator at the Natural History Museum. He just happens to be working the day it vanishes. But then he to gets dragged into finding it if he likes it or not.

But he is not the only interested party in the missing Kraken and Miéville builds his story using a cast of characters. We have a trio of police detectives that have a special department with a cult obsessed consultant. We have a crime boss simply called The Tattoo and we have a menagerie of London more obscure and more mystically inclined individuals several of which are trained killers, a few who can read the guts of the City and a several that have a few knacks up their sleeves. A girlfriend is searching for your missing boyfriend (not Billy) and two characters who bring you nightmares. You can see Miéville has quite a few characters to bring into play too.

Now as a linear as Miéville has made his narrative – squid goes missing, search for missing squid, prevent End of the World before time runs out. He isn’t out to give the reader an easy time. He’s out to play with them, twist their expectations, and then widen their imaginations.

He takes what could have been simple story and does a lot more with it. Take his view of London. He manages to merge a fable of a magical city with a real working and concrete place.

China then manages to update and change his place by introducing further layers through introducing us through Billy, as our outsider, and through the view of some insiders that we’ve only seen one side and there are more parts of it.

Billy as our main focus, could quite easily go through this journey and not change. He doesn’t really need alter as once the Kraken is found then it will all be over, won’t it? And it’s not his journey, or is it? Billy changes from this observer to a hero and warrior but he morphs into the role rather than by deliberately changing.

China’s talent is also in how deals with the various religions that see salvation in a dead squid and Billy’s connection to it. There is a point where the story twists when Billy slowly changes his opinion of the Kraken they are hunting and it’s connection to the rest of the events. It quite easily makes you think about the nature of gods and religions.

China is clever and thoughtful, which is one of the problems I have with him as a writer, his style is not easy to read. It doesn’t, if I’m being honest, flow that well. Almost every sentence has weight and if your concentration slips or you misread a line it quickly become obvious. In this book things change over a line rather than a paragraph.

But if you can get used to that, and it just takes an acceptance that you might have to go at his pace rather than yours then you’ll pick up a lot more from him. And it’s a much more pleasurable experience when not rushed.

Summary

In terms of value for effort Kraken is a satisfying read. China Miéville uses a diverse cast that is multi-layered and revealed as you read. He’s taken what could be cliché of a giant squid, the idea of god, and the end of the world and made them into a new standard that every Urban Fantasy should strive to reach.

I’m hoping that Miéville’s next tale will mellow his style even more and allow his ideas to shine without that second buffer for processing.

I have one last thing to say,

‘Release the Kraken!’

It’s been a quiet around here though I hope that I’m giving you enough book choices to keep you happy. I have been doing stuff behind the scenes and I have some special things coming up on the blog.

Reading Challenge

Floor to Ceiling Books jokingly mentioned on Twitter that I don’t do enough reviews. You remember that I have a challenge with Harry to read six books a month?

Well in February I was doing well for the first half having reviewed Horns, The Bookman, and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The only other books I read after that were The Ice-Princess and I started on The Preacher.

So I’m still behind. By the end of March I should be on 18.  I’m on 10 as I’ve finished The Preacher and Florence & Giles.

I’m hoping that my numbers improve in March a little as you’ll see.

Läckberg Week

I’ve not posted my reviews, though I have written them, of The Ice-Princess or The Preacher yet and that’s because I’m hoping that the talented Camilla Läckberg is able to do an interview for me.

It’s all being sorted at the moment and as soon as it is I’ll post reviews of those two plus the The Stone-Cutter and hopefully the interview and make it a week long event.

Speaking of events I have two more planned…

BSFA Awards Best Novel Week

I mentioned the BSFA Awards at the end of January and my vague plan to read the nominees – Ark by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz), Lavinia by Ursula K Le Guin (Gollancz) The City & The City by China Mieville (Macmillan) and Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts (Gollancz). Well I’m going to. Though it’s going to be five books as I’m reading Flood as well.

Mark you calendars. I’m doing that starting Monday 29th March. I’m going to read the four nominees, review them and then give my verdict on who should win.

Short Story Month and NextRead Magazine

The next big event is Short Story Month and this is tied though not directly to the launch of NextRead Magazine. I’ve already roped in a few people to write stuff and I’ll be putting out a big call and song and dance about it shortly.

Short fiction is brilliant when it’s done right and I’m using as an excuse to get some more read. Anyone else want to joint in? I’m hoping for some features, reviews, competitions and general love-fest for the shorter fiction form.

In related news the first submission arrived so I have my fingers crossed that it’s going to turn from a trickle into a flood soon. :D

The Men of Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Appreciation Month

Two events I’ve signed up to write stuff for are coming soon.

The first is by Book Chick City. BCC is celebrating the male authors of urban fantasy from the 22-28th March with ‘the Men of Urban Fantasy Week’. I’m writing something about two of my favorite authors so that’s fun.

And a bit of a bigger event on Walker of Worlds in April when it’s Sci-Fi Appreciation Month. A great idea. I’m doing a review of The Skinner by Neal Asher.

I have a couple more books that I need to read so I can bring you some more interviews too.

And the TBR has some brilliant books all vying for attention like Changes by Jim Butcher, The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin, The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, Dark Matter by Juli Zeh, Spellwright by Blake Charlton, In Great Water by Kit Whitfield and The Snowman by Jo Nesbo to name a few!

What’s keeping you all busy?

turncoat-thumb

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

Synopsis

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.

Summary

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.

small_favour

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

Synopsis

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.

Summary

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.

white_night_mid

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

Synopsis

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.

Summary

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.

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

The things I knew about Sookie Stackhouse before reading A Touch of Dead could have just about managed to fill the back of a postage stamp. I knew that it was the basis for the TV series TrueBlood. I knew that the books themselves are very popular and that they had vampires in them. I also thought that I wouldn’t like them so I didn’t open the copy of Dead Until Dark. It’s quite amazing how you can set your mind against something you haven’t even read.
Though the jury is still out on the other big vampire series, to quote Simon Pegg,
Read the Twilight books on hols. Really enjoyed them in a sort of ‘creepy old man reading delusional, horny, daughter’s diary’ way.
http://twitter.com/simonpegg/status/4857483466
I just don’t think I’m really interested in doing that.
Anyway back to A Touch of Dead, which isn’t a novel but a collection of five Sookie Stackhouse stories rather than a collection of stories by Charlaine Harris that have nothing to do with each other.  I find short story collections on the whole tough the read the only other one I’ve read recently that I’ve enjoyed was another linked collection though that was more set around the same universe than the same characters.
Both served the same purpose, to introduce me to the authors and their creation. I learned a lot about  Sookie Stackhouse from each of the five stories, there isn’t a dud out of any of them. I’m not saying they are going to win any prices either. Harris has wonderful way of storytelling don’t get me wrong but there isn’t anything that deep in them.
And they might not be substantial for hardcore fans because they filled me in on a lot of the gaps so they might be a little too sparse for someone that remembers all the details and wants more depth.
Of the five, four Harris tells us in the introduction where they can be placed in accordance the to timeline, the fifth has Dracula (or so he says) in it so is allowed to be take place in its own time
TrueBlood comes across of quite well thought out, the vampire interrogation into society is interesting, the other supernatural characters that aren’t so open are interesting too. Harris manages to breath life into each of the characters (if you’ll excuse the pun) and none of them feels out of place.
The most interesting character is Sookie, which is lucky as she’s the main one, the fact that she can read minds and how she does it is brilliantly illustrated in the opening ‘Fairy Dust’ and ‘Lucky’.
Harris injects a sense of enjoyment and fun in her writing making A Touch of Dead a quick and immensely  pleasurable read. I’m probably late on board this one. If you want to see if Sookie Stackouse is for you this collection is highly recommended and if you’re a fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading them though you might find them a little sparse if you go into them thinking you’re going to find some silver bullet that’s going to change your perceptions.
A brilliant example of how an author should do a short story collection. I’m now going to put Dead Until Dusk high on the TBR pile

A Touch of Dead by  Charlaine Harris
Published by Gollancz
Out 29th October 2009 in Hardback

The things I knew about Sookie Stackhouse before reading A Touch of Dead could have just about managed to fill the back of a postage stamp. I knew that it was the basis for the TV series TrueBlood. I knew that the books themselves are very popular and that they had vampires in them. I also thought that I wouldn’t like them so I didn’t open the copy of Dead Until Dark. It’s quite amazing how you can set your mind against something you haven’t even read.

Though the jury is still out on the other big vampire series, to quote Simon Pegg,

Read the Twilight books on hols. Really enjoyed them in a sort of ‘creepy old man reading delusional, horny, daughter’s diary’ way.

http://twitter.com/simonpegg/status/4857483466

I just don’t think I’m really interested in doing that.

Anyway back to A Touch of Dead, which isn’t a novel but a collection of five Sookie Stackhouse stories rather than a collection of stories by Charlaine Harris that have nothing to do with each other.  I find short story collections on the whole tough the read the only other one I’ve read recently that I’ve enjoyed was another linked collection though that was more set around the same universe than the same characters.

Both served the same purpose, to introduce me to the authors and their creations. I learned a lot about  Sookie Stackhouse from each of the five stories, there isn’t a dud out of any of them. I’m not saying they are going to win any prices either. Harris has wonderful way of storytelling don’t get me wrong but there isn’t anything that deep in them.

And they might not be substantial for hardcore fans because they filled me in on a lot of the gaps in my Stackhouse knowledge so they might be a little too sparse for someone that remembers all the details and wants more depth.

Of the five, Harris tells us in the introduction where four of them can be placed in accordance the to timeline, the fifth has Dracula (or so he says) in it so is allowed to be take place in its own time

TrueBlood comes across as a quite well thought out. The vampire interrogation into society is interesting, the other supernatural characters that aren’t so open are interesting too. Harris manages to breath life into each of the characters (if you’ll excuse the pun) and none of them feels out of place.

The most interesting character is Sookie, which is lucky as she’s the main one, the fact that she can read minds and how she does it is brilliantly illustrated in the opening ‘Fairy Dust’ and ‘Lucky’.

Harris injects a sense of enjoyment and fun in her writing making A Touch of Dead a quick and immensely  pleasurable read. I’m probably late on-board this one. If you want to see if Sookie Stackouse is for you this collection is highly recommended and if you’re a fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading them though you might find them a little sparse if you go into them thinking you’re going to find some silver bullet that’s going to change your perceptions.

A brilliant example of how an author should do a short story collection. I’m now going to put Dead Until Dusk high on the TBR pile

the-naming-of-the-beasts

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

nekropolis slights

 

Well here they are. The first two covers of the new imprint Angry Robot Books. Their mission: quite simply, is to publish the best in brand new genre fiction – SF, F and WTF?!

And these two Nekropolis and Slights seem  to be just that.

Both are eye catching. Slights is almost terror inducing and a great way of making someone pick it up and know that it can only be horrific.

Similarly, Nekroplis has a bone-made street light and a detective with an interesting skin complaint, again giving you a good idea of the contents.

Now I have to remember not to judge a book by it’s cover….

For more on the books themselves please check out an earlier post

deadbeat

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
The Dreden Files Book 7
Published by Orbit and out now

 

Dead Beat is book seven in the The Dresden Files series. The problem in reviewing series is that there a is a lot of commitment required and the commitment of a reader can be tested if the writer takes it for granted and doesn’t make each story compelling in their own right. Trilogies are a completely differently kettle of fish.

With a bit of a wobble in the last one, Death Masks, Harry is back on form and has bigger problems than usual. Not only is his house a mess, Karrin has gone on holiday with someone that it isn’t Harry. Then to top it all off there are several Necromancers in town trying to find the Word of Kemmler before Harry does and it Harry doesn’t find it the vampire Mavara has planned something nasty for Murphy.

Jim Butcher really piles on the pressure for Dresden in Dead Beat. Not only doesn’t he have Murphy, Bob isn’t 100% reliable as some past secrets are revealed, he can’t rely on the Alpha’s as he’s made a deal he can’t break. Not to mention that there is more than one Necromancer wanting to kill him.

He also has internal struggles. The consequences of using Hellfire still plagues him though the Morgue guy, Butters, has a theory about that. The source of the Hellfire isn’t as contained as it should be. And he’s out of his league in both power and skill.

As you can see. There is a lot going on. Butcher though doesn’t linger. He piles of the pressure and the plot leaving Harry no choice but to try and find the Word of Kemmler before the others.

You can hopefully tell that I enjoyed Dead Beat a great deal. I said in my last review that in a series you end up wanting the same but different. Well Dresden gets taken up a notch. The subplot from earlier books about the ongoing war makes a significant leap.

And I think I’ve given plenty of hints.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the previous books in The Dresden Files this is a book that’s definitely for you but you might want to read the others first as lots of tunes as playing under the surface of Dead Beat. If you’ve not read any of them before. Please read up to this one. Proven Guilty is next!