Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi and Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw

John Scalzi, A Very Scalzi Christmas (Subterranean 978-1-59606-932-9, $40.00, 142pp, hc) November 2019. Cover by Natalie Metzger.

For a fancy stocking stuffer, this collection of holiday items, most originally published on Scalzi’s Whatever blog, presents a mix of hilarious Santa snark and heartwarming sentiment, with a mix of lists, poems, interviews with some of Santa’s helpers, stories, and more. Three items are brand new, but many of the older items ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Fallen by Benedict Jacka and The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Benedict Jacka, Fallen (Ace 978-0-440-00058-7, $7.99, 296pp, pb) September 2018.

Alex Verus’s life takes a big turn for the worse in this tenth installment in the urban fantasy series. That’s not a huge surprise – this series has had a lot of ups and downs. This time, though, things get pretty desperate. Alex gets caught covering up for his girlfriend Anne, who let her dark self out and some really ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Seanan McGuire, Laughter at the Academy (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-928-2, $40.00, 374pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Carla Speed McNeil.

McGuire’s introduction calls this her first single-author short story collection, which isn’t exactly true, but it is her first collection of non-series stories, 22 of them, all originally published from 2009-2017. The bulk of them are dark tales; she has a tendency to pick one creepy idea and then push it ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews and The Affair of the Mysterious Let­ter by Alexis Hall

Ilona Andrews, Sapphire Flames (Avon 978-0-06-287834-2, $7.99, 393pp, pb; -295258-5, $26.99, hc) August 2019. Cover by Gene Mollica.

The action-packed Hidden Legacy series of urban fantasy romances starts a new trilogy – the fourth novel overall in the series. The previous trilogy centered on Nevada Baylor and her tempestuous relationship with the powerful Prime Connor Rogan, but now they’re conveniently out of the country on family business, and the focus ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke and Carolyn Cushman Review Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-31319-5, $25.99, 448pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Gideon the Ninth, debut novel by much-hyped new voice Tamsyn Muir, is a book that spent several months on my shelf while I wrestled with my mixed feelings about how very hyped it has been since I first heard of it. Lesbian necromancers in space! Gothic cutthroat politics! Epic shit! You’ll ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire and Witch Hat Atelier 2 by Kamome Shirahama

Seanan McGuire, The Unkindest Tide (DAW 978-0-7564-1507-5, $26.00, 354pp, hc) Septem­ber 2019. Cover by Chris McGrath.

Toby’s all at sea in this uneven 13th novel in the October Daye series, which centers on an old bargain the Luidaeg (sea witch) made to undo a great wrong. Her children and descendants, the Roane, were mostly slaughtered by people who stole their magic skins. The Luidaeg turned the murderers’ children into Selkies, ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey and Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca

Mercedes Lackey, Eye Spy (DAW 978-0-7564-1320-0, $27.00, 326pp, hc) July 2019. Cover by Jody Lee.

The latest book in the Valdemar series and the second volume in the Family Spy series turns to young Abidela (Abi), daughter of the Herald Spy Mags and King’s Own Herald Amily. She’s grown up around the court and Heralds, is friends with the young royals, and knows lots of spy tricks, but doesn’t seem ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs and Reticence by Gail Carriger

Patricia Briggs, Storm Cursed (Ace 978-0-425-28129-1, $27.00, 358pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

The 11th novel in the Mercy Thompson series finds Mercy back home in Washington’s Tri-Cities area, and a little more in the public eye than she cares for, thanks to having publically declared the area under the Columbia Basin pack’s pro­tection a couple of books back, so now she gets called to deal with ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett and Stormrise by Jillian Boehme

Claire Eliza Bartlett, We Rule the Night (Little, Brown 978-0-316-41727-3, $17.99, 390pp, hc) April 2019.

Young women get the unprecedented chance to serve in the military as pilots in this thrilling young-adult tale set in a magical version of WWII Soviet Russia, and based on actual history. The Union of the North faces an enemy with superior technology, includ­ing deadly aircraft powered by forbidden Weave magic. The Union, strapped for ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Titanshade by Dan Stout and The Unspeakable Unknown by Eliot Sappingfield

Dan Stout, Titanshade (DAW 978-0-7564-1486-3, $26.00, 403pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Chris McGrath.

A diplomat is murdered and Carter, an honest homicide cop out of favor, decides to bull his way through the halls of power and privilege to solve the case, getting into lots of trouble along the way, helped by his newbie partner. What makes this mystery so much fun is the off-kilter version of the 1970s ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer and Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara

Joanna Ruth Meyer, Echo North (Page Street 978-1-62414-715-9, $17.99, 391pp, hc) January 2019.

Fairytales, myths, and even a ballad mix in this lyrical young-adult novel about a young woman lured by a wolf to his magical house, where she finds herself trapped, forced to stay. Echo’s an interesting character: scarred on her face as a child by a wolf she tried to free from a trap, she’s grown up used ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Storm by David Drake and A Parliament of Bod­ies by Marshall Ryan Maresca

David Drake, The Storm (Baen 978-1-4814-8369-8, $25.00, xii+274pp, hc) January 2019. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

Lord Pal of Beune returns for more far-future Arthurian adventures in this sequel to The Spark. Pal’s still not entirely comfortable among the lords and ladies in Dun Add, where Jon the Leader rules the Commonwealth of Mankind. Pal’s happy to be a Champion, and believes in Jon’s vision of many lands united by ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Final Exam by Carol J. Perry and Marked by S. Andrew Swann

Carol J. Perry, Final Exam (Kensington 978-1-4967-1460-2, $7.99, 358pp, pb) March 2019.

A high school reunion goes wrong in this seventh mystery in the Witch City series set in Salem MA. Lee Barrett’s settling into her job as a TV news reporter, and she’s got a little extra time to help her Aunt Ibby prepare for her 45th high school reunion. But then a vintage car is discovered underwater in ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews That Ain’t Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire, That Ain’t Witchcraft (DAW 978-0-7564-1179-4, $7.99, 432pp, pb) March 2019. Cover by Aly Fell.

Antimony “Annie” Price’s adventures continue in this eighth volume in the InCryptid series. She and her cryptid friends, still on the road after their harrowing adventures at Lowryland theme park, finally find a safe place to stop for a while in Maine. But this is Stephen King country, where their rental house hides secrets, ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines and Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter

Jim C. Hines, Terminal Uprising (DAW 978-0-7564-1277-7, $26.00, 324pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her Hygiene and Sanitation Services team take their stolen ship, the EMCS Pufferfish, on a mission to Earth in this second book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. In this future, the humans of Earth have all been reduced to zombie-like ferals, but some, like Mops and her ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Wild Country by Anne Bishop and Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

Anne Bishop, Wild Country (Ace 978-0-399-58727-6, $27.00, 480pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Robert Jones.

A young woman dreaming of becoming a policewoman ends up working as a frontier deputy in this second book in the World of the Others series. It should be a great story – Jana Paniccia is a strong character, a woman determined to work in a field largely restricted to men in this world. She’s ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Death & Honey, Edited by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne, ed., Death & Honey (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-914-5, $45.00, 300pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Galen Dara.

Murder and bees make an interesting topic for this original anthology of three fantasy novellas by Kevin Hearne, Lila Bowen (Delilah S. Dawson), and Chuck Wendig, each writing in their own popular worlds. Hearne offers “The Buzz Kill”, a peculiarly sweet and funny new tale in the Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries series, a ...Read More

Read more

2018 Year-in-Review by Carolyn Cushman

There wasn’t much that really blew me away in 2018, but some entertain­ing titles turned up. At the top of my SF read­ing this year are Martha Wells’s Artificial Condi­tion, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy, the last three novellas in the Murderbot Diaries quartet featuring the deadly yet oddly endearing android Murderbot, a corporate-owned security guard that apparently once went berserk and killed humans (hence its chosen ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix & Sean Williams, and Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Garth Nix & Sean Williams, Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Scholastic Press 978-1-338-15849-6, $17.99, 256pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Ross Dearsley.

Young knights Odo and Eleanor are back in their second middle-grade fantasy adventure, ready to take their talking swords and leave their village for more adventure – but they end up getting a lot more excite­ment than they counted on. A blind old man named Egda and a female ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey and The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Mercedes Lackey, The Bartered Brides (DAW 978-0-7564-0874-9, $27.00, 314pp, hc) October 2018. Cover by Jody A. Lee.

Though the title evokes the comic opera The Bartered Bride by Smetana, this latest novel in the Elemental Masters series owes a lot more to Sherlock Holmes, or maybe the Sherlock TV series. Holmes’s death at Reichenbach Falls has just been announced, but the Watsons (both Elemental Masters), psychic Nan Killian, and medium ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Breach by W.L. Goodwater and For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

W.L. Goodwater, Breach (Ace 978-0-451-49103-9, $16.00, 357pp, tp) November 2018.

Cold War espionage and magic mix in this fan­tasy spy thriller. Karen O’Neil is an American magician, a government researcher tired of dealing with men who don’t believe women can be competent. She’s excited to be assigned to a secret mission in post-WWII Berlin, where the Wall has developed a hole, small but growing. The Wall was erected overnight by ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman and Search Image by Julie E. Czerneda

Genevieve Cogman, The Mortal Word (Ace 978-0-399-58744-3, $15.00, 433pp, tp) Novem­ber 2018.

Irene faces a murder mystery in this fifth vol­ume in the Invisible Library series. Peace talks between the Fae and the dragons are disrupted when one of the dragon negotiators is murdered, and Irene and her great-detective friend Vale are asked to help. Fortunately, these secret talks are being held in Paris in a world very similar to ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch and Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Ben Aaronovitch, Lies Sleeping (DAW 978-0-7564-1513-6, $26.00, 293pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Stephen Walter.

Major developments turn up in this seventh novel in the Rivers of London series, which finds police detective/apprentice wizard Peter Grant and a good-sized police team working hard to track down Martin Chorley, the second Faceless Man, and his as­sociate, former Police Constable Lesley May. Their efforts include tracking down members of an Oxford dining ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Way of the Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca and Séances Are for Suckers by Tamara Berry

Marshall Ryan Maresca, The Way of the Shield (DAW 978-0-7564-1479-5, $7.99, 354pp, pb) October 2018. Cover by Paul Young.

Maresca keeps adding new series set in the city of Maradaine, all running more-or-less concurrently, each focusing on a different facet of the city. This first volume in the Maradaine Elite series follows a young man trying to join an archaic military order, one of two surviving orders from the past, ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews and Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire

Ilona Andrews, Magic Triumphs (Ace 978-0-425-27071-4, $26.00, 327pp, hc) August 2018. Cover by Juliana Kolesova.

The Kate Daniels series wraps up in this tenth volume with some heartwarming bits, grave danger, and yet another epic battle. Kate and Curran have a baby, and Kate’s determined to keep her mad god of a father away from his grandchild. Meanwhile, she deals with Atlanta’s usual magical crises, but a new case involving ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine and Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

Rachel Caine, Smoke and Iron (Berkley 978-0-451-48921-0, $17.99, 432pp, hc) July 2018. Cover by Katie Anderson.

Jess takes the battle to the corrupt Great Library of Alexandria in this fourth of five volumes in the Great Library series. At the end of the last volume, Jess turned himself over to the Library – disguised as his brother Brendan, the heir to the Brightwell family of book smugglers. Jess also turned ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris, An Easy Death (Saga Press 978-1-4814-9492-2, $26.99, 306pp, hc) October 2018.

Harris turns to a different sort of Wild West set in an alternate-history world in which the US was shattered by the assassination of FDR and by the Great Depression. Sharpshooter Lizbeth “Gun­nie” Rose lives in the country of Texoma, a rough, near-lawless place barely hanging on between Mexico and New America, where gunslingers wish each other ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Competence by Gail Carriger and The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

Gail Carriger, Competence (Orbit US 978-0-316-43388-4, $26.00, 309pp, hc) July 2018. Cover by Don Sipley & Michael Roberts.

The steampunk fun ramps up in this third volume in the Custard Protocol series, a spin-off from Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. This time, the main focus shifts to Primrose Tunstell, purser of the airship The Spotted Custard and style-conscious friend of Captain Prudence Akeldama. Their airship needs repairs, and the damage is ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards

K.D. Edwards, The Last Sun (Pyr 978-1-63388-423-6, $17.00, 363pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Micah Epstein.

The last scion of a once-powerful house works as an investigator/agent in this entertaining first novel, a sort of urban fantasy set in a world that mixes modern technology (cell phones) with a strangely different culture. In this world, refuges from war-torn Atlantis used money and magic to turn Nantucket into New Atlantis, mostly ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Chosen Ones by Scarlett Thomas

Scarlett Thomas, The Chosen Ones (Canongate 978-1-78211-930-2, £12.99, 368pp, hc) April 2018; (Simon & Schuster 978-1-4814-9787-9, $17.99, 374pp, hc) May 2018. Cover by Erwin Madrid.

Effie Truelove and her friends continue their efforts to understand the world of magic while working around obstructive adults, in this second book in the quirky middle-grade Worldquake tril­ogy. Effie Truelove wants to get back to the magi­cal Otherworld, but things keep going wrong; one ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson

K.R. Richardson, Blood Orbit (Pyr 978-1-63388-439-7, $18.00, 492pp, tp) May 2018. Cover by Maurizio Manzieri.

Richardson, who has written urban fantasy as Kat Richardson, now turns to SF mystery in this first volume in the Gattis File series, set on the corpo­rate-owned planet Gattis, where corporate profits take precedence over justice. Rookie security ofiçe (not officer) Eric Matheson stumbles across a mass murder at a nightclub, and is assigned to ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow

Sarah Sparrow, A Guide for Murdered Children (Blue Rider 978-0-399-57452-8, $27.00, 385pp, hc) March 2018.

Murdered children take over the bodies of re­cently deceased adults in order to get revenge on their murderers in this truly strange novel. Ex-police detective Willow Millard Wylde is retired at 57, messed up with booze and pain pills and iffy health, in rehab when first encountered. Trying to do better for his grown daughter ...Read More

Read more