Ian Mond Reviews Malarkoi by Alex Pheby

Malarkoi, Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press 978-1-91311-130-4, £17.99, 550pp, hc) Sep­tember 2022.

To begin with a question: have you read Alex Pheby’s Mordew? If not, stop read­ing this review. Not just because I’m about to spoil the novel, but because Mordew is simply brilliant. If I were prone to sweeping statements, I’d describe it as the best start to a fantasy tril­ogy in the last decade. If, however, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Last Night in Brighton by Massoud Hayoun

Last Night in Brighton, Massoud Hayoun (Darf Publishers 978-1-85077-350-4, £10.99, 240pp, tp) October 2022.

In my review of Robert Freeman Wexler’s, The Silverberg Business, I remarked that I seldom read fiction with characters and situations rep­resenting my faith and culture. Yet here I am, for the second consecutive month, reviewing a novel where Jewish identity is central to the nar­rative. The book in question, Massoud Hayoun’s Last Night ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Conjunctions 78: Fear Itself by Bradford Morrow, ed.

Conjunctions 78: Fear Itself, Bradford Morrow, ed. (Bard 978-0-941964-89-0, $20.00, 322pp, tp) Spring 2022.

My first reaction to picking up Fear Itself, the Spring 2022 issue of the long-running anthology series Conjunctions, was: why? Given everything that’s happening right now – the worsening effects of climate change, never-ending viral pandemics, wars in Ukraine and Tigray, and inflationary pres­sures forcing so many to go with so little – ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Silverberg Business by Robert Freeman Wexler

The Silverberg Business, Robert Freeman Wex­ler (Small Beer Press 978-1-61873-201-9, $17.00, 320pp, tp) August 2022.

Robert Freeman Wexler enjoys playing in worlds counter to our own. This was evident from his 2021 collection, Undiscovered Territories (the title is a bit of a giveaway), where most of the stories take place in fantastical locales and distorted versions of our reality. His new novel, The Silverberg Business, also features a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life by Robert McGill

A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life, Robert McGill (Coach House Books 978-1-55245-444-2, $21.95, 220pp, tp) June 2022.

Content warning: The following review contains multiple references to self-harm and suicidal ideation.

Robert McGill’s new novel, A Suitable Com­panion for the End of Your Life, has a doozy of a premise. What if people could be flat-packed into boxes like cheaply made furniture? It’s the sort of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Bliss Montage, Ling Ma (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-37429-351-2, $26.00, 240pp, hc) Septem­ber 2022.

Ling Ma’s debut novel, Severance, was one of my top-five books of 2018. Seven months before the pandemic, Ma told the story of a fungal infection originating in China that spreads rapidly across the world and com­pels the infected to repeat the same mindless tasks before they drop dead from exhaustion and malnutrition. Not only ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Hard Places by Kirstyn McDermott

Hard Places, Kirstyn McDermott (Trepidatio 978-1-68510-057-5, $22.95, 312pp, tp) July 2022.

The year was 1994 and I was attending the monthly meeting of the Melbourne Horror Society at the Māori Chief Hotel in South Melbourne. Issue #3 of Bloodsongs – Australia’s first professional horror fiction magazine – had just been released, and the members, which in­cluded the periodical’s two editors, were poring over copies and discussing the content. Sitting ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Splendid City by Karen Heuler

The Splendid City, Karen Heuler (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-985-8, £9.99, 400pp, tp) June 2022.

Karen Heuler’s fifth novel, The Splendid City, begins with a human-sized talking cat, wearing a bow-tie and a fanny pack, shooting a woman in the arm over a disagreement about mushroom roots and the internet. The feline’s name is Stan. He was once a human, working in a gift store in New York alongside a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Here Goes Nothing by Steve Toltz

Here Goes Nothing, Steve Toltz (Melville House 978-1-61219-971-9, $27.99, 384pp, hc) May 2022.

Here Goes Nothing, the new novel from Australian and Man Booker-nominated author Steve Toltz, is the blackest of black comedies about the end of the world and the afterlife. Our narrator, Angus Mooney, is both dead and very much alive, a somewhat sur­prising development, given he always believed that:

Heaven was a childish dream, Purgatory ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles

The Last Blade Priest, W.P. Wiles (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-982-7, $15.99, 400pp, pb) July 2022.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend: literary authors turning their hand to epic fantasy. It began – in my humble opinion – with Marlon James, better known for his Man Booker award-winning novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, who, in 2019, penned Black Leopard, Red Wolf, labelled as ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Doloriad by Missouri Williams

The Doloriad, Missouri Williams (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-37460-508-7, $17.00, 240pp, tp) March 2022.

Missouri Williams’s debut novel, The Doloriad, comes close to pipping Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone as the most disturbing book I’ve read this year (note, I said close; Jawbone still holds the crown). It’s a post-apocalyptic story where an unknown cataclysm, possibly environmental (though it’s never made clear) has wiped out humanity. Well, almost. In a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Path of Thorns by A.G. Slatter

The Path of Thorns, A.G. Slatter (Titan Books 978-1-78909-437-4, $15.95, 384pp, tp) June 2022.

Over the last decade, beginning with the collec­tion Sourdough and Other Stories, A.G. Slatter has steadily built a lush and deeply imagined sec­ondary world inspired by European fairy tales, myths, and legends. Last year she published the first novel set in this universe, the fabulous gothic fantasy, All The Murmuring Bones (one of my ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

Lapvona, Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathan Cape 978-0-59330-026-8, $27.00, 272pp, hc) June 2022.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been tracking Ottessa Moshfegh’s career that her fourth novel, Lapvona, takes place in a me­dieval fiefdom. Beginning with the publication of McGlue – an experimental novella following the dark and violent exploits of a 19th-century sailor – and then her debut (and break-out) novel, the Man Booker-shortlisted Eileen – a claustrophobic ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rouge Street: Three Novellas by Shuang Xuetao

Rouge Street: Three Novellas, Shuang Xuetao (Metropolitan Books 978-1-25083-587-1, $26.99, 240pp, hc) April 2022.

Rouge Street: Three Novellas is the first Eng­lish-language publication of Shuang Xuetao’s fic­tion, translated by Jeremy Tiang, who worked on Yan Ge’s Strange Beasts of China last year. Like Yan Ge, Xuetao’s short stories and novels have long been celebrated in China. He’s taken home several awards, including the Blossoms Literary Prize, the Wang Zengqi ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara

The Immortal King Rao, Vauhini Vara (Nor­ton 978-0-393-54175-5, $27.95, 384pp, hc) May 2022.

Along with Adam Roberts’ The This and Jenni­fer Egan’s The Candy House, Vauhini Vara’s debut novel, The Immortal King Rao, is the third book I’ve read this year that imagines a future where people have direct neural access to social media and the internet. This growing literary trend, a mix of cyberpunk and transhu­manism, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Poguemahone by Patrick McCabe

Poguemahone, Patrick McCabe (Unbound 978-1-80018-111-3, £20.00, 624pp, hc) April 2022. (Biblioasis 978-1-77196-473-9, $21.95, 600pp, tp) May 2022.

Weighing in at more than 600 pages and written entirely in free verse, I can understand that some readers will be a little intimidated by Patrick McCabe’s 13th novel, Poguemahone. I’m here to tell you that despite the comparisons to Ulysses and Ducks, Newburyport, despite the Gaelic salted through the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

My Volcano, John Elizabeth Stintzi (Two Dol­lar Radio 978-1-95338-716-5, $12.95, 330pp, tp) March 2022.

John Elizabeth Stintzi’s second novel, My Vol­cano, begins in the early hours of June 2, 2016, with a volcano ‘‘sprouting from the middle of the reservoir in Central Park.’’ On that first morn­ing, the volcano is only eight feet high; within a week it has swallowed up Central Park, and ‘‘by June 23, the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The Candy House, Jennifer Egan (Scribner 978-1-47671-676-3, $28.00, 352pp, hc) April 2022.

As the publishing Gods would have it, Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility is published in the same month as Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. Moreso than Margaret Atwood, I consider Mandel and Egan to be the mainstream authors who have done the most to blur the artificial lines between literary and speculative fiction, as ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf 978-0-59332-144-7, $25.00, 272pp, hc) April 2022.

There is this wink-to-the-audience moment about halfway through Sea of Tranquility where Olive Llewellyn, bestselling author of Marienbad, is asked what it’s like to have written such a successful book.

Oh. It’s surreal, actually. I wrote three books that no one noticed, no distribution beyond the moon colonies… when I published Marienbad, I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda

Jawbone, Mónica Ojeda (Coffee House Press 978-1-56689-621-4, $16.95, 272pp, tp) Febru­ary 2022.

On occasion, I’ve been known to make bold pro­nouncements in this column. Back in January, I crowned John Darnielle’s Devil House as one of the best books of the year, having read less than a handful of novels published in 2022. Three months later and I stand by that proclamation. Having just finished Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dark Breakers by C.S.E. Cooney

Dark Breakers, C.S.E. Cooney (Mythic De­lirium 978-1-73264-406-9, $33.95, 292pp, hc) February 2022.

Dark Breakers is the first of two books to be released in 2022 by the wonderful C.S.E. Cooney, who swept me away a couple of years back with her terrific short novel “The Twice Drowned Saint”. (The second book is Saint Death’s Daughter, the first in a trilogy that, based on the cover blurb, looks like ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Agents by Grégoire Courtois

The Agents, Grégoire Courtois (Coach House 978-1-55245-432-9, $17.95, 224pp, tp) January 2022.

The Agents, initially published in France in 2019, is Grégoire Courtois’s second novel to be translated into English (by Rhonda Mullins). I reviewed Courtois’s first book, The Laws of the Skies, several years back: a nihilistic take on Lord of the Flies that sees a psychotic six-year-old slaughter his schoolmates and their chaperones on a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Best of Lucius Shepard: Volume 2 by Lucius Shepard

The Best of Lucius Shepard: Volume 2, Lucius Shepard (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-035-8, $50.00, 848pp, hc) January 2022. Cover by Armando Veve.

In his Guardian obituary of Lucius Shepard – who passed away on March 18, 2014 – Christopher Priest wrote that Shepard’s preferred format, the novella, “almost certainly held back the recognition he deserved,” and that “his writing was shielded from wider apprecia­tion because of its association with the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The This by Adam Roberts

The This, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1-47323-092-7, £16.99, 304pp, hc) February 2022.

In 2015, Adam Roberts wrote an extraordinary novel that deserved more attention and love than it received. The Thing Itself blended Fermi’s Paradox, Immanuel Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason and John Carpenter’s The Thing (with a side-dish of wry humour and literary allusions) to deliver a madcap, centuries-spanning meditation on the ineffable nature of reality. Roberts’s latest ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, Kim Fu (Tin House Books 978-1-95114-299-5, $16.95, 220pp, tp) February 2022.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, with its colourful mosaic cover, is the debut collection from Kim Fu, the author of two novels and a book of poetry. The 12 short stories that make up the collection showcase various influences, including science-fiction, magical realism, and horror. As someone encountering ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Present Tense Machine by Gunnhild Øyehaug

Present Tense Machine, Gunnhild Øyehaug (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-37423-717-2, $25.00, 176pp, hc) January 2022.

Parallel universes seem to be everywhere I look these days. I know it’s an effect inflated by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but as I write this, my social media feeds are abuzz with the trailer of Everything, Everywhere All At Once – a multiverse adventure starring Michelle Yeoh. Of course, parallel realities have been a ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews The High House by Jessie Greengrass

The High House, Jessie Greengrass (Scribner 978-1-98218-011-9, $27.00, 272pp, hc) January 2022.

While I have strong misgivings regarding the currency of killer-plague narratives (now that we’ve experienced a pandemic of our own), these qualms don’t extend to climate fiction. If anything, I feel there’s not enough contemporary climate-centric novels being published in genre spaces, aside from notable exceptions like Alexis Wright, James Bradley, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Jeff VanderMeer. ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Ian Mond

2021 saw my reading fall off a steep cliff. To be fair, it never really recovered from last year’s lockdowns. Even as Melbourne (my city) returned to a resemblance of normality late in 2020, I felt little urge to read, feelings only exacerbated when we entered our fifth and sixth lockdown (thank you, Delta) in 2021. (Fun fact: Melbourne broke the record, held by Buenos Aires, as the city that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Devil House by John Darnielle

Devil House, John Darnielle (MCD 978-0-37471-767-4, $27.00, 416pp, hc) January 2022.

Over the last several years, John Darnielle, the founding (and oftentimes sole) member of the band The Mountain Goats, has been carving out a career as an acclaimed novelist. His 2014 debut, Wolf in White Van, was nominated for the National Book Award, while his sophomore effort, Universal Harvester, is a brilliant, unclassifiable story that exists ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Burntcoat by Sarah Hall

Burntcoat, Sarah Hall (Faber & Faber 978-0571329311, £10.49, 224pp, hc) October 2021; (Custom House 978-0-0626571-0-7, $27.99, 304pp, hc) November 2021.

Known chiefly as a literary author, Sarah Hall’s name may not be familiar to genre readers. Yet over the last decade, she has published several excellent speculative short stories collected in two slim books Madame Zero and Sudden Traveller (both of which I highly recommend). In 2007 she followed ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters by Erica L. Satifka

How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, Erica L. Satifka (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-17-0, $17.99, 400pp, tp) November 2021.

In his introduction to Erica L. Satifka’s debut short-story collection, How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, Nick Mamatas recalls coming across Satifka’s work as co-editor of Clarkesworld while trawling through the slush pile. Coincidentally, it was while scrolling through the social media slush pile that I came ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Cabinet by Un-Su Kim

The Cabinet, Un-Su Kim (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-917-9, $14.99/£9.99, 400pp, tp) October 2021.

The publication of The Cabinet is a second (not a first) for both the author, Un-Su Kim, and publisher Angry Robot. While The Cabinet is Kim’s debut novel (winning South Korea’s Munhakdongne Novel Award back in 2006), it’s his second book to be translated into English. Somewhat confusingly, but typical for works in translation, English audiences were ...Read More

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