31 December 2017

Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2018 - Part Two

Part One of this preview covered January-March 2018. This post covers the rest of the year, focussing on the books I'm looking forward to from April-June.

As always, details may change, dates may go back, books may even not appear. Time and chance happeneth to all. Any errors are of course down to me. Cover images are from authors' or publishers' websites: happy to remove these if the owners wish that.

April

April looks like a busy month bookwise. First on my radar is The Chosen Ones by Scarlett Thomas (Canongate, 05 April). This sequel to Thomas's Dragon's Green is part of her Worldquake series of children's books featuring the resourceful and bookish Effie Truelove. Dragon's Green just started to reveal the world that Effie and her friends inhabit and hinted at conflicts and dangers to come. Now, those seem to be becoming real.

The Wolf by Leo Carew is out from Headline on 5 April, the first in an epic fantasy of conflict and rivalry between the Anakim of the North and the Southerners.

AND there's Lucy Wood's The Sing of the Shore (4th Estate, 5 April). I totally, totally loved Wood's collection Diving Belles and her novel Weathering so it's exciting (yes, I know I over-use that word) to see this collection on its way. From the blurb:

"At the very edge of England, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the land and visitors flock in with the summer like seagulls, there is a Cornwall that is not shown on postcards. It is a place where communication cables buzz deep beneath the sand; where satellite dishes turn like flowers on clifftops, and where people drift like flotsam, caught in eddying tides. Restless children haunt empty holiday homes, a surfer struggles with the undertow of family life, a girl watches her childhood spin away from her in the whirl of a night-time fairground and, in a web of sea caves, a brother and sister search the dark for something lost.

These astonishing, beguiling stories of ghosts and shifting sands, of static caravans and shipwrecked cargo, explore notions of landscape and belonging, permanence and impermanence, and the way places can take hold and never quite let go."

On 12 AprilOne Way by Simon Morden (Gollancz) gives us a story described as "A murder mystery set on the frozen red wastes of Mars. Eight astronauts. One killer. No way home." I've been enjoying Morden's Books of Down series (Down Station/ The White City) and while I hope for more of that it's exciting to see Morden produce something different as well.

Now we come to THE MOST EXCITING BOOK NEWS OF THE YEAR. Emma Newman's superlative SF series spanning space exploration, colonisation, the corporate state, surveillance society and much, much more is being published by Orion in the UK. The first two books, Planetfall and After Atlas, which have already been published in the US, will be republished in February and March. The third, Before Mars, will appear on 17 April. This is well deserved recognition (and not before time) for Newman's writing in general and for the merits of this series in particular which provides excellent, intelligent speculative fiction combined with a shrewd eye for character. You must not miss this book.

See here and here for my reviews of the previous books.

I have a copy of Blackfish City, a debut by Sam J Miller (out from Orbit on 19 April) waiting on my TBR and it looks like a treat in store. Weird, climate change imbued fiction with a corrupt city in the Arctic, a mysterious woman and a polar bear. "After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay - crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor - a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance."

The Defiant Heir - sequel to The Tethered Mage - by Melissa Caruso is out from Orbit on 26 April. "Across the border, the Witch Lords of Vaskandar are preparing for war. But before an invasion can begin, they must call a rare gathering of all seventeen lords to decide a course of action. Lady Amalia Cornaro knows that this Conclave might be her only chance to stifle the growing flames of war, and she is ready to make any sacrifice if it means saving Raverra from destruction. Amalia and Zaira must go behind enemy lines, using every ounce of wit and cunning they have, to sway Vaskandar from war. Or else it will all come down to swords and fire."

Also on 26 April, Orbit publish Everything About You, a debut by Heather Child. "Freya has a new virtual assistant. It knows what she likes, knows what she wants and knows whose voice she most needs to hear: her missing sister's. It adopts her sister's personality, recreating her through a life lived online. This data ghost knows everything about Freya's sister: every date she ever went on, every photo she took, every secret she ever shared. In fact it knows things it shouldn't be possible to know. It's almost as if her sister is still out there somewhere, feeding fresh updates into the cloud. But that's impossible. Isn't it?"

28 April sees publication of Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (Orenda, next in the Roy and Castells series, following from last year's Block 46.)  The story swings from London and France to Sweden again, and then back to Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel... On a minor point, just look at the continuity in cover design with those slashing knives....

May

May sees the return of several authors I love to read, as well as some who are new to me. First, one of the latter - The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross-  (Hodder & Stoughton, 3 May) is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beast's perspective... hoping for some aching romance here and a bit of fairytale magic.

Also out on 3 May (from Point Blank) and bound to deliver magic is Strange Fascination, the third Essex Witches mystery by Syd Moore. I'm enjoying these stories of the Essex Witch Museum and the paranormal investigations undertaken as a sideline by its staff. There are tantalising hints of a mysterious background and we get to see the story behind various historical mysteries. Strongly recommended.


As if that wasn't enough, there are MORE of my fave authors coming back in May. On 8 May Titan publish the third of Andrew Cartmel's Vinyl Detective books, The Vinyl Detective: Victory Disc by Andrew Cartmel. If Strange Fascination gives an insight into the byways of England's strange history, The Vinyl Detective (we never hear his name) is a window into the subculture of obsessive record collectors with our hero inevitably embroiled in plots and capers which always have just a little touch of the odd. It's not exactly crime but it sort of is, if you see what I mean.

The Old You by Louise Voss (Orenda, 15 May) promises to be an excellent, Hitchcockian psychological thriller. A man develops early-onset dementia and dark secrets from his past emerge... 

On 17 May Orbit publish The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn, a debut by Tyler Whitesides. "Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief - master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire. When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he'll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known. But it soon becomes clear there's more at stake than fame and glory - Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilisation."

Another book from Orenda - Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone (22 May) looks like one of those compelling but impossible to categorise (SF? Crime? Mystery?) stories. A volcano has emerged in the modern-day Firth of Forth, just off Edinburgh, forming an island called The Inch. A young woman finds the body of her lover (and boss) there, and pockets his phone without telling anyone. Only someone was watching...

*DRUMROLL*

Then, I have news of books by two of my favourite superstar authors, Sarah Pinborough and Claire North. You MUST have read their books, if you haven't there is no hope for you, so get these on order NOW as they both promise to be SUPERB.

Sarah Pinborough, whose Behind Her Eyes last year can only be described as f***ing creepy, has a new book, out from HarperCollins on 17 May.

"‘Cross my heart and hope to die…’

Promises only last if you trust each other, but what if one of you is hiding something?

A secret no one could ever guess.

Someone is living a lie.

Is it Lisa?

Maybe it’s her daughter, Ava.

Or could it be her best friend, Marilyn?"

As for Claire North (The End of the Day, The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Touch, The First fifteen Lives of Harry August), her new book is 84K and is out on 24 May from Orbit. 

"From one of the most original new voices in modern fiction comes a startling vision of a world where nothing is so precious that it can't be bought...

Theo Miller knows the value of human life - to the very last penny.

Working in the Criminal Audit Office, he assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.

But when his ex-lover is killed, it's different. This is one death he can't let become merely an entry on a balance sheet.

Because when the richest in the world are getting away with murder, sometimes the numbers just don't add up."


And finally for May, two more sequels I'm excited about: Gemma Todd is back with Hunted (Headline, 31 May) following up on Defender, set in a post-apocalyptic world torn apart by voices heard in the head, and Andrew Caldecott has Wyntertide, the sequel to Rotherweird (31 May, Jo Fletcher Books). Rotherweird is a wonderfully realised fantasy about a "lost" English town where slightly different rules apply. Eccentrics abound and outsider aren't exactly unwelcome, but not encouraged either. It has a delightful sense of the "might" about it and I'm looking forward to more of the magic.


June

June promises to be another packed month. To begin with, there is a new Peter Grant mystery from Ben Aaronovitch. Lies Sleeping (Gollancz) promises a confrontation (with the Faceless Man, perhaps?) and warns that London is under threat. I don't have a date for this one though Amazon has an untitled Aaronovitch for 21 June - suggestive, but the case remains open. Keep your eyes peeled.

Then, on 5 June, Titan are publishing His Mermaid by Christina Henry who has previously delivered some marvellous, gritty and perceptive reimaginings of Lewis Carroll's Alice and of Peter Pan. Now she turns to another familiar story, the mermaid who leaves the sea for the land. But Amelia ends up in the entourage of the greatest showman of all time, PT Barnum. She leave any time she wants. Of course she can.

Also from Titan on 5 June is The Captives by Debra Jo Immergul. Prison psychologist Frank Lundquist is astonished to see Miranda Greene walk into his office. But why is Miranda, the girl he was in love with at school, serving time for murder? And why does Frank, whose life is unravelling after a scandal, remain as her psychologist rather than admit he knows her? Miranda is determined not to stay in jail, and as Frank’s obsession with her grows, they unleash a wildly risky chain of events, with dire consequences.

Sharing that publication date - 5 June - is The Outsider from Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton) - a crime thriller featuring a suspect who is apparently in two places at once...

June also sees publication of Old Baggage by Lissa Evans (Doubleday, 14 June). (NB this is listed as "Untitled" by Amazon but a book of the same description with this name is listed in the penguin Australia catalogue, so...)

"It is 1928 and Matilda Simpkin, now in her late fifties, rooting through the boot cupboard, finds a small club in an old pair of galoshes. Giving it a thoughtful twirl she is finally struck by an idea. Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign, she marched, she sang and she heckled Winston Churchill. She was gaoled nine times. But she is still searching for a fresh mould into which she can pour her energies. Nothing - nothing - since then has had the same depth, the same level of excitement.After all, what do you do next after you've changed the world?"

I loved Evans' previous books, Their Finest Hour and a Half (which was filmed last year) and Crooked Heart so I'm really looking forward to another from her.

Also appearing on 14 June is The Old Religion by Martyn Waites (Zaffre). Tom Killgannon, an ex undercover policeman who's made some very bad enemies, is in hiding in the Cornish village of St Petroc. When he helps Lila, a girl in a different sort of danger, he only brings more trouble down on himself. Described as a "dark, twisted fast-paced and literate page-turner" this looks like the perfect book to take away on your seaside holiday to Cornwall...


Then, on 15 June, there's Kerry Hadley-Pryce's Gamble. (Salt Publishing). "Greg Gamble: he’s a teacher, he works hard, he’s a husband, a father. He’s a good man, or tries to be. But even a good man can face a crisis. Even a good man can face temptation. Even a good man can find himself faced with difficult choices.

Greg Gamble: he thinks he can keep his head in the game. He thinks he’s trying to be good. Until he realises everyone is flawed.

And for Gamble, trying to be good just isn’t enough."

I loved Hadley-Pryce's The Black Country, an absorbing and troubling account of things gone wrong in the English Midlands, a book that draws you in and leaves you thinking long after turning the last page. So I'm desperate to see what she does next.

In The Visit by Sarah Stovell (Orenda, 20 June) A young woman, Annie, looking for her birth-mother takes a job as a nanny in a wealthy household and becomes a close friend of Helen who is struggling to cope with her three children. When one of the babies is injured, the finger is though pointed at Annie. But did she do it?

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (Titan, 26 June) is described as "an intense novel of psychological horror and suspense." It features a family on holiday who are terrorised by four strangers... but this isn't just about survive in the face of an external threat. These strangers are concerned with the end of the world, either bringing it about or averting it. or so they


Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi (28 June, Gollancz) postulates a 1938 in which death has been defeated - to be replaced by a colonialist scramble for the afterlife, for Summerland. Featuring SIS agents and a Soviet told, Summerland takes the Great Game into an unknown country. Really keen to see what Rajaniemi does after his Quantum Thief trilogy.


July - September

It doesn't end there, of course, there are some great books coming in the second half of the year. Just to note a few highlights, The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross is out on 5 July (Orbit). This is the latest instalment in his Laundry series. The UK Government has now been brought under the control of an ancient evil, aided and abetted by The Laundry, the agency supposed to keep the country safe. What comes next?

On 10 July, Nick Eames' Bloody Rose (Orbit) is out - the followup to his Kings of the Wyld which treats fantasy mercenaries in the style of Rock'n'Roll gods. "Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard.  It's adventure she wants-and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death. It's time to take a walk on the wyld side."

Vivian Shaw's Dreadful Company is out from Orbit on 26 July: "When Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, is called to Paris to present at a medical conference, she expects nothing more exciting than professional discourse on zombie reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately for Greta, Paris happens to be infested with a coven of vampires - and not the civilised kind. If she hopes to survive, Greta must navigate the maze of ancient catacombs beneath the streets, where there is more to find than simply dead men's bones. The fabric of reality itself is under attack, and with the help of a couple of remedial psychopomps, a werewolf, two demons and her London friends, it's up to Greta to put things right." Shaw's previous book, Strange Medicine, introduced Greta and her, well, strange medical practice in London, catering to a VERY unusual patient base. Great to see a follow-up to this.

August sees the third (and final?) of Angela Slatter's Verity Fassbinder books, Restoration (Jo Fletcher, 9 August) with Verity now bound to a psychotic fallen angel. All Verity's mistakes seem about to come back to haunt her...

In September, I'm looking forward to Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, 6 September). I so much enjoy Atkinson's books, so pleased to see another one coming! And there's Vengeful by VE Schwab (Titan, 25 September). Followup to Vicious - the first of VE's books I read. SO looking forward to more from that world!

There are also new books in the second half of the year from Orenda authors Lucy Hay and Michael Stanley as well as Louise Beech's The Lion Tamer who Lost - I love Beech's portrayal of character and place in her books published so far and new books by Michael J. Malone, Kati Hiekkapelto (Embers) Lilja Sigurdardottir and Antti Tuomainen (Palm Beach, Finland)

Note on gender balance: If I've counted right, the books listed here, excluding the previous paragraph, split 13:21 between make and female authors (so far as I can tell).

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