The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalla
Hodder , Rachelle Atalla , Sci-Fi / June 9, 2022

THE BUNKER IS DESIGNED TO KEEP THEM ALL SAFE. In the end, very few people made it to the bunker. Now they wait there for the outside world to heal. Wolfe is one of the lucky ones. She’s safe and employed as the bunker’s pharmacist, doling out medicine under the watchful eye of their increasingly erratic and paranoid leader. BUT IS IT THE PLACE OF GREATEST DANGER? But when the leader starts to ask things of Wolfe, favours she can hardly say no to, it seems her luck is running out. Forming an unlikely alliance with the young Doctor Stirling, her troubled assistant Levitt, and Canavan – a tattooed giant of a man who’s purpose in the bunker is a mystery – Wolfe must navigate the powder keg of life underground where one misstep will light the fuse. The walls that keep her safe also have her trapped. How much more is Wolfe willing to give to stay alive? Once again I find myself drawn to the end of the world. The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalla is an intimate, introspective journey of a woman locked away from the outside world by choice. Wolfe’s character is riveting, there is an inherent…

The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy
Benjamin Percy , Hodder , Horror , Sci-Fi / January 10, 2022

The night the sky fell, Jack and Nora Abernathy’s daughter vanished in the woods. And Mia’s disappearance broke her parents’ already fragile marriage. Unable to solve her own daughter’s case, Nora lost herself in her work as a homicide detective. Jack became a shell of a man; his promising career as a biologist crumbling alongside the meteor strikes that altered weather patterns and caused a massive drought. It isn’t until five years later that the rains finally return to nourish Seattle. In this period of sudden growth, Jack uncovers evidence of a new parasitic fungus, while Nora investigates several brutal, ritualistic murders. Soon they will be drawn together by a horrifying connection between their discoveries—partnering to fight a deadly contagion as well as the government forces that know the truth about the fate of their daughter. Happy New Year, welcome to 2022 and what promises to be another epically good year for genre fiction. This week we are off to a flying start with The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy. Before we get down to it, I should point out that though this is the second book in the series. Knowledge of book one is not required* as references made…

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry
Hodder , Max Barry , Sci-Fi / July 12, 2021

I love you. In every world. Young real estate agent Madison May is shocked when a client at an open house says these words to her. The man, a stranger, seems to know far too much about her, and professes his love–shortly before he murders her. Felicity Staples hates reporting on murders. As a journalist for a midsize New York City paper, she knows she must take on the assignment to research Madison May’s shocking murder, but the crime seems random and the suspect is in the wind. That is, until Felicity spots the killer on the subway, right before he vanishes. Soon, Felicity senses her entire universe has shifted. No one remembers Madison May, or Felicity’s encounter with the mysterious man. And her cat is missing. Felicity realizes that in her pursuit of Madison’s killer, she followed him into a different dimension–one where everything about her existence is slightly altered. At first, she is determined to return to the reality she knows, but when Madison May–in this world, a struggling actress–is murdered again, Felicity decides she must find the killer–and learns that she is not the only one hunting him. Travelling through different realities, Felicity uncovers the opportunity–and danger–of…

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Hodder , Rebecca Roanhorse , Supernatural / November 28, 2019

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine. Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unravelling clues from ancient legends, trading favours with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive. Welcome to the Sixth World. November has been Native American Heritage Month, so I thought I would mark the occasion by seeking out some appropriate genre fiction. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse is the first book in a post-apocalyptic series that uses Native culture, myths and legends as its basis. Maggie Hoskie makes for an engaging protagonist. Many of the Diné…

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Garivel Kay
Fantasy , Guy Garivel Kay , Hodder / May 24, 2019

In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra’s intelligence won him entry to a renowned school even though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count–and soon learned why that man was known as the Beast. Danio’s fate changed the moment he saw and recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count’s chambers one autumn night–intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen, instead of a life of comfort, one of danger–and freedom. Which is how she encounters Danio in a perilous time and place. Vivid figures share the unfolding story. Among them: a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a powerful religious leader more decadent than devout; and, affecting all these lives and many more, two larger-than-life mercenary commanders, lifelong adversaries, whose rivalry puts a world in the balance. A Brightness Long Ago offers both compelling drama and deeply moving reflections on the nature of memory, the choices we make in life, and the role played by the turning of Fortune’s…

The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy
Benjamin Percy , Hodder , Horror / August 10, 2017

Hell on earth is only one click of a mouse away… The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew: Twelve-year-old Hannah — who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness– wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people. Lela, a technophobic journalist, has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover. Mike Juniper, a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons, has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs. And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous. They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains. Set in present-day Portland, The Dark Net is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in,…

A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky
Daniel Polansky , Fantasy , Hodder / October 6, 2016

M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability, who would prefer drinking artisanal beer to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and when a rivalry between the city’s two queens threatens to turn to all out war, M finds himself thrust in thrust in the unfamiliar position of hero. Now, to keep the apocalypse from descending on the Big Apple, he’ll have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he’s ever acquired – he might even have to get out of bed before noon. Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steam-punk universes, hipster zombies, and phantom subway lines. Because the city never sleeps, but is always dreaming. What makes a city a city? Is it just a matter of some smart urban planning, a large population and a little bit of luck, or is there something more to it? Is there an intangible element that shapes a community? What if there were people responsible for making sure that that this…

Poison City by Paul Crilley
Fantasy , Hodder , Horror , Paul Crilley / August 16, 2016

The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him. I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk. Life is pretty routine – I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga – a low-key vampire – basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer. Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both. It’s not looking good for…

HEX by Thomas Olde Huevelt
Hodder , Horror , Thomas Olde Heuvelt / April 29, 2016

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she’s there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die. The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare. A cursed town, a group of unruly teens, and a vengeful spirit who’s the text book definition of patient; the town of Black Spring has been sat on a supernatural time bomb for centuries. The bad news for the residents is that the bomb is…

Way Down Dark by J P Smythe
Hodder , J P Smythe , Sci-Fi , Young Adult / July 2, 2015

There’s one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both. Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one. The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive. But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery – a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger. And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain. Way Down Dark is the new novel from J P Smythe and I’ll begin with a small admission, I’ve never actually read anything by this particular author. I’m always a little…

Day Four by Sarah Lotz
Hodder , Horror , Sarah Lotz / May 21, 2015

Four planes. Three survivors. One message. It seemed like the end of the world… but it wasn’t. This, however, just might be. Four days into a five day singles cruise on the Gulf of Mexico, the ageing ship Beautiful Dreamer stops dead in the water. With no electricity and no cellular signals, the passengers and crew have no way to call for help. But everyone is certain that rescue teams will come looking for them soon. All they have to do is wait. That is, until the toilets stop working and the food begins to run out. When the body of a woman is discovered in her cabin the passengers start to panic. There’s a murderer on board the Beautiful Dreamer… and maybe something worse. Last week I read The Three and it just about blew my tiny little mind. I love writing with an apocalyptic flavour, and The Three delivered that in spades. Within minutes of finishing the final page, I had already picked up its sequel and had jumped straight in. Day Four builds on the delightfully dark premise of The Three and takes the reader to the next level. Where The Three is primarily focussed on the…