Science Fiction/Fantasy Reviews | October 15, 2013

With shorter days, longer nights, colder weather, and a lead-up to one of the most popular holidays, October harvests a stellar crop of new titles. Steve Bein’s Year of the Demon transports urban fantasy to contemporary Japan, while Nicholas Kaufmann’s Dying Is My Business and Gregory Lamberson’s Storm Demon occupy the familiar urban fantasy territory of New York City. Traditional horror is represented by Ramsey Campbell’s Ghosts Know, Richard Kadrey’s Dead Set, and Jonathan Ryan’s series opener, 3 Gates of the Dead. Standard fantasy is showcased in Nancy Hightower’s outstanding series debut, Elementarí Rising, while Rod Val Moore’s jewel of a book, Brittle Star, is literary speculative fiction at its best. Happy Halloween!

redstar Bein, Steve. Year of the Demon. Roc: Penguin. Oct. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780451465191. pap. $16. FANTASY

Because of her efforts to prove her worth, DS Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Tokyo’s Narcotics Unit, an elite group of detectives who tackle the most difficult cases. When a member of a powerful yakuza syndicate places a price on Mariko’s head, she finds that the only way the bounty can be lifted is if she retrieves the iron demon mask recently stolen from the crime lord. In tracking down both the mask and her enemy, Mariko encounters the turbulent history of the artifact as well as its ties to the samurai sword she uses. Bein’s sequel to Daughter of the Sword adds new complications to Mariko’s story and opens a window onto modern Japanese culture as seen through the eyes of its crime fighters. VERDICT Vibrant and unforgettable characters combine with Japanese history and fast-paced action to create an urban fantasy for fans of Asian culture.

redstar Dangerous Women. Tor. Dec. 2013. 784p. ed. by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois. ISBN 9780765332066. $29.99. FANTASY

From Jim Butcher’s tale featuring Molly, protégée of Chicago mage Harry Dresden (“Bombshells”), to a side story by Diana Gabaldon set in the world of her Outlander series (“Virgins”), the 21 tales in this supersized themed anthology present a varied array of female heroines and villainesses. Other contributors include Nancy Kress, Melinda Snodgrass, and S.M. Stirling, and their stories run the gamut from fantasy and sf to horror, mystery, and suspense. Fans of Martin’s Game of Thrones (both the novels and the HBO series) will enjoy his “The Princess and the Queen,” a novella that forms a prequel to the novels. VERDICT The wide selection of authors guarantees something to please almost every reader’s tastes.

Dalglish, David. A Dance of Cloaks. Orbit: Hachette. (Shadowdance, Vol. 1). Oct. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9780316242394. pap. $16. FANTASY

As the son of Thren Felhorn, head of the Assassin’s Guild of the city of Veldaren, Aaron has trained all his life to become his father’s perfect weapon and, one day, the continuation of Thren’s powerful ambitions. When commanded to kill the daughter of a man whose words have been troublesome to the guild, Aaron discovers he has reached his limit, thus opening a rift with his father. As he questions his father’s orders and his own place in the guild, he realizes he must choose, once and for all, which path to follow. VERDICT Dalglish’s (the “Paladins” series) latest novel, the first of an originally self-published trilogy (A Dance of Blades; A Dance of Mirrors), relies on strong characterization as well as detailed action and fight scenes to produce a believable tale of a young man’s coming of age and the difficult decisions he must make. His saga should appeal to fans of R.A. Salvatore and Richard Lee Byers.


redstar Hightower, Nancy. Elementarí Rising: Book One of the Elementarí. Pink Narcissus. 2013. 374p. ISBN 9781939056030. pap. $17. FANTASY

Since ancient times, the Elementarí, elemental spirits, have slept under the care of the guardian tribe of the Terakhein. Now that these caretakers have disappeared, the awakened spirits are bringing destruction as they roam the land. Only a young man named Jonathan, who dreams of a young Terakhein girl, the last of her kind, has the means to find her and, perhaps, save the world. Arrayed against him, however, are forces that wish to see the Terakhein exterminated. Hightower’s debut mixes elements of classic epic fantasy with ecological ideas. Jonathan is haunted by the loss of his brother and faces even greater losses as he struggles to protect the last of a dying race. VERDICT Interesting characters and an unusual world of deathless trees and common folk who are more than they seem make this a winner for fans of epic fantasy. With elements that should appeal to readers who enjoy Terry Brooks’s “Shannara” series and fans of weird fantasy.


Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre. Prime. Oct. 2013. 384p. ed. by Paula Guran. ISBN 9781607014027. pap. $15.95. FANTASY/HORROR

The 18 stories in this Halloween fantasy collection evoke the mood of the season. Laura Bickle’s “From Dust” centers on an ancient sacrificial ritual to renew the land. Other contributors include Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Shirley, and Maria V. Snyder. VERDICT This anthology serves as a good introduction to current dark fantasy authors.

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream. Baen. Oct. 2013. 336p. ed. by Hank Davis. ISBN 9781451639414. pap. $15. SF/HORROR

From Arthur C. Clarke’s interplanetary riff on the lonely night’s walk (“A Walk in the Dark”) to George R.R. Martin’s award-winning classic of irresponsible alien pet ownership (“Sandkings”), the 13 tales in this collection blend sf with horror to demonstrate the resiliency of both genres. VERDICT Including selections by Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Sheckley, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, and other stars, this seasonal collection offers strong tales by the genre’s best storytellers.

McMahon, Gary. The Bones of You. Earthling. Oct. 2013. 200p. ISBN 9780983807155. $45. HORROR

Reeling from a failed marriage, Adam Morris rents an old house in order to have a place for his bimonthly visits with his daughter, Jessica. Only when strange events start occurring does Adam uncover the house’s dark secret: it once belonged to mass murderer of children Katherine Moffat. As Halloween nears, Adam begins dreaming of carved pumpkins and terrible deeds and realizes that his daughter is in danger. VERDICT The author of Nightsiders and The Concrete Grove relates a spooky tale with his spare prose and razor-sharp details.


DeLima, Jan. Celtic Moon. Ace. (Celtic Wolves, Bk. 1). Oct. 2013. 340p. ISBN 9780425266205. pap. $7.99. FANTASY

Sophie Thibodeau and her son Joshua have fled from the boy’s father, Dylan, one of the few remaining werewolves who can still change his form. Now Joshua shows signs of the change, and Sophie must reunite with Dylan to protect the boy from the Guardians, warriors bent on destroying shape shifters. Rural Maine provides the setting for this series opener.

Harper, S.J. Cursed. Roc: NAL. (Fallen Siren, Bk. 1). Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780425263297. pap. $7. FANTASY

This urban fantasy series opener features Emma Monroe, an earth-bound siren who works missing-persons cases for the FBI, and her partner, Zack Armstrong, a former black ops sniper and, incidentally, a werewolf. The search for missing women leaves both agents vulnerable to their own weaknesses.

Moore, James A. Seven Forges. Angry Robot. Oct. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780857663832. pap. $7.99. FANTASY

When Capt. Merros Dulver travels beyond the mountains known as the Seven Forges and brings back a group of warriors, remnants of a lost race, to protect his people, he has doubts about the wisdom of introducing them to his townsfolk. Former vice-president of the Horror Writers Association and two-time Bram Stoker Award nominee Moore begins a promising fantasy series that should appeal to genre fans.

For all the latest reviews in this subject area and more, check out our new Book Verdict site! Book Verdict is fully accessible to all users, though certain content and functionality are only available to subscribers.

To log in to your account, click here. To view the new subscription options, Get Started With Book Verdict Pro Today.

Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account.
The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


QUOTABLE “The ancients banished their felons to stony islands, if knowledge of history serves. The convicts of our day and age, as we now understood, get sent to nakedly mineral planets and though the one we found ourselves on appeared agonizingly dead, blasted by a sun that was too huge to block with an outstretched hand, or two outstretched hands, we understood that all prisons are featureless, and meant to be. That way the inmates become the features, the contents, the landscape. That way everything one looks at, or touches, or falls in love with, is first a reminder of guilt, then maybe a lesson in redemption.”—Rod Val Moore, Brittle Star

Campbell, Ramsey. Ghosts Know. Tor. Oct. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780765336330. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466827868. HORROR

Cottam, F.G. The Memory of Trees. Severn House. Nov. 2013. 249p. ISBN 9780727883155. $28.95. HORROR

Kadrey, Richard. Dead Set. Harper Voyager. Nov. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780062283016. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062283023. FANTASY

Kaufmann, Nicholas. Dying Is My Business. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781250036100. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250036094. FANTASY

Kornell, Keith. Super Born: Seduction of Being. Harper Landmark. Oct. 2013. 334p. ISBN 9780982645246. pap. $16.99. SF

Lamberson, Gregory. Storm Demon: The Jake Helman Files. Medallion. Oct. 2013. 424p. ISBN 9781605427492. pap. $14.95. FANTASY

redstar Moore, Rod Val. Brittle Star. What Bks. Oct. 2013. 234p. ISBN 9780988924819. pap. $14. SF

Ryan, Jonathan. 3 Gates of the Dead. Premier Digital. Oct. 2013. 310p. ISBN 9781624670992. pap. $16.99. HORROR


Bowes, Richard. If Angels Fight. Fairwood. Oct. 2013. 250p. ISBN 9781933846408. pap. $16.99. FANTASY


The Hugo Awards, chosen each year by the membership of Worldcon, were awarded this year in San Antonio at Lone Star Con3, this year’s home of the 71st World Science Fiction Convention and announced on September 1, 2013.

Best Novel & Nominees

Redshirts by John Scalzi [WINNER]; Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed; Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster; Bujold
Blackout by Mira Grant; 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (See Q&A at

Best Novella & Nominees

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson [WINNER]; On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard; San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant; The Stars Do Not Lie by Jay Lake; After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

Best Novelette & Nominees

“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan [WINNER]; “In Sea-Salt Tears” by Seanan McGuire; “Rat-Catcher” by Seanan McGuire; “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt; “Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer was also awarded at Worldcon to Mur Lafferty. Other nominees were Zen Cho, Max Gladstone, Stina Leicht, and Chuck Wendig.

Thanks to for the above information.