From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your biweekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.
Good god, would you look at all these books!
There are a silly number of series set to start, such as Roads to Moscow by Chung Kuo’s David Wingrove, the Songbird saga by Danielle L. Jensen, Kelley Armstrong’s Age of Legends and the chronicles of Caeli-Amur byRjurik Davidson. In addition to this, keep your peepers peeled for several exciting sequels, beginning with Binary by Stephanie Saulter, alongside the finale of Aidan Harte’s Wave Trilogy, a new Pantheon book, Gail Z. Martin’s return to the Ascendant Kingdoms, and the second Zenn Scarlett.
But the highlights of early April for me have to be new novels by a few of my favourite writers—like Django Wexler, Nnedi Okorafor, Alison Littlewood, Jasper Fforde and John Connolly. In short, it’s a hell of a fortnight to be a genre fiction fan.
The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood #12)—J. R. Ward (April 3, Piatkus)
After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle- with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything—and everyone—at risk.
Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response—or the distance it creates between them.
The question is, will true love win out… or tortured legacy take over?
Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings #1)—Lindsey Piper (April 3, Piatkus)
The Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons, were once worshipped as earthly gods. Centuries later and facing extinction, they fight at the whim of human cartels for the privilege of perpetuating their bloodlines.
After marrying a human, Nynn of Clan Tigony became Audrey MacLaren, banished from a life of distinction and power. But when Nynn gives birth to the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation, she and her son are kidnapped by a sadistic cartel scientist whose life mission is studying demon procreation.
Leto of Clan Garnis is a Cage warrior, using his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his sister to conceive. Within the Cages, he has no equal.
When torture unlocks Nynn’s repressed powers, she is sent to the Cages, where Leto is charged with her training. He believes her to be a traitor to their people, while she sees him as no better than a slave. But for the sake of her son, Nynn must learn to survive. An undeniable connection turns antagonists to allies to impassioned lovers as they learn the high price of honour in their violent underground world.
Binary (Revolution #2)—Stephanie Saulter (April 3, Jo Fletcher)
Zavcka Klist has reinvented herself: no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems they created enslaved, she’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.
Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr Eli Walker are convinced that Klist or Bel’Natur can have changed so dramatically, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.
Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more DI Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after—not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past…
The Empire of Time (Roads to Moscow #1)—David Wingrove (April 3, Del Rey UK)
There is only the war.
Otto Behr is a German agent, fighting his Russian counterparts across three millennia, manipulating history for moments in time that can change everything.
Only the remnants of two great nations stand and for Otto, the war is life itself, the last hope for his people.
But in a world where realities shift and memory is never constant, nothing is certain, least of all the chance of a future with his Russian love…
Games Creatures Play: Undead Edition—ed. Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner (April 3, Jo Fletcher)
Everyone plays something—whether it’s solitaire or squash or stockcar racing, World of Warcraft or World Wrestling Entertainment tournaments, darts or dodgeball. Games bring out the best in us, the worst in us, the thing-we-never-expected in us. Human beings just naturally like to test their limits, both mental and physical—and why should the supernaturals be any different?
In their latest anthology international superstar Charlaine Harris and award-winning mystery writer Toni Kelner have collected stories that feature ghostly players, bloodthirsty interruptions, and competitions with deadly outcomes, from some of the top writers in the fantasy, horror, crime and mystery genres.
Illusion (Chronicles of Nick #5)—Sherrilyn Kenyon (April 3, Atom)
Nick Gautier is tired of his destiny. He doesn’t want to be the son of a demon who’s fated to end the world. Nor does he want to see another demon or other preternatural creature who wants to kill or enslave him. He just wants to be normal and to have normal problems like everyone else.
But normality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When he gets sucked into an alternate reality where his mother has married his mentor, and his Atlantean god best friend has become a human geek, he begins to understand that no life is free of pain, and that every person has a specific place in the universe—even the son of a hated demon.
Most of all, he sees that his powers aren’t the curse he thought they were, and that the world needs a champion…
Old enemies and new friends square off for a major battle that will either restore Nick to his real world, or end him for ever.
Last God Standing—Michael Boatman (April 3, Angry Robot)
When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on?
The Quick—Lauren Owen (April 3, Jonathan Cape)
You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick…
But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club—a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point—we cannot say when—these worlds will collide.
It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors… and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.
Reign of Ash (Ascendant Kingdoms #2)—Gail Z. Martin (April 3, Orbit)
Blaine McFadden survived six years in the brutal Velant prison colony, exiled for murder. When war devastates his homeland of Donderath, it also destroys the intentional magic on which Donderath and its fellow kingdoms rely. Blaine and a small group of fellow exiles return to a lawless wasteland where unrestrained magic storms appear and disappear unpredictably, and monsters roam the ruins.
Yet rumours persist that the seeds of a new magic rest with a dangerous, ancient ritual and a handful of survivors who have disappeared. McFadden resolves to find these survivors and work the ritual, despite the danger, to restore the magic and end the chaos. He rallies a small and desperate army for a last stand, knowing that if they fail, the civilisation of the Ascendant Kingdoms dies with them.
Spira Mirabilis (Wave Trilogy #3)—Aidan Harte (April 3, Jo Fletcher)
In the 1347th year of Our Lady the engineers of Concord defeated the fractious city-state of Rasenna using the magical science of Wave Technology. The City of Towers fought back, and for a while Concord’s plans for domination were halted.
But First Apprentice Torbidda regrouped, and reformed Concord to his own design. Now he is in absolute control, and plotting the final battle that will pacify Etruria… permanently.
Contessa Sofia Scaligeri could rally her people once again, but she is far away in the Crusader Kingdom of Akka, trapped with her son by the tyrant Queen Catrina.
Darkness is falling. The final battle must be fought and the tide must be turned, lest evil reign forever.
Stolen Songbird (Songbird #1)—Danielle L. Jensen (April 3, Strange Chemistry)
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting. She begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods—part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.
Sunstone (Elemental Wars #2)—Freya Robertson (April 3, Angry Robot)
Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for the Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Heartwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.
After the Veriditas, or annual Greening Ceremony, the Congressus takes place. The talks do not go well and tempers are rising when an army of warriors emerges from the river. After a fierce battle, the Heartwood knights discover that the water warriors have stolen the Arbor’s heart. For the first time in history, its leaves begin to fall…
The knights divide into seven groups and begin an epic quest to retrieve the Arbor, and save the land.
Under Nameless Stars (Zenn Scarlett #2)—Christian Schoon (April 3, Strange Chemistry)
Zenn Scarlett’s novice year of exoveterinarian training on Mars isn’t quite going to plan…
After facing a plot to destroy her school and its menagerie of alien patients, could things get worse? Yes, they could: her absent father has been kidnapped.
Desperate to find him, Zenn stows away aboard the Helen of Troy, a starliner powered by one of the immense, dimension-jumping beasts known as Indra. With her is Liam Tucker, a Martian boy who is either very fond of her, very dangerous to her, or both. On the verge of learning the truth about her father, Zenn’s quest suddenly catapults her and Liam thousands of light years beyond known space, and into the dark heart of a monstrous conspiracy.
Braving a gauntlet of lethal environments and unearthly life forms, Zenn’s courage is tested as never before. With the fate of entire worlds in the balance, she is racing headlong into trouble… again.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August—Claire North (April 8, Orbit)
Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.
No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.”
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)—Kelley Armstrong (April 8, Atom)
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed by an ancient evil, Moria and Ashyn must race to warn the empire of a terrifying threat. Accompanied by a dashing thief and a warrior with a dark history, the sisters battle their way across a wasteland filled with reawakened monsters of legend. But there are more sinister enemies waiting for them at court—and a secret that will alter the balance of their world forever.
Age of Shiva (Pantheon #7)—James Lovegrove (April 10, Solaris)
Zachary Bramwell, better known as the comics artist Zak Zap, is pushing forty and wondering why his life isn’t as exciting as the lives of the superheroes he draws. Then he’s shanghaied by black-suited goons and flown to Mount Meru, a vast complex built atop an island in the Maldives. There, Zak meets a trio of billionaire businessmen who put him to work designing costumes for a team of godlike super-powered beings based on the ten avatars of Vishnu from Hindu mythology.
The Ten Avatars battle demons and aliens and seem to be the saviours of a world teetering on collapse. But their presence is itself a harbinger of apocalypse. The Vedic “fourth age” of civilisation, Kali Yuga, is coming to an end, and Zak has a ringside seat for the final, all-out war that threatens the destruction of Earth.
A Question of Magic—E. D. Baker (April 10, Bloomsbury)
Serafina is living the normal life of a village girl when she gets a mysterious letter from a great-aunt she’s never heard of. Little does she know, her great-aunt is actually Baba Yaga, the witch.
Summoned to her great-aunt’s magical cottage, Serafina’s life takes an amazing turn as she finds herself acquiring the powers of Baba Yaga. But as she grows into her new role, answering the first question any stranger might ask her with the truth, she learns that telling the future doesn’t always mean knowing the right answers!
Dangerous—Shannon Hale (April 10, Bloomsbury)
Maisie ‘Danger’ Brown needs excitement. When she wins a harmless-sounding competition to go to astronaut boot camp, that’s exactly what she gets… but she never imagined it would feature stumbling into a terrifying plot that kills her friends and might just kill her too.
And now there’s no going back. Maisie has to live by her middle name if she wants to survive—and she’ll need to be equally courageous to untangle the romance in her life too.
Devlin Waugh: Swimming in Blood—John Smith, Sean Phillips & Steve Yeowell (April 10, 2000 AD)
2114. Our world and the Mega-Cities that are home to the last vestiges of humanity are constantly preyed upon by bestial forces from beyond the realms of decency. Thankfully such things are kept at bay by spiritual envoys employed by Vatican City, such as Devlin Waugh—a Brit-Cit born bon viveur dandy and jolly good fellow to boot.
When Vatican precognitive telepaths predict a horrific presence at the underwater prison of Aquatraz, Devlin is sent in to investigate and uncovers an uncompromising evil which will cause him to cancel elevenses and throw away the Queensbury rulebook in order to survive!
The Edge of the Water (Saratoga Woods #2)—Elizabeth George (April 10, Hodder & Stoughton)
A mysterious girl who won’t speak; a coal black seal named Nera that returns to the same place very year; a bitter feud of unknown origin—strange things are happening on Whidbey Island, and Becca King is drawn into the maelstrom of events.
But Becca has her own secrets to hide. Still on the run from her criminal stepfather, she’s living in a secret location. Even Derric, the Ugandan orphan with whom Becca shares a close, romantic relationship, can’t be allowed to know her whereabouts.
As secrets of past and present are revealed, Becca becomes aware of her growing paranormal powers, and events build to a shocking climax no one, least of all her, sees coming.
The Eye of Zoltar (Last Dragonslayer #3)—Jasper Fforde (April 10, Hodder & Stoughton)
The Mighty Shandar, the most powerful wizard the world has ever seen, returns to the Ununited Kingdoms. Clearly, he didn’t solve the Dragon Problem, and must hand over his fee: eighteen dray-weights of gold.
But the Mighty Shandar doesn’t do refunds, and vows to eliminate the dragons once and for all—unless sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange and her sidekicks from the Kazam house of enchantment can bring him the legendary jewel: the Eye of Zoltar.
The only thing that stands in their way is a perilous journey with a 50% Fatality Index—through the Cambrian Empire to the Leviathan Graveyard, at the top of the deadly Cadir Idris mountain. It’s a quest like never before, and Jennifer soon finds herself fighting not just for her life, but for everything she knows and loves…
The Forbidden Library—Django Wexler (April 10, Doubleday Childrens)
Do you remember the first time you climbed into the wardrobe with Lucy and emerged in Narnia? Flew on the back of Falkor the Luck Dragon with Bastian? Followed Alice down the rabbit hole? Welcome to your new favourite adventure.
Late one night Alice Creighton hears her father having an argument with a fairy—a snarling, bald beast with warts and needle-like teeth. It is threatening her father, insisting he accept a mysterious offer, or else.
When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent away to live with distant relative Mr Geryon, owner of a huge, dark library that is off limits to Alice. After meeting a talking cat who is willing to sneak her in, Alice opens a book and suddenly finds herself inside it—and the only way out is by conquering the dangerous creatures within. Alice has stumbled into a world where all of magic is controlled by Readers through books—she must open more books, face increasingly powerful foes, be the lead character in the quest to find a happy ending.
Goddess—Laura Powell (April 10, Bloomsbury)
Strikes. Starvation. Riots. Britain is at breaking-point and Aura is blind to it all. The Cult of Artemis is the only home she’s ever known. Enclosed in its luxury lifestyle, the unrest gripping the country seems to belong to a distant world. Her dream is to serve the Goddess and taking a vow of chastity and obedience seems a small price to pay. But days before Aura is due to be initiated as a Priestess, she meets Aiden, the rebellious son of a cult insider, whose radical ideas and unsettling charm force Aura to question everything—and everyone—she knows.
Lagoon—Nnedi Okarafor (April 10, Hodder & Stoughton)
Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria’s legendary mega-city, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before.
But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways never imagined. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world… and themselves.
Talus and the Frozen King (Talus #1)—Graham Edwards (April 10, Solaris)
A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travellers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit.
In a time long before our own, wandering bard Talus and his companion Bran journey to the island realm of Creyak, where the king has been murdered.
From clues scattered among the island’s mysterious barrows and stone circles, they begin their search for his killer. Nobody is above suspicion, from the king’s heir to the tribal shaman, from the woman steeped in herb-lore to the visiting warlord. And when death strikes again, Talus and Bran realise nothing is what it seems. Creyak is place of secrets and spirits, mystery and myth. It will take a clever man indeed to unravel the truth. The kind of man this ancient world has not seen before.
The Unquiet House—Alison Littlewood (April 10, Jo Fletcher)
Mire House is dreary, dark, cold and infested with midges. But when Emma Dean inherits it from a distant relation, she immediately feels a sense of belonging.
It isn’t long before Charlie Mitchell, grandson of the original owner, appears claiming that he wants to seek out his family. But Emma suspects he’s more interested in the house than his long-lost relations.
And when she starts seeing ghostly figures, Emma begins to wonder: is Charlie trying to scare her away, or are there darker secrets lurking in the corners of Mire House?
Unwrapped Sky (Caeli-Amur #1)—Rjurik Davidson (April 10, Tor UK)
A hundred years ago, the Minotaurs saved Caeli-Amur from conquest. Now, three very different people may hold the keys to the city’s survival.
Once, it is said, gods used magic to create reality, with powers that defied explanation. But the magic—or science, if one believes those who try to master the dangers of thaumaturgy—now seems more like a dream.
Industrial workers for House Technis, farmers for House Arbor and fisher folk of House Marin eke out a living and hope for a better future. But the philosopher-assassin Kata plots a betrayal that will cost the lives of godlike Minotaurs; the ambitious bureaucrat Boris Autec rises through the ranks as his private life turns to ashes; and the idealistic seditionist Maximilan hatches a mad plot to unlock the fabled secrets of the Great Library of Caeli Enas, drowned in the fabled city at the bottom of the sea, its strangeness visible from the skies above.
These three people, reflecting all the hopes and dreams of the ancient city, risk everything tor a future that they can only create by throwing off the shackles of tradition and superstition, as their destinies collide at ground zero of a conflagration that will transform the ancient city… or destroy it.
The Winner’s Curse (Winners #1) —Marie Rutkoski (April 10, Bloomsbury)
Kestrel lives the lavish lifestyle of a Valorian General’s only daughter, and such riches come at a cost for Valoria’s captives—and for her.
As the Herrani face death or slavery, Kestrel’s destiny is shaped by her father. He gives her two choices: join his army or get married. Desperate to realise her own future and knowing that it will invite scandal, she pays a small fortune for a handsome Herrani blacksmith at a slave auction.
Arin not only plays Kestrel’s power games, he understands what she needs and soon she is torn between loyalty to her people and her feelings for him. But Arin is not all he seems and Kestrel will learn that the price she paid for him is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker #12)—John Connolly (April 10, Hodder & Stoughton)
The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of the Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town…
But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet.
Charlie Parker has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive.
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.