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.
It’s the beginning of another big month for genre fiction, folks! We’ve got an assortment of sequels—to Three, Mayhem, God’s War, Promise of Blood, Among Thieves and Annihilation, namely—some very exciting standalones, such as Glow by Ned Beauman, and a bunch of new series beginning, by authors including Gaie Sebold, Markus Heitz, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Charlie Fletcher, Weston Ochse and Charlaine Harris.
Wait, did someone say Charlaine Harris? That’s right, readers—it was me! As to why, well: we’re just weeks away from the beginning of a mysterious new series from the creator of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I can’t imagine Midnight Crossroad will be my cup of tea, but if it’s yours… get ready. Get set. Go!
Decompression—Julie Zeh (May 1, Harvill Secker)
Jola is a beautiful and privileged soap star who wants very much to be taken seriously; her partner Theo is a middle-aged author with writer’s block.
In an attempt to further her career, Jola is determined to land the lead role in a new film about underwater photographer and model Lotte Hass. To improve her chances, the couple travel to Lanzarote and hire diving instructor Sven, paying him a large sum for exclusive tuition.
Sven is meticulously planning his most ambitious expedition yet—to an untouched wreck 100 metres down on the ocean floor. Diving calls for a cool head and, as a sinister love triangle develops, events rapidly get out of hand. But whose story do we trust: Sven’s or Jola’s?
Infidel (Bel Dame Apocrypha #2)—Kameron Hurley (May 1, Del Rey UK)
No matter where you go, the Bel Dames will find you.
Nyx used to be an assassin, part of the sisterhood of the Bel Dames. Now she’s babysitting diplomats to make ends meet and longs for the days when killing was a lot more honourable. So, when her former “sisters” lead a coup against the government, she’s the perfect choice to stop them.
In a rotten nation of giant bugs and renegade shape shifters, Nyx must forge unlikely allies and rekindle old acquaintances if she is to survive. Otherwise, this time, the bodies she leaves scattered across the continent may include her own…
I Put a Spell on You—John Burnside (May 1, Jonathan Cape)
The old Scots word ‘glamour’ means magical charm, and the first time he was played I Put a Spell on You, John Burnside thought he had never heard a more beautiful song. It was an enchantment, a fascination that would turn to obsession. Implicit in the song were all the ambiguities that intrigued him—love, possession and danger—and this book is an exploration of the darker side of glamour and attraction.
Beginning with memories of a brutal murder, the book follows the author through a series of uncanny encounters with ‘lost girls,’ with brilliant digressions on murder ballads, voodoo, acid and insomnia, and a cast that includes Kafka and Narcissus, Diane Arbus and Mel Lyman, The Four Tops and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and time spent lost in the Arctic Circle, black-and-white films and a mental institution.
Ending with the tender summoning of the ghost of his dying mother as she sings along to the radio in her empty kitchen, I Put a Spell on You is a book about memory, about the other side of love: a book of secrets and wonders.
Morningside Fall (Legends of the Duskwalker #2)—Jay Posey (May 1, Angry Robot)
The lone gunman Three is gone, and Wren is the new governor of the devastated settlement of Morningside, but there is turmoil in the city. When his life is put in danger, Wren is forced to flee Morningside until he and his retinue can determine who can be trusted.
They arrive at the border outpost, Ninestory, only to find it has been infested with Weir in greater numbers than anyone has ever seen. These lost, dangerous creatures are harbouring a terrible secret—one that will have consequences not just for Wren and his comrades, but for the future of what remains of the world.
Murder (Mayhem #2)—Sarah Pinborough (May 1, Jo Fletcher)
Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, thinks he has finally recovered from the terrible events of years before. He no longer has nightmares about Jack the Ripper—or the other monster, an enemy even more malign who hid in Jack’s shadow and haunted the streets of London at the end of the 1880s. He has made his peace with his part in bringing calm back to the East End.
His fame as a profiler of criminals is increasing, his practice is steads, and Dr Bond is beginning to dream of marriage, and children. Life is good.
But when a woman’s body is found brutally beaten to death in a railway carriage and a letter written years before is discovered by the police, the past he has fought so hard to put behind him begins to taint the present, and he can no longer fight his new suspicions.
Just when he thought life had returned to normal, Dr Bond is about to discover that some things will not remain buried: once again his uncanny enemy is loose on the streets of London… and this time Dr Bond is alone.
Odin’s Ravens (Blackwell Pages #2)—K. L. Armstrong & M. A. Marr (May 1, Little Brown Young Readers)
When thirteen-year-olds Matt Thorsen and Fen and Laurie Brekke, modern-day descendants of Thor and Loki, were chosen to represent the Norse gods in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse, they thought they knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent, and save the world. No problem, right?
But the descendants’ journey grinds to a halt when their friend Baldwin is poisoned and killed, and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in hopes of saving him. That’s only the first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor’s Hammer, and stop the apocalypse—a journey filled with enough tooth-and-nail battles and colossal monsters to make Matt a legend in his own right.
Peacemaker (Peacemaker #1)—Marianne de Pierres (May 1, Angry Robot)
Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park—the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller.
When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown—hers!—or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter.
Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path…
Righteous Fury (Legends of the Alfar #1)—Markus Heitz (May 1, Jo Fletcher)
The elves, dwarves and humans all know the älfar to be dark, relentless warriors. This is their time.
In Dson Faïmon, the realm of the älfar, the warriors are planning a military campaign. Caphalor and Sinthoras are looking to enlist a powerful demon to strengthen their army—but the two älfar have very different goals. While Caphalor is determined to defend the borders of their empire and no more, the ambitious Sinthoras is intent on invasion: and he has the kingdoms of dwarves, elves and men firmly in his sights.
The Wizard’s Promise (Hannah Duology #1)—Cassandra Rose Clarke (May 1, Strange Chemistry)
All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch. Unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.
As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.
The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage #2)—Brian McClellan (May 6, Orbit)
“The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions.”
Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god.
In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly.
With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir’s advancing army. Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.
The Oversight (Oversight #1)—Charlie Fletcher (May 6, Orbit)
Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. And when they fall, so do we all.
Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five.
When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight’s London headquarters, she might answer their hopes for a new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall…
ABC Warriors: The MEK Files 1—Pat Mills, Clint Langley et al. (May 8, 2000 AD)
Starting from the strip’s very beginning, this hardback collection is a start of a new series collecting up the complete ABC Warriors stories in a highly collectable format. This is the same size as the sell-out hardback Volgan War series!
This first volume collects the material from the unavailable Mek-nificent 7 and Black Hole volumes, along with additional material.
Above—Isla Morley (May 8, Two Roads)
Blythe, a sixteen-year-old Kansas schoolgirl is abducted and kept in an abandoned silo by a survivalist, who is convinced that the world is about to end.
Struggling to survive, crushed by loneliness and the terrifying madness of her captor, Blythe resists the temptation to give up. Nothing, however, prepares her for the burden of having to raise a child in confinement.
Just when Blythe starts to believe that she may be confined to the silo for life, their lives are ambushed by one event that is at once promising and devastating…
Authority (Southern Reach #2)—Jeff VanderMeer (May 8, Fourth Estate)
Following the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, Authority introduces John Rodriguez, the new head of the government agency responsible for the safeguarding of Area X. His first day is spent grappling with the fall-out from the last expedition. Area X itself remains a mystery. But, as instructed by a higher authority known only as The Voice, the self-styled Control must battle to “put his house in order.”
From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the mysteries of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.
Undermined and under pressure to make sense of everything, Rodriguez retreats into his past in a labyrinthine search for answers. Yet the more he uncovers, the more he risks, for the secrets of the Southern Reach are more sinister than anyone could have known.
Brilliant—Roddy Doyle (May 8, Macmillan Children’s)
When Uncle Ben’s Dublin business fails, it’s clear to Gloria and Raymond that something is wrong. He just isn’t his usual cheerful self. So when the children overhear their granny saying that the Black Dog has settled on Ben’s back and he won’t be okay until it’s gone, they decide they’re going to get rid of it.
Gathering all their courage, the children set out on a midnight quest to hunt down the Black Dog and chase it away. But they aren’t the only kids on the mission. Loads of other children are searching for it too, because the Black Dog is hounding lots of Dublin’s adults.
Together—and with the help of magical animals, birds and rodents—the children manage to corner the Black Dog… but will they have the courage and cleverness to destroy the frightening creature?
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year 8—ed. Jonathan Strahan (May 8, Solaris)
The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multiple-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.
This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with the next edition, volume eight. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Robets, Ellen Klages, and many many more.
Feather Bound—Sarah Raughley (May 8, Strange Chemistry)
When Deanna’s missing friend Hyde turns up at his father’s funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.
But rekindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret—and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn’t play along, and help the enemy destroy him… she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.
Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…
Glow—Ned Beauman (May 8, Sceptre)
A hostage exchange outside a police station in Pakistan. A botched defection in an airport hotel in New Jersey. A test of loyalty at an abandoned resort in the Burmese jungle. A boy and a girl locking eyes at a rave in a South London laundrette…
For the first time, Britain’s most exciting young novelist turns his attention to the present day, as a conspiracy with global repercussions converges on one small flat above a dentist’s office in Camberwell. With Glow, Ned Beauman has reinvented the international conspiracy thriller for a new generation.
Grunt Life (Task Force Ombra #1)—Weston Ochse (May 8, Solaris)
A brand new military SF series takes a footsoldier’s-eye-view of the battle with an alien infestation.
Earth has been invaded and the insect-like aliens have established secret hives across the world. The only thing standing between Earth and domination by these creatures are the Grunts, men whose business is soldiering.
But this time they must learn how to defeat a very different kind of enemy from any human foe…
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1)—Charlaine Harris (May 8, Gollancz)
Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.
There’s a pawnshop (where someone lives in the basement and runs the store during the night). There’s a diner (although those folk who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident: Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).
If you stop at the one traffic light in town, then everything looks normal. But if you stay a while, you might learn the truth…
Shanghai Sparrow—Gaie Sebold (May 8, Solaris)
The British Empire is at war, both within and without.
Eveline Duchen was once a country child, touched by the magic that clings to the woods. Now she is a street urchin in a London where brutal poverty and glittering new inventions exist side by side, living as a thief and con-artist. Caught in an act of deception, Eveline is faced with Mr Holmforth, who offers her a stark choice. Transportation, or an education—and utter commitment to Her Majesty’s Service—at Madam Cairngrim’s school for female spies.
The school’s regime is harsh, but she plans to take advantage of everything they can teach her, then go her own way. But in the fury of the Opium Wars, the British Empire is about to make a devil’s bargain. Eveline’s choices will change the future of her world, and reveal the truth about the death of her sister Charlotte.
Slaine: Lord of the Beasts—Pat Mills et al. (May 8, 2000 AD)
Having united the Tribes of the Earth Goddess to battle the hordes of Fomorian Sea, demons determined on enslaving them, Sláine was appointed as the first High King of Ireland. After protecting the tribes for seven years, he was put to death so that he could serve Danu in the afterlife.
This exciting collection features a series of adventures which took place during Sláine’s seven-year reign—a period where he spent time as a near-mindless beast stuck in a warp spasm, was reunited with his son Kai and was forced to defend his lands against the Secret Commonwealth of demons led by his old enemy, Medb!
Sworn in Steel (Tales of the Kin #2)—Douglas Hulick (May 10, Tor UK)
It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the underworld elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince managing the city’s underbelly, he’s learning how good he used to have it.
With barely an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one dies, all signs point to Drothe as wielding the knife. Members of the Kin begin choosing sides—mostly against him—for what looks to be another impending war. Then Drothe is approached by a man who has the solution to his problem and an offer of redemption. The only problem is the offer isn’t for him.
Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire’s long-standing enemy, with an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out, fast…
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.