From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your bi-weekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.
The first half of February was fun. The second half? Kinda quiet... but not without its highlights!
The Blackhart Legacy begins in Banished by former blogger Liz de Jager. The Osiris Project continues in Cataveiro, whilst Honour’s Knight follows on from Fortune’s Pawn. Cat out of Hell is an intriguing new novel by the author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, and there are several others standalones of note, including Boy, Snow, Bird—the latest book by White is for Witching’s Helen Oyeyemi—The Troop by Nick Cutter and The Islands of Chaldea: the final fiction from Diana Wynne Jones, who we lost, alas, last year.
Cataveiro (Osiris Project #2)—E. J. Swift (February 20, Del Rey UK)
A boat is shipwrecked on Patagonian shores, and rumours abound that it has come from ‘the lost city' Osiris, believed to have been destroyed over 50 years ago. The implications are wide-reaching and acutely political, for in the eyes of the world Osiris is only a collection of fables.
Pilot and cartographer Ramona, recently returned to the island of Tierra del Fuego, has a broken plane, and the only person who can fix it for her is the Antarctican, Taeo, a political exile desperate to find a way back home.
Glimpsing an opportunity for redemption, Taeo discovers there is one survivor of the shipwreck: the sole proof that Osiris exists. He and Ramona find themselves caught up in a perilous conflict of interests over the secret of the sea city, a secret which will have severe repercussions on their lives, their homes, and their loved ones.
Metro 2034 (Metro #2)—Dmitry Glukhovsky (February 20, Gollancz)
It is the year 2034. Less than twelve months have passed since the events at VDNKh Station. The Dark Ones, once considered a deadly threat, are gone for good, killed by Artyom and his allies.
On the other side of the Metro, however, the inhabitants of Sevastopolskaya Station are fighting for survival against terrible new threats. The fate of the station depends on weapon supplies, which are suddenly cut short, along with missing caravans and communication.
To solve the mystery and bring back the stability of supplies, a small group is sent: young Ahmed, old, unfulfilled chronicler Homer and Hunter—once lost among the Dark Ones, now found but with a rather uncertain identity...
Honour’s Knight (Paradox #2)—Rachel Bach (February 25, Orbit)
Devi Morris has lots of problems—and not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either.
After a mysterious attack left her short of several memories and one partner, she's determined to keep her head down, do her job and get on with her life. But even though Devi's not looking for it this time, trouble keeps finding her.
She sees ghostly creatures no one else can, the inexplicable black stain on her hands keeps getting bigger and she can't seem to stop getting into compromising situations with a man she's supposed to hate. But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there are worse fates than being shot—and that sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.
Banished (Blackhart Legacy #1)—Liz de Jager (February 27, Tor UK)
Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s finally encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons.
But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies.
As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves—it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.
Baptism of Fire (Witcher #3)—Andrzej Sapkowski (February 27, Gollancz)
The Wizards’ Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of those in need, a defender against powerful and dangerous monsters that prey on men in dark times.
But now that dark times have fallen upon the world, Geralt is helpless until he has recovered from his injuries.
While war rages across all of the lands, the future of magic is under threat and those sorcerers who survive are determined to protect it. It's an impossible situation in which to find one girl—Ciri, the heiress to the throne of Cintra, has vanished—until a rumour places her in the Niflgaard court, preparing to marry the Emperor.
Injured or not, Geralt has a rescue mission on his hands.
Boy, Snow, Bird—Helen Oyeyemi (February 27, Picador)
Boy Novak turns twenty and decides to try for a brand-new life. Flax Hill, Massachusetts, isn’t exactly a welcoming town, but it does have the virtue of being the last stop on the bus route she took from New York. Flax Hill is also the hometown of Arturo Whitman – craftsman, widower, and father of Snow.
Snow is mild-mannered, radiant and deeply cherished – exactly the sort of little girl Boy never was, and Boy is utterly beguiled by her. If Snow displays a certain inscrutability at times, that’s simply a characteristic she shares with her father, harmless until Boy gives birth to Snow’s sister, Bird.
When Bird is born Boy is forced to re-evaluate the image Arturo’s family have presented to her, and Boy, Snow and Bird are broken apart.
Cat out of Hell—Lynne Truss (February 27, Hammer)
By acclaimed storyteller Lynne Truss, author of the bestselling Eats, Shoots and Leaves, the mesmerising tale of a cat with nine lives, and a relationship as ancient as time itself and just as powerful.
The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening. Inside, a room with curtains drawn. Tea has just been made. A kettle still steams.
Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table. A man and a cat.
The story about to be related is so unusual yet so terrifyingly plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting.
The man clears his throat, and leans forward, expectant.
“Shall we begin?” asks the cat.
The Islands of Chaldea—Dianna Wynne Jones & Ursula Jones (February 27, HarperCollins Children’s)
Aileen was supposed to grow up magical—just like the other women in her family. Unfortunately, she’s just found out that the magic seems to have skipped a generation… but that’s not her biggest problem right now.
In her world, there are four Islands of Chaldea. The largest and most magical island has been cut off from the other three for decades—and is slowly draining the magic from them.
But now a prophecy has come to light. Someone from Aileen’s island will gather a man from each of the three islands, bring down the magical barrier, and unite them with the fourth island again. And according to the king, that someone is Aileen’s Aunt – who insists on dragging Aileen along. And the boy Aileen is sure she’ll marry (one day); and the local boy with more brawn then brain. Someone seems to want to stop them too… someone with an interest in keeping the Islands apart. But still, with magic on their side, nothing can go wrong.
The Problem with Promises (Mystwalker #3)—Leigh Evans (February 27, Tor UK)
Never make a promise you can’t afford to keep...
Half-fae Hedi has tried to live by this rule, yet however fast she runs, trouble tracks her down. So this time, she’s meeting it head on. In the fae realm, a mage has imprisoned her twin brother Lexi, and she swore to set him free. However, to save Lexi she must find him, and her path is blocked by vengeful witches. They must be challenged, but Hedi and her Alpha werewolf mate Trowbridge face a dangerous diversion.
They’ve been framed as prime suspects in an illegal fae drugs trade—and the Council of North American Weres is now on their trail. Hedi must harness her talents to save those she loves. But once she claims her full powers, there will be no going back.
The Troop—Nick Cutter (February 27, Headline)
For the scouts of Troop 52, three days of camping, hiking and survival lessons on Falstaff Island is as close as they'll get to a proper holiday.
But when an emaciated figure stumbles into their camp asking for food, the trip takes a horrifying turn. The man is not just hungry, he's sick. Sick in a way they have never seen before.
Cut off from the mainland, the troop face a terror far worse than anything they could have made up around a campfire. To survive they will have to fight their fears, the elements... and eventually each other.
Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes—ed. George Mann (February 28, Titan)
A brand-new collection of Sherlock Holmes stories from a variety of exciting voices in modern horror and steampunk, edited by respected anthologist George Mann.
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.