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.
There were a fair few spooky books in the last edition of the Hitlist, but now that the more horrific half of October is here, with All Hallows’ Eve hot on its heels, the onslaught begins in earnest. Leading the charge, a sequel of sorts to The Woman in Black; a new novel by Jonathan Aycliffe alongside a reissue of his chilling classic; something of an ode to David Cronenberg in Mira Grant’s Parasite; and a whole host of short story collections that run the gamut from the ghostly to the gruesome, including The Mistletoe Bride by Kate Mosse and the 24th Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, meanwhile the mummy gets a new lease of life in Jurassic London’s latest project, The Book of the Dead.
But say you hate Halloween! I don’t know why anyone would, but some do, I’m sure. In that case, though science fiction readers are looking at another lacklustre fortnight, there’s an awful lot on offer for fantasy fans—not least the conclusion of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, which has been many, many years in the making. Decidedly less long-lived but of as much if not more interest to me is the last act of the Low Town trilogy by Daniel Polansky. Stay tuned, too, for volume two of The Moontide Quartet and the beginning of The Book and the Sword saga by Antoine Rouaud.
The Wasteland Saga—Nick Cole (October 15, Harper Voyager)
Part Hemingway, part Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Old Man and the Wasteland is a suspenseful odyssey into the dark heart of the Post-Apocalyptic American Southwest.
Forty years after the destruction of civilization, man is reduced to salvaging the ruins of a broken world. One man’s most prized possession is Hemingway’s classic The Old Man and the Sea. With the words of the novel echoing across the wasteland, a survivor of the Nuclear Holocaust journeys into the unknown to break a curse.
What follows is an incredible tale of survival and endurance. One man must survive the desert wilderness and mankind gone savage to discover the truth of Hemingway’s classic tale of man versus nature.
Beauty (Tales from the Kingdoms #3)—Sarah Pinborough (October 17, Gollancz)
A beautifully illustrated retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the ancient curse, the sleeping girl and, of course, the haunting castle) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.
It’s fun, contemporary, sexy, and perfect for fans of Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Snow White and the Huntsman and more.
Death of a Saint (Deadlands #2)—Lily Herne (October 17, Much-in-Little)
Some secrets are so unthinkable you can’t even admit them to yourself…
Lele, Ginger, Ash and Saint—aka the Mall Rats—are hiding out in the Deadlands, a once-prosperous area of Cape Town, now swarming with the living dead. Exiled from the city enclave for crimes against the Resurrectionist State, the Rats face a stark choice: return and risk capture, or leave Cape Town and go in search of other survivors.
But what if the rest of South Africa is nothing but a zombie-riddled wasteland? Now Lele has discovered the truth about why the lurching dead leave them alone, she can’t bring herself to tell the rest of the gang. And she’s not the only Mall Rat harbouring a dangerous secret…
Can the friends survive on the road if all they have is each other? Or will their secrets tear them apart?
Dwarves War Fighting Manual—Den Patrick (October 17, Gollancz)
A manual, complete with illustrations, that looks at the dwarvish race and the way they fight war. With a history of the race, an assessment of the legendary courage and fortitude of the dwarves in war, and accounts of famous engagements, this is the perfect companion for any fantasy wargamer or roleplayer, as well as being a door into a wonderful and original fantasy world.
With companion volumes for Orcs and Elves, gaming and comics writer Den Patrick builds up his very own fantasy world and tells its history and a unique and entertaining way.
The Last Dark (Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant #4)—Stephen R. Donaldson (October 17, Gollancz)
Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical reality known only as ’the Land’.
Now they face their final crisis. Reunited after their separate struggles, they discover in each other their true power—and yet they cannot imagine how to stop the Worm of the World’s End from unmaking Time. Nevertheless they must resist the ruin of all things, giving their last strength in the service of the world’s continuance.
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24—ed. Stephen Jones (October 17, Robinson)
These terrifying offerings, published in the past year, come from both contemporary masters of horror and exciting newcomers, including Terry Dowling, Gemma Files, Joel Lane, Claire Massey, Thana Niveau, Lynda E. Rucker, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Mark Valentine, Neil Gaiman and many more.
The latest volume of the record-breaking and multiple award-winning anthology series also offers an in-depth Introduction covering the year in horror, an informative Necrology of notable names who are no longer with us, and a useful contact directory that is an indispensable resource for every dedicated horror fan and writer.
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror is the world’s leading annual anthology dedicated solely to showcasing the very best in contemporary horror fiction in all its many frightening forms.
Naomi’s Room—Jonathan Aycliffe (October 17, Corsair)
Charles and Laura, a happy young couple, reside in the privileged world of Cambridge academia with their cherished daughter, Naomi. But when Naomi goes missing on a Christmas Eve shopping trip to London, her parents are left distraught. Days later her murdered body is discovered.
But is she really dead?
In a howling, bumping story of past and present day hell, Johnathan Aycliffe’s haunting psychological masterpiece is guaranteed to make you since to untold depths of teeth-shaking terror.
The Silence of Ghosts—Jonathan Aycliffe (October 17, Corsair)
Dominic Lancaster, having been injured in the line of duty at the battle of Narvik, decides to take his deaf ten-year-old sister Octavia to the family house on the shores of Ullswater in the Lake District.
Disturbing noises carry through the house in the night, noise that only profound-deaf, young Octavia can hear. When Dominic asks her what it is the she can hear she yields the chilling response: ‘voices’. Two nights later she comes into his bedroom to tell him that the dead children in the house want them to leave.
And then Octavia is overcome with a mysterious illness. She demands that Dominic must go to the attic. There, he releases an older, darker evil that threatens both their lives…
The Goldfinch—Donna Tartt (October 22, Little Brown)
Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, miraculously survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is bewildered by his new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years he clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the criminal underworld.
As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph—a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.
The Path of Anger (The Book and the Sword #1)—Antoine Rouaud (October 17, Gollancz)
Dun-Cadal has been drinking his life away for years. Betrayed by his friends—who turned their back on their ideals in favour of a new republic—and grief stricken at the loss of his apprentice, who saved his life on the battlefield and whom he trained as a knight in exchange, he’s done with politics, with adventure, and with people.
But people aren’t finished with him—not yet. Viola is a young historian looking for the last Emperor’s sword, and her search not only brings her to Dun-Cadal, it’s also going to embroil them both in a series of assassinations. Because Dun-Cadal’s turncoat friends are being murdered, one by one, by someone who kills in the unmistakable style of an Imperial assassin…
Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales—ed. Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt (October 22, Headline)
Featuring stories by Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and the authors of Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this is a unique and imaginative collection for readers of all ages.
There are some stories that will always be told, tales as timeless as they are gripping.
There are some authors who can tell any story.
In RAGS & BONES, award-winning and bestselling authors retell classic fairytales and twisted tales in the way that only they can. With magic and love, they bring these stories – whether much loved or overlooked – back to life.
Read ’Sleeping Beauty’ as only Neil Gaiman can tell it. See ’Rumpelstiltskin’ through the eyes of Kami Garcia. And learn of Rudyard Kipling’s ’The Man Who Would Be King’ from the inimitable Garth Nix.
Lady of the Sorrows (Bitterbynde #2)—Cecilia Dart-Thornton (October 24, Tor UK)
Though her memory remains clouded by sorcery, Imrhien—heroine of The Ill-Made Mute—must take vital news to the King-Emperor of Caermelor, hoping also to find there the fearless ranger who has won her heart. She assumes the identity of ’Rohain’, a noblewoman visiting from the distant Sorrow Isles, but finds the King and his rangers heading off to battle the Unseelie hordes.
Meanwhile, awaiting their return, the newcomer must survive in a court where treachery and deceit are as deadly as any eldritch peril…
Worse still, attacks by nightmare monsters of the Wild Hunt grow ever more frequent and brutal, and when evil forces lay siege to the royal sanctuary on a hidden mystic island, Imrhien realises with horror that she herself is the real target of these onslaughts—but has no idea why.
The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales—Kate Mosse (October 24, Orion)
A wonderfully atmospheric collection of stories from one of our most captivating writers, inspired by ghost stories, traditional folk tales and country legends from England and France. These tales are richly populated by spirits and ghosts seeking revenge; by grief-stricken women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny—all rooted deep in the elemental landscapes of Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc.
The collection will include The Mistletoe Bride, La Fille de Melisande, Red Letter Day, The Lending Library and The House on the Hill…
Roses of Roazon—Cherith Baldry (October 24, Tor UK)
When icon painter Alissende presents Joscelin, the new Duke of Roazon, with a beautifully depicted image that shows the divinity as a Healer, she is not aware of the impact her painting will have on the history of Avorig. The Church agrees that their deity has so far only shown himself as a Warrior or Judge and has acute difficulties in accepting this new worldview… except as a heresy.
Before Joscelin is forced to abdicate, having become strongly convinced of this new message, he and his closest followers—including Sir Valery de Vaux and his cousin Bertrand—flee from the holy city and try and find refuge in one of the neighbouring castles. The new political situation opens the gates for opposition and intrigue from other noblemen who claim the throne for themselves and therefore Joscelin and his people find themselves on an eventful and dangerous journey before they can try to return to Roazon.
Above all, they are confronted with an evil power that has been lurking beneath the sea for aeons, and is only known through myths. When Autrys rises again, its intention is to eliminate not only Duke Joscelin but the whole of Roazon and the values it stands for.
Scarlet Tides (Moontide Quartet #2)—David Hair (October 24, Jo Fletcher)
The Moontide has come, and a scarlet tide of Rondian legions is flooding into the East, slaughtering and pillaging in the name of Emperor Constant. But the Scytale of Corineus, the source of ultimate magical power, has slipped through the emperor’s fingers.
His ruthless Inquisitors are desperately seeking the artefact, before it falls into the hands of those who would bring down the Empire. But there are some who have pledged to end the cycle of war and restore peace to Urte.
They are the unlikeliest of heroes: a failed mage, a gypsy and a lowly market-girl.
As East and West clash more violently than ever before, Urte will discover that love, loyalty and truth can be forged into weapons as deadly as swords and magic.
Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1)—Mary Robinette Kowal (October 24, Corsair)
In Regency England, Jane Ellsworth of Dorchester is a woman ahead of her time: not only is she highly skilled in the manipulation of glamour – plucking strands from the Ether to create magical illusions—she’s also ambitious for her art.
First and foremost, however, a lady of quality must marry well; and while her sister Melody has plenty of suitors, Jane has resigned herself to invisibility. But when a threat to her family causes Jane to push her magical skills to their limits, she attracts the attention of professional glamourist Mr Vincent… and wanders in to a love story of her very own.
The Violent Century—Lavie Tidhar (October 24, Hodder & Stoughton)
For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.
But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.
Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism—a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields—to answer one last, impossible question:
What makes a hero?
The Woman in Black: Angel of Death—Martyn Waites (October 24, Hammer)
Autumn 1940, World War Two, the Blitz. Bombs are raining down, destroying the cities of Britain.
In London, children are being removed from their families and taken to the country for safety. Teacher Eve Parkins is in charge of one such group, and her destination is an empty and desolate house that appears to be sinking into the treacherous tidal marshes that surround it.
Far from home and with no alternative, Eve and the children move in to Eel Marsh House, but soon it becomes apparent that there is someone else in the house; someone who is far deadlier than any number of German bombs…
The Woman in Black is back.
The Zodiacal Planet Galaxy—Brian Aldiss (October 24, The Friday Project)
Finally, all the Zodiac Planets stories and novellas in one volume.
A collection of all the short stories and novellas that make up the Zodiac Planets series. Spanning over 40 years these include ‘The Supertoys Trilogy,’ the first of which was filmed by Steven Spielberg as the movie AI.
The Zodiacal Planet Galaxy also features a brand new novella, ‘Mission to the Planets of the Zodiac,’ which has never been seen before.
Sins of the Father (Fringe #3)—Christa Faust (October 25, Titan)
A fatal incident in Walter Bishop’s lab estranges his volatile son Peter. In Bangkok, Peter steals a briefcase containing a mysterious vial and becomes the target of a group willing to kill to get it back. Seeking answers, he becomes entangled with Ella Lachaux—the woman behind the lab disaster—and David Robert Jones, a terrorist whose goal is to create an army of shape-shifting killers.
Garbage Man—Joseph D’Lacey (October 28, Oak Tree Press)
Shreve, a dead-end town next to the UK’s largest landfill.
There’s nothing the bored residents won’t stoop to in an attempt to spice up their pedestrian lives. All wannabe model Aggie Smithfield wants is to escape before Shreve swallows her ambition along with a million tons of rubbish and dirty little secrets.
Desperate, Aggie asks renowned but reclusive ex-photographer, Mason Brand, for help. The deal they make might be the only thing that can save her when the town’s fate catches up with it. Beneath everyone’s feet, something born of the things we throw away is awakening.
And when the past is reborn, there will be no escape.
Meat—Joseph D’Lacey (October 28, Oak Tree Press)
Abyrne, the last enclave in a wasteland. All food is produced by Magnus Meat Processing and controlled by the Parsons of the Welfare.
Richard Shanti, the ‘Ice Pick’, is Abyrne’s legendary bolt-gunner, dispatching hundreds of animals every hour to supply the townsfolk with all the meat they could want. But Shanti is having doubts about his line of work.
When war breaks out between the corporate and religious factions, Shanti must sacrifice everything he loves in order to reveal the truth behind Abyrne’s power structures and fight for what he knows is right.
In a world where eating meat has become not only a human right but a sacred duty, what happens to those who question the nature of the food source?
The townsfolk are hungry. The townsfolk must be fed…
Parasite—Mira Grant (October 29, Orbit)
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.
But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them.
S.—Doug Dorst & J. J. Abrams (October 29, Canongate)
One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace and desire.
A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.
The Books: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V. M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched on a disorienting and perilous journey.
The Writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumours that swirl around him.
The Readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts and fears.
After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse—Charlaine Harris (October 31, Gollancz)
Dead Ever After marked the end of the Sookie Stackhouse novels – a series that garnered millions of fans and spawned the hit HBO television show True Blood. It also stoked a hunger that will never die… a hunger to know what happened next.
With characters arranged alphabetically—from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli—bestselling author Charlaine Harris takes fans into the future of their favourite residents of Bon Temps and environs. You’ll learn how Michele and Jason’s marriage fared, what happened to Sookie’s cousin Hunter, and whether Tara and JB’s twins grew up to be solid citizens.
This coda provides the answers to your lingering questions – including details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after…
The book will feature extensive interior art by acclaimed Sookie artist Lisa Desimini, including a Sookieverse Alphabet, colour endpapers, and several full-page black and white interior illustrations.
The Book of the Dead—ed. Jared Shurin (October 31, Jurassic London)
The mummified remains of Egypt’s ancient dead have fascinated travellers, scholars and museum visitors for millennia and for around the last 180 years, they have provided a potent source of inspiration for authors, artists, and film makers.
As an Egyptologist who studies the reception of ancient Egypt in the modern world, I view the fictional mummy as a compelling figure, lurking in the dark recesses of our collective imagination, having been resurrected and refashioned as the object of exotic fantasy; the tragic paramour, tortured by long-lost loves and, most frequently, as the terrifying instrument of ancient vengeance. As such, I am delighted to see this grand literary tradition continue in Jurassic London’s impressive and original collection of new, mummy-inspired short fiction.
She Who Waits (Low Town #3)—Daniel Polansky (October 31, Hodder & Stoughton)
Low Town: the worst ghetto in the worst city in the Thirteen Lands. Good only for depravity and death. And Warden, long ago a respected agent in the formidable Black House, is now the most depraved Low Town denizen of them all.
As a younger man, Warden carried out more than his fair share of terrible deeds, and never as many as when he worked for the Black House. But Warden’s growing older, and the vultures are circling. Low Town is changing, faster than even he can control, and Warden knows that if he doesn’t get out soon, he may never get out at all.
But Warden must finally reckon with his terrible past if he can ever hope to escape it. A hospital full of lunatics, a conspiracy against the corrupt new king, and a ghetto full of thieves and murderers stand between him and his slim hope for the future. And behind them all waits the one person whose betrayal Warden never expected. The one person who left him, broken and bitter, to become the man he is today.
The one woman he ever loved.
She who waits behind all things.
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.