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.
February is a shockingly short month, I find. Blink and you might miss it. But this February is a bit different: it showcases so much fascinating new fiction that we’re going to have our work cut out just keeping up.
Look forward to a host of standalone novels of note—including The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris, A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney, The Martian by Andy Weir and Babayaga by Toby Barlow—as well as several sequels: Miriam Black is back in The Cormorant, the Tyrant’s stranglehold tightens in The Sword of Feimhin by Frank P. Ryan, and there’s more from the Chicagoland Vampires.
Stay tuned, too, for a few conclusions, among them By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan and Julianna Baggot’s Burn. And if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Nick Harkaway did Doctor Who, Keeping Up with the Joneses is coming!
Burn (Prime #3)—Julianna Baggot (February 4, Headline)
Inside the Dome, Partridge has taken his father’s place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father’s words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome—and Partridge—to rule it…
As Partridge’s resolve weakens, Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them from the time before the Detonations. It is their hope that they will be able to heal the Wretches, and free them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome’s oppression once and for all. But everything depends, too, on Partridge. Separated by distance and history, can they still trust their friend and ally? Or is the world doomed to an eternity of war and hardship?
Falling Light (A Game of Shadows #2)—Thea Harrison (February 4, Piatkus)
Troubled by dreams of strange creatures and unfamiliar voices echoing in her head, Mary has always felt disconnected from this world—until she met the enigmatic stranger, Michael. He knew about Mary’s past. He was in it. Searching for her. His soul mate. And it’s taken centuries to find her, to re-engage her in an ancient, celestial cause: find the Deceiver before he destroys the world.
Haunted by scores of deaths—including their own—Mary and Michael have drawn on the wisdom of the ages, and the power it has given them, to fight the most malevolent force known to man. Joining a select band of warriors, Mary and Michael are nearer to understanding the Deceiver and all he stands for. It’s a terrifying reality that also brings them closer to realising their own destiny and purpose. And realising that love—like evil—is eternal…
Babayaga—Toby Barlow (February 6, Corvus)
Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It’s 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn’t think he’s a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy who can’t seem to figure out Parisian girls.
Zoya is a beautiful young woman wandering les boulevards, sad-eyed, coming off a bad breakup. In fact, she impaled her ex on a spike. Zoya, it turns out, has been a beautiful young woman for hundreds of years; she and her far more traditionally witchy-looking companion, Elga, have been thriving unnoticed in the bloody froth of Europe’s wars.
Inspector Vidot is a hardworking Paris police detective who cherishes quiet nights at home. But when he follows a lead from a grisly murder to the abode of an ugly old woman, he finds himself turned into a flea.
Oliver is a patrician, fun-loving American who has come to Paris to start a literary journal with the help of friends in D.C. who ask a few favors in return. He’s in well over his head, but it’s nothing that a cocktail can’t fix. Right?
Add a few chance encounters, a chorus of some more angry witches, a strung-out jazzman or two, a weaponized LSD program, and a cache of rifles buried in the Bois de Bologne—and that’s a novel! But while Toby Barlow’s Babayaga may start as just a joyful romp through the City of Light, it quickly grows into a daring, moving exploration of love, mortality, and responsibility.
By Blood We Live (The Last Werewolf #3)—Glen Duncan (February 6, Canongate)
Remshi is the oldest vampire in existence. He is searching for the werewolf named Talulla, whom he believes is the reincarnation of his long lost—and only—love. But he is not the only one seeking Talulla…
Hunted by the Militi Christi, a religious order hell-bent on wiping out werewolves and vampires alike, Remshi and Talulla must join forces to protect their families, fulfil an ancient prophecy and save both their lives.
The Cormorant (Miriam Black #3)—Chuck Wendig (February 6, Angry Robot)
Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from “thief” to “killer”.
Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at, but in her vision she sees him die by another’s hand and on the wall written in blood is a message just for Miriam. She’s expected…
Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses—Nick Harkaway (February 6, BBC Digital)
Deep in the gap between the stars, the TARDIS is damaged by a temporal mine. It’s not life-threatening, but the Tenth Doctor will need a while to repair the damage.
But he’s not alone. The strangely familiar-looking Christina thinks the Doctor has arrived in her bed and breakfast, somewhere in Wales. In fact, the TARDIS seems to have enveloped Christina’s entire town… and something else is trapped inside with it.
A violent, unnatural storm threatens them all and—unless it’s stopped—the entire universe.
Hang Wire—Adam Christopher (February 6, Angry Robot)
When Ted Hall finds strange, personalised messages from a restaurant’s fortune cookies scattered around his apartment, his suspicions are aroused, particularly as his somnambulant travels appear to coincide with murders by the notorious Hang Wire Killer.
Meanwhile, the circus has come to town, but the Celtic dancers are taking their pagan act a little too seriously and the manager of the Olde Worlde Funfair has started talking to his vintage machines, although the new acrobat’s frequent absences are causing tension among the performers.
Out in the city there are other new arrivals, immortals searching for an ancient power which has been unleashed: a primal evil which, if not stopped, will destroy the entire world.
Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3)—Veronica Rossi (February 6, Atom)
Aria and Perry have been through so much already, but their journey to the Still Blue has barely begun. And with Aria injured in their flight from Reverie and Perry leading a motley tribe whose loyalty is far from certain, it’s not clear if they’ll get there at all.
But with aether storms raging and enemies gathering their forces, the pair have no time for hesitation. They must act, or the tribe will be lost for ever…
North of Nowhere—Liz Kessler (February 6, Orion Children’s)
The sleepy seaside village of Porthaven hides a mystery…
Mia’s grandad has vanished and nobody knows why. When Mia and her mum go to support her grandma, Mia makes friends with local girl, Dee. But why does Dee seem so out of reach? Why does she claim to be facing violent storms when Mia sees only sunny skies?
And can Mia solve the mystery and find her grandad before time and tide forever wash away his future?
A night of storms. A lifetime of secrets. A week to find the truth.
The Sword of Feimhin (Three Powers #3)—Frank P. Ryan (February 6, Jo Fletcher)
The Tyrant’s control of the Fail has increased so much that now he threatens Earth as well as Tír.
In a violently dystopic London, where Mark and Nantosueta are searching for Padraig and the Sword of Feimhin, Penny Postlethwaite, a gifted teenager, is mapping two Londons, the tormented ‘City Above’ and an eerie ‘City Below’.
On Tír, Alan’s Shee army is intent on attacking Ghork Mega, the Tyrant’s capital city, but obstacles obstruct his path at every turn.
And in Dromenon Kate finds herself entering the Land of the Dead in her hunt for the serpent-dragon Nidhoggr.
Day by day and hour by hour, the looming threat grows…
ABC Warriors: The Solo Missions—Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Steve Dillon, et al. (February 13, 2000 AD)
They are the ultimate fighting force: seven atomic, bacterial and chemical proof robots who tamed the planet Mars. As a team they are undefeatable, but how do they fare when operating alone?
Joe Pineapples shows why he is considered the galaxy’s greatest (and most stylish) assassin, as he targets the president of the world. The origin of Blackblood’s treacherous nature is finally revealed. Deadlock returns to a Torquemada-free Termight on a mission to stop the alien-killer known as the Accountant, and Hammerstein finds hostile life on the red planet.
A Different Kingdom—Paul Kearney (February 13, Solaris)
A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family’s farm.
Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend. And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.
When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.
This is Paul Kearney’s masterpiece.
Europe in Autumn—Dave Hutchinson (February 13, Solaris)
Rudi is a cook in a Krakow restaurant, but when his boss asks Rudi to help a cousin escape from the country he’s trapped in, a new career—part spy, part people-smuggler—begins.
Following multiple economic crises and a devastating flu pandemic, Europe has fractured into countless tiny nations, duchies, polities and republics. With so many nations to work in, and identities to assume, Rudi is kept busy travelling across Europe. But when he is sent to smuggle someone out of Berlin and finds a severed head inside a locker instead, a conspiracy begins to wind itself around him.
With kidnapping, double-crosses and a map that constantly re-draws, Rudi begins to realise that underneath his daily round of plot and counter plot, behind the conflicting territories, another entirely different reality might be pulling the strings…
Gingerbread—Robert Dinsdale (February 13, The Borough)
In the depths of winter in the land of Belarus, where ancient forests straddle modern country borders, an orphaned boy and his grandfather go to scatter his mother’s ashes in the woodlands. Her last request to rest where she grew up will be fulfilled.
Frightening though it is to leave the city, the boy knows he must keep his promise to mama: to stay by and protect his grandfather, whatever happens. Her last potent gifts – a little wooden horse, and hunks of her homemade gingerbread – give him vigour. And grandfather’s magical stories help push the harsh world away.
But the driving snow, which masks the tracks of forest life, also hides a frozen history of long-buried secrets. And as man and boy travel deeper among the trees, grandfather’s tales begin to interweave with the shocking reality of his own past, until soon the boy’s unbreakable promise to mama is tested in unimaginable ways.
The Gospel of Loki—Joanne Harris (February 13, Gollancz)
Loki, that’s me.
Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.
So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role. Now it’s my turn to take the stage.
With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.
From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.
The Martian—Andy Weir (February 13, Del Rey UK)
So that’s the situation.
I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth.
Everyone thinks I’m dead.
I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode.
If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I’m screwed.
Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires #9)—Chloe Neill (February 13, Gollancz)
Since Merit was turned into a vampire, and the protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House, it’s been a wild ride. She and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan have helped make Cadogan’s vampires the strongest in North America, and forged ties with paranormal folk of all breeds and creeds, living or dead… or both.
But now those alliances are about to be tested. A strange and twisted magic has ripped through the North American Central Pack, and Merit’s closest friends are caught in the crosshairs. Gabriel Keene, the Pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter?
Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out.
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.