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.
There may be no competing with the monolithic last edition of the Hitlist, but there’s still loads to look forward to in the fortnight forthcoming, including the start of several new series—like The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke, Den Patrick’s much-discussed debut, and The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher, which is the inaugural volume of The Spider Wars.
As a matter of fact, wars and the horrors thereof are rather well represented in this roundup of notable novels, in sequels such as Valour by John Gwynne and Peter Higgins’ Truth and Fear. But of all the new releases published in this period, it’s standalones such as The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Echo Boy by Matt Haig, A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick and Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes that really do it for me.
The Empire Striketh Back (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars #2)—Ian Doescher (March 18, Quirk)
The bestselling William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series striketh back with an all-new, all-Elizabethan, officially-licensed retelling of Episode V of the original trilogy. Return to a star-cross’d galaxy far, far away as a brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquise in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter.
Illustrated with beautifully intricate, Renaissance-style artwork, the saga of swashbuckling, swordfighting, and romance unfolds like you’ve never read it before.
Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)—Patricia Briggs (March 18, Orbit)
An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam won’t turn away a person in need, but with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right.
Soon, Mercy learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and will do anything to get him, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.
On top of this, there’s an even more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies pile up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her world apart.
The Lascar’s Dagger (Forsaken Lands #1)—Glenda Larke (March 18, Orbit)
Saker looks like a simple priest, but in truth he’s a spy for the head of his faith. It’s a dangerous job, and more lives than merely his own depend on his secrecy.
When Saker is wounded by a Lascar sailor’s blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility that comes with it, Saker can only follow its lead.
It will put him on a journey to strange shores, on a path that will reveal terrible secrets about the empire, about the people he serves, and likely lead to his own destruction. The Lascar’s dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade (Erebus Sequence #1)—Den Patrick (March 20, Gollancz)
Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted—but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the “insane” women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.
Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.
The Forever Watch—David Ramirez (March 20, Hodder & Stoughton)
The Noah: a city-sized ship, half-way through an eight hundred year voyage to another planet. In a world where deeds, and even thoughts, cannot be kept secret, a man is murdered; his body so ruined that his identity must be established from DNA evidence. Within hours, all trace of the crime is swept away, hidden as though it never happened. Hana Dempsey, a mid-level bureaucrat genetically modified to use the Noah’s telepathic internet, begins to investigate. Her search for the truth will uncover the impossible: a serial killer who has been operating on board for a lifetime… if not longer.
And behind the killer lies a conspiracy centuries in the making.
Truth and Fear (Wolfhound Century #2)—Peter Higgins (March 20, Gollancz)
Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air-raids are a daily occurrence and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defence of the city.
But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.
But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?
The Burning Dark (Spider Wars #1)—Adam Christopher (March 25, Titan)
Captain Idaho Cleveland has one last mission before he retires: decommissioning the Coast City, a distant research outpost orbiting the toxic star Shadow, only connected with the outside universe via ham radio. But when a voice begins speaking to Ida just as the station is attacked by mysterious forces, he realizes he is about to face an enemy far more evil than any he’s ever fought before.
A Love Like Blood—Marcus Sedgwick (March 27, Mulholland)
I’ve chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.
In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.
Seven years later he returns to the city—and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow…
Battle of the Beasts (House of Secrets #2)—Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini (March 27, HarperCollins Children’s)
Get ready for another rollercoaster ride of an adventure!
Just when the Walker kids thought they were safe, the Wind Witch blasts Kristoff House into a crazy world of battles, beasts and cyborgs. From the searing heat and clashing swords of the Colosseum, to the snow-capped Tibetan mountains and some seriously freaky monks—the stakes have never been higher.
Can the Walkers save the world? Again? Brendan, Cordelia and Nell better be prepared to fight for their lives…
Bird Box—Josh Malerman (March 27, Voyager)
Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn’t look outside anymore.
Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there.
And she might let them in.
The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.
Dark Vision—Debbie Johnson (March 27, Del Rey UK)
Lily McCain is cursed.
With just one touch she can see a person’s future, whether it’s a good fortune or a terrible fate. Afraid of the potent visions she foresees, she distances herself from the world, succumbing to a life of solitude.
But at the touch of a mysterious stranger—who has powers of his own—Lily sees a new, chilling future for herself: one where she is fated to make a terrible choice…
Echo Boy—Matt Haig (March 27, Bodley Head)
Audrey’s father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters.
Daniel is an echo—but he’s not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he’s determined to save her.
Look Who’s Back—Timur Vermes (March 27, MacLehose)
Summer 2011. Berlin. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well. Things have changed—no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, though—as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All while he’s still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it.
Look Who’s Back is a black and brilliant satire of modern media-bloated society, seen through the eyes of the Führer himself. Adolf is by turns repellent, sympathetic and hilarious, but always fascinating. Look Who’s Back is outrageously clever, outrageously funny—and outrageously plausible.
Valour (Faithful & Fallen #2)—John Gwynne (March 27, Tor UK)
The Banished Lands are torn by war as the army of High King Nathair sweeps the realm challenging all who oppose his holy crusade. Allied with the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren, there are few who can stand against him.
Left for dead—her kin fled and her country is overrun with enemies—Cywen fights to survive. But any chance of escape is futile once Nathair and his disquieting advisor Calidus realize who she is. For she may be their one chance at killing the biggest threat to their power.
Meanwhile, the young warrior Corban flees from his conquered homeland, avoiding warbands, giants and the vicious wolven of the mountains. And all the while Corban must battle to become the man that everyone believes him to be—the Bright Star and saviour of the Banished Lands.
In the Otherworld dark forces scheme to bring a host of the Fallen into the world of flesh to end the war with the Faithful, once and for all.
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.