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.
Looks like summer’s here, constant readers, and with it, a whole host of awesome new genre novels to take sunbathing, including intriguing standalones such as The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack, The Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall and Touched by Joanna Briscoe; loads of sequels—to The Long War by A. J. Smith, The Thousand Names by Django Wexler and Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, among others; and several exciting new series, not least Gail Z. Martin’s Trifles and Folly, The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and what must be the highlight of the month for me: the start of Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea series.
Born of Fury (League #6)—Sherrilyn Kenyon (July 1, Piatkus)
Counted among the fiercest Andarion warriors ever born, Hauk is one of the five founding members of the Sentella: an organization that has declared war on the League. They rule the Ichidian universe with an iron fist and terrify it with an army of well-trained assassins. Hauk’s enemies are legion, but he fears nothing and no one. He will do whatever it takes to survive and protect his Sentella brethren.
Sumi Antaxas is one of the best assassins the League has ever trained. In her world, failure is not an option and she has never met a target she couldn’t execute. So when she’s assigned Hauk, she believes it’ll be a quick and easy mission.
But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and Hauk is far better skilled than any she’s faced before…
The Reef—Mark Charan Newton (July 1, Jurassic London)
Has-jahn: a continent of exotic cultures, cities and long-forgotten technology. Two members of a race once thought extinct wash up on the shores near the city of Escha. In their possession is a call for help from a human living on the little-known tropical island of Arya, where their race is being murdered.
A crew of freelance explorers, led by the charismatic Santiago DeBrelt, travels to discover the mystery behind the killings. However, Santiago’s controversial nature leads to him being accompanied by government agents—who wish to explore Arya and find out why Eschan naval vessels have disappeared in the seas surrounding it.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Rhoam, a city in central Has-jahn, a band of terrorists are embarking upon an epic journey to the very same waters. Still angry from an old war with Escha, they’ve gathered explosives and weapons, and will allow nothing to interfere with their quest for a phenomenal revenge. But secret pasts are revealed and soon all eyes turn to the coral reef off the coast of Arya.
The Traitor’s Heir (Knight of Elderan #1)—Anna Thayer (July 1, Lion Fiction)
For over five hundred years the River Realm has lain in the charge of the Master, and the Master’s glory has kept the land strong against its enemies.
As Cadet Eamon Goodman swears to serve the Master—his highest ambition—a dark voice penetrates his mind, and offers him unsettling power. Then Eamon meets the true King. Despite having made a binding oath to the Master, his heart longs to be a King’s man. Whom will Eamon betray?
The King’s Hand (Knight of Elderan #2)—Anna Thayer (July 1, Lion Fiction)
Eamon Goodman is faced with a desperate task. The Master—the usurper who sits enthroned over the River Realm—has threatened to slaughter every man who has ever loyally served Eamon. To save his men, Eamon must bring the Master the head of the true King’s closest ally. Little does the Master know that Eamon once freely pledged allegiance to the King.
How can Eamon now face the King, whom he has wilfully betrayed? And who will pay the price for every broken vow?
The Child Eater—Rachel Pollack (July 3, Jo Fletcher)
On Earth, the Wisdom family has always striven to be more normal than normal. But Simon Wisdom, the youngest child, is far from normal: he can see the souls of the dead. And now the ghosts of children are begging him to help them, as they face something worse than death. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how.
In a far-away land of magic and legends, Matyas has dragged himself up from the gutter and inveigled his way into the Wizards’ college. In time, he will become more powerful than all of them—but will his quest blind him to the needs of others? For Matyas can also hear the children crying.
But neither can save the children alone, for the child eater is preying on two worlds…
The Dark Blood (The Long War #2)—A. J. Smith (July 3, Head of Zeus)
In the court of every city in the lands of Ro, a sorceress sits. And in the minds of that city’s people, each sorceress weaves a song. She and her sisters sing of the liberation of the land, the taming of the highland tribes, and the birth of a precious new race: the children of a dead god.
Of course, they do not sing of the death of young Prince Christophe at the hands of that god. Particularly as his replacement dances so well to their tune.
Yet all songs have an end. An ending speeded when the assassin Rham Jas Rami accepts a commission from Bromvy Black Guard, traitor duke of Canarn.
The rebellion of Ro has begun…
Deadly Curiosities (Trifles & Folly #1)—Gail Z. Martin (July 3, Solaris)
Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history.
Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.
The Garden of Darkness—Gillian Murray Kendall (July 3, Ravenstone)
Their families dead from the pandemic SitkaAZ13—known as Pest—cheerleader Clare and chess-club member Jem are thrown together. They realise that, if either of them wishes to reach adulthood, they must find a cure. A shadowy adult broadcasting on the radio to all orphaned children promises just that—to cure children once they grow into Pest, then to feed and care for them. Or does this adult have something else in mind?
Against a hostile landscape of rotting cities and a countryside infected by corpses and roamed by voracious diseased survivors, Jem and Clare make their bid for life and, with their group of fellow child travellers growing, embark on a journey to find the cure. But they are hampered by the knowledge that everything in this new world had become suspect—adults, alliances, trust, hope.
But perhaps friendship has its own kind of healing power.
Half a King (Shattered Sea #1)—Joe Abercrombie (July 3, HarperCollins Voyager)
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began—in twists, and traps and tragedy…
Hawk Queen Omnibus—David Gemmell (July 3, Orbit)
After the bloody battle of Colden Moor the warlike highlanders had lost their independence. They lived in surly subservience to the Outlanders, and only a teenage girl survived to represent the line of kings: Sigarni.
Sigarni the silver-haired. Huntress. Princess. All of these she was called. But those who pierce the veil of the future knew that a leader was coming to the North—a leader descended from Ironhand, mightiest of the highland kings.
Hurricane Fever (Arctic Rising #2)—Tobias S. Buckell (July 3, Del Rey UK)
A storm is coming.
When former spy Roo Jones receives an unexpected package from a dead friend, he’s yanked out of a comfortable retirement and is suddenly embroiled in a global conspiracy involving a weapon that could change the face of the world forever.
But as one of the largest hurricanes to hit the Caribbean begins to sweep through the area, Roo just may find that time is running out—not just for himself, but the whole world.
Perfect for fans of action-packed espionage, Hurricane Fever is a kinetic techno-thriller for a new generation.
Impact—Adam Baker (July 3, Hodder)
The world is overrun by an unimaginable horror. The few surviving humans are scattered in tiny outposts across the world, hoping for reprieve… or death.
Waiting on the runway of the abandoned Las Vegas airport sits the B-52 bomber Liberty Bell, revving up for its last, desperate mission. On board: six crew members and one 10-kiloton nuclear payload. The target is a secret compound in the middle of the world’s most inhospitable desert.
All the crew have to do is drop the bomb and head to safety. But when the Liberty Bell crashes, the surviving crew are stranded in the most remote corner of Death Valley. They’re alone in an alien environment, their only shelter the wreckage of their giant aircraft, with no hope of rescue. And death is creeping towards them from the place they sought to destroy—and may already reside beneath their feet in the burning desert sands.
The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files #5)—Charles Stross (July 3, Orbit)
Bob Howard is an intelligence agent working his way through the ranks of the top secret government agency known as the Laundry. When occult powers threaten the realm, they’ll be there to clean up the mess—and deal with the witnesses.
There’s one kind of threat that the Laundry has never come across in its many decades, and that’s vampires. Mention them to a seasoned agent and you’ll be laughed out of the room. But when a small team of investment bankers at one of Canary Wharf’s most distinguished financial institutions discovers an arcane algorithm that leaves them fearing daylight and craving O+, someone doesn’t want the Laundry to know. And Bob gets caught right in the middle.
The Shadow Throne (Shadow Campaign #2)—Django Wexler (July 3, Del Rey UK)
The King of Vordan is dying, and his daughter, Raesinia, is destined to become the first Queen in centuries.
But politics knows no loyalties, especially for Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and spymaster of the empire. The most feared man in the Vordan will bow his knee to no Queen, unless she is firmly under his influence.
Freshly returned from their recent victories in the colonies, Colonel Janus, Marcus and Winter must play a new and far deadlier game than the open warfare of the front, using all their talents, earthly or supernatural.
Shimmer (Rephaim #3)—Paula Weston (July 3, Indigo)
Gaby Winters’ life used to be pretty normal. She lived with her best friend. She worked in a library. She was slowly getting over the death of her twin brother, Jude. Until Rafa arrived…
Now Gaby has discovered she is one of the Rephaim—descended from fallen angels. Demons exist, and they’re coming for her.
Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #4)—Maggie Stiefvater (July 3, Scholastic)
Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance.
But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret: his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago…
Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?
Touched—Joanna Briscoe (July 3, Hammer)
Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London. They now live in a small English village in a cottage which seems to be resisting all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceiling sag, and strange noises—voices—emanate from empty rooms.
As Rowena struggles with the upheaval of builders while trying to be a dutiful wife and a good mother to her young children, her life starts to disintegrate.
And then, one by one, her daughters go missing…
Tower Lord (Raven’s Shadow #2)—Anthony Ryan (July 3, Orbit)
Vaelin al Sorna is tired of war. He’s fought countless battles in service to the Realm and Faith. His reward was the loss of his love, the death of his friends and a betrayal by his king. After five years in an Alpiran dungeon, he just wants to go home.
Reva intends to welcome Vaelin back with a knife between the ribs. He destroyed her family and ruined her life. Nothing will stop her from exacting bloody vengeance—not even the threat of invasion from the greatest enemy the Realm has ever faced.
Yet as the fires of war spread, foes become friends and truths turn to lies. To save the Realm, Reva must embrace a future she does not want, and Vaelin must revisit a past he’d rather leave buried.
The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1)—Marie Rutkoski (July 3, Bloomsbury)
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—and for a sensational price that sets the society gossips talking. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for him is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Four: A Divergent Collection—Veronica Roth (July 8, HarperCollins Children’s)
Fans first encountered Tobias Eaton as Four in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character’s backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton’s life.
The first three pieces in this volume—‘The Transfer,’ ‘The Initiate’ and ‘The Son’—follow Tobias’ transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions.
The fourth story, ‘The Traitor,’ runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty—and love—that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.
The High Druid’s Blade (Defenders of Shannara #1)—Terry Brooks (July 8, Orbit)
Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once waged war with magical weapons. But those heroes are long gone now, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Paxon leads a quiet life—until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world… and rewrite his destiny.
When his sister is abducted by a mysterious stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. He is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him—and within his ancestors’ ancient blade.
But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands. Paxon must master it quickly, as his near-fatal clash with a dark sorcerer won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.
Resistance—Samit Basu (July 11, Titan)
Eleven years after the passengers of flight BA142 from London to Delhi developed extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires, the world is overrun with supers.
Some use their powers for good, others for evil, and some just want to pulverize iconic monuments and star in their own reality show. But now, from New York to Tokyo, someone is hunting down supers, killing heroes and villains both, and it’s up to the Unit—an unlikely alliance of supers—to stop them…
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.