Jeepers creepers—the spooky season is here! A fact that figures into a few of the books due to be released in the next two weeks, including Prince Lestat, the latest Vampire Chronicles novel by Anne Rice; and—as if reality TV wasn’t already horrifying enough—the next Phil Rickman, Night After Night, wonders what could possibly go wrong when you stuff seven pseudo-celebrities into a haunted house.
Luckily, late October has more than ghosts going for it. Look out, too, for The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss; and my personal pick of the period, A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar, in which a pulp fiction author held in history’s most infamous concentration camp finds some small solace in his overactive imagination.
This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Brian Ruckley, Gideon Defoe, Simon Spurrier, Gavin Smith, Stephen Deas, Maggie Stiefvater, Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell, Jay Bonansinga, Sam Sykes and Phil Rickman.
The Free—Brian Ruckley (October 14, Orbit)
They are the most feared mercenary company the kingdom has ever known.
Led by Yulan, their charismatic captain, the Free have spent years selling their martial and magical skills to the highest bidder—winning countless victories that shook the foundations of the world. Now they finally plan to lay down their swords.
Yet when Yulan is offered a final contract, he cannot refuse, for the mission offers him the chance to erase the memories of the Free’s darkest hour, which have haunted him for years.
As The Free embark on their last mission, a potent mix of loyalty and vengeance is building to a storm. Freedom, it seems, carries a deadly price.
Elite Dangerous: Docking is Difficult—Gideon Defoe (October 16, Gollancz)
On what might be the worst planet in the universe, a young man dreams of the stars. Adventure! Lasers! Women! And the ultimate goal: to become Elite!
Unfortunately, Misha has to do his chores first. And learn how to talk to Phoebe, the beautiful customs officer. And leave the planet.
But the death of a famous author unexpectedly drags Misha and Phoebe into a system-wide conspiracy, complete with smuggling, international art thieves, multi-system corporations, canapés and exploding pigs. This is Misha’s chance to prove he has what it takes!
After all, surely anyone can be Elite if they dream…
Elite Dangerous: Nemorensis—Simon Spurrier (October 16, Gollancz)
Two lovers steal a spaceship and go on the run, attacking at random and revelling in the fame and glory their violence brings them. Celebrated by the jaded youth of the Federation and urged on to ever more flashy acts of destruction, they know it won’t be long before they are caught and killed.
But someone is following the couple. Someone who knows why they are so obsessed with each other. Who knows where they are heading. Who knows why.
Someone who knows more about them than they do themselves. And has another plan for their deaths…
Elite Dangerous: Wanted—Gavin Deas (October 16, Gollancz)
When a routine bit of piracy goes wrong, the crew of the Song of Stone realise that there’s a bounty hunter on their tail. One who might, finally, be able to outclass them. The Dragon Queen is feared across space, and for good reason. But even the bounty hunter doesn’t realise what she’s been hired to do. Or what is in the container she’s been sent to retrieve.
And she’s not the only hunter in the game…
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)—Maggie Stiefvater (October 21, Scholastic)
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost. Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel…
A Man Lies Dreaming—Lavie Tidhar (October 23, Hodder)
Deep in the heart of history’s most infamous concentration camp, a man lies dreaming. His name is Shomer, and before the war he was a pulp fiction author. Now, to escape the brutal reality of life in Auschwitz, Shomer spends his nights imagining another world: a world where a disgraced former dictator now known only as Wolf ekes out a miserable existence as a low-rent PI in London’s grimiest streets.
An extraordinary story of revenge and redemption, A Man Lies Dreaming is the unforgettable testament to the power of imagination.
Retribution (Drakenfeld #2)—Mark Charan Newton (October 23, Macmillan)
Having just solved a difficult case in his home city of Tryum, Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld and his associate Leana are ordered to journey to the exotic city of Kuvash in Koton, where a revered priest has gone missing. When they arrive, they discover the priest has already been found—or at least parts of him have.
But investigating the unusual death isn’t a priority for the legislature of Kuvash; there’s a kingdom to run, a census to create and a dictatorial Queen to placate. Soon Drakenfeld finds that he is suddenly in charge of an investigation in a strange city, whose customs and politics are as complex as they are dangerous.
Kuvash is a city of contradictions; wealth and poverty exist uneasily side-by-side and behind the rich façades of gilded streets and buildings, all levels of depravity and decadence are practised.
When several more bodies are discovered mutilated and dumped in a public place, Drakenfeld realizes there’s a killer at work who seems to delight in torture and pain. With no motive, no leads and no suspects, he feels like he’s running out of options. And in a city where nothing is as it seems, seeking the truth is likely to get him killed…
The Sleeper and the Spindle—Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell (October 23, Bloomsbury)
A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell, weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future—and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems.
Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.
The Walking Dead: Descent—Jay Bonansinga (October 23, Tor UK)
Still recovering from its troublesome history, the town of Woodbury, Georgia, becomes an oasis of safety amidst the plague of the walking dead—a town reborn in the wake of its former tyrannical leader, Philip Blake, AKA The Governor.
Lilly and the beleaguered townspeople save themselves from a vast stampede of hungry walkers, by joining forces with a mysterious religious sect fresh from the wilderness. Led by an enigmatic preacher named Jeremiah, this rogue church-group seems tailor-made for the people of Woodbury and Lilly’s dream of a democratic, family-friendly future.
But Jeremiah and his followers harbour a dark secret, and in a stunning and horrifying finale, it is solely up to Lilly to cleanse the town once and for all of its poisonous fate.
The Madness of Cthulhu: Volume One—ed. S. T. Joshi (October 24, Titan)
The first in a series of original, never-before published collections of Lovecraftian horror inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece, At the Mountains of Madness, The Madness of Cthulhu: Volume One brings together sixteen stories from the likes of Harry Turtledove, Caitlin R. Kiernan and John Shirley.
All but two of the stories are original to this edition, and those reprints are long-lost works by science fiction masters Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Silverberg.
The Wolves of London (Obsidian Heart #1)—Mark Morris (October 24, Titan)
Alex Locke is an ex-convict who’s worked hard to put his murky past behind him, but when his daughter is threatened with violence, he’s forced back into London’s criminal underworld for one more job. He agrees to steal a priceless artefact—a human heart carved from blackest obsidian—from the home of a decrepit old man.
But the burglary goes horribly wrong, and Alex is plunged into the nightmarish world of the Wolves of London, a band of unearthly assassins who will stop at nothing to reclaim the heart. As he races to unlock the secrets of the mysterious object, Alex must learn to wield its dark power… or be destroyed by it.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things: A Kingkiller Chronicle Novella—Patrick Rothfuss (October 28, Gollancz)
The University, a renowned bastion of knowledge, attracts the brightest minds to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences like artificing and alchemy. Yet deep below its bustling halls lies a complex and cavernous maze of abandoned rooms and ancient passageways—and in the heart of it all lives Auri.
Formerly a student at the University, now Auri spends her days tending the world around her. She has learned that some mysteries are best left settled and safe. No longer fooled by the sharp rationality so treasured by the University, Auri sees beyond the surface of things, into subtle dangers and hidden names.
At once joyous and haunting, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a rich, atmospheric and lyrical tale featuring one of the most beloved characters from Rothfuss’ acclaimed fantasy series.
A City Stained Red (Scion’s Gate #1)—Sam Sykes (October 30, Gollancz)
Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.
Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come. The epicentre is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.
And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.
“Your world is breaking around you,” He Who Makes says. “Let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.”
Night After Night—Phil Rickman (October 30, Atlantic Books)
Leo Defford doesn’t believe in ghosts. But, as the head of an independent production company, he does believe in high-impact TV. Defford hires journalist Grayle Underhill to research the history of Knap Hall, a one-time Tudor farmhouse that became the ultimate luxury guest house… until tragedy put it back on the market.
Its recent history isn’t conducive to a quick sale, but Defford isn’t interested in keeping Knap Hall for longer than it takes to make a reality TV show that will run night after night: a house isolated by its rural situation and its dark reputation, with seven people, nationally known, but strangers to one another, locked inside.
This time, though, Big Brother may not be in control…
Prince Lestat (Vampire Chronicles #11)—Anne Rice (October 30, Chatto & Windus)
The vampire world is in crisis—their kind have been proliferating out of control and, thanks to technologies undreamed of in previous centuries, they can communicate as never before. Roused from their earth-bound slumber, ancient ones are in thrall to the Voice: which commands that they burn fledgling vampires in cities from Paris to Mumbai, Hong Kong to Kyoto and San Francisco. Immolations, huge massacres, have commenced all over the world.
Who—or what—is the Voice? What does it desire, and why?
There is only one vampire, only one blood drinker, truly known to the entire world of the Undead. Will the dazzling hero-wanderer, the dangerous rebel-outlaw Lestat heed the call to unite the Children of Darkness as they face this new twilight?
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.