A new year means a new month means it’s time for another edition of the British Fiction Hitlist!
A pretty good one, too: eclectic, yes, but choice is awesome, and the fortnight forthcoming is full of it. There’s new fantasy from Evie Manieri and Amanda Hocking, among others, and a bit of body horror courtesy Nick Cutter. Science fiction fans should be reading The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord—a sort-of sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds—and Golden Sun by Pierce Brown, my favourite book of 2015 to date.
All that, plus Brandon Sanderson’s superheroes are back in Firefight, and from the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, we have The Here and Now.
This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Jennifer Donnelly, Sally Gardner, John Connolly, Jennifer Ridyard, Evie Manieri, Peyton Marshall, Matt Haig, Otto Penzler, Russell Hoban & Alexis Deacon, Nick Lake, Amanda Hocking, Ian Ross, Gregory Benford & Larry Niven, Alex Bell, Lou Morgan and Nick Cutter.
Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1)—Jennifer Donnelly (January 1, Hodder Children’s)
When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be about reuniting with handsome Prince Mahdi, her childhood crush. Instead she finds herself haunted by strange dreams foretelling the return of an ancient evil, and dealing with the deaths of her parents as assassins storm the betrothal ceremony, plunging the city into chaos.
Led only by her shadowy dreams and pursued by the invading army, Serafina and her best friend Neela embark on a quest to avenge her parents’ death and prevent a war between the mer nations. In the process they discover a plot that threatens their world’s very existence—and ours.
The Door That Led To Where—Sally Gardner (January 1, Hot Key)
When the present offers no hope for the future, the answers may lie in the past…
AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change—but he could never have imagined by how much.
Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth—and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past—1830, to be precise—where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain’s means.
Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They’ve gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose—and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?
Empire (Chronicles of the Invaders #2)—John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard (January 1, Headline)
She is the trophy of a civilization at war with itself.
He is its rebel captive.
Separated by millions of light years, they will fight to be united.
And they will risk everything to make their world—all worlds—right again.
Fortune’s Blight (Shattered Kingdoms #2)—Evie Manieri (January 1, Jo Fletcher)
Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition and a murderous cabal poison King Daryan’s young regime, but help is nowhere to be found: the mercenary who led their rebellion has vanished, their Nomas allies have troubles of their own, and the Norlanders who returned home to plead—or fight—for the Shadari’s independence have found themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode.
As the foundations of the two far-flung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old, and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded…
The Galaxy Game—Karen Lord (January 1, Jo Fletcher)
For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning—and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite.
But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution… involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.
Goodhouse—Peyton Marshall (January 1, Transworld)
In the near future, genetic profiling is meant to prevent crime, but instead becomes a tool of oppression.
Goodhouse is an educational establishment with a difference: outside its walls lies danger, but threat also lurks within. To break out is to risk death. To stay is worse. Welcome to Goodhouse: a school for boys with bad genes.
The Here and Now—Ann Brashares (January 1, Hodder Children’s)
Seventeen-year-old Prenna James emigrated to New York when she was twelve. But Prenna didn’t come from a different country, she came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth and take the lives of her younger brothers. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan.
She might be able to save the world… if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.
Humans: An A to Z—Matt Haig (January 1, Canongate)
A) Know a human?
B) Love a human?
C) Have trouble dealing with humans?
IF YOU’VE ANSWERED YES TO ANY OF THE ABOVE, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!
Whether you are planning a high level of human interaction or just a casual visit to the planet, this user-guide to the human race will help you translate their sayings, understand exotic concepts such as ’democracy’ and ’sofas’, and make sense of their habits and bizarre customs.
A phrase book, a dictionary and a survival guide, this book unravels all the oddness, idiosyncrasies and wonder of the species, allowing everyone to make the most of their time on Earth.
The Locked Room Mysteries—ed. Otto Penzler (January 1, Corvus)
The purest kind of detective story involves a crime solved by observation and deduction, rather than luck, coincidence or confession. The supreme form of detection involves the explanation of an impossible crime, whether the sort of vanishing act that would make Houdini proud, a murder that leaves no visible trace, or the most unlikely villain imaginable.
Virtually all of the great writers of detective fiction have produced masterpieces in this genre, including Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Dorothy L. Sayers, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, G.K. Chesterton, John Dickson Carr, Dashiell Hammett, Ngaio Marsh and Stephen King.
In this definitive collection, Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler selects a multifarious mix from across the entire history of the locked room story, which should form the cornerstone of any crime reader’s library.
Soonchild—Russell Hoban & Alexis Deacon (January 1, Walker)
Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother’s womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how?
The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John’s past…
There Will Be Lies—Nick Lake (January 1, Bloomsbury Children’s)
Shelby Jane Cooper is seventeen, pretty and quiet. It’s just Shelby and her mom, Shaylene, a court stenographer who wears pyjama jeans, stitches tapestry, eats ice-cream for dinner and likes to keep Shelby safe. So safe she barely goes out. So safe she doesn’t go to school. Because anything could happen, to a girl like Shelby. Anything.
When Shelby gets knocked down by a car, it’s not just her leg that’s broken: Shelby’s world is shattered. Her mom turns up to collect her and drives off into the night, like it’s the beginning of a road trip, like two criminals on the run, like Thelma and Louise or Bonnie and Clyde. And somehow, everywhere she looks, there’s a coyote watching her, talking to her, telling her not to believe.
Who is Shelby Jane Cooper? If the person who keeps you safe also tells you lies, who can you trust?
Trylle: The Complete Trilogy—Amanda Hocking (January 1, Tor UK)
Discover the magical world of the Trylle, with the complete New York Times-bestselling Trylle trilogy—now in one volume.
When Wendy Everly was six, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother was almost right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes. Finn is a darkly handsome newcomer and every encounter with him leaves her deeply shaken… though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit.
He’s also here to tell her the shocking truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home. Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…
War at the Edge of the World (Twilight of Empire #1)—Ian Ross (January 1, Head of Zeus)
Aurelius Castus believes his glory days are over. He used to be a soldier in the elite legions of the Danube. Now he is stuck in Britain’s provincial backwater. But history takes a hand when the king of the Picts, the savage people beyond Hadrian’s Wall, dies in mysterious circumstances, and Castus is selected to command the bodyguard of a Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians.
The diplomatic mission ends in bloody tragedy. Castus and his men are soon fighting for their lives and the legionary discovers that nothing about his doomed mission was ever what it seemed.
Shipstar (Bowl of Heaven #2)—Gregory Benford & Larry Niven (January 2, Titan)
When the crew of the SunSeeker investigates a gigantic, bowl-shaped object with a sun at its centre, their landing party is split into two groups. One is captured, while the other is pursued across a deadly landscape. Both seek to unravel the mysteries of the gargantuan artefact known as the SHIPSTAR.
To survive they must escape the alien inhabitants known as the Folk. What they discover in the process will transform the way mankind understands its place in the universe.
Frozen Charlotte—Alex Bell (January 5, Stripes Publishing)
Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…
Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.
Sleepless—Lou Morgan (January 5, Stripes Publishing)
The real nightmare begins when you’re awake…
Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming—and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution: a small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need.
Desperate to succeed, the friends begin taking the study drug…
Firefight (Reckoners #2)—Brandon Sanderson (January 8, Gollancz)
They told David it was impossible: that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart—invincible, immortal, unconquerable—is dead. And he died by David’s hand.
Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realise he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.
Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic: Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and get his answers.
The Deep—Nick Cutter (January 13, Headline)
A plague is destroying the world’s population. The ’Gets makes people forget. First it’s the small things, like where you left your keys… then the not-so-small things, like how to drive. Finally, your body forgets how to live.
But now an unknown substance with extraordinary power to heal has been discovered in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Nicknamed ambrosia, it might just be the miracle cure the world has been praying for.
A research lab has been established eight miles below the sea’s surface, but all contact with the team has been lost. Dr Luke Nelson’s brother is down there and as desperation for a cure outweighs common sense, he agrees to descend through the lightless fathoms, where he will face an evil blacker than anything he could have imagined.
Golden Sun (Red Rising #2)—Pierce Brown (January 13, Hodder)
Darrow is a rebel forged by tragedy. For years he and his fellow Reds worked the mines, toiling to make the surface of Mars inhabitable. They were, they believed, mankind’s last hope… until Darrow discovered that it was all a lie, and that the Reds were nothing more than unwilling slaves to an elitist ruling class known as the Golds who had been living on Mars in luxury for generations.
Darrow, with the help of a mysterious underground group, decided to take matters into his own hands and fight for a different kind of future for his people.
In Red Rising he infiltrated the Golds’ command school. Now, Darrow is fully embedded in their society and poised to begin his campaign to bring down his oppressors from the inside. But is he truly willing to pay the price that rebellion demands?
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.