Twenty-one books walk the fine lines between genres in August with new titles from, among others, James Lovegrove, Aliette de Bodard, Mark Hodder, China Miéville, and Debbie Viguie and James R. Tuck.
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
As war rages in 1944, army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock. These mysteries may defy, or fulfill, the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself. Struggling to decipher the sarcophagus’s strange contents, Lucas and Simone unwittingly release forces for both good and unmitigated evil. The fate of the world hangs not only on Professor Einstein’s secret research but also on Lucas’s ability to defeat an unholy adversary more powerful than anything he ever imagined. A thrilling, page-turning adventure where modern science and primordial supernatural powers collide.
The Departed by Clive Barker: On All Hallows’ Eve, a dead and disembodied mother yearns to touch her young son one last time. Will making contact destroy them both? Creature Feature by Heather Graham: What could be better publicity for a horror convention than an honest-to-goodness curse? It’s only after lights out that the hype, and the Jack the Ripper mannequin, starts to feel a little too real. The New War by Lisa Morton: Mike Carson is a war hero and a decorated vet. He doesn’t deserve to be trapped in a hospital with some black thing sitting on his chest as patients die all around him. Sammy Comes Home by Ray Garton: It’s what every family prays for: a lost pet returning home. When Sammy, the Hale family sheepdog, appears on their doorstep, he brings back something no parent would ever wish upon his or her child. The Brasher Girl by Ed Gorman: Cindy Marie Brasher is the prettiest girl in the Valley, and Spence just has to have her. Unfortunately, Cindy has a “friend,” a friend who tells her to do things, bad things. (Digital)
Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court—Marci Jefferson (August 4, Thomas Dunne)
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini’s birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall. Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie’s charm. Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will. Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, exposing Mazarin’s deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis’s love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays and Other Writings—Shirley Jackson; edited by Sarah Hyman DeWitt (August 4, Random House)
Brings together the deliciously eerie short stories Jackson is best known for, along with frank, inspiring lectures on writing; comic essays about her large, boisterous family; and whimsical drawings. Jackson’s landscape here is most frequently domestic: dinner parties and bridge, household budgets and homeward-bound commutes, children’s games and neighborly gossip. But this familiar setting is also her most subversive: She wields humor, terror, and the uncanny to explore the real challenges of marriage, parenting, and community, the pressure of social norms, the veins of distrust in love, the constant lack of time and space. This collection showcases Shirley Jackson’s radically different modes of writing side by side. Together they show her to be a magnificent storyteller, a sharp, sly humorist, and a powerful feminist.
A vast darkness is spreading. If left unchecked, it will engulf the world, and so Richard the Lionheart must depart England on a holy mission. In his absence, the safety of the realm is entrusted to his brother, Prince John. When the king departs, black sorcery begins to grip the land, threatening noble and peasant alike. Horrific creatures stalk the forests, yet the violence they commit pales when compared to the atrocities of men. A handful of rebels fight back, but are doomed to fail unless they can find a hero to lead them.
Samuel Clark likes secrets. He wants to know the hidden stories of the bizarre characters on the little streets of Edinburgh, Scotland. He wants to know about a nymphomaniac, a man who lives under a bridge, a girl with a cracked face. He wants to uncover their histories because he has secrets of his own. He believes, as people do, that he is able to change. He believes, as the whole world does, that there is plenty of time to solve his problems. But Samuel Clark and the rest of the world are wrong. Change and tragedy are going to scream into his and everyone’s lives. It will be a great transformation, a radical change; and it just might be worth the cost. This book explores how we see ourselves, our past and our possible futures. It asks the biggest question: How can we be saved?
1888. A little girl called Mirror and her extraordinary shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human. John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree. Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down.
Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention, not even that of space and time, which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds. Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery, and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen, and yet somehow already did.
The year is 1953. There is peace in Europe, but a victorious Germany consolidates power in Africa. The lynchpin to its final solution is Madagaskar. Hitler has ordered the resettlement of European Jews to the remote island. British forces conspire to incite colony-wide revolt, resting their hopes on the expertise of Reuben Salois, an escaped leader of Jewish resistance. Ex-mercenary Burton Cole scours the island for his wife and child. But as chaos descends and the Nazis brutally suppress the nascent insurrection, Cole must decide whether he is master of, or at the mercy of, history. Alternate history of the highest order, a thriller of terrifying scope based on the Nazis’ actual plans prior to the Holocaust.
In 1863 a meeting takes place between legendary war leaders, a secret alliance that will never show up in any American history book. A clandestine arrangement has been struck for a single chance to heal a war-torn nation. The mission is to bring the greatest prize in the history of the world back to American soil. The prize may lie on a mountain top inside the fierce Ottoman Empire. Union Colonel John Henry Thomas will come face to face both with his mortal enemies in Southern Gray and a dark entity that has been trapped on top of God’s Mountain for a millennium. In 2007, America’s darkest agency known as the Event Group, recruits a man they need for their security. Major Jack Collins is brought to the underground world of the Event Group to learn about the darkest secrets in the history of the world where he is told a tale that brings Collins full circle on why his destiny has always lain with Department 5656.
London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure but violent purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse’s bones, designs clearly present from birth, bearing mute testimony to . . . what? Of such concepts and unforgettable images are made the twenty-eight stories in this collection, many published here for the first time. By turns speculative, satirical, and heart-wrenching, fresh in form and language, and featuring a cast of damaged yet hopeful seekers who come face-to-face with the deep weirdness of the world, and at times the deeper weirdness of themselves. (U.S.)
The Diggers have been destroyed, a horde of ghouls is moving inland and the High Priestess has seized control of the Central Territory. Together with Nim, a Nomad boy seeking vengeance against the ghouls, Squid and Lynn begin their long journey toward the city of Big Smoke, a city that may not even exist. Pursued by forces that wish to see them fail, facing threats on all sides and conflict from within, Squid, Lynn and Nim search for a weapon against the ghouls. It is a search that will lead them into forbidden lands where long-held beliefs about their world are tested and Squid may finally unravel the truth of his identity. But even if they survive their journey, the teenagers on whom the fate of the Territory now rests have no idea what dangers await them beyond the fence.
A sin-eater plies the tools of her dangerous trade; a jealous husband takes his rival on a hunting trip; a student torments one of his teachers; a cheap grafter is selling artifacts form hell; something is haunting the departure lounge of an airport. The Best Horror of the Year showcases the previous year’s best offerings in short fiction horror. This edition includes award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Laird Barron, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Nathan Ballingrud, Genevieve Valentine, and more.
Sir Richard Francis Burton’s expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it should. However, when one of his colleagues turns rogue, the secret falls into the hands of the very people most likely to misuse it. Betrayed, Burton and Swinburne watch in horror as the Empire’s elite employ the technology to secure their positions of privilege. When London’s parks are transformed into concentration camps, artists and philosophers are declared enemies of the State, and propaganda proliferates, the king’s agent finds himself on the wrong side of, the king. Can Burton and his band of hunted revolutionaries overthrow an apparently indestructible and immortal autocrat—and if so, at what personal cost?
Young Adult. Petrel is an outcast, the lowest of the low on the Oyster, an ancient icebreaker that has been following the same course for three hundred years. In that time, the ship’s crew has forgotten its original purpose and broken into three warring tribes. Everyone has a tribe except Petrel, whose parents committed such a terrible crime that they were thrown overboard, and their daughter ostracized. But Petrel is a survivor. She lives in the dark corners of the ship, speaking to no one except two large grey rats, Mister Smoke and Missus Slink. Then a boy is discovered, frozen on an iceberg, and Petrel saves him, hoping he’ll be her friend. What she doesn’t know is that for the last three hundred years, the Oyster has been guarding a secret. A secret that could change the world. A secret that the boy has been sent to destroy, along with the ship and everyone on it. (U.S.)
Young Adult. Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise. Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.
In the late 20th Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. Those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital. House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls. Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation, or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.
The geography-warping invasion that took over London has been defeated, but thousands of Londonders are missing. Anna is doing her best: there are lots of other seventeen year olds who are living alone in the partially rebuilt ruins of London. She hopes that by keeping things clean and tidy and by studying hard she can keep the dreams away. But then a tall, dark stranger with eyes like a fly enters her life. He claims to know where the missing people of London have ended up. He might even know the location of Anna’s missing parents. Anna can help, but to do that she will have to let go of what little normality she has managed to gather around herself and begin the journey to Dream Paris.
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home. But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there, and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules, be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.
It is 1895, and Sherlock Holmes is settling back into life as a consulting detective at 221B Baker Street, when he and Watson learn of strange goings-on amidst the dreaming spires of Oxford. A Professor Quantock has built a wondrous computational device, which he claims is capable of analytical thought to rival the cleverest men alive. Naturally Sherlock Holmes cannot ignore this challenge. He and Watson travel to Oxford, where a battle of wits ensues between the great detective and his mechanical counterpart as they compete to see which of them can be first to solve a series of crimes, from a bloody murder to a missing athlete. But as man and machine vie for supremacy, it becomes clear that the Thinking Engine has its own agenda.
A showcase of styles. In “Father of the Groom,” a scientist with a penchant for wild experimentation helps his love-struck son by synthesizing a wedding ring out of two carrots. In Hugo Award–winning “Down in the Bottomlands” and “Hoxbomb,” a regular guy just trying to make a living selling scooters has to deal with some very odd competition. The alternate history tale “Drang von Osten” begins on a bloody battlefield in World War II and ends somewhere quite different. In the brand-new “Logan’s Law,” a man discovers that sometimes, second chances really do work out. The book’s three essays tackle the diverse subjects of how to write alternate history, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and the history of Chanukah.
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, and, as Susannah Sandlin, the Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors thriller series. You can find Suzanne on Facebook and on her website.