Cyber World: Tales of Humanity’s
Ed. by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola.
Nov. 2016. 250p. Hex, paper, $14.99 (9780996403917);
e-book, $4.99 (9780996403924).
This new anthology revisits both cyberpunk
and the general subject of a technologically
transformed future. The short stories selected
are solid overall, ranging from stories with traditionally cyberpunk elements, such as surgically
implanted technology and virtual realities, to
stories that, though still about a transformed
future, are more general science fiction. Some
standouts of the anthology include Saladin
Ahmed’s “The Faithful Soldier Prompted,”
about a former soldier and his cryptic military
implant, and Alyssa Wong’s “Your Bones Will
Not Be Unknown,” which features cybernetic
eyes and organized crime. There are also very
strong, if less recognizably cyberpunk, stories
like Madeline Ashby’s “Panic City,” about an
underground city that believes it knows best for
its residents, and Minister Faust’s “The Ibex on
the Day of Extinction,” which features a man
dealing with a suddenly empty world. Overall,
this very strong anthology succeeds in bringing
new energy and perspectives to the genre, and
will be of interest to readers who enjoy cyberpunk or science fiction in general. —Alan Keep
The Dark Blood.
By A. J. Smith.
Dec. 2016. 512p. IPG/Head of Zeus, paper, $14.95
(9781781852286); e-book (9781781852293).
Kirin assassin Rham Jas Ramin is the only
one capable of killing the Seven Sisters, invulnerable enchantresses who seek to raise the
Dead God. For Rham Jas, the mission is more
personal, as the Seven Sisters murdered his son.
Up north, Alahan Teardrop and Halla Summer
Wolf separately battle to take back control of
Fjorlan from the traitor Rulag Ursa. Other favorite characters return in this second book in
the Long War series, including Squire Randall,
Utha the Ghost, and Al-Hasim. Smith does
not skimp on the bad language or violence
and creates a rough, richly detailed world.
Each chapter is told from a different character’s
point of view, and characters that were background in The Black Guard (2013) headline
chapters here. Because this book is the second
in a proposed four-book series, the action and
plot sometimes feel like setup for future books.
But there are enough action scenes (including a
spectacularly creepy one in a dark cavern with
giant ice spiders) and complex characters to
keep readers turning pages and feeling excited
for the upcoming books. —Lynnanne Pearson
Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood.
By Lara Parker.
Nov. 2016. 400p. Tor, paper, $15.99 (9780765377760);
e-book, $9.99 (9781466857803).
Whisked to 1795 during a séance at Col-
linwood, Victoria Winters falls in love with
a man from that time. Her knowledge of the
future, however, gets her accused of witch-
craft. Sentenced to hang, she is transported
back to her own time (1972) at the moment
of her death. Missing her lover, she once again
travels to the past to be reunited with him.
A tragedy sends Victoria back home again,
where a letter from a lawyer finds her once
more at Collinwood. But the house is de-
serted, with no clues as to where the family
has gone. With the help of a neighbor, Victo-
ria sets out to discover what happened to the
Collins family. The purple prose and gothic
atmosphere will be familiar to pop culture
junkies and fans of the original Dark Shadows
television series. The author played Angelique
in the show and fills in missing details from
Victoria’s adventures in this book series. Not
an essential purchase, but buy where popular.
As 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the show,
interest in Collinwood may be renewed as
well as continued. —Lynnanne Pearson
By Vic James.
Feb. 2017. 352p. Del Rey, $26 (9780425284155); e-book
At first glance, the world of James’ first
novel seems familiar, but that illusion is
quickly dispelled. The monarchy has long
since been destroyed—the British aristocracy
has been replaced with Equals, people born
with magical gifts, who lord it over the commoners with their powers. The story starts
just before siblings Abi and Luke begin the
10 years of slavery mandated for all commoners (i.e., those without magic). Unexpectedly
separated, they quickly learn how little they
understood of the Equals as their views of
the world shift. Luke adapts to life in a factory town by joining a rebellion, while Abi
and the rest of the family live together but
grown apart while serving a powerful family of Equals. Nobody emerges unscathed
from their slavery years, as the Hadley family
can attest after mere months of service. The
twists and turns make this book hard to set
down; a second read may reveal many details
that readers might breeze past the first time
through. Readers will eagerly await the rest of
the trilogy started here. —Frances Moritz
By Cathy Clamp.
Nov. 2016. 304p. Tor, $26.99 (9780765388315);
paper, $16.99 (9780765377227); e-book, $9.99
This urban fantasy delves into the world
of the Sazi, shape-shifters who live among
us, using magic to hide their abilities. Rachel
Washington has lived in the American town
of Luna Lake, where various shifter species
reside together, since she forcibly became an
owl-shifter a decade ago. She is poised to leave
Luna Lake—and her bad memories—behind
when the town is suddenly embroiled in set-
tling a border dispute between two European
bear clans. The town is placed on lockdown,
and the situation is complicated by Dalvin
Adway, another owl-shifter who knew Ra-
chel in her former life. He and other Wolven
agents accompany the two arguing families,
several of whom are sabotaging the peace
talks. Clamp writes a captivating story, drag-
ging Rachel as a reluctant protagonist into the
limelight as she discovers her true abilities and
the strength of her relationships with both the
townspeople and Dalvin. Readers who haven’t
read the first in the series, Forbidden (2015),
will find just enough here to make them want
to read that one as well. —Frances Moritz
The Secret Life of Souls.
By Jack Ketchum and Lucky Mckee.
Nov. 2016. 240p. Pegasus, $24.95 (9781681772349).
Delia and her dog, Caity, have a special bond.
They’re connected in ways the rest of her family doesn’t understand—not her stage-mom,
Pat, not her spendthrift dad, not even her twin
brother, Robbie, gets it, though he loves Caity,
too. With Caity’s support, Delia can do anything, including become the next big sitcom
star at only 11 years old. But just as she’s about
to get her big break, a prank turns to tragedy.
Delia is burned in a fire, saved by a desperate
Caity—an act that, somehow, links the two
psychically. But Delia’s parents have built their
lives around her potential career, and they won’t
let go of the dream easily, no matter what Delia
wants. As the family careers toward destruction,
Caity (and through her, Delia) bears witness to
every secret that tears them apart. With equal
parts horror and suspense and a heavy sense of
dread throughout, Ketchum and McKee have
crafted a tightly wound thriller with elements
of magic that is sure to keep readers turning
pages until the violent end. —Diana Platt
A Taste of Honey.
By Kai Ashante Wilson.
Oct. 2016. 160p. Tor, paper, $14.99 (9780765390042);
e-book, $2.99 (9780765390059).
Royal cousin Aqib bmg Sadiqi is expected to
marry well and take over his father’s position
as Master of Beasts. This planned life abruptly
comes to a crossroads when he meets a visit-
ing Daluçan soldier named
Lucrio, with whom he feels
passion and potential beyond
what he ever imagined. Under
pressure from his family and a
society that represses love be-
tween men, Aqib must decide
whether to choose the path of
duty as husband and father or
bind his fate to a foreigner’s and accept exile
from his home. As with his breakout novella,
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (2015), Wilson
only hints at his world’s clearly complex setting
and backstory. Men like Aqib and Lucrio are
largely ignorant of the mystical arts pursued by
women and divinities, but the reader gets tan-
talizing hints of science so advanced it appears
magical. A vivid and deeply satisfying romance
set against a fascinating backdrop, A Taste of
Honey will especially appeal to fans of specula-
tive fiction from authors like Lois McMaster
Bujold and N. K. Jemisin and will leave most
readers agitating for more from the talented
Wilson. —Anna Mickelsen
Continued from p. 23