Breathmoss and Other Exhalations (2004) by Ian R. MacLeod

In his introduction to Breathmoss and Other Exhalations, Ian R. MacLeod offers his definition of the stories he desires to tell:

“stories that make us think, stories which surprise us not because they’re showing us something new, but because they’re revealing through a lie’s tilted mirror something we suddenly realize with that lovely rush of recognition we’ve known all along.”

 

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Cover Artwork by Bob Eggleton

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Holt House (1972) by L.G. Vey

‘When you watch someone, you know them. You know them better than themselves.’

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My Thoughts

Is memory the ultimate unreliable narrator? In L.G. Vey’s creepy novella Holt House, memory plays an integral part in the story. It is a childhood memory that has led Raymond to camp out in the Holtwood as he searches for the truth. Just what exactly did old Mr. Latch show Raymond all those years ago? It was something horrible in the wardrobe of the spare room, something that terrified Raymond as a young boy. Continue reading

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (2017) by Tade Thompson

To run or fight is the most important rule, but there is also the blood rule. Don’t bleed.’

 

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My Thoughts

I’ve been hearing great things about author Tade Thompson over the last couple of years. ‘Rosewater,’ his 2016 Nigeria-set sf novel, has been receiving high praise around the blogosphere. (I recently bought a copy and will be reading it in November.)

I chose The Murders of Molly Southbourne as one of my 2018 Halloween reads. It’s a very readable horror novella about coming of age, survival and murder. It has a nonlinear narrative, opening with a tense scene that occurs right near the end of the story. Learning how we reach that scene is both compelling and disturbing. Continue reading

Exit West (2017) by Mohsin Hamid

Imagine the city you lived in became embroiled in a civil war. What would you do? Would you stay or leave? Would you continue with your daily life, your job, your schooling? How long do you think it would take you to stop noticing the sound of gunfire?

I have been lucky not to have undergone such an experience so far. I hope I never do.

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In Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid uses the growing friendship of Nadia and Saeed to centre his story of migration and refugees. It is a story which charts the course of an intimate relationship in a city succumbing to civil war. It is also a story about portals, whether they are physical doors which may lead to another country or technological “doors” that offer instant communication and information via access to the internet. Continue reading

Age of Assassins (2017) by R.J. Barker

He turned, swinging his club. Fifteenth Iteration: the Oar. Bending at the hip and bringing my body down and round so it went under his swing. At the lowest point I punched forward, landing a solid blow between his legs. He screeched, dropping his weapon and doubling over.

Girton Club-Foot is a young apprentice-assassin. He and his master Merala are given a mission to discover the person or persons behind a rumored threat to the throne. The target of this threat is young Prince Aydor, a boy of similar age to Girton. To catch the would-be royal assassin, Girton must go undercover as a squire-in-training, keeping his fighting skills hidden from the other trainees.

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Daily life in the medieval court proves almost as challenging as his hunt for the assassin. Girton needs a friend if he is to fit in but up until now his unique apprenticeship has limited his social life. He is not like other boys of the same age, yet he must convince everyone he is. The deeper Girton digs in his investigations, the greater the risk he appears to be putting himself in. Continue reading

Batman: Rules of Engagement (2018) by Tom King, Joelle Jones, Clay Mann & Lee Weeks

“But under that. The cape. The mask. Under there. You’re still the poor little rich boy in the house on the hill. All that pain from being alone…”

Can a man who saw his parents gunned down in front of him when he was a child ever find true happiness?

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After years of fighting some of the craziest, most dangerous criminals in the DC Universe, Batman has finally popped the BIG question to Catwoman. A superhero-supervillain wedding appears to be taking shape in the distance. But before this comic-book union can go ahead, there are places to go and people to see. The first one being Batman’s deadly blast from the past, Talia al Ghul, the mother of his teenage son. Cue the exotic opening panel depicting Batman on horseback under a hot desert sun. Continue reading

Witchmark (2018) by C.L. Polk

‘Magic was rare, a dangerous curse. It brought no one good fortune.’

This debut novel by C.L Polk introduces us to Miles Singer, a gifted surgeon lately returned home from a WWI-like war. Miles lives in Aeland, currently at war with the kingdom of Laneer. His ‘gift’ is the ability to wield magic, specifically to help with his healing work. The problem is he must keep this a secret or risk personal disgrace and the threat of being locked up in an asylum.

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Polk builds a fascinating world to set her story in. Refraining from dumping huge blocks of exposition, she instead reveals the details of Miles’ world piece by intriguing piece. There are echoes of Edwardian England with its class divisions, manners, and fashion. Instead of electricity they have something called ‘aether’ which is a kind of magical element. Technology is limited, and there are some wonderful descriptions of the way people ride bicycles in the city, in groups almost like flocks of birds. Continue reading