Nov 20

Kirkus on Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Steampunk: Something of a new venture for Bear, whose previous output (Steles of the Sky, 2014, etc.) has ranged from heroic fantasy to science fiction, often with an embedded murder mystery. By the late 19th century, airships ply the trade and passenger routes, optimistic miners head in droves for the Alaskan gold fields, and steam-powered robots invented by licensed Mad Scientists do much of the heavy (and sometimes delicate) work. In Rapid City on the U.S. northwest coast, Madame Damnable operates the Hôtel Mon Cherie, a high-class bordello, paying a hefty “sewing machine tax” for the privilege. Here, orphaned horse-breaker and narrator Karen Memery (Bear doesn’t tell us why the book’s title is spelled differently) works among similarly lively, engaging and resourceful girls. One night, Priya, a malnourished but tough young woman, arrives at the door carrying the badly wounded Merry Lee, who escaped from one of the grim brothels operated by brutal gangster Peter Bantle [and has since made a career of rescuing other indentured girls from Bantle’s clutches. Madame Damnable’s steam-powered mechanical surgeon saves Merry’s life­but not before Bantle himself shows up, wearing, Karen notes, a peculiar glove that somehow can compel others to obey his commands. Worse, the following night the girls discover the body of a murdered prostitute nearby. U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves arrives with his Comanche sidekick, Tomoatooah; they’re tracking a serial killer who seems to have made his way to Rapid City. The story swiftly knots itself into steampunk-ishly surreal complications, with dauntless (and, by this point, love-stricken) Karen in the thick of the action. Supplies all the Bear necessities: strong female characters, existential threats, intriguing developments and a touch of the light fantastic. — Kirkus

Nov 19

RT Book Reviews on Gideon by Alex Gordon

Gideon by Alex Gordon

Most writers would kill (or, okay, maybe just maim) for a debut novel as electrifying as Alex Gordon’s Gideon. Anchored by well-crafted prose that features a creepy-as-hell villain, Gideon feels like Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” brilliantly reconceived in a Neil Gaiman-esque universe. Gordon hooks readers from page one, as Gideon’s first few chapters are chilling and thoroughly engaging, making for a book that is impossible to put down. The only thing keeping this from being a Top Pick! is that Lauren, while a believable kickass heroine, doesn’t get to fully team up with her spine-of-steel ancestor, Eliza Blaylock Mullin. But Alex Gordon — who has a truly enviable ability to establish mood — is a writer to watch. — RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars

Nov 17

Kirkus’ Best Fiction Books of 2014

Congratulations to Elizabeth Bear (STELES OF THE SKY) and Mary Robinette Kowal (VALOUR AND VANITY) whose books made it onto Kirkus’ Best Fiction Books of 2014 list!

Nov 13

Anne Bishop nominated for a 2014 RT Book Award

Congratulations to Anne Bishop on her nomination for a 2014 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in the category of Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding for MURDER OF CROWS!

Nov 5

Kirkus on Gideon by Alex Gordon

Gideon by Alex Gordon

A seductive work of paranormal horror that will draw readers into its cold and gloomy world.

Generations ago, the people of Gideon burned a witch at the stake, and that decision has haunted the town ever since. Lauren Reardon doesn’t learn that her father was a witch of Gideon until after he dies, but she finds herself drawn, or driven, to go back and dig up his secrets, and some of her own. Her actions propel the present-day plot, but the town itself is the real main character—a small, suspicious community of souls standing guard over the barrier between this world and the next. Debut novelist Gordon’s witches aren’t glamorous, and they deal with plenty of dirt and blood and oozing gore. The twists and turns are entertaining enough, and there are a couple of strong surprises lurking near the end, but it’s the atmosphere that’s the real star here. Everything in Gideon is dark and damp and cold, and everyone is nursing at least one inherited grievance. In the end, the book is as much about life in a small, closed-off community that believes “blood tells” and character can be inferred from a last name as it is about elemental magic and the struggle between good and evil.

This novel will thoroughly satisfy readers looking for suspense, horror and a grisly good time. — Kirkus

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