Sunday, 21 February 2010

The BoSS for 21/02/10

Hello, everyone!

It's been another busy week in terms of books received here at TSS HQ, so let's get on with the show; an all-singing, all-dancing tale of the proofs and review copies to have narrowly escaped the clutches of an increasingly bitter mailman since the last edition of the BoSS.

Click through to read Meet the BoSS for an introduction and an explanation as to why you should care about the Bag o' Speculative Swag.

That said, let's dim the lights and pull back the curtain for a quick look at some very exciting new books you'll soon be seeing reviews of here on The Speculative Scotsman.

***

Above the Snowline
by Steph Swainston


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
25/02/10 by Gollancz

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "This is Jant Shira's life before the drugs took over, as a hunter in the mountains. Awian exiles are building a stronghold in the Darkling mountains, where the Rhydanne hunt. Their clash of interests soon leads to bloodshed and Shira Dellin, a Rhydanne huntress, appeals to the immortal Circle for justice. The Emperor sends Jant, half-Rhydanne, half-Awian, and all-confidence, to mediate. As Jant is drawn into the spiralling violence he is shaken into coming to terms with his own heritage and his feelings for the alien, intoxicating Dellin. This is the story of Jant's early years in the Circle.  Prepare to see shows the Fourlands as you've never seen them before."

Commentary: I'll confess to never having read Steph Swainston's Castle books, though praise from the likes of China Mieville and Richard Morgan has me very interested indeed to peel back the pages of Above the Snowline. And with this fourth novel in the series being a prequel, what better place to start than here? Probable holiday reading.


The Prince of Mist
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon



Release Details:
Published in the UK on
27/05/10 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson

Review Priority:
5 (Immediate)

Plot Synopsis: "Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an old house that once belonged to a prestigious surgeon, Dr Richard Fleischmann. But the house holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind it is an overgrown garden full of statues surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. When he goes to investigate, Max finds that the statues seem to consist of a kind of circus troop with the large statue of a clown at its centre. Max has the curious sensation that the statue is beckoning to him.

"As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: they discover a box of old films belonging to the Fleischmanns; his sister has disturbing dreams and his other sister hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. They also discover the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach. During the dive, Max sees something that leaves him cold - on the old mast floats a tattered flag with the symbol of the six-pointed star. As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of the Prince of the Mists begins to emerge."

Commentary: You love Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon, we all love Carlos Ruiz Zafon! Can't say how excited I am to have received an early proof of this one. The Prince of Mist isn't due out till June, but just as soon as I'm done with Kaaron Warren's excellent Walking the Tree, I'm going to be all over Zafon's first all-ages novel like iron filings on a magnet. Given the early Summer publication date, it might be a while before you actually see my review, but rest assured, there will be one; The Prince of Mist has jumped to the very top of my stack of books To Be Read.


The King of the Crags
by Stephen Deas


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
15/04/10 by Gollancz

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "Prince Jehal has murdered, poisoned and betrayed his way to the top. There is a new speaker for the realms, his opposition has been crushed, now he just has to enjoy the fruits of power. And yet... he feels more for the wife he married for power than perhaps he should and his lover knows it. And out in the realms those loyal to the old regime are still plotting; there are rumours that the Red Riders, heralds of revolution and doom are on the ride. And still no-one has found the famous white dragon. The dragon that, if it lived, will have long since recovered from the effects of the alchemical liquid fed to the dragons of the realms to keep them docile, to block their memories of a time when they ruled and the world burned..."

Commentary: Stephen Deas is another author that's been getting a bunch of buzz lately - or perhaps his presence on Twitter has skewed my perception somewhat. In any case, I've heard tell that he does dragons like no other, and hey, I'm all for a good dragon. There have been a few lukewarm reviews of his last novel, The Adamantine Palance, but by and large the coverage has been very positive, so I'm not terribly worried. And besides, this is another chapter entirely, the first volume of a "fast, sharp and ruthless" new series - and this from Joe Abercrombie, the as-yet undisputed master of all things fast, sharp and ruthless. TSS will publish a full review of this one in advance of the April release.


The Passage
by Justin Cronin


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
24/06/10 by Orion

Review Priority:
4 (Very High)

Plot Synopsis: "Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world. She is. Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He's wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is.

"Deep in the jungles of eastern Colombia, Professor Jonas Lear has finally found what he's been searching for - and wishes to God he hadn't. In Memphis, Tennessee, a six-year-old girl called Amy is left at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy and wonders why her mother has abandoned her. In a maximum security jail in Nevada, a convicted murderer called Giles Babcock has the same strange nightmare, over and over again, while he waits for a lethal injection. In a remote community in the California mountains, a young man called Peter waits for his beloved brother to return home, so he can kill him. Bound together in ways they cannot comprehend, for each of them a door is about to open into a future they could not have imagined. And a journey is about to begin. An epic journey that will take them through a world transformed by man's darkest dreams, to the very heart of what it means to be human - and beyond."

Commentary: This is a behemoth of an ARC, weighing in just shy of 800 pages with margins so slim they're barely there. This is precisely the sort of tome that terrifies me. Nevertheless, a massive, multi-million dollar bidding war over the rights to publish both the book and latterly a film adaptation thereof - you can read more on that at A Dribble of Ink, here - speak to a story with some serious potential. Expect a huge publicity push for The Passage closer to its release in June. With a little luck, and some serious time spent burning the midnight oil, I should have a full write-up on the site in advance of even that. Everything I've heard and read relating to this book speaks to its massive potential, so I'm psyched.


Enchanted Glass
by Diana Wynne Jones


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
07/01/10 by HarperCollins

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "When Andrew Hope's magician grandfather dies, he leaves his house and field-of-care to his grandson who spent much of his childhood at the house. Andrew has forgotten much of this, but he remembers the very strong-minded staff and the fact that his grandfather used to put the inedibly large vegetables on the roof of the shed, where they'd have vanished in the morning. He also remembers the very colourful stained glass window in the kitchen door, which he knows it is important to protect. Into this mix comes young Aidan Cain, who turns up from the orphanage asking for safety. Exactly who he is and why he's there is unclear, but a strong connection between the two becomes apparent. There is a mystery to be solved, and nothing is as it appears to be. But nobody can solve the mystery, until they find out exactly what it is!"

Commentary: I've long been a fan of to so-called Godmother of British fantasy - for long enough that Harry Potter initially struck me as a shameless hybrid of her Chrestomanci series and The Books of Magic. I'm afraid to say The Speculative Scotsman fell off the Diana Wynne Jones wagon with her last new release, but nevertheless, I'm excited to get started on this very promising YA fantasy. The plot synopsis of Enchanted Glass certainly puts me in mind of her very best, so here's hoping.


Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest
by Amos Oz


Release Details:
Published in the UK on
18/02/10 by Chatto & Windus

Review Priority:
3 (Moderate)

Plot Synopsis: "In a village far away, deep in a valley, all the animals and birds disappeared some years ago. Only the rebellious young teacher and an old man talk about animals to the children, who have never seen such (mythical) creatures. Otherwise there's a strange silence round the whole subject.

"One wretched, little boy has dreams of animals, begins to whoop like an owl, is regarded as an outcast, and eventually disappears. A stubborn, brave girl called Maya and her friend Matti, are drawn to explore in the woods round the village. They know there are dangers beyond and that at night, Nehi the Mountain Demon comes down to the village. In a far-off cave, they come upon the vanished boy, content and self-sufficient.

"Eventually they find themselves in a beautiful garden paradise full of every kind of animal, bird and fish - the home of Nehi the Mountain Demon. The Demon is a pied piper figure who stole the animals from the village. He, too, was once a boy there, but he was different, mocked and reviled, treated as an outsider and outcast. This is his terrible revenge, one which has punished him too, by removing him from society and friendship, and every few years he draws another child or two to join him in his fortress Eden, where he has trained the sheep to lie down with the wolves, and where predators are few. He lets the two children return to the village, telling them that one day, when people are less cruel and his desire for vengeance has crumbled, perhaps the animals might come back..."

Commentary: Doesn't that sound just lovely? I'll definitely be taking Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest up to Skye with me - it's a very short novel, "a wonderful, haunting fable [from] one of the greatest living Israeli writers." The perfect thing, in other words, for me to bury my nose in during a break between the larger genre sagas TSS readers have decided I'll be reading for much of the rest of my time by the sea. Also the cover has cats on it; surely by now you know I can't resist anything feline!

No comments:

Post a comment