Wednesday, 27 January 2021

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Stranger TImes - CK McDonnell

Release Date:  14/01/21

Publisher: Bantam Press


There are dark forces at work in our world (and in Manchester in particular), so thank God The Stranger Times is on hand to report them . . .

A weekly newspaper dedicated to the weird and the wonderful (but mostly the weird), it is the go-to publication for the unexplained and inexplicable.

At least that's their pitch. The reality is rather less auspicious. Their editor is a drunken, foul-tempered and foul-mouthed husk of a man who thinks little of the publication he edits. His staff are a ragtag group of misfits. And as for the assistant editor . . . well, that job is a revolving door - and it has just revolved to reveal Hannah Willis, who's got problems of her own.

When tragedy strikes in her first week on the job The Stranger Times is forced to do some serious investigating. What they discover leads to a shocking realisation: some of the stories they'd previously dismissed as nonsense are in fact terrifyingly real. Soon they come face-to-face with darker forces than they could ever have imagined.

The Stranger Times is the first novel from C.K. McDonnell, the pen name of Caimh McDonnell. It combines his distinctive dark wit with his love of the weird and wonderful to deliver a joyous celebration of how truth really can be stranger than fiction. 



I love a book that takes the world and flips it on its head, and whilst this tale has a certain feeling of good omens within, its totally unique with the addition of solid characters and a world that is like our own but with the creepy nature to one side.

Well written with good prose and of course characters that you not only want to spend time with but feel fleshed out with their dialogue will have you thinking of people you know as we all have some characters within our daily lives, cracking twists, personal drama alongside apocalypic world bending conspiracy theories go to make this a book that whilst I found a little hard to get into originally was more than pleased I carried on to the end.

All round a top notch read and an opener to a series that will hit the spot with a large number of readers especially fans of not only Terry Pratchett but Tom Holt. Definitely a series to watch and for me gives me something else to look forward to during this pandemic.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

SCI-FI CRIME THRILLER: War of the Maps - Paul McAuley

Release Date: 07/01/21

Publisher: Gollancz


On a giant artificial world surrounding an artificial sun, one man - a lucidor, a keeper of the peace, a policeman - is on the hunt. His target was responsible for an atrocity, but is too valuable to the government to be truly punished. Instead he has been sent to the frontlines of the war, to use his unique talents on the enemy. So the lucidor has ignored orders, deserted from his job, left his home and thrown his life away, in order to finally claim justice. Separated by massive seas, the various maps dotted on the surface of this world rarely contact each other. But something has begun to infiltrate the edges of the lucidor's map, something that genetically alters animals and plants and turns them into killers. Only the lucidor knows the depths to which his quarry will sink in order to survive, only the lucidor can capture him. The way is long and dangerous. The lucidor's government has set hunters after him. He has no friends, no resources, no plan. 


But he does have a mission. 



Paul has always been an author that I've loved to spend time with. He's known for rich world building, creating characters that I want to get to know and above all else giving me a pace that is crafted well knowing when to let me take a breather and when to keep me holding my breath through the high octane sequences. 


This title is no exception and with this book, Paul;s principle characters put personal ideal's above those of superiors. Its delightfully dark in a dystopian way, brings a hero to the fore that whilst flawed is multi faceted and is just fascinating to be around. Add to this a cracking crime aspect within alongside dialogue that moves the story forward, all round makes this a book that will easily occupy the reader away from the very real worries of the world.