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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — David Devereux

(Photo Credit: James Bacon)


1)House of Many Ways” by
Diana Wynne Jones. Diana's been a friend of mine for what seems like forever—in a good way. She encouraged me as I was starting to write, in fact, and has been one of those mentor-like people to whom one turns when the whole damned thing seems like an episode of insanity only to be told “Oh that's all right – I do that too!”

House of Many Ways” is another episode in the life of Howl, and has all the charm and fun you'd expect from that. There are also a number of in-jokes that made me laugh my socks off (which went straight to the laundry pile, of course) including one aimed at me, which was fun. If you like what Diana does, you'll adore this. For me, as someone who's still catching up with her backlist (we were mates for a while before I actually started reading her books) it was a total joy.

2)Diver” by
Tony Groom. This one crossed my path after it was recommended on a message board that has nothing to do with books or genre whatsoever. One of the recommendations made me grin and caught me at just the right time to get me to order in a copy for 'To-Read Pile Four (non-fiction for fun)'. All this was great, until it arrived and I decided to try a page or two before filing it. Yes, well—twelve hours later I filed it in 'Read'.

Tony was a Clearance Diver in the Royal Navy—one of the guys who make old mines and bombs safe underwater—who then went on to commercial diving all over the world. The book focuses on his training and Naval service, and covers his time in the Falklands with a heart-breaking level of detail. Working from his original diaries, the raw emotion is laid out for all to see—exhaustion, numbness, terror and confusion in ways that should remind us all that picking fights is a Bad Idea, be it between men or, in this case, nations.

He's working on his first novel right now, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing what he does with it.

3)Memoirs of a Master Forger” by
William Heaney (Graham Joyce). Bloody hell, this was good. I loved the lot—characterisation, plot, structure, language and all the rest. He also writes much better demons than I do! I think this is one of the best books I've read in at least the last five years.

4)Necrophenia” by
Robert Rankin. It's a Robert Rankin book. What else do you really need to know?

5)Around the World in Eighty Days” by
Jules Verne. I can't believe that I'd never read Verne until this year, but the combination of getting a new project organised and the arrival of a Sony Reader (thanks Ben) had me raiding Project Gutenberg for whatever I could get. I'd never realised just what a mickey-take Fogg was supposed to be until I read this—none of the films capture that side of him at all and I'm certainly never going to see the story in the same way ever again—and isn't that the fun of these things?


1)The Grave Thief” by
Tom Lloyd. UK Release Date: December 29, 2008. Published by Gollancz. US Release Date: Late 2009. Published by Pyr Books. Not only is Tom a regular drinking buddy of mine but he also gave me a hefty plug last year, yet even without those details the fact remains that I really enjoy his books. Given the mess left at the end of “The Twilight Herald” and what Tom's let slip to me about future developments, I'm seriously looking forward to this.

2)Jasmyn” by Alex Bell. UK Release Date: June 18, 2009. Published by
Gollancz. Yes, all right, Alex is a mate too. But the fact is that I enjoyed “The Ninth Circle” a lot more than many people seemed to and as a result I'm really looking forward to seeing what she does with her next book. What's even more fun is that I know sod all about it—Alex has told me that the Absolut Ice Bar in London was a necessary research stop, but beyond that all I have to go on is the blurb—which I rather like the sound of.

3)Thicker than Water” by
Mike Carey. UK Release Date: March 5, 2009. Published by Orbit UK. For a start, I'm a huge fan of Fix (Felix) Castor—I love the way that Mike Carey gets the character down and the way that his London is a wonderful echo of the one we know. It's also nice to put down someone I've never even met, let alone count as a drinking buddy.

I hear that he's a terribly nice chap, though.

3) And anything else I come across by accident, because that's just fun.


January sees my second novel hit the shelves at long last. “Eagle Rising” is the sequel to “Hunter's Moon” and sees that loveable rogue Jack go head to head with a bunch of neo-Nazi lowlifes who want to cause all sorts of nastiness. This, of course, leads to Jack being his useful scampish self and letting loose with mayhem, violence and all that good stuff. After what I ended up being called by some people after the last one I can't wait to see what the PC Brigade make of this!

What else? Well there's a pile of stuff brewing at the moment, but nothing's at a stage where I can talk about it yet. If everything goes according to plan then there may be a surprise or two in the months to come—including (if I get my way) a return to writing comedy.


David Devereux has been a stand-up comedian, radio scriptwriter, bodyguard, exorcist, jazz singer, layabout and consultant. These days he fills his time lusting after watches, trying not to scratch the paintwork on old aeroplanes, making stuff up and doing what his cat tells him. His first novel, “Hunter's Moon”, was nominated for the British Fantasy Society's August Derleth Award. For more information, please visit the author’s
Official Website.

NOTE: For more author responses, please visit Fantasy Book Critic's 2008 Review/2009 Preview index


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