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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Book review: Miranda by John R. Little

Miranda by John R. Little

Book links: Publisher

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John R. Little was born in London, Canada, and started writing short stories at the age of twelve. The stories he wrote at the time are not memorable.

His first novel, The Memory Tree, was published by Nocturne Press in 2007. It was nominated for the Bram Stoker award for best first novel. 

Publisher: Bad Moon Press (January 1. 2008) Print length: 109 pages Formats: ebook, paperback

Monday, May 29, 2023

GUEST POST: Celebrating 5 Years of Ordshaw by Phil Williams


Five years ago today, Under Ordshaw was released and the world was exposed to a unique British city with the occasional magical/horrific twist. The series has now seen two story arcs completed with The Sunken City Trilogy and The Ikiri Duology; two new arcs started with The City Screams and Dyer Street Punk Witches, and a host of short stories. To celebrate Ordshaw’s anniversary, here’s a trip down memory lane – and as a gift of Under Ordshaw for free for the next few days (29th - 31st), available in all major eBook stores, everywhere.

What is Under Ordshaw?

It all started with poker player Pax Kuranes discovering a secret labyrinth under her otherwise normal (if rough) city. Also, she discovered some very unusual, but mostly horrible, monsters – and a community of rather offensive and violent diminutive fairies. All this in a city otherwise rooted in reality, with distinct, characterful boroughs and a deep, detailed history (inspired variously by some cities I’m most familiar with, such as London, Nottingham, Bristol and Luton (not a city, with spite)). The books mostly explore the seedier, darker side of Ordshaw, involving criminal gangs, shady government organisations and impoverished, rundown neighbourhoods, with some hints at the brighter, cheerier suburbs.

The Journey to the Story

Under Ordshaw was written and released over about 18 months, between 2017 and 2018 (alongside and overlapping my dystopian Estaliabooks). Blue Angel and The Violent Fae followed in 2019 to complete The Sunken City Trilogy (with The City Screams emerging somewhere in between). My plans for it emerged much earlier, though, while frequently riding the metro working in Prague, 2008 (a job that also inspired parts of Dyer Street Punk Witches).

The bare roots of the story came together in a screenplay around 2008. I spent two or three years revising it, taking it to producers and directors. In its earliest form, it resembled something of the final structure of Under Ordshaw, but followed the Barton family with no Pax in sight. At some point this warped, as screenplays do, into an animation involving talking penguins, and there were rumours at one point of Whoopi Goldberg coming on board. That all petered out, until some years later when I’d got a couple of self-published books under my belt, and had a burning desire to revive and combine a slew of older works.

A Shared Universe

I wrote Under Ordshaw with big plans in mind from the offset. There was to be an opening trilogy, but also a series of independent or loosely connected tales. Blue Angel hints at a character in The City Screams; The City Screams introduces a character from The Ikiri Duology; and Under Ordshaw itself references criminals discussed in Dyer Street Punk Witches.

My goal was to explore different tropes and story arcs framed in one particular Ordshaw lens: gritter action thrillers (in a vein of the emergent cinema of the 90s) with the propensity for wild fantasy twists and turns. There would be a witches saga, a haunted house tale, a Faustian story, secular crime stories and more. Then, there was also the opportunity for absolutely off-the-wall adventures, as Kept From Cages introduced.

Five Years in the Open

For all my lofty goals, Under Ordshaw got off to a fairly inauspicious start, and really owes the spark of life it found to Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO and the many wonderful contacts I’ve made following that. The book was a semi-finalist for Lynn’s Books in 2018 and Lynn kindly put me in touch with other bloggers who helped review and promote the series. It picked up momentum through the attention of a lot of great reviewers, which in turn has always encouraged me to keep hammering at my greater scheme. Never mind that sales have always been an uphill struggle, and Ordshaw doesn’t neatly fit the existing markets – the rewards are there in seeing readers’ responses to the series.

I have slowed down in recent years to split my focus over other projects, but little by little, Ordshaw has spread further into the world. We’re now up to seven novels in the series. Dyer Street has opened up a whole new venture, while Kept From Cages also reached the SPFBO semi-finals and went on to give Mark Lawrence himself a paper cut. And the books themselves are only improving as they go: I’ll forever love Under Ordshaw, but it is a particular starting point, with a certain roughness to it. Each entry that follows aims to expand and improve on that.

The Next Five Years

My plans for the future vary between the simple (add more books to the series) and elaborate (design Ordshaw animations and games; Ordshaw theme park?). What’s on the more immediate horizon are a sequel to The City Screams, with the long-overdue return of Pax and Letty, and the sequel to Dyer Street Punk Witches. There’s also an interactive story I’ve been itching to write forever. Then there will eventually be more from the Cutjaw Kids and Katiya and a couple of other standalone tales, and I’d like to go back to where this started and produce fresh screenplays from the books. Because the world needs more foul-mouthed fairies, criminal jazz musicians, weird monsters and punk witches, in every format.

For now, though, my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s come along for the ride, and everyone who’s yet to step into Ordshaw (don’t forget to grab your copy for free while you can!). I couldn’t have got anywhere near as far as I have without the support of a wonderful community of readers and writers, and I look forward to sharing more with you.

About The Author: Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic Estalia series. He also writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English, two of which are regular best-sellers on Kindle. As a long-term teacher and tutor of advanced English, he runs the popular website “English Lessons Brighton”.

Phil lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.

Interview: Kate Heartfield, author of The Embroidered Book

Author Interview: Kate Heartfield

kate heartfield author photo

Buy The Embroidered Book here
Friday, May 26, 2023

The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 Book Review: The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller

The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller

Buy The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill here

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Review: The Blighted Stars by Megan E. O'Keefe


Official Author Website
Buy The Blighted Stars HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Megan E. O'Keefe was raised amongst journalists, and as soon as she was able joined them by crafting a newsletter which chronicled the daily adventures of the local cat population. She lives in the Bay Area of California, and spends her free time tinkering with anything she can get her hands on.

Her fantasy debut, Steal the Sky, won the Gemmell Morningstar Award and her space opera debut, Velocity Weapon was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell by Luke Tarzian (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

 Book Review: A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell by Luke Tarzian

a cup of tea at the mouth of hell by Luke Tarzian

Buy A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell here - U.S. | U.K.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Graphic Novel: Karmen by Guillem March

Karmen by Guillem March review


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Guillem March is a Mallorca based artist who is best known for his cover work on DC titles such as Catwoman and Batman.

Publisher: Image Comics (May 17, 2022) Pages: 160 Art: Guillem March

The Will Of The Many by James Islington (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order The Will Of The Many over HERE
AUTHOR INFORMATION: James Islington was born and raised in southern Victoria, Australia. His influences growing up were the stories of Raymond E. Feist and Robert Jordan, but it wasn't until later, when he read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series - followed soon after by Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind - that he was finally inspired to sit down and write something of his own. He now lives with his wife and two children on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria

Monday, May 22, 2023

Interview: Rex Burke, author of the Odyssey Earth series

 Interview: Rex Burke, author of the Odyssey Earth series

rex burke author photo

Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Orphan Planet, book one in the Odyssey Earth series here

Buy Orphan Planet, book one in the Odyssey Earth series here

Pre-order Twin Landing, book two in the Odyssey Earth series here

Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson (Reviewed by Lena)

 Book Review: The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson

the lost war by justin lee anderson

Buy The Lost War here - U.S. | U.K.

Friday, May 19, 2023

SPFBO 9 Introduction Post - meet the Fantasy Book Critic Team + Top 3 covers

We're excited to announce we'll be participating in SPFBO for the ninth time. WooHoo! This year, we will have five judges on board and we're happy to welcome two new ones: Esmay and Chels. Here is a brief introduction to all of us involved in the contest:

Review: Witch King by Martha Wells

Official Author Website
Buy Witch King HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Martha Wells has been an SF/F writer since her first fantasy novel was published in 1993, and her work includes The Books of the Raksura series, The Death of the Necromancer, the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, The Murderbot Diaries series, media tie-in fiction for Star Wars, Stargate: Atlantis, and Magic: the Gathering, as well as short fiction, YA novels, and non-fiction. She has won Nebula Awards, Hugo Awards, and Locus Awards, and her work has appeared on the Philip K. Dick Award ballot, the BSFA Award ballot, the USA Today Bestseller List, and the New York Times Bestseller List. She is a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and her books have been published in twenty-five languages.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Book review: The Child's Thief by Brom

The Child's Thief by Brom review


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Over the past few decades, Brom has lent his distinctive vision to all facets of the creative industries, from novels and games to comics and film. He is the author of The Child Thief and the award-winning illustrated horror novels The Plucker and The Devil's Rose. Brom is currently kept in a dank cellar somewhere just outside of Seattle.
Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Sons of Darkness by Gourav Mohanty (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 Book Review: Sons of Darkness by Gourav Mohanty

sons of darkness by gourav mohanty

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Book review: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker review

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clive Barker was born in Liverpool in 1952. His earlier books include The Books of Blood, Cabal, and The Hellbound Heart. In addition to his work as a novelist and playwright, he also illustrates, writes, directs and produces for stage and screen. His films include Hellraiser, Hellbound, Nightbreed and Candyman. Clive lives in Beverly Hills, California

Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reissue edition (October 2, 2007)  Page count: 186
Monday, May 15, 2023

Review: The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao (reviewed by Shazzie & Mihir)


Order The Surviving Sky HERE
OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Kritika H. Rao (she/her) is a science-fiction and fantasy writer, who has lived in India, Australia, Canada and The Sultanate of Oman. Kritika’s stories are influenced by her lived experiences, and often explore themes of consciousness, self vs. the world, and identity. She drops in and out of social media; you might catch her on Twitter or Instagram @KritikaHRao. Visit her online at

Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Return of the Knights by Gregory Kontaxis (Reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

 Book Review: The Return of the Knights by Gregory Kontaxis

Official Author Website

Buy The Return of the Knights - U.S. | U.K.
Friday, May 12, 2023

Exclusive Cover Reveal + Q&A with D. P. Wooliscroft: Exiles of Stone and Shadow


Official Author Website
Preorder Exiles Of Stone And Shadow over HERE

Interview: Gama Ray Martinez, author of the Defenders of Lore series

Interview: Gama Ray Martinez, author of the Defenders of Lore series

Gama Ray Martinez author photo

Buy Queens of Wonderland, book two in the Defenders of Lore series here

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Book review: The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alden Bell is the pen name of Joshua Gaylord (Hummingbirds) who lives in New York. For the past decade, he has taught high school English at an Upper East Side prep school (a modern orthodox co-educational Yeshiva). Since 2002, he has also taught literature and cultural studies courses as an adjunct professor at the New School. Prior to coming to New York, he grew up in the heart of Orange County: Anaheim, home of Disneyland. He graduated from Berkeley with a degree in English and a minor in creative writing, where his instructors included Bharati Mukherjee, Leonard Michaels and Maxine Hong Kingston. In 2000, he received his Master's and Ph.D. in English at New York University, specializing in twentieth-century American and British literature.

Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; First edition (August 3, 2010) Print length: 238

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Review: The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi


Official Author Website
Buy The Battle Drum HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Saara El-Arifi is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ending Fire trilogy and the upcoming Faebound. Her work is inspired by her Ghanaian and Sudanese heritage. She has lived in many countries, had many jobs and owned many more cats.

She was raised in the Middle East until her formative years, when her family swapped the Abu Dhabi desert for the English Peak District hills. This change of climate had a significant impact on her growth—not physically, she’s nearly 6ft—and she learned what it was to be Black in a white world.

El-Arifi knew she was a storyteller from the moment she told her first lie. Over the years she has perfected her tall tales into epic ones. She currently resides in London, UK, as a full-time procrastinator. 

FORMAT/INFO: The Battle Drum will be published on May 23rd, 2023. It is 560 pages split over 51 chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. It is told from the third person POV of multiple characters, including Sylah, Anoor, and Hassa. It is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats.
Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Book review: March's End by Daniel Polansky


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Polansky is the author of Low Town, recipient of the Prix Imaginales, as well as Tomorrow, The Killing and She Who Waits. His other works include Those Above, Those Below, A City Dreaming, and The Builders. Polansky was born in Baltimore and currently resides in Brooklyn.
Monday, May 8, 2023

Review: Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman


Official Author Website
Buy Scarlet HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author, who has written for several role-playing game companies. Her work includes GURPS Vorkosigan and contributions to the In Nomine role-playing game line for Steve Jackson Games: contributions to Exalted 2nd Edition and other contributions to the Exalted and Orpheus lines for White Wolf Publishing: Hearts, Swords and Flowers: The Art of Shoujo for Magnum Opus: and contributions to the Dresden Files RPG for Evil Hat Productions. She currently works for the NHS in England in the HSCIC as a clinical classifications specialist. 

FORMAT/INFO: Scarlet will be published by Ace Books on May 9th, 2023. It is 368 pages. It is told in third person from Eleanor's POV. It is available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook format. 
Thursday, May 4, 2023

Book Review: Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway

Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway review

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nick Harkaway is the author of Gnomon (William Heinemann, October 2017), as well as The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker (for which he won the Oxfam Emerging Writers Prize and the Kitschies’ coveted Red Tentacle) and Tigerman. He has been described variously as 'J. G. Ballard’s geeky younger brother', 'William Makepeace Thackerary on acid' and 'a British mimetic speculative godgame novelist'. The Blind Giant, his only full length non-fiction work, examined the interaction of technology and humanity and how best to live in a world where gadgets have become fundamental. 

Nick lives in London with his wife and their two children. He publishes occasional articles on Medium, and is mildly noted for extensive and profane political Twitterings. Hosting a conference at London’s Science Museum for the European Space Agency in September 2016, he took a rueful moment aside to tell a supportive audience: “In meinem Herz, ich bin Europäer.” He loves Borges and Calvino, Proulx and Winterson, Gibson and DeLillo. Other important influences include Benjamin Zidarch, Vittorio Innocenti and Susana Balbo.

Publisher: Knopf (May 16, 2023) Page count: 241

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Review: Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill

Review: Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill

Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill

Official Author Website

Buy Our Hideous Progeny here - U.S. | U.K. 

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: C. E. MCGILL (THEY/THEM)was born in Scotland and raised on the east coast of the US, in North Carolina. In 2020, pining for the drizzly green countryside (and universal healthcare) once more, they and their family moved back to Scotland.

A lifelong fan of science both real and imagined, they originally studied aerospace engineering at NC State University. After discovering an unexpected allergy to lab reports, however, they switched instead to a minor in Physics and a Frankensteinian major of their own making entitled “Narratives of Science in Fiction and History,” an interdisciplinary degree on the interactions between scientific history and science fiction.

C. E. McGill’s short fiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine and Strange Constellations, and they are a two-time finalist for the Dell Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. When not writing, they can be found reading, baking, sewing, crying over characters on TV, or preparing elaborate meals for the reincarnated spirit of a wilful and demanding princess who cannot be convinced that she is, in this life, a cat.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

By A Silver Thread by Rachel Aaron (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Rachel Aaron Website
Order “By A Silver Thread” over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Last Stand Of Mary Good Crow 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “The Battle Of Medicine Rocks:
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Forever Fantasy Online"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "FFO: Last Bastion"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "FFO: The Once King"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Nice Dragons Finish Last"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "One Good Dragon Deserves Another"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "A Dragon Of A Different Color"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Last Dragon Standing"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Minimum Wage Magic"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Part-Time Gods"
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Night Shift Dragons”                                
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Heaven's Queen"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's joint interview with Rachel Aaron & Travis Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Second Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read "Why A Nice Dragon" by Rachel Aaron (Guest post)

Book review: Paradise-1 by David Wellington

Paradise-1 by David Wellington review

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Wellington is an acclaimed author who has previously published over twenty novels in different genres.

Publisher: Orbit (April 4, 2023) Page count: 688 Formats: Trade Paperback, ebook, audiobook

Monday, May 1, 2023

Announcing Combat Codes: The Mystery of the Island by Alexander Darwin


The Island is a prominent setting in The Combat Codes. It is a picturesque place: black sand beaches, emerald waters, wind-swept cliffs, bamboo forests. Cego and his brothers grow up on the Island, where they train martial arts under the tutelage of the Old Master. The brothers spend their days sprinting across the beach, carrying boulders beneath the waves, scaling the cliffs, and sparring with each other until they are left panting and bloody on the beach. 
But one question begins to haunt Cego and his brothers: what are they training for? Why are they here? When they question the Old Master, he always responds with the same, methodical answer: "we fight so the rest shall not have to."

Find out what the Island truly is and why the brothers are training there on June 13th, when The Combat Codes is out from Orbit Books (pre-order today!)
"That rare book that fully satisfies me as an action fan" - Fonda Lee, author of Jade City
"A book about warriors written by a master of the martial arts, and the mastery shows." – Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons

Official Book Blurb: In a world where battle-hardened warriors determine the fate of empires, war-ravaged nations seek out a new champion in the first book of a thrilling science fantasy trilogy: "that rare book that fully satisfies me as an action fan" (Fonda Lee, author of Jade City).​

In a world long ago ravaged by war, the nations have sworn an armistice never to use weapons of mass destruction again. Instead, highly-skilled warriors known as Grievar Knights represent their nations’ interests in brutal hand-to-hand combat.

Murray Pearson was once a famed Knight until he suffered a loss that crippled his homeland — but now he’s on the hunt to discover the next champion.

In underground and ruthless combat rings, an orphaned boy called Cego is making a name for himself. Murray believes Cego has what it takes to thrive in the world's most prestigious combat academy – but first, Cego must prove himself in the vicious arenas of the underworld. And survival isn’t guaranteed.  

Interview: Ian Douglas, author of the Solar Warden series

 Interview: Ian Douglas, author of the Solar Warden series

Ian Douglas

Buy Alien Agendas here


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