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Risingshadow

Newsletter :: November 2021

Review: Keyhole by Matthew G. Rees

Keyhole by Matthew G. Rees front cover imageMatthew G. Rees' Keyhole was published by Three Impostors in 2019.

About Matthew G. Rees:

Matthew G. Rees grew up in a Welsh family in the border country between England and Wales known as the Marches. His early career was in journalism. Later he entered teaching, living and working for a period in Moscow (which has been a setting for some of his fiction). In a varied life, other employment has included time as a night-shift cab driver.

His writing has appeared in anthologies, chapbooks and magazines (digital and print). He has acquired a reputation for vivid and striking literary fiction that leans to the supernatural (see reviews). Keyhole, his first collection of short stories, was published to acclaim by Three Impostors press in 2019 (also featuring photographs by him) and has been read internationally, with copies going to readers in Austria, France, Spain, Norway, Poland, Japan, Puerto Rico and other parts of the United States, to name just some of the countries.

Additionally, Rees is a writer of theatre drama. Two plays by him have been performed professionally. (See 'Theatre' tab for more about his writing for the stage.) He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Swansea, and currently lives in Wales.

He suspects that the Marches - that distinctive and beautiful (but pressured) borderland between England and Wales, associated with such figures as Walter Map, William Langland, Thomas Traherne (memorialised in stained glass at Hereford Cathedral, right), Francis Kilvert, A.E. Housman, John Masefield, Bruce Chatwin and so many others - has, in particular, left its mark on him. He has come to think of it as a gateway not to the nations either side of it but to a hinterland that is hidden deeper and is more mysterious. He sees parallels with the partitions that Arthur Machen, who grew up in the southern Marches, spoke of as being the veils between the known and unknown worlds.

​'It's a place where you constantly find yourself stumbling across strange stories, that aren't always myths,' says Rees. 'Arthur Conan Doyle, for example, who was very much "into" spiritualism,  has a number of connections with the Marches. He attended a seance in a house in the rural village where I once lived.'

Rees's family goes back centuries in Wales. His surname has roots in the still largely rural county of Carmarthenshire on the Welsh coast, once the seat of Lord Rhys, powerful Welsh prince (though Rees doesn't claim any direct lineage!). Capel Pen-rhiw, a Carmarthenshire chapel where his great-grandfather was a congregant, today stands preserved at the National Museum of History at St Fagans, Cardiff (right), having been moved there stone by stone, beam by beam.

​In a migration typical of many Welsh people and others seeking work from across the British Isles, Rees's forebears moved to the populous and industrial valleys of South Wales in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In an era of great social deprivation in which coal was king, a number of Rees's ancestors became involved in unionism and radical politics. His great-uncle Sydney James, a miner blacklisted by colliery bosses for his political convictions, volunteered for the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, being fatally wounded at the Battle of the Ebro. Another great-uncle, Trevor Jones, a young South Wales schoolmaster, was killed in action serving as a junior infantry officer with the Welsh Regiment in France, shortly before the Armistice of 1918.

​Meanwhile, Trevor's mother Margaret Jones, Rees's great-grandmother, ran for and held public office at a time when such things were rare among women.

​Another branch of Rees's family kept the Coach and Horses inn, in the canal-side village of Llangynidr, in the Brecon Beacons, for more than a century (pictured right in 1954; copyright, the author's father).

​In addition to his associations with Wales and the Marches, Rees believes that travel has influenced him significantly. Either as a journalist, teacher, 'traveller', or holiday-maker on his own or as a child with his parents, Rees has spent time in more than twenty countries.

He has also journeyed to some of the more remote islands of the British Isles, including the Scottish holy island of Iona, ancient Sark and beautiful Herm in the Channel Islands, Lundy - famous for its population of puffins - in the Bristol Channel (travelling there on the world's last sea-going paddle-steamer), the Isles of Scilly (off Cornwall in the English South-West) and the lonely islet of Bishop Rock, known for its lighthouse and seals.

Click here to visit his official website.

About Keyhole:

Several writers, Arthur Machen among them, have spoken of their certainty of our co-existence with another world – one that we are close to in our daily lives and from which we are separated by the finest partition; a place of ancient forces and wisdom, and darker, more peculiar things.

In his collection of short stories, Keyhole, Matthew G. Rees takes us through that divide and acquaints us with the places and inhabitants of this other world. Yet his stories aren’t mere escapism for their roots remain in our own recognisable universe. And it is here that we keep a foothold, sometimes only a fingerhold, as we reach into and explore the other. So it is that Rees’s eighteen extraordinary stories take us from strange seashores, across ragged farms, along eerie waterways and over mist-shrouded mountains, to altered small towns and one-time heartlands of industry where the mining has stopped and the quarries stand still.

While Keyhole represents his first collection, Matthew G. Rees has been described as an unusually talented and inventive writer. The word ‘masterpiece’ has been applied to one of his previous tales. As well as writing short stories, he is a scholar of the form and has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Swansea. Although having his own ‘voice’ and employing modern settings, readers might detect a lineage with such writers as Arthur Machen, Glyn Jones and Roald Dahl. The British literary and cinematic tradition of ‘folk horror’ can also be seen in his work.

Matthew G. Rees grew up in a Welsh family in the border country between England and Wales known as the Marches. His early career was in journalism. Later he entered teaching, working for a while in Moscow. Diverse other employment has included time as a taxi driver where he found that the shift that he preferred was at night.

REVIEW: KEYHOLE BY MATTHEW G. REES

Guest post: My Writing Rituals by Jonathan Edward Durham

Jonathan Edward Durham author photoRisingshadow has an opportunity to feature a guest post by Jonathan Edward Durham, who is the author of Winterset Hollow.

About the author:

Jonathan Edward Durham was born near Philadelphia in one of many satellite rust-belt communities where he read voraciously throughout his youth and beyond. After attending the College of William and Mary, where he recieved a degree in neuroscience while also studying literature, Jonathan waded into the professional world before deciding he was better suited for more artistic pursuits and turned the page on his career.

He now lives in California with his partner where he writes to bring a voice to the space between the timeless wonder of his favorite childhood stories and the pop sensibilities of his adolescent literary indulgences. Winterset Hollow, his debut novel, is available everywhere September 2021.

Author links:

Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham front cover imageAbout Winterset Hollow:

Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction... especially on Addington Isle.

Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book — a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day... and you’re invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse-pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

"Winterset Hollow is one of the most interesting books I've read in years! Astonishingly powerful and multilayered! It's like you're sitting on a log by a pleasant pond, dabbling your toes, and then you see a dark shape in the water... then another... and while you're holding your breath, suddenly you realize that the log you're sitting on... is... moving!" - DIANA GABALDON, NY Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

Click here to read a review about Winterset Hollow.

Guest post: My Writing Rituals by Jonathan Edward Durham

Review: Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham

Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham front cover imageJonathan Edward Durham's Winterset Hollow was published by Credo House Publishers in September 2021.

About the author:

Jonathan Edward Durham was born near Philadelphia in one of many satellite rust-belt communities where he read voraciously throughout his youth and beyond. After attending the College of William and Mary, where he recieved a degree in neuroscience while also studying literature, Jonathan waded into the professional world before deciding he was better suited for more artistic pursuits and turned the page on his career.

He now lives in California with his partner where he writes to bring a voice to the space between the timeless wonder of his favorite childhood stories and the pop sensibilities of his adolescent literary indulgences. Winterset Hollow, his debut novel, is available everywhere September 2021.

Author links:

About Winterset Hollow:

Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction... especially on Addington Isle.

Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book — a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day... and you’re invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse-pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

"Winterset Hollow is one of the most interesting books I've read in years! Astonishingly powerful and multilayered! It's like you're sitting on a log by a pleasant pond, dabbling your toes, and then you see a dark shape in the water... then another... and while you're holding your breath, suddenly you realize that the log you're sitting on... is... moving!" - DIANA GABALDON, NY Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

REVIEW: WINTERSET HOLLOW BY JONATHAN EDWARD DURHAM

I'm happy to start this review by saying that Jonathan Edward Durham's Winterset Hollow is one of the most compelling novels I've read in ages. It's simultaneously original, captivating and different, not to mention intriguingly chilling, dark and weird. I declare this novel the best debut novel of the year, because it differs from the norm and stands head and shoulders above other debut fantasy novels.

Winterset Hollow is not your normal kind of fantasy, but something special and unique, because it blends fantasy with dark fiction in an unforgettable way (it's possible to classify it as dark fantasy due to its dark contents). It has faint echoes of Alexander Zelenyj, Lev Grossman and the British folk horror film The Wicker Man, but it is also occasionally reminiscent of elements found in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Richard Adams' Watership Down, Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. It's a welcome breath of fresh air to the contemporary fantasy genre.

Winterset Hollow tells of Eamon, Caroline and Mark who are on a sort of a pilgrimage to pay homage to the author, E. B. Addington, who has given them so much. They're going to gaze upon the grounds of the estate on Addington Isle that inspired the author to write his famous book "Winterset Hollow", which tells about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival called the Barley Day. After a series of incidents, they find out that what the world believes to be merely fiction is actually true and the truth is much darker and more dangerous than anybody could ever imagine...

The unfolding story is exceptionally compelling and has twists and turns that make it a captivating and rewarding reading experience. The events unfold at a steady pace and the story gathers momentum towards the surprising climax in which the protagonists find themselves faced with something totally unexpected and a desperate fight for survival begins. I find the story arc achingly effective, because there's a reason why things are the way they are on the island and cruel events are the source of anger and discontent. The elements of debt, vengeance, cruelty and loneliness will linger on your mind for a long time after you've finished reading the final page, because the moving and terrifying events won't be easily forgotten.

This novel has the fascination of the fantasy stories you've read as a child, but a dark streak runs throughout it and manifests itself as anger, rage and madness when the Barley Day celebration begins. It's kind of like a blend of the timeless aesthetics of The Wind in the Willows and the terrifying power of The Wicker Man coupled with the sparkling imagination of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the melancholy of The Last Unicorn. There's beauty, cruelty and tragedy at the heart of the story and the author uses them to create a stunning story.

The characterisation is excellent, because the protagonists are sufficiently complex and have emotional baggage. The secondary characters are less fleshed out, but that didn't bother me much, because the story focuses mostly on the protagonists and what happens to them.

I enjoyed reading about Eamon who is described as a solitary person. He has found comfort and solace by reading E. B. Addington's book and the book has affected him in a profound way. I was also captivated by how well the author writes about the animal characters and their characteristics and feelings. One of the animal characters, Phineas Fox, is an especially well created character, because at first he seems to be a normal character, but gradually begins to manifest signs of anger towards the author of "Winterset Hollow" and his deeds. Olivia the Owl is also an intriguing supporting character, because she has a part to play in the story.

The scene in which the protagonists meet Runnymead Rabbit, Phineas Fox and Flagwell Frog is one of the highlights of the story. They're amazed at finding out that the story they all know so well actually tells of real animals who can talk and act like humans do. There's a tantalising sense of wonder and amazement in this scene that I haven't experienced in a while in any other new fantasy novels.

I won't reveal what happens in the story, but I'll mention that the moment when the story turns from fantasy into horror is memorable, because it sets things in motion and nothing is the same anymore for the protagonists as they find themselves shocked at what is happening to them. I'll also mention that the ending of the story is spot-on perfect and fully satisfying. There's quite a lot of psychological depth in the story that lends credibility to the events and action scenes.

As you may have already guessed, I was very impressed by Winterset Hollow and its twisted story. There's something compellingly touching and elegant yet macabre and solemn about this novel that I find difficult to resist, because it appeals to my taste in dark fantasy and dark fiction. I look forward to reading what the author writes next, because he exhibits signs of being a gifted storyteller who has plenty of imagination and is not afraid to write something different.

If you want your fantasy with a touch of darkness and compelling weirdness, you should definitely read Jonathan Edward Durham's Winterset Hollow, because it's a unique novel. Novels like this one don't come along often, so make sure that you'll put it on your reading list as soon as possible.

Highly recommended!

Review: The Call by Jason and Rose Bishop

Jason and Rose Bishop: The Call front cover imageJason and Rose Bishop's The Call was published in May 2020.

About Jason and Rose Bishop:

"We are a husband and wife writing team, with a deep affinity for high fantasy settings, epic storylines, and page-turning plots. We created the world of Cyrradon from a desire to tell a story in a fantasy world that feels familiar, but with some things you have never seen before. We write the stories we would want to read, with densely woven story arcs, memorable characters and compelling dialogue, politics, intrigue, and prophecy, all set against a well-developed world full of diverse cultures and colorful history. Writing these stories is our dream and our passion. Sharing them with your world is our privilege.

We live in Southern California with our six children and one very spoiled cat. When we're not busy with our full-time careers with the State of California, you can find us making great food, brewing beer or making mead, playing music, relaxing on the patio, or gathered around the table as a family and laughing our tails off."

Click here to visit their official website.

About The Call:

The heroes of old are disappearing, victims of kidnapping, murder, even falling to their own despair. But their work is not done. The gods call forth the next generation... and a storm is rising.

In a city once hailed as a natural wonder, now corrupted and sullied, the Spring Market has just begun. Elves are bought and sold wholesale, destined for an unholy ceremony: a decrepit king seeks immortality. Among the elves is one of royal blood, carrying an artifact of untold power. When it falls into the hands of a young rogue, the brooch seems his ticket to a new life, but instead draws him into an insidious web of danger. Pursued by a huntress seeking vengeance for her sister’s kidnapping, and a pair of half-bloods seeking a father gone missing, he soon finds their paths are hopelessly entangled.

Drawn together by amulets handed down through generations, they soon uncover a legacy of betrayal and loss. Along with a cursed mage who walks with the wicked, they must unite the amulets, rescue the elves, and stop the dark priesthood. If they fail, the High King will rise again, and Urgrithka the Hollow will enter the world of the living. Cyrradon will know an eternity of undeath.

The Call is the first book of the Storm’s Rising’s series, beginning the epic tale of a world created in the image of beauty and balance, and rent asunder by wars among gods and mortals.

REVIEW: THE CALL BY JASON AND ROSE BISHOP

Review: The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter

The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter - front cover imageBrett Salter's The Search for Synergy was published in May 2017.

About Brett Salter:

In his own words:

"My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series."

Click here to visit the author's official website on AuthorsDen.

About The Search for Synergy:

"The Search For Synergy" is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in the void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo as knight and dragon working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome, who up until now, thought he was merely human.

REVIEW: THE SEARCH FOR SYNERGY BY BRETT SALTER

An interview with Ennis Rook Bashe

Ennis Rook BasheRisingshadow has had an opportunity to interview Ennis Rook Bashe.

AN INTERVIEW WITH ENNIS ROOK BASHE

- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words? What inspired you to become an author? Have any authors, books or stories been a source of inspiration to you?

I’m a gay nerd who spends a lot of time on the Internet. Writing has always been a hobby of mine- I released my first novella Bluebell Hall, when I was in high school- but I started getting serious about it when I became disabled in college and couldn’t participate in other hobbies. I love books that make me cry, make me want to write fanfiction, or make me want to kiss a stranger, or especially all of the above at once.

I follow a lot of authors on social media who are doing amazing work in the genre, such as Jeannette Ng, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Kai Cheng Thom, Ada Hoffman, Rivers Solomon, and Seanan McGuire. They make me rethink not only how I write, but also how I discuss and analyze writing. And I adore Tamsyn Muir, whose protagonists lowkey invented being a mean goth lesbian.

Right now, I’m obsessed with Reese Morrison and Eli Wray, two authors who are writing the sweetest contemporary LGBT+ romance. I don’t usually read contemporary, but the tenderness and intimacy in their work really draws me in.

Guest post by Aiden L. Turner

The Banner of the Broken Orc - front cover imageRisingshadow has an opportunity to feature a guest post by Aiden L. Turner, who is the author of the dark epic fantasy adventure The Banner of the Broken Orc.

Guest post by Aiden L. Turner

Hello, I’m Aiden L Turner and welcome to this post about my debut novel, The Banner of the Broken Orc. The book has a strong foundation in the traditional epic fantasy genre. At its core, it’s a struggle between the forces of good and evil and the heroes and villains that fight that never-ending war. So, what sets it apart from those classic themes? Primarily I’d have to say the action, both in the ceaselessness of it, the level of violence and gore, and the detail. I’ve tried to focus on the large-scale battles and the individual fights scenes, far more than what people are eating or the elaborate attire. Though I have been thorough with the world building, I haven’t allowed myself to get carried away with vast pages of detail concerning the grandeur in which I find a lot of epic fantasies lean towards. This has been done to create a fast-paced novel that keeps the reader thoroughly engaged from start to finish. Also, the book has an aura of darkness about it that would resonate with fans of grimdark, one of the key aspects of the story is that evil is almost like a disease, it seeps into the souls of all and corrupts and distorts the being from within. I have had someone remark that the level of cruelty and violence was very high but this is intentional and not just my overall writing style. The book is about evil and I have read far too many books that brush over the characteristics of evil actions in an effort to reach a larger audience. I really wanted to avoid this and so wrote in a way for the reader to view themselves, in detail, who was evil and why.

New Releases
Warriors of God (The Hussite Trilogy #2)
Warriors of God
(The Hussite Trilogy #2) by Andrzej Sapkowski
October 21, 2021 | fantasy > historical fantasy

WARRIORS OF GOD, the second volume of the Hussite Trilogy by Andrzej Sapkowski, author of the bestselling Witcher series, depicts the adventures of Reynevan and his friends in the years 1427-28 as war erupts across Europe.

Reynevan begins by hiding away in Bohemia but soon leaves for Silesia, where he carries out dangerous, secret missions entrusted to him by the leaders of the Hussite religion. At the same time he strives to avenge the death of his brother and discover the whereabouts of his beloved. Once again pursued by multiple enemies, Reynevan is constantly getting into and out of trouble.

Sapkowski's deftly written novel delivers gripping action full of numerous twists and mysteries, seasoned with elements of magic and Sapkowski's ever-present - and occasionally bawdy - sense of humour. Fans of the Witcher will appreciate the rich panorama of this slice of the Middle Ages.

The Rot (The Raven Rings #2)
The Rot
(The Raven Rings #2) by Siri Pettersen
October 5, 2021 | fantasy > high fantasy, young adult

The original novel was published in 2014.

Book Two in Siri Pettersen's epic fantasy trilogy – The Raven Rings – at last comes to the U.S. after taking European audiences by storm.

"Blood magic, blackmail, and battle rock a rich world of fading magic to its core in this internationally bestselling Norwegian epic fantasy." – Publishers Weekly reviews Odin's Child

To protect her homeland of Ym, Hirka left it behind. She traveled through the raven rings, a stone circle that can be used as a portal, to an unfamiliar world. A world without the Might, a world where none of the people have tails, a world that seems rotten at its very core. That world is modern-day Europe.

Hirka was supposed to fit in with humans here. And her departure was supposed to be save Ym from the invasion of the blind. Yet none of that has happened. Instead, Hirka finds herself just as much of an outsider among the humans as she was among ymlings – even more so when she discovers that she has blood of the blind running through her veins. Meanwhile back in Ym, Rime – now the Ravenbearer – is fighting an ongoing battle against the blind, not to mention against his fellow Councilors, as well as with his own despair over losing Hirka.

Separated by worlds, unsure who to trust, and hunted for reasons they cannot understand, both Hirka and Rime must find a way to stop a thousand-year-old evil from destroying not only Ym, but every world in existence.

Sherlock Holmes & The Three Winter Terrors
Sherlock Holmes & The Three Winter Terrors
by James Lovegrove
October 26, 2021 | fantasy, mystery

"Lovegrove has nailed the tone and rhythm of Conan Doyle's storytelling to a tee" Starburst.

From the acclaimed author of Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon another beautifully presented seasonal mystery.

1889. The First Terror.
At a boys' prep school in the Kent marshes, a pupil is found drowned in a pond. Could this be the fulfilment of a witch's curse from four hundred years earlier?

1890. The Second Terror.
A wealthy man dies of a heart attack at his London townhouse. Was he really frightened to death by ghosts?

1894. The Third Terror.
A body is discovered at a Surrey country manor, hideously ravaged. Is the culprit a cannibal, as the evidence suggests?

These three linked crimes test Sherlock Holmes's deductive powers, and his scepticism about the supernatural, to the limit.

Archangel's Light (Guild Hunter #14)
Archangel's Light
(Guild Hunter #14) by Nalini Singh
October 26, 2021 | fantasy > urban fantasy, romance > paranormal romance

Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…

Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.

As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

ReDawn (The Skyward Novellas #2)
ReDawn
(The Skyward Novellas #2) by Brandon Sanderson, Janci Patterson
October 26, 2021 | science fiction, young adult

From #1 bestselling author Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson comes the second of three Skyward series novellas, each told from the perspective of a different member of the team back on Detritus. Read Alanik’s story between Starsight and Cytonic.

“Don’t trust their lies. Don’t trust their false peace.” That is the warning that Alanik of the planet ReDawn gave the human pilot Spensa after Alanik’s ship crash-landed on Detritus. While accepting an invitation to meet with her people’s enemy, the Galactic Superiority, Alanik heard Spensa’s cry for help across the vastness of space, and she used her cytonic powers to hyperjump her ship to the source of that cry. What she found there was a shock—a whole planet of free humans fighting against the Superiority. Were they the allies her people desperately needed?

When she recovered from her injuries and met the friendly humans Jorgen and FM of Skyward Flight, she found that her warning to Spensa had gone unheeded by the government of Detritus, and they were considering a peace overture from the Superiority. Now having returned to ReDawn, Alanik is dismayed to learn that her own people are falling into the exact same trap.

The faction in ReDawn’s government that wants to appease the Superiority has gained the upper hand. With Alanik’s mentor, Renakin captured, she has no one to turn to but Jorgen, FM, and their friend Rig. An ancient technology may have the power to save both of their planets from disaster, but can they discover its secrets before it’s too late?

 

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Coming This Month
Girls of Fate and Fury (Girls of Paper and Fire #3)
Girls of Fate and Fury
(Girls of Paper and Fire #3) by Natasha Ngan
November 30, 2021 | fantasy > high fantasy, young adult

The epic romance of Lei and Wren comes to a breathtaking conclusion in the explosive finale to the acclaimed, New York Times best-selling Girls of Paper and Fire series.

"Don't struggle, Lei-zhi. It's time to take you back to the Hidden Palace. You're going home."

The jaw-dropping conclusion to Girls of Storm and Shadow left the fates of Lei and Wren hanging in the balance. There's one thing Lei notes - she can never return to the Hidden Palace. The trauma and tragedy she suffered behind those opulent walls will plague her forever. She cannot be trapped there with the sadistic king again, especially without Wren.

The last time Lei saw the girl she loved, Wren was fighting an army of soldiers in a furious battle to the death. With the two girls torn apart and each in great peril, will they reunite at last, or have their destinies diverged forever?

Girls of Fate and Fury is the epic conclusion to the "glittering" and "adrenaline-soaked" series by Natasha Ngan, hailed as "a stunning, new talent" for her "beautiful, lush, lyrical" writing.

Cytonic (The Skyward Series #3)
Cytonic
(The Skyward Series #3) by Brandon Sanderson
November 23, 2021 | science fiction, young adult

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, the Mistborn trilogy, and the Stormlight Archive comes the third book in an epic series about a girl who will travel beyond the stars to save the world she loves from destruction.

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell — the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.

Now, the Superiority — the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life — has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa’s seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.

The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.

Leviathan Falls (The Expanse #9)
Leviathan Falls
(The Expanse #9) by James S. A. Corey
November 30, 2021 | science fiction > space opera

The final novel in The Expanse series.

Set in the distant future in an inhabited solar system split between three major factions (Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt / Outer planets), Leviathan Wakes follows the crew of an ice hauler — captain James Holden, XO Naomi Nagata, pilot Alex Kamal, and engineer Amos Burton — after they encounter a ship in distress. A private company unleashes an alien substance known as the Protomolecule, plunging the system’s various factions into a major conflict as they vie for power.

The substance is essentially a technology that can replicate itself and manipulate matter, and it eventually links our solar system to a vast network of other gates and habitable planets, allowing humanity to expand into the galaxy. In the latest pair of novels, Abraham and Franck jump decades into the future, where a lost Martian task force returns — having used the Protomolecule to create some advanced technologies and set up a fascist civilization — and are bent on creating an interstellar empire.

Brothers of the Wind
Brothers of the Wind
(Osten Ard) by Tad Williams
November 2, 2021 | fantasy > high fantasy

A short novel.

Pride often goes before a fall, but sometimes that prideful fall is so catastrophic that it changes history itself.

Among the immortal Sithi of Osten Ard, none are more beloved and admired than the two sons of the ruling family, steady Hakatri and his proud and fiery younger brother Ineluki - Ineluki, who will one day become the undead Storm King. The younger brother makes a bold, terrible oath that he will destroy deadly Hidohebhi, a terrifying monster, but instead drags his brother with him into a disaster that threatens not just their family but all the Sithi - and perhaps all of humankind as well.

Set a thousand years before the events of Williams's The Dragonbone Chair, the tale of Ineluki's tragic boast and what it brings is told by Pamon Kes, Hakatri's faithful servant. Kes is not one of the Sithi but a member of the enslaved Changeling race, and his loyalty has never before been tested. Now he must face the terrible black dragon at his master's side, then see his own life changed forever in a mere instant by Ineluki's rash, selfish promise.

Kes and his master will range the world, risking countless dangers and meeting both mortals and immortals of many kinds as they try to undo the tragedy that springs from Ineluki's fatal pledge. During this journey, the seeds are planted for events that will culminate centuries later in the Storm King's War in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and the dreadful Norn Queen Utuk'ku's assault on humanity in The Last King of Osten Ard.

In the end, Pamon Kes must question everything about his life - and risk everything, too - as he struggles to save his beloved master, Hakatri. But will anything Kes does be enough? Or has Ineluki's rash promise already set the entire world on an unstoppable course toward destruction?

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (Outlander #9)
Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
(Outlander #9) by Diana Gabaldon
November 23, 2021 | fantasy, history, romance

#1 New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon returns with the newest novel in the epic Outlander series.

The past may seem the safest place to be... but it is the most dangerous time to be alive....

Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1746, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.

It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible.

Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s teakettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.

Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s — among them disease, starvation, and an impending war — was indeed the safer choice for their family.

Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity — and thus his own — and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet... on his son’s behalf, and his own.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before.

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