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  • 29/12/2023 08:53 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Book of Gaheris cover

    The Book of Gaheris: An Arthurian Tale by Kari Sperring

    (Newcon Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by David Lascelles

    The legends of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are among the most well-known tales in Europe and the US, if not wider. There have been many interpretations throughout history and the tales have contributed significantly to the tropes of ‘knights in shining armour’ that we know and love today.

    I’m willing to bet that everyone can name at least some of the knights. They’d certainly recognise Arthur, Lancelot, Gawain and Galahad.

    These knights are not the heroes of this book. They appear, but only as cameos. Here, we are looking in detail at the lesser-known knights, in particular Gaheris.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 26/12/2023 09:01 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    All the Hollow of the Sky cover

    All the Hollow of the Sky by Kit Whitfield

    (Jo Fletcher Books, 2023)

    Reviewed by Anne F. Wilson

    All the Hollow of the Sky is a sequel to Whitfield’s previous novel, In the Heart of Hidden Things. This introduced us to the three generations of Smiths who live in the village of Gyrford: Jedediah the farrier, Matthew his son and John his ten-year-old grandson, an intelligent lad who never knows when to keep his mouth shut. I don’t think you need to read the first book in order to enjoy the second, but it is delightful and why wouldn’t you?

    The novels are set sometime between the medieval period and the early eighteenth century, before steam power. The location is unspecified, but Kidderminster is a nearby town. The struggles of the villagers do not relate to the outside world, however, but to their relations with the Fey, or the “Kind Friends” who cause more upsets when they try to help the humans than when they don’t.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 22/12/2023 08:58 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Wistful Wanderings of Perceval Pitthelm cover

    The Wistful Wanderings of Perceval Pitthelm by Rhys Hughes

    (Telios Publishing, 2023)

    Reviewed by John Dodds

    Writer, explorer, inventor, Perceval Pitthelm’s story in this short novel (or novella) begins on a writing retreat in the town of Figuera da Foz, Portugal. Though it is not his story we first hear, but rather the fantastical tale told by a man Perceval meets in the town, Old Rogerio.

    To say the Old Rogerio’s tale—and the novel itself—is fanciful would be to do both a major disservice. When I posted on a science fiction group on Facebook that this was my current read, one commentator said it sounded “bonkers”, which pretty much sums up what I felt. Seriously bonkers. But in a really good way.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 20/12/2023 09:02 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pomegranates cover

    Pomegranates by Priya Sharma

    (Absinthe Books, 2023)

    Reviewed by Jamie Mollart

    Pomegranates falls nearly into two literary trends which will hopefully lend it the success it richly deserves. As a retelling of a classic Greek myth, it calls to mind the successes of Madeline Miller’s ‘Circe’, ‘Ariadne’ by Jennifer Saint and ‘Ithaca’ by Claire North. And elsewhere I’m seeing an enjoyable trend for novellas, so it’s especially gratifying to read one in a space which has traditionally been all about length and scope.

    That said, this novella is a deceptively simple piece of work, packing so much into its limited palette that it somehow feels epic despites its slight page count. The plot is taut and crisp. The construction elegant and elusive. The brilliant writing, while sparse, is still redolent with imagery, mystery and portent. Meaning the whole packs much more of a punch than its size would suggest.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 15/12/2023 09:23 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Warlock Effect cover

    The Warlock Effect by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

    (Hodder & Stoughton, 2023)

    Reviewed by Dave M. Roberts

    The first page of this book is a ‘Reader’s Secrecy Covenant’, reminiscent of the announcement at the end of Dyson and Nyman’s play Ghost Stories in which the audience was asked not to reveal any details of the play. The reader starts by being implored not to reveal any revelations contained in the book. In this case, it’s actually a book within the book that the covenant strictly applies to. Even so, the reader is being set up with the expectation that there will be twists and revelations, and foreknowledge of these would spoil the experience. Whilst this is true of most good fiction, the reveals in this novel feel like the explanation for a stage illusion. Once understood most, if not all, of the magic has gone.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 13/12/2023 19:27 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Malevolent Seven cover

    The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien De Castell

    (Jo Fletcher Books, 2023)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    Always liked the Magnificent Seven, and with that, always liked plays on the nature of that particular story, especially when they take a turn in a direction that wasn’t expected.

    Enter Cade Ombra, stage right, as a mercenary mage, a wonderist, with powers far beyond those of mortal creatures, who has no interest in working for the greater good or saving those who cannot save themselves. If anything, he’s likely to be the one on the other side that the peasants need saving from.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 11/12/2023 19:21 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Life Beyond Us cover

    Life Beyond Us edited by Julie Nováková, Lucas K. Law and Susan Forest

    (Laksa Media Groups, 2023)

    Reviewed by Niall Harrison

    Let's start with the verdict: Life Beyond Us is not a very good anthology.

    I say this up-front because in concept and in some of the execution it is an attractive proposition. For one thing it is, thanks to a successful kickstarter campaign, a very big anthology—580 pages and, by my estimate, a decent chunk north of 200,000 words. For another, it is animated by a strong and evergreen theme—what it would mean to encounter non-human intelligence. It is also one of those occasional anthologies that pair science fiction stories with essays written by working scientists, in this case coordinated by the European Astrobiology Institute. These factors combined mean that there are certainly some notable and good things about Life Beyond Us and in it; but not enough, in my view, to justify the time spent with it.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 08/12/2023 11:31 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Monsters Born and Made cover

    Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah

    (Sourcebook Fire, 2022)

    Reviewed by Ksenia Shcherbino

    As a researcher interested in hybridity and social constructs of monstrosity, I could not miss Tanvi Berwah’s new book, Monsters Born and Made. Monsters, angry teenage girls, and social inequality seem like a perfect hotpot mix to explore liminality and social exclusion, and the novel lives up to its recipe. It is fast-paced and engaging, it is full of violence and gore and teenage angst, but the questions it raises invite a slow read.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 06/12/2023 19:13 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hooked cover

    Hooked by A.C. Wise

    (Titan Books, 2022)

    Reviewed by Susan Peak

    The Peter Pan story has fascinated many people since it was first written as a play in 1904 (it was published as a book in 1911). There have been several films of the book itself, and films which took the ideas further such as Hook (1991) which starred Robin Williams; there have been other books set in the story-world since 1987 (earlier work was always centred on the original story, probably for copyright reasons). Wikipedia has an interesting article on ‘works based on Peter Pan’, and a substantial amount of Peter Pan fanfic can be found on the main site and on So, A.C. Wise is writing in a well-established tradition in her book, Hooked.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 04/12/2023 19:07 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Curator cover

    The Curator by Owen King

    (Hodder & Stoughton, 2023)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    In his second novel, King has created a fascinating fable that rewards close reading. The Curator has an urban setting that feels like second-world fantasy, but is presented as a fictional city on an island off Europe. King playfully nods at genre conventions by insisting that the city cannot be mapped.

    The whimsically unnamed city is a mix of Dickensian London and the setting of Gormenghast, yet London is specifically mentioned, so cannot be this city. In a sense, this could be any European city of the 19th century, with grand museums, factories, rotting docks and a crowded slum district.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.


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