MARKSWOMAN by Rati Mehrotra

A new review over at I did not greatly enjoy this book. I rather disliked it, unfortunately.

Markswoman is Rati Mehrotra’s debut novel. It’s also a book I really wish I’d enjoyed, because its big idea—sword-wielding telepathic lady assassins enforce the law while having internal politics that might involve murder!—is the kind of thing that feels like it should be tailor-made to appeal to me. And yet, reading Markswoman felt like a chore, a book that could only be read a couple of pages at a time, because its voice was about as compelling as old cardboard.


Sleeps With Monsters: Time Travel and Living Ships

A new column over at

The difference between a really good novella and an excellent one lies partly in the ability of the author to make the ending feel right, inevitable, and a satisfactory conclusion to all that has come before. There are other differences (and some of these are also differences between a good novella and a bad one, depending on how they arise), and this statement is also true for a lot of novellas. But if there’s a difference between Kelly Robson’s really good Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach ( Publishing) and Aliette de Bodard’s excellent The Tea Master and the Detective (Subterranean Press), it’s that Robson’s ending feels right and inevitable, but not satisfactory, while de Bodard’s ticks all three boxes.


A new review over at

I’ve been hearing about Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing for a while. Often with superlative adjectives attached, usually from people whose taste I trust. It’s hard to believe this much advance hype, so I approached the novella with an attitude of dubious caution, much as one might approach a strange cat that one would dearly like to pet.

Especially since I’d also heard it was both angry and tragic.

Well. Well.


Sleeps With Monsters: Demons On A Mission

A new column over at

There’s nothing quite so disappointing as not being able to get your hands on a book you really want to read. Due to a peculiar combination of factors, including Barnes & Noble’s approach to (not) selling ebooks outside North America, my personal intense dislike of the .mobi format, and an unaccountable gap in Kobo availability, I’ve had to wait for the Subterranean Press editions of all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas. The third and latest to reach the shelves is Penric’s Mission, and it is utterly fantastic.

Sleeps With Monsters: Magic Roadtrips, Graceful Space Opera, and a Bleak Take on Star Wars

A new column over at

Cast in Deception is the latest novel in Michelle Sagara’s long-running Chronicles of Elantra series. The Chronicles of Elantra stars Kaylin Neya, a private in the Hawks—the police force of the city of Elantra—who consistently finds herself at the centre of cataclysmic events. Over the course of the series, she’s gathered around herself a wide variety of friends and allies, from the last living female Dragon to a set of peculiar young Barrani (an immortal race—think elves, and not the friendly kind), and the only Barrani Lord in the Hawks. In Cast in Deception, Kaylin’s current Barrani houseguests get her involved in their problems, and magic, politics, and found family all tangle together in a story about growth and trust and unwanted roadtrips.

Sleeps With Monsters: Strange Differences and Unusual Similarities

A new post over at

Creatures of Will and Temper starts slow and measured. It’s the end of the 19th century. Sisters Evadne and Dorina Gray—Evadne awkward, worried about social conventions, only passionate about fencing; ten years older than Dorina, young, unconventional, interested in everything to do with art and beauty and seducing other women—visit their uncle Basil in London.

DARK STATE by Charles Stross

A new review over at

Last January’s Empire Games kicked off a new, standalone chapter in Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes continuity: a science fictional thriller involving panopticon societies, multiple timelines, a cross-timeline Cold War and nuclear-armed standoff, political crises, and family secrets. It packed a lot into a relatively slender volume. As its sequel—and the middle book of a trilogy—Dark State has a great deal to live up to, and even more work to do.

It succeeds admirably.

EMERGENCE by C.J. Cherryh

A new review over at

If you’re new to the Foreigner series, this is not the place to start. (The best advice is to start at the beginning, or else at book four, Precursor.) If you’re a fan, then it’s entirely likely that you already know whether or not you want to read Emergence: it does very similar things to its predecessors—although it suffers from the absence of the aiji-dowager, whose inimitable presence has improved every book that’s featured her.

Sleeps With Monsters: Odd and Satisfying

The first column of the new year, over at

Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher—the penname of the Hugo-Award-winning Ursula Vernon—is really fun, and strangely difficult to describe. Its main characters have been condemned to death (or longterm imprisonment) for various crimes. But their city is losing a war, and losing badly. Their enemy employs “Clockwork Boys”—constructs of machinery and flesh that are practically unstoppable. Finding out how the Clockwork Boys are made, and how to stop them, is a suicide mission that’s already killed dozens. But our heroes’ lives are already forfeit.