Spider Dance by Nick Setchfield Extract

The Spider Dance

Title – The Spider Dance

Author – Nick Setchfield

Publisher/Published – Titan Books / July 2019

Genre – Science Fiction, Fantasy

Pages – 352

Summary From Goodreads

A genre-defying page turner that fuses thriller and speculative fiction with dark fantasy in a hidden world in the heart of Cold War Europe.

THE TRUE COLD WAR IS FOUGHT ON THE BORDERS OF THIS WORLD, AT THE EDGES OF THE LIGHT.

It’s 1965 and Christopher Winter is trying to carve a new life, a new identity, beyond his days in British Intelligence. Recruited by London’s gangland he now finds himself on the wrong side of the law – and about to discover that the secret service has a way of claiming back its own. Who is the fatally alluring succubus working honeytraps for foreign paymasters? What is the true secret of the Shadowless, a fabled criminal cabal deadlier than the Mafia? And why do both parties covet long- buried caskets said to hold the hearts of kings? Winter must confront the buried knowledge of his own past to survive – but is he ready to embrace the magic that created the darkness waiting there?

 

Extract from the Novel

JUNE 1965

There was a human heart in a locker at St Pancras station.
Christopher Winter came to collect it on a Thursday afternoon in early summer. London felt listless; cranes idled on the heat-blurred horizon, ready to peck at the new tower blocks sprouting to the north of the city. There was no wind and the weathervane that topped the gothic spire of the grand Victorian building did not tilt or turn.

The heart cared little for London and even less for the living.

Winter strode through the redbrick arch on Euston Road, into the main concourse, scattering sickly-grey pigeons. The birds took to the roof, settling on its wrought-iron ribs. The station clock hung like a glass moon above the locomotives. It was almost five.

The heart had outlasted centuries. The heart could wait forever.

Destination boards clattered, place names spinning in the slats. St Albans. Kettering. Melton Mowbray. There was the promise of more exotic departures too: Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh Waverley.

The heart had known many lands.

Winter kept walking, past the walls of diesel-blackened bricks. It was hot inside and this gutter-stained cathedral smelt of soot and engine oil. Soon, he suspected, they would take a wrecking ball to St Pancras. Build something new, streamlined and modern, fit for the times.

The left luggage lockers were ahead of him, bookended by posters for Pall Mall cigarettes and cheap breaks on the Spanish coast. He located his locker and inspected the edges of the door for signs of disturbance. The pinch of gum he had wedged in the crack was intact, his pencil-tip indentations preserved. Standard operational practice in the field. He rather missed it.

A Salvation Army band had gathered outside the ticket office. They began to play ‘The Well is Deep’, the sound of the brass incongruously mournful on such a sultry afternoon. Winter let his gaze skim the concourse, his face blank. Good. He was unobserved.

He took a small key from his shirt pocket. It was wet from the sweat that had seeped into the nylon. The serrated silver slid into the lock. The key turned.

The package was there, just as he had left it. It had arrived in the post two days before, tied with sturdy bows of string and plastered with colourful Ecuadorian stamps. Where to store it? Not at his damp-riddled room in Battersea, that was for sure. His landlady had the infiltration skills of the KGB’s finest. No, far safer to keep it here, concealed behind this anonymous wall of lockers, safe among the suitcases and the hat boxes and the pills and the guns and all the other secrets London banked when no one was looking.

He pulled the parcel from its aluminium nest. It was Karina who had addressed the label, her handwriting as sleek and contained as he remembered her physical presence (those upward slashes, so like the movement of a blade…). She had sourced the heart for him, drawing on her network of contacts who traded in the unobtainable. It was a favour. He tried not to think of it as a final gift.

Winter placed the parcel under his arm and closed the locker door. As he stepped away one of the station’s rat-catchers passed behind him. The man had an inky bottle of poison in his hand and a small but belligerent dog on a leash. The terrier snarled, springing at Winter’s legs and leaving two grimy paw prints on the knees of his suit. The man pulled the dog back with a jerk of the strap. The animal whined, straining to reach the package, half curious, half anxious. It continued to stare as the rat- catcher hauled it towards the goods yard. ‘Get away, boy! Daft thing, you are!’

Winter strode out of the station, the clipped tones of the tannoy fading behind him. He flagged down a black cab at the kerbside.

‘Camden Town. Betting shop on Chalk Farm Road.’ He eased himself onto the seat behind the driver, the parcel balanced on his lap. Stealing a look in the rear- view mirror he saw the spires of St Pancras retreat, the late afternoon sunlight striking the sandstone bricks. Picking up speed, the taxi trundled north along the Euston Road, the traffic a drowsy hum outside the windows.

Sat there in the back of the cab Winter imagined he could hear the faintest throb of a heartbeat. A muffled but insistent drumming, coming from inside the parcel. Tiny, determined, impossible. Once he would have crushed such a thought. He knew better now. He knew that magic was the hidden pulse of this world.

Winter extracted a pack of Woodbines from his jacket pocket. He placed one between his lips, poking the tip into the flame of his gunmetal lighter. He clearly wasn’t about to make conversation and so the driver spun the radio dial. On Radio London Sandie Shaw was singing about waiting a long, long time for love.

The heart had the patience of a dead thing.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Plague Stones by James James Brogden – Guest Post from the Author

Hi everyone, so I have a very exciting post for you all. I am lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for The Plague Stones which is an amazing book. What makes this post exciting is that I have a guest post from James Brogden himself.

Title: The Plague Stones

Author: James Brogden

Publisher: Titan Books

Published: 14th May 2019

Pages: 496

Summary from Goodreads :

Fleeing from a traumatic break-in, Londoners Paul and Tricia Feenan sell up to escape to the isolated Holiwell village where Tricia has inherited a property. Scattered throughout the settlement are centuries-old stones used during the Great Plague as boundary markers. No plague-sufferer was permitted to pass them and enter the village. The plague diminished, and the village survived unscathed, but since then each year the village trustees have insisted on an ancient ceremony to renew the village boundaries, until a misguided act by the Feenans’ son then reminds the village that there is a reason traditions have been rigidly stuck to, and that all acts of betrayal, even those committed centuries ago, have consequences…

Guest Post by James Brogden

All about Hester

There Were No Elves At Helm’s Deep

Just to be clear:

Hester Attlowe isn’t a witch, and this is not a tale about witches. Nor is she is a zombie, even though she’s dead. Nor is she a ghost, because some of the things she does are very, shall we say, visceral.

So what exactly is she?

There comes a point in the editing process where I have to sit down and thrash it out. I have a very clear idea of her motives, but what is the extent of her power, where does it come from and what is its achilles heel? I tend to put this kind of thing off for as long as possible because what excites me is the mystery of the supernatural, and when I have to start saying

‘Well, she can do this but she can’t do that because of reasons, except under these conditions’, it all starts to feel a bit like the kind of rules-heavy roleplaying games that I used to play for hours on as a teenager (and yes, okay, most of my twenties, dammit), before I realised that they didn’t make for very interesting stories.

I tend to start from the point of having Character do a Cool Thing, where ‘cool’ usually means wibbly wobbly magicky wagicky stuff, or extreme violence, sometimes both, and hand-waving the explanations. Then very sensible people will ask me, quite correctly, questions like ‘Why didn’t Character do the Cool Thing at other times, when it would have been useful?’ and my only answer is that it didn’t make for an interesting story, which is not a real answer at all.

Because we demand consistency, don’t we? We demand logic from our made-up worlds, or at least a rational approach to the existence of irrational powers. If your character has a squad of giant eagles at his beck and call you’d better have those feathered lads ready to fly at a moment’s notice, because there’s a certain type of reader who will call it a plot hole and pick at it obsessively until it becomes a running sore and your story contracts a lethal case of pedantry.

I used to be one of them.

I used to have a thing about Peter Jackson’s use of elves in his movie version of the Battle of Helm’s Deep. As my long-suffering family and friends will attest, I will rant on about how it makes no sense on any level, from travel times and the geography of Rohan to the historical differences between humans and elves. I even have maps, God help me. Except it does make sense on the most important level, the only one that really matters: that of the story. It doesn’t really matter how they got there or why. What matters is that their presence strengthened the narrative threads of hope and the necessity for diverse cultures to fight together against the forces of darkness.

So, I don’t know what Hester is. I don’t know how well or badly she fits under the labels of ‘ghost’ or ‘zombie’ or ‘witch’. I only know that my editors accomplished the herculean task of making me wrangle her into something which I hope makes sense, and that you find her as compelling and terrifying as I do.

If not, well: *waves hand*

Sky in the deep by Adrienne Young Review PLUS Q&A with the author

Title – Sky in the Deep

Author – Adrienne Young

Publisher/Published – Titan Books – March 2019

Genre – Young Adult , Fantasy

Pages – 336

Summary from Goodreads

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart. Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

My Thoughts

5 out of 5 Stars

What an amazing read! I loved this so much and couldn’t stop reading it. The plot was so well thought out and we’ll developed, it kept me interested and I was eager to see where the story went. I really enjoyed the world building aswell.

The characters were well fleshed out and it was great to see them grow and develop. Eelyn was definitely my favourite and I loved watching her grow and develop throughout the story. I also liked Fiske, I was wary of him at first but he grew on me the more I read.

The authors writing was so good and I felt the book moved at a fantastic pace that kept you interested but also developed both the plot and characters.

After finishing this I look forward to reading more of the authors work as this book was just amazing. Adrienne Young has now joined my list of favourite authors and I urge you to pick up this book.

Interview with Adrienne Young

1. What inspired the book?

The initial inspiration for the book was definitely the betrayal between Eelyn and her brother Iri, but the story took on the shape a lot of identity and inner transformation that I was going through when I wrote it.

2. Who is your favourite character in the book?

I love all of the characters so much, but Eelyn has got to be my favorite. Halvard is a close second.

3. What character do you think readers will like the most?

I think everyone really loves Myra and Halvard.

4. If you could be a character from your book who would you be?

I would want to be either Eelyn or Inge.

5. Who influenced you to be a writer?

Writing is something I’ve just always done. But my third grade teacher was the first person to ever tell me I was a writer. Beyond that, it was definitely all the books I grew up reading and loved. I wanted to have the power to transport people the way I was when I read.

6. What was the first book you can remember reading?

A book called Snot Stew. It was the first chapter book I ever checked out at the library.

7. What is your favourite thing about being a writer?

I think it’s probably just the ability to use my imagination in ways that most adults don’t. I get to play with ideas and create worlds and characters and it is so much fun.

8. Do you have a favourite thing to do when you are writing?

I always, always, always listen to music and drink cold brew coffee.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t let fear dictate what you want to write. Write the things that are deep inside of you, not the things you think people will buy. Once you’ve figured out how to do that, keep writing until those two things cross paths.

And that’s a wrap. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did creating it and I hope you enjoy the interview with Adrienne Young.

Larklight by Philip Reeve Review

Title – Larklight

Author – Philip Reeve

Illustrator – David Wyatt

Published/Publisher – December 2018 / Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Genre – science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, young adult, Fiction, Adventure

Pages – 416

Summary from Goodreads
Arthur (Art) Mumby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in the huge and rambling house, Larklight, travelling through space on a remote orbit far beyond the Moon. One ordinary sort of morning they receive a correspondence informing them that a gentleman is on his way to visit, a Mr Webster. Visitors to Larklight are rare if not unique, and a frenzy of preparation ensues. But it is entirely the wrong sort of preparation, as they discover when their guest arrives, and a Dreadful and Terrifying (and Marvellous) adventure begins. It takes them to the furthest reaches of Known Space, where they must battle the evil First Ones in a desperate attempt to save each other – and the Universe. Recounted through the eyes of Art himself, Larklight is sumptuously designed and illustrated throughout.

My Thoughts

4 out of 5 Stars

Well this was such a great read. I had so much fun reading this book. This was such a well written book with such a great premise. The story was set in the 1800’s in the Victorian era but the twist was that it is in space. I loved the plot, it was such an interesting idea and the author wrote it so well. I enjoyed the characters and watching them develop. The authors writing was on point and I really fell in love with this book. I won’t go into details of the plot so I don’t ruin it but I do highly reccomend this to everyone.

Another thing that made this story amazing was the illustrations. They were so stunning and added a whole extra dimension to the book.

I cannot wait to read the other books in this series and I urge you all to give this one a go.

Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. This does not affect my opinions which are my own.

The Killing Joke by Christa Faust and Gary Phillips Review

Title – The Killing Joke

Author – Christa Faust and Gary Phillips

Published/Publisher – September 2018 / Titan Books

Genre – Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction , DC Comics

Pages – 336

Summary from Goodreads
A tragic, unnamed engineer-turned-criminal is immersed in chemicals that disfigure him bizarrely, driving him mad and thus giving birth to the Joker. While the insane criminal is imprisoned, Batman and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) patrol Gotham City together, taking down perps such as the crime boss Maxie Zeus. Simultaneously Detective Harvey Bullock works with Commissioner James Gordon to take down a drug factory. Back in Arkham Asylum, Joker learns of a new technology he wants to acquire and escapes, setting out on a mission designed to break the Commissioner, forcing him to abandon his ideals as a police officer. In a violent home invasion he shoots and cripples Barbara, then takes Gordon hostage. Batman races to rescue Gordon, ultimately confronting his arch-foe in an amusement park fun house. This edgy adaptation by Hard Case Crime novelist Christa Faust expands upon the cast and adds intricate layers to the events of the graphic novel, further examining the nature of morality.

My Thoughts

3 out of 5 Stars

I am going to start by saying that I haven’t read the killing joke graphic novel in which this story is the novelization.

I have mixed feelings about how I feel about this book. On one hand I loves getting to find out why the Joker became who he was and I enjoyed the events that happened in the last third of the book. But on the other hand I felt like parts dragged and I found myself getting bored in parts and I kept hoping the Joker would be in it a bit more.

The Joker is one of my favourite villains and I was so excited to read this and learn his back story, however most of this book fell flat for me and I was left a bit dissappointed. The last third did make up for it though and I really enjoyed that part the best.

Very Late January Wrap-Up 2019

book-2572013_960_720-1119441945.jpg

So this wrap up should have gone up long before now but life has been hectic recently, with work being busy and life being busy. January was quite a good month for me, I didn’t read as much as I have in previous Januarys but I did complete 7 books which include the following:

Lullaby by Leila Slimani – 4 Stars – 224 Pages.

The Cruel Prince (re – read) by Holly Black – 5 Stars – 370 Pages.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – 4 Stars – 226 Pages.

Mary Poppins by P.L Travers, Illustrated by Lauren Child – 4 Stars – 204 Pages.

Vampire Knight Vol 1 by Matsuri Hino – 5 Stars – 192 Pages.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald Screenplay – 4 Stars – 304 Pages.

The Lost Sisters by Holly Black – 3 Stars – 50 Pages.

So there you have the list of books I read in January. I would say my favourite read of January was Vampire Knight Vol 1 by Matsuri Hino, this was a manga and I don’t usually read manga but I adored this one and can’t wait to read the rest in the series. I would say unfortunately that The Lost Sisters by Holly Black was my least favourite read, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

 

 

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite Review

Title – My Sister, The Serial Killer

Author – Oyinkan Braithwaite

Publisher/Published – Doubleday books / November 2018

Genre – Fiction, thriller, mystery

Pages – 226

Summary from Goodreads

“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic.

And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that’s as fun as it is frightening.

My Thoughts

4 out of 5 Stars

Wow this book! This was a highly anticipated read for me and I must say it delivered and is easily my favourite book so far. There just isn’t enough ways to describe how much I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down, it was so short but packed a punch. The chapters helped me fly through it because some were so short. I loved the writing style and I really enjoyed the plot which I won’t go in to as not to spoil it. When it ended I was so sad and I wanted more. I really hope there is a sequel.

I must say though if you love thrillers I would pick this one up. A short book that packs a punch and leaves you wanting more.