I was going to leave Carey a nice review on Audible/Amazon - right up to the moment I clicked on the button and was presented with five boxes that had to be filled in about what moments moved me, what I thought of the vocalist, etc, etc.
I'm guessing they're trying to steer people away from just regurgitating the story, full of spoilers and all. Does annoy me when folk do that.
I just don't like being told what to do.

That's something of a theme here, too. Lots of folk who don't like being told what to do. Curiously, the ten year old girl who spends most of her life strapped to a wheeled frame doesn't seem to worry so much. But then, I guess its easier when you have a crush on the teacher.

This book is very difficult to review without giving away so much it would spoil your experience if you chose to consume it. There's no secret that this child, or the others in her class, are treated in an uncomfortably unhuman way. Nor any secret that those around them are deeply afraid of the children. Its the slow exposure of just how far some of the adults are prepared to go, both to abuse the children and to help them, that I simply cant tell you about. It is the backbone of the plot, and I dont give away plots. At least, not intentionally.
The tone of the story is almost unrelievedly dark. Even the conclusion asks more questions than it answers, and delivers a terrible inversion of the captivity the children are forced to endure at the beginning. The only bright light in the tale is the girl, Melanie, inquisitive mind and her utter devotion to one of her teachers.

In some ways the characters are harsh stereotypes,  the Cold Scientist, the Angry Soldier, the Compassionate Psychiatrist, and yet they need to be. The story material deals considerably with what is a post apocalyptic morality play, and we need Noh-type, or Punch and Judy, standards to compare it and ourselves against.

Certainly not a read for the feint hearted, but I enjoyed it.


Dont forget the competition: 
go to http://eepurl.com/b_XpVX and you may win a copy

New Con, Old Con

Busy times. Several cons attended and, last night, finally finished a troubled first draft of the third and final Warrior Stone novel. Given me a lot of trouble, has this one, and almost seemed it didn't want to be written.

So, a little time on my hands, and a few moments for a blog update.

First of all, FantasyCon last weekend (23rd Sept). FCon was my second ever con a very long time ago. It was a magnificent experience, not diminished by the fact that my partner and I were new friends with some of the organisers, and it felt very inclusive and wonderous.

Sadly, immediately after, a group of people within the BFS tried a very dirty, very nasty smear campaign against the then Chair (my friend). As is usual with these things, all the accusations appear in 72-point bold. When all the accusations were proven to be unfounded, the apology was written in 6-pt feint. A few nasty experience.

We went the next year, but found it  a bitter and cliquey affair. This year, for some reason, we decided to give it another go. The organisers were different and the location promised interesting diversions if the Con itself proved uninspiring.

Sadly, it didn't work for me. FCon has become less of a convention and more of a trade fair. The lack of inclusion felt worse than ever, and this year both I and a friend got accosted and harangued for no clearly definable reason.
I'm sure the organisers put a lot of work in, and I'm happy for those who enjoyed it, but I wont be making any more appearances at a FantasyCon.

On a lighter note, a few days with light duties means I'll hopefully get around to writing a few new reviews of some exceptional books that have recently crossed my path. One will certainly be 'The Girl With all the Gifts' by M R Carey, and I believe Mr Ruins (Michael John Grist) and A Star Curiously Singing (Kerry Nietz) will all be getting mentions.

Also, we have BristolCon looming ever closer to the horizon. Watch out for more news on that too.


Very Proud To Announce.....

I am most monumentally proud and happy to announce the publication date of my new novel,and to share the cover with you.

Amunet will be published by Kristell Ink, and launched at BristolCon on October 29th

We are also announcing a free-to-enter competition to wind a hardback copy, signed by myself and the cover artist, Ken Dawson

Simply follow this link to http://eepurl.com/b_XpVX

Can't thank Kristell Ink enough for their support and this wonderful opportunity.

Amunet is a gritty blend of urban fantasy and steampunk; fast paced action for all readers


A curse of writing...

Bit of a ramble today.
One of the downsides of being a writer, or an editor (although saying you are one usually implies you are also the other), is that it is very difficult to 'switch off' when you read. Apart from that initial creative eruption as you lay down the first draft of a novel, every time you pick it up after that, you are looking for errors.
So, by extension, when you pick up someone else's book, you do the same. It can make something you used to enjoy suddenly become toxic and unreadable. This may be why I don't read my old favourites as much as I used to.
For some reason - I think mainly because my wife asked to read it again - I recently picked up the Belgariad, by David Eddings. I first encountered this author in my early teens and its no exaggeration to say he changed my life. Eddings wrote fantasy in a way nobody had ever done before; approachable and free flowing, not like the high-Tolkenian stodge most people were churning out.
Anyhow, after much deliberation, and because we were on holidays and the books I had taken with me weren't engaging me, I picked up the first volume.
It wasn't until I was starting the fourth volume I realised that something was wrong, and it took me some time to analyse exactly what it was. When I figured it out, it came as something of a revelation, but not realy a surprise.
There were no errors.
Not one.
Now I figured I must just have my rose tinted reading specs on, so I put some real effort into looking for anything I could pick at.
Still nothing.
Not an awkward phrase, nary an echo, nah-ah on the typo.
The damn books were perfect.
Which surprised me. So much of what I read today, even by big six houses and very widely known authors, keeps kicking me out of the 'fictive world' of the novel by stuff most people would overlook - but as I writer I can'. And here was Eddings, absolutely clean.
Part of me suspects thats why I fell in love with the Eddings (as his wife Leigh was always involved but rarely credited). Think I may have to extend the experiment to see if the same is true of any of my other first loves. 
I feel an urge coming on to read Magician, by Raymond E Feist.


Bracing Skegness

Just a quick post. I shall be at Skegness on Sunday, plying my trade at their very own and first Comic con, orgaised by the wonderful people who bought you EM-Con. Great trip out for a Sunday, and I believe there may still be door tickets available (check the site for details on that, at http://skegnesscomiccon.com/tickets/

I shall be on table 3, right next to the inimitable Crafty Miss Kitty, purveyor of fine jewellery and stuffed things made of yarn.


The Devil's Detective, Simon Kurt Unsworth

Well this is a first. I’m writing a review for a book before I’ve even finished it. I’m currently audiobooking The Devil’s Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth. I was drawn to it because I recognised the name from Facebook and could have sworn at some point we had been ‘friends’, so having a social media presence obviously works, folks. Apparently.

When I read the description, I was even more intrigued. Hell is no longer a place of fire and brimstone torment, but has become the epitome of the worst of modern life; an eternity of waiting in limbo, only to be en-corporated (and yes I did spell that right) in a hell of drudgery and oppression, fear of the Demons who still wreak terrible violence on humans at the slightest provocation. Nobody knows what their sins were, only that they are being punished. Death sends the soul back to limbo, and the worst torment of all is that there is a hope, just the slightest sliver of lottery-rare hope, that you might be pardoned and elevated to Heaven.
And then come the new murders. Killings so dreadful, so horrific, that the soul is ripped from the body and consumed – but by what nobody knows. Not even Thomas Fool, the Devil’s Detective, and head of the Information Department.
Right from the opening words, this tale grips. From the opening description of the new Hell, the subtly ordinary yet disquieting ways of tormenting sinners, and the parallels with societies run by capitalist, brutal overlords the reader is drawn in to a world of remarkable richness, simultaneously unexpected yet familiar. I was very forcefully reminded of the first time I audiobooked The City and The City, by China Mieville.
If I had to throw any flies into the ointment, there is one character I felt the narrator had got wrong, and the tone used grated on my nerves and ears. I was left perhaps inappropriately pleased when the character was killed, which is why I haven’t named him, her, or it.
Through Unsworth’s characters, the sense of hopelessness, of fear, or desperately trying not to get noticed, soaks in to you. The constant terror of showing any enjoyment, lest it is taken away, nor loathing, lest it be heaped upon you, grinds the characters down. Punishment is crafty and cruel. But, grind at the end of a worm and eventually, it will turn, and we find that Elevation is not the only source of hope in Hell.

I am not looking forward to finishing this book, and I only have about 2 hours to go. On the other hand, I can then try out another of Unsworth’s novels, although I believe there is another volume in this series. Silver linings are where you find them, I guess.