Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Book review: Witches of Lychford

Paul Cornell's author bio mentions the many different media he's written (and won awards) for, including TV and a couple of the most popular episodes of the revived Doctor Who (but nothing for some years now.) It does make me wonder if Witches of Lychford wasn't originally envisaged as a book, because by its end it does feel like you've just watched the pilot for a supernatural TV show. It's not just the fact that it mostly establishes a setting and characters for further stories - and there is already another book in the series - but also the fact that it's so short. It basically has time to introduce its central mismatched trio - a witch, a vicar and an atheist-turned-occultist - and its location of Lychford, a village that's a weak spot between supernatural dimensions. The three women get to form an uneasy alliance and fight off their first challenge, the proposal of a supermarket whose building would destroy the occult protections against invasion from other realms. It's certainly mainly setup for "more adventures to come..." and it's, unsurprisingly, well-written with well-drawn characters, so I will look out for those further adventures, but much as I like a quick read I hope we get the chance for something a bit more intricate than a novella next time.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Book review: The Boy Who Stole From The Dead

I enjoyed The Boy From Reactor 4 enough to give Orest Stelmach's follow-up a chance - The Boy Who Stole From The Dead is the second of his Nadia Tesla series, in which the Ukrainian-American heroine is now the legal guardian of teenage hockey player Bobby, who's actually her illegal immigrant cousin from Chernobyl. This time Bobby is accused of murder, and her attempts to clear his name without revealing his true identity see Nadia returning to Ukraine again. The story's resolution takes a much more extreme turn than I was expecting but Stelmach just about pulls it off, while setting up an even bigger conspiracy for the third in what now seems to be a trilogy.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Book review: All My Friends are Superheroes

A very quick word about All My Friends are Superheroes because it's a very short book. Andrew Kaufman's novella is a little fable about people defining themselves by a single personality trait, framed in a love story in which the narrator's superhero wife has been hypnotized into not being able to see him; he has until the end of a flight to Toronto to make himself visible again before she forgets him entirely. It's a bit self-consciously quirky but likeable all the same.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Book review: The New Watch

Somewhere in the blurb for Sergei Lukyanenko's The New Watch I'm sure I saw it described as the final book in the Night Watch pentalogy; I think that makes it the third consecutive "final book in the series," following the "final book in the trilogy" and the "sequel to the trilogy." So I'm not too surprised to see that yes, a sixth novel is due in September.

Still, I enjoy Lukyanenko's supernatural thrillers about the Others, the sub-species of humans with magical abilities split into Dark and Light categories with an uneasy truce that states that each action made by one side means the other is allowed to do something of equal but opposite influence. In The New Watch, the Light magician Anton discovers a boy with prophetic powers, something which opens up a whole new (and at times, unnecessarily complicated) area of the books' mythology as there are unbreakable rules surrounding the first, biggest prophecy any Prophet makes, except it turns out nobody's actually sure what they are. It's a bit obviously milking a concept that was originally meant to run a lot shorter, but at the same time I still like the way the books have a three-act structure in which seemingly unrelated events build up to a sudden climax.