Dec. 31st, 2018

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Oh dear, it's that time again. Time to look at all the books published in 2018 that I've read , and cry, WHY IS MY “TO READ” PILE STILL SO HIGH! The Devouring Dark and Binti: The Night Masquerade are the main omissions, which I hope to get to in the first weeks of the new year. As usual, this list is made primarily for my own reference and represents nothing more than my own opinion.


No horror or SF-related non-fiction this year – I was too busy researching alchemy.




Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren, Omnium Gatherum. I've already said all I can, in this review.


European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss, Saga Press. Pastiche it is, yet done with such vigour and charm. The ingenuity with which Goss weaves her source materials together is matched only by the gorgeous travelogue detail, in this sequel to last year's The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. Yes, there are vampires and probably this year's favourite quote:


“Sister Catherine, whose revolver was resting comfortably in the pocket of her habit, frowned at him... “You know, I think Irene was right—this really is the best costume. It hides firearms and makes men uncomfortable...”


The Hunger, Alma Katsu, G. P. Putnam & Sons. This evocation of the Donner Party is a real gothic, drenched in atmosphere and constructed wonderfully well. A writer must make her research dance, and Katsu does. The climatic scene was not what I was expecting and so much the better for that!





The Atrocities, Jeremy C. Shipp, Lavishly visual and who could resist the central premise? A tutor specialising in traumatised children is hired on behalf of ghost...

“Lily and Crown”, Sherwood Smith, It Happened At The Ball, Book View Cafe. War by other means, and a little of the old standby as well. Clever and impeccably stylish.




Triquetra, Kirstyn McDermott, How good does a re-imagining of Snow White have to be to impress me? This good. No, there aren't any vampires.


Short Stories


“The Heart of Owl Abbas”, Kathleen Jennings, This work staggers me with what can be achieved in the short form. There are novels which manage less.


“Mother Jones and the Nasty Eclipse”, Cherie Priest, Apex Magazine #108. Look, just head on over and read this. It's like nothing else you've seen this year and probably several others.


“A Plague of Dancers”, Gillian Pollack, It Happened At The Ball, Book View Cafe. Short, surprisingly gentle for the material, yet a superb evocation of time and place.


“A Man Totally Alone”, Robert Hood, The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, Skyhorse Publishing. A deep, moody piece that allows you to horrify yourself by deduction.


“The Mantle of Flesh”, Ashlee Scheuerman, A World of Horror, Dark Moon Books. Intense, vivid tale of an indigenous shaman resorting to foreign magic.


“Red Rain”, Adam Troy Castro, Nightmare #69. Take a simple idea, a single moment of impact. Up to eleven.

Best Title

"Octo-Heist in Progress", Rich Larson, Clarkesworld #146


 Worst Pun


The worst pun I have encountered this year is implied in “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina Connolly, Not in the title, but the herbs the baker has been using in his reminiscent treats.


 Best Use of Squid


Into the Sounds, Lee Murray, Severed Press. Although the Octo-heist was very cute.


 Worst Thing to Read During Hayfever Season


The Nightmarchers, Lincoln J Fenn, Gallery Press


 That I Really Do Wish Was A Novel

“Saudade”, Amanda Downum, Still So Strange, ChiZine Publishing.


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