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New Treasures: There is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

There is no Lovely End-smallIt’s always a delight when one of our bloggers publishes a book. But it is a very special delight to see the brilliant Patty Templeton release her first novel, There is No Lovely End, which I have been enjoying in tiny snippets at various readings across Chicagoland for the last two years.

There is No Lovely End is a ghost book with a truly amazing cast of characters, living and dead — including Hester Garlan, once the most powerful medium in the nation, bereft of her supernatural gifts and in relentless pursuit of the boy she thinks can return them: her son Nathan; and Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, on a quest of her own to rid herself of ghosts. Not to mention a very resourceful rat named O’Neill. C.S.E. Cooney calls the novel ”a New World populated with a new kind of ghost. Templeton’s language is lavish and diabolical, as if Charles Dickens strolled into the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and came out the other end wearing ruby slippers.” How right she is.

Apparitions! Outlaws! Mediums! 1884. Nathan Garlan hears and sees the dead. Using his uncanny aptitudes to assist society and its specters, he has become the most acclaimed medium in Boston. But not all esteem him. Nathan Garlan’s own mother craves her boy butchered — and she’s not the only one…

Misery! Lust! Murder! New Haven. Sarah Winchester is the heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune and a haunted woman. She has searched for release from familial phantoms for two decades, yet found no respite. However, she has heard of a medium in Boston who regularly administers miracles…

Wit! Wonders! Outrage! Who is the Reverend Doctor Enton Blake? Why does the lawless Hennet C. Daniels search for him? What form of profane curio is a trick box — and what, precisely, does one inter within it? Will Sarah Winchester find serenity through Nathan Garlan’s services? Or will Hester Garlan find her son first?

There is No Lovely End was published on July 1st by Odd Rot. It is 444 riveting pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback, and $4.99 for the digital edition. Check out the trailer here. The cover and interior spot art are by Matthew Ryan Sharp. It gets my highest recommendation.

Cemetery Dance #71 Now on Sale

Monday, July 21st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Cemetery Dance 71-smallCemetery Dance is a magazine I buy rather sporadically. I should probably remedy that, as its non-fiction features – especially their news and reviews columns – are consistently excellent. It does a terrific job of keeping you up on the latest in the horror field.

I’m usually a fiction guy, which is why their All Fiction Special Issues are particularly appealing. There’s only been two others in their 25-year history, so when I saw this one on the magazine rack a few weeks ago, I bought it immediately.

This issue has a stellar cast of contributors, including Bentley Little, Simon Clark, Darrell Schweitzer, Jack Ketchum, and many others. The cover is by Alan M. Clark, and the issue is cover-dated May 2014. Here’s the complete table of contents:


“In the Room” by Bentley Little
“Sacred Duty” by Simon Clark
“Odd Man Out” by Darrell Schweitzer
“A Million Miles from Graceland” by Christopher Reynaga
“Gorilla in my Room” by Jack Ketchum

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New Treasures: Seeker’s Bane by P.C. Hodgell

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Seeker's Bane-smallSometimes it’s handy being editor of Black Gate. For one thing, it sure keeps you in-the-know on great books. I was editing Fletcher Vredenburgh’s enthusiastic review of P. C. Hodgell’s God Stalk last October, which begins thusly:

Out of the haunted north comes Jame the Kencyr to Rathilien’s greatest city, Tai-Tastigon. From the hills above, the city appears strangely dark and silent. She arrives at its gates with large gaps in her memory and cat claws instead of fingernails. She’s carrying a pack full of strange artifacts, including a ring still on its owner’s finger… and she’s been bitten by a zombie. Wary, but in desperate need of a place to heal, Jame enters the city. So begins God Stalk, the first book in P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series and one of my absolute, bar none, don’t-bother-me-if-you-see-me-reading-it, favorite fantasy novels…

I’m so grateful Carl gave me this book thirty years ago. P.C. Hodgell seems so far below the general fantasy radar, I don’t know if I would have ever heard of her at all, which is pretty darn shameful.

Ha, I thought smugly, looking at my bookcase. Maybe she’s below the radar for most folks, but I’ve got my copy right here. Fletcher continued:

Following God Stalk came the 1985 sequel, Dark of the Moon… It’s taken nearly thirty years for the next four books to appear: Seeker’s MaskTo Ride a RathornBound in Blood, and Honor’s Paradox.

Wait, what? There are sequels? Like, five sequels? How did I not know? Are they out of print? Gahhh!

Fortunately, Baen Books to the rescue. Baen has collected the first four novels in two handsome mass market paperbacks: The God Stalker Chronicles (January 2010) and Seeker’s Bane (August 2010), both still in print. They’re a great way to get started on this terrific series, which Hodgell and Baen are continuing — I note the seventh volume, The Sea of Time, was just published last month. I just bought Seeker’s Bane and it’s a fabulous bargain: 1168 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital version. The covers are by Clyde Caldwell. Check ‘em out.

New Treasures: Resistance by Samit Basu

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Resistance Samit Basu-smallIs it just me, or did I miss the literary trend where superhero novels suddenly became a thing?

Sure, superhero novels were always around, but now it seems they’re a thriving sub-genre. Just recently we’ve covered Michael R. Underwood’s superheroes-in-a-fantasy-city Shield and Crocus, V.E. Schwab’s super-villainous Vicious, Andrew P. Mayer’s steampunk Society of Steam trilogy, Jacqueline Carey’s werewolf novel Santa Olivia, and After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn, featuring the unpowered daughter of two famous superheroes, just to name a few. Maybe it’s all those billion-dollar Marvel movies, I dunno. But something’s made superheroes hot all of a sudden.

I missed Samit Basu’s first book from Titan, the well-reviewed superhero novel Turbulence. Which is a pity, because the premise sounds very intriguing: in 2009, all the passengers on flight BA142 from London to Delhi wake up the next morning to discover they have developed extraordinary abilities. His new novel Resistance picks up the tale a decade later, as a silent killer begins to pick off the supers one by one…

How would you adapt to a world full of superhumans? And how far would you go to stop them destroying it?

In 2020, eleven years after the passengers of flight BA142 from London to Delhi developed extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires, the world is overrun with supers. Some use their powers for good, others for evil, and some just want to star in their own reality show.

But now, from New York to Tokyo, someone is hunting down supers, kidnapping heroes and villains both, and it’s up to the Unit to stop them…

Resistance was published by Titan Books on July 8, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition.

Scott Taylor’s A Knight in the Silk Purse Now Available

Monday, July 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

A Knight in the Silk Purse-smallScott Taylor’s latest anthology, A Knight in the Silk Purse, the sequel to his blockbuster, Tales of the Emerald Serpent, is now available.

If you’re a regular Black Gate reader, you’re familiar with Scott’s popular Art of the Genre column. But Scott is more than just a blogger and writer — he’s also an accomplished editor and publisher, with seven successful Kickstarter publishing projects under his belt. Inspired by classic shared world anthologies like Thieves World, Scott created the Free City of Taux, a sprawling fantasy port of “cursed stones, dark plots, and rich characters who share space inside the infamous Black Gate District,” and invited some of the genre’s most popular writers to tell its stories — including Lynn Flewelling, Juliet McKenna, Martha Wells, Julie Czerneda, Harry Connolly, and many others.

The result was Tales of the Emerald Serpent, one of the most acclaimed anthologies from last year. Lou Anders, editorial director at Pyr Books, said “I’m very impressed… it’s a smart, good looking package with some real gems of fiction inside.”

As we reported last year, Scott launched another successful Kickstarter to fund a sequel and A Knight in the Silk Purse was born — featuring virtually all of the writers from TotES, plus Dave Gross, Elaine Cunningham, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. Fans have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the second volume and now the wait is over.

Here’s the book description.

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New Treasures: The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Shadow Throne-smallGood morning, campers! And welcome to another marvelous Saturday morning. It’s raining here at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters in downtown Chicago, but that’s okay. The city could certainly use the rain — even if it did mean we had to scramble to put umbrellas over all the desks.

We don’t know the meaning of the word ‘weekend’ here at Black Gate. Our tireless quest to bring you the latest news, reviews, gossip, and innuendo means that the office has been packed all morning (and most of the previous night). Ottawa correspondent Derek Kunsken has assembled a stack of Katherine Kurtz paperbacks (and, curiously, an old issue of Dragon magazine) and is putting the finishing touches on his Saturday afternoon column. Matthew David Surridge is here — but then, that guy is always here. And Connor Gormley is over in the corner, making notes on a bunch of video games. I’m sure we’ll see the fruits of their labor in the next few days.

As for me, I’m just here to pick up some of the mail before driving back home to St. Charles. I have a Dungeons and Dragons game with my kids scheduled after lunch — the same campaign I wrote about last summer. They’re deep in the heart of Gary Gygax’s G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and it looks like the final battle against the mighty giant Chief Nosnra could finally occur today. Don’t wanna be late for that.

But there’s a handful of eye-catching new releases in the mail and I’m tempted to take a few home. The most interesting to me is Django Wexler’s The Shadow Throne, the sequel to The Thousand Names.

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New Treasures: Flight of the Golden Harpy by Susan Klaus

Monday, July 7th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Flight of the Golden Harpy-smallI picked up a copy of Susan Klaus’s debut novel over the weekend, and so far have been intrigued. It’s romantic fantasy dressed up as science fiction, in which a young woman returns to the jungle planet of Dora, where long ago she was saved by a male harpy with beautiful golden coloring. But the human colonists of Dora treat harpies like dangerous animals and hunt them like wild game.

This morning, I read a guest post by Klaus at SF Signal, where she reveals that Flight of the Golden Harpy was inspired by an encounter with Brad Pitt while she was an extra on Oceans Eleven:

The guy wasn’t a disappointment… Brad is even more gorgeous in person. After 12 hours of gawking and drooling, I learned he was also a nice, down-to-earth guy. But his looks and personality had nothing to do with my book dedication or why he’s my main man and character in my books. It came from how Brad was treated when he first walked on the set. The extras immediately mobbed him. He smiled, signed their autographs, and [posed] for their little cameras, desperately trying to appease the crushing crowd. It was sad. Even on a closed set, he was smothered and harassed. Going out in public must be a nightmare for him. Sure he’s handsome and has fame, and fortune, but is it worth a hectic stressful life with the press and fans constantly stalking and pursuing him like wild game…

I drove home and realized that good-looks can have drawbacks, especially in his case. That night I started writing my fantasy about a jungle planet with the point of view of the beautiful winged harpies, half-bird, half-human creatures that can’t understand mankind or why humans hunt and kill them for their wings that become mounted trophies on a wall. I gave Brad Pitt credit because he inspired the story, and the novel is also dedicated to our vanishing wildlife.

Flight of the Golden Harpy was published by Tor Books on June 17, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: A Forensic Analysis

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

dungeons and dragons logo2For the last two years, Wizards of the Coast has been getting feedback on their new “5th edition” set of rules from playtesters all across the world. July 15 marks the official release of the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, giving the world the first glimpse of the final version of these rules. Unfortunately, the D&D Starter Set provides only pregenerated characters with some advancement rules through level 5, and some basic mechanics, so it doesn’t consist of a full set of game mechanics or character creation rules.

In other words, it’s not enough to give us a full idea of what the final rules for 5th edition will look like … but it does provide enough information to get some hints about how the upcoming edition of the game will be structured. In general, the goal seems to be to streamline the system, making it very accessible to new gamers, but still providing enough substance and versatility that more experienced gamers will find the system desirable. It’s a tough balancing act, but looking over the D&D Starter Set, I feel a growing sense of confidence that the new system will achieve these objectives.

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New Treasures: The Volunteer by Peadar Ó Guilín

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Volunteer Peadar O Guilin-smallPeadar Ó Guilin’s first novel, The Inferior, was published to wide acclaim in 2008. Bookfetish called it “Absolutely incredible… An exhilarating read, highly recommended and an incredible first novel in what is going to end up an incredible career.” My son Tim devoured it in less than 24 hours and insisted I let him know the instant the sequel was available.

It took four long years, but The Deserter, the second novel in what’s now known as The Bone World Trilogy, arrived in 2012. And now the concluding volume in the series is finally available. Thank God — maybe now Tim will finally stop pestering me.

Everyone in the human tribe of ManWays knows their world is about to end. They are shattered from the constant attacks of their enemies and even the Roof above their heads is on the verge of collapse. But just when their doom seems certain, word reaches them of a land free of all enemies. Humans are said to live there, but their leader is Stopmouth, the Chief’s own brother and the vilest of traitors. Can Chief Wallbreaker lead his entire tribe across the wasteland the world has become? And will enough of them survive the journey to avenge themselves on the man who kidnapped his beloved wife, Indrani? The Volunteer is the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with The Inferior and continued with The Deserter. Praise for The Inferior:… “This is one of those ‘aw-crap-I’m-gonna-be-reading-until-the-sun-comes-up’ type of books.” –The Book Smugglers

Peadar’s most recent story for Black Gate was ”The Dowry.” He first appeared in the pages of our print version with “The Mourning Trees” (Black Gate 5), followed by “Where Beauty Lies in Wait” (BG 11) and “The Evil Eater” (BG 13), which Serial Distractions called “a lovely little bit of Lovecraftian horror that still haunts me to this day.”

Peadar’s most recent book was Forever in the Memory of God and Other Stories, which Sarah Avery called “old-school weird fiction, Clark Ashton Smith style.”

The Volunteer was published on June 10, 2014. It is 296 pages, priced at $9.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the Kindle edition. Check it out — or start with the first two volumes, still available.

New Treasures: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The House of Small Shadows-smallI have a real fondness for horror novels, but sadly I haven’t paid much attention to the horror market recently. Adam Nevill’s latest novel The House of Small Shadows just arrived and it looks like just the thing to entice me back in.

Catherine’s last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top antiques publication saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself — to catalogue the late M. H. Mason’s wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she’ll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from World War II. Catherine can’t believe her luck when Mason’s elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle’s “Art.” Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason’s damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she’d hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real… in The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

Nevill’s first three novels were Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, and The Ritual; he also contributed to the recent anthologies End of the Road and The Best British Fantasy 2013. We discussed him last on the occasion of his fourth novel Last Days, a Blair Witch style creep-fest in which a documentary film-maker investigates an apocalyptic cult, discovering some nasty secrets in the process.

The House of Small Shadows will be published by St. Martin’s Press on July 15, 2014. It is 384 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

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