Ah, August, where did you go – hard to believe that a bit of pottering in the garden and a couple of trips out have made the month fly by so quickly. With only a couple of days to go, here are my choices for September.
My first pick is the fourth and final part of Jasper Fforde’s Last Dragonslayer series, The Great Troll War. The series is technically a YA fantasy, but the first three have worked perfectly well for this alleged adult and, after the explosive conclusion to The Eye of Zoltar, I can’t wait to dive back into the strange world of the UnUnited Kingdoms to discover how Jennifer, Tiger Prawns and the others are going to get out of this last mess.
Last year, I reviewed Dracula’s Child, J.S. Barnes’ sequel to Dracula. This year, he’s moved onto H.G. Wells, and with The City of Dr Moreau he’s giving the sequel treatment to another of my favourite classics. I’m hoping that he’s put as much effort into the style of Wells’ writing as he did with Stoker’s, but that he’s paid much greater attention to the ‘rules’ and to the personalities and ethics of any existing characters he brings forward from the original.
Finally, Richard Osman’s sequel to The Thursday Murder Club hits the shelves on the 16th, and I’m expecting it to be as much of a hit as the first. I reviewed it a couple of weeks ago, and if The Man Who Died Twice isn’t a Christmas chart-topper, I’ll be incredibly surprised.
Reading update for the month (as of August 29th): 19 eBooks
Best read of the month: Skin of the Sea, by Natasha Bowen
Worst read of the month: Sherlock & Dracula: Lifeblood, by Kev Freeman
The Great Troll War [The Last Dragonslayer #4]
The final instalment of the Last Dragonslayer Chronicles, demonstrating that with a small band of committed followers, a large tin of resolve and steely determination, almost anything can be achieved . . .
Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange and her sidekick and fellow Orphan Tiger Prawns have been driven to the tip of the UnUnited Kingdoms – Cornwall – by the invasion of the Trolls. Their one defence is a six-foot-wide trench full of buttons, something which the Trolls find unaccountably terrifying (it’s their clickiness).
Worse than being eaten by Trolls is the prospect of the Mighty Shandar requisitioning the Quarkbeast and using him to achieve supreme power and domination – an ambition that has been four hundred years in the planning and which will ultimately leave the Earth a cold cinder, devoid of all life.
Nothing has ever looked so bleak, but Jennifer, assisted by a renegade vegan Troll, a bunch of misfit sorcerers, the Princess (or is she now the ruler?) of the UnUnited (or are they now United?) Kingdoms, and Tiger, must find a way to vanquish the most powerful wizard the world has ever seen, and along the way discover the truth about her parents, herself, and what is in the locked glovebox of her VW Beetle. . .
Released 9th September 2021
The City of Dr Moreau
A visionary new horror novel in the style of Wells’ creepiest and most enduring fictions – for fans of classic horror with a modern twist.
The island was just the beginning…
In H G Wells’ 1896 novel The Island of Dr Moreau a shipwrecked traveller finds himself alone on an island ruled by a mad doctor and inhabited by creatures who are at once both beast and human. He escapes to civilisation only after the scientist is dead and the beast-men have taken absolute control. Yet this is not the end of the matter. The peoples of the island are not done with humanity. Now the conflict between the two has begun in earnest.
The City of Dr Moreau presents a sprawling history of the islanders, and an alternative vision of our own times. Spanning more than a century, criss-crossing across numerous places and many lives, we witness the growth of Moreau’s legacy, from gothic experiments to an event which changes the world. From the wharves of Victorian London to a boarding house with an inhuman resident, to an assassin on a twentieth-century train ordered to kill the one man who knows the truth to a diplomat whose mission to parley with beast-men will surely be her last, we follow secret skirmishes and hidden plots which emerge, eventually and violently, into the open.
A tribute to the genius of H G Wells from the author of Dracula’s Child, The City of Dr Moreau is a visionary new horror novel in the style of Wells’ creepiest and most enduring fictions.
Released 14th September 2021
The Man Who Died Twice [Thursday Murder Club #2]
It’s the following Thursday.
Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.
As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?
But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?
Released 16th September 2021