What’s that saying about good intentions? I’ve not read a single one of the Halloween reads I mentioned last month (although I’m going to start The Island of Dr. Moreau tonight). Instead, I’ve been distracted by random Kindle Unlimited books, a lengthy book of Egyptian steampunk short stories, the fantastic Rivers of London graphic novels, and re-reads of some early- to mid-twentieth century sci-fi/horror tales that ended up being the inspiration behind some of my favourite films.
Since last month’s update I’ve read I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, The Body Snatchers, and Who Goes There? The first three are self-explanatory, but Who Goes There? is the source novella for The Thing from Another World , and The Thing  and the 2011 prequel of the same name. In the interest of completism* I also chose both The Thing films as my Halloween week watches – yes, they’re sci-fi, but they’re also horror – which unfortunately didn’t go as well as anticipated, as the DVD of the 1982 version stopped working right at the point the doctor starts using the defibrillator.
Anyway, on to the books.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. He seems equally comfortable with writing sci-fi and fantasy, so my only whinge about him releasing the sci-fi/fantasy novella Elder Race in November is that it may have delayed sequel to Shards of Earth or the third in the Dogs of War series.
I read Natasha Bowen’s debut novel back in August, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for the release date ever since. Skin of the Sea is a dark fairy tale set in fifteenth century West Africa, setting the reality of the slaving ships against the backdrop of the gods, myths and legends of the regions. It’s a stunning book, both in content and appearance, and I will be replacing my fairly soulless advance e-copy with the beautiful paper version as soon as it’s published.
When I first read Draculas in 2016, solely because F. Paul Wilson was one of the four co-authors. If you want a non-stop action horror with a touch of humour then I’d highly recommend it, but as well as enjoying the story I love Draculas because it introduced me to three fantastic new authors – Blake Crouch, Jeff Strand and Jack Kilborn. Kilborn writes under a number of names, including J.A. Konrath, and under a collaboration of both his Kilborn/Konrath monikers, he’s written a loose series with repeating themes and characters. The Nine is, confusingly, the tenth in this series, and it was due to be released early last year. For whatever reason it’s been put off a few times, but it’s allegedly coming out at the end of November. Fingers crossed!
[*I’m aware that for true completism I should have watched the 1952 film as well, but I’ve seen it before, and there’s nothing remotely scary about a space carrot]
Reading update for the month (as of October 30th): 20 eBooks, 3 graphic novels
Best read of the month: The Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney
Worst read of the month: With Teeth, by Kevin Kangas
Skin of the Sea
An unforgettable fantasy debut inspired by West African mythology, this is Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid, in which a mermaid takes on the gods themselves.
A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.
But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.
To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .
Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
Released 9th November 2021
In Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race, a junior anthropologist on a distant planet must help the locals he has sworn to study to save a planet from an unbeatable foe.
Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way.
But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she’s an adult (albeit barely) and although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here (though none in living memory has approached it).
But Elder Nyr isn’t a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, for his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon…
Released 16th November 2021
The Nine [Konrath/Kilborn Collective #10]
After former Chicago Cop Tom Mankowski found out the truth behind his birth, he discovered others with the same secret. Some want to live out their lives in hiding. Some are fighting to make the world better. And some are trying to destroy all life on earth.
Tom, and the friends he made during the blockbuster bestseller THE LIST, have reunited to take down this dangerous government experiment, one engineered historical figure at a time… even if it sets them on a crash course with the worst villains mankind has even known.
THE NINE by JA Konrath
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it…
Released 30th November 2021