The Qwillery | category: Harper


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming works by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Sebastien de Castell (2014)

Spellslinger 6
Orbit, December 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the sixth and final book of the adventure fantasy series that started with Spellslinger.

Spellslinger Series

For more from Sebastien de Castell, check out:

The Greatcoats Quartet
Traitor’s Blade
Saint’s Blood
Knight’s Shadow
Tyrant’s Throne

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Spellslinger 1
Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Spellslinger 2
Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Spellslinger 3
Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Spellslinger 4
Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Spellslinger 5

Linnea Hartsuyker (2017)

The Sea Queen
The Golden Wolf Saga 2
Harper Paperbacks, June 25, 2019
Trade Paperback, 480 pages
Hardcover and eBook, August 14, 2018

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
An exhilarating Viking saga filled with the rich history, romantic adventure and political intrigue that have made Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, as well as Phillippa Gregory’s historical fiction and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology popular bestsellers. 

Six years after The Half-Drowned King, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is now king of Sogn, but fighting battles for King Harald keeps him away from home, as he confronts treachery and navigates a political landscape that grows more dangerous the higher he rises.

Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild has found the freedom and adventure she craves at the side of the rebel explorer Solvi Hunthiofsson, though not without a cost. She longs for a home where her quiet son can grow strong, and a place where she can put down roots, even as Solvi’s ambition draws him back to Norway’s battles again and keeps her divided from her brother.

As a growing rebellion unites King Harald’s enemies, Ragnvald suspects that some Norse nobles are not loyal to Harald’s dream of a unified Norway. He sets a plan in motion to defeat all of his enemies, and bring his sister back to his side, while Svanhild finds herself with no easy decisions, and no choices that will leave her truly free. Their actions will hold irrevocable repercussions for the fates of those they love and for Norway itself.

The Sea Queen returns to the fjords and halls of Viking-Age Scandinavia, a world of violence and prophecy, where honor is challenged by shifting alliances, and vengeance is always a threat to peace.

The Golden Wolf
The Golden Wolf Saga 3
Harper, August 13, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
The fates of Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild unfold to their stunning conclusion in this riveting final volume in The Golden Wolf Saga, a trilogy that conjures the ancient world with the gripping detail, thrilling action, and vivid historical elements of Game of Thrones and Outlander.

Ragnvald has long held to his vision of King Harald as a golden wolf who will bring peace to Norway as its conqueror—even though he knows that Harald’s success will eventually mean his own doom. He is grateful to have his beloved sister, the fierce and independent Svanhild, once more at his side to help keep their kingdom secure. Free from the evil husband who used her, she is now one of Harald’s many wives.

While Svanhold is happy to be reunited with her beloved brother, and enjoys more freedom than ever before, she is restless and lonely. When an old enemy of Ragnvald’s kidnaps his niece, Freydis, his sister follows the daughter she has neglected to Iceland, where an old love awaits. This strange new land offers a life far different from what each has left behind, as well as unexpected challenges and choices.

Ragnvald, too, must contend with change. His sons—the gifted Einar, the princely Ivar, and the adventurous Rolli—are no longer children. Harald’s heirs have also grown up. Stepping back from his duties as king, he watches as his sons pursue their own ambitions. But Norway may no longer be large enough for so many would-be kings.

Now in their twilight years, these venerable men whose lives have been shaped by war must face another battle that awaits. A growing rebellion pits Ragnvald and his sons against enemies old and new, and a looming tragedy threatens to divide the hardened warrior from Harald and all who care for him. Across the sea, Svanhild, too, wrestles with a painful decision, risking the dissolution of her fragile new family as she desperately tries to save it.

Yet as old heroes fall, new heroes arise. For years, Ragnvald and Svanhild pursued the destinies bestowed by their ancient gods. Though the journey has cost them much, their sacrifices and dreams will be honored by the generations that follow, beginning with Freydis and Einar. Emerging from their parents’ long shadows, they have begun to carry on the family’s legacy while pursuing their own glorious fates.

This compelling conclusion to the Golden Wolf trilogy recreates Viking-age Scandinavia in all its danger, passion, power, and glory—a world of brutality and myth, loyalty and betrayal, where shifting alliances and vengeance can build kingdoms . . . and can tear them down.

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
The Golden Wolf Saga 1

Keith Thomas (2018)

Dahlia Black
Atria/Leopoldo & Co., August 13, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
For fans of World War Z and the Southern Reach Trilogy, a suspenseful oral history commemorating the five-year anniversary of the Pulse—the alien code that hacked the DNA of Earth’s population—and the response team who faced the world-changing phenomenon.

Voyager 1 was a message in a bottle. Our way of letting the galaxy know we existed. That we were out here if anyone wanted to find us.

Over the next forty years, the probe flew past Jupiter and Saturn before it drifted into the void, swallowed up by a silent universe. Or so we thought…

Truth is, our message didn’t go unheard.

Discovered by Dr. Dahlia Black, the mysterious Pulse was sent by a highly intelligent intergalactic species that called themselves the Ascendants. It soon becomes clear this alien race isn’t just interested in communication—they are capable of rewriting human DNA, in an astonishing process they call the Elevation.

Five years after the Pulse, acclaimed journalist Keith Thomas sets out to make sense of the event that altered the world. Thomas travels across the country to interview members of the task force who grappled to decode the Pulse and later disseminated its exact nature to worried citizens. He interviews the astronomers who initially doubted Black’s discovery of the Pulse—an error that critics say led to the world’s quick demise. Thomas also hears from witnesses of the Elevation and people whose loved ones vanished in the Finality, an event that, to this day, continues to puzzle Pulse researchers, even though theories abound about the Ascendants’ motivation.

Including never-before-published transcripts from task force meetings, diary entries from Black, and candid interviews with Ballard, Thomas also shows in Dahlia Black how a select few led their country in its darkest hours, toward a new level of humanity.

Interview with Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild

Please welcome Julia Fine to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. What Should Be Wild is published on May 8th by Harper.

Interview with Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Julia:  I’m so happy to be here! I’ve been writing since I can remember, but my first published piece was a poem in Stone Soup Magazine when I was nine. It was about the moon—I think I used the phrase “queen of the night.” Stone Soup is still around publishing kids’ writing and illustrations and is definitely worth checking out. It was huge for me as a kid to know that people were interested in what I had to say.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Julia:  A hybrid, though more of a pantser if I was forced to choose. In general I write from the gut. I’m definitely not good with outlines—I can make them, but have a lot of trouble finding the passion to write once I’m forced inside them. That said, it helps me to write the key scenes quickly to provide a sort of structure, and then jump around filling things in from there.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Julia:  For a novel it’s definitely the commitment. A lot of research and time and emotional investment goes into producing a full length book, and so it’s tough to know when an idea is “the one” and that investment is worth it. I also have a one year-old, so lately it’s hard to find that perfect combination of a good night’s sleep and a large chunk of uninterrupted time…

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Julia:  Maybe this is too obvious, but my reading. I’m so inspired by so many books and writers—for What Should Be Wild it was Angela Carter and Shirley Jackson and Philip Pullman and Karen Russell and Doris Lessing and so many more. I’m also hugely influenced by music—for this book I listened to a lot of Hozier, Tori Amos, Damien Rice, and PJ Harvey. Pan’s Labyrinth was influential, and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods (the original version).

TQDescribe What Should be Wild in 140 characters or less.

Julia:  Female desire is powerful!

TQTell us something about What Should be Wild that is not found in the book description.

Julia:  There are nods to classic fairy tales all throughout the book. If you’re looking for them, you can catch references to Snow White, Little Red Ridinghood, The Snow Queen, etc.

TQWhat inspired you to write What Should be Wild? Do you consider the story a fairy tale or something else?

Julia:  I was first inspired by a legal case in Texas several years ago—a woman was declared brain-dead at about three months pregnant and her husband was fighting the hospital to get her taken off of life support. I started thinking about what life would be like for that child if medical circumstances were different and the fetus could realistically come to term. At the time I was reading Marina Warner’s From the Beast to the Blonde, a book about the feminist history of fairytales. The two worlds collided to form What Should Be Wild.

I do consider the story a fairy tale, in that it’s about figuring out the boundaries between personal desires and social responsibility. I think that juxtaposition is at the heart of all fairy tales, especially the ones with female protagonists. That said, I didn’t consciously set out to write a fairy tale, and I’m happy with whatever shelf the book is put on!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for What Should be Wild?

Julia:  What Should Be Wild is basically a big mash-up of all of my research interests. As I mentioned earlier, From the Beast to the Blonde was incredibly helpful in giving me a history of female storytelling. I did historical research for each of the vignettes about the Blakely women. I read a wonderful book called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben that helped me ground some of the magic of the forest in scientific research. I read The White Goddess by Robert Graves and The Golden Bough by James Fraser to get a sense for the folklore Peter studies and the history of Maisie’s village. I read a lot of William Blake and Dylan Thomas for philosophy and mood.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for What Should be Wild.

Julia:  It’s up to the reader to decide if these are living flowers in the process of dying, or dead flowers coming back to life…either way they’re very feisty. I love this cover because it gives you that Gothic forest vibe without being too explicit. I also love how every time you look at it you notice something different, whether it’s the moth at the top, or the rainbow reflections.

TQIn What Should be Wild who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Julia:  Lucy Blakely was fully formed with very clear desires and personality quirks from the second she showed up on the page. Rafe took me several iterations—he’s the hardest for Maisie to fully understand, so I think some of my narrator’s struggles bled through!

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in What Should be Wild?

Julia:  For me, speculative fiction is all about tackling social issues. I was looking for a way to talk about the pressures and restrictions placed on women, and the fear and fetishization of female desire. Maisie and her family don’t speak for all women, of course, but I hope I’ve captured something universal about the way those of us who identify as female move through the world.

TQWhich question about What Should be Wild do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Julia:  So far no one has asked me about place names, so I guess I’ll use this as an opportunity to discuss them! Urizon is totally stolen from William Blake’s mythopoeia. He has a character named Urizen who represents order and authority. The Blakelys are also a nod to his work. Couers Crossing, Maisie’s village, comes from the French for heart—it was initially Coeds Crossing, from the Welsh for trees, but that came off as too collegial.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from What Should be Wild.

Julia:  “Tell a child a tale is not true, give her reason to believe. No handsome prince awaits you. No godmother hides in the hawthorn. Those stirrings you hear in the forest are foxes and birds, nothing more. Tell her that after death comes heaven, harpists, bare-bottomed babes with sprouted wings. Show her where her mother has been eaten by the earth, where her ancestors lie buried. Tell her that souls float up around her, as she watches rigor mortis of her own pathetic making cover the body of a loved one with its frost. Nothing begs question of permanence, of sin, like the power to kill and revive. Nothing promises revival like a fairy tale.”

TQWhat's next?

Julia:  I’m in the very early stages of working on a post-partum poltergeist story. Because I’m a pantser I’m not yet sure where it’s going to go!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Julia:  Thanks so much for having me!

What Should Be Wild
Harper, May 8, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild
“Delightful and darkly magical. Julia Fine has written a beautiful modern myth, a coming-of-age story for a girl with a worrisome power over life and death. I loved it.”  —Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry

In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia—an utterly original novel with all the mesmerizing power of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia!

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

About Julia

Interview with Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild
Photo by Nastasia Mora
Julia Fine teaches writing at DePaul University and is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s MFA program. She lives in Chicago with her husband and their son.

Website  ~  Twitter @finejuli  ~  Facebook

Guest Blog by Linnea Hartsuyker - Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels

Please welcome Linnea Hartsuyker to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Half-Drowned King will be published on August 1st by Harper.

Guest Blog by Linnea Hartsuyker - Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels

Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels

I’ve always loved historical fiction and fantasy, and some of my favorite books mix the two genres. The first book that made me want to be an author was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which retells the Arthurian Legends from the points of view of Morgan le Fay and Guinevere. Here are some stand-outs from the last thirty years from a genre that inspired me when writing The Half-Drowned King.

The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon is better known, but The Firebrand, Bradley’s retelling of The Illiad, from the point of view the prophet Kassandra, condemned by Apollo to be disbelieved as she predicts Troy’s doom, is my favorite of her novels. Bradley frames the Trojan War as both a political conflict between Troy and the Greeks, as well as a conflict between the Greek gods with which we are familiar, and the older goddess-centric worship of the Anatolian peninsula. The gods intervene literally, as they do in Homer’s version, but the story is also grounded in the archeology of the time, painting a vivid picture of Ancient Troy and the surrounding kingdoms, replete with details of sandals and chariots, rituals and feasts.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Just as in Men in Black, aliens hide among the strangeness and vast numbers of people and cultures in New York City, so does the melting pot of nineteenth century New York hide magical creatures in The Golem and the Jinni. It is a slow moving and engrossing tale of these two creatures, a female golem freed from her masters who finds the world’s infinite choices, and her attunement to human’s desires, daunting, and a Jinni who chafes at any strictures. This book does a beautiful job evoking nineteenth century New York and the Jewish and Syrian communities that formed their own little worlds within the huge city.

Finn MacCool by Morgan Llywelyn

Finn MacCool was a legendary Irish warrior, or perhaps giant. I grew up with a picture book about Finn’s trickster wife running off a much bigger giant who wanted to do Finn harm. When I read Llywelyn’s Finn MacCool as a teenager, I discovered a much different version, a Bronze-Age Irish warrior trying to rise above his uncertain birth, falling in love with a fairy woman, and in his middle age, weathering the loss of a young wife and his pride. This book evokes the strange customs of Bronze-Age Ireland, and gives Finn a wonderful supporting cast of brother warriors whose stories are as compelling as his.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Fantasy and horror have always been kissing cousins, and in Lovecraft Country Matt Ruff explores the more fantastical side of Lovecraft, while also delving into the precarious, dangerous position occupied by a black family in Jim Crow era US. Ruff uses the more fantastical elements of the Lovecraft mythos to tell this story, and in his hands, Lovecraft’s obsessions with blood and contagions are used to illuminate the horrors of racism. Still, this book is not relentlessly bleak. The characters approach the weird situations they encounter with a gallows humor, and cleverly outwit their antagonists, making it an enjoyable and thoughtful read.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Another take on The Illiad, this time focusing on a romance between Achilles and Patroclus, strained when Achilles is overcome with the madness of battle, moving further and further from the gentle Patroclus. This novel invents Patroclus’s upbringing in the court of his father and later with the centaur Chiron. A more intimate novel than The Firebrand, The Song of Achilles deals with the Trojan War’s impact on one couple, and shows how harmful violence is even to its perpetrators.

The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas

On the surface, the plot of The Flower Reader seems as though it would be at home in a Phillippa Gregory book, but it approaches the story differently because the heroine, Rinette, can tell the future from flowers. It is a charming device that provides some of the most compelling scenes in the novel and makes it easy to believe in its reality in this novel’s world. When Rinette’s husband is murdered she comes into possession of a casket that contains documents her enemies will kill for. She uses her talent and her cleverness to outwit her more obvious enemies and those who would use her affections against her.

The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton

Predating The Mists of Avalon by almost 50 years, The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton is a set of four books that re-tell the Mabinogion, the Welsh creation legends, and mythological underpinnings of the Arthurian legend. Fans of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain will recognize re-workings of his source material in these books, with Prince Arawn of Annwyn, who is no villain here, and the hero Gwydion and his brothers, who are not nearly as noble in the original mythology or Walton’s retelling of it. Walton’s sparse prose suits the legends, and paints vivid characters, like Prince Pwyll, a haughty young man who loves hunting above all, and because of his single minded pursuit of his prey has to spend a year in the land of the dead. These books are as fresh and strange today as when they were first written in the 1930s and 40s.

The Half-Drowned King
Harper, August 1, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Guest Blog by Linnea Hartsuyker - Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels
"Lovers of epic rejoice! Hartsuyker illuminates these old stories with authority and visceral detail, bringing to life the adventure, bleak beauty, and human struggle that lie at their heart. A vivid and gripping read." —Madeline Miller, bestselling author of The Song of Achilles

"Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. Hartsuyker is fearless as she navigates a harsh, exacting, and hair-raising world, with icy fjords and raiding seasons and ancient blood feuds. But the book’s fiercest magic shines in the characters of Ragnvald and Svanhild, as unforgettable a brother and sister duo as I can remember in recent literature. Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing."—Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom—the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.
Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. . . .

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father’s place as chief of his family’s lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather’s betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald’s duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf’s cruelty comes at the hands of her brother’s arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.

About Linnea

Guest Blog by Linnea Hartsuyker - Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels
Linnea Hartsuyker grew up in the middle of the woods outside Ithaca, New York, and studied Engineering at Cornell University. After a decade of working at internet startups, and writing in her spare time, she attended NYU and received an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in New York City with her husband.

Website  ~  Twitter @linneaharts

Facebook  ~  Instagram  ~  Tumblr

Review: Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Sixth Watch
AuthorSergei Lukyanenko
Series:  Night Watch Series 6
Publisher:  Harper Paperbacks, August 30, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook,
List Price:  US$15.99 (print); US$10.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780062428448 (print); 9780062428455 (eBook)

Review: Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
The final chapter in Sergei Lukyanenko's internationally bestselling Night Watch series—a revelatory urban fantasy set in contemporary Moscow.

They live among us. They fight among us. They’re the Others, a supernatural race of magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers. Divided into the Light and the Dark, these rival factions have spent a millennium under a reluctant truce. Now, however, both sides must unite against the ultimate enemy.

A Light magician and high-ranking member of the Night Watch, Anton Gorodetsky fears nothing. But lately the threats are mounting. A reincarnated vampire has been terrorizing Moscow. His daughter’s school is ambushed by a bizarre chimera. And the Prophets have all reached the same chilling conclusion: The world will end in five days’ time.

To ward off the apocalypse, an ancient council called the Sixth Watch must be assembled. After both Light and Darkness select their emissaries, Anton must enlist the unwilling aid of the four other Great Parties: the Vampires, the Witches, the Form-Takers, and the enigmatic Foundation. Journeying from Russia to Paris, the Alps, and New York City, Anton comes in peace—but he is prepared for war. For if he fails, none are safe.

Qwill's Thoughts

I have been wanting to read the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko for some time. Receiving a review copy of the sixth novel in the series motivated me to start reading. I'm so glad that I did. The Night Watch series is fabulous. Lukyanenko has created a unique and detailed mythology for his novels. The focus of the series is Anton Gorodetsky, an Other, a member of the Night Watch and Light magician. There are those on the Dark side, but that all become clear when you read any of the novels. However, you do not have to read any of the prior novels to understand the last novel, Sixth Watch. Lukyanenko does a wonderful job filling in any information you might need in a way that is organic to the story.

In Sixth Watch, Anton must solve the most difficult case of his life and save the Others and humans and animals from extinction. He has more personally at stake than ever before. Much of the novel is spent with Anton working to figure out what the Sixth Watch is and who should be its members. This is not easy and he does not have to do it alone as the resources of both the Light and Dark Watches are at his disposal. There are tremendous roadblocks. At the same time he is fighting to keep his wife, daughter and himself alive. They are subject to horrific attacks.

Sixth Watch is riveting, exciting and vibrant. There is so much action. Characters from prior stories appear, threads are woven together, and secrets are revealed. In the midst of all the research and the battles there are moments of philosophy - about good and evil in particular. This gives wonderful depth to Sixth Watch (and you will find this in all the novels in the series). Anton Gorodetsky, the Others and people you get to know well in Sixth Watch are all fully developed and pivotal to the story. The ending of Sixth Watch is unexpected. In retrospect it is exactly what had to happen. What a way to end the series and the story of the Day Watch, the Night Watch and Anton Gorodetsky! This is a series I will read again and again.

Kudos to the translator, Andrew Bromfield, who has beautifully translated all the Night Watch novels.

Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country
Author:  Matt Ruff
Publisher:  Harper, February 16, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $26.99 (US); $11.99 (digital)
ISBN:  9780062292063 (print); 9780062292087 (digital)

Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

Qwill's Thoughts

Lovecraft Country on its face is the story of the collision of two parts of the same family - one white privileged and magical and the other black, not privileged, and dealing with the Jim Crow era. The novel starts with the return of Atticus Turner to Chicago to find his missing father, Montrose.

On the way home from Florida Atticus deals with some of the racial prejudice of the Jim Crow era. His journey introduces us to the era as well as the The Safe Negro Travel Guide which is based on the The Negro Motorist Green Book. I strongly suggest that you take some time to search online for information about the Green Book and read about how it came about and why it was necessary and while you are at it read about the Jim Crow era. This is the backdrop for the novel and it's important. It has shaped the characters, but you can read the novel without knowing anything about the temporal setting. The events and characters make it very clear about the climate of the times and honestly it's the most frightening part of the novel.

On his return to Chicago, Atticus and his Uncle George decide to search for Montrose. They are accompanied by Letitia Dandridge, a friend of the family. The journey is fraught with prejudice, horrors and close escapes. It's amazing that they make it to their final destination - Ardham, Massachusetts which is located in a part of Massachusetts called Lovecraft Country. They encounter Samuel Braithwhite and Caleb Braithwhite, father and son. Samuel is head of the Order of the Ancient Dawn and he has taken an interest in Atticus for reasons that soon become clear. After the events in Massachusetts the action moves back to Chicago where Caleb is making a play for more control and magical power.

Lovecraft Country is a fascinating novel. There is so much to love about this novel - outstanding characters that Ruff draws with depth and empathy, a thoroughly researched historical setting, a well thought out magical system. The writing is compelling and the story is captivating from start to finish. This is an urban fantasy novel that unflinchingly addresses racial issues head on against a backdrop of Lovecraftian tinged horror, but the heart on the novel is the compelling depth to the characters - Atticus, Letitia, and their extended families - and how they react to both racism and the magic in the world around them. Lovecraft Country is a novel that I will not soon forget and that I will read again.

Review: The Eye of God by James Rollins

The Eye of God
Author: James Rollins
Series:  A Sigma Force Novel 9
Publisher:  Harper, January 28, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 576 pages
    Hardcover and eBook (William Morrow, June 25, 2013)
Price: $9.99 (MMP and eBook)
ISBN: 9780061784804 (Hardcover); 9780061785672 (MMP);
     9780062194916 (eBook)
Review Copy: Hardcover from Publisher
Note:  The Hardcover is out of print

Review: The Eye of God by James Rollins
In The Eye of God, a Sigma Force novel, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins delivers an apocalyptic vision of a future predicted by the distant past.
In the wilds of Mongolia, a research satellite has crashed, triggering an explosive search for its valuable cargo: a code-black physics project connected to the study of dark energy—and a shocking image of the eastern seaboard of the United States in utter ruin.

At the Vatican, a package arrives containing two strange artifacts: a skull scrawled with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin. DNA evidence reveals that both came from the same body: the long dead Mongol king Genghis Khan.

Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force set out to discover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire, to a mystery going back to the birth of Christianity, and to a weapon hidden for centuries that holds the fate of humanity.
[description from Mass Market Paperback]

Brannigan's Review

I like a good thriller, so just for the fun of it and to get a break from the speculative fiction I decided to read The Eye of God by James Rollins. I was quickly sucked into the story and finished it in record time.

The characters remind me of modern pulp fiction characters we know just enough to get the story told. Rollins attempts to give them some depth and for the most part succeeds. However, there are times when it comes across a little forced. For most the book there are two to three different groups of characters traveling all over the world and in each party there's about 3 to 4 different characters, so it's understandable that Rollins couldn't give each and everyone of them depth and their own subplots. Rollins does a great job of giving me enough information about the characters and the world that it didn't matter that I haven't read the first eight books. I knew what I needed to enjoy the story.

The plot of the story is where Rollins really shines. He's able to weave in history, science, religion, and plenty of action to make the book constantly entertaining and even thought-provoking. The world is coming to an end and the only way to stop it is to go a quest to find relics from the past that are the keys to saving the future. It's very imaginative and even plausible for the most part.

There is no real world building as it takes place in the present to near future time frame. Rollins does some building as he creates the Sigma Force headquarters underneath the Smithsonian Castle and hidden tombs around the world, but for the most part he's using our everyday world.

The Eye of God is a fast-paced thriller that doesn't suffer in story quality or imagination. A lot of these long book series often begin to feel cookie cutter, but even at book 9 I had a blast. There is violence, minor language and minor sexual situations. I would recommend it to older teens and adults. This is definitely for anyone who enjoys a good quest thriller with plenty of action included.

Interview with Sophie Jaff, author of Love is Red - July 10, 2015

Please welcome Sophie Jaff to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Love is Red was published on May 12th by Harper.

Interview with Sophie Jaff, author of Love is Red - July 10, 2015

TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. Please tell us something about Love is Red that is not in the book description.

Sophie:  Two things come to mind; while I was writing Love is Red I experience a series of incredibly creepy incidents. This tends to happen to me, I put myself so thoroughly in the book that it’s almost as though a strange energy begins to generate and things happen. I didn’t help that I hung out in or visited all the places I wrote about; the bars, the gourmet grocery stores, the parks, the libraries…I won’t elaborate but given all the inexplicable events I was pretty terrified. I’d like to my experiences comes through in the writing.

I’m obsessed with the number three so if you’re reading Love is Red you’ll probably come across all sorts of multiples or various forms of three-starting with the title. As the song says ‘3 is a magic number.’

TQ: What inspired you to write Love is Red? What appealed to you about writing a genre bending and blending novel?

Sophie:  I was looking for a novel that was truly scary without being particularly gory. I wanted something that combined psychological horror with romance with dark currents of the occult, mythology and paranormal without being overtly fantasy based. I wanted a book that would give me an elegant scare, unfortunately I couldn’t find what I was looking for so I decided to write it. I have always had a passion for ghost stories and wanted to create a modern day elevated ghost story.

TQ: What sort of research did you do for Love is Red?

Sophie:  I studied a multitude of serial killers, their methods, childhoods and personalities ranging from Edmund Kemper, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy and Dennis Rader (the BTK killer.) I took a special interest in Ted Bundy who truly used his charm, and looks to deceive women before killing them. I also researched their victims lives, so I could hopefully write with understanding and respect. I studied Medieval texts and beautiful manuscripts in the Morgan Library, one of my all time favorite places in the world. I was a legitimate Dungeon Master(Head Writer for an Massive Multiplayer Online game) for three years and so had to research the Medieval era. The rest was down to my own life experience of being a single women living and dating in New York, my all time favorite city.

TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sophie:  The easiest character to write was the Sickle Man, I’m an extremely empathetic, guilty and often anxious person so it was a fabulous feeling to write a character so remorseless, so passionate and brutal. It felt weightless as if I was not bound by gravity. I really had a blast prowling around the city doing terrible things. The hardest character to write was Katherine because I related so much to who she was and it was incredibly hard to separate from her. My characters tend to take on a life of their own. Sometimes I was almost jealous of her and at other times I was frustrated with the choices she made.

TQ:  Thank  you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Love is Red
The Night Song Trilogy 1
Harper, May 12, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Sophie Jaff, author of Love is Red - July 10, 2015
Redefining the thriller's tale of the hunter and the hunted, This electrifying, hypnotically beautiful debut spins dark suspense and literary fantasy into a mesmerizing story of survival.

Katherine Emerson was born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she doesn't know it yet. However, one man does: a killer stalking the women of New York City, a monster the media dubs the "Sickle Man" because of the weapon he uses to turn his victims' bodies into canvases for his twisted art. People think he's the next Son of Sam, but we know how he thinks and how he feels . . . and discover that he is driven by darker, much more dangerous desires than we can bear to imagine. He takes more than just his victims' lives, and each death brings him closer to the one woman he must possess at any cost.

Amid the city's escalating hysteria, Katherine is trying to unknot her tangled heart. Two very different men have entered her previously uneventful world—handsome and personable David, alluring yet aloof Sael—and turned it upside down. She finds herself involved in a complicated triangle . . . but how well does she really know either of them?

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Katherine and the Sickle Man, Sophie Jaff's intoxicating narrative will pull you in and hold you close. As the body count rises, Katherine is haunted by harrowing visions that force her to question her sanity. All she wants is to find love. He just wants to find her.

Ablaze with fear, mystery, and possibility, Love Is Red is the first book in the Night Song trilogy. With this unforgettable novel—one that combines the literary and the supernatural, fantasy and horror, the past and the present—Katherine's moment of awakening is here. And her story is only just beginning.

About Sophie
(photo from the Author's website)

Interview with Sophie Jaff, author of Love is Red - July 10, 2015
A native of South Africa, Sophie Jaff is an alumna of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and a fellow of the Dramatists Guild of America. Her work has been performed at Symphony Space, Lincoln Center, the Duplex, the Gershwin, and Goodspeed Musicals. She lives in New York City.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @sophjaff

Interview with Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted - March 5, 2014

Please welcome Rene Denfeld to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Enchanted was published on March 4, 2014 by Harper.

Interview with Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted - March 5, 2014

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Rene:  Thank you! I began writing professionally in my early 20s, writing for small newspapers. I had always dreamed of being a writer, but didn't think it was feasible for someone from my background—I grew up quite poor. I was lucky to meet a group of friendly, supportive writers here in Portland, Oregon, who encouraged me.

I have a day job as well. Since 2008 I have been a death penalty investigator. For someone who loves hearing stories, my job is wonderful.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

ReneThe Enchanted started with a single line. I was leaving the death row prison where I was visiting a client, and I heard a very quiet, distinctive voice. It told me, "This is an enchanted place." I spent months listening very closely to that voice, following it into the novel. For me, writing fiction is a process of discovery. I wanted to see what the characters would do, free from my biases or opinions.

I do think having a plot is very important. I was lucky writing this novel that the plot grew easily out of the story, and needed only minimal direction from me.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rene:  For me, it is finding the time. In addition to my day job, I am raising three kids, and I do foster care as well. My schedule is a little busy!

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Rene:  I am a HUGE reader. When I was a child, my sanctuary was the local library. I'm the kind of person who will read the back of the cereal box if nothing else is handy. I love everything printed, from the classics to literary novels to children's books. Living in Portland, I've been lucky to have met so many fantastic writers over the years: Robert Sheckley, Cheryl Strayed, Ursula Le Guin, Katherine Dunn, and Todd Grimson, among many others.

TQ:  Describe The Enchanted in 140 characters or less.

ReneThe Enchanted is the story of a death row inmate who believes he lives in a magical, enchanted place.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Enchanted that is not in the book description.

Rene:  A lot of the descriptions of prison life are things I've seen in my work.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Enchanted? How have your non-fiction books influenced the writing of your first fiction novel?

Rene:  I wanted to write a novel that illustrated our ability to find beauty in even the most terrible circumstances. I am glad to have written non-fiction, as I felt I learned a lot of craft through the work.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Enchanted?

Rene:  Not much! The primary setting is a prison, and I've seen plenty of that in my day job. The work of the character of the lady is very much what I do all the time. We both find witnesses, help them share their stories, locate records, and investigate the lives of our clients. I did some research into the character of the fallen priest.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good guy, bad guy or ethically ambiguous character?

Rene:  The easiest character to write was the narrator. I felt his voice from the beginning, and I knew he would tell me his truth. The hardest character was the fallen priest. His background is so different than mine. I really enjoyed the warden. Most of the time, wardens are bad guys in novels. I enjoyed writing about a warden who is a good guy at heart. There are good people who work in prisons—just like any other place.

TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from The Enchanted.

Rene:  "I think about each clod of mud and how it contains the history of the world: shards of mica and stone, glossy ribbons of clay too faint to see, the arm and leg of Eve, the pulsating pull of Adam."

TQ:  What's next?

Rene:  I hope to continue writing fiction. And raising my lovely kids!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rene:  The pleasure was all mine. I hope you enjoy The Enchanted!

The Enchanted

The Enchanted
Harper, March 4, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages
Fiction Debut

Interview with Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted - March 5, 2014
A wondrous and redemptive debut novel, set in a stark world where evil and magic coincide, The Enchanted combines the empathy and lyricism of Alice Sebold with the dark, imaginative power of Stephen King.

"This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do." The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs with the devastating violence of prison life.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honesty and corruption—ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

Beautiful and transcendent, The Enchanted reminds us of how our humanity connects us all, and how beauty and love exist even amidst the most nightmarish reality.

About Rene

Interview with Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted - March 5, 2014
Photo © Gary Norman

RENE DENFELD is a respected journalist who has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the internationally bestselling author of three nonfiction books: The New Victorians: A Young Woman's Challenge to the Old Feminist Order; Kill the Body, the Head Will Fall; and All God's Children: Inside the Dark and Violent World of Street Families. In addition to her writing career, she is a licensed investigator specializing in death penalty cases. Rene balances her work with parenting her three children, all adopted from state foster care. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Website  ~  Facebook

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC AuthorsInterview with Julia Fine, author of What Should Be WildGuest Blog by Linnea Hartsuyker - Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy NovelsReview: Sixth Watch by Sergei LukyanenkoReview: Lovecraft Country by Matt RuffReview: The Eye of God by James RollinsInterview with Sophie Jaff, author of Love is Red - July 10, 2015Interview with Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted - March 5, 2014

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