Debut Showcase – Four Fantasies and a Thriller

Here are some debuts that were on my debut calendar from May. I meant to keep up on these from week to week, but believe me when I say that May was the busiest I’ve been in longer than I can remember.

Some of these were on my Debut Calendar, but I never got in touch with the author. I do apologize, and will try to correct that situation after I post this.


Wolfsangel
by MD Lachlan
Gollancz (UK)
Hardcover and Paperback

The Viking King Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy. A prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the Gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.

But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. Ensuring that his faithful warriors, witness to what has happened, die during the raid Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.

And so begins a stunning multi-volume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal viking king, down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin and Loki – the eternal trickster – spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history, and over into our lives.

MD Lachlan is the nom de plume of Mark Barrowcliffe, who didn’t write fantasy, so that’s ok. He did write a nonfiction book called The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange, which looks like a book I would read, and which shows he’d fit right in around here. Maybe I should recruit him for a Writer Wednesday. About his book, it looks like it might be a bit bloody and gritty, but I’m intrigued anyway by the connection to Viking myth, and I will read it when it comes out in the United States.

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Shadow’s Son
by Jon Sprunk
Pyr
Trade paperback – $16 (discounts available)

In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won’t be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir’s hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son . . .

I’m a little underwhelmed by this blurb and I’m thinking there has to be more to the story than this. I find myself wanting to know more about the birthright of the Shadow’s Son. Fortunately, I found one for you at Tor.com, and I think its pretty awesome of them to help out the author from another publisher.

At Debuts & Reviews, we always look beyond the blurb!

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Thief
Sarah-Jane Lehoux
Mundania Press
Trade Paperback – 13.95 (Mundania Press Page)

In the crumbling city of Eloria, there is one indisputable fact: everyone has a price. Protestations of morality and better judgment have little meaning when confronted with the chance to obtain the unobtainable. The only question remaining is just how much a person is willing to sacrifice in order to win their heart’s desire.

Sevy has always been a quick study in the wicked ways of Eloria. She has no qualms about taking what she wants, and when the love of her life is mysteriously murdered, Sevy will stop at nothing to get him back. Elvish black magic, necromancy and demonic pacts are of little consequence if it means she can once again have her beloved at her side. But is she willing to murder her only friend to get the job done?

This is my first showcase from Mundania Press and this was the book  that triggered my research of this publisher, which I posted about in May. The excerpt (scroll down) looked promising. I especially liked the way she opened it through the eyes of Sevy, then expanded it to an omnipresent description, and then tightened it back up again behind Sevy’s eyes. Touches like these make me want to read on, but ultimately this character might be too dark for my taste.

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The Passage

by Justin Cronin
Ballantine Books
Hardcover – $27 (discounts available)

Blurb text

‘It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.’

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear – of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey – spanning miles and decades – towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

This novel has a publication story that drives us writers nuts and make us writhe in jealousy. Read it here. I remember reading about this bidding war a while back, now here the novel is. This kind of thing gets an author a lot of publicity, and I’m all for publicity for a debut(ish) novelist. Reviews abound.

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Guardian of the Dead
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown Book Group
Hardcover – $17.99 (discounts available)

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

I owe the author an apology; I should have announced it in April. Again, I would have liked a longer blurb, which gives me a better idea of what the conflict was all about. Except for the first sentence and the last sentence, this is the life of an ordinary teenager. I can’t help but to feel an agent would have rejected an author with a blurb this vague.

So here is an excerpt, courtesy of TeenReads this time. Maybe this will make up for the tardiness of this post.

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Of all of these, I’d have to say Wolfsangel most intrigues me. What about you?

9 thoughts on “Debut Showcase – Four Fantasies and a Thriller”

  1. Now I know why I’ve been seeing billboards for The Passage around Los Angeles. I thought it was strange to see a book being hyped in the space usually reserved for upcoming movies, and I figured there must be some serious money involved. Turns out I was right…

    My big question is why this particular book? What makes it different from similar books? The plot doesn’t sound incredibly original, although I’m sure it’s well executed.

    1. I really couldn’t say. Mention vampires and immediately lose interest, and the book becomes a very hard sell for me. Werewolves don’t elicit this reaction, though; which is why I wasn’t turned off by Wolfsangel.

  2. The Passage does look interesting (there aren’t any vamps in it, are there?)–I didn’t look up the author’s story, since at this point, it would likely only depress me 🙂

    1. They’re sort of the scientific-experiment-gone-awry type of vampires, in my understanding.

  3. Thanks for linking to Guardian of the Dead‘s excrpt. I didn’t think that one looked interesting until the gal’s best friend admitted he’s asexual. That made me perk up. I have a distinctly low sex drive myself, and I haven’t noticed a book where a character admitted to not being interested quite so directly before. Now I want to look that one over more carefully. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. You have read The Deed of Paksenarrion, have you? The main character is an asexual female.

  4. I’ll have to look at the Deed of Paksenarion again. It’s been a while.

    Thanks. I remember some folks describing her as “almost asexual,” but in this case, “almost” made made it feel like it didn’t really count. {small smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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