Tag Archives: Justin Cronin

Sunday Post – 26th June

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It’s my birthday, so I shall be conspicuous by my absence today as I’m hosting a family birthday get-together, complete with four generations of the family. Yesterday, we went out for a meal together in Brighton at a vegetarian restaurant, which was lovely. This week has been very busy with all sorts of non-editing activities.

I can’t quite believe it – but I’ve now finished this year’s Creative Writing courses, other than a one-day Summer Surgery course in July. So there has been a tranche of paperwork and admin to wrap it all up that needs to be dealt with. Wednesday night was Northbrook College’s Information Evening, where I met up with my other Adult Learning teaching colleagues as we start looking forward to September’s new courses.

I’m also in the process of changing computers – my desktop was bought in 2010 and works very hard. So as a birthday pressie, I’ve got a spiffy new model with a solid state hard drive which, hopefully will mean I won’t be spending vast acres of my life staring at the screen as it leisurely takes minutes at a time to consider opening up. My marvellous son, who helped me choose it in the first place, has helped me set it up.

I’ve managed to catch up a bit on my reading this week, completing:

City of the Lost – Book 1 of the Casey Duncan series by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police cityofthelostdetective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them…

I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary murder mystery set in a confined, isolated community under a fair amount of stress – an ideal backdrop for all sorts of high jinks.

 

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg
magicbitterMaire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from. When she is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being, she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.
This is a struggle for finding lost identity, with a number of fairy tales stitched into the storyline. I found this an unexpectedly moving and enjoyable read and will certainly be hunting down more books by this interesting author.

 

Demon Road – Book 1 of Demon Road series by Derek Landy
thedemonrdDemon Road kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in…Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

This YA offering isn’t for the faint of heart – full-on, bloody adventure features right from the start. That said, I really enjoyed the protagonist, Amber, and the cast of characters both good and bad who whisk the narrative along at a good clip. But I wouldn’t be happy for a young teen to read it, given the level of violence.

 

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 19th June

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno

Teaser Tuesday – Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Eve of War is Unleashed…

Review of The Obsession by Norah Roberts

Review of The Passage – Book 1of the The Passage series by Justin Cronin

Friday Faceoff – Armed to the Teeth featuring The Thousand Names – Book 1 of The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

Review of City of the Lost – Book 1 of the Casey Duncan series by Kelley Armstrong

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

This made me laugh on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Five of the worst ways to ask for print ARCs http://cuddlebuggery.com/blog/2012/06/06/five-of-the-worst-ways-to-ask-for-print-arcs/

I enjoyed reading these nuggets of information about one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. Five Fascinating Facts about A Midsummer Night’s Dream https://interestingliterature.com/2016/06/22/five-fascinating-facts-about-a-midsummer-nights-dream/ …

This is a great article about how the age of the internet can allow us to share those hefty, or tricky reads with someone else. Five Benefits of Buddy-Reading https://saraletourneauwriter.com/2016/06/23/five-benefits-of-buddy-reading/ …

Steph Bianchini gives us yet another lovely slice of science with this fascinating article.
Skies from other planets – The peaks of eternal light http://earthianhivemind.net/2016/06/21/skies-from-other-planets-the-peaks-of-eternal-light/ …

I loved this pictorial journal of a day trip from another part of the world where I’ve never been. A one day escape… https://indigodrift.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/a-one-day-escape/ …

eve-of-war-finalAnother slice of excitement is that Fox Spirit Books has published Eve of War, a short story anthology of science fiction, fantasy and horror tales of women battling their foes, which includes my own story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ imagining what happens to Prospero and Miranda after they leave their enchanted island at the end of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.flashfloods

 

For a change, I’m not the only one moaning about the atrocious weather – we have endured some torrential downpours and my heart goes out to the poor souls who have endured flash flooding and damage with lightning strikes. Flaming June for all the wrong reasons…

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Review of The Passage – Book 1 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin

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Before tackling Cronin’s final book in this trilogy, The City of Mirrors – see my review here – I decided to scoop up The Passage from my teetering TBR pile to ensure I gave the book a fair chance.

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she’s the most important person in the whole world. She is.
Anthony Carter doesn’t think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row.
He’s wrong.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming.
It is.

thepassageAnd there you have the blurb. Very short and terse – which is exactly what this book is not… Coming in at 766 pages and with a punchy, yet often lyrical prose style, this book sprawls across a number of characters in a variety of situations as we see the world unravel due to a scientific investigation going disastrously wrong. Yep. One of those. We’ve all read the scenario. Some arrogant idiot in a white lab coat decides he knows better than everyone else and plays God – and what do you know? It goes wrong… Such stories tend to be long on the gory chaos that ensues and short of characterisation, because – let’s face it, most of the poor souls die anyway, and often not in a good way.

This one is different. Really. Oh yes, there is gory chaos, alright. The world really does go to Hell in a handcart. But Cronin has an uncanny knack of managing to get right to the heart of someone’s character in an amazingly short space of time. His depiction of Amy’s teenage mother near the start of the book is heartbreakingly familiar – and made me really, really care about her. It is that skill he has, for creating characters full of flaws, contradictions, odd motivations – and managing to create lost little Amy without lapsing into sentimentality, which kept me turning the pages.

I’m not a huge fan of horror, or any kind of gory chaos for that matter. I get plenty of nightmares all on my own, without any help from someone else’s apocalyptic vision – it’s part of the reason I don’t sleep all that much. And if I’d appreciated just how bad it was all going to get and just how much mayhem was going to be occur, I probably would have passed on this one. But, once I got started I found I really wanted to know what was going to happen next to Amy and Sara and Peter and Michael and… a whole lot more. Yes, I cared about them all. Cronin wheeled each one on in swift succession and I don’t recall minding about the switches at all. The only really jarring moment came at page 260 when the first section ends and we jump forward 97 years. But I didn’t even really mind about that one, either – because I’d just about had enough of all the gory chaos, by then.

And the reason I’m telling you this? Because I loathe constant jumps from one character to another. I find being yanked about from one viewpoint to another thoroughly messes with my enjoyment of the overall story and makes me care a whole lot less about any of them. But Cronin breaks the rules, switching characters several times in a single page – something I regularly tell my creative writing students is a complete no-no – and pulls it off. If you enjoy apocalyptic science fiction or fantasy, then this is a must-read. And if you don’t generally enjoy all that end of the world stuff, but appreciate well-written books with plenty of adventure and action in them, give it a go. I can guarantee you won’t have read anything before quite like it.
10/10

Sunday Post – 19th June

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Still in the foothills of Editland, I’m now more than a third of the way through line editing Breathing Space. I let loose Electric Annie’s voice, courtesy of Word, so the computer slowly reads through the manuscript aloud to me, while I follow it on the screen, set on 125% zoom. I haven’t yet found a more effective way of picking up the graunching phrases, small errors and fiddling plot holes and anomalies. The catch is that it takes a lot of time and concentration – and it isn’t something I can do when I’m tired.

This week’s Creative Writing classes went well – this term students bring in their own favourite pieces of writing that has inspired them in some way and share it with the group. We have had fiction ranging from Charles Dickens to J.K. Rowling and everything in between; the teachings of Idris Shah and the life of Desert Orchid; as well as poetry ranging from John Cooper Clark to Rudyard Kipling. It has been highly enjoyable – and the icing on the cake is that the work my lovely students produce just goes on getting better… One of my students won a poetry competition this week, while another was shortlisted for yet another competition. It’s been a good term.

I’m still not up to full speed on my reading this week, because when I do finally get to bed, I tend to fall asleep, as I find editing exhausting. So the two books I completed are:

The City of Mirrors – Book 3 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin
thecityofmirrors“The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?”
The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future. But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him. One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate…

This is the final book in this remarkable post-apocalyptic trilogy, which has been a real roller-coaster – the writing is remarkable, both gritty and lyrical. Cronin manages to make it acceptable to switch viewpoints three or four times in the space of a couple of pages and you can’t pull off a stunt like that without being very, very talented.

Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno
Malcolm Graves lives by two rules: finish the job, and get paid. After thirty years as titanborna collector, chasing bounties and extinguishing rebellions throughout the solar system, Malcolm does what he’s told, takes what he’s earned, and leaves the questions to someone else—especially when it comes to the affairs of offworlders. Heading into hostile territory, Malcolm will have to use everything he’s learned to stay alive. But he soon realizes that the situation on the ground is much more complex than he anticipated . . . and much more personal.

Enjoyable, full-on space opera adventure that nevertheless provides some thought-provoking insights into the human condition. Featuring anti-hero Malcolm Graves, the ending was wholly unexpected and very memorable. I loved it! My review will appearing on the blog be next week.

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 12th June

Review of The Square Peg by Vivienne Tuffnell

Teaser Tuesday – The City of Mirrors – Book 3 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin

Review of Banished – Book 1 of The Blackhart Legacy by Liz de Jager

The Freestyle Writing Challenge

Friday Faceoff – Better a Witty Fool Than a Foolish Wit featuring Master and Fool – Book 3 of The Book of Words series by J.V. Jones

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The City of Mirrors – Book 3 The Passage series by Justin Cronin

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

I loved this enjoyable, articulate article about a long-standing passion. Why I Write Science Fiction by Kate Colby. https://katemcolby.com/2016/06/15/why-i-write-science-fiction-fantasy/

Some excellent safety tips now we are approaching the time of year when we take our littlies out and about by Wanda Luthman – https://wandaluthman.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/family-vacation-safety/

Another superb post from this lovely site about war poets – some I knew, and some I didn’t… https://interestingliterature.com/2016/06/17/interesting-facts-about-war-poets/

Haunting pictures of children who have been displaced. https://photolicioux.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/from-the-far-from-home-series/

Drew’s Friday Face-off contribution this week featured the mighty Robin Hobb, with a number of different covers for her book Fool’s Errand. Which is your favourite? https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/friday-face-off-17th-june/

Last night I attended the All Night Write event at the old Emporium theatre that ran 88londonrdfrom 10 pm through to 6 am this morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but went along with my friend Sarah Palmer. The setting was amazing in an old theatre space, with plenty of tables, comfortable seating and refreshments laid on. Phil Viner, best-selling crime writer, had organised a whole series of talks about all aspects of writing ranging from the actual process of writing, through to a discussion about the role of agents by Phillip Patterson, head of the Books Department from the Marjacq Agency. I particularly enjoyed Sarah Rayner’s excellent talk on self publishing as a hybrid author – the bonus being that these talks were delivered on the set of Peter Pan… Quirky and atmospheric. There was so much going on, we looked around twice – and it was already 3 am. We reluctantly left at 5 am before breakfast was served as we had quite a long journey home and no one wanted to suddenly find themselves falling asleep at the wheel after a fried meal. It was an amazing experience – and the bonus was that I also managed to write the opening pages of Bloodless.

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook The City of Mirrors – Book 3 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin

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The hardback edition of this book has recently been released and I’d read a lot of very positive comments about it, so when I had the chance to scoop it up on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist it.

thecityofmirrors“The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?”
The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future. But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him. One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

A firm warning – while there is a quick roundup at the start of this book, I do think that if you haven’t read either The Passage or The Twelve you are going to flounder. This book dives right into the middle of the action, featuring an extensive cast of characters and drives the narrative forward by flipping from one character’s pov to another with only a paragraph break to denote the viewpoint change. It means you have to stay sharp and pay attention. And I wouldn’t want to grapple with who was whom if I hadn’t already just finished The Passage immediately before starting to read The City of Mirrors.

Apart from anything else, this series is such an interestingly different take on the apocalyptic genre, you’ll gain so much more from this slice of the adventure if you have a greater appreciation of what went before. Cronin whisks us up and changes gear once more – the only common thread being a handful of the main characters as the threat of the dracs or virals appear to be gone for good. Humanity in North America is once more spreading out from the floodlight fortresses where they’d been penned up and families are yearning to farm, instead of patrol with weapons.
However, a handful of folk are not convinced it’s all over… The tension is palpable from the beginning of this book and continues to grow. We follow the fortunes of Amy, Fanning and Carter – as well as the Jaxon family and their friends. Cronin is a remarkable writer, managing to weave lyrical passages about the landscape, their way of life, the sense that it’s not over in amongst the ever-rising action. This book also gives us a sustained close encounter in first person viewpoint with the ultimate antagonist in this catastrophe – Fanning. I found myself enjoying his self-deprecating humour and sad that his lack of confidence prevented him from reaching out for the love of his life when he had a chance. This is a masterclass in how to humanise the inhumane and make the reader sympathise with a monster.

I was all set to give this book an unqualified 10 – and then we got to the final section. It simply doesn’t work for me. I was disturbed by how very 21st century life is, right down to motorised transport and dress codes although clearly very little has survived from before the apocalypse. And when we got to the very final act… nope. For once, I felt Cronin allowed his affection for his remarkable character override the natural story arc as it slid into a rather sentimental finale. That said, I’ll forgive him that. Because of the very episodic nature of the story, the unsatisfying conclusion isn’t the dealbreaker it would have been in a continuous narrative timeline. It is still a remarkable book and if you enjoy apocalyptic fiction and haven’t yet encountered this series, go and track down The Passage. Even if you aren’t all that keen on apocalyptic fiction, but like well-told science fiction, then still track down The Passage. This series is something special.
9/10

Teaser Tuesday – 14th June, 2016

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Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:
The City of Mirrors – Book 3 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin
24%: We followed him inside. We were in an empty foyer, the floor painted in thecityofmirrorsalternating black and white squares, like a chessboard. I did not feel as if I were going to a party – parachuting at night into an alien country was more like it.

BLURB: “The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?”

The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future. But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

I’m finding this one easier to get into than The Passage, but that’s probably because I’ve just finished the first book in the series, so am very familiar with the characters and storyline. Interestingly, this extract is a slice from a protracted flashback, providing a lot of extra detail about the major antagonist. Once again, I’m struck by the quality of the writing. I shall be reviewing this book sometime during the next week, as it is a NetGalley arc, due to be released in a couple of days.

Sunday Post – 12th June

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

My editing marathon is grinding inexorably onward. I’m now line editing Breathing Space before letting it loose on my long-suffering beta-readers. Debbie has completed reading through Dying for Space for me and has handed it onto Sarah.

This week hasn’t been quite so frenetic. It was lovely to resume my Creative Writing classes on Monday and Tuesday and catch up with everyone after the half-term break. On Wednesday evening our writing group met up and discussed each others’ work amid tea and laughter. During Thursday evening I attended the monthly West Sussex Writers’ meeting to hear Jane Lythell, who has written the successful psychological thrillers The Lie of You and After the Storm. She talked to eve-of-war-sample-2-639x1024the group about her journey to being published and also discussed characterisation and how she crafted her protagonists. It is always fascinating to hear how different authors approach their work and Jane was a fluent, articulate speaker with plenty to say – including some intriguing details about her upcoming new release, Woman of the House, which is more of a contemporary novel about a woman coping with a demanding job and increasing commitments at home.

 

I’ve also now received a copy of the cover for the anthology Eve of War, in which my short story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ will appear. Isn’t it gorgeous? The release date is 20th June.

 

As regards reading – I’m coming to the end of a hefty tome that almost stopped me in my tracks…

The Passage – Book 1 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin
Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she’s the most important person in thepassagethe whole world.
She is.
Anthony Carter doesn’t think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row.
He’s wrong.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming.
It is.
THE PASSAGE.
And there you have the blurb of this apocalyptic, science fiction vampire book that runs to 766 pages. The first section, where it all goes to hell in a handcart, was something of a slog – not because there was anything wrong with the book, indeed, the writing is remarkable and engrossing. However, I hadn’t appreciated that it starts in our world before it all slides away, which I always find a bit of a problem. Fortunately, just as I was on the verge of giving up, the section ended and we were plunged into the future, post-apocalyptic world. I will be reviewing it sometime in the next week.

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 5th June

* NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Cursed – Book 2 of The Soulseer Chronicles by Sue Tingey

Teaser Tuesday – The Passage – Book 1 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

* NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Annihiliation Score – Book 6 of The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

Friday Faceoff – All That is Gold Does Not Glitter featuring Empire of Black and Gold – Book 1 of The Shadow of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky

2016 Discovery Challenge – May Roundup

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Juliet E. McKenna’s interesting article on the similarities between aikido and writing when breaking new ground – http://www.julietemckenna.com/?p=2172

Which Zodiac Sign Fits Your Protagonist Best? This is a really nifty getting-to-know your main character exercise by Sara Letourneau. https://saraletourneauwriter.com/2016/06/09/zodiac-signs-and-character-traits/

This is a lovely slice of photo journaling through India. The Road Goes Ever On… – https://indigodrift.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/the-road-goes-ever-on/

How realistic do you want injuries to be in books? Kristen Burns writes about this in her excellent article. http://blog.kristenburns.com/realism-in-books-injuries/

Lovely examples of space art, brought to us by Steph P. Bianchini – http://earthianhivemind.net/2016/06/08/space-art-nasa/

100_4927The weather has finally woken up to the fact it is nearly mid-June and we’ve had a lovely week of warm days and nights, so that suddenly everything in the garden is going mad. It’s frankly something of a jungle, but amongst the weeds and mayhem, my echium spires are taller than ever, this year, thanks to the mild winter. I’ve enclosed the pic to show the scale – those canes I’m holding are 6 ft long.

These foamy white bracts of flowers are on a spiky-leaved plant 100_4943I’ve owned for about a decade – and this is only the second time it’s flowered. The garden is full of the lily-like smell and it is crawling with bees – dozens of them. If I leave the back door open, the scent suffuses the kitchen, leaving me light-headed and happy. Summer… at last!
Once more, many thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog and I hope you can find the time and, maybe, a sunny nook where you can get lost in a book. Happy reading, everyone!

Teaser Tuesday – 7th June 2016

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Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:
The Passage – Book 1 of The Passage series by Justin Croninthepassage
page 346: He couldn’t have said how old she was. Thirteen? Sixteen? Her hair was long and dark, and thick with mats; she was wearing a pair of threadbare gaps cut off at the ankles and a T-shirt stiff with dirt, all of it too large on her boyish frame.

BLURB: Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she’s the most important person in the whole world. She is.

Anthony Carter doesn’t think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He’s wrong.

FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is.

Unaware of each other’s existence but bound together in ways none of them could have imagined, they are about to embark on a journey. An epic journey that will take them through a world transformed by man’s darkest dreams, to the very heart of what it means to be human. And beyond.

Because something is coming. A tidal wave of darkness ready to engulf the world. And Amy is the only person who can stop it.

I picked this one up at Fantasycon a couple of years ago and it’s been stacked in my TBR pile ever since. And if I hadn’t requested City of Mirrors from NetGalley, it would probably still be there, but I thought it might be a refreshing change to read a series in the right order… If your taste runs to apocalyptic science fiction, then this is the daddy, coming in at 766 pages and – as you might imagine – not brimful of fun. But the writing is spare, pacey and lyrically beautiful. It’s a book that’s going to stay with me for a long time.