James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Blog

Blog Posts

Books Received, May 7 to May 13

14 May, 2022

0 comments

The Dream-Chosen by Celu Amberstone

Humans and aliens struggle to survive on a planet surface foreign to them both, which still suffers the aftermath of a past disaster. Dunnagh is responsible for his people, wanting to bring his soldiers and civilians to safety. The Khutani work to preserve not only their own people, but the races of this planet Timorna where they dwell. It takes all the Khutani mind powers, and those of Dunnagh, to bring them together for symbiosis.

The Dream-Chosen is the first book in the series Tales of the Kashallans, by celebrated author Celu Amberstone. Drawing on her Indigenous and Celtic heritage, Amberstone writes powerful fiction subtly different from the usual science fiction or fantasy adventures. For fans of the Hundred Worlds’ approach used in Star Trek and in Golden Age magazines, there are diverse settings and cultures along the journey taken by these human and alien characters.

Read more ➤

Books Received, May 1 — May 6

7 May, 2022

0 comments

Ymir by Rich Larson

A gripping, far-future retelling of Beowulf from an award-winning author, perfect for fans of Richard K. Morgan. Yorick never wanted to see his homeworld again. Thirty years later, he finds himself sent back to the icy mining colony as a company man — and he can’t leave this frozen rock in the dust until he neutralizes the threat. A vicious, long-forgotten machine has newly thawed from the ice, and it seems to have a mind of its own. But as Yorick plumbs the depths of of the mines and his own past, he finds a tangled conspiracy that’s much more than he bargained for — and its source is closer to home than he ever could have guessed. 

Read more ➤

Books Received, April 23 — April 30

30 Apr, 2022

0 comments

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

Whimsical, witty, and brimming over with charm” (India Holton), Olivia Atwater’s delightful debut will transport you to a magical version of Regency England, where the only thing more meddlesome than a fairy is a marriage-minded mother! 

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul. 

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment — an unfortunate condition that leaves her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season — but when Elias Wilder, the strange, handsome, and utterly ill-mannered Lord Sorcier, discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into peculiar and dangerous faerie affairs.

If her reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all high society, then she and her family may yet reclaim their normal place in the world. But the longer Dora spends with Elias, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love even with only half a soul. 

Read more ➤

April 2022 in Review

30 Apr, 2022

0 comments

April 2022

21 works reviewed. 11.5 by women (55%), 7.5 by men (36%), 2 by a non-binary author (10%), 0 by authors whose genders are unknown (0%), and 7 by POC (33%).

Year to Date

85 works reviewed. 47.5 by women (56% ), 34.5 by men (41%), 3 by a non-binary author (4%), 0 by authors whose genders are unknown (0%), and 31 by POC (36%).

Grand Total to Date

2093 works reviewed. 1171.5 by women (56%), 874.5 by men (42%), 29 by non-binary authors (1%), 18 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), 605.75 by POC (29%).

Read more ➤

Books Received, April 9 — April 15

16 Apr, 2022

0 comments

Leech by Hiron Ennes

A wonderful new entry to Gothic science fiction, impeccably clever and atmospheric. Think Wuthering Heights … with worms!’ – Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth‘Highly recommended. I’ll be reading anything Hiron Ennes writes from now on’ – Tade Thompson, author of RosewaterIn an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The Interprovincial Medical Institute sends out a replacement. But when the new physician investigates the cause of death, which appears to be suicide, there’s a mystery to solve. It seems the good doctor was hosting a parasite. Yet this should have been impossible, as the man was already possessed. For hundreds of years, the Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine.The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species. Now it seems they have competition. For in the baron’s icebound castle, already a pit of secrets and lies, the parasite is spreading … These two enemies will make war within the battlefield of the body. Whichever wins, humanity will lose again.Leech by Hiron Ennes is an atmospheric Gothic triumph, perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read more ➤

Terry Carr’s Third Ace Special Series

12 Apr, 2022

0 comments

As previously established over on tor dot com, I have in my possession all twelve volumes in the Third Ace Specials series. Editor Terry Carr selected an interesting unifying theme for his twelve selection. Each one was its author’s debut at novel length. How keen was Carr’s insight? How well have the books aged? Did the authors enjoy the lengthy careers inclusion in the series suggested might result? To find the answer to those questions, join me as I reread and review nearly all1 of the Specials.


1: The singular exception being Howard Waldrop’s Them Bones, which I reviewed almost eight years ago,

Read more ➤

Books Received, April 2 — April 8

9 Apr, 2022

0 comments

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you. Only the Luminaries, a society of ancient guardians, stand between humanity and the nightmares of the forest that rise each night.Winnie Wednesday, an exile from the Luminaries, is determined to restore her family’s good name by taking the deadly hunter trials on her sixteenth birthday. And there’s only one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.

Read more ➤

March 2022 in Review

1 Apr, 2022

0 comments

March 2022

23 works reviewed. 13 by women (57%), 9 by men (39), 1 by a non-binary author (4%), 0 by authors whose genders are unknown (0%), and 9 by POC (39%).

Year to Date

64 works reviewed. 36 by women (56% ), 27 by men (42%), 1 by a non-binary author (2%), 0 by authors whose genders are unknown (0%), and by 24 POC (37%).

Grand Total to Date

2072 works reviewed. 1160 by women (56%), 867 by men (42%), 27 by non-binary authors (1%), 18 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), 598.75 by POC (29%).

Read more ➤

Five Swift Answers to The Problem of Baby-Eating Authors

1 Apr, 2022

0 comments

Imagine for the moment you have invested mucho bucks in a treasured speculative fiction series. Imagine further than one morning you peruse Twitter and discover that the author of said series eats babies. On the one hand, baby-eating is probably bad and certainly unpopular1. On the other, nobody likes to walk away from something in which one has invested time and money. Is there some way to somehow justify to one’s judgmental peers continuing with the series2?

In fact, there are at least five. In no particular order…

Read more ➤