James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, June 30 — July 7

8 Jul, 2023


A Winters Rime A Novel

A Winter’s Rime: A Novel by Carol Dunbar (September 2023)

A harrowing and emotional novel set in rural Wisconsin — A Winter’s Rime explores the impact of generational trauma, and one woman’s journey to find peace and healing from the violence of her past. Mallory Moe is a twenty-five-year-old veteran Army mechanic, living with her girlfriend, Andrea, and working overnights at a gas station store while figuring out what’s next. Andrea’s off-grid cabin provides a perfect sanctuary for Mallory, a synesthete with a hypersensitivity to sound that can trigger flashbacks from her childhood. The getaway that’s largely abandoned during the off season starts out idyllic, until Andrea’s once-loving behavior turns controlling and abusive, and Mallory once again finds herself not wanting to go home. After a particularly disturbing altercation, Mallory escapes into the subzero night and stumbles into Shay, a teenage girl, injured and asking for help. But it isn’t long before she realizes that Shay isn’t the only one who needs saving. A story about sisterhood and second chances, A Winter’s Rime looks to nature to find what it can teach us about bearing hardship and expanding our capacity to forgive — not just others, but ourselves. 

FIYAH No 27 Carnival

FIYAH No. 27: Carnival published by FIYAH Literary Magazine (July 2023)

Issue #27 of FIYAH Literary Magazine 

Deep Freeze A Novel

Deep Freeze: A Novel by Michael C. Grumley (January 2024)

The accident came quickly. With no warning. In the dead of night, a precipitous plunge into a freezing river trapped everyone inside the bus. It was then that Army veteran John Reiff’s life came to an end. Extinguished in the sudden rush of frigid water. 

There was no expectation of survival. None. Let alone waking up beneath blinding hospital lights. Struggling to move, or see, or even breathe. But the doctors assure him that everything is normal. That things will improve. What they haven’t told him… is that he is the first person to be successfully revived from a cryonic sleep. 

As Reiff’s mind and body gradually recover, he begins to suspect that the doctors are lying to him. One-by-one, puzzle pieces are slowly falling into place, and he soon realizes things are not at all what they seem. Critical information is being kept from him. Secrets. Supposedly for his own good. But Who is doing this? Why? And the most important question: can he keep himself alive long enough to uncover the truth?

The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle

The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle by T. L. Huchu (August 2023)

Duels, magic, and plenty of ghosts await in The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle, the third book of T. L. Huchu’s USA Today bestselling Edinburgh Nights series. 

Everyone’s favorite fifteen-year-old ghostalker, Ropa, arrives at the worldwide Society of Skeptical Enquirers’ biennial conference just in time to be tied into a mystery — a locked room mystery, if an entire creepy haunted castle on lockdown counts. One of the magical attendees has stolen a valuable magical scroll. 

Caught between Qozmos, the high wizard of Ethiopian magic; the larger-than-life Lord Sashvindu Samarasinghe; England’s Sorcerer Royal; and Scotland’s own Edmund MacLeod, it’s up to Ropa (and Jomo and Priya) to sort through the dangerous secret politics and alliances to figure out what really happened. But she has a special tool — the many ghosts tied to the ancient, powerful castle. 

The Apothecary Diaries Volume 8 Light Novel

The Apothecary Diaries: Volume 8 by Natsu Hyuuga (May 2023)

The whole capital seems to have gone Go-crazy when Lakan publishes a book about his games. He’s got even bigger plans, holding a Go tournament that’s open to all — and rumor has it that if anyone can topple the strategist himself, he’ll grant them any single request they might ask. Jinshi sees an opportunity. But it’s not all fun and games, as Jinshi learns when reports arrive of crops devastated by a plague of locusts in a remote village. All his attempts to forestall the insects’ devastation will soon be put to the test, and the outcome may mean survival or starvation. 

Locus July 2023

Locus, July 2023 published by Locus Publications (July 2023)

The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field 


Promise by Christi Nogle (September 2023)

With over 50 published short stories to her name Christi Nogle has established herself as a modern Ray Bradbury.

Promise collects Christi Nogle’s best futuristic stories ranging from plausible tech-based science fiction to science fantasy stories about aliens in our midst: chameleonic foils hover in the skies, you can order a headset to speak and dream with your dog, and your devices sometimes connect not just to the web but to the underworld. These tales will recall the stories of Ray Bradbury, television programs such as Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone, and novels such as Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin or Under the Skin by Michael Faber. They are often strange and dreadful but veer towards themes of hope, potential, promise

Saevus Corax Deals With the Dead

Saevus Corax Deals With the Dead by K. J. Parker (October 2023)

The first novel in a new epic fantasy trilogy from World Fantasy Award-winner K. J. Parker. There’s no formal training for battlefield salvage. You just have to pick things up as you go along. Swords, armor, arrows – and the bodies, of course. Over the years, Saevus Corax has picked up a lot of things. Some of them have made him decent money, others have brought nothing but trouble. But it’s a living, and somebody has to deal with the dead. Something else that Saevus has buried is his past. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite succeed.