James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Date

Reviews from January 2024 (22)

The War Is Over

Death on Gokumon Island  (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi, volume 2)

By Seishi Yokomizo  (Translated by Louise Heal Kawai)

31 Jan, 2024



19481s Death on Gokumon Island is the second volume in Seishi Yokomizo’s Detective Kosuke Kindaichi series. The 2022 English edition was translated by Louise Heal Kawai.

Like many Japanese men, eccentric detective Kindaichi spent 1937 to 1945 serving in the Japanese army. A lucky survivor, he was repatriated back to Japan. Kindaichi has one final war-related task, one that brings the no longer young man to ill-omened Gokumon (Hell’s Gate) Island.

Read more ➤

Just Remember Darling

Web of Everywhere

By John Brunner  

30 Jan, 2024

Shockwave Reader


John Brunner’s 1974 Web of Everywhere is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Skelters supplied humanity with inexpensive global teleportation1. Island paradises were but a step from vast cities. Likewise novel plagues, irate terrorists, and savage bandits were but numbers on a keypad away from vulnerable populations. Faced with a rising tide of chaos, governments lashed out with nuclear weapons. Two thirds of the human race perished.

Decades later, two men visit an outpost of the long-dead world before the Blowup.

Read more ➤

Never Be Alone

Z for Zachariah

By Robert C. O’Brien  

28 Jan, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Robert C. O’Brien’s 1974 Z for Zachariah1 is a stand-alone post-apocalypse novel.

The war began in the spring. One week later it was over. The valley in which the Burden farm lay was spared by a quirk of geography and weather. Death lies beyond the hills bordering the valley.

Fifteen-year-old Ann Burden’s family never returned from their final attempt to find survivors outside the valley. After they vanished, Ann tended her farm alone save for the surviving animals. As far as she knows she is the last human on Earth.

One day, a strangely garbed stranger appears.

Read more ➤

Freedom and Fame

Borderland  (Chronicles of the Borderlands, volume 1)

 Edited by Terri Windling & Mark Alan Arnold 

25 Jan, 2024

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold’s 1986 Borderland is the first volume in the Chronicles of the Borderlands modern fantasy shared universe.

The Borderland is the region between Faerie and the human world (1), a region where neither elf magic nor human technology is reliable. Governed by neither side, the Borderland becomes a refuge for society’s outcasts: artists, criminals, and teenagers.

Extensive ISFDB digression warning.

Read more ➤

Old Trees

The Old Woman with the Knife

By Gu Byeong-Mo & Chi-Young Kim  

24 Jan, 2024



Gu Byeong-Mo’s The Old Woman with the Knife is a stand-alone thriller. First published as Pagwa in 2013, the 2022 English translation is by Chi-Young Kim.

Hornclaw is an unremarkable-appearing sixty-five-year-old woman. Hornclaw conscientiously avoids any detail that might stick in people’s minds. After all, it would not do to be a memorable-appearing disease control specialist” … or as the police might phrase it if they ever caught her, assassin for hire.

Read more ➤


Demon Daughter  (Penric & Desdemona, volume 12)

By Lois McMaster Bujold  

23 Jan, 2024

Miscellaneous Reviews


Demon Daughter is a secondary universe fantasy novel. Demon Daughter is the 12th volume in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric & Desdemona series.

Adorable moppet Otta has lived all her short life on her father’s trading vessel Golden Chance. Like many children, she would like a pet. Her misguided attempt to tame a ship’s rat provokes the First Mate to throw the beast overboard. The consequences are far beyond anything the First Mate could have imagined.

Read more ➤

Broken Ego, Broken Heart

Funeral Songs for Dying Girls

By Cherie Dimaline  

19 Jan, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Cherie Dimaline’s 2023 Funeral Songs for Dying Girls is a stand-alone modern fantasy.

Sixteen-year-old Winifred Win” Blight lives with her taciturn father in the Winterson Cemetery1, where her father operates the crematorium. While living in a house2 on cemetery grounds has its drawbacks — fellow students (the jerks) call Win Wednesday Addams3” — Win has lived there her whole life and it’s all she knows. News that declining business may force the crematorium to shut down is unwelcome news, as the Blight home is a free perk of graveyard employment.

Win has one card to play: the cemetery ghost.

Read more ➤