First up is Mark’s review of Wolf’s Cross by S. Andrew Swann. This book is a follow up to one of my surprise books from last year Wolfbreed. Here’s a snippet from my review of Wolf’s Cross:
Werewolves and Teutonic Knights make for an interesting combination in Wolf’s Cross, S.A. Swann’s commendable follow-up to Wolfbreed. In the 14th Century, a band of Holy Men are hunting a monster, a demon who walks like man and beast when their trail leads them to a small Polish village. The P.O.V. character on the Church’s side is a young man named Joseph, who is just an initiate and not a full member of the order. In the village, we are introduced to Maria, a young girl living with her sick father, stepbrother and stepmother as she is tasked with helping the wounded Knights upon their arrival. Sparks fly between Joseph and Maria immediately, but their stations in life prevent them from acting on their impulses.
Mark posted his review is of Blackout by Connie Willis, who happens to be a favorite author of the man also known as Hobbit.
To the tale this time then we have four historians and four basic plotlines that diverge and converge. Michael/Mike Davies is set up as an American war correspondent sent to Dover to look at Dunkirk. Meriope Ward is given the name of Eileen O’Grady, and a position as a maid in a country house in Warwickshire in order to examine the effect of the War on evacuated children from London. Thirdly, Polly Churchill is given the role of Polly Sebastian, a shop-worker in one of the large department stores in London in order to help her investigation of life in London in the Blitz. Lastly, in 1944 Gerald Phipps is sent to investigate British intelligence and ends up displaying mock inflatable tanks in order to confuse the enemy.
There are characters and links here to previous tales, should you wish to connect them. However it’s not overt and not essential in order to follow what’s going on here.
Mark also reviewed the latest Ketty Jay novel by Chris Wooding, The Black Lung Captain. I was pleased to see these books will be coming to the States next year through Bantam Spectra.
This one’s a humdinger. Great pace, teeth-rattling battle scenes, terrific characters, lovely world-building slyly dropped throughout. As you would want, we learn more about our crew and their past as things go horribly wrong. Chris’s action scenes are wonderful, as is his dialogue between a pretty dysfunctional crew. There’s a nice sense of fun and some humorous touches that also works well – Harkins’s ongoing feud with Slag, the ship’s cat, is a delight - and these are combined effectively with some nicely creepy components (here mainly involving group minds and Daemonism) and even pathos. Scenes with Bess, the childlike golem, still steal the show for me.