Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love?
Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention? Message or email me and we’ll set something up.
My choice this week is the terrific magical steam punk novel, Mongrel by K Z Snow. It has everything – a well realised yet eerie world peopled with characters of surpassing oddness and plot, so much plot. Even the most sympathetic inhabitants of this world have flaws, even the most unpleasant have hidden depths. And the language – oh wow. I loved it to bits and, best of all, it’s the first of a series that are now being issued as a bundle. Really worth a go.
Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, shines as the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. A shadow is cast there one day when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, isn’t welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is; they’re all Branded Mongrels, officially shunned. But Will is beguiled by the stunning, mysterious Perfidor. Their mutual wariness soon gives way to desire, and a bond forms.Soon the naive but plucky pitchman becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton’s civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will’s passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he’s determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution… or worse. They just have to stay together-and stay alive long enough-to see their plan through.
CLOUDS the color of soiled wool and urine threaded past a gibbous moon. The atmosphere may have produced them but the city had tinted them.
For Fanule Perfidor, the city was too close. Lying just to the west, that packed jumble of flaking bricks, weathered clapboards, and belching chimneys was a gritty distraction. Fanule sensed the pulse of life there. When the mania seized him, as it had tonight, he craved the city’s humid crush of bodies, the revelry that made them sweat and steam.
Wind slithered in from the sea and caught Fanule’s cloak, turning it, he imagined, into a black sail fluttering on a sturdy mast. He was a ghost ship plying moonlit seas and portending doom. He was at the mercy of the wind yet he was one with the wind.
He was a freak of nature and a force of nature. Perfidor, the Dog King. The epithet and the image it conjured made him laugh aloud.
The air’s agitation suited his mood. He strode rather than strolled down the boardwalk, his boot heels thudding with satisfying aggression on the planks. The crowd had thinned, but the remaining visitors made a wide berth around Fanule. Their aversion both amused and annoyed him. He considered sucking the light from the white globes atop the lampposts, just to see the silly humans’ reactions.
No, no, no. Can’t play. Must stay on task. Gods, look at that man’s legs; they could bind a body better than tarred rope! And then… no, must stay on task. But where to start? Where, where, where?
Fanule’s gaze darted along the overdone facades of the buildings he passed, all strung together like a lineup of gaudy, aging whores. Colorful pennants snapped above their roofs. How absurd to have elaborate cornices and quatrefoil windows, little gargoyles and square cupolas on structures so squat, so grayed by the hammering salt of sea spray. But, he supposed, fancy was the stuff of Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus, the permanent carnival that stretched along and beyond the boardwalk and included whatever attractions were tucked behind those fancy fronts.
Look at the signs; look past the blazing and burnt-out bulbs and read the signs.