Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meg's Picks: May 2015, part 2

I have something for everyone to look forward to this May, whether you're an old-school horror fan, a lover of historical fiction, or on the lookout for the next great new author. (And a little secret? I have SO MUCH to share for June already, I'm not sure I can wait until next month to start sharing! If you want a little sneak preview of some of the fabulous new summer reads, come on back next Tuesday and I'll have a few things to share.) Now, on with today's post!

The Scarlet Gospels, by Clive Barker. The Scarlet Gospels takes readers back many years to the early days of two of Barker's most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long-beleaguered detective Harry D'Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes faces off against his formidable, and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the priest of hell. Barker devotees have been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels with bated breath for years, and it's everything they've begged for and more. Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the epic, visionary tale that is The Scarlet Gospels. Barker's horror will make your worst nightmares seem like bedtime stories.

Love is Red, by Sophie Jaff. Fans of Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, please pay attention, because Jaff's debut is right up your alley. First in a trilogy, book one introduces readers to Katherine Emerson, a woman born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she doesn't know it yet. However, one man does: a killer stalking the women of New York City, a monster the media dubs the "Sickle Man" because of the weapon he uses to turn his victims' bodies into canvases for his twisted art. He takes more than just his victims' lives, and each death brings him closer to the one woman he must possess at any cost. Amid the city's escalating hysteria, Katherine is trying to unknot her tangled heart, as two very different men have entered her previously uneventful world and turned it upside down. She finds herself involved in a complicated triangle . . . but how well does she really know either of them?

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Katherine and the Sickle Man, Sophie Jaff's intoxicating narrative will pull you in and hold you close. As the body count rises, Katherine is haunted by harrowing visions that force her to question her sanity. All she wants is to find love. He just wants to find her. This is getting a lot of advance critical praise, so don't be surprised if you hear more about this as the summer goes on.

A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson & Brent K. Ashabranner. Atkinson's gorgeously unique 2013 novel, Life After Life, made a huge impact with readers. Now she's returned with a second installment about the Todd family, billed as a companion novel instead of a sequel, which tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have. Critics are using words like "heartbreaking," "sublime," and "gorgeous." If it's anything like Life After Life, I can strongly recommend this, even having not yet read it.

Church of Marvels, by Leslie Parry. A ravishing first novel, set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all. As these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York—a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger. In magnetic, luminous prose, Leslie Parry offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past in a narrative of astonishing beauty, full of wondrous enchantments, a marvelous debut that will leave readers breathless. I'm recommending this particularly to readers who enjoyed books like Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne Harris. Harris, author of the incredibly popular Chocolat, among other works, has returned to readers with something completely different. This novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods—retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. A #1 bestseller in the UK, The Gospel of Loki tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. 
While this may seem to be a reach for Harris, she admits to a lifelong passion for Norse myths. Coupled with the current pop-culture demand for all things Norse, including movies like The Avengers (with a sequel coming to theaters in mid-May) and Thor (and its sequel, Thor: The Dark World), as well as obvious comparisons to authors like Neil Gaiman (particularly American Gods, which is one of my all-time favorite novels. Ever.) and really, I think readers will flock to this. I'm counting myself among them.

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