NOTES FROM THE BURNING AGE by Claire North (Orbit £18.99, 416 pp)


by Claire North (Orbit £18.99, 416 pp)

Since the Burning Age, the world has found a way of co-existing with the Kakuy, elemental nature spirits that have bullied humanity into balancing needs and wants, present and future.

But now the Temple, which has kept the balance, is failing under the onslaught of the Brotherhood, prometheans intent on repeating old mistakes in the name of progress. Ven, coerced into working for the Brotherhood, is spying for the Temple, but who is spying on him? Claire North’s insight of genius is to graft the intimate betrayals of a Le Carré espionage thriller onto the global concerns of a climate novel. The tension is unbearable, the writing is peerless and the light shone on our own Burning Age is pitiless.


by Chuck Wendig (Del Rey £16.99, 544 pp)

What makes Horror, as opposed to horror, so damn comforting? Of course, the mechanics of suspense reassuringly deliver the shocks, but American Horror especially deals so beautifully with the triumph of decency over darkness.

You just know that when nice-guy ex-cop Nathan inherits his abusive father’s home, he should sell, and that the father-figure next door is too good to be true. And as for that creepy older friend who saves his son from the bullies . . . hmmm.

What follows is a gruesome, compelling, bloody yarn complete with serial killer, mysterious landscape of shifting stones, abandoned mines and an interdimensional twist that turns the suspense up to 11 and beyond. Goodness prevails, but what a ride.

TOMORROW by Chris Beckett (Corvus £16.99, 304 pp)


by Chris Beckett (Corvus £16.99, 304 pp)

A blocked novelist sits by an Amazonian river, gets stoned and never quite manages to start his magnum opus. The passing stream is a fine metaphor for the ideas the writer rejects for not quite matching up to the grandeur of his vision. Meanwhile, pterodactyls wheel above him, terrorists stalk the jungle and mermaid-like creatures sing haunting songs from the river.

The novelist shoots one for no reason, is kidnapped by the terrorists and accidentally writes a best-selling memoir.

Once again, Chris Beckett casts a cool, sci-fi eye over social pretentions — not even artisanal bread escapes his attentions.

A fractured narrative for fractured times, Tomorrow is cool without being cold; distant and devastatingly personal.

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