Today I’m delighted to have a guest post written by fantasy author Jaime Lee Moyer to share with you! She is here to discuss the ghosts in her Delia Martin books (Delia’s Shadow and the recently-released sequel A Barricade in Hell), particularly how they add shades of gray to these novels. Also, there is a chance to win one of two sets containing both of these books—fill out the form at the end to enter!

Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer
Adding Shades of Gray

I’ve been asked a few times now—why use ghosts in these books?

The easy surface answer is because I could, and because that’s the way the story wanted to be told. As with most things in life, the real reasons are a bit more complicated. I’ll try to explain one.

A lot of the fantasy I’d read was written as head on battles between the forces of good and the forces of evil, the borders between the two crisp and easy to distinguish. The hero never had any moral qualms or questions about what he was doing, never saw the struggle in anything but absolute terms of right and wrong, and was never uncertain. He (it was almost always a “he”) was never really afraid or suffered a heart-rending loss, or if he did, he shrugged it off semi-immediately. There was never a moment, no matter how dire the situation, that the idea evil might actually win was ever seriously considered.

That’s not a completely fair summary of the fantasy I’ve read during my adult life, but it’s not totally unfair either. In any case, that wasn’t the kind of story I wanted to tell.

Ghosts were one way of adding a touch of uncertainty, and a few shades of gray, to the story. That might be even more true for Gabe than for Delia. As a cop, he’d spent his career solving cases by compiling evidence he could see and touch. He had to take Delia and Isadora’s word on faith that spirits existed, and for any ghostly involvement with his cases.

I never saw the ghosts as being wholly good or totally evil. The spirits Delia encounters, or that try to haunt Gabe are largely amoral, with their own agenda and reasons for what they do. Spirits in my world are unpredictable, dangerous, and at times, impossible to control. They will use the living to their own ends and not give a thought to the harm they cause. At other times these ghosts are lost, sad; tragic.

That all combined to keep Delia and Isadora from ever being sure they had the upper hand or that they’d win. They never knew what kind of challenge any one ghost presented, or what danger they might have to face from a spirit. That was true even if the original goal was to let a wandering haunt finally rest.

I decided from the start that shades of gray would extend to my heroes as well. Gabe, Delia and Dora all have a strong moral compass, but they aren’t perfect, and none of them see the world in absolutes, good or evil. They all suffer terrible losses, defeats, lose their temper, and have moments of real despair. The human foes Gabe faces are as unpredictable as the spirits confronting Delia and Dora. Winning is never a sure thing.

In other words, I did my best to make these characters human, with all that implies about frailty and strength and resilience.

So now you know one of my reasons for using ghosts. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide if I succeeded.

About A Barricade in Hell:
In Jaime Lee Moyer’s A Barricade in Hell, Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it’s 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.

That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war.  But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice—take a terrible risk to save her city, or chance losing everything?

About the Author:
JAIME LEE MOYER’s Delia’s Shadow won the 2009 Columbus Literary Award for Fiction. Moyer has sold short fiction to Lone Star Stories, Daily Science Fiction, and to the Triangulations: End of the Rainbow, and Triangulations: Last Contact anthologies, and edited the 2010 Rhysling Award Anthology for the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Moyer lives in San Antonio with writer Marshall Payne, three cats, three guitars, and a growing collection of books and music.

Twitter: @jaimeleemoyer

I have two sets of the Delia Martin books (Delia’s Shadow and A Barricade in Hell) to give away to two residents of the US or Canada! (Please note Canadian winners may need to provide an email address and/or phone number in addition to their mailing address in order to ship the books.)

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Delia Giveaway.” One entry per person and two winners will be randomly selected, and each winner will receive a paperback copy of Delia’s Shadow and a hardcover copy of A Barricade in Hell. Those from the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway; Canadian residents who win may need to provide their email address and/or phone number in addition to their mailing address in order to ship the book. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, July 25. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the books).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This was a wonderful week for books since I want to drop everything and read all of these right now (if only I could!). The first three are review copies and the last two are gifts from my husband.

Coming up this week, there will be a guest post by Jaime Lee Moyer and a chance to win her books on Tuesday! I’m also hoping to finish and post a review later in the week.

On to the books!

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Dust and Light (The Sanctuary Duet #1) by Carol Berg

Carol Berg is one of my favorite fantasy authors primarily because of her wonderful characters but also because of her unique worlds and intelligently handled thematic elements. While my favorite of her books remains the first I read, Transformation, I also very much enjoyed her Lighthouse Duology (Flesh and Spirit, Breath and Bone). I was very excited to learn she was writing two more books, The Sanctuary Duet, that take place in the same setting as these previous books. Dust and Light, the first book in this new duology, will be released on August 5 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

An excerpt from Dust and Light is available on the author’s website.


National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption….

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series and one of my favorite series of all time. They have an amazing, gradually building story arc; an excellent and well-developed main character; wonderfully incorporated myths; gripping action scenes; and a humorous narrative garnished by entertaining dialogue. What more could I ask for in a series?

I’m far from the only one who feels this way since Ilona Andrews is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the series has become successful enough that this seventh book is being released in hardcover instead of mass market paperback like its predecessors. It will also be available as an ebook when it is published on July 29. An excerpt from Magic Breaks can be read on If you’re new to the series, you can start with an excerpt from the first book, Magic Bites (while I enjoyed this one it took me awhile to hook me and I also think it is easily the weakest book in the series; the next book is better and the third book is AMAZING).


No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

I don’t read many anthologies, but this young adult fantasy captured my interest because it contains stories by some authors whose work I have enjoyed or heard good things about, including Saladin Ahmed, Jane Yolen, Peter S. Beagle, Gillian Philip, and Jim Butcher. I have already read the first story, the one by Saladin Ahmed, and thought it was excellent.

For more information on the book and authors, visit the Birch Tree Publishing website. Beyond the Pale‘s ship date is August 1 (paperback).


Beyond the Pale is an anthology of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal stories that skirt the border between our world and others. Was that my imagination, or did I hear something under my bed? What was that blurred movement in my darkened closet? There is but a thin Veil separating the real and the fantastic, and therein dwell the inhabitants of these stories.

Beyond the Pale contains eleven short stories by award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod), Jim Butcher (Dresden Files), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Nancy Holder (Wicked), Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels), and Jane Yolen (Owl Moon).

The noun “pale” refers to a stake (as in impaling vampires) or pointed piece of wood (as in a paling fence). “Pale” came to refer to an area enclosed by a paling fence. Later, it acquired the figurative meaning of an enclosed and therefore safe domain. Conversely, “beyond the pale” means foreign, strange, or threatening. You are about to go Beyond the Pale.

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

My husband gave this to me as an anniversary gift. After reading Nalo Hopkinson’s novel Sister Mine, I’ve wanted to read more of her books. This one was on my wishlist after reading what Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers wrote about it in their post on Middle Grade and Young Adult books for Women in SF&F Month 2013.


An acclaimed fantasy author navigates the world between myth and chaos in this compelling exploration of identity, told with a Caribbean lilt.

Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in: at home she’s the perfect daughter, at school she’s provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn’t feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can’t be removed. While trying to cope with this creepiness, she goes out with her brother— and he disappears. A mysterious bubble of light just swallows him up, and Scotch has no idea how to find him. Soon, the Chaos that has claimed her brother affects the city at large, until it seems like everyone is turning into crazy creatures. Scotch needs to get to the bottom of this supernatural situation ASAP before the Chaos consumes everything she’s ever known, and she knows that the black shadowy entity that’s begun trailing her every move is probably not going to help.

A blend of fantasy and Caribbean folklore, at its heart this tale is about identity and self acceptance—because only by acknowledging her imperfections can Scotch hope to save her brother.

Flash Point by Nancy Kress

Flash Point by Nancy Kress

This was another anniversary gift from my husband (who introduced me to Nancy Kress’ work with her excellent science fiction novel Beggars In Spain). I’ve heard mixed things about Flash Point, but I want to read it anyway since I usually enjoy books by this author.


Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.

Today I have an excerpt from Steven Erikson’s new novella The Wurms of Blearmouth—and three copies of it to give away! I haven’t read this book yet, but I have read and enjoyed the first two novellas set in the universe of Malazan Book of the Fallen. I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and you can fill out the form at the end to enter to win a copy!

The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth
By Steven Erikson
Excerpt: Pages 7-10


“Behold!” Arms spread wide and braced against the wind, Lord Fangatooth Claw the Render paused and glanced back at Scribe Coingood. “See how this bold perch incites me to declamation, Scribe?” His narrow, hawkish features darkened. “Why are you not writing?”

Scribe Coingood wiped a drip from his nose, worked his numb fingers for a moment, and then scratched out the one word onto the tablet. Here atop the high tower, it was so cold that the wax on the tablet had chipped and flaked beneath the polished bone point of his scribe. He could barely make out the word he had just written, and the biting ice in his eyes didn’t help matters. Squinting against the buffeting wind, he hunched down, pulling tighter his furs, but that did nothing to ease his shivering.

He cursed his own madness that had brought him to West Elingarth’s Forgotten Holding. He also cursed this insane sorcerer for whom he now worked. He cursed this rotting keep and its swaying tower. He cursed the town below: Spendrugle of Blearmouth was a hovel, its population cowering under the tyranny of its new lord. He cursed the abominable weather of this jutting spur of land, thrashed by the wild ocean on three sides on most days, barring those times when the wind swung round to howl its way down from the north, cutting across the treeless blight that stretched inland all the way to yet another storm-wracked ocean, six days distant. He cursed his mother, and the time when he was seven and looked in on his sister’s room and saw things—oh, what was the point? There were plenty of reasons a man had to curse, and with infernal intimacy he knew most of them.

His dreams of wealth and privilege had suffered the fate of a lame hare on the Plain of Wolves, chewed up and torn to bits; and the wind had long since taken away those tattered remnants: the tufts of blood-matted fur, the wisps of white throat-down, and the well-gnawed splinters of bone. All of it gone, scattered across the blasted landscape of his future.

Chewing on the end of his graver, Coingood considered setting that description down in his secret diaries. A lame hare on the Plain of Wolves. Yes, that’s me all right … was that me or my dreams, that hare? Never mind, it’s not like there’s a difference. Not when he was huddled here atop the tower, miserably subject to his lord’s whim, and Hood knew, a manic, eye-gleaming whim it was.

“Have you written it down now, Scribe? Gods below, if I’d known you were so slow I would never have hired you! Tell me, what did I say? I’ve forgotten. Read it back, damn you!”

“M-m-master, y’said … er … ‘Behold!’”

“Is that it? Didn’t I say anything more?”

“S-s-something ’bout a bold p-p-perch, M-m-milord.”

Lord Fangatooth waved one long-fingered, skeletal hand. “Never mind that. I’ve told you about my asides. They’re just that. Asides. Where was I?”


The lord faced outward again, defiant against the roaring seas, and struck a pose looming ominously over the town. “Behold! Oh, and note my widespread arms as I face this wild, whore-whipped sea. Oh, and that wretched town directly below, and how it kneels quivering like an abject slave. Note, too, the grey skies, and that fierce colour of … grey. What else? Fill the scene, fool!”

Coingood started scratching furiously on the tablet.

Watching him, Fangatooth made circular, tumbling motions with one hand. “More! Details! We are in the throes of creativity here!”

“I b-b-beg you, m-m-milord, I’m j-j-just a s-s-scribe, n-n-not a poet!”

“Anyone who can write has all the qualifications necessary for artistic genius! Now, where was I? Oh, right. Behold!” He fell silent, and after a long, quivering moment, he slowly lowered his arms. “Well,” he said. “That will do for now. Go below, Scribe, and stoke up the fires and the implements of torture. I feel in need of a visit to my beloved brother.”

Coingood hobbled his way to the trapdoor.

“Next time I say ‘Behold!’,” Fangatooth said behind him, “don’t interrupt!”

“I w-w-won’t, M-m-milord. P-p-promise!”


Copyright © 2012 by Steven Erikson

Courtesy of Tor Books, I have three copies of The Wurms of Blearmouth to give away! Residents of the US are eligible to win.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Wurms Giveaway.” One entry per person and three winners will be randomly selected. Those from the US are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, July 18. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I haven’t heard from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought a few books in the mail, plus I received another book order containing some books published by Strange Chemistry that I want to read. As I mentioned previously, young adult speculative fiction publisher Strange Chemistry is no longer releasing books. Last week I talked about a couple of their other books I purchased, and I started reading Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen. I haven’t wanted to put it down—it’s every bit as good as I’d heard!

A couple of the books that showed up this week are ones that I already discussed:

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish (The Assassin’s Curse #1-2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

This duology arrived in the aforementioned book order. I’ve heard they’re very good, and it’s a complete set although The Wizard’s Promise, the first book in a related duology, was released a couple of months ago.

The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish are available in paperback and ebook, and there are also a couple of related short stories available in ebook (The Witch’s Betrayal and The Automaton’s Treasure). An excerpt from The Assassin’s Curse is available online, and the description below is for this book since it’s the first of the two.


Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.

To break the spell, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks–all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic…and the growing romantic tension between them.

The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach #5) by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth, which is supposed to take place after the end of the third Malazan Book of the Fallen novella The Lees of Laughter’s End, will be released on July 8 (hardcover, ebook, trade paperback). An excerpt from The Wurms of Blearmouth is available on

I’ve read the first two of these novellas, Blood Follows and The Healthy Dead. They were very enjoyable, darkly humorous books, and neither took very long to read at all.


A new novella from New York Times bestselling author Steven Erikson, set in the world of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Wurms of Blearmouth.

Tyranny comes in many guises, and tyrants thrive in palaces and one-room hovels, in back alleys and playgrounds. Tyrants abound on the verges of civilization, where disorder frays the rule of civil conduct and propriety surrenders to brutal imposition. Millions are made to kneel and yet more millions die horrible deaths in a welter of suffering and misery.

But leave all that behind and plunge into escapist fantasy of the most irrelevant kind, and in the ragged wake of the tale told in Lees of Laughter’s End, those most civil adventurers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, along with their suitably phlegmatic manservant, Emancipor Reese, make gentle landing upon a peaceful beach, beneath a quaint village at the foot of a majestic castle. There they make acquaintance with the soft-hearted and generous folk of Spendrugle, which lies at the mouth of the Blear River and falls under the benign rule of the Lord of Wurms in his lovely keep.

Make welcome, then, to Spendrugle’s memorable residents, including the man who should have stayed dead, the woman whose prayers should never have been answered, the tax collector everyone ignores, the ex-husband town militiaman who never married, the beachcomber who lives in his own beard, the now singular lizard cat who used to be plural, and the girl who likes to pee in your lap. And of course, hovering over all, the denizen of the castle keep, Lord—Ah, but there lies this tale.

The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Causal Angel (Jean de Flambeur #3) by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Causal Angel will be released on July 15 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt is available on

The first two books in this series are as follows:

  1. The Quantum Thief (Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Fractal Prince

With his infectious love of storytelling in all its forms, his rich characterization and his unrivaled grasp of thrillingly bizarre cutting-edge science, Hannu Rajaniemi swiftly set a new benchmark for Science Fiction in the 21st century. Now, with his third novel, he completes the tale of the many lives, and minds, of gentleman rogue Jean de Flambeur.

Influenced as much by the fin de siècle novels of Maurice leBlanc as he is by the greats of SF, Rajaniemi weaves intricate, warm capers through dazzling science, extraordinary visions of a wild future,and deep conjectures on the nature of reality and story.

In The Causal Angel we will discover the ultimate fates of Jean, his employer Miele, the independently minded ship Perhonnen, and the rest of a fractured and diverse humanity flung throughout the solar system.

Skin of the Wolf by Sam Cabot

Skin of the Wolf by Sam Cabot

Skin of the Wolf, a sequel to Blood of the Lamb, will be released on July 31 (hardcover, ebook).


Sam Cabot is the pseudonym of Carlos Dews and S.J. Rozan. In Sam Cabot’s exhilarating new novel, a vicious murder in Sotheby’s begins a series of inexplicable events surrounding an Iroquois ritual mask—and a secret that could unleash the most terrifying chaos and destruction the world has ever seen.

Months after Father Thomas Kelly, art historian Livia Pietro, and scholar Spencer George found themselves racing through Rome in a desperate effort to locate and preserve an incalculably valuable docu-ment, the three are about to be reunited in New York City. Thomas, still trying to assimilate what he learned—that vam¬pires exist, and that Livia and Spencer are among them—is looking forward to seeing Livia again. Livia is excited to be allowed into the back room of Sotheby’s for an exclusive viewing of an ancient Iroquois mask. And Spencer’s in love. But before the three can meet, Spencer is badly injured when he’s inexplicably attacked in Central Park—by a wolf.

That same night, a Sotheby’s employee is found brutally murdered. Steps from her body is the mysterious native mask, undamaged amid the wreckage of a strug¬gle. As rumors begin to swirl around the sacred object, Thomas, Livia, and Spencer are plunged deep into a world where money, Native American lore, and the history of the Catholic Church collide. They uncover an alarming secret: The wolf is a shapeshifter, and the mask contains a power that, if misused, could destroy millions of lives with the next full moon.

In Skin of the Wolf, Sam Cabot masterfully blends historical fact, backroom conspiracy, and all-encompassing alternate reality as the Noantri discover they aren’t the only humans set apart by their natures—there are Others.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is one of those rare books that can seem difficult to find: a stand alone fantasy novel. Although I must say, I sincerely hope it does not remain that way since I loved the characters and world and would very much like to read a sequel.


[The messenger] looked from Setheris to Maia and said, “Are you the Archduke Maia Drazhar, only child of Varenechibel the Fourth and Chenelo Drazharan?”

“Yes,” Maia said, bewildered.

And then bewilderment compounded bewilderment, as the messenger deliberately and with perfect dignity prostrated himself on the threadbare rug. “Your Imperial Serenity,” he said. [pp. 12]

The Emperor of the Elflands despised his fourth goblin wife and, by extension, their son Maia. After the death of his mother, Maia was sent away from court to live with Setheris, a caretaker assigned by his father who also hated this half-goblin boy.

As the ruler of the Elflands has ignored his youngest son through the years, it comes as a surprise when a messenger from court arrives at eighteen-year-old Maia’s home in the middle of the night, presumably with a message from his father. Maia is awakened to greet the messenger, but when he does he is shocked to be greeted in a manner only befitting the emperor himself. This messenger has not come directly from his father but carries the news that the emperor and Maia’s three older half-brothers are dead, leaving Maia next in line to the title of Emperor of the Elflands—a role he is woefully unprepared for even after being raised to observe court manners, having spent very little time at court.

With the aid of his advisers, Maia begins his life at the palace and is crowned Edrehasivar VII. Soon after his coronation but shortly before his father’s funeral, he is attended by those who are investigating the remains of the Wisdom of Choharo, the airship that crashed with his father and half-brothers aboard. They inform him that the investigation revealed that their deaths were not an accident. Maia immediately attempts to discover the truth about who murdered his family; while he had no fondness for his father, his people deserve to know what happened to their emperor and the others who died with him. However, Maia’s methods of seeking the truth anger some who are unhappy that he is now emperor, and he continues to face obstacles to his reign: both those who do not want the youngest, unfamiliar, half-goblin son of their Emperor in power and his own inexperience with the ways of court.

The Goblin Emperor was at the top of my list of most anticipated book releases of 2014. Katherine Addison is a pseudonym of Sarah Monette, and her Doctrine of Labyrinth series beginning with Melusine is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. The two main characters are deeply flawed, complex, and memorable characters with strongly written, unique voices. After the release of the last book in the series in 2009, I have been impatiently awaiting a new novel from this amazing author and I was not disappointed. While The Goblin Emperor is vastly different from Monette’s other series, it is a skillfully written, compelling story like Doctrine of Labyrinth and one of my favorite books I have read this year.

My personal preference is for Doctrine of Labyrinth with its focus on complex personalities and characterization, but I completely understand that these books may be too dark, depressing, and full of angst for some readers’ tastes. The Goblin Emperor is in many ways the opposite of this. Maia’s life certainly hasn’t been easy—his mother, the only person who loved him, died when he was young, and his father hated him and sent him away to live under the “care” of a cruel, abusive man. The story begins with Maia’s ascension to emperor, though, and while this certainly does not mean his life is perfect and problem-free (or that the past has no impact on his character), it does mean that his father is no longer alive and Setheris is no longer in a position to harm him. Pages are not spent on the deep torment of Maia’s soul, nor is his life from this point on a series of terrible events. Also, Maia is not a character who wallows in despair but one who moves forward.

Though he’s not hopelessly terrible at it, he’s not well versed in politics or court intrigue, but he learns and also tries to effect change for the better. Maia is exactly the type of person one would hope to have in power: one who truly cares about what is best for his people, one who realizes he doesn’t always know best and can take advice from others, and one who can overturn traditions if he’s not convinced there is a good reason for them. He’s not the most complex or unpredictable character since he is someone who will always try to do what is right, but it’s refreshing to read about a good person who is also capable.

That’s not to say Maia is one of those characters I find boring, the unbelievably pure of heart. Sometimes Maia does have unkind yet perfectly reasonable thoughts, such as when he secretly does not want to properly mourn his father at his funeral. He does so anyway because he does not feel it is fair to the people who are mourning him, even if his father failed to properly respect his mother at her funeral. At times, Maia has brief outbursts of temper but is also quick to apologize (which is shocking to others—emperors do not apologize!). I thought he was realistic as a person who is generally good but not so overflowing with goodness that it’s difficult to believe. He also faces many challenges with his new role as emperor, and the way he handles them makes reading about him interesting. I loved Maia; he’s an easy character to relate to and root for.

The Goblin Emperor is a wonderfully written book with a lot of detail. It’s a book with naming conventions, formal speech, and history, and I did find it difficult to keep track of all the names at times. There are a lot of long names, and there are a lot of characters introduced when Maia goes to court, making the glossary at the end of the book very useful. This added a wonderful richness to the book, but I also had to be in the right frame of mind to read it (I caught a cold when I was partway through it and I had to read another less dense book since I was unable to absorb this while not feeling well).

I tend to be wary of fantasy that includes goblins and had this book not been by a favorite author I would have been hesitant to pick it up. After all, when I think of most of the goblins I’ve come across in fiction they’re stupid, dull, evil, and one-dimensional. That is not the case in this book, and goblins and elves are both capable of a range of personalities. They have some differences in appearance and cultural traditions, but they’re not sorted into simplistic categories as they sometimes are in fiction.

The Goblin Emperor is a wonderful story with some politics and court intrigue, and Maia is a memorable, lovable character as one who is pure of heart without being sickeningly so. At its core, The Goblin Emperor is about a young ruler learning to rule and navigate court, and the way he excels and challenges the status quo because of the same inexperience that is at first an obstacle. It’s well-written and compelling with vivid scenes, and I truly hope that there is a sequel someday—or at the very least, another book set in this world. Although, really, I’d read anything by Katherine Addison.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

Read Chapters 1-4

Other Reviews of The Goblin Emperor:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought a few books in the mail, including a gift from my husband and my book order containing a couple of Strange Chemistry books that I have been wanting to read. I was rather sad to see the recent announcement that Strange Chemistry was discontinued. There were many authors who had books scheduled for release through them that have been left without a publisher, including some debut authors whose books had not yet been published.

If there are books you had planned to get someday that were published by Strange Chemistry, now would be a good time to purchase them, as Martha Wells stated in her blog post about the discontinuation of this line. I ended up getting two books I’ve been interested in reading for awhile that are each the first in a new series. While it may be frustrating to read them not knowing what will happen with future installments, the more copies that are sold, the better the chance that there will be future installments.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

This one is a gift from my husband, and it is one of the books from my wishlist that I was more excited about. I love stories about trickster gods, and I have heard that this book is excellent. It’s hard to see the detail in the cover from the image, but it also has a beautiful cover.

The Gospel of Loki was released in the UK earlier this year and is currently available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Excerpts from The Gospel of Loki:

  1. Foreword
  2. Chapter One
  3. Chapter Two

The first adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million copy bestselling author of CHOCOLAT, Joanne Harris.

The 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. It 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. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

I have seen a lot of positive reviews for Stolen Songbird, a fairly recent Strange Chemistry release. The first three chapters from Stolen Songbird can be read online.


For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy…

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Cracked by Eliza Crewe

Cracked (Soul Eaters #1) by Eliza Crewe

Cracked was released toward the end of last year, and sadly, the second book in the series was scheduled to come out at the end of the summer before the closing of its publisher. Some people did read the Crushed ARC, and it has quite a few very positive reviews on Goodreads. Of course, I’ve also heard that Cracked is very good, which is why I want to read it!


Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

This collection of graphic stories will be released on July 15 (hardcover, paperback, ebook). A sample is available on the Simon & Schuster website, and there is also a preview on Comics & Cola.


Discover a terrifying world in the woods in this collection of five hauntingly beautiful graphic stories that includes the online webcomic sensation “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time.

Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page.

Already revered for her work online, award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll’s stunning visual style and impeccable pacing is on grand display in this entrancing anthology, her print debut.

Unwept by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman

Unwept (The Nightbirds #1) by Tracy and Laura Hickman

This book, the first in a trilogy, will be released on July 1 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Unwept is available on


Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.

Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.

Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?

Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.

All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park

All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park

This science fiction novel will be released on July 1 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from All Those Vanished Engines is available on


In All Those Vanished Engines, Paul Park returns to science fiction after a decade spent on the impressive four-volume A Princess of Roumania fantasy, with an extraordinary, intense, compressed SF novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real history of the Park family, from differing points of view. They are all gorgeously imaginative and carefully constructed, and reverberate richly with one another.

The first section is set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a world in which the Queen of the North has negotiated a two-nation settlement. The second, taking place in northwestern Massachusetts, investigates a secret project during World War II, in a time somewhat like the present. The third is set in the near-future United States, with aliens from history.

The cumulative effect is awesome. There hasn’t been a three part novel this ambitious in science fiction since Gene Wolfe’s classic The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

Two Fronts by Harry Turtledove Last Orders by Harry Turtledove

Two Fronts and Last Orders (The War That Came Early #5-6) by Harry Turtledove

Last Orders, the conclusion to The War That Came Early, will be released on July 15 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The paperback edition of the previous book in the series, Two Fronts, was recently released. An excerpt from Two Fronts is available on the Random House website.

The previous books in the series are:

  1. Hitler’s War (Excerpt)
  2. West and East (Excerpt)
  3. The Big Switch (Excerpt)
  4. Coup d’Etat (Excerpt)

Since I already included the description for Two Fronts with the hardcover release, the description below is for Last Orders.


In an extraordinary saga of nations locked in war, master storyteller Harry Turtledove tells the story of World War II, which begins over Czechoslovakia rather than Poland, eleven months earlier than it really came. Now we have the final installment in Turtledove’s landmark World War II series.

Hitler’s Plan A was to win in a hurry, striking hard and deep into France. There was no Plan B. Now the war grinds on. Countries have been forced into strange alliances. The Nazis fortify thin lines with Hungarian and Romanian troops. England, finding its footing after the suspicious death of Winston Churchill and a coup d’état, fights back in Europe and on the seas of the North Atlantic. Jews fight on both sides of the war—in secret in German uniform, openly in Spain, France, and Russia. Into the standoff come new killing tools, from tanks to bazookas. In the Pacific, Japan prepares bombs filled with macabre biological concoctions to be dropped on Hawaii.

For the U.S., the only enemy is Japan, as there has been no casus belli for America in Europe. Then Hitler becomes desperate and declares war on the United States. But is it too late? His own people are rising up in revolt. The German military may have to put down the violence, even perhaps bomb its own cities.

In this epic drama, real men and women are shaped by the carnage, and their individual acts in turn shape history: a Czech sniper fighting with the Republicans in Spain changes the war almost single-handedly. In Philadelphia, an American woman meets a scientist who reveals a momentous secret.

Drawing on the gritty, personal reality of war and on a cast of unforgettable characters, Harry Turtledove has written an alternate history that intrigues, fascinates, and astounds.