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Recommended Reading by Professionals…with David Barnett

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by David Barnett. David Barnett is a journalist and author based in the north of England. His latest novel is Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, out now from Tor in the US and Snowbooks in the UK, which is the second in his series of steampunk/alt-history adventures which began last year with Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl.

    I’m not actually sure if this series of books isn’t getting the recognition it deserves, but even if it is it deserves some more. In the rather crowded urban fantasy market they are up there, for my money, with Paul Cornell’s Quill series and Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novels – very English, very urbane as well as urban, thrilling and with a touch of humour. In the first book, intelligence agent Toby Greene, after one cock-up too many in the field, is re-assigned to a little-known (and even less cared about) department of the security services run by August Shining. They’re the usual X-Files-ish department dealing with all the weird stuff that no-one else wants to bother with or even believe in, but Guy Adams handles the familiar tropes with aplomb and breathes great life into his characters. The first novel features time travel, spies and a zombie apocalypse that never was. The second in the series, The Rain-Soaked Bride, is just out and continues the thrills which come over very much in the flavour of the old Avengers (Steed and Mrs Peel, not Hawkeye and Black Widow) TV series.
    Just released by Pushkin Press, this beautiful little puzzle of a novel will take your breath away. It’s THE perfect read for curling up with on a dark winter’s night. In the Finnish town of Rabbit Back, children’s author Laura White famously assembled a creative writing group of uber-talented children who all went on to have wonderful literary careers. For the first time in years, Laura White (who has created a Moomin-like children’s book series) accepts another member into the cloistered world of the Rabbit Back Literary Society – teacher and wannabe-author Ella. But Ella’s entrance into the society propels her into dark secrets and a world where the mystical and fabulous lurk just out of reach in the snow-capped trees. This book is dark and beautiful and a bit scary and uplifting all at the same time.
    If you’re a fan of weird fiction then you probably already have this massive doorstop of a book in your collection already. If not then you need to go out and get it AT ONCE. It is a marvel and the VanderMeers have done a wonderful thing by assembling this huge archive of weird fiction, in chronological order, together. It’s a book to be dipped into, perhaps a story a night by candlelight, revisiting old friends such as Ambrose Bierce and HP Lovecraft, discovering new shocks from around the world and by forgotten authors. In fact, the greatest joy is in discovering a new favourite author from this collection and immediately seeking out their other work. This volume shows just how wide and diverse the whole genre seen is, not just now but back into the origins of speculative fiction.

Stay tuned for the next post where we get reading recommendations from Teresa Frohock!

About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).
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