Joelene Pynnonen

Verity Fassbinder might have gone up against Archangels and Weyrd murderers before, but now she’s on a course that might just see her out of her depth – motherhood.

When Verity falls pregnant, she’s quite content to take things easy for a while, especially after the last few scrapes that she barely escaped. Spending more time with David and sorting through the piles of baby clothes are her priorities. But something out there has other plans for her and, with her super-strength depleted, Verity is in for the fight of her life.

The first Verity Fassbinder novel, Vigil, is a hard act to follow. The sleepy Brisbane setting with a supernatural underbelly is something that I wouldn’t believe could be pulled off if I hadn’t read it. The epic scale of the story seems suited to a more glamourous city, but Slatter’s Brisbane steps up to the plate marvellously. In Slatter’s hands Brisbane retains the essence that its residents love, but also becomes something more in the process. Needless to say, when I picked up Corpselight – at the official launch because I was not waiting longer than necessary for it – I expected great things.

And let me tell you how Corpselight delivers.

Pregnancy and motherhood aren’t things that crop up regularly in the urban fantasy novels that I read. To be honest, they’re not the sorts of things I’d seek out, but Slatter handles both well. Verity might be a no nonsense, hardened investigator used to toughing out difficult situations, but she’s also very human. She gets tired and cranky and emotional, and having a baby brings all of these things to the forefront. It’s also really interesting to see how Verity handles motherhood. Her portrayal in Corpselight is much more realistic than many fictional maternal portrayals. Despite having a baby to worry about, she’s still very much her own person. While she takes extra precautions, she’s not ready to give up her life to be a mother.

Corpselight is darker than Vigil. Not that Vigil was particularly light, but Verity had less to lose in Vigil. In Corpselight the stakes spike like crazy. There are more nuances now that we’re firmly set in this world. Everything is more complex; emotions, relationships, the enemy, family and friends. Verity’s comparative youth becomes a more important factor in this novel; setting her apart from those who have lived through far crueller regimes. It also becomes apparent that a lot of the complexities of the world are lost on Verity because she is too young to have experienced the things her friends have.

The wonderful magical elements are explored more fully in Corpselight. From the magics that Normals can conduct to those that need a Weyrd to power them. Many of the rituals are reminiscent of old faerie lore, and it adds a hefty dose of authenticity.

The ending of Corpselight, while not exactly a cliff-hanger, works brilliantly to set up an even more dynamic situation in the third book, Restoration. And since it’s not out until August 2018, I’m going to have to find something else to fill that void in the meantime.

Corpselight – Angela Slatter

Jo Fletcher Books (July 13, 2017)

ISBN: 9781784294342

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at https://jamiemarriage.wordpress.com/

When the world is coming to an end, famine and war abound, the few remaining powers struggling to maintain any semblance of control, there is nothing but the plan. A plan for a future where descendants of the lucky few could step upon a pristine world to begin again.

The name of that plan: Haven’s End.

Buried deep within their mountainous vault the inhabitants of Haven’s End toil ceaselessly to maintain their time capsule of a society; rigid class structure keeps the lowly toiling, the entitled in a lifestyle of luxury and the police force holding the line between the two with violent efficiency. Only the hope of a future under the open sky holds the fragile peace together.

But what if the upper-classes didn’t want to give up the status quo? What if the world above had been safe for re-habitation for centuries? How far would those in power go to preserve their stranglehold on those below?

When a primitive surface-dweller makes it into the mechanised guts of the underground city it catalyzes a chain of events that can only end violently as the fragile trust the commoners hold in those in power is shaken to the core. Everything hinges on Marcus Jarrett and his small band of political outcast skaters who want to escape their rotten world before they mysteriously “vanish” like so many others before.

Haven’s End is a brilliant mix of post-apocalyptic design, political intrigue and hopeful dreaming. Multiple layers of worldbuilding stacked upon each other like strata of rock tell of hundreds of years of history and turmoil while characters drag the reader into a vision of the future where humanity can survive against its worst intentions.

With intricate characters, a web-like plot, graceful construction of several in-depth societies, and a sophisticated timelines Austin has written an incredible piece of Utopian fiction that stands proud in a genre difficult to encompass well. This novel has the style and complexity to keep even the most die-hard fan of the genre engrossed.

Haven’s End is available as an Ebook on Amazon

Sarah Todman

Sarah Todman is a contemporary fiction writer who lives in Brisbane. She loves books that deliver a gritty punch of realism. And ones that make her cry. Sarah blogs at sayanythingsare.

Mather-Refuge Official Coverrefuge

noun

A place that provides shelter or protection.

Twelve year-old Nell McLellan’s world is in turmoil. At school she’s suddenly got the attention of the most popular girl in the class but it has alienated her safe and steady best friend Josie; at home her work-obsessed parents appear to be on the verge of divorce.

When Nell is shunted off to North Queensland and the care of her rarely seen Grandfather for the holidays her problems seem magnified. Doesn’t anyone care that she’s struggling?

Well, someone does…some ‘place’ actually: Nell just doesn’t know it yet. Stumbling around the grounds of the local high school in search of the holiday drama class her parents insisted she attend Nell finds herself following a series of curiously worded signs. Feeling lost? one beckons. Follow the stairs, instructs another. Before she knows it Nell has turned the handle on an old wooden door and stepped straight into a world she could never have imagined: Refuge.

This rapidly paced fantasy novel targets middle grade (8-12 year-old) readers and is written in full-colour and high definition. The beguiling cast of characters who inhabit Refuge — a world created as a safe haven for lost souls — take Nell on a twisting, turning journey of self-discovery (and manage to give young readers some sumptuous but ever so subtle historical insights in the process).

There is the Doctor, Refuge’s mad scientist-style creator who hails from early 1700s London; then we have tortured Gideon, an English ‘wharf rat’ from the late 1700s still ruled by his past; there’s shape-shifting 1920s aristocrat Fox, as charming and cunning as his name suggests; the frightening Deuce, straight from America’s Deep South in the 50s; and Janus, probably the most mysterious and hard-to-pinpoint of the bunch (I won’t ruin it for you by revealing too much about her). Each of them pull Nell (and us) deeper into a riddle that seems impossible to solve.  

Stranded in Refuge, our lost girl Nell finds out she has just three days to choose her future: stay in this strange, supposedly ‘safe’ haven forever or return to the life where she felt lost?

Refuge is the debut novel of former scenic artist and teacher A.V. Mather and it is clear she is a writer who is very much at home in the realms of fantasy. Refuge is a world well imagined. The city-scape with its era-hopping evolution feels rich and enchanting — I really enjoyed spending time there.

And Nell’s journey kept me guessing in lots of good ways. However, I did feel her character’s growth, which was realised at the end of the book, could perhaps have been built more incrementally as the story progressed. I love a character with chutzpah and while I know that isn’t who Nell was at the beginning of her journey, there were junctures along the way when I was frustrated by her willingness to be led rather than make her own decisions.

Perhaps this is all part of the author’s plan, though. When I turned the last page of Refuge I was ready to dive into book two…Nell’s adventures don’t feel finished yet. I hope A.V. Mather is planning to send Nell back to Refuge with another book in the series because I see her returning and this time as a very different girl.

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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