Since my last round up just over a month ago, we’ve had 26 new reviews of 23 books in speculative fiction generally, including children’s and YA. The Aurealis and Ditmar shortlists have also been announced recently — see our posts here and here — and before I move into the usual round-up, I’d like to draw your attention to some shortlisted AWW books that have not yet been reviewed.

From the Aurealis lists, no one has reviewed Fantasy Novel candidate Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, or Children’s Fiction novel Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman, and YA Novel candidate Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney has only been reviewed once (by Imelda). Unsurprisingly, the Ditmar shortlisted books fare better with each being reviewed a few times, since the Ditmars are a fan-voted award. But if you’re looking for some quality speculative fiction to read, why not start with one of those shortlisted novels?

Science Fiction

the last cityHappily, a few more science fiction books were reviewed this month than in the first two months of the year. Huzzah! Interesting to note that all the reviewed science fiction books this month have either been shortlisted for awards or their authors have been for another work. Take from that what you will.

Nina D’Aleo’s Aurealis shortlisted The Last City was reviewed by Holly, who called it “an intense combination of fantasy and sci-fi with a touch of noir”. The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson is a near-future verse novel which has been shortlisted for the inaugural Stella Award. I notice several readers have reviewed it, all with slightly different genre classifications. Jessica Wilkinson writes a long and thoughtful review, putting The Sunlit Zone into context among other Australian verse novels. Bronwyn Lovell writes in her review:

Jacobson, The sunlit zoneThis is an incredibly hard-hitting piece of writing, yet achingly delicate at the same time. Quite honestly, I felt a little battle-weary after reading it. If it were a film I had emerged from, I would be in the good company of a throng of other women in the cinema toilets, wiping away the mascara stains from our cheeks in a ritual of solidarity. But since it is a novel, I am left alone in meditative silence, while the story’s characters haunt my mind like gentle ghosts.

Whereas I approached my review from firmly spec fic perspective.

Black_GlassBlack Glass by Meg Mundell — shortlisted in both Science Fiction and YA categories on last year’s Aurealis Awards — earned a new review from Mark Webb, who writes: “If you like William Gibson (especially the Blue Ant series) and love speculative fiction set in an Australian context, you’re going to like Black Glass.

asymmetryAsymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer is the latest of Twelve Planet Press’s series of Twelve Planets collections, show casing female Australian spec fic authors. I was thoroughly impressed by Dyer’s four stories, which cover a range of subgenres and all address identity and belonging but in wildly different ways. The last science fictional book reviewed this month is Stray by Andrea K Höst, again by me. Stray, written in diary form, follows a Sydney teenager as she accidentally stumbles onto an alien planet, meets psychic space ninjas and gets into all sorts of amusing almost-dying trouble.


perfections-mcdermottOnly one horror novel was reviewed this month: the multi-award nominated Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott. Tansy Rayner Roberts says of it in her review notes the

realist, cynical tone and themes to do with women’s careers and quiet household despair mixed with sneaky supernatural, magic and horror bits…

Perfections is a sharp, creepy and deeply discomfiting novel full of awkward truths and raw emotions.

Let’s see some more horror reviewing, people!


stone-key-carmodyAs will come as little surprise to most people, fantasy is again the most popular of the speculative fiction genres (although science fiction was only one author and two books behind).

Isobelle Carmody again gathered a few reviews this month. Mel @ Mel Reviews Books reviewed her collection Metro Winds and Becky Nosiara reviewed The Stone Key, saying “The story and characters of this book were definitely its strongest point.” Belle’s Bookshelf reviewed Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts, saying “It’s intense, but never too heavy.” Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K Höst (self-published)Leonie Rogers reviewed Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K Höst and found it “All in all … an enjoyable read.”

Glenda Larke recently re-released her first novel, Havenstar, as an ebook and it garnered reviews from my husband and Jason Nahrung. Jason says:

havenstar-larkeIn this standalone fantasy, Glenda Larke shows the world building, characterisation and thematic grist that make her one of my favourite fantasy writers.

… One of the themes of the story is the debate between law and chaos, restraint and free rein, and both are presented in shades of grey.

shattered-city_thumbTansy Rayner Roberts’ multi-award nominated The Shattered City was reviewed by Narrelle M Harris who thought:

The Shattered City manages to recreate everything that is so compelling about Power and Majesty and then bloom like fireworks from that starting point. And yes, I am aware of the hyperbole, but seriously? SERIOUSLY? Hyperbole is necessary.

opposite-of-life-thumbAnd finally I reviewed Narrelle M Harris’s two Melbourne vampire books, The Opposite of Life and Walking Shadows, about a librarian who teams up with a vampire to solve crimes. I particularly enjoyed her version of vampirism, which had the vampires’ brains slow down and stop making new connections after death, leading to them keeping humans around for their ideas and logistical skills.


About Me

I’m Tsana Dolichva and I’ve been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction since I first started reading “grown up” books (back before YA was its own genre). More recently, I’ve been blogging my reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. I irregularly blog about science in science fiction over at the Science Fiction Writers’ Guide to Space. When not reading or writing, I’m probably working towards my PhD in astrophysics.