The year is off to a good start with sixteen reviews of speculative fiction books already submitted in 2016. Well done, everyone!

We had quite a spread of subgenres too, including…

lady-helen-dark-days-clubParanormal/fantasy romance

  •  Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, the first in a Georgette Heyer-like story (but with fantasy) was reviewed in Dark Matter Zine
  • Denying the Dragon by Rinelle Grey, the fifth novella in the paranormal romance series, was reviewed by Brenda

Space opera

  • In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett, the second book in a series (although I gather it mostly stands alone), was reviewed by Elizabeth Fitzgerald, who wrote:

I was a bit surprised at just how fast-paced. I went into it expecting it to be mostly focused on the romance but found myself in the middle of an action adventure instead. The plot manages to combine space opera with heist story with romance and even tosses in a little Western just for fun. It’s a lot to jam into such a small space but the style is very cinematic and it hangs together well.


  • Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa L Hannet, which Kristian T described as “a war story as much as it is an exploration of flawed character as much as it is surreal trip through a grey nightmare.” And wrote “If you like novels to have artistry and enjoy strolling through someone else’s dreams and nightmares, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”

Near future science fiction

  • Nightsiders by Sue Isle, a short collection of four stories set in the same post-climate disaster Western Australia, which was reviewed very favourably by Stephanie Gunn.
  • The Female Factory by Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannet, another collection of four short stories (also published by Twelfth Planet Press). These ones are tied by the theme of motherhood and femaleness, and are reviewed by Kristian Thoroughgood. (And actually, one is more historical than near future, but shh, I’m enjoying the headings.)

Illuminae Amie Kaufman Jay KristoffYA space thriller

  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, a modern epistolary novel filled with chat logs and surveillance transcripts. Shaheen @ Speculating On Specfic reviewed it, writing:

With its gorgeous artwork and unusual presentation, Iluminae is a feast for the eyes. It’s a vivid, emotional, exciting read that will hook most readers. It’s the best thing either of these authors have written so far. It will leave you hungry for the sequel, Gemina.

Not-really-YA (despite marketing) fantasy horror

  • Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, a dark book that, you should know up front, features rape quite prominently, was reviewed by Georgina Ballantine.

luciddreamingcoverUrban Fantasy

  • Who’s Afraid? by Maria Lewis, which was reviewed by four different people: Dark Matter ZineStephanie GunnShannon (giraffe Days)Elizabeth Fitzgerald. There was some difference of opinion, but mostly the reviewers agreed that the main character was well developed and that it was a promising debut, despite a few issues that cropped up.
  • Lucid Dreaming by Cassandra Page, reviewed by Brenda and A Keyboard and an Open Mind. Both enjoyed the book and the less common supernatural beings in it and the mystery elements it contains.

BFF (big fat fantasy)

  • Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier, last year’s Best Fantasy Aurealis Award winner, was reviewed by Mark Webb. He enjoyed it, writing:

The writing is excellent, very engaging and all the qualities of a real page turner. The plot is relatively straight forward, with the reader guessing many of the twists well in advance of the characters. Much of the tension comes from Blackthorn’s need for vengeance and how it clouds her perspective on the problem in front of her.

Cracks in the Kingdom Jaclyn MoriartyContemporary fantasy

The world building of this series is superb. The Kingdom of Cello is a magical place where colours come to life and seasons roam the lands, where wishes can be fished out of lakes and dragons fly in the skies. But it’s not just Cello with its Magical North and its Olde Quainte – Cambridge through Madeleine’s eyes is just as fantastical and enchanting as Elliot’s world where people can fly.


Tsana Dolichva is a Ditmar Award-nominated book blogger who has been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction since she first started reading “grown up” books. She blogs her book reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. Along with Holly Kench, she is editing Defying Doomsday, an anthology showing that people with disability and chronic illness also have stories to tell, even when the world is ending (out in a few months).