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  • Writer's picturePhil Parker

Recommendations for Santa sack 4

Looking for a book for someone special this Christmas? Not sure what to get them? We've asked some of our Speculative Faction friends to make some suggestions, hopefully they will present you with some great ideas! Why not check out their catalogue too? Here is the fourth in this series.

(There are links in the title to take you to Amazon, if that helps.)

Recommendations from G.D. Penman

G.D. Penman is fulfilling his destiny as a fat, bearded man by writing bestselling fantasy novels and smoking a pipe. He lives in Dundee, Scotland with his wife, children, dog and cats. Just… so many cats.

God of Gnomes by Demi Harper

While I have not been particularly taken with many of the books that comprise LitRPG's offshoot subgenre of Dungeon Core; God Of Gnomes blended the rigid structure of a simulator game with the emotional impact of the best of literature. Carefully constructed and perfectly executed.

Prosper's Demon by K J Parker

Given what a bitch this year has been, just finding a book that could give me the energy necessary to go on reading has been difficult. Prosper's Demon was very much that book for me. A twisted tale of an exorcist and the demons he fights to expunge, with neither claiming any moral high ground.

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

High fantasy as a genre rarely holds my attention the way that its grimmer siblings do, but in this book Shannon created a modern counterpart to the classics of the genre. The giant magic mongoose being the natural enemy of the serpentine dragons was the icing on the cake.

Recommendations from Timy

Timy, also known as Queen Terrible Timy hails from a magical land called Hungary, born and raised in its capital city, Budapest. Books have been her refuge and best friends ever since she can remember along with music. She might be a tiny bit addicted to the latter. Timy is the owner and editor of RockStarlit BookAsylum, a blog dedicated to books and music. She always tries to find ways to bring the two worlds together. Timy is also the co-owner/manager of Storytellers On Tour, a book tour organising service dedicated to indie SFF authors. In her free time (hah!) she likes to scribble things, collect panda stuff, go to concerts and travel.

Website: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram:

Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

I picked Bjørn Larssen’s debuting (historical fiction) novel, Storytellers, which had such a big impact on me that it basically inspired the name for Storytellers On Tour. Storytellers is about personal demons, about the rougher side of life which isn't improved by the Icelandic weather. It's about people, about choices and the lies (stories) we tell ourselves. It's about a lot of things, really, and the more time you spend in Larssen's world the more it makes you think.”

My full review:

Los Nefilim by T. Frohock

My second pick is Los Nefilim by T. Frohock, which I’ve read over the summer and which sealed my love for the series. Containing three novellas which tell a full story, Los Nefilim has a lot to offer if you are into historical fantasy, angels and daemons, a music based magic system, Spanish settings and great LGBTQ representation. „I honestly found myself smiling like an idiot whenever they [Diago and Miquel] interacted with each other or with Rafael. Like, damn, it's so nice to read about non-toxic relationships which are just a warming light in an otherwise dark-toned book.”

My full review:

Black Stone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher

My third pick is Black Stone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher, which also happens to be my SPFBO6 semi-finalist pick as well. It was a tough choice between many awesome books I’ve read, but eventually I went for this one because I just can’t stop thinking about it and I’ve read it twice in a short amount of time. „Black Stone Heart will make you uncomfortable, will make you question the actions of the characters but will never let you go. Do a favor to yourself and listen to the audiobook narrated by Fletcher himself. If you won't fall in love with his voice and wish he was reading everything to you from now on, then there is something wrong with you.”

My full review (along with the others’ from my team):

Recommendations from Jamie Edmundson

Jamie has always loved a good story, whether real or imagined. He grew up in the south of England before moving to the north, where he worked as a history teacher. He still lives there with his wonderful family, but now spends his time writing, mainly about people hitting each other with swords.




A Thief in Farshore by Justin Fike

Quite YA in tone, short in length, with generic fantasy races – not my go to kind of book. At all. But Fike really won me over with an intriguing setting, an engaging main character and a well written, clean (i.e. error free) script. Delivers plenty of humour along the way too. Recommended reading for writers starting out – a pared back approach that doesn’t waste words and delivers what readers want.

Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J Hayes

Something I’d been meaning to read for some time. Essentially grimdark pirates, I felt this delivered on characters, setting and dialogue. By focusing down on a small part of his world, I felt the story avoided getting bogged down in fantasy tropes and this reduced scope/ low fantasy vibe made it feel like more of a unique story.

Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

I enjoyed Blood Song, the first in this series, without really loving it. Stories set in schools don’t really get me going, nor do super powered mcs who take up all the focus of the story. Thus, going against the grain of most readers, I much preferred this second book in the series. A wider range of characters are followed, many of whom I found interesting. It is also more expansive in setting, as we are out in the wide world, with a complex plot and incredibly high stakes. Kudos to Ryan for taking his series in this direction.

Many thanks to GD Penman, Timy and Jamie for their recommendations!
There will be more of our friends making their suggestions very soon!

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