Alchemy Press book launch


For those going to FantasyCon by the Sea this year, The Alchemy Press launches two anthologies at noon on Saturday 24 September:

Promises to be a great book launch. Many of the contributors will be in attendance.


Miss Peregrine’s Home… reviewed

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Quirk Books $17.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

This is a better-late-than-never review. I obtained this book in hardcover back when it first appeared in 2011. It went into the teetering to-be-read heap and that’s where it stayed until I recently spotted the second book in the series in W.H. Smith. So I thought: I really should find Miss Peregrine and read it. I am so glad I did. Miss Peregrine is best described as “weird fiction” — a story that makes you look at the world askance, that makes you shiver because of its strangeness and charm.

Can you judge a book by its cover? Or in this case, by the overall production values? Did the smart layouts and internal photographic illustrations mask a less-than-good read? In this case, no, they did not; in fact they enhanced the book. The whole package looks fabulous and the story is equally fabulous (see later).

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2016 World Fantasy Awards

Final Ballot and Life Achievement Award Winners for the 2016 World Fantasy Awards have been announced.


  • David G. Hartwell
  • Andrzej Sapkowski


  • Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant (Knopf/Faber & Faber)
  • N K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (Orbit)
  • Naomi Novik, Uprooted (Del Rey Books/Macmillan UK)
  • K J. Parker, Savages (Subterranean Press)
  • Anna Smaill, The Chimes (Sceptre)
  • Paul Tremblay, A Head Full of Ghosts (William Morrow & Co.)


  • Kelly Barnhill, The Unlicensed Magician (PS Publishing)
  • Usman T. Malik, “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” (, Apr. 22, 2015)
  • Kim Newman, “Guignol” (Horrorology, edited by Stephen Jones, Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Kelly Robson, “Waters of Versailles” (, June 10, 2015)
  • Bud Webster, “Farewell Blues” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2015)

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The Death House reviewed

Death House 02

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough. Gollancz.

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I’ve been kicking myself (metaphorically of course) for not reading The Death House until now. It’s been sitting on my shelves waiting patiently for its pages to be turned, its words read.

Sarah Pinborough’s science fiction novel is set in a dystopian future/alternate world (it’s not obvious which and it’s not important), in a house that resembles an approved school on an isolated island somewhere far from civilisation. It’s a place where “Defective” children are housed until they die from the illness triggered by their defective genes, a place where there is only one way out – on a gurney, their existence then wiped away. It’s a bleak scenario and yet, despite the death that awaits the inmates, it is a coming-of-age story that bubbles with the promise of life.

Toby is the de facto head boy of Dorm 4. He whiles away the days in semi-boredom, avoiding the attention of Matron and her staff, living for the nights when he is alone, echoing the location’s isolation. The status quo is shattered when a new bunch of Defectives arrive, including the teenage girl Clara. At first he resents her, that she too has discovered the secret of the vitamin pills; soon, though, he becomes besotted. Together, they plan their escape (from a place that no-one, ever, has escaped from).

Sarah Pinborough readily gives away two of her inspirations for this novel: The Lord of the Flies and the Narnia books (there are hints of others). And yes, the children do form tribes, do develop friendships and hatreds. Unlike Lord of the Flies, however, they know their future; know that there is no ship on the horizon to release them from captivity. She is able to enter the heads of the boys with consummate ease, depicting their concerns expertly – no doubt lessons she learned as a teacher.

Neil Gaiman endorses the hardcover edition; Stephen King the paperback. Who am I to disagree with these two giants of the field? The Death House is a thoroughly engaging read (it’s a cliché but I really found it difficult to put the book down when I had to get on with life). Toby, Clara and the others are real people and if you don’t finish this novel with tears welling up then you are probably a robot. A tremendous book and one I have no hesitation in recommending.


New books

  • Neal Asher – Dark Intelligence – Pan £8.99
  • Tony Ballantyne – Dream Paris – Solaris £7.99
  • Christopher Fowler – The Sand Men – Solaris £7.99
  • Alexander Freed – Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company – Century £19.99
  • Wayne G Hammond & Christina Scull — The Art of the Lord of the Rings — Harper Collins £25
  • Marcus Hearn – Thunderbirds: The Vault – Virgin £25
  • Dave Hutchinson – Europe at Midnight – Solaris £7.99
  • George RR Martin — A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms — Harper £20
  • Paul Meloy – The Night Clock – Solaris £7.99
  • Adam Nevill – Lost Girl – Pan £7.99
  • Stephen Nicholas & Mike Tucker – Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds – BBC £35
  • Terry Pratchett – The Shepherd’s Crown – Doubleday £20
  • Rob Redman (ed) – Long Grey Beard and Glittering Eye – Fiction Desk £9.99
  • Justin Richards – Doctor Who : The Time Lord Letters – BBC £20
  • Brandon Sanderson – Shadows of Self – Gollancz £18.99
  • Brandon Sanderson – Legion – Gollancz £8.99
  • Brandon Sanderson – Legion: Skin Deep – Gollancz £9.99
  • Yrsa Sigurdardottir – The Undesired – Hodder £14.99

Ghosts at the Gladstone

Renegade Writers (along with Penkhull Press and The Alchemy Press) is hosting an afternoon of ghost and spooky stories at the Gladstone Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent on 31 October (from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm). The event is free but you will need to reserve tickets.

Put it in your diary now!