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Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – A Review

TE KORERO AHI KA

edited by  Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton

Review by Simon Litten

Te Korero Ahi Ka is a collection of works by members of Speculative Fiction New Zealand. The collection is of both new works and reprints, but the new works predominate. This is neither a themed anthology nor a collection of one particular author, rather it is a showcase of the variety of short stories (and occasional art work) produced by the members of Speculative Fiction New Zealand. To that end the collection is a very mixed bag with science fiction, fantasy, horror, poetry and even to my eye at least a non-genre work. Given that breadth of content what can one say about such a collection? | Read More...

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Night’s End – Review

Night’s End, Book 3 in the Night’s Champion Series by Richard Parry

Review by Frances Duncan

Night’s End, the final in the Nights Champion trilogy, released the first day of Lexicon. I finished reading it the last day of Lexicon. This feels appropriate as the first two were shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novel.

The cast has grown over the series and it’s hard to keep track of everyone. At one point someone appeared and I had no idea who he was till the next scene. There’s someone for everyone; a tough female detective, a powerful young woman, a military woman…do you notice a theme here? There are some guys thrown in too; one of them is even a werewolf (don’t worry there’s a female werewolf too). | Read More...

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Auckland Allies – Review

Auckland Allies, by Mike Reeves-McMillan

Reviewed by Nix Whittaker.

I’m a big fan of stories that represent who we are. I hadn’t realised how important it was to also have stories set in places familiar to us as well. Auckland Allies is set in Auckland where I went to Uni just like Steampunk Sally. The places the Auckland Allies run around is a wallow in nostalgia that was glorious.

Auckland Allies is set in modern times but with people with magic, called practitioners, Tara is a Maker and Sparx is her neighbour. They end up being chased by blokes in black all because Tara did some work for Sally. A mistake on their part as instead of keeping their plans secret they made enemies. Okay, they aren’t powerful enemies but they are resourceful. | Read More...

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Hand of the Trickster – Review

Hand of the Trickster by Mike McMillan-Reeves

Reviewed by Nix Whittaker

This is a novella about a band of thieves that have come together to steal a book of questionable safety. Mostly we follow the character Now you see it. He is a a priest of the trickster cult that allows him to conjure up items. They have been commissioned to steal the book by a demon and things get tricky from there.

It took me a while to read this even though it isn’t very long mainly because I’m not a fan of male protagonists but Now is an interesting man with a strong set of rules that fits interestingly with his complete lack of qualms about stealing things. | Read More...

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The Dragon Slayer’s Son – Review

The Dragon Slayer’s Son, by Robinne Weiss Review by Mike Reeves-McMillan found this YA/MG story fresh and well executed. The New Zealand setting was well conveyed – not only the landscape, but cultural references, and the generally cooperative and helpful vibe among the characters. Not that there weren’t antagonists – there definitely were, and there was conflict and tension, and conflict even within the team at times – but the general feeling was that any new person you met was more likely to be friendly and helpful than not. Also, the main character wasn’t ever formally appointed as the leader, and for a long time the group didn’t appear to have (or need) a leader, making decisions by informal consensus. This is very much Kiwi culture. I appreciated that the kids, even the boys, didn’t feel the need to be emotionless and staunch, and that the losses they’d all suffered were treated realistically and shown to matter. The central group were well drawn, clearly distinct from one another, and all brought important contributions to the table; all of them stepped up when needed, even whiny Ella. I also appreciated that there were two girls in the core team, who were very different from one another, and two people of non-European ancestry. The kids were believable as kids, and the actions they took were also believable as things (unusually heroic and sensible) kids could and would do. There were a couple of big challenges to my suspension of disbelief, but I don’t know if they’d bother the main target audience of middle-grade readers. Firstly, that the existence of dragons up to 30 metres long has been successfully hidden up to the present day, and secondly, that dragon-slayers only get trained once their parents die (and are sent to training as soon as their dragon-slayer parent dies). The latter seemed to be in there not because it made any sense as a rule in itself, but simply to set up the scenario of the dragon-slayer school and the characters being sent there. But everything else was so well done and flowed so well that I was willing to overlook that one. The ecological thread is strong and clear without being preachy. Overall, highly recommended. I received a copy of this book for review through the SpecFicNZ review programme.
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The Sleeper’s Dance

The Sleeper’s Dance, Mouse Diver-Dudfield

Reviewed by Lee Murray

sleepers-dance

Mouse Diver-Dudfield is an exciting new voice in New Zealand dark fiction, whom I stumbled upon by chance via social media. It was a lucky find. I one-clicked her novella, The Sleeper’s Dance and read it that same night before bed. In short, I loved it. A blend of historical fiction and pulp zombie, this is the story you might get if David Livingstone had discovered a new life form amongst the ruins of an Incan civilisation ‒ that is, if Livingstone hadn’t been somewhere in southern Africa at the time. Diver-Dudfield’s particular skill is in the voice of her main character and narrator, Rupert Mendenhall, his gentleman’s account so perfectly academic and matter-of-fact in spite of the calamity his party faces. There is no breathless panic, no thundering of hearts, or stench of blood in the nostrils. And it’s this restraint, this careful pacing of her narrative, which serves to freeze the reader’s blood. Small and perfectly formed, for the cost of a gold coin, The Sleeper’s Dance is a must-read for horror fans. | Read More...

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