Wednesday, October 14, 2020

E-book Editions of Nine Books by Suzy McKee Charnas



I'm pleased to announce the release by Aqueduct Press of e-book editions of nine books by Suzy McKee Charnas. Among these, the collection Stagestruck Vampires and Other Phantasms (originally published by Tachyon Publications in 2000) has not previously appeared in an e-book edition. The other titles include the Sorcery Hall Trilogy, consisting on The Bronze King (1985), The Silver Glove (1988), and The Golden Thread 1989), as well as The Vampire Tapestry (1980), The Kingdom of Kevin Malone (1993), The Ruby Tear (1997), Music of the Night (2001), and My Father’s Ghost (2002).  You can purchase all of them now at


  I've been a great fan of Suzy's fiction since the early 1980s, so it gives me particular pleasure that Aqueduct can now offer e-book editions of so much of her work. The Vampire Tapestry (1980) is one of those books that I every now and then just have to reread. Here are some of the pull-quotes we've found for it:

 “Probably the best vampire novel ever written.” 
  —Oxford Times

“…Charnas’ view of her protagonist is unswervingly unsentimental, and…her denouement is savage and intense and brilliantly satisfying.

“…Charnas’ writing is also rich and impressive: she seems equally at home on a college campus, in the office of a professional therapist, in the emotions of a 14-year-old boy, and in the music and story of Tosca. The novel works on many levels — as pure adventure, as social description, as psychological drama, and as a passionate exploration of the web that links instinct, morality, and culture. It is a serious, startling, and revolutionary work, and I recommend it to all comers.” 
  —Washington Post

“Told in five interlocking novellas that form a single chronological narrative, this is the story of a seemingly immortal figure… His academic specialty is dream research, but his true nature compels him to seek intimacy with ‘colleagues, students, and social companions’ who then become his admirers and eventually his victims.

“…It’s a fascinating conception, handled with masterly skill. Charnas’ characters are boldly drawn and memorably complex, her prose is alive with energy and wit, her narrative inventions ingenious and atmospheric. Nothing better has been done in this, er, vein since Bram Stoker’s legendary Dracula in 1897. And, as a pure piece of writing, Charnas’ deeply intelligent, disturbing novel may actually be the superior book.” 
  —USA Today

Suzy hasn't written a huge amount of fiction in shorter form, but it's all intensely engaging and memorable. Most of it is collected in Stagestruck Vampires and Other Phantasms. 

“In ‘Listening to Brahms’ Charnas proves that she can take global tragedies and extract the most minute yet potent seed of hope from the rubble. Three linked stories comprise a nuanced portrait of her vampiric antihero Dr. Weyland. With its Leiberesque love affair with the stage, this entertaining volume deserves to run as long as Cats.” 
  —Asimov's SF, Paul di Filippo

“An intoxicating mix of exhilaration and terror…every story will have an effect on your psyche, thanks to Charnas’ magnificent style. Her writing is almost poetic in its beauty, but damning in its subject; similar to chocolate-covered arsenic. “ 

Another, slimmer volume collecting Suzy's short fiction is Music of the Night. These four tales of mythic monsters, who embody our deepest and most secret desires, evoke wilderness and wonders lurking below the familiar surfaces — splendid, coarse, or startlingly every day — of modernity.

“From the moment of reading the ‘true’ story of the Phantom of the Opera…I was drawn into a deep, dark, yet highly erotic world that Suzy Charnas brings to life. I enjoy reading all things paranormal, but this book delves deep into the emotions of the characters… Each story is deep, slightly dark, and on some level it hits where we think our darkest thoughts, though most of us never act upon them. Suzy Charnas has tapped the deepest parts of our lives and brought them out in these stories… What a wonderful collection, that I recommend to anyone who wants something different!” 
  —In the Library

“The Hugo winning, Nebula nominated short story ‘Boobs’ is one story I find myself re-reading over and over again. …a young girl, having come of age over summer break, begins 8th grade and is ridiculed for her new adult body by her fellow students… This story is so well written that I found myself cheering her on as she gets revenge against the immature boys she has to go to school with.” 
  —Fantastic Reviews


 The Kingdom of Kevin Malone is YA Fantasy:  Amy, brooding on a family crisis, retreats to Central Park—from the frying pan straight into the fire! Out of her past swoops her old arch-enemy Kevin Malone, the neighborhood punk who used to bully her. Angrily chasing him now through an arched passage under a park roadway, she emerges into another world. Kevin's feverish imagination has transformed Central Park into the Fayre Farre, a land of danger, magic, and heroic adventure. Here, among castles, elves, monsters, wild men, battles, and prophecies, Kevin is a Prince and a legendary champion. He's also still a self-centered jerk with a chip on his shoulder, and he's lost control of his magnificent creation: chaos and destruction are sweeping the land. Despite Kevin's bravado, Amy sees that he desperately needs her help. Will she risk her life in such a thankless job, or just leave him to sort out his own mess? And either way, where will that leave her?

“…the author’s sly digs at the heroic fantasy genre are on the mark, and Kevin makes an unusual hero. He's whiny, sullen, and self-centered, but also a tragic figure with a nascent sense of responsibility… Readers can sift through the whimsy for serious themes or not, as they choose.” 
  —School Library Journal

“…a perfect example of the mixing of genres (contemporary fiction and high fantasy)… Underneath the plotline…is the more serious story of the protagonist's coming to terms with her favorite cousin’s death, and it's the touching way Charnas handles that story, along with her engaging characters and smooth prose, that makes this novel so successful…” 
  —Mystery Scene


 The Ruby Tear is a standalone novel originally written under the pseudonym of Rebecca Brand. 

The Ruby Tear is a fun contemporary vampire story revolving around a theatrical production entitled “The Jewel.” The author, Rebecca Brand, writes smoothly and plays well with the conventions of the gothic, which isn’t too surprising when one realizes that Ms. Brand is a pseudonym for Suzy McKee Charnas, who obviously enjoyed writing this book. You’ll enjoy reading it.” 
  —Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

“A highly theatrical novel about highly theatrical characters…There’s some comfortably warm sensual writing, as well as a candid treatment of real sex. Characters who at one time came across as not terribly deep gain another level of interest. And the climax of The Ruby Tear will modestly rip your heart out.” 


My Father's Ghost is Suzy's memoir of her father. 

“From [Suzy] Charnas, a true and tender account of caring for her aging father from the time of his truculent arrival at her home to his irascible last illness and death… The author makes good use of entries from [her father’s] journals, full of amusing, brittle, sad, and hopeful anecdotes and musings, epigrams, and reflections on art and life…to capture the mix of guilt, longing, impatience, and empathy that characterizes their relationship. Anyone who has cared for aging and ill parents will recognize and perhaps be comforted by this frank delineation of the mixed emotions called up by the death of a father.” 
  —Kirkus Reviews

“…a moving, thoughtful… never sentimental account of how daughter and father get to know each other in middle and old age…Robin’s unique combination of eccentricity and strength speaks for itself… Charnas’ story is bound to be a guidebook and an inspiration for anyone caring for aging parents.” 
  —USA Today


And finally, we have the Sorcery Hall Trilogy.What if your home town was invaded by wild magic spilling over from a sorcerers' war on distant battlefields? What if no one notices or realizes what's happening, but magic wakes and sings in your own blood, and unlikely warriors seasoned in an ancient struggle demand your help. What if you were born to be one of them? This is the story of Valentine Marsh, a New York kid faced with the call of an impossible destiny; of her divided family, her enemies both home-grown and far-flung, and her awed and unlikely fellow-adventurers who, with Val in the lead, battle their way to the lofty gates of Sorcery Hall. 


  The Bronze King: Sorcery Hall Book 1.

As a teenager, music — on radio and records — was the unfailing touchstone to my true, inner feelings. This story of heroes, punks, a dragon, and a girl fighting for her city’s life alongside a violin prodigy and a street fiddler (aka, ancient wizard) is my tribute to the power of music and those who make it.

“…A breathless and fast moving fantasy… The details are exactly right, from the wizard as busker, to the three messengers of evil as young hoods in jackets emblazoned ‘Prince of Darkness’, to a splashing, roaring final showdown…in Central Park…” 
  —Library Bulletin

“The tensions and startling switches in developments, as well as the author’s realistic evocations of metropolitan life, result in an unforgettable novel.” 
  —Publishers Weekly 


The Silver Glove: Sorcery Hall Book 2

“…sinister Dr. Brightner…is installed as the new school psychologist the same day Val’s magic Gran runs away from her nursing home. A renegade wizard, Brightner is after souls, and he’s been trying to get Gran to his clinic for ‘research.’ Val is horrified to find that he is trying to seduce her mother, who has long denied Gran’s magic and doesn’t see the threat. This is a book to relish: told in Charnas’s nearly perfect first-person narration, Val’s engaging personality of savoir-faire and innocence is judiciously mixed with a flying carpet, a deliciously scary Indian witch and a wonderful final confrontation in Central Park.” 
  —Publishers Weekly

“Charnas excels at making magic a believable part of her city, and her characters real city dwellers…magic is well handled: the good forces can’t use their magic directly against the evil Dr. Brightner and his minions, but must turn Brightner’s own attempts to hurt them back on him. It’s a clever, believable book.” 

 The Golden Thread:
Sorcery Hall Book 3

“With her beloved sorceress grandmother in a coma and hospitalized, 14-year-old Valentine Marsh…is assigned to assist a strange foreign exchange student, Bosanka, who reveals that she is a powerful, magical ruler of another world and…demands that Val and her friends use their power to find her misplaced subjects. Val fears Bosanka’s people may subdue and misuse humankind, yet she dreads to refuse the royal commands.

“Charnas shows the adventures of a typical high-school girl who just happens to have inherited some degree of white magic talent. In so doing, she touches on a host of contemporary issues, the most important of which is her ecological message that we are one people and must use technology to preserve the earth rather than destroy it. If all this seems a ‘stretch,’ it isn’t. Charnas neatly ties seemingly disparate pieces together into an exciting, absorbing, contemporary romp.” 
  —School Library Journal

“The third in Charnas’s series about a girl gifted with wizardly power in contemporary Manhattan, this may be the best. The characters are real, and the struggle between good and evil transcends the usual clichés.” 
  —The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Monday, October 12, 2020

Raven Nothing by Som Paris


I'm pleased to announce the release, in both print and e-book editions, of Raven Nothing, a debut novel by Som Paris. It's available now from Aqueduct Press at Read a sample from the book.

Raven, a trans girl from south London, wakes on a piece of ice floating on a frozen ocean. Adap, who has lived his whole life in a dying village just off the coast, finds her and brings her home. When she is told she must travel to the Golie Mountains, at the center of the world, Adap volunteers to take her. Together they navigate around a resurgent soviet-esque state that is at war with an ancient culture of gender-wild shamans. As they travel, she realizes that there is no one in this magical world who is not black, like her, and that every place they go seems uncannily familiar. 

 Anya Johanna DeNiro, author of Tyrannia and Total Oblivion, More or Less, writes: "Raven Nothing is a portal story desperately needed for our times. Raven, the protagonist, is a “crossover” in more ways than one, and the novel reveals how these different crossings—with gender, space, and psychology—intersect. Urgent, poignant, and lyrical, Raven Nothing expands the possibilities of fantasy literature."

"Paris successfully builds the tension with descriptions of the strange, monstrous creatures populating this off-kilter world and moments of high-stakes danger for the protagonists—as when a nefarious shaman drugs Raven and Adep. The worldbuilding boasts well-developed political structures and intercultural conflict, and the all-Black cast shines. Paris’s sensitive approach to both race and gender is sure to impress; readers will be excited to see what this promising author does next."   (Read the whole review)
  —Publishers Weekly, Sept 2020