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Having previously dealt mostly in children and teenage fantasy fiction, Canadian writer K.V. Johansen makes her entrance on the adult epic fantasy scene with Blackdog, an ambitious standalone novel filled with gods, goddesses, entrancing magics and touching characters. Boasting a scope and depth easily the equal of any ten-volume epic, Blackdog mixes the scale and feel of the greatest fantasy sagas with a succinct, character-driven storytelling, blending the two into a (relatively) meager, highly enjoyable five hundred fifty pages.

The husband and wife writing duo that makes up Clay and Susan Griffith made quite the rounds a year ago with their genre-bending debut garnering an attention in reviews greater than for any other Pyr release to date. Because of the generally highly-regarded quality of the first tome of the ‘Vampire Empire’ trilogy, expectations for the second volume, The Rift Walker, was equally high. For some reviewers having already given their verdict, this sequel is not as strong as its predecessor, yet I would maintain that this is a surprisingly strong second outing. All the juicy elements of the first book are there - vampires, magic, steampunk, romance, political scheming and war - and the Griffiths make do without the obtrusive ‘I’m an imprisoned princess’ passages that bogged down The Greyfriar. All in all, the Griffiths continue to show us the strengths and benefits of combining a variety of genre tropes into one, lean novel.

The Straight Razor Cure, also known to US readers as Low Town, is Daniel Polansky’s debut novel and a notable one at that. Polansky choses not to follow the beaten path, offering us a rich and unusual setting of drug and crime-ridden streets populated by characters that do not play by the book and can well and truly resonate with us readers. Amidst a supernatural serial killing case, dealing with corrupt police services and fighting his own personal battles, Warden’s tale is one worthy of readership.The Straight Razor Cure is by no means perfect, but it is a damn good offering on the part of a debut novelist.

Julie Crisp, Editorial Director at the Tor imprint of Pan Macmillan in the UK, had some weeks ago alluded to a re-edition of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series. One of the notable changes of these new editions will be a shift up from mass market to B-size novels but it was also revealed that the earlier novels in the series would also benefit an all new cover treatment. Today, on her Twitter account, Julie Crisp posted the new artwork for the first two books in the series, Empire in Black and Gold which you can see above, and Dragonfly Falling which you'll discover if you scroll down the page.

Ever since I first delved into Twelve, Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet has been a reference for me in terms of historical fantasy and vampires that don’t sparkle. Kent’s debut was both an entrancingly thematic exploration of Napoleonic Russia and a refreshing take on the most famous of bloodsucking beasts, and Thirteen Years Later was an even more thrilling tale of mysteries, conspiracies and vicious creatures of the night. The sequel, the aptly named The Third Section, marks a change in protagonist and a significant shift forward in time, telling a story just as colorful and historically rich as its predecessors yet is somewhat lacking in the narrative department.

This picture may not be of the best quality, but it does offer a look at the UK art for Douglas Hulick's sophomore effort, Sworn in Steel. Keeping much the same style (Drothe - the main character - centerfold in the shadows) as that for the cover of Among Thieves - the first 'Tale of the Kin,' Larry Rostant has however opted for a more colorful palette. Overall, when you account for the added dynamism, I would say that Tor has noticeably increased the quality of the art, and making it more attractive to potential readers. Also, based on the quality of its predecessor, this should be just be a damn good book. If it's the US cover art that interests you more, follow the source link underneath the image above which should take you to a page displaying both the American and British versions of the cover.