Book cover: Blood and Iron by Elizabeth BearBlood and Iron is a slow ride that is quietly demanding. Elizabeth Bear makes no allowances for her reader’s familiarity with faerie tales or Irish pronunciation, weaving the implicit weight of her chosen myths into her own sharp tale of the war between Faerie and Man. If you don’t know what you’re missing, it may feel both surprising and sketchy; if you have long loved Irish myth and the Matter of Britain, you will probably get a good deal more out of it.

Book cover: John Saturnall's FeastJohn Sandall the blackamoor’s son is born in 17th century Somerset, with a gift for recognising all the ingredients in a dish by taste or scent. As the country is gripped by religious fervour, he and his mother are driven out as witches. But John’s demon tastebuds make him the perfect cook. Taken in at the local Manor and trained in their kitchens, he must face down old enemies and new challenges as the country slides into Civil War.

Book cover: The Rook by Daniel O Malley

When Myfanwy Thomas wakes up surrounded by dead bodies in a London park and no memory, she’s ever so grateful for the note in her pocket with instructions. Now she just has to fake she knows what she’s doing as a very senior member of a very secret government agency, save Britain from supernatural threats and figure out who stole her memory… without anyone noticing.

Book Cover: Wild Seed by Octavia ButlerThe second of my reviews for Diversiverse 2014, this SF classic deserves every mention it gets (and a few more that it doesn’t. It should get all the mentions). Anyanwu discovers she isn’t the only immortal in the world – but her potential partner through the ages is ruthlessly pursuing a program of eugenics. Is his companionship worth the cost?

Book cover: Annihilation by Jeff VandermeerI admit it. I bought this because the cover is SO DAMN PRETTY, and I make no apologies for it. It’s also mysterious, weird and several shades of interesting. Nobody can enter Area X unless the Southern Reach sends them in; expeditions are carefully controlled – and results aren’t published. The twelfth expedition has no idea what really awaits them…

Book cover: The Windup Girl - Paolo BacigalupiAnderson Lake is a Calorie Man, hunting Bangkok’s markets for foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl Emiko – one of the New People, engineered to satisfy a rich man’s whims, then abandoned to the slums. Welcome to a near-future where oil has run out, seas are rising, and food safety is in the hands of a ruthless few.