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February 9, 2007 Edition

The Open Curtain, by Brian Evenson

This twisted and chilling modern gothic features Rudd, a disturbed young Morman man who finds fascinating references to a century-old ritualistic murder committed by the grandson of the founder of the Mormon religion. As his grasp on reality loosens, and Rudd spins further off-center, he begins to have blackouts, waking hours later to find evidence of violent activity around him. Evenson’s specialty is slow, creeping horror, and fans of Poe and Kafka will find much to enjoy here.

H2O, by Mark Swartz

In a future Chicago, Lake Michigan has become so toxic that potable water is a thing of the past. In fact, all over the world, safe drinking water is getting harder and harder to come by and is mostly controlled by mega-corporation Drixa. Hayden Shivers is working for Drixa when he discovers the water-producing properties of a rare fungus and is immediately courted by Drixa for the patent. But is H2O really the same as water? And, who’s playing who in this noire comedy of errors?

In the Company of Ogres, by A. Lee Martinez

Ogre Company’s leaders tend to die suddenly and questionably, but the legion continues to try to train the monsters that comprise the company. Enter Never Dead Ned, an accountant whose one talent is coming back to life after death. He’s got six months to whip the crew into shape, and now that he’s discovered why he keeps coming back to life, incentive to never die again. Light on plot, heavy on humor, this parody of the fantasy genre is on a par with Terry Pratchett’s novels.

The Mirror Prince, by Violette Malan

Max Ravenhill has a nice life: he’s a history professor with tenure and a frustrating crush on a girl who won’t return his calls. When Cassandra does finally reply, it’s by rescuing him from an attack by a giant shape-shifting hound, and after killing it, telling him he wasn’t really Max at all. In fact, she claims, he’s not even human, and neither is she – he is a banished Faerie prince and she’s his guardian. His exile isn’t over yet, but it’s time for him to return home: his brother is trying to take over the Lands of the People and Max is the only one who can stop him.

The Translator, by Leila Aboulela

Sammar is an introspective and articulate Muslim widow living in Scotland when she begins working as a translator for a secular Islamic scholar named Rae. Their professional respect for each other develops into a firm friendship, and, eventually, into love. But religion intercedes: Sammar’s religion is a vital strength in her life, while Rae only understands religion as an intellectual exercise. How Sammar stays true to her beliefs and herself in the face of Rae’s lack of faith is central to this beautiful novel.

The Boy Detective Fails, by Joe Meno

Looking for skewed fiction with a little challenge? This strange, sweet, and sad novel offers puzzles, codes, and the alternate reality of a 30 year-old Boy Detective named Billy Argo. Billy, still slightly unhinged after the suicide of his sister and childhood detective partner, is living in Gotham, NJ, just across the hall from an old arch enemy. In his dreamlike world, small animals are losing their heads, humans are losing body parts, and buildings appear and disappear at random. Impressionistic and multi-layered, this will captivate readers who like to wrestle with their reading. Comes complete with a decoder ring inside the back cover so you can play along (photocopy it, please!).

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