The Opal Octopus

Reading and reviews by the Indian Ocean

Acute Anticipation: July 2014


I can’t be the only one who pores over my list of upcoming titles… here’s some of what I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks: Thirst, Academic Exercises, Dirty Wings, and The Dead the Dead Came to Show and Tell.

Thirst by Kerry Hudson. Release Date: July 17th

Thirst cover - handwriting style font, woman in dress lying on grass, shot from above


The beginning of a relationship is usually all about getting to know each other, sharing stories far into the night, comparing experiences, triumphs and heartaches, until we know one another inside out.

Not so for Dave and Alena. He’s from London, she’s from Siberia. They meet in a sleek Bond Street department store in the frayed heat of high summer, where she’s up to no good and it’s his job to catch her. So begins an unlikely relationship between two people with pasts, with secrets, they’ve no idea how to live with — or leave behind. But despite everything they don’t have in common, all the details they won’t and can’t reveal, they still find themselves fighting with all they’ve got for a future together.

An unconventional, will-they-won’t-they love story, that takes us from London to Siberia, and from hope to heartbreak, and back again.

I loved Tony Hogan Bought me an Ice-Cream Float Before he Stole my Ma so, so much, despite its bleak setting and content. What a writer Hudson is. I’m expecting plenty from Thirst. Bring it on!

Next up is Academic Exercises, by K. J. Parker. Release Date: July 31st

cover of Academic Exercises. Sepia tone closeup of hand writing with quill on illuminated manuscript, with maps around

Academic Exercises is the first collection of shorter work by master novelist K.J Parker, and it is a stunner. Weighing in at over 500 pages, this generous volume gathers together thirteen highly distinctive stories, essays, and novellas, including the recent World Fantasy Award-Winner, “Let Maps to Others”. The result is a significant publishing event, a book that belongs on the shelf of every serious reader of imaginative fiction.

The collection opens with the World Fantasy Award-winning “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong,” a story of music and murder set against a complex mentor/pupil relationship, and closes with the superb novella “Blue & Gold,” which features what may be the most beguiling opening lines in recent memory.[…]

Taken singly, each of these thirteen pieces is a lovingly crafted gem. Together, they constitute a major and enduring achievement. Rich, varied, and constantly absorbing, Academic Exercises is, without a doubt, the fantasy collection of the year.

I confess to not having read any K. J. Parker yet, but I keep hearing recommendations, so this seems like a great opportunity to rectify that.

And then… Dirty Wings! By Sarah McCarry. Release Date: July 15th

Dirty wings cover. Sideways girl's face in half shadow, red vines, all moody and dark reddish colours


A gorgeous retelling of the Persephone myth, Sarah McCarry brings us the story of Cass and Maia–the mothers from All Our Pretty Songs–and how their fates became intertwined.

Maia is a teenage piano prodigy and dutiful daughter, imprisoned in the oppressive silence of her adoptive parents’ house like a princess in an ivory tower. Cass is a street rat, witch, and runaway, scraping by with her wits and her knack for a five-fingered discount. When a chance encounter brings the two girls together, an unlikely friendship blossoms that will soon change the course of both their lives. Cass springs Maia from the jail of the only world she’s ever known, and Maia’s only too happy to make a break for it. But Cass didn’t reckon on Jason, the hypnotic blue-eyed rocker who’d capture Maia’s heart as soon as Cass set her free–and Cass isn’t the only one who’s noticed Maia’s extraordinary gifts. Is Cass strong enough to battle the ancient evil she’s unwittingly awakened–or has she walked into a trap that will destroy everything she cares about? In this time, like in any time, love is a dangerous game.

I had a mixed reaction to the first book in the series, All Our Pretty Songs, as I felt that the realistic component and the fantasy component didn’t mesh very well together, leaving it all a touch muddled. But Sarah McCarry can write – oh boy, can she write! – so I’m really looking forward to this.

And lastly – The Day the Dead came to Show and Tell, by Mira Grant. Release date: July 14th! Today!


A new Newsflesh novella from the New York Times besteslling author that brought you Feed, Mira Grant.

Outside the classroom walls the Rising was spreading, but inside was a carefully protected sanctuary against the growing threat.

Or so the teachers and students thought.

On what will be the last day in the teaching career of Elaine Oldenburg, who fans of the series know as Foxy, she must fight to survive and protect her students when the zombie outbreak shatters the safety of her school.

I’m gonna tell you right out that I’m an unabashed Mira Grant fan. Anything in her Newsflesh or Parasite worlds, or her Incryptid worlds (as Seanan McGuire), I just inhale. So more Newsflesh? Sign. me. up!



What are you looking forward to? Any of these? Something else?

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