Results of the World Fantasy Award in the year 2003.
Set during and immediately after World War II, The Facts of Life follows the fortunes of Frank Arthur Vine, the result of a tryst between his mother Cassie and an American GI. Because Cassie is too unreliable and unstable to act as his proper guardian, Frank is brought up alternately by his mother’s six very different sisters—each singularly idiosyncratic—and by his beguiling and charismatic grandmother.
But, as his mother knows, and his grandmother strongly suspects, Frank is no ordinary child.
The Facts of Life takes place in Coventry, in the English Midlands, the notorious target of Hitler’s fiercest bombing raid and, some nine centuries earlier, the scene of the infamous Lady Godiva’s naked ride through the marketplace. Peopled with entrancing characters, it is an enormously affecting tale of family and sisterhood, of the kindness and the madness of women, of the fantastic breaking through in a troubled world.
Ombria. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of sapphire-heeled shoes…that holds its breath as a straw-haired apparition glides through its streets…that sees its dreams—and nightmares—take shape in the drawings of a bastard-heir. It is an enchanted time and place envisioned by the acclaimed author of The Tower at Stony Wood.
When Ombria’s prince, Royce Greve, breathes his last—in palace rooms high above the city—he leaves his young son at the mercy of his ancient great-aunt, Domina Pearl—a woman who has plotted her rise to power in Ombria for far too many years to allow a little boy to stand in her way. Already she has thrown Greve’s pretty mistress out into the streets, where no one would expect her to live an hour. The boy will take her a little longer.
Meanwhile, in a dreamlike underworld peopled by Ombria’s ghosts, a sorceress weaves her spells and brews her potions, never revealing her real face—or true heart. And somewhere in between, the struggle to rule the whole of Ombria—both its light and shadows—will rest in the hands of those whose fractured lives align like the lost pieces of a magical puzzle…
1843 is the “last year of the world,” according the Elias Fitcher, a charismatic preacher in the Finger Lakes district of New York State. He’s established a utopian community on an estate outside the town of Jeckyll’s Glen, where the faithful wait, work, and pray for the world to end.
Vernelia, Amy, and Catherine Charter are the three young townswomen whose father falls under the Reverend Fitcher’s hypnotic sway. In their old house, where ghostly voices whisper from the walls, the girls are ruled by their stepmother, who is ruled in turn by the fiery preacher. Determined to spend Eternity as a married man, Fitcher casts his eye on Vernelia, and before much longer the two are wed. But living on the man’s estate, separated from her family, Vern soon learns the extent of her husband’s dark side. It’s rumored that he’s been married before, though what became of those wives she does not know. Perhaps the secret…[more]
The toast of 1893 New York society, the portraitist Piero Piambo has his pick of choice assignments. Acclaimed by his peers and his “betters,” he is a fixture in the city’s most opulent salons, yet he fears he has sold his soul to arrive there. But then comes a commission unlike any other—one that will test Piambo’s talents, his will…and his sanity.
The client is a Mrs. Charbuque, and the offer she makes to the artist is as bizarre and intriguing as it is financially rewarding. Piambo must paint the lady’s portrait, and for the service he may name any price. However, though he may question her at length on any topic, he must never look upon his subject. And if the painting ends up a true likeness, his payment will be doubled.
With sketchbook in hand and his “model” hidden behind an elegant screen, the artist begins his haunting descent into…[more]
Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.
For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called…[more]