The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown (Bantam, £16.99)
When Cassie receives the gift of a small leatherbound book, her life is transformed. It has the power to make “any door every door”, allowing her to walk out of her New York apartment on to a street in Paris, Venice, Prague – anywhere she’s been, or seen a picture of. Her best friend, Izzy, worries about how criminals could use it, while Cassie thinks they should just enjoy this amazing freedom. But Izzy was right to worry: the Book of Doors is just one of a small number of magical books, each with a different power, and although not many know they exist, some collectors won’t stop at murder to get what they want. What begins like a joyous daydream soon becomes a suspenseful thriller. It’s a truly magical book: exciting, intricately plotted and emotionally compelling.

Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon by Wole Talabi (Gollancz, £22)
The first novel from the Nigerian author of award-winning short stories is set in two worlds: ours, and the spirit side, where ancient gods have modernised into corporate board members who employ lesser spirits to deal with prayers and petitions. Shigidi, a minor god of nightmares, falls in love with the sexy, mysterious Nneoma, a succubus who feeds on human souls, and convinces him to be her partner in the freelance life. But his employer, the Orisha Spirit Company, won’t release him unless he steals back a precious sacred object from the British Museum. With their supernatural powers, the partners expect it to be an easy heist – until they tangle with London’s own spirit guardians. Moving back and forth in time, and between Lagos, London, Singapore and Algeria, this is a vivid, entertaining tale of love, power and revenge.

Red Side Story by Jasper Fforde (Hodder & Stoughton, £20)
The long-awaited sequel to 2010’s Shades of Grey continues the story set in a country that used to be Britain – before Something Happened. Society now operates on a hierarchical, colour-based system, where everyone’s place and role are determined by the range of colours they are able to see. Eddie and Jane belong to hues of red and green: strictly prohibited from marriage, and now awaiting trial for a murder they did not commit. No one is allowed to question the many strict rules, no matter how absurd. But Eddie and Jane are in love, smart and curious, willing to run any risk to find out the truth about their world. Cleverly constructed, with engaging characters and lots of good jokes, this sparkling Wizard of Oz-inspired fantasy is the second book in an intended trilogy, and one of the quirkiest dystopias ever imagined.

Past Crimes by Jason Pinter (Severn House, £21.99)
The first venture into science fiction by a well-regarded crime writer is set in the 2040s, when Americans are spending most of their waking hours in an immersive virtual reality network known as Earth+. The popularity of true crime as entertainment has grown exponentially, with new tech allowing total sensory engagement. Subscribers to the simulations produced by entertainment company Past Crimes have the option of being not merely observers but players in famous historic crimes. Cassie West, the widow of the man held responsible for an outbreak of mass suicides and murders known as the Blight, is probably the only person in the world who believes the real culprit got away with it. She thinks she’s found evidence that he’s planning to strike again, with a massacre timed to coincide with the release of the highly anticipated Blight simulation. But will anyone believe her? A tense, unputdownable near-future thriller, chillingly believable about some of the drawbacks of life lived increasingly in non-physical spaces.

The City of Stardust by Georgia Summers (Hodderscape, £20)
The Everly family is cursed: for generations, their youngest has been taken by the terrifying, ageless Penelope in payment of a long-ago debt. Violet is the last of the line, since her mother vanished on a quest to break the curse; unless she returns, Violet will be sacrificed instead. As the deadline approaches, newly adult Violet goes on her own quest. She looks to Penelope’s assistant, Aleksander, for help, knowing she shouldn’t trust him, but tempted by his stories of another world, where he lives in a city of scholar-magicians. Things soon turn very dark in an ambitious debut that doesn’t live up to its initial promise, flawed by an overly complicated, confusing plot and thin characterisations.


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