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Secret History and ANOTHER Giveaway!

October 4, 2013

We talked about what Secret History was in the last post, so I won’t go into it too much here.  A quick recap- a secret history is set in the world you’re familiar with, but shows you all the things you never knew were going on behind the scenes.  Also, there’s a handy Wikipedia article if you want more information.  That could be the Illuminati (Dan Brown), or the machinations of our secret vampire overlords (Seth Grahame-Smith).  I’d like to give you a little bit of a Secret History reading list.

hounded-cover-184x300The Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne
These books are a little bit like the Percy Jackson books in that gods are real and their followers, avatars, worshipers, and various off spring are here on Earth with us.  They generally keep a pretty low profile though.  Every now and then, something big will happen, but for the most part us normal humans go about our daily lives with no idea that the really amazing lady we just passed was actually a version of the Virgin Mary or that famous lawyer is a werewolf.  Or that bookstore owner is the world’s last druid.
Atticus O’Sullivan is a druid.  Who owns a new age bookstore.  In Arizona.  And he’s just a smidge over 2,000 years old.  Oh, and he has a talking dog named Oberon.  You’re right.  That’s just silly.  I’m sorry.  The dog doesn’t really talk.  He communicates telepathically with Atticus.  He’s also one of the best characters in fiction today.  Oberon, not the druid.  I know, I know.  Atticus is the protagonist.  But seriously, once you read these books, you’ll be in love with Oberon too.
Atticus isn’t just a druid.  Or an old dude.  In fact, he looks 21 and judging by the covers of the books, he’s kind of smoking hot.  He’s also a wanted man (and not just by his lady readers).  You see, Atticus stole a sword.  A very, very, very powerful sword.  From a god of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  And he’s been angry about it ever since.  Atticus has given him the slip for millenia, but time is running out.  It doesn’t help that Tempe has attracted more than its fair share of supernatural inhabitants who all seem to want something from Atticus too.  I don’t want to tell you too much because, of course, you’re going to go read it.  If you haven’t already, that is.
‘But Sara,’ you might say, ‘I’ve got too many books already.  I can’t go buy Hounded right now.’  That’s ok.  I’ve got you covered!  Because Del Rey was amazingly awesome and sent me a TON of stuff for my Star Wars Reads Day event, I have extra promo copies of Hounded to give away.    And I am giving away FIVE of them in my Hounded giveaway just click-through to get to the Rafflecopter page.  You can enter by tweeting about the giveaway or by leaving a comment on this post, or both!  If that’s not good enough, if you want to try before you buy, so to speak, you can read the first SIX chapters of Hounded on Kevin’s website.

rook

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
The easiest way to explain The Rook and my elevator pitch for selling it at the bookstore is, “James Bond meets the X-Files.”  I reviewed the book last year in this post.   The world is as you know it, but there is a secret organization working in the United Kingdom to manage the supernatural.  You never have to hear about a house in the suburbs growing, as it might be, purple people eating fungus because the Checquy (pronounced something like ‘shekay’) are on the scene to deal with it before it eats the neighborhood.  Our protagonist, Myfanwy (Mifany), wakes up with no memory.  Notes in her pocket lead her to information detailing her previous life as a Checquy agent.  She is, in fact, a Rook; all the Checquy ranks are ordered after a chess set.  The reader learns about this secret world as Myfanwy herself does.  This eleminates the need for an info dump early in the book and makes it very enjoyable.  It also allows the reader to swallow some of the more outre aspects of the secret history, because the protagonist is boggling right along with you.
Also, because Daniel O’Malley and his publisher are cool, you can read the first four chapters on his website for absolutely free!  Yay!  Free things!!!

scholastic-coversHarry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I’m not going to go too deeply into the plot on this one, because I assume that most of you have a working knowledge of Harry and his world.  Hogwarts and the wizarding world exist right alongside everything we know.  There’s even a Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station now.  Events from the wizarding world leak over into the Muggle or mundane world.  Grindewald was a major force during WWII, for example.  Voldemort’s reign of terror involves attacks on muggles, which are understood as tragic accidents or terrorist attacks.  Sadly, the cool things don’t tend to bleed over into our world much, but that’s why it’s secret history and not straight up fantasy.

seedsThe Milkwood Triptych by Ian Tregillis
This series deals with a very different World War II.  A Nazi scientist has discovered a way to make ubermensch by stimulating the brains of children with electricity.  Of course, the children must be put into life threatening situations for their powers to manifest, even with the electricity.  And most of them do not survive the process.  The ones that are left are… broken as humans, but still usable as weapons by the Reich.  The powers include pyrokinesis, invisibility, intangibility, electrical manipulation, geomancy, and clairvoyance.  In an effort to combat an enemy they cannot understand British forces turn to dark magics to protect the islands.  These forces must be paid in blood and pain.  At what point does the cost become worse than the consequence of giving up?
This series is dark and not at all for the faint of heart.  But it’s amazing and beautifully written.  The sequels are The Coldest War and Necessary Evil.  Ian is also a lovely gentleman.  I met him at a convention a few years ago and he was really nice.  He also read the first chapter of Something More Than Night, which I have been waiting for ever since.  It’s a noir mystery set in Heaven!  And it’s coming out this December!  And it’s beautiful!

inkThe Promethean Age series by Elizabeth Bear
This series deals, in part, with the court of Queen Elizabeth I.  Playwrights spin words and magic together to help bolster the queen’s reign.  However, Kit Marley (Marlowe) has been murdered and Will Shakespeare must take his place, but he cannot wield magic.  Marley is resurrected using fairie magic, but at what cost?  This book, like most of the secret histories that I enjoy, weaves fantasy elements into the history.  Is it so hard to believe that the author of A Midsummer Night’s Dream really did interact with the fairie court?  Ink and Steel is the first book and its companion is Hell and Earth, which features Queen Mab instead of Good Queen Bess on its cover.

There are lots of historical thriller secret histories, but I haven’t actually read any of them personally.  Ken Follett has several WWII novels that could be considered secret history.  Heck, much of history actually is secret history.  There are things going on behind the scenes that we don’t find out about until much, much, much later.  That’s one of the reasons that this genre works so well for thrillers.

In other media, Doctor Who is a great example of secret history.  The Doctor is mucking about in our history all the time.   Dating myself a bit, both Highlander and Forever Knight are tv shows from the 1990’s with great secret history.  Dollhouse (until the very end and Epitaphs 1 and 2), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Chuck are all more current examples of secret histories.  I don’t actually watch much tv, or I’m sure I’d have more.  So, tell me, what is your favorite secret or alternate history story?  Is it a movie, book, tv show, graphic novel, concept album, work of art?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. bn100 permalink
    October 6, 2013 12:56 pm

    like the secret garden book

  2. Stephanie F. permalink
    October 6, 2013 1:11 pm

    I loved The Rook. The mystery and humor in it kept me hooked. She wrote such an intriguing world and characters.

  3. Denise Z permalink
    October 6, 2013 5:07 pm

    I love the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, especially the books. There is a whole world that is not known by the humans and it is fun to watch the reactions as these secrets are revealed.

    • October 6, 2013 5:24 pm

      I love that series too! At least, until the last couple of books. I’m not as thrilled with where she decided to end things, but, she’s the author, she gets to end things where she wants to. ^.^

  4. October 6, 2013 8:37 pm

    Last Christmas, my mom got me the first couple of books of the Iron Druid series. Since I plowed through A Song of Fire and Ice this year, I haven’t had time to pick them up yet. I’m guessing it’s worth it?

    • October 6, 2013 8:40 pm

      Absolutely! They’re really fun. Much lighter than Son if Ice and Fire. At least for most of the books.

  5. Dawn C permalink
    October 7, 2013 8:56 am

    Just started the Iron Druid series! Very entertaining!!

    • October 7, 2013 10:09 am

      I love the series. I grab the audiobooks whenever I can, because they’re remarkably well done.

  6. October 7, 2013 10:12 am

    Would love to read Hounded!

  7. October 11, 2013 7:03 pm

    This has reminded me that I need to read Hunted! Also, why can’t Oberon be on any of the covers? If Granuaile can be on a cover, then surely Oberon (a much better character) should make an appearance.

    Would Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers classify as Secret History? I loved that one. The second one didn’t wow me as much as the first, but I did like it.

    • October 11, 2013 7:04 pm

      I think all the covers should have Oberon!
      And yes, Grave Mercy would be an excellent addition to the secret history list!

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