Reviews of our books...

A RISING MOON -- DAW Books, November 2018

"Orla’s epic chronicle of revenge ripples with elaborate magic, layers of logistics and war planning, politics, betrayal, and factions vying for power. It’s sure to please any reader of high fantasy.” -- Publishers Weekly

In this sequel to A FADING SUN, Leigh returns to his setting of an alternate first-century Britain… Newcomers can easily follow the story without having read the earlier book. Fans of Melanie Karsak’s HIGHLAND RAVEN and similar Celtic historical fantasies will especially enjoy. VERDICT: ...This fast-paced, character-driven fantasy will keep readers flipping pages right to the end. -- Library Journal

"Fantasy lovers who like Druids and old word Roman times will enjoy this imaginative world....Original and tense.  This book expertly mixes with ghosts, magical powers and a desperate fight for freedom into an exhilarating read!" -- Bookaholics Romance Book Club


A FADING SUN -- DAW Books, July 2017

"Leigh’s complex and substantial fantasy series opener adds elaborate spellcasting and powerful sorcerers to the legend of Celtic warrior queen Boudica repelling the Romans. The war machine Mundoa conquered Albann, home of the spiritual Cateni people. Generations later, Cateni Voada Paorach lives a comfortable life as the wife of the tax collector, but she’s secretly a draoi, or magic user. After Voada publicly guides the spirit of her husband to the afterlife, she is vilified by Mundoan governor Maki Kadir, beaten, and left for dead, and her children are sold into slavery. She vows to eradicate Mundoa from Albann and free her people. Voada sets off on an epic adventure to cultivate the power she draws from draoi ancestors, battling both the Mundoan forces and a spirit that’s trying to consume her. Leigh (The Atonement Tango) skillfully weaves together a comprehe

nsive and rich mythology, intricate fight sequences, and a mother’s all-consuming revenge. The story holds few surprises, but the engaging characters will draw in readers." -- Publishers Weekly

"Epic fantasy has also been a great vehicle for analyzing the follies of empire… Stephen Leigh’s A Fading Sun is another powerful entry in the category of stories about the change wrought by empires—for better or worse. And since, let’s be honest, it’s usually for worse, it’s a tale that deals with the damage left in the aftermath…. The parallels to the British Isles and the invasion of the Romans are strongly present throughout, as are significant influences drawn from Celtic myth and the tragic history of Irish subjugation and exploitation under English rule. It’s all been romanticized and streamlined, but Leigh picks out the most striking elements to build his world, one that will resonate with anyone interested in the history of these time periods and places—or even just stories deeply steeped in them…

Leigh focuses on the problems of social inequality, cultural imposition, and the devastation wrought by unthinking exercise of the kind of power no one should be able to wield in the first place. We do get an interesting exploration of the empire’s point of view via the general of the Mundoan army, among others, which prevents the book from falling into the trap of creating a one-dimensional villain, but this is no ode to colonization.

Of course, it helps that there are villains on both sides of the conflict. The damage suffered by those living under an oppressive power is a huge focus: we have a heroine (if she is one) who has been permanently changed by her brush with power, and not always in the most heroic of ways—her motivations may have become too suspect to trust, her focus perhaps not on the greater good. Is she in the wrong, when she believes what she does is right? Throughout history, leaders have risen to power who appeal to something strong and deep within, something people want to believe is true, despite evidence to the contrary—if only for a little while.

This means the book also does something else I appreciate: it allows a female anti-hero to have her day. She’s an imperfect woman, but one we can recognize. Leigh never falls into the trap of thinking readers revel in watching a woman behave badly. Instead, he makes the stronger choice—he makes sure we understand why Voada is the way she is, and she remains relatable, possibly even sympathetic, all the way through.

So many heroic journeys get caught up the path from powerlessness to powerful. Leigh’s story explores what happens when you get your wish, even if not in the way you imagined, or maybe, as it turns out, if you aren’t the sort of person who should have power at all. That’s a much more fascinating journey—if you really could shape the world in your image, what would happen? Would you really turn out to be an Aragorn, or would it all be just a little bit of history repeating? In A Fading Sun, obtaining power isn’t the endgame, but the beginning. The having is the hard part. Overthrowing a monstrous ruler is easy. Not becoming one yourself, that’s a challenge you must live every day. " -- --Kelly Anderson, B&N Scie-Fi and Fantasy Blog

"Readers, who will detect a resemblance to Ireland, Scotland, and England during the Roman era, will eagerly anticipate the sequel." —Booklist

"Leigh builds a vivid, thrilling and exciting new world that will captivate and hold the imagination in A Fading Sun." — RT Reviews


THE CROW OF CONNEMARA -- DAW Books, March 2015

FOUR STARS: "Leigh's latest is an intriguing mix of old Celtic Fae mythology and a contemporary drama of finding yourself. Though this started off slowly and with only minor exposition, Leigh is a master at building an entire world, not just the bare bones required by the plot. Maeve is a particularly interesting and nuanced character, and the setting of Ireland, particularly on Oileanach with Maeve's 'family,' will captivate readers." -- Romantic Times Review

"The Crow of Connemara is an aptly written, thoughtful story that weaves its magic using strands from Irish mythology and folktales and juxtaposing them nicely with life in the modern world. I consider Leigh’s book as one part fantasy, one part drama, and two parts tragic romance... Leigh created a world of intrigue with wonderfully complex characters, especially Maeve Gallagher... I think you will like the way Leigh found his title. The ending is a good one, the disposition of Celtic lore is educational, and the storyline well-crafted. Leigh deserves a thumb’s up for his good work." -- Donald Then, The Northern Kentucky Tribune

"Stephen Leigh did a wonderful job doing the world building of this story, though it was a bit slow early on as we learned more about the Oileanach and the island. It was an exciting and interesting ending, leaving me wondering if there would be another book, or we are to use our imagination." -- The Reading Cafe

“There is something so otherworldly about Ireland and its rich history, and [Leigh] does a beautiful job of tying it in with a contemporary storyline.” —Coffee Time and Romance

 “Full of imagination and lovely imagery. If you like a tale that is a modern drama, yet full of old magic and fantasy with a tragic love story then this the book for you.” —The Nameless Zine

IMMORTAL MUSE -- DAW Books, March 2014

STARRED REVIEW! "Leigh seamlessly inserts his two immortals into history, playing with actual people and events to deliver beautifully-rendered glimpses of different eras. Leigh strikes the perfect balance between past and present, real and imagined." -- Publishers Weekly, 1/ 27/14

TOP PICK! "Mythology, alchemy, and fantasy all combine in Leigh's IMMORTAL MUSE, creating the perfect combination for readers looking for their next stellar read.." -- Romantic Times Newsletter, March 2014

"In Immortal Muse, author Stephen Leigh has created a masterpiece of historical fantasy.... Those looking for a sure-footed, exciting and thoroughly rewarding race through the history of creativity in the past several centuries--and who doesn't want that?--will not be alone in finding this a book to thrill the passions and mind alike. It is a terrific fantasy, a superlative historical read and a tragic romance all in one. Highly Recommended!"  -- Drew Bittner for SFRevu

"A unique exploration of art, passion, and love." --

"VERDICT: Sweeping in scope and full of action and danger, this well-constructed historical fantasy takes an original look at the nature of creativity. If Nicholas is slightly mustache-twirly in his evilness, the compelling "immortal muse" Perenelle more than compensates." -- Library Journal

"Framed by her confrontation with Nicholas in modern times, the tale is one of well described historical slices slightly modified to fit the story. Fascinating and compelling, this might find some award nods." -- Henry L. Lazarus in the Philadelphia Weekly Press

THE WOODS -- Arc Manor / Phoenix Pick Books, 2012

"I was blown away by The Woods.  It is billed as a dark fantasy, and it is that.  The magic in this story is both beautiful and disturbing.  The narrative is gripping; deceptively simple in its setup and satisfyingly complex in its execution.  And yet, while "Dark Fantasy," may begin to describe The Woods, it does not do the book justice.  This is a deeply moving, literary novel, a reflection on adolescence that delves into the raw emotions of youth with the poetic insight of John Knowles (A Separate Peace) and the power of the underrated James Kirkwood (Good Times, Bad Times).... Humor, melancholy, nostalgia, and beneath it all a compelling honesty that makes this work of fiction read almost like memoir.  Leigh's prose is elegant, his plotting tight, his character work outstanding.  But it is the voice of his protagonist that drives this story, that gives the book it's emotional weight and power.... I'm not going to delve into plot summary or anything else that might give away the many surprises that await you in The Woods...  I guarantee you that it will be the best deal you get all summer." -- David B. Coe, Crawford Award-winning fantasy author

"...a story that deals with powerful issues and makes you think and rethink about things in your own life. It pulls no punches in examining those issues and the ramifications of decisions we make around them. In other words, it’s a damned fine piece of work... THE WOODS is a piece of art." -- Ron Collins, author and Writer of the Future winner


A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT by S.L. Farrell -- DAW Books, February 2008

"S.L. Farrell is a relative newcomer on the fantasy scene, but he writes like a seasoned pro. A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT is his best yet, a delicious melange of politics, war, sorcery, and religion in a richly imagined world peopled with a varied cast of haughty lords, scheming courtiers, beggars, priests, heretics, zealots, spies, assassins, torturers, tarts, and seductresses. They're vivid and memorable characters, and most are painted in shades of grey, my favorite color. Farrell's Nessantico evokes the Italian city-states of the Rennaissance, especially Venice, but this is a Venice where magic works. It's a fascinating place, and one that I look forward to visiting again." -- George RR Martin, award-winning and NY Times bestselling author

"Considerable charm and appeal... It's always refreshing to read a fantasy where neither side in a conflict has much of a moral edge on the other, and the cast of characters are an enjoyable mix of the sympathetic, the villainous and the ambiguous. There's definite potential here." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Readers familiar with Farrell's amazing 'Cloudmages' series will pick up this first book in a new series with a pretty good idea of what to expect; all others are likely to be happily blown away by the gorgeously detailed setting and intriguing characters. Then there's the tangled knot, knitted up of at least seven different kinds of treachery. All told, this is a fantasy novel to settle down with for a nice, long time... Farrell's world-building is, as always, impressive: intricate and well-thought out. The intrigues pulling characters one way and another are complicated, and keeping up with all the characters throughout the headlong plot is a challenge -- but it's an entertaining challenge, one which repays the reader's work with a vivid rich story of treachery, hope, faith, and snarled loyalties as complex as the city that houses them." -- Charlene Brusso in BLACK GATE

"Secure in its own Renaissance-style environment, this novel was a pleasant surprise, and one which deserves greater recognition." -- Mark Yon in SFFWORLD

"S.L. Farrell has crafted a wondrous tale of intrigue, adventure, the collision of politics and religion, and the triumph of personal virtue over fear and doubt... The craft of world-building has rarely been put on display so ingeniously." -- Drew Bittner in SFRevu

"Farrell easily wields an immense cast of characters, many of whom take narrative turns. Readers who appreciate intricate world building, intrigue, and action will immerse themselves effortlessly into this rich and complex story." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"Lust, hate, envy, greed and pride - if there was a sacrilege to savor or a commandment to break, the schemers in this tale grabbed it with gusto. Farrell...swept me away on a thoroughly enjoyable ride." -- John R. Alden in the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

"Farrell weaves the lives of his characters into an enthralling mix of politics, religion, magic, love, and betrayal -- allowing a novel of Imperial conquest and the questions of faith to remain a tapestry of very personal stories." -- bestselling author Tanya Huff

"Moving gracefully between the intrigues of palaces and slums, A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT is fast-paced yet intricate, a delight for readers of both military and political fiction." -- bestselling author Jane Lindskold

"S. L. Farrell weaves his storylines into a compelling tale." -- PAT'S FANTASY HOTLIST

"Intriguing characters and a complex socio-political background make this a strong addition to most fantasy collections." -- Library Journal

"I'm ready for another visit, hopefully not to be long delayed." -- Don d'Ammassa in CRITICAL MASS

"Superb..." -- Robert Folsom, KANSAS CITY STAR


A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL by S.L. Farrell -- DAW Books, March 2009

"A Magic of Nightfall is beyond the shadow of a doubt one of the very best fantasy novels released in 2009... It's now obvious that a lot of groundwork was laid out in A Magic of Twilight, and it surely pays dividends in A Magic of Nightfall....It was a delight to return to a world akin to the Italian city-states of the Renaissance. Still... one of the most fascinating aspects of this novel was the portions occurring in the Westlands. Indeed, every scene involving Niente, the Nahual of the Tehuantin, offered glimpses of their land and their culture, once again demonstrating that this is a work of fiction which resounds with depth...The characterization was top notch, with every POV character well-drawn and genuine... The struggle between science, sorcery, and religion remains an important theme, one that Farrell handles quite well. In addition, the author's eye for details creates a vivid setting which brings the story alive... A Magic of Nightfall is a multilayered tale of politics, intrigue, religion, magic, love, and treachery. One that should not be missed. Definitely one of the fantasy books to read in 2009. With superior worldbuilding, a convoluted plot, and complex characters, A Magic of Nightfall is a wonderful read. Highly recommended!" -- Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

"Complicated political maneuvering, fascinating three-dimensional characters, and unpredictable plot twists combine to make Farrell's superb fantasy hard to put down. Richly imagined and finely written..." --VOYA (Rachelle Bilz)

""A Magic of Nightfall” starts off with a bang, literally, and from there goes on a roll until its superb ending almost 600 pages later... In the end, a very ambitious tale of intrigue, politics, love, assassinations and war, “A Magic of Nightfall” is just a superior epic... “A Magic of Nightfall” finds the author raising his game to the next level and producing a work that is comparable to any epic fantasy currently being published today. Highly, highly recommended."-- Fantasy Book Critic (Liviu C. Suciu)

"Politics rule A Magic of Nightfall and set it apart from most of epic fantasy -- very few attain the sophistication here that would have Machiavelli spinning on his (albeit dead) head." -- Nethsapce

"S.L. Farrell delivers a vast, sprawling but riveting novel... The plot is complex and intricate, demonstrating masterful skill at the finer points of world building, and the cast is strongly drawn... Farrell's work compares favorably to Martin's Song of Fire and Ice epic, with equivalent complexity, sophistication and luxurious detail. Fans of one will absolutely want to read the other.... Books like this define the new generation of epic fantasy. Farrell has brought forth a terrific new series, one wherein the reader is kept guessing up to the last page (and beyond). I'm already eager to read the next installment. Strongly recommended." -- Drew Bittner on SFRevu

"A fascinating read... S. L. Farrell is more than just a great world-builder; he understands that the essence of power is manipulating your opponents and allies to do your bidding." -- Genre Go Round


A MAGIC OF DAWN by S.L. Farrell -- DAW Books, April 2010

"A stunning series and a fabulous capstone book."—Romantic Times

"Highly recommended. Farrell has achieved a career highpoint with the Nessantico Cycle... The trilogy is epic fantasy in the best sense of the world, constructing a gigantic and complex world peopled by diverse, interesting characters, all of whom have consuming passions and urgent agendas. They live, they laugh, they fight and die--it's what fantasy readers love to see." -- Drew Bittner for SFRevu

"A Magic of Dawn is epic fantasy with a bent towards intrigue, politics and faith but with lots of action too and written in a very clear and enjoyable style that makes pages almost turn by themselves. The Nessantico Epilogue with the city as a pov makes for quite an elegiac finish… A whirlwind tale of intrigue and war, love and faith, prophecies and redemption with magic, battles, assassinations, secret relationships, but also families and their shared joys and sorrows." -- Liviu Suciu for Fantasy Book Critic

"[A MAGIC OF DAWN] is a great finish to a strong saga. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the characters and their divided loyalties make the Farrell mythos seem real."-- Alternative Worlds


HOLDER OF LIGHTNING by S.L. Farrell -- DAW Books, January 2003

"[A] richly detailed fantasy debut launches a new series that's sure to delight fans of Celtic fiction... In this thinly-disguised medieval Ireland, every man's hand can be turned against every other's (and women aren't backward in this, either), particularly when the stakes are as high as they are here... [P]owerful scenes of magic-wielding and [a] vividly depicted Celtic society." -- Publisher's Weekly, 12/9/2002 issue

"S.L. Farrell makes magic real with a story that encompasses the highest of classical high fantasy and the grittiest of real-world situations, told with never a misstep and never a pause. I read this in one sitting, breathing optional. It's wonderful!" --Holly Lisle (award-winning author of Memory of Fire)

"This is an engaging, moving tale, told with passion and skill.  S.L. Farrell has created a world that captures the imagination, peopled it with complex, compelling characters, and imbued it with magic that is both believable and wondrous.  I recommend it." -- David B. Coe, author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle

"Very Highly Recommended... HOLDER OF LIGHTNING, an epic fantasy novel, is based on ancient Celtic tradition and legend yet is set in a realm that is subtly different." -- Under The Covers review Website

"S.L. Farrell has a knack for taking common motifs and twisting them into new, often disturbing shapes... Along with the personal and political upheavals, the return of magic brings to life many things of awe and beauty... Celtic mavens will love this book" -- Elizabeth Barrette reviewing for Hypatia's Hoard

"This first volume in 'The Cloudmages' series is an unusual Celtic fantasy set in a land of rival kingdoms skirmishing for power as a long-absent magic returns. [Farrell] spins an absorbing tale full of wonders, largely self-contained despite being only the first in a series." -- Carolyn Cushman for Locus Magazine

"Introducing a bold new voice in epic fantasy fiction. This multigenerational saga is set in the British Isles, rich with Celtic magic, ancient legends and unforgettable characters. " -- Columbus Metropolitan Library

"HOLDER OF LIGHTNING couples Celtic mythos with a richly detailed fantasy world. Redolent of a bardic tale with its unlikely heroine beset by enemies from all sides, Mr. Farrell's story has a unique cyclical magic energy waiting to be harnessed." -- Kelly Rae Cooper, Romantic Times Book Club

"Besides great, fast-paced fun, full of politicking and betrayal, Farrell's tale is a tragic love story with a surprisingly satisfying ending. " -- Paula Luedtke , Booklist (Amerian Library Association)

"A great beginning to a special series and I can't wait for the sequel." -- Henry Leon Lazarus, Center City's Weekly Press

"HOLDER OF LIGHTNING is Book 1 of the Cloudmages series, and is the first in an anticipated epic which, if this is any indication, will be a powerful set indeed.... Stong characterization." -- Midwest Books Review

"...has the power to capture the reader with its entertaining blend of Celtic magic, heroic and romantic characters, and dynamic plot." -- Jan Chapman reviewing for VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"If you like Celtic fantasy that spreads out a story like a huge blanket at a picnic and provides a feast to satisfy your imagination, then Holder of Lightning by S.L. Farrell may well be the book for you." -- Donna Scnalon reviewing for Rambles: A Cultural Arts Magazine


MAGE OF CLOUDS by S.L. Farrell -- DAW Books, January 2004 

"Farrell's second richly imagined Cloudmages fantasy...The author deftly manages Meriel's journey from the sheltered and innocent Banrion's daughter of the book's opening chapters to the grounded and powerful woman she will become - and from hostage to healer. Intriguing, fully developed characters abound... can only enhance Farrell's reputation as one of the rising stars of Celtic fantasy." -- Publisher's Weekly

"TOP PICK! ...Farrell offers up a beautifully written tale, intertwining Celtic mythology and epic fantasy, deftly managing political and romantic subplots that add depth and color to the story. Rich in detail and characterization, this novel will delight fans of complex fantasy fiction." -- Romantic Times Book Club

"The second book in the "Cloudmages" series, MAGE OF CLOUDS, is a tremendous fantasy... fantasy aficionados will greatly value this powerful book that ignores the middle syndrome with a powerful plot and deep cast." -- Review Centre (UK)

"Farrell creates a world filled with Celtic flavor and richly inventive back history and peoples it with strong male and female characters. Amid scenes of sorcerous rivalries and political maneuverings runs a story of a mother's love for her child and a woman's loyalty to her land and her magic. This sequel to Holder of Lightning is a strong addition to fantasy collections." -- Library Journal

"The second book in the "Cloudmages" series, MAGE OF CLOUDS, is a tremendous fantasy... Fantasy aficionados will greatly value this powerful book that ignores the middle syndrome with a powerful plot and deep cast." -- Books'n Bytes review website (


HEIR OF STONE by S.L. Farrell -- DAW Books, January 2005 

*Starred Review* “The third Cloudmages novel opens amid turmoil and rumors of war... Farrell's smashing series outdoes itself with each new volume. This one constitutes a wonderful tale of transformations, personal for Sevei and Kayne, global for the evolving consciousness of two species in conflict. Good enough to be cast in gold." -- Booklist, Paula Luedtke, Copyright © American Library Association.

"The grandchildren of Jenna Aoire, who first learned to wield the power of the star stones in 2002’s Holder of Lightning, face multiple challenges in the pseudonymous Farrell’s dense, literate third volume in his Cloudmages saga (after 2004’s Mage of Clouds), set in the Tuatha, a land much like medieval Ireland.... The author does such a good job of depicting Doyle, who illustrates the psychological costs of the classic Celtic feud mentality, that he almost takes over the novel. But there are plenty of other memorable characters... Farrell continues to shine as one of the strongest voices in the Celtic fantasy subgenre." -- Publishers Weekly

"In Heir of Stone, S.L. Farrell brings to a stunning climax the tale of three generations...  Their intertwined tales collide in a tumultuous and epic confrontation where the fate of the races of this complex and rich world will be decided." -- author Jim Ferguson

"S. L. Farrell has a solid third tale about magic flowing from the stars and caught by the stones of the Cloudmages... I love these tales." -- Henry Leon Lazarus for Center City Weekly Press (Philadelphia)


THE SHAPE OF SILENCE by Stephen Leigh -- Arc Manor / Phoenix Pick Books, 2011

(previously: THUNDER RIFT by Matthew Farrell, HarperCollins Eos, 2001)

"Thunderously good... Everything you could ask for in a science fiction adventure: a believable, complex protagonist; a brilliantly conceived alien society; and a well-paced story that never drags... It's hard to imagine a sequel that could top the original." --John C. Snider reviewing for SciFiDimensions

"Farrell gives us aliens that are both convincing and intriguing, and more importantly, who are different from human beings in ways that resonate with the deepest parts of ourselves." -- Greg Beatty reviewing for Strange Horizons

"There's all sorts of wonderful stuff... A lively, engaging novel..." --M.C.A. Hogarth reviewing for Stardancer

"...a fascinating study of an alien race and an alien viewpoint. Farrell is a much better writer than I am a reader." -- Eric Lindsay, reviewing for Gegenschein

"Farrell infuses his novel with a powerful message: there is no growth without change... scores a hit..." -- Kristin Chin, columnist for The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California)

"Exceptionally well crafted. The story arises, as the best ones usually do, from the unique interplay between people and places... THUNDER RIFT is an excellent novel... " --Elizabeth Barrette reviewing for Spicy Green Iguana

"Replete with adventure, mystery, and sociological conflict." -- Publishers Weekly



DARK WATER'S EMBRACE by Stephen Leigh -- Avon Eos, February 1998




"In his ambitious novel DARK WATER'S EMBRACE, Stephen Leigh has done an impressive job of world-building, with four separate -- and disparate -- cultures interacting over generations and even millennia. Aliens and humans and the soul of a dying machine weave an interesting matrix of function and dysfunction: Political, scientific, emotional, and sexual." - Joe Haldeman (Hugo and Nebula award-winning author)

"DARK WATER'S EMBRACE deals with issues of survival, sexuality, exploration, and the finding of wisdom. Stephen Leigh handles these complex matters with intelligence, dexterity, and never less than the full measure of compassion. In addition, DARK WATER'S EMBRACE is a splendid entertainment. You won't be disappointed." -Walter Jon Williams (Hugo and Nebula award-winning author)

"DARK WATER'S EMBRACE displays Stephen Leigh at the peak of his considerable powers." - Mike Resnick (Hugo and Nebula award-winning author)

"In DARK WATER'S EMBRACE, Stephen Leigh turns some of our basic assumptions about the world upside down and raises a host of interesting questions, which is exactly what sf is supposed to do." - Maureen McHugh (Hugo and Nebula award-winning author)

"DARK WATER'S EMBRACE is a thoughtful and lyrical story of gender differences and acceptance of Otherness. It's the type of science fiction that is rarely seen today, and the type of book that made us all science fiction readers. This book is a winner."- Melinda Snodgrass (author and award-winning scriptwriter for STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION)

"The fact is that Stephen Leigh's new novel is a fine piece of work and one that deserves to reach a wide readership." - Michael M. Levy, reviewing in the NY Review of Science Fiction, July 1998

"If the judges for the Lambda Award... will consider books that examine truly alternative sex roles, 'Dark Water's Embrace' will be a strong contender." - John R. Alden, reviewing in the Plain Dealer, 6/7/98

"Stephen Leigh has crafted a gripping picture of a harsh world and human intolerance." - Scott W. Schumack, reviewing in Starlog, July 1998

"An intelligent, carefully constructed novel with an interesting scientific puzzle..." - Don D'Ammassa, reviewing in Science Fiction Chronicle

" 'Dark Water's Embrace' is an intriguing, intelligent and thought provoking study of gender, society and the human will to survive against all odds. It is a novel that brings to mind the very best offered by Nicola Griffith, Melissa Scott, Sheri Tepper and Ursula K. LeGuin." - Patrick M. Heffernan, reviewing in Mysterious Galaxy.

"...this haunting and thought-provoking story belongs in most sf collections." - Library Journal, Feb. 15, 1998

" exciting novel from a well-respected writer. Once again, we have a work of fine science fiction which shows us how important biology is to our destiny." - Feminist Bookstore News, 1998


SPEAKING STONES by Stephen Leigh -- Avon Eos, February 1999


"Leigh's characters bring Mictlan's conflicts alive. Stubborn, loving, angry, conflicted, and most of all frightened, these players reveal a world where both species could lose by winning but where accommodation appears impossible. The resolution of this conflict, featuring both tragedy and hope, is rewarding indeed." - John R. Alden, reviewing in the Plain Dealer, Cleveland OH

"The richest and most complex novel Leigh has yet written, and one that you will remember long after you have finished reading it." - Don D'Ammassa in SF Chronicle

"Leigh's Mictlan is a fascinating world and the various human and Miccail cultures are both well-developed and highly believable. His characters, regardless of their species or their sexual apparatus are intensely human, given to making errors and capable of both love and hatred. Even his villains are well rounded... SPEAKING STONES stands on its own as one of the better planetary adventure novels published..." - Michael Levy in SFRA Review

"The world and the society created here are both fully realized... SPEAKING STONES is an ambitious novel... Leigh makes it work, and work well. I was curious, I was interested, and I was moved." -Jeri Wright, reviewing for THE SF SITE

"I've been waiting for this one... As usual, Leigh's characterization really shines; it's the characters and setting that drive the show. Take a look at all the nifty supporting material, too... Most highly recommended." - Elizabeth Barrette, reviewing for Hypatia's Hoard

"SPEAKING STONES is a mystery and adventure with a dose of science and surprise" - Sharon Wooton, reviewing in the Herald, Everett, WA

"The complex roots of cultural conflict are explored in this provocative sequel to DARK WATER'S EMBRACE..." - Locus Magazine

"...complex and involving... ...enough action to entertain, enough thought to intrigue, and enough characterization for the reader to care." - Pam Allan reviewing in ConNotations


ALIEN TONGUE by Stephen Leigh (Bantam Books, 1991)

"A solid, satisfying, intellectually interesting, well-crafted science fiction novel." - Norman Spinrad, award-winning author, reviewing in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

"This is lickety-split action-adventure science fiction, with some up-to-date sex and martial arts thrown in for good measure... Leigh has constructed his crackerjack plot with a fine eye." - Tim Sullivan reviewing in the Washington Post


THE ABRAXAS MARVEL CIRCUS by Stephen Leigh (Roc Books, 1990)

"Simply delightful, and lots of fun!" - Janice Eisen in Aboriginal Science Fiction

"...a real romp, with religion as discord, a comedy with totally insane Tarot characters, from several alternate worlds, in a contemporary world." - Eric Lindsay, Gegenshein


THE CRYSTAL MEMORY by Stephen Leigh (Avon Books, 1987)

"A blend of action, fantasy, and science fiction, with effective underpinnings of philosophy and history." - Bob Hahn, Cincinnati Enquirer


THE BONES OF GOD by Stephen Leigh (Avon Books, 1986)

"Here is science fiction at its most profound and relevant best." - T.N. Hackney, reviewing in Locus

"Complex, intriguing, unfailingly interesting... I recommend it enthusiastically!" - C. J. Cherryh, award-winning author

"It cost me an entire night's sleep... A mystic novel with a gritty and courageous sense of realism. The ending was absolutely perfect!" - L. Neil Smith, award-winning author

"This is a fascinating book, thoughtful and thought-provoking." - Sue Thomason, reviewing in Paperback Inferno



(Slow Fall To Dawn Bantam Book 1981; Dance of the Hag, Bantam Books 1983; A Quiet of Stone, Bantam Books 1984)

"Top 10 First Novel" (SLOW FALL TO DAWN): Locus Magazine

"A strong story about basic issues, about making choices..." - Tanya Huff, award-winning author

"Action, adventure, character, humor and a strong philosophical base: Stephen Leigh does it all!" - Janet Morris, award-winning author

"Leigh writes with an ornate, but very readable, style.... In this regard, [Slow Fall to Dawn] offers a better read than many contemporary SF novels twice its length."—The PorPor Books Blog



"The Atonement Tango" by Stephen Leigh (15,223 words,, January 20, 2017) "It's interesting to me just how many different styles and stories can be told in the Wild Cards setting. Just last month there was a much more YA-flavored story about growing up and tolerance and here we have a very different kind of story, thematically and content-wise. This story focuses on Drummer Boy, the drummer for a joker band who experiences a very traumatic event that sends him on a quest for revenge and recovery. This story has quite a bit of personal history and baggage to go along with it. It's a hard rock noir fantasy where the main character is a six-armed jaded rocker trying to make sense of his own feelings in the chaos following the event that changed his life so abruptly. The story is in other ways about taking stock and finding out how to survive and really appreciate life even when not dealing with near-death-experiences. The Wild Card phenomenon here is much like mutants in Marvel Comics, with some people born jokers and some who contract it later in life and some who become someone who can pass as normal but who has powers. It's a fascinating system and it creates this whole class of people who are visibly different, who are marginalized by that difference. I think the story does some interesting things with that, looking at the main character who is somewhat jaded and bitter about the ways in which the joker community is run and what they can accomplish in the face of hatred and violence. And it's a story about revenge and the cost of revenge, and what a person might lose when they decide to seek out vengeance. And as long as you're okay with treating the jokers as a simply metaphoric minority that doesn't tie directly into any real-world marginalized group, the story is fine and fun and tightly plotted and well-executed. [SPOILERS!!!] For me personally the story is a little triggering because of some certain recent-ish events of domestic terrorism targeting minorities and the media's treatment of those events and a narrative of self-loathing and religious ideology that leads to violence. I don't think the story does an awful job with the setup, but for me trying to follow the metaphors of persecution out from the story to the "real world," I stumbled a bit and quickly made myself retreat back to the fiction. In the world of the story, everything makes sense. And the story is an interesting and vivid look at an ugly situation that finds its heart in the right place. So yeah, an enjoyable read!" -- Quick Sip Reviews

2016 Locus Award for Best Anthology won by OLD VENUS, edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois -- which includes "Bones of Air, Bones of Stone" by Stephen Leigh

"Stephen Leigh’s ‘‘Bones of Air, Bones of Stone’’ plumbs the mysterious (literal) depths of Venusian religious beliefs and the human urge to go where nobody else has ever has – in this case, with good reason." -- Russell Letson for Locus Magazine, reviewing OLD VENUS, edited by Gardner Doizois and George RR Martin

"'The Bright Seas of Venus' by Stephen Leigh isn't the kind of story you would expect to be featured here as it stands out as one of the best in this issue. The title is deceptive as much as it is amusing and the entire short story (one of the shortest in here) is taken from the point of view of the writer, Stephen Leigh. I felt I had to pick out my two favourites from this first issue, and these were the ones that stood out for me, but there will be many who think differently."-- Sandra Scholes reviewing GALAXY'S EDGE #1 at the SF SITE

"Farrell's first-person voice is highly inflected with the second person, the way a DM (dungeon master, the one responsible for running the game) typically describes a situation to a player: "Oh, God, you think. More 'character development.' Get on with it already. You skip ahead a page." Farrell freely critiques his story as it unfurls, and somehow by downplaying it, he makes the scenario fresh and surprising." -- Ed Park reviewing "The Gods of Every Other Wednesday Night" in GAMER FANTASTIC for the LA Times

"My three favorites... Stephen Leigh's "Chaos Theory" hints that a woman's affection can change the course of a man's life, making him do things he would not otherwise have done. It is a gentle, understated story, for the most part.... These three stories were worth the time and small expense spent on the collection." -- John M. Ford reviewing TIME TWISTERS, edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg.

"Stephen Leigh's "You" is particularly striking, a first-rate, paranoia-indusing story about a quite different alien invasion." -- Rich Horton reviewing "You, by Anonymous" in I, ALIEN for Locus Magazine. Also on Locus's "Recommended Stories" list for the month.

"Stephen Leigh is next up, with a truly impressive piece of writing that examines the moral implications of tinkering with the genetic makeup of animals. Given a rudimentary intelligence, Leigh's Enhanced Canines (E.C.s or Easies) labour like slaves for humanity. When random breeding results in Madra, whose intelligence places him far above his peers, the supervising scientists consider whether they have the right to destroy him as a threat, unaware that the choice is no longer entirely in their hands... Speculative, original and entertaining, the story ends in a cracking cliff-hanger that will have you tearing your hair out in frustration." -- Martin Jenner reviewing "Among the Pack Alone" in SIRIUS: THE DOG STAR for online magazine SF Crow's Nest