Reviews

BROKEN SUN, BROKEN MOON:

It is a cliché to refer to an author as “painterly” or possessing a “painter’s eye,” but sometimes the comparison is too apt to pass up. In his first collection of short fiction, novelist Brent Hayward truly brings a painter’s sensibility to a series of fractured landscapes, implanting in the reader’s imagination textured images — often of bodily metamorphosis and mutilation — that linger long after the stories’ plots and characters have faded… Hayward sharpens these word-pictures by dropping the reader into fully realized alternative worlds that blend elements of sci-fi, noir, horror, and dark fantasy, forcing us to negotiate alien landscapes through the limited information available to the story’s protagonist. Rich descriptions often replace character development and interaction. The effect is jarring and deeply immersive.
James Grainger, The Toronto Star

Hayward’s postcards from the scary and stupid towns of a dark age ahead should lead us to reconsider what it is we’re wishing for.
Alex GoodCanadian Notes and Quarterly


HEAD FULL OF MOUNTAINS:

Toronto’s Brent Hayward has a knack for creating incredibly lush alternative worlds and mythologies, and HEAD FULL OF MOUNTAINS may be his most complex and demanding work yet… [The protagonist's] journey suggests an allegory of human development progressing through different stages of life, but readers will probably come up with many other interpretations as well, perhaps seeing in it a nightmare of isolated and introverted consciousness, or the endgame of technologies that have left humanity behind. The result is one of the more different and difficult SF novels of the year, but also one of the most rewarding.
The Toronto Star

[I]t was only later that night when I could not sleep due to the novel almost haunting me that I came to truly appreciate just how good HEAD FULL OF MOUNTAINS really is.
Josef Hernandez, Minneapolis Books Examiner

I’ve already written about Brent Hayward, who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. His HEAD FULL OF MOUNTAINS does not disappoint in the least. Among the many “forgotten generation ship” stories that I’ve read (and I have a thing for that sub-genre, so I’ve read quite a few), this one really stands out as a shining example of how to write bold, beautiful prose that doesn’t patronize its reader with pages and pages of exposition, that thrusts you headlong into an alien, confusing, truly future world and lets you swim with the current, trying to discover by yourself what is happening and how things work, through the experiences of the protagonist… Hayward, thankfully, does not throw us the tired “woke up with amnesia” trope, the journey of discovery is predicated on the protagonist’s limited worldview, and secondly, that this is a truly forgotten generation ship, the last refuge of mankind in a future that functions as incomprehensibly to us as our modern society would to a caveman. Yet, in all this otherworldly strangeness, Hayward masterfully manages to retain the reader’s interest, in both characters and plot. Even then, the read is not an easy one, but if you are looking for challenging, poetic, and above all different fareyou will enjoy it immensely.
Screaming Planet

Just finished this shit, and it’s as awesome as something awesome having sex with an even more awesome thing and making the MOST AWESOME baby ever. Brent Hayward evokes all the vast, echoing, lonely things in humanity’s future. He demands your wonder and discomfort, sending you on a trip through an ornately decaying interior landscape — an enclosed world that exists on the verge of death, shuddering and clanking around its broken inhabitants like a faltering mechanical lung. HEAD FULL OF MOUNTAINS is a dark, dangerously compelling work from one of the most impressive wordsmiths in science fiction.
Zachjary Jernigan, author of No Return


THE FECUND’S MELANCHOLY DAUGHTER:

Beautifully written and morally ambivalent, this complex tale will appeal to readers of Gene Wolfe and China Miéville.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

[Brent Hayward]‘s second novel combines elegant writing with moral ambiguity and an impressive array of grotesque characters.
Locus

I’ll be honest out front: this one’s a tough nut to describe. It’s dark fantasy melded so strangely and fluidly with science fiction that finding a familiar comparison is nearly impossible. Therein lies the appeal, I think. Like Hayward’s debut, FILARIA, this is ground-breakingly odd fiction that challenges the intellect and distills images in the mind’s eye so indelibly that it’s nearly a shock to enter the waking world again.
Zachjary Jernigan, author of No Return

THE FECUND’S MELANCHOLY DAUGHTER defies every rule on world building and character development I’ve ever learned, and, somehow, it’s a breathtaking success of a fantasy story. Find yourself a copy, brew some strong coffee, and allow your mind to be blown.
The Arcanist

By turns surreal, macabre and stunningly violent, THE FECUND’S MELANCHOLY DAUGHTER is dreamlike in its strangeness and complexity. Like a dream, it is difficult to define and difficult to shake. The imagery lingers like archetypes dredged up from the sleeping mind.
Mark D. Dunn, The Globe and Mail

Hayward’s tale launches head-first into the puzzling dark fantasy world that he has so intrinsically created here. Like a Salvador Dalí masterpiece transposed into words
Chris Hall, DLS Reviews

The character development is excellent and is never overdone… There is nothing predictable or cliché here. THE FECUND’S MELANCHOLY DAUGHTER is a wonderful and entertaining read.
Colleen Wanglund, The Horror Fiction Review

THE FECUND’S MELANCHOLY DAUGHTER is a very effective piece of storytelling, but the story it tells is an unconventional one… [t]hose willing to engage with the novel on its terms will find this to be an intriguing and well-written fantasy from a very promising author.
Matt Hilliard, Strange Horizons


FILARIA:

Hayward’s debut is a powerful, beautifully-written dystopian tale…
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From its gorgeous cover to the typesetting, FILARIA looks and feels like a book that should have been published by a major house– no small feat for the first outing of a start-up publisher. But looks aside, the true wonders of the novel lurk within… FILARIA is a startlingly original and unsettling vision of humanity’s possible future, blending post-apocalyptic SF with the suspense and weirdness of Lovecraftian horror.
Chadwick Ginther, McNally Robinson

FILARIA is, in its concision and oddly disturbing grace, one of the finest debuts written in the last decade– in the sff genre or any other genre. For a fast reader, it could be consumed in nearly a breath, but this would be to miss the point entirely. This is a book meant to be examined, to be known.
Zachjary Jernigan, author of No Return

FILARIA is simply one of the best books written in the last decade and is the best science fiction/fantasy book that I have read in a long time.
Josef Hernandez, Minneapolis Books Examiner

FILARIA is a great read, crackling with invention, energy, and suspense.
Alex Good, Quill & Quire

[FILARIA] handles the basics of entertaining storytelling so well, balancing plot, character, setting, prose, and pacing, while encompassing core themes of both SF and horror… The spotlight is front and center on human nature: how tenuous the human species is, the things we do that compromise our own chances, and the self-destroying roles we force individuals to play in our fight for survival.
Matt Denault, Strange Horizons

A disquieting, claustrophobic, compelling hybrid of China Miéville and J.G.Ballard. I first read FILARIA almost two years ago: its subterranean imagery has been stuck in my midbrain ever since.
Peter Watts, Hugo winning author of The Island and Blindsight

FILARIA has adventure, sense of wonder, love, excitement and the characters’ arcs are very well done and quite moving.
Liviu Suciu, Fantasy Book Critic

FILARIA might be described as a Gothic Science Fiction. It’s Titus Groan riding in an electric car… If William Gibson or Bruce Sterling wrote a fairy tale it might be a little like this.
Steven Sudach, Horrorscope