New Books: 1 June 2021
Blake, Adrienne: Pride and Paranormal
(City Owl Press 9781648980671, $14.99, 316pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, June 1, 2021)
Paranormal romance novel about witches and warlocks, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Boekweg, Sheena: A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions
(Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends 978-1-250-77098-1, $18.99, 352pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult alternate/secret-history SF novel set in a world where women manipulate history behind the scenes, and the four young women who compete to marry a young man who has been earmarked to become president.
Campbell, Tara: Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection
(Aqueduct Press $5.95, 92pp, formats: ebook, June 1, 2021)
Collection of horror stories following the themes of childhood dolls and toys. Book 80 in the Conversation Pieces series.
Catling, B.: Hollow
(Penguin Random House/Vintage 978-0-593-08115-0, $17, 272pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Fantasy novel, inspired in part on the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, about mercenaries transporting a sacred oracle in 16th-century Netherlands.
With lush, erudite prose and a large cast of darkly eccentric humans and monsters, this spellbinding slipstream novel from Catling (the Vorrh trilogy) feels like stepping into one of Hieronymus Bosch’s playfully macabre paintings—works which are aptly referenced in the novel’s second act. In a fantasy revisionist’s version of early 16th-century Netherlands, a troupe of ruffians transporting a malformed oracle and led by the fearsome Barry Follett travel across the wilderness and over Das Kagel, a mountain rumored to be the ruins of the Tower of Babel. Meanwhile, a young monk, Dominic, and his curmudgeonly mentor, Benedict, investigate the mysterious emergence of small demonic creatures called Filthlings and Woebegots, and a village woman, Meg, joins forces with unlikely allies to lead a witchy revolution against the Inquisition’s oppression. These braided threads grow ever tighter, slowly weaving a tapestry of the surreal and grotesque that culminates in a mostly satisfying climax that balances on the edge of hell. While some readers may grow frustrated with the uneven pacing and perfunctory ending, there’s no denying the fascinating otherworldly quality of Catling’s richly detailed novel. The result is historic, horrific, and phantasmagoric.
Chiles, Patrick: Frontier
(Baen 978-1982125417, $15.99, 384pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, June 1, 2021)
Hard SF novel, near future, set in the solar system featuring an officer in the US Space Force.
Edgmon, H.E.: The Witch King
(Harlequin/Inkyard Press 978-1335212795, $18.99, 432pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult fantasy novel, the first in a duology. Trans witch Wyatt is ripped from his adopted human family and force to face his role as the chosen mate of the future king of the fae.
Gear, W. Michael: Adrift
(DAW 978-0-7564-1716-1, $29, 512pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
SF novel, fifth in the Donovan series. A Maritime Unit of scientists from Earth settles happily on a reef far from shore, not realizing the planet is changing their children into weapons.
Griffin, Rachel: The Nature of Witches
(Sourcebooks Fire 978-1728229423, $17.99, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult fantasy novel. Clara is the first Everwitch in more than a century, but she’s afraid to use her powers, much needed to help fight extreme weather events.
Harrison, Lisi: The Pack
(Penguin Random House/Delacorte 978-0-593-18070-9, $16.99, 208pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Middle-grade fantasy novel. Sadie Samson’s anger issues get her sent to Charm House, a boarding school for girls with animal spirits known as lights, and her rare lion light gets her into a popular clique.
Hedlund, Jody: Come Back to Me
(Baker Publishing Group/Revell 978-0-8007-3843-3, $29.99, 352pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Fantasy time-travel novel, the first in the Waters of Time series. Skeptical scientist Marian Creighton ingests ancient holy water and gets transported back to the Middle Ages.
Henry, Veronica G.: Bacchanal
(Amazon/47North 978-1-542027816, $24.95, 352pp, formats: trade paperback, hardcover, digital, audio, June 1, 2021)
Fantasy novel about a 1930s carnival in the American South, joined by a young Black woman with a gift for communicating with animals.
Jones, Nick: The Shadows of London
(Blackstone Publishing 978-1-66504-200-0, $26.99, 350pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Time travel fantasy novel, the second in the Joseph Bridgeman series. A stranger blackmails Joe into traveling back to 1960s London to stop a murder. This is updated and significantly revised and expanded from Joseph Bridgeman and the Silver Hunter (self-published 2018).
A time traveler ready to settle into a new home and a new reality is convinced to return to the past to prevent a gang murder.
Having traveled back in time to rescue his sister Amy from her mysterious childhood disappearance in And Then She Vanished (2021), Joseph Bridgeman is in no rush to return to the past, even when friendly William P. Brown comes to Joe’s antiques shop and offers to be his time-travel mentor. Joe’s having enough trouble reconciling his new life. When he saved Amy, the previous version of him disappeared, and now he’s trying to fit into the alternate Joe’s timeline. The Joe who grew up with Amy was the family golden child, a little less reticent and a lot more into making big deals. And don’t even start on the differences in his relationships with women: Joe had been spending a lot of time with Alexia Finch, and now he’s evicting her. Alternate world Joe strikes again! Joe and Amy are pretending that Joe’s suffering amnesia after a bike accident to explain his total lack of recognition of his old life and ways, but Brown isn’t confused when he confronts Joe about messing around with the past. In fact, Brown, who isn’t as friendly as he seems, is determined to press Joe into returning to the past to save a woman offed by gangsters. Joe thinks his time-travel days have ended, but when Brown threatens to restore Amy to her own past, Joe has no choice but to take the case and travel back to 1963 to see what he can do. Surprisingly, most of the focus is on the present, which is easier for those who know the characters’ history to understand.
Travels to the past drive the plot, but it’s the complexity of the present that makes this book worth spending time with.
Lake, Joss: Future Feeling
(Soft Skull Press 978-1593766887, $16.95, 304pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Alternate-future fantasy novel. Penfield, a resentful trans dog walker, accidentally curses the wrong trans man, and must travel to the Shadowlands to rescue him.
Lin, Tom: The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu
(Little, Brown 978-0-316-54215-9, $28, 288pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Historical novel with fantasy elements. A post-Civil War novel about an Asian man in the American west, seeking revenge and his missing wife, getting involved with a magical circus.
The orphaned son of Chinese immigrants, Ming Tsu is raised by the leader of a California crime syndicate and later elopes with Ada, the daughter of a railroad magnate. When the magnate’s henchmen kidnap Ada and put Ming to work on the Union Pacific Railroad, he’s out for revenge. An intriguing debut billed as a thriller, a romance, a Chinese American-inflected Western, and an 1860s-set redemption story with Cormac McCarthy overtones.
Marr, Melissa: The Hidden Knife
(Penguin Random House/Nancy Paulsen 978-0525518525, $17.99, 272pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Middle-grade fantasy novel. Twenty years ago a door opened to a magical world, allowing entry of all kinds of magical creatures, some harmful, some helpful. Young Vicky grows up under the watchful eye of a wise gargoyle, as her mother shields her from secrets that a tragedy will soon bring to light. Ages 10-13.
Morrow, Bethany C.: A Chorus Rises
(Tor Teen 978-1-250-31603-5, $17.99, 272pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult contemporary fantasy novel, sequel to A Song Below Water, about black mermaids facing prejudice in a Portland, Oregon full of magical beings.
In A Chorus Rises, sequel to A Song Below Water, Bethany C. Morrow continues to give her penetrating attention to the hazards young Black women face when they possess a significant amount of magic and power. Following closely on the heels of the earlier book’s shattering finale, A Chorus Rises picks up the story from a surprising point of view.
[. . .]
While not as action-packed as the first book, A Chorus Rises is a singular triumph. The resounding truth the author shares echoes from every page and Naema, the girl we once loved to hate, easily becomes a charismatic and appealing protagonist whom readers will celebrate.
–Colleen Mondor, Locus, June 2021
Murphy, Sara Flannery: Girl One
(Macmillan/Farrar, Straus, Giroux/MCD 978-0374601744, $27, 368pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Thriller set in an alternate about a woman born through an experiment in female asexual reproduction, who learns that others like her have supernatural powers.
North, Phoebe: Strange Creatures
(HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-284115-5, $17.99, 544pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult fantasy mystery novel. Annie believes her missing brother has somehow entered their childhood fantasy world.
Percy, Benjamin: The Ninth Metal
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner 978-0358331537, $25, 304pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, audio, June 1, 2021)
Near-future SF thriller, the first in the Comet Cycle series. A meteor shower brings a powerful new metal to Earth, giving one man new powers while triggering a “gold rush” in the American Midwest, attracting cultists and profiteers.
Ringo, John, Poole, Gary, eds.: We Shall Rise
(Baen 978-1982125585, $25, 304pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, June 1, 2021)
Original anthology of stories about survival in a zombie apocalypse, set in the Black Tide Rising series originated by Ringo. Authors include Kevin J. Anderson, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael Z. Williamson and Stephanie Osborn, Mike Massa, Lydia Sherrer, and more.
Schrefer, Eliot: The Darkness Outside Us
(HarperCollins/Tegen Books 978-0-06-288828-0, $17.99, 416pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult SF mystery novel about two boys in a spaceship on a rescue mission.
Scott, Melissa: Water Horse
(Candlemark & Gleam 978-1-952456-01-5, $24.45, 502pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, June 1, 2021)
Fantasy novel. A king engages in alliances with a mixed group to protect his lands from puritanical invaders. Illustrated by Eleni Tsami.
Vo, Nghi: The Chosen and the Beautiful
(Tordotcom 978-1-250-78478-0, $26.99, 272pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Fantasy novel, a queer, magical reimagining of The Great Gatsby set in the 1920s, following a queer, Asian enchantress with all the advantages but still treated as an exotic oddity.
What I didn’t expect was a fantasy novel that not only treats Gatsby with respect, but that ingeniously makes use of Fitzgerald’s plot and even swatches of his dialogue, not to critique or parody the original, but to find ways of expanding its scope to address contemporary anxieties. Nghi Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful does all of this. Being queer, being an outsider, being Asian, being a woman – these may not have been much on Fitzgerald’s mind, but they make sense in terms of Fitzgerald’s overall critique of American values, and at times they fit in almost seamlessly with that critique.
—Gary Wolfe, Locus, June 2021
Weber, David, Fox, Richard: Governor
(Baen $9.99, formats: ebook, June 1, 2021)
SF novel, first in the Ascent to Empire series. Rear Admiral Terrence Murphy is a Heart Worlder. His family is part of the Five Hundred. His wife is the daughter of one of the Five Hundred’s wealthiest, most powerful industrialists. His sons and his daughter can easily avoid military service, and political power is his for the taking. There is no end to how high he can rise in the Republic’s power structure.
All he has to do is successfully complete a risk-free military “governorship” in the backwater Fringe System of New Dublin without rocking the boat. But the people sending him to New Dublin have miscalculated, because Terrence Murphy is a man who believes in honor. Who believes in duty—in common decency and responsibility. Who believes there are dark and dangerous secrets behind the façade of what “everyone knows.” Terrence Murphy intends to meet those responsibilities, to unearth those secrets, and he doesn’t much care what the Five Hundred want.
Wilber, Rick: Alien Day
(Tor 978-1-250-26024-6, $29.99, 256pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, June 1, 2021)
Near-future SF novel in the S’hudonni universe, sequel to Alien Morning.
Will Peter Holman rescue his sister Kait, or will she be the one to rescue him? Will Chloe Cary revive her acting career with the help of the princeling Treble, or will the insurgents take both their lives? Will Whistle or Twoclicks wind up in charge of Earth, and how will the Mother, who runs all of S’hudon, choose between them? And the most important question of all: who are the Old Ones that left all that technology behind for the S’hudonni… and what if they come back?
Wilde, Fran: The Ship of Stolen Words
(Abrams/Amulet 978-1419749506, $17.99, 400pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Middle-grade fantasy adventure novel. Goblins steal a boy’s ability to apologize and he undertakes a quest to get his “sorry” back.
Wilde (Riverland) explores the meaning of words, intent, and sincerity in a quickly paced portal fantasy that’s both imaginative and thoughtful. When a chance encounter with a word-stealing goblin renders 11-and-a-half-year-old Sam Culver, cued as white, incapable of apologizing, he begins to understand language’s power. While he’s always used “”sorry”” as an insincere get-out-of-trouble card, he finds himself in hot water when he can’t say it for real to his best friend, brown-skinned Mason, after hurting her feelings at school. His attempts to recover the missing phrase lead him through a portal into the marshlands, where carelessly used and misplaced words mined from Earth are used for myriad purposes, including technological advancement and industrialization. Now Sam must work with Tolver, the goblin who took his regrets, to stop a ruthless cabal of word prospectors before they swipe every empty utterance from his home. Sam’s attempts to repair his friendship with Mason, bond with five-year-old sister Bella, and learn to trust Tolver emphasize friends and family, while Wilde’s depiction of the marshlands’ struggle with ethical sustainability presents a fascinating setting worth further development. A great tale for any word-loving adventure seeker. Ages 8-12.
Wright, Jaime Jo: On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor
(Baker Publishing Group/Bethany House 978-0-7642-3390-6, $29.99, 368pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Haunted house novel set in the present and past. In 1885, Adria Fontaine is sent to a massive estate to search for stolen gold her father hid there during the Civil War, while in the present, a nurse tries to figure out how to put the manor’s ghosts to rest.
Yoon, Nicola: Instructions for Dancing
(Penguin Random House/Delacorte 978-1524718961, $19.99, 304pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, June 1, 2021)
Young-adult romance novel about ballroom dancing and a teen who swears off love, but then gets the power to see the fate of others’ romances.