New & Notable Books, August 2021

Kalynn Bayron, This Poison Heart (Bloomsbury US & UK 6/21) Black girl magic and Greek myth infuse this young-adult contemporary fantasy novel about Briseis, an adopted teen with a power over plants that she hopes to learn to control when an unexpected inheritance gives her an estate full of deadly plants and secrets about her birth family.


J.S. Breukelaar, The Bridge (Meerkat Press 6/21) Meera, a part-human Made created by the misogynis­tic leader of a cult, manages to escape and start a new life, but seeks to recover lost memories and discover who she really is. Flashbacks gradually reveal the truth behind this spellbinding SF horror novel, set in an alternative present while drawing on elements of myth. “J.S. Breukelaar’s The Bridge may be a challenging read for some, but it is certainly a rewarding one… just don’t expect much to be laid out upfront.” [Paula Guran]

C. Robert Cargill, Day Zero (Harper Voyager US 5/21; Gollancz 5/21) A nannybot must choose be­tween his young human charge and the beginning robot revolution in this harrowing post-apocalyptic SF novel, a standalone prequel to Sea of Rust that both provides philosophical musings on intelligence, self, free will, and more, “while also providing a cinematic boatload of kinetically delivered cyber-smashing to get the reader’s pulse pounding as rapidly as his or her thoughts are flowing.” [Paul Di Filippo]

T.L. Huchu, The Library of the Dead (Tor 6/21) A secret library is just part of the wonders in this near-future, dark urban fantasy novel, the first in the Edinburgh Nights series about ghostalker Ropa, a young woman of Zimbabwean background who dropped out of school to learn how to talk to the dead, and investigates when she discovers something is sucking the souls out of children in Edinburgh. Originally published by Tor UK (2/21).


Marjorie Liu, The Tangleroot Palace (Tachyon 6/21) Liu’s latest, critically acclaimed collection offers seven dark fantasy stories of fascinating magic and dangerous women, with notes on the inspirations for each. “Liu’s dynamic writing style and clever story concepts are the real standouts – she is just as capable of producing evocative, romantic writing as she is pounding out gritty, electric scenes of violent revenge.” [Maya C. James]


Wil McCarthy, Rich Man’s Sky (Baen 4/21) Action, intrigue, and big ideas blend in this new novel from noted SF writer McCarthy, set in a near future where space has become the playground of a few wealthy men – and the Vatican. One dangerous space project that tampers with Earth’s weather so alarms Earth governments they send in an elite team of military women disguised as colonists to stop it, with some entertaining and thought-provoking results.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Return of the Sorcer­ess (Subterranean 6/21) Moreno-Garcia turns her considerable talents to classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy in this novella about the sorceress Yalxi, whose former lover stole her position and power, and she’s determined to get them back. A twisty fast- paced tale “subtly commenting on some familiar sword-and-sorcery conventions… a model of nar­rative efficiency… we wouldn’t mind seeing a good deal more of this gritty, treacherous world and its not-entirely-innocent sorceress.” [Gary K. Wolfe]

Benjamin Percy, The Ninth Metal (Mariner 6/21) A comet brings a meteor shower that changes life in a rural American town in this comics-inspired SF near-future thriller, the first in the Comet Cycle series. Meteors carrying a new energy-rich metal fall to Earth near Northfall MN, giving one man powers and triggering a “gold rush” that brings in hordes of disrespectful outsiders and some ruthless corporate invaders.


Helene Wecker, The Hidden Palace (Harper 6/21) Wecker returns to the characters of her critically ac­claimed historical fantasy novel The Golem and the Jinni. Once again mixing Jewish and Arab folklore, she follows the two supernatural creatures, now passing as human in early 20th-century New York City, who find their relationship challenged when others like them turn up.


Janeen Webb, The Gold-Jade Dragon (PS Publish­ing 4/21) The urbane, wealthy, and ruthless shape­shifting Hong Kong dragons return in this fantasy novel, sequel to novella The Dragon’s Child. The gold-jade dragon Long Wei, raised by humans and tainted by their emotions, has powers that threaten the dragon dynasty. To seize his rightful place he will stop at nothing – but neither will the other dragons.


From the August 2021 issue of Locus.

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