New & Notable Books, September 2021

Matt Bell, Appleseed (Custom House 7/21) A tripartate literary science fantasy novel that imagines Chapman/Johnny Appleseed as a faun, and spans the centuries from 18th-century Ohio to a climate-change-wracked wasteland in 2070 to a high-tech ice age 1,000 years in the future. ‘‘A thoughtful, energetic, and at times almost visionary achievement.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


Octavia Cade, The Impossible Resurrection of Grief (Stelliform 5/21) Climate change causes an epidemic of “Grief,” a cycle of depression and guilt that leads to suicide. To negate the effects, humanity creates simulacra of extinct species with the plan of releasing them into the wild. “Provocative and dis­turbing, and often quite powerful.” [Gary K. Wolfe]


Ramsey Campbell, Somebody’s Voice (Flame Tree 6/21) This master of horror presents a tale sure to resonate with authors: Alex Grand ghostwrites a memoir for an abuse victim, but learns that the victim isn’t a reliable narrator, triggering contem­plations about the writing process, the nature of truth, and paranoia.


Castro, Queen of the Cicadas (Flame Tree 6/21) A wedding venue in Texas is haunted by La Reina de las Chicharras. To investigate the curse, Belinda relies on psychics, psychonauts, and healthy doses of hallucinogenic mushrooms. “Effective use of Mexican culture and mythology, women-oriented elements, a theme of perseverance, and the con­demnation of racism.” [Paula Guran]


Becky Chambers, A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Tordotcom 7/21) Chambers begins a new far-future SF series, this one about a monk who serves the God of Small Comforts, and a wild-built robot on a mission. “An engaging work that is comforting without being saccharine…. Somehow, it all comes together delightfully.” [Adrienne Martini]


Jeffrey Ford, Big Dark Hole (Small Beer 7/21) Ford’s collection of new stories includes three new, and offers his usual uncanny, unsettling settings, replete with unreliable narrators. “It’s not so much that Ford drags you into the weird in these 15 col­lected stories, it’s that the weird seems to be a quite natural place to be.” [Paula Guran]


Yan Ge, Strange Beasts of China (Tilted Axis 11/20; Melville House 7/21) This fantasy in nine parts was published in China in 2006 (translated by Jeremy Tiang), and concerns a cryptozoolist studying creatures from folklore who live along­side humans. “A wildly imaginative and socially conscious novel that’s well worth your time.” [Ian Mond]


Shirley Jackson, The Letters of Shirley Jackson (Random House 7/21) This collects unpublished correspondence from the legendary author of hor­ror, mystery, and the psychologically unsettling, edited by Jackson’s son Laurence Jackson Hyman. Spanning three decades, from her time in college to just days before her death, it provides rich insight into her work and life, and includes a biographical introduction by the editor.


Jenn Lyons, The House of Always (Tor 5/21) Lyons burst onto the scene in 2019 with a Ruin of Kings, first in the A Chorus of Dragons series, which rapidly become a phenomenon in the world of epic fantasy. Volume four, The House of Always, deals with the aftermath of a catastrophic battle among the gods and our hero Kihrin’s desperate efforts to save his friends and prevent the ascension of an evil deity.


Nana Nkweti, Walking on Cowrie Shells (Gray­wolf Press 6/21) This debut collection by an ambi­tious literary author includes 10 stories, four origi­nal, which range widely across genres, including elements of mystery, myth, and horror. The tales, set in the US and in Africa, are often enriched by Cameroonian lore, and have garnered rave reviews from major publications.


Shelley Parker-Chan, She Who Became the Sun (Tor 7/21) This stunning debut fantasy, first in the Radiant Empire series set in an alternate 14th-century China, is about Zhu, a peasant girl who adopts her dead brother’s identity in an attempt to trick fate. “ Mythic and transcendent, practically unprecedented in historical fantasy…. I can’t think of another novel that attempts the same kind of re-imagining, and especially not such a queer re-imagining.” [Liz Bourke]


Chuck Wendig, The Book of Accidents (Del Rey 7/21) Wendig’s work has only grown stronger from book to book, and this horror novel marks a new high point: a man moves with his family to his childhood home in rural Pennsylvania, where he wrestles with painful memories… and the intrusion of hostile alternate realities. “Pushes against the boundaries of the genre and shows that Wendig is one of the most entertaining voices in contemporary fiction.” [Gabino Iglesias]


From the September 2021 issue of Locus.

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