New & Notable Books, July 2022
Ben Aaronovitch, Amongst Our Weapons (Orion; DAW 4/22) Time is tight in this ninth urban fantasy detective novel in the Rivers of London. DC Peter Grant has to stop a series of murders involving possibly magical rings, even as his river-goddess partner Beverley prepares to give birth to twins any day. The basic magical mystery is, as usual, delightfully strange and occasionally horrifying, while the pending births add a ticking deadline and some amusing bits, such as explaining why having a river give birth in a hospital is a bad idea, all adding up to a fun romp with some unexpected consequences in the end.
Kelley Armstrong, A Rip Through Time (Minotaur 5/22) A female homicide detective in 2019 gets attacked while visiting Edinburgh and ends up in the body of a murdered housemaid in the same spot in 1869 in this intense fantasy time-travel mystery novel, the first in a series. With the killer her only clue to getting home, Mallory Atkinson decides to track him down – while keeping her future knowledge secret. Striking characters, a twisty plot, and dealing with the sexism and racism of Victorian Edinburgh make this a stand-out among time-slip tales.
Holly Black, Book of Night (Tor 5/22; Del Rey UK 5/22) Black’s first adult novel is a gritty dark urban fantasy about a reformed thief who specialized in stealing from magicians for magicians who use shadows to get secrets and kill, and gets dragged back into the business by people searching for a secret to great and terrible power. With a novel world of shadow magic and tarot, high stakes adventure, and some real surprises, this is a treat for older fans of Black’s hugely popular YA books and readers of dark urban fantasy in general.
Isabel Cañas, The Hacienda (Berkley 5/22) A young bride deals with a haunted house in this tense gothic horror novel set in Mexico just after the Mexican War of Independence. Beatriz marries to claim her inheritance and escape cruel relatives, only to find something is terrifyingly wrong with her new home, and no one will help her. A first novel getting major buzz.
Paul Cornell, Rosebud (Tordotcom 4/22) Cornell spins a complicated web in this far-future SF novella about the survey ship Rosebud and its digital crew, who can take wildly varied forms. Things start amusingly strange and just get stranger, as the crew take new physical bodies to investigate a mysterious sphere in space. It’s a tricky tale to follow, with mysteries and lost memories and twists on first contact, but ‘‘no word is wasted here, and it builds into a moving story about what it means to be human, even after you have been transformed into a form that decidedly isn’t.’’ [Adrienne Martini]
Juno Dawson, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Penguin 5/22) This delightful contemporary urban fantasy novel follows a group of witches, childhood friends who once pledged together to join a covert government coven but instead went their separate ways, until a magical crisis strikes. The first adult novel by a noted UK young-adult author, this not only offers a thrilling plot and amusing banter but also explores feminism, gender, transphobia, and the special magic of friendship.
Scott Russell Duncan, Jenny Irizary, and Armando Rendón, eds., El Porvenir ¡Ya!: Citlalzazanilli Mexicatl (Somos en escrito Literary Foundation Press 1/22) An important anthology of 16 stories of speculative fiction by Mexican-American authors, from hard-SF to magic realism, centering Chicano characters (usually sidelined in SF), by authors ranging from veteran Ernest Hogan, who includes a powerful preface, to new voices. ‘‘A surprisingly comprehensive look at what contemporary Mexican-American science fiction has to offer.’’ [Gabino Iglesias]
Guy Gavriel Kay, All the Seas of the World (Berkley 5/22; Hodder & Stoughton 5/22; Viking Canada 5/22) Kay returns to his near-Renaissance Europe first introduced in A Brightness Long Ago for this largely standalone fantasy novel focused on two young people hired to assist in a simple assassination, but end up tangled in high-level intrigues that lead to war. ‘‘A model of clarity and focus, and… as rich a tapestry as we’ve come to expect from Kay – perhaps one of the richest.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Tim Pratt, Prison of Sleep (Angry Robot 4/22) Zaxony Delatree returns in this SF adventure novel, second and final in the Journals of Zaxony Delatree series. Tension builds as Zax learns he’s infected by an alien parasite; it’s what makes him jump between worlds when he sleeps, and it’s weakening the fabric of the multiverse with each jump – and a cult is spreading the parasite. Stopping it requires a frantic, high-stakes scramble to save the all the worlds, however weird or terrifying. A strong conclusion to an entertaining duology.
Tade Thompson, The Legacy of Molly Southbourne (Tordotcom 5/22) The horror trilogy begun in The Murders of Molly Southbourne comes to a bloody, but satisfying, conclusion in this final novella. The last copies of Molly thought they could finally escape their past, but old enemies turn up, willing to do anything to unearth their secrets.
From the July 2022 issue of Locus.
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