New & Notable Books, March 2023
Dahlia Adler, ed., At Midnight (Flatiron 11/22) Familiar fairy tales get diverse and globally inclusive retellings in this young-adult original anthology of 14 tales, reimagined by noted YA authors including Tracy Deonn, H.E. Edgmon, Hafsah Faizal, Darcie Little Badger, Malinda Lo, and Rory Power. For comparison, this includes the original versions of the tales, most from notably male authors Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Charles Perrault.
Leigh Bardugo, Hell Bent (Flatiron 1/23) This dark fantasy/horror novel, sequel to Ninth House, has been getting lots of critical praise for its mix of grisly action, dark magic, entitled academics, and wit. Alex Stern has been forbidden to rescue Darlington from hell, but she’s willing to risk her future at Yale to try – then faculty members start to die off, making it clear the problem’s bigger than it seemed, and rooted in the university and its secret societies.
Blitz Bazawule, The Scent of Burnt Flowers (Ballantine 6/22) A Black couple flees 1960s America for a fresh start in Ghana, but find new dangers: culture shock, political intrigue, secrets, lust, jealousy – and magic. A vivid, hypnotic first novel getting plenty of critical praise for Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist Bazawule.
Brandon Ying Kit Boey, Karma of the Sun (CamCat 1/23) This apocalyptic fantasy novel offers a refreshing non-Western take on the end of the world, set in the Himalayas where young Karma, scorned as the son of a scoundrel, is declared a chosen one by a shaman, and sent on a quest full of colorful encounters. “Karma of the Sun is a much-needed and welcome shot-in-the-arm to apocalypse fiction… a not-to-miss debut from a ridiculously talented newcomer.” [Caren Gussoff Sumption]
Marisa Crane, I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself (Catapult 1/23) Fantasy mixes with near-future dystopia in this first novel set in a surveillance state where wrongdoers are given an extra shadow for every transgression and then marginalized by society. The story follows a mother who tries to appeal, or somehow mitigate, the judgement against her daughter, who “killed” her other mother in childbirth. Strong characters bring the story to life in this “ferocious, passionate novel about the importance of community… of allies who are willing to stand against oppression and hate.” [Ian Mond]
Greg Egan, Scale (self-published 1/23) Egan once again bends science to a fantastic concept: instead of race or religion, people come in scale, some many times larger or smaller than others, but all weighing effectively the same. In this SF mystery, a PI investigates a disappearance linked to new technology that could change the balance of power between scales. “Scale is rewarding, intriguing, and ultimately highly enjoyable, and while maybe I wouldn’t suggest it as your entry to Greg Egan’s work, it’s a marvellous example of how seemingly bizarre ideas can be turned into an excellent novel.” [Alexandra Pierce]
Hadeer Elsbai, The Daughters of Izdihar (Harper Voyager US 1/23) Elsbai’s first novel, the first book in the Alamaxa duology, is a passionate feminist fantasy inspired by Egypt, following two young women with very different lives, drawn together by their elemental magic, disapproved of in women, leading them to become involved in the struggle for women’s rights.
Jessica Johns, Bad Cree (Doubleday 1/23; HarperCollins Canada 1/23) Bad dreams that seem to mix with reality drive a Cree woman, grieving and guilt-ridden, back to her family in Alberta, thinking there’s something wrong with her, but her aunties decide she’s under attack by an evil spirit. A chilling first novel mixing Cree lore, horror, and the pain and power of community.
Annalee Newitz, The Terraformers (Tor 1/23) This far-future posthuman multigenerational epic looks at making a distant planet habitable over 5,000 years, focusing on the genetically altered workers, a population constantly changing to meet new needs.”There’s a refreshingly playful sensibility at work here, while at the same time Newitz offers a deeply serious critique of capitalism as a mechanism for environmental management.” [Gary K. Wolfe]
Andrea Rogers, Man Made Monsters (Levine Querido 10/22) Rogers offers a fascinatingly varied trip through time in this genre-infused young-adult collection with 17 horror stories, nine new, following one extended Cherokee family from past to future, with horrors ranging from the supernatural (werewolves, vampires, zombies) and mythic to all too human (colonization, the Vietnam War).
From the March 2023 issue of Locus.
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