New Books: 16 May 2023

Ampuero, María Fernanda: Human Sacrifices (Feminist Press at CUNY, The 9781558612083, $15.95, 144pp, formats: trade paperback, 5/16/2023)

Original collection of 12 stories, translated from the Spanish Sacrificios humanos (Páginas de Espuma 2021) by Frances Riddle. Simultaneously terrifying and exquisite, Human Sacrifices is “tropical gothic” at its finest―decay and oppression underlie our humid and hostile world, where working-class women and children are consistently the weakest links in a capitalist economy. Against this backdrop of corrosion and rot, 12 stories contemplate the nature of exploitation and abuse.


Beagle, Peter S.: The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 2: Oakland Dragon Blues and Other Stories (Tachyon Publications 9781616963903, $28.95, 352pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, 5/16/2023)

Collection. The essential second volume of bestselling author Peter S. Beagle’s short stories, including one previously unpublished and four uncollected stories, shows again that Beagle is one of America’s most influential fantasists. With his celebrated versatility, humor, and grace, Beagle is at home in a dazzling variety of subgenres. This career retrospective celebrates Beagle’s mastery of the short story form.


Black, Virginia: Consecrated Ground (Bywater Books , $18.85, 249pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 2/7/2023)

Multiracial lesbian dark-fantasy romance novel. Like her father before her, Joan Matthews is a witch. For generations, their family of binder witches has protected Calvert, Oregon from vampires by strengthening the land with spellcraft. Pushing back against tradition, Joan defied her father and left town to become a war witch, one who fights the monsters hand-to-hand. But when her father dies, Joan returns to find her hometown assailed by a vampire lord’s endless attacks—and the answers lie with the one woman who chose a rival over Joan.


Boyle, T.C.: Blue Skies (Norton/Liveright 9781324093022, $30.00, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Satirical literary near-future SF/climate fiction novel. Denied a dog, a baby, and even a faithful fiancé, Cat suddenly craves a snake: a glistening, writhing creature that can be worn like “jewelry, living jewelry” to match her black jeans. When the budding social media star promptly loses the young “Burmie” she buys from a local pet store, she inadvertently sets in motion a chain of increasingly dire and outrageous events that comes to threaten her very survival.


Burke, Sue: Dual Memory (Tor 9781250809131, $29.99, , formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Science fiction novel. Antonio Moro lost everything to the Leviathan League. Now he’s alone in a city on an Arctic island fighting the ruthless, global pirates for the chance to be the artist he always wanted to be. When things look bleak, he discovers an unusual ally: his new personal assistant program, Par Augustus. It’s insolent, extroverted, moody, and a not-quite-legal nascent A.I. Together they create a secret rebellion from unlikely recruits to defend the island from ideological pirates with entitlement and guns, and capitalist pirates with entitlement and money.


Cervantes, J.C.: The Enchanted Hacienda (HarperCollins/Park Row Books 9780778334057, $30.00, 368pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Fantasy novel. The Estrada family farm in Mexico houses an abundance of charmed flowers cultivated by Harlow’s mother, sisters, aunt, and cousins. By harnessing the magic in these flowers, they can heal hearts, erase memories, interpret dreams—but not Harlow. So when her mother and aunt give her a special task involving the family’s magic, she panics.


Davis, G. Garonm ed,: Transmogrify! (HarperTeen 9780063218796, $18.99, 416pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Original anthology of 14 stories of trans and gender nonconforming fantasy. Transness is as varied and colorful as magic can be. Transmogrify! comprises 14 different adventures alongside unforgettable characters, who embody many different genders and expressions and experiences.


Haines, Carolyn: Tell-Tale Bones (St. Martin’s/Minotaur 9781250885852, $28.00, 352pp, formats: hardcover, and ebook, 5/16/2023)

Mystery novel with psychic/ghost elements. Private Investigator Sarah Booth Delaney and her partner Tinkie are in Sheriff Coleman Peters’s office, consulting Coleman about cold cases, when Elisa Redd storms in with a case of her own. She wants Coleman to reopen the investigation of her missing daughter, Lydia Redd Maxell, the heiress to a large fortune who disappeared along with her friend Bethany nearly seven years ago. Lydia and Bethany were rumored to be working as human rights organizers abroad, but Elisa suspects Lydia’s problems might have stemmed closer to home. Now Lydia’s husband, Tope, is set to inherit the fortune, and Elisa believes he’s behind the disappearance.


Harkaway, Nick: Titanium Noir (Penguin Random House/Knopf 9780593535363, $28.00, 256pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Near-future science fiction detective novel about a detective investigating the murder of a Titan, one of the genetically enhanced elites. Cal Sounder is a detective working for the police on certain very sensitive cases. So when he’s called in to investigate a homicide at a local apartment, he’s surprised by the routineness of it all. Cal soon learns that the victim—Roddy Tebbit, an otherwise milquetoast techie—is well over seven feet tall. And although he doesn’t look a day over 30, he is 91 years old. Tebbit is a Titan—one of this dystopian, near-future society’s genetically altered elites.


Hightower, Ross: Argren Blue (Black Rose Writing 9781685131982, $24.95, 436pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 5/18/2023)

Fantasy novel. When Alar joined the resistance, he dreamed of throwing the imperial oppressors out of Argren. But as the inexperienced rebels reel from one disaster to another, Alar wonders if the Empire notices them at all. Until the day he discovers he has powers not seen since the great heroes of the past.


Kuang, R.F.: Yellowface (HarperCollins/Morrow 9780063250833, $30.00, 336pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, and audio, 5/16/2023)

Fantasy novel. Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks. So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I. So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller?


Mohamed, Premee: No One Will Come Back for Us (Undertow 9781988964423, $18.99, 290pp, formats: trade paperback, and ebook, 5/16/2023)

Collection of stories of dark fantasy and contemporary cosmic horror. Here there be gods and monsters  forged from flesh and stone and vengeance—emerging from the icy abyss of deep space, ascending from dark oceans, and prowling strange cities to enter worlds of chaos and wonder, where scientific rigor and human endeavour is tested to the limits.


Nye, Jody Lynn & Dean Wesley Smith: L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39 (Galaxy 9781619867680, $22.95, 496pp, formats: trade paperback, and ebook, 6/28/2023)

Original anthology. The fate of the universe is on the line—and you’re about to go all in. Saving the mammoths is in your hands—can you conjure the magic to make it happen? You’ve got a monster BFF—whom you’re hiding from your own monster-hunting family. You’re part of a sting, out to catch some bar hoppers who are not only bending their elbows, but bending time as well. Prepare for alien contact. Explore the darkest alleyways of urban fantasy. Rise to the dizzying heights of magical realism.


Older, Daniel José: Last Canto of the Dead (Disney/Rick Riordan Presents 9781368070904, $18.99, 400pp, formats: hardcover, ebook , audio, 5/16/2023)

Young-adult urban fantasy novel. Mateo Matisse and Chela Hidalgo are not just two teenagers in love—they’re powerful gods in human form. Powerful enough to have saved their Brooklyn diaspora community from the wrath of an ancient enemy and to have raised their once-sunken native island of San Madrigal from the sea. But soon they discover that their problems are far from over. On the shores of San Madrigal, two creature armies are battling for survival. And on the streets of Brooklyn, a once tight-knit community is divided, with two sides at each other’s throats.


Owen, Margaret: Painted Devils (Macmillan/Holt 9781250831163, $20.99, 512pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Young-adult fantasy novel. After taking down a corrupt margrave, breaking a deadly curse, and finding romance with the vexingly scrupulous junior prefect Emeric Conrad, Vanja had one great mystery left: her long-lost birth family, and whether they would welcome a thief. But in her search for an honest trade, she hit trouble and invented a god, the Scarlet Maiden, to scam her way out.


Paolini, Christopher: Fractal Noise (Tor 9781250862488, $28.99, 304pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

Science fiction novel, first of two in the FractalVerse series. In 2234, the crew of the Adamura discovers an anomaly. On the seemingly uninhabited planet Talos VII: a circular pit, 50 kilometers wide. Its curve not of nature, but design. Now, a small team must land and journey on foot across the surface to learn who built the hole and why.


Raman, Akshaya: The Crimson Fortress (HarperCollins/Clarion 9780358468349, $19.99, 432pp, formats: hardcover, 5/16/2023)

Young-adult fantasy novel. The search for the Ivory Key has brought royal siblings Vira, Ronak, Kaleb, and Riya closer than they have been in years as they try to restore magic and stability to Ashoka. Despite finally getting their hands on the long-lost key, uncovering its cipher has proved more complicated and dangerous than they ever expected. Their missions force them to split up and disperse them across Ashoka and beyond.


Robertson, Andrea: Bound by Sword and Spirit (Penguin Random House/Philomel 9780525954132, $19.99, 320pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, and audio, 5/16/2023)

Young-adult fantasy novel. Ara and her companions are separated, and the world is in danger. The evil Vokkans are continuing their conquest of Saetlund and the world Ara is meant to protect. The only thing that can stop the wizards and the destroyer, Vokk, is Ara and her Loreknights.


Stross, Charles: Season of Skulls (Tordotcom 9781250839398, $28.99, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, and audio, 5/16/2023)

Lovecraftian dark fantasy novel. Welcome to the sunlit uplands of the 21st century! Britain’s avuncular Prime Minister is an ancient eldritch god of unimaginable power. Crime is plummeting even as almost every offense is punishable by death. And everywhere you look, there are people with strange powers, some of which they can control, and some, not so much. Hyper-organized and formidable, Eve Starkey defeated her boss, the louche magical adept and billionaire Rupert de Montfort Bigge, in a supernatural duel to the death. At least, she has reason to hope he’s dead….

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