New Books: 2 May 2023

Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame: Chain-Gang All-Stars (Penguin Random House/Pantheon 978-0-593-31733-4, $27.00, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

This is a dystopian science fiction novel set in an alternate United States, where prisoners in a private-run prison system can compete for freedom in gladiator-style arena death matches.


Bazterrica, Agustina: Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird (Pushkin Press UK 978-1-782279013, $17.99, 176pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/4/2023)

From celebrated author Agustina Bazterrica, this collection of 19 brutal, darkly funny short stories takes into our deepest fears and through our most disturbing fantasies. Through stories about violence, alienation, and dystopia, Bazterrica’s vision of the human experience emerges in complex, unexpected ways—often unsettling, sometimes thrilling, and always profound.


Cronin, Justin: The Ferryman (Penguin Random House/Ballantine 978-0-525-61947-5, $30.00, 560pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

This dystopian science fiction thriller novel is about the climate crisis, what lengths a parent might go to for a child, space/time/reality, and more.  On the archipelago of Prospera, a paradise hidden from the deteriorating outside world, retirees take a ferry ride to the Nursery where bodies are renewed, memories wiped, and they restart life—except staff are questioning their roles and a resistance is growing.


Dumas, Marti: Charmed Life (Abrams/Amulet 978-1-4197-5563-7, $18.99, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook and audio, 5/2/2023)

This is an upper middle-grade fantasy novel. After a summer of being the worst witch at a fancy witch school, Hasani can’t wait to get back to the peace and normalcy of Riverbend Middle where she knows all the rules and is destined to be captain of the Mathletes. There are a few little hiccups to work out—like how she’s going to tell her best friend that she’s a witch—but even though the other two members of Hasani’s coven have joined her friend group and her school, there’s no reason to think that eighth grade won’t be smooth sailing. That is until her former friend (and fellow witch) LaToya shows up.


Feehan, Christine: Ghostly Game (Penguin Random House/Berkley 978-0-593-63868-2, $28.00, 400pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

In this paranormal romance novel Gideon “Eagle” Carpenter is used to rolling with the punches life has thrown at him. It’s the only thing that’s kept him alive. He and his team of GhostWalkers have seen and experienced it all. He does his best to live with all the sins written on his soul. Then he hears the laughter of a woman with the ability to erase—even for a few precious moments—the darkness of his past.


Green, Simon R.: For Love of Magic (Baen 978-1-9821-9261-7, $25.00, 240pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

In this dark fantasy novel, Jack Damian, who keeps the supernatural remnants of a different history at bay, investigates how dozens of people have disappeared into a painting at the Tate Museum.



Hanrahan, Gareth: The Sword Defiant (Orbit US 978-0-316-53715-5, $18.99, 608pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

In this fantasy novel, many years ago, Sir Aelfric and his nine companions saved the world, seizing the Dark Lord’s cursed weapons, along with his dread city of Necrad. That was the easy part. Now, when Aelfric—keeper of the cursed sword Spellbreaker—learns of a new and terrifying threat, he seeks the nine heroes once again. But they are wandering adventurers no longer: yesterday’s eager heroes are today’s weary leaders—and some have turned to the darkness, becoming monsters themselves.


Harkaway, Nick: Titanium Noir (Little, Brown UK/Corsair 978-1472156938, $28.00, 256pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/16/2023)

This near-future science fiction novel is about a detective investigating the murder of a Titan, one of the genetically enhanced elites. This is a pen name for Nicholas Cornwell, son of John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell). This has a deckle edge.


Jarvis, Nicole: A Portrait in Shadow (Titan Books UK 978-1803362342, $16.95, 480pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

In this historical fantasy novel, when Artemisia Gentileschi arrives in Florence seeking a haven for her art, she faces instant opposition from the powerful Accademia, self-proclaimed gatekeepers of Florence’s magical art world. As artists create their masterpieces, they add layer upon layer of magics drawn from their own life essence, giving each work the power to heal—or to curse. The all-male Accademia jealously guards its power and has no place for an ambitious young woman arriving from Rome under a cloud of scandal.


Johnson, Les & Ken Roy: The Ross 248 Project (Baen 978-1-9821-9262-4, $18.00, 400pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 5/2/2023)

This is an original shared-world anthology of ten stories and two essays about what it might take to send a mission to the star Ross 248, find a potential planet for humans to live on, and then make it habitable. Foreward by Steve Kwast. Stories by D.J. Butler, Patrick Chiles, Monalisa Foster, Stephanie Osborn. An appendix provides highlights from the guidelines for the stories, with both historical and technological background.


Kaufman, Amie: The Isles of the Gods (Penguin Random House/Knopf, $19.99, 464pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

In this young-adult fantasy novel, Selly has salt water in her veins. So when her father leaves her high and dry in the port of Kirkpool, she has no intention of riding out the winter at home while he sails off to adventure. Her plans to follow him are dashed when a handsome stranger with tell-tale magician’s marks on his arm commandeers her ship. He is Prince Leander of Alinor and he needs to cross the Crescent Sea without detection so he can complete a ritual on the sacred Isles of the Gods. Selly has no desire to escort a spoiled prince anywhere, and no time for his entitled demands or his good looks. And what starts as a leisure cruise will lead to acts of treason and sheer terror on the high seas, bringing two countries to the brink of war, two strangers closer than they ever thought possible and stirring two dangerous gods from centuries of slumber.…


Khaw, Cassandra: The Salt Grows Heavy (Tor/Nightfire 978-1-250-83091-3, $21.99, 112pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

This is a mermaid horror novella. You may think you know how the fairy tale goes: a mermaid comes to shore and weds the prince. What the fables forget is that mermaids have teeth. And now, her daughters have devoured the kingdom and burned it to ashes. On the run, the mermaid is joined by a mysterious plague doctor with a darkness of their own. Deep in the eerie, snow-crusted forest, the pair stumble upon a village of ageless children who thirst for blood, and the three “saints” who control them. The mermaid and her doctor must embrace the cruelest parts of their true nature if they hope to survive.


Lam, Laura: Dragonfall (Astra House/DAW 978-0-7564-1841-0, $27.00, 352pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, 5/2/2023)

This is a fantasy novel, the first in the Dragon Scales trilogy. In it, long-banished dragons, once revered as gods, return to the mortal world, and a desperate thief finds an artifact that links to the last male dragon, dragging him through the Veil disguised as human.


Power, Rory: In an Orchard Grown from Ash (Penguin Random House/Del Rey 978-0-593-35500-8, $28.99, 480pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, 5/2/2023)

This is a fantasy novel inspired by Greek myth, the Argyros siblings have lost everything. With their father dead and their family home captured, they’re no longer the rulers of their fractured kingdom—and no longer bound to each other. Alone and farther apart than they’ve ever been, the siblings must reckon with the pain of their past and find a new path forward—or risk their own destruction.


Quick, Amanda: The Bride Wore White (Penguin Random House/Berkley 978-0593337868, $28.00, 320pp, formats: hardcover, ebook and audio, 5/2/2023)

This is a historical paranormal romance mystery novel, sixth in the Burning Cove series set in 1930s California. In it a psychic desperate to escape her destiny—and a killer—finds her future in the coastal town of Burning Cove.


Saintcrow, Lilith: Spring’s Arcana (Tor 978-1250791658, $30.99, 368pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

This contemporary fantasy novel inspired by Russia, is the first in the duology The Dead God’s Heart. Nat Drozdova, trying to save her mother from cancer, goes to a Manhattan witch who offers a cure in exchange for the recovery of a stolen object of power—if she can find it in an America full of terrifying magics.


Szmidt, Robert J.: Edge of Extinction (WordFire Press 978-1-68057-431-9, $25.99, 260pp, formats: trade paperback, 5/4/2023)

SF space opera novel. When the ruthless aliens attack the outer reaches of the Federation, humankind is forced to retreat haphazardly from dozens of conquered systems. The only chance to delay the advance of the enemy is to create hundreds of fake colonies. If that doesn’t work, the Fleet will be forced to face the ma’lahn in a series of open battles, which can lead to its annihilation.


Tirado, Vincent: We Don’t Swim Here (Sourcebooks Fire 978-1-7282-5080-9, $18.99, 320pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

In this young-adult supernatural horror novel, Bronwyn is only supposed to be in rural Hillwoods for a year. Her grandmother is in hospice, and her father needs to get her affairs in order. And they’re all meant to make some final memories together. Except Bronwyn is miserable: her grandmother is dying, everyone is standoffish, and she can’t even go swimming. All she hears are warnings about going in the water, despite a gorgeous lake. And a pool at the abandoned rec center. And another in the high school basement.


Vajra, Rajnar: Opening Wonder (WordFire Press 978-1680574654, $25.95, 366pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 5/2/2023)

In this collection countless un-parallel universes intersect in a place where science and magic function perfectly. A Crossroads World. A world that holds a fantastic and deadly secret. An ultra-advanced species, the Common, govern this world and invite other advanced species to set up enclaves where the planet’s extraordinary properties draw an assortment of gods and demons like supernatural moths to a flame.


Verghese, Abraham: The Covenant of Water (Grove 978-0802162175, $32.00, 736pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

This fantasy novel is a stunning and magisterial epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala, South India from 1900 to 1977 and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret. Every generation, at least one family member dies by drowning.


Yarros, Rebecca: Fourth Wing (Entangled/Red Tower 978-1649374042, $29.99, 512pp, formats: hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, audio, 5/2/2023)

This fantasy romance novel is set in an elite military college for dragon riders, the first in the Empyrean series. Bookish and brittle-boned Violet’s mother, the commanding general, orders Violet to train to be a dragon rider.

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