Gary K. Wolfe Reviews White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link

White Cat, Black Dog, Kelly Link (Random House 978-0-59344-995-0, $27.00, 272pp, hc) March 2023.

There are a lot of things you can do with fairy tales, but leaving them alone doesn’t seem to be one of them. Even the Brothers Grimm themselves messed around with the stories they collected, and various redactions, reinterpretations, satires, and improvisations have been with us pretty much as long as the tales themselves. Kelly ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Tsalmoth by Steven Brust

Tsalmoth, Steven Brust (Tor 978-0-76538-284-9, $27.99, 288pp, hc) April 2023.

Steven Brust’s Tsalmoth is the 16th book in his (allegedly) 19-book series. Each book focuses on one house on the great wheel of power in Dragaera, but each story within the series concerns Vlad Taltos, an assassin whose backstory is more complicated than it first appears.

Taltos is an Easterner in a world full of dragons, who aren’t really ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews A Slice of the Dark and Other Stories by Karen Heuler

A Slice of the Dark and Other Stories, Karen Heuler (Fairwood Press 978-1-93384-622-4, $18.99, 206pp, tp), November 2022.

To say that Karen Heuler’s new collection, A Slice of the Dark and Other Stories, is deeply unsettling reveals only a tiny fraction: it is also musical, gorgeous, and uncomfort­able. I wasn’t familiar with Hueler’s work before this, which feels like a huge miss on my part – and yours, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Voice That Murmurs in the Darkness by James Tiptree, Jr.

The Voice That Murmurs in the Darkness, James Tiptree, Jr. (Subterranean 978-1-64524-107-2, $45.00, 376pp, hc) April 2023.

The last line in James Tiptree, Jr.’s last story is “He headed down the highway, to encounter the ex­istential Unknown.” The story, “In Midst of Life”, is haunting for a number of reasons, not least of which is its description of the surprisingly gentle afterlife of a man who has just committed ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Flash Fiction Online, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and F&SF

GigaNotoSaurus 12/22 Flash Fiction Online 12/22 Three-Lobed Burning Eye 12/22 F&SF 1-2/23

December’s GigaNotoSaurus story has some strong Star Trek vibes with “Patterns in Stone and Stars” by MV Melcer, where a Federation in conflict with different galactic powers needs to determine if the inhabitants of a certain strategically important planet are sentient and therefore would prevent the world from being colonized. Szkazy is from the outer ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Deadlands, PodCastle, and Dark Matter

The Deadlands 11/22, 12/22 PodCastle 12/20/22 Dark Matter 11-12/22

The Deadlands is a monthly speculative fic­tion magazine. They “publish short stories, poems, and essays about the other realms, of the ends we face here, and the beginnings we find elsewhere. It is an adventure into the unknown, to meet those who live there still, even though they may be dead. Death is a journey we all will take, but we’d ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Dead Country by Max Gladstone

Dead Country, Max Gladstone (Tordotcom 978-0-7653-9591-7, $17.99, 256 pp, tp) March 2023. Cover by Goni Montes.

Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence created a world in which slivers of soul are used as currency and lawyers are as close to clerics as you can get. All six books in the sequence can be read independently of each other, mostly, but reading them all in any order tells a more complete story ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff (Harper 978-0-06-325689-7, $30.00, 320pp, hc) Feb­ruary 2023.

As many readers of Locus will know, Maureen Kincaid Speller passed away on September 18, 2022. She was an outstanding critic (a collection of her reviews and essays, edited by Nina Allan, will be out from Luna Press in 2023) and a generous and insightful editor for Strange Horizons. Maureen was ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wicked Remain by Laura Pohl

The Wicked Remain, Laura Pohl (Source­books Fire 978-1-7282-2890-7, $10.99, tp, 462 pp) September 2022. Cover by Ray Shappell.

Laura Pohl finishes off her Grimrose Girls duology with The Wicked Remain and there is a lot, A LOT, to absorb in this 450+ page read. Picking up soon after the events of The Grimrose Girls, our four heroines are reeling from the discovery in that book that they are ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Nightwatch Over Windscar by K. Eason

Nightwatch Over Windscar, K. Eason (DAW 978-0-75641-859-5, $28.00, 480pp, hc) No­vember 2022. Cover by Tim Green.

First things first: you definitely don’t want to read this without reading the first in the series, Nightwatch on the Hinterlands (2021). This second book in the series opens just months after the events in the first, and while there is a little backstory as a reminder of the stakes, it’s definitely not ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF Digest and Asimov’s

Future SF Digest 12/22 Asimov’s 11-12/22

As I wrap up my reading year for 2022, I’m sorry to also be noting the shut­tering, at least for now, of one of my favorite venues. Future Science Fiction Digest, edited by Alex Shvartsman, is going on hiatus as of its 17th issue. It started publishing in 2018 (the same year I started my short fiction column here) with an emphasis on interna­tional ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The City of Last Chances, Adrian Tchai­kovsky (Head of Zeus 978-1-80110-842-3, £20.00, 512 pp, hc) December 2022. Cover by Joe Wilson.

Adrian Tchaikovsky clearly understands genre games quite thoroughly, since he has been working both sides and several alleyways of the great science fiction/fantasy divide in more than three dozen pre­vious titles. For example, Elder Race (2021) built a pseudo-medieval heroic fantasy world on an armature of science-fictional enabling ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls, Charles de Lint (Triskell Press 978-1-98974-106-1, $15.99, 264pp, tp), November 2022.

I’m well aware that calling something a ‘‘beach read’’ holds negative connota­tions – but in the case of Charles de Lint’s second installment in his Juniper Wiles series, Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls, I mean to call it a beach read in a more literal, delicious way. This book, which ...Read More

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Sean Dowie Reviews The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud

The Strange, Nathan Ballingrud (Gallery 978-1-53444-995-4, 304pp, $27.99, hc) March 2023.

Nathan Ballingrud’s debut novel The Strange takes place in a version of the 1930s where humans have inhabited Mars. It opens with teenager Anabelle and her father Sam working in their diner, living in a Martian town that is surrounded by arid nothingness, an isolation that is mirrored in the characters’ loneliness. When their diner is robbed by ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews, The Dark, The Sunday Morning Transport, and Nightmare 12/1/22, 12/24/22, 1/11/23, 1/18/23, 1/25/23 The Dark 11/22, 12/22 Nightmare 11/22, 12/22 The Sunday Morning Transport

I’ll start 2023 off by looking at three January stories from as well as a couple from December 2022. Chances are, you still haven’t caught up with all of end-of-the-year fiction, so we’ll then look at more from last year.

‘‘Time: Marked and Mended’’ by Carrie Vaughn ( 1/11/22) is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

The Crane Husband, Kelly Barnhill (Tor­dotcom 978-1-250-85097-3, $19.99, 128pp, hc) February 2023.

Kelly Barnhill’s When Women Were Drag­ons ranked pretty high on my list of last year’s outstanding fantasy novels, a highly original combination of feminist coming-of-age tale, alternate history period piece, and metamor­phosis myth, all cast in the form of a memoir, or what used to be called a personal history. That combination of domestic realism and family ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Illuminations by T. Kingfisher

Illuminations, T. Kingfisher (Red Wombat Studio, $4.99, 248pp, eb) November 2022.

Illuminations, the latest middle-grade book by T. Kingfisher (AKA Ursula Vernon), opens on a very, very bored Rosa Mandolini. Fortu­nately, the Studio Mandolini, her family’s art/magic business, is full of storage rooms, stuffed to the brim with boxes of interesting, ancient wonders. One such box resists being found and opened. And thus begins Rosa’s adventure.

As you’d ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fusion Fragment, Diabolical Plots, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Fusion Fragment 12/22 Diabolical Plots 12/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/1/22, 12/15/22

Fusion Fragment’s last issue of 2022 brings a mix of genres and styles, with a decidedly grim and slightly dystopian feel to it. That re­ally coalesces in Owen Leddy’s ‘‘Lifeblood’’, in which a blood heist goes rather wrong for Joel, who is desperate to find a way to save his partner. Aching and not afraid to ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Grave Things Like Love by Sara Bennett Wealer

Grave Things Like Love, Sara Bennett Wealer (Delacorte 978-0-593-70355-7, $12.99, tp, 332pp) November 2022. Cover by David Seidman.

In Sara Bennett Wealer’s Grave Things Like Love, protagonist Elaine Gillies has the dubious distinction of being ‘‘funeral girl,’’ a teenager whose family has owned the local funeral home, where they also live, for more than a century. Caught between her frazzled and overworked parents, who constantly pile tasks onto ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

Soul of the Deep, Natasha Bowen (Random House 978-0-59312-098-9, $19.99, 304pp, hc) September 2022.

Natasha Bowen’s Soul of the Deep picks up several months after the events of Skin of the Sea. Simidele, a Mami Wata, has been living at the bottom of the sea with the imprisoned orisa Olokun. She’s miserable, not just because she’s lost her freedom and can no longer see the sun, but also ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, Rati Mehrotra (Wednesday Books, 978-1-250-87134-3, $18.99, 352 pp, tp) October 2022. Cover by Devan Norman.

In Rati Mehrotra’s Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, Katyani’s path in life has been laid out for her since childhood: train to become the best guardswoman of Chan­dela, advise the crown prince Ayan once he comes of age, and above all else, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Empathy by Hoa Pham

Empathy, Hoa Pham (Goldsmiths Press 978-1-91338-061-8, $24.95, 256pp, tp) November 2022.

The 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers tells the astonishing and distressing true story of triplet brothers split at birth who become aware of each other only by chance when they turn 19. The documentary reveals that the triplets were part of a “nature versus nurture” study that was never disclosed to the boys or their adoptive parents. It’s ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Dreams for a Broken World by Julie C. Day & Ellen Meeropol, eds.

Dreams for a Broken World, Julie C. Day & Ellen Meeropol, eds. (Essential Dreams 978-1-95536-005-0, $20.00, 304pp, tp) No­vember 2022.

Wherever you stand, by nature, on the spec­trum between optimism and pessimism, it’s hard to argue that right now, the world is deeply troubled. Systems we’ve come to rely on are fractured. More and more often, politics and economics divide us. Things are, well, broken.

Now, none of these ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and Hexagon

Fantasy 12/22 Lightspeed 12/22 Hexagon 12/2

Fantasy closed out 2022 with a bang with an issue full of hauntings, magic, and people desperate for a safe place to be. In ‘‘The End of a Painted World’’ by Sam Kyung Yoo, a painter named Woojin must flee an assault by the emperor’s soldiers. The reason for the attack is never confirmed, but it likely has to do with ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Sangu Mandanna (Berkley 978-0-593-43935-7, $17.00, tp, 316 pp) November 2022. Cover by Lisa Perrin.

For much of the time I was reading Sangu Mandanna’s The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, I was waiting for the other literary shoe to drop. Something bad, I was certain, had to happen. As British witch Mika Moon took on the job of educating a ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Blood Like Fate by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Fate, Liselle Sambury (McElderry 978-1-53446-531-2, $19.99, 480pp, hc) August 2022.

A young adult fantasy set in the near future that blends technology and magic? Yes ma’am! Liselle Sambury’s Blood Like Magic duol­ogy tells the story of Voya, a teen witch in Toronto in the mid-21st century. Her family, the Thomases, is one of the original founding witch families in Canada. Centuries ago, her ancestors escaped slavery in ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Assemble Artifacts, and Underland Arcana

Clarkesworld 12/22 Assemble Artifacts Summer ‘22 Underland Arcana Summer ‘22

The last Clarkesworld of the year begins with “Law of Tongue” by Naim Kabir. The nar­rator is managing interspecies negotiations between humans and a pod of orcas near Seattle. The grandmother orca demands help in recovering a grandchild, who has been hunting in Alaska. The whole situation puts the narrator in a bad position, and as the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hopeland by Ian McDonald

Hopeland, Ian McDonald (Tor 978-0765375551, hardcover, 512pp, $30.99) February 2023

Try to imagine some improbable authorial workmate pairings. Tanith Lee and Andre Norton? Dan Brown and Christopher Priest? Robert Sheckley and M. John Harrison? It’s a given that such mismatches would come to naught. But a similar yoking of semi-antithetical writers—at least in spirit—is at play in Ian McDonald’s big new exciting and tender saga, Hopeland. It’s a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself by Marisa Crane

I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself, Marisa Crane (Catapult 978-1-64622-129-5, $27.00, 352pp, hc) January 2023.

Recently, author and editor Nick Mamatas nailed the “X meets Y” elevator pitch when he accurately described Titan by Japanese author Mado Nozaki as “The Lifecycle of Software Objects meets Pacific Rim.” But if I were handing out gold medals for the best use of this formulation, it would be to the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott

The Keeper’s Six, Kate Elliott (Tordotcom 978-1-25088-913-3, $19.99, 208pp, hc) January 2023. Cover by Emmanuel Shiu.

Kate Elliott is a writer whose work I have long enjoyed and admired for its human­ity and its scope, even when that work tackled subjects I couldn’t quite enjoy. From epic fantasy with the high politics and romantic entanglements of the Spiritwalker trilogy, the convulsions of societies in transition of the Crossroads trilogy, ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From by Izzy Wasserstein


All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From, Izzy Wasserstein (Neon Hemlock 978-1-952086-42-7, $18.99, 204 pp, tp) July 2022. Cover by Vivian Magaña.

Izzy Wasserstein’s All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From opens with a story of the same name. Set in a second person point of view, readers follow a multi­verse traveler who keeps returning to different variations of their hometown. Each version is slightly different, ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Cast of Wonders, Escape Pod, and Strange Horizons

Cast of Wonders 11/15/22, 12/11/22 Escape Pod 11/17/22, 12/8/22 Strange Horizons 11/14/22, 11/21/22, 11/28/22, 12/5/22

Cast of Wonders rounded out November with the feline-centric “The Cat of Lin Villa” by Megan Chee. The story features a cat who enjoys the company of a woman trapped in an unhappy and abusive marriage. Because she gives treats and com­pany, this cannot stand, and it’s up to the cat to ...Read More

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