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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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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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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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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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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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Karma of the Sun by Brandon Ying Kit Boey

Karma of the Sun, Brandon Ying Kit Boey (CamCat 978-0-7443-0760-3, $25.99, 352pp, hc) January 2023.

Brandon Ying Kit Boey’s debut novel, Karma of the Sun, is a much-needed and welcome shot in the arm to apocalypse fiction – a rich subgenre, to be sure, but one crowded with Western views and Western voic­es on the end of the world. Instead, Boey takes us to the future nestled in ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear

The Origin of Storms, Elizabeth Bear (Tor 978-0-76538-017-3, $28.99, 384pp, hc) June 2022.

If I were a TV producer who wanted to take on an epic fantasy story à la Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time, I would look no further than Elizabeth Bear’s Lotus Kingdom books. To be honest, I’d much rather see an interpretation of Bear’s work over yet another Euro-based, medieval-esque retread of dudes ...Read More

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Paul Kincaid Reviews Cold Water by Dave Hutchinson

Cold Water, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1-78618-722-2, £9.99, tp) November 2022. Cover by blacksheep-uk.

We’ve encountered the story many times before: the master criminal coming out of retirement for one last job; the retired doctor who finds himself the only person with medical knowledge when disaster strikes; perhaps most pertinently the aged spy called back to the service in order to unmask the mole in the Circus. So now we ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Wait for Me by Sara Shepard

Wait for Me, Sara Shepard (Union Square & Co. 978-1-4549-4577-2, $18.99, hc, 320pp) Novem­ber 2022. Cover by Erin Fitzsimmons.

Sara Shepard’s Wait for Me is a thriller that might be about ghosts and reincarnation or might be about an unreliable protagonist struggling with mental illness and some well-meaning but seriously intrusive friends and relatives. I was re­ally onboard with the reincarnation angle, which includes an undying romance, until I ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Scarlet Circus by Jane Yolen

The Scarlet Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon 9781616963866, $17.95, 256pp, tp) February 2023.

If you’re thinking about catching up on reading Jane Yolen, forget it. She’s already way ahead of you, with (by her own count) ‘‘well over 400 books, plus thousands of poems and a huge bas­ket load of stories.’’ Of course, a lot of those are children’s and YA titles, but even excluding those, there is a daunting ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews High Concepts by Bill Pronzini

High Concepts, Bill Pronzini (Stark House Press 979-8886010176, trade paperback, 234pp, $15.95) February 2023

I love Stark House books. They specialize in reprints of classic and overlooked crime, noir, and mystery books, as well as similarly situated fantastika items. But now and then they also issue something brand-new. In this case, it’s the first collection of SF/F/H from the famed Bill Pronzini, whose bibliography runs to several pages and ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

Heart of the Sun Warrior, Sue Lynn Tan (Harp­er Voyager 978-0-063031364, $27.99, 480pp, hc) November 2022. Cover by Kuri Huang.

Xingyin has already done the impossible by freeing her mother, moon goddess Chang’e, from the Celestial Empire’s imprisonment. But when a strange magic emerges from her home, she must flee once again to protect those she loves.

Heart of the Sun Warrior is the final install­ment of Sue Lynn ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Victory City, Salman Rushdie (Random House 978-0593243398, hardcover, 352pp, $30.00) February 2023

Salman Rushdie’s new novel is an un-put-down-able narrative feast, rich with character, incident, aphorisms, and meditations on morality, life, and death. It’s a saga so rich and authentic, narrated with so much fluency and ceaseless invention, that it ranks with the other Ur-romances that Rushdie alludes to, such as the Ramayana. Flavors of The Thousand and ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

How to Sell a Haunted House, Grady Hendrix (Berkley 978-0-59320-126-8, $28.00, 400p, hc) January 2023.

Over the last several years, I’ve drifted away from core (mainstream) horror fiction to the extent that I haven’t read the last few Stephen King novels (something that I could not have imagined less than a decade ago). Grady Hen­drix is the exception. Since picking up My Best Friend’s Exorcism back in 2016, I’ve ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Tread of Angels, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga Press 978-1-66800-663-4, $22.99. 208pp, tp) November 2022.

With Tread of Angels, Rebecca Roanhorse blends tropes from Westerns and noir with Biblical my­thology. In the western town of Goetia are the bones of a dead divine being. What is mined from those bones is used to power just about everything, from automobiles to strange mechanical objects. The town is mostly populated by two ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best of Catherynne M. Valente: Volume One by Catherynne M. Valente

The Best of Catherynne M. Valente: Volume One, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean 978-1-64524-077-8, $50.00, 800pp, hc) April 2023.

In a career of less than two decades, Catherynne M. Valente seems to have made an outsized im­pact on fantasy and SF, despite never quite fitting in to any movement or trend, and never quite getting predictable – except, perhaps, for her unabashed love of language. For a while, some of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz

The Terraformers, Annalee Newitz (Tor 978-1-250-22801-7, 352pp, $27.99, hc) January 2023.

The very title of Annalee Newitz’s The Ter­raformers suggests ambition, and not only the hubris involved in setting out to remodel whole planets as though they were unfinished basements. The concept has been prominent in SF for decades–the term itself dates back to an 80-year-old Jack Williamson story – and Newitz is well aware that they’re revisiting territory ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Even Though I Knew the End C.L. Polk

Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tor­dotcom 978-1-2508-4945-8, $19.99, hc, 144pp) November 2022.

Oh. My. God. If you are a fan of noir, if you love a dark crime mystery with a supernatural twist, if complicated family dynamics are a favorite addition to your drama reading experience, and if romance – solid, true, emotionally intense relationship-py romance – makes you happy, then you must read C.L. Polk’s ...Read More

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Wole Talabi Reviews Flight from the Ages and Other Stories by Derek Künsken

Flight from the Ages and Other Stories, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1-78618-728-4, $16.99, 400pp, tp) December 2022.

Have you ever looked up at the night sky, seen the stars and felt the knowledge that you are looking into the past overwhelm you? It can be a dizzying feeling, like being tipsy or high, and it is what I felt after reading most of the stories in Canadian author Derek Künsken’s ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix

The Ones We Burn, Rebecca Mix (Marga­ret K. McElderry Books 978-1-5344-9351-3, $21.99, 480pp, hc) November 2022. Cover by Eliot Baum.

The Ones We Burn is a witchy, queer YA fan­tasy novel about a blood-witch named Ranka. Her frightening and rare powers make her the perfect weapon against the humans who wish to destroy witches. When she is named the treaty bride to human prince Galen, her coven gives her ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

Lonely Castle in the Mirror, Mizuki Tsujimura (Erewhon 978-1-64566-040-8, $27.95, 400pp, hc) October 2022.

Newly translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, Mizuki Tsujimura’s 2018 bestselling and award-winning novel, Lonely Castle in the Mirror, is a gorgeous, wrenching fantasy that lays bare the anxieties and desperation – as well as small triumphs – of adolescence. Told using a deft amalgamation of Western fairy tales – invoked by the ...Read More

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