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PREMIUM

Grave Secrets

James’s debut is a sometimes silly, often funny twist on the vampire romance genre. The delightfully written Toni is about the unlikeliest heroine one expects to encounter. Throw in a few zombies for good measure, and readers are left with a novel perfect for fans of Charlaine Harris and Gail Carriger.

The Once and Future Witches

Drawn from folklore and history, Harrow’s (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) lyrical prose immerses readers in a story of power and secrets that is not easily forgotten.
PREMIUM

An Unnatural Life

Wagner (The Green and Growing) delivers a work with a focus of a “what makes one human?” theme in an exciting novella that recalls Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Emily Devenport’s “Medusa Cycle” series.
PREMIUM

Nucleation

Unger’s (The Gophers of High Charity) video game credits are well matched to this space adventure. Dialog among rivals, teammates, and machine interfaces keeps the story moving quickly. Recommended for fans of technothrillers and those who appreciate a strong lead character navigating readers through the technical bits.
PREMIUM

The Bright and Breaking Sea

Neill’s (“Chicagoland Vampires” series) newest series start is a fantastical sea journey, filled with conflict on multiple levels. Entertaining for its fun, fast-paced action, political drama, and slow-burn romance. [See Prepub Alert, 4/29/20.]
PREMIUM

Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth

Newcomer Russell’s new high fantasy series launch is well written with a definite steampunk vibe and sword-and-sorcery appeal. Readers of alternate-world fantasy will find this a satisfying read and a good start for a new author who’s soon to have a loyal following.
PREMIUM

Monstre. Vol. 1

The novel alternates time lines between those first days and the days three months later to pulse-pounding effect in this sprawling, violent, gory, and still somewhat hopeful first in what will be an epic series.

Nophek Gloss

Hansen’s marvelous debut is a fast-paced, action-filled ride through the multiverse, introducing a complex found family of gender- and neurodiverse characters.

Hench

Smart, witty, and at times bloody, this book will please comic book fans who wish to take a jab at the superhero tropes, as well as readers who enjoy dark humor with a bit of satire tossed into the mix.
PREMIUM

Committal

This darkly witty sf-esque debut from poet Cooper explores the bonds between children and parents, siblings, and humans and artificial intelligence. Readers will appreciate the fast-paced action of players trying both to annihilate and save the human race.
PREMIUM

A Killing Frost

Now at Book 14 (after The Unkindest Tide), this popular series is definitely one to read, but newcomers will not be able to dive into this novel without the others. With exciting characters, heroic quests, and complicated family issues, Toby Daye is once again covered in blood and fighting for what is right.
PREMIUM

Vampires of Portlandia

Those who enjoy the “Twilight” books or TV series “Grimm” may find this entertaining. Portland enthusiasts will also appreciate the references.
PREMIUM

The Doors of Eden

Meticulous and spectacular worldbuilding make this slow-building sf novel a truly fascinating read.
PREMIUM

Yellow Jessamine

Creating a macabre and sinister atmosphere in her horror/fantasy novella, Starling leaves details of the setting rather blurry. Suitable for readers of creepy Gothic tales.
PREMIUM

Sucker Punch

Blake’s 27th outing (after Serpentine) is a crafty murder mystery wrapped in plenty of fur and fury. Fans of the series will be pleased to see Anita Blake’s return. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/20.]
PREMIUM

A Dance with Fate

Marillier’s (“Blackthorn and Grim” series) latest novel in the “Warrior Bards” series (after The Harp of Kings), set in a fantasy world inspired by mythic Ireland, is a brisk and engaging read with vivid characters and a satisfying conclusion that makes this work as a standalone. Recommended for fans of Katharine Kerr’s “Deverry” books or Patrick Rothfuss’s “Kingkiller Chronicles” series.
PREMIUM

Set My Heart to Five

Stephenson’s (Let Not the Waves of the Sea) novel will appeal to fans of Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov. Through frequent allusions to movies and novels, the story is also made accessible to almost anyone who enjoys romance, intrigue, or outsider tales.

The Ikessar Falcon

Political intrigue and personal angst abound in this exciting sequel to The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, making this a must for epic fantasy readers.

Dead Man in a Ditch

Arnold’s (The Last Smile in Sunder City) universe has everything, including the angst of being human. The perfect story for adult fantasy fans—a tough PI and a murder mystery wrapped around the mysticism of Hogwarts, sprinkled with faerie dust.
PREMIUM

The Madwoman of Preacher’s Cove

As long as readers don’t expect any plausibility to the story line, this overwrought Southern gothic from Davis (Countenance) is actually an enjoyable read. The characters, particularly Hap and Lucy, are fun.

The Memory of Souls

The third “Chorus of Dragons” book (after The Name of All Things) is an exciting entry in the series, culminating in an intriguing endpoint that will have readers excited for the next book.
PREMIUM

Flights of Marigold

A definite twist to the fantasy genre is that while the logical consistency of the magic is there, the book (and series) is meant to focus on addiction and its many incarnations. It is an unusual subject choice for fantasy but one that is interesting, enjoyable, and relatable.

Battle Ground

The arc begun in Peace Talks comes to a deadly, destructive finish in the 17th “Dresden Files” book—and nothing will be the same again.

Spellbreaker

Those who enjoy gentle romance, cozy mysteries, or Victorian fantasy will love this first half of a duology. The cliffhanger ending will keep readers breathless waiting for the second half.

The Fires of Vengeance

Winter takes all the intense emotion and action of The Rage of Dragons—and exceeds it. The book will be impossible to put down and readers will wait anxiously for the final volume.

Seven Devils

Lam (Goldilocks) and May ("The Falconer Trilogy") bring a multivoice story from a group of diverse, courageous females attempting to save themselves and their galaxy. Backstories and present-day actions are built into an alien setting, well-rounded characters, and an action-filled plot with themes of colonization, military manipulation, and conditioning.

The Archive of the Forgotten

The sequel to The Library of the Unwritten will not disappoint as the prickly Claire, brash Hero, bubbly Brevity, and composed Rami build their story lines into solidity.
PREMIUM

My Favorites: An Anthology

Bova is one of the grand masters of the field, and this anthology reflects the breadth of his writing. Recommended for readers seeking an introduction to the author, and for libraries that do not own a more complete collection.

PREMIUM

The Road Not Taken

With its mishmash of Freudian theory, Egyptian mythology, self-assured characters, and meandering plot, this book is mostly for fans of New Age fiction.

PREMIUM

Songs of Thalassa

A unique form of sf focusing on the beauty of nature, ecosystems, and marine biology. The book is a little slow on the action, which may lose some readers. And though well intentioned, the introduction comes off as another white male striving to tell women to be stronger leaders.
PREMIUM

The Spell

Readers will also be desperate to escape this poorly written, shoddily imagined fantasy novel. While set in 16th-century England, anachronisms abound. Moreover, the story lacks any world building, an essential piece for any fantasy story. Not recommended.

The Last Campaign

Nebula Award-winning Shoemaker (Today I Am Carey) presents a kind of Martian love story overlaying a suspense thriller. The characters feel as real as the Martian cities and landscapes. The harsh survival realities of the red planet, clashes with a new civilization trying to find its own governing philosophy and economic stability. The strong, symbiotic couple entering this intense and unpredictable environment will delight sf readers and drama fans alike.
PREMIUM

Kitty’s Mix-Tape

A wonderful companion to this urban fantasy series, this final volume will give readers one last look at some favorite characters.
PREMIUM

A Place Called Zamora

Gschwandtner’s (The Other New Girl) novel has an intriguing premise that shows signs of inspiration from Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” books and Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series. The story as a whole is chaotic and disjointed, often moving from past to present events without any break in the text. Libraries with well circulating sf/fantasy collections may want this one; otherwise, pass.
PREMIUM

The Key to All Things

While the story takes place in a fantasy setting, the focus is squarely on the romance between Avriel and Edward, with an enticing “will they, won’t they, are they?” element that enhances the intriguing mystery of what is actually real in this world. The additional twists and turns Speer (The Chocolatier’s Ghost) adds to the plot are numerous and will keep the reader constantly guessing, but everything is brought to a polished conclusion at the end. A solid, enjoyable pleasure read blending romance and mystery with a dash of the fantastical, that will entice readers across multiple genres.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic) returns with another epic story of love and remembrance that probes deep into history while also penetrating profound matters of the heart. [See Prepub Alert, 4/8/20.]

The Sin in the Steel

Van Loan’s debut is an intriguing fantasy, mixing plenty of mystery and magic to create a smart, fast-paced ride across the seas.

A Deadly Education

This latest from Novik (“Temeraire” series) launches a new series that should appeal to aficionados of fantastical fiction as well as to those who have felt they never quite fit in and don’t understand why. The magic and mystery of this chillingly lovely novel will appeal to both YA and adult fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/20.]
PREMIUM

How To Rule an Empire and Get Away with It

Parker’s (Sixteen Ways To Defend a Walled City) latest epic fantasy proves that all the world is, indeed, a stage, and Parker himself is a master impresario. Readers will enjoy his comedic take on how politics are comprised of equal parts lies, incompetence, and the foolishness of humanity—with just enough flashes of brilliance to save the day. Recommended for fans of Terry Pratchett and Mary Gentle’s Grunts.
PREMIUM

Ink & Sigil: From the World of the Iron Druid Chronicles

Delightful! Hearne’s (“Seven Kennings” series) use of Scottish words and spellings (detailed in the foreword) never becomes distracting, but instead adds to the story’s singular flavor. The author includes plenty of shout-outs for fans of the “Iron Druid” series, while introducing an intelligible tale sure to draw in new readers. Great for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Jim Butcher, or Anton Strout.

Anthems Outside Time and Other Strange Voices

By turns prescient, heartbreaking, and provocative. Highly recommended for readers who want their speculative fiction to make them think—and think hard.
PREMIUM

Bystander 27

Fans of comic-book universes will enjoy entering screenwriter Hoskin’s world, where superheroes and villains routinely duke it out on the streets of New York City. The shocking surprise ending adds further intrigue.

Piranesi

Clarke creates an immersive world that readers can almost believe exists. This is a solid crossover pick for readers whose appreciation of magical fantasy leans toward V.E. Schwab or Erin Morgenstern.

Black Sun

Roanhorse (Trail of Lightning) introduces an epic fantasy with vivid worldbuilding and exciting prose. Readers will be attracted to the story, in which there is no real right vs. wrong. Only inevitable change will draw out the heroes of this imaginative tale. [See Prepub Alert, 4/20/20.]
PREMIUM

Daughter of Black Lake

Recommended for readers of historical fiction, romance, and supernatural suspense.

Unconquerable Sun

Elliott’s (King’s Dragon) interstellar novel is an epic space opera that sets this new series off to a promising start. Alternating between the points of view of Princess Sun, Academy graduate Persephone Lee, and Phrene pilot Apama, it gives a nuanced and full-circle view of intergalactic warfare and its powerful effects.

Road Out of Winter

Readers searching for a novel fueled by fierce intelligence and empathy will find here a celebration of humanity, and a warning against its loss.
PREMIUM

So You Had To Build a Time Machine

Offutt (Chasing American Monsters) has created an engaging, quirky, somewhat scientifically believable scenario that both intrigues and infuriates readers, as they attempt to keep up with the constantly shifting plot.
PREMIUM

Space Station Down

“Grand Tour” series author Bova and Kill Zone coauthor (with Kevin J. Anderson) Beason join forces on a tense, claustrophobic, space-bound thriller that while thin on characterization, particularly in regards to the villains, is just plausible enough to keep readers on edge and compulsively turning the pages.

The Bone Shard Daughter

Stewart’s richly told, emotional, action-laced debut lays bare themes of autonomy, control, and the seeds of revolution that come from desiring a new way of life. Readers will finish this eager for the follow-up.

PREMIUM

Queen of Storms

Overall, a perfectly standard epic fantasy with a payoff seemingly far off in the distance of future installments.
PREMIUM

Noumenon Ultra

Adult and mature YA readers who enjoy classic space operas of interplanetary travel and contact with alien life-forms should find this appealing.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor

Throughout this adventurous, witty, and compelling novel, Green delivers sharp social commentary on the power of social media and both the benefits and horrendous consequences that follow when we give too much of ourselves to technology. An essential choice for all sf collections.
PREMIUM

Mirage

Despite the popularity of Czerneda’s earlier works, (e.g., “Trade Pact Universe” trilogy), this new series, beginning with the first book, Search Image, is not quite up to par. Still, longtime fans of the author may want to give it a try.
PREMIUM

Big Girl

Through the lens of sf/fantasy, Elison’s works bring to light topics we generally prefer to keep in the dark: obesity, body shaming, privilege, poverty, and governmental control. With concise, sharp prose and a satirical point of view, Elison take us places we never wanted to go, but in the end we are grateful that we went.
PREMIUM

Kill Orbit

This third in Dane’s “Cry Pilot” series (after Burn Cycle) still delivers pulse-pounding action and the satisfying adrenaline rush of a mission complete, but is best read alongside the previous books, which familiarize readers with the characters and the type of work they do.
PREMIUM

Bright and Dangerous Objects

The Mars Project and Solvig’s interest in it provides an exciting backdrop, but the core of the story is in the very human need to balance personal and familial desires. It will appeal to readers who appreciate realistic portraits and asking the question: “What if I just ran away to Mars?”
PREMIUM

Drowned Country

Following Tesh’s Silver in the Wood (the first book in the “Greenhollow Duology”), this latest installment is just as magical. Recommended.
PREMIUM

The Fourth Island

This quiet, magical-realist fairy tale written with a delicate melancholy will attract readers who enjoyed G. Willow Wilson’s The Bird King or Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War.
PREMIUM

Afterlife Crisis

Law professor Graham (Beforelife) may have been aiming for a story combining elements of Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse, but the corny and juvenile jokes, confusing worldbuilding, and meandering, fourth-wall-breaking narrative only proves to frustrate readers looking for a more cogent tale. However, fans of the author’s first book may enjoy this latest fantasy adventure.
PREMIUM

The Somebody People

Starting with the first book of this duology (The Nobody People) is strongly recommended. Proehl’s use of alternating viewpoints and the occasional flashback help propel the story. However, for its length, it lacks meaningful character development. Should appeal to readers of Marissa Meyer’s “Renegades” series or those who enjoy dystopian X-Men stories.
PREMIUM

In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

Wrapping up his “Eirlandia” trilogy perhaps a little too neatly, Lawhead offers a tale that should satisfy his fans but is unlikely to garner him new ones.
PREMIUM

The Heirs of Locksley

The follow up to Vaughn’s Ghosts of Sherwood enlivens the later years of Robin Hood, showcasing a richly conceived piece of historical fiction/fantasy with snappy dialog and fast-paced action.
PREMIUM

Red Noise

Libraries with well circulating sf collections may want this one; otherwise, pass.
PREMIUM

Spells for the Dead

The fifth entry in the “Soulwood” series (after Circle of the Moon) continues to build a modern paranormal world, filled with action, suspense, and amazing emotional arcs.
PREMIUM

The Seven

Despite its short length, Brock’s tale is packed with backstory and consequently lacks the popular fiction pacing many readers expect. While not entirely without intrigue, the focus is on plot, and character depth and empathy are missing. As a result, Bill is neither likable nor unlikable, he is merely a vehicle used to convey a somewhat banal tale about UFOs. Not recommended for most collections.

The Angel of the Crows

Addison (The Goblin Emperor) enthralls readers with her character-driven action, intriguing expressions of identity and sexuality, and a world set in an alternate 1880s London that captures the imagination.
PREMIUM

Corporate Gunslinger

This title is hard to categorize, but it might be of interest to readers looking for near-future corporate intrigue.
PREMIUM

Attack Surface

Thriller readers of all ages will enjoy the cool tech (sunglasses that fool facial recognition software and blurry texts that evade screen shots), Masha’s international exploits, and the impassioned arguments for privacy, transparency, and justice. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/20]

The Vanished Queen

Campbell’s debut is filled with political intrigue, personal anguish, and family ties that bind. The prose moves smoothly through the alternating points of view of Mirantha, Anza, and Esvar, building well-rounded characters approaching the eve of revolution.
PREMIUM

The Orphans of Raspay

Bujold’s seventh “Penric and Desdemona” story (after The Prisoner of Limnos) is just as engaging as her previous works, highlighting a unique duo and their exciting travails. The expansive worldbuilding is detailed and filled with intriguing characters.

The Space Between Worlds

This exciting debut is intelligently built, with clever characters, surprise twists, plenty of action, subtly detailed worlds, and a plot that highlights social and racial inequities in astute prose.
PREMIUM

Interlibrary Loan

Wolfe died in 2019 at age 87; this posthumous sequel to A Borrowed Man blends a hard-boiled mystery style with a sf future and is mostly successful. While this can be read as a stand-alone, familiarity with the main character’s background story may bring more clarity for readers.
PREMIUM

reV: The Third Machine Dynasty

Ashby’s third in the “Machine Dynasty” series (after iD) begins as a satirical mashup of horror, romance, and sf, and evolves into a complicated story about ethics, compassion, and the possibility of starting over after generations of violence and abuse. A thoughtful choice for those who enjoy genre-bending, boundary-pushing sf.

Escapist Reads for Quarantine, Social Distancing, & Beyond | Science Fiction & Fantasy

In Veritas

Lavigne’s debut urban fantasy novel, part of the “Nunatak First Fiction” series, is full of wonder, darkness, and hope. Part biography, part conversation with an unnamed biographer, the style is engaging and keeps the pages turning. Reminiscent of the best of Charles de Lint, this is a book readers will not want to put down.
PREMIUM

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future. Vol. 36: Bestselling Anthology of Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories

With stories ranging from sf to fantasy, as well as some genre mash-ups, this collection offers something for both adults and teens to enjoy.
PREMIUM

Spy, Spy Again

Longtime Lackey readers will feel a sense of familiarity as this book returns to the world of Valdamar, the setting of the author’s many other series. In addition to showcasing Lackey’s strengths in worldbuilding, this work also highlights her skills in creating realistic characters, the primary drivers of her stories and a delight to read. For fans of Lackey, this new jaunt through Valdemar is not to be missed.
PREMIUM

The Mirror Man

This is a cloning story that reads like a thriller, making it accessible to fans of sf and corporate espionage.

PREMIUM

Shadows of the Short Days

In this first of a new series, Vihjálmsson’s well-developed future world will interest fantasy fans with a taste for dystopia, especially if they’re up for learning new vocabulary.

Flyaway

Jennings’s debut novella is pure, poetic Australian gothic, filled with haunting emotions, fairy-tale action, and sharp prose.

American Demon

Hallows fans rejoice! Harrison (A Perfect Blood) neatly segues readers back into her world of coexisting humans and Inderlanders, with many of the beloved characters and all of the fast quips and high-stakes magical action of her previous books.

PREMIUM

Rainbow Brigade

After four years, Pitts (Night Terrors) brings a rich urban fantasy setting back. This novel is filled with action and delightful characters. Readers will definitely want to start at the beginning of the series to understand the breadth of the mythos.

The Unconquered City

Doore’s (The Impossible Contract) final entry in the “Chronicles of Gahdid” will not disappoint fans. The harsh sands, intricate magic and beliefs, and return of some favorite characters set up a mesmerizing finish.

Goldilocks

Smooth prose weaves a tale to support humanity’s survival, along with the shades of gray of scientific decisions. Lam’s (Seven Devils) exciting sf thriller proves intellectual and entertaining for all.

PREMIUM

The Ghosts of Sherwood

The first of the “Locksley Chronicles” (Heirs of Locksley is due out in Aug.), Vaughn’s (The Immortal Conquistador) look at what comes after Robin Hood is a delightful novella, filled with lively action and characters who continue to stretch the original story even further.

PREMIUM

Scarlet Odyssey

Rwizi’s debut is noteworthy for its African-inspired setting, described at great length at the expense of character and plot development. His introduction of technomagic (the intersection of technology and magic) has potential, but isn’t fleshed out enough to be really engaging. Fans of A.J. Hartley’s “Steeplejack” series may enjoy this.

PREMIUM

Every Sky a Grave

Fans of Frank Herbert’s Dune and Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit should enjoy this series opener that has plenty of action and skillful worldbuilding that doesn’t lean on heavy exposition.

PREMIUM

The Maiden Voyage of New York City

Noticeable continuity problems, awkward and often repetitive phrasing, and a large cast of characters muddy a story that can’t seem to decide if it is cli-fi or a futurist police thriller. Try Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 for a substantially more successful riff on the same theme.

2020 Hugo Awards Finalists

PREMIUM

Rule

Miller’s conclusion to her French Revolution–inspired fantasy trilogy is filled with politics, ambitions, hope, and betrayal. Themes of immigration, women’s lives and rights, and democracy are woven into a delightfully intricate prose tapestry.

The Last Emperox

Scalzi’s trilogy conclusion (after The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire) is filled with irreverent, humorous, and intelligent prose, providing a more-than-satisfying end to this trilogy.

The Four Profound Weaves: A Birdverse Book

Nebula-nominated Lemberg’s first novella, set in their deeply queer “Birdverse” universe, presents a beautiful, heartfelt story of change, family, identity, and courage. Centering two older transgender protagonists in the midst of emotional and physical journeys highlights the deep, meaningful prose that Lemberg always brings to their stories.
PREMIUM

Fantastic Hope

Themes of hope and light in worlds that may seem dark and despairing thread together this collection of stories from new and seasoned authors. A fine addition to collections.

Savage Legion

Smart characters and brutal action create an intriguing story about power and the decisions made to keep it. Wallace (The Failed Cities) introduces a new epic fantasy trilogy filled with rich worldbuilding and people who battle bravely. [See Prepub Alert, 1/15/20.]

The Empire of Gold

Chakraborty (The City of Brass) brings her epic fantasy series to a stunning conclusion. Rich details, familial ties, and magical politics sing in this lush world built from Middle Eastern history and imagination. [See Prepub Alert, 12/9/19.]

Peace Talks

With many familiar faces returning and lots of magical action, this latest from Butcher (Princep’s Fury) will have fans rejoicing at the return of Chicago’s only professional wizard.

The First Sister

This debut showcases themes of colonization, technology, genetic manipulation, and corruption that leaves its mark. A layered, action-filled plot and diverse characters create a powerful entry in the space opera genre. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/20.]
PREMIUM

The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus

Readers who appreciate Scott Lynch’s rapid-fire wit in the “Gentleman Bastards” books may appreciate this pair of skilled but unlucky con men, and readers of V.E. Schwab’s “Darker Shade of Magic” series might find affinity for this familiar but bizarre fantasy world.
PREMIUM

Otaku

Parts sf, mystery, and romance, this high-adrenaline thriller, by the author of the nonfiction collection Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, captures the intensity of in-game encounters in a postapocalyptic world, with a fiery protagonist who holds nothing back—whether fighting monsters or relentless misogyny. Recommended for fans of dark gaming stories, with a side of violence.
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