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Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association Names Nebula Award Finalists

PREMIUM

Queen of the Unwanted

A fantasy world built around a feminist society draws on themes that are front and center in the real world today, with an eye to differing viewpoints. The dynamics, intrigue, and plot twists will keep readers immersed.
PREMIUM

Talk Like a Man Plus

Along with a university presentation and interview that intersects everything from divinity to modern technology and belief to science, Shawl’s light prose takes the weight, but not the meaning, out of heavier topics with her signature use of dreamy language and realistic settings.
PREMIUM

The Sisters Grimm

A highly imaginative plot and vivid worldbuilding help to balance the swiftly changing points of view. Ethereal prose sets up a nefarious fairy tale–inspired story about the balance of power between men and women, family ties and first loves, and the choices that must be made whether you are ready or not.
PREMIUM

The Poet King

Myer’s lush prose and imagery amplifies a layered plot filled with magic, prophecy, and power.
PREMIUM

The Immortal Conquistador

This fast-paced novella, filled with action and emotion, offers a satisfying entry back into the “Kitty Norville” series.
PREMIUM

Cursed

An eclectic and delightful mix of fairy tales and modern takes, told by some of today’s best speculative authors, will appeal to fans of the authors and themes alike.

Hearts of Oak

A mesmerizing look at facing reality and what you believe to be true. Robson’s (Welcome to Our Village Please Invade Carefully) characters are well-rounded and themes of exploration and expansion undergird the playful prose.

Stealing Thunder

This delightful debut is rich with detailed worldbuilding, political intrigue, and South Asian cultural references drawn from Boyden’s experience as a trans activist who has traveled in India and Pakistan. Boyden handles the story with a steady hand, and this first novel will delight romantic fantasy enthusiasts.
PREMIUM

The Last Smile in Sunder City

Similar to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s “Maradaine” novels, which show the seedy side of a fantasy city, this debut should drawn in fans of noir fantasy.

How To Love Your Elf

Fantasy and paranormal romance fans will be immediately immersed in this fast-paced adventure from Sparks (The Vampire and the Virgin). A total delight, this new series launch will have readers scrambling for the next enchanting installment.
PREMIUM

Master of Sorrows

Call’s debut, which kicks off the “Silent Gods” series, takes its time coming to a boil, but by the final act there is plenty of action and conflict. Readers of Mark Lawrence’s “Book of the Ancestor” trilogy or Patrick Rothfuss’s “Kingkiller Chronicle” will appreciate the depiction of a young conflicted hero coming of age in a fantastic school.
PREMIUM

Carved from Stone and Dream

Each book in this series can be read as a stand-alone, but readers will enjoy the depth of the characters more if they read Where Oblivion Lives first. Recommended for fans of dark fantasy, supernatural beings interacting with humanity, and spy stories.
PREMIUM

Race the Sands

Durst’s latest delivers the same sweeping prose and lush worldbuilding as her “Renthia” series, with strong female protagonists and lively supporting characters. This compelling fantasy will please fans and engage new readers.
PREMIUM

Imaginary Numbers

The ninth “InCryptid”novel is recommended for most collections. While not a good starting point for the series, it centers on series favorite Sarah and dives into a cryptid angle that fans have been waiting for with the Johrlac. Also included is the novella “Follow the Lady,” about Antinomy Price’s journey home after That Ain’t Witchcraft.
PREMIUM

The Queen’s Bargain

Bishop’s many fans will welcome this latest installment, but new readers should start with the first book of this high fantasy series to be fully immersed in the multilayered world- and character-building.
PREMIUM

The Glass Magician

Stevermer spends little time on worldbuilding, and the terms she employs may confuse readers. Characters are placed into intriguing situations but never seem to learn or grow. Fans would be better served with the YA novels of Anna Godbersen.
PREMIUM

Upright Women Wanted

Gailey sets this adventurous novella that twists a historical trope into a singular story in an alternate future Southwest populated with bandits, shoot-outs, and fierce queer people. Readers will root for these rowdy librarians.
PREMIUM

The Will and the Wilds

This slow-burn fantasy romance with one-of-a-kind worldbuilding is recommended for patient fans of fairy-tale retellings.
PREMIUM

A Queen in Hiding

While the worldbuilding is vast and the characters complex, the multiple points of view may cause some to get lost in this debut series opener. This is the first in a projected quartet that will publish through April 2020, giving readers hope for further action-filled plots and disparate story lines to come together.

Finna

Cipri (Homesick) hits all the right notes in this fantasy novella packed with action and emotion. Part horror, part humor, and all heart, the story uniquely showcases two queer protagonists dealing with their own emotional separation while also being forced to work together. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Knife Children

Bujold’s delightful prose delves once again into the Lakewalker world. While not submerged in high-action conflict, the thought-provoking plot is centered on character growth, family ties, and personal responsibility, and will appeal to readers interested in stories focused on these themes.

The City We Became

Jemisin (The Broken Earth) writes a harsh love story to one of America’s most famous places. As raw and vibrant as the city itself, the prose pushes the boundaries of fantasy and brings home what residents already know—their city is alive. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]
PREMIUM

The Last Day

Murray’s debut novel depicts a thrilling future dystopia. The science of the Slow and the political breakdown that follows are alarmingly realistic, and Hopper’s flight through London as she unravels what could be England’s greatest secret is a ride not to be missed.
PREMIUM

The Chill

Based on the true history of a drowned town and inspired by recent articles about the state of New York City’s water tunnels, this novel provides an alluring mix of truth and ghost story which will draw interest and keep readers hooked. Read-alikes include Christopher Golden’s “Ben Walker” series and the novels of Jennifer McMahon, where humans clash against a monster from the past seeking revenge.

The Deep

A riveting, seductively menacing tale of love, loss, and betrayal set amid the glamour of the Titanic, filled with seances, sea witches, and second chances. Hand to fans of Dacre Stoker, J.D. Barker’s Dracul, or Lauren Owen’s The Quick.
PREMIUM

Prosper’s Demon

With a fresh take on the well-trod demonic possession trope, solid worldbuilding, high-court politics, and an engaging narrator, this short tale will draw in fans of dark speculative fiction, especially admirers of Martha Wells and Grady Hendrix.
PREMIUM

The Ancestor

The rags-to-riches theme paired with long-buried secrets and a claustrophobic setting in which monsters can hide in plain sight makes this title appealing to a wide range of readers, especially in this age of ubiquitous DNA testing. Pair it with Jennifer Egan’s backlist gem, The Keep.

Lullabies For Suffering: Tales of Addiction Horror

This under-the-radar indie title is recommended for all collections, as it could make a difference in readers’ lives, especially those in recovery, who know someone who is struggling, or have lost someone to the struggle.
PREMIUM

The Beetle

Like many Victorian-era gothic tales, this will appeal to a wide range of readers. The universal ick factor of creepy crawlies additionally ensures that this crowdpleaser from the past will continue to strike fear in the hearts and minds of 21st-century readers.

Docile

This powerful debut is filled with achingly tender and brutally raw prose. Szpara strikes out at capitalism as well as the pharmaceutical trade and its effects, while dancing on the emotional knife’s edge between love and obedience.

The Only Good Indians

One of the most anticipated horror titles of 2020, Jones’s latest does not disappoint. While fully entrenched within the genre, its well-developed cast, lyrical language, and heightened suspense will have broad appeal. Fans of Paul Tremblay, Victor LaValle, and Samanta Schweblin will be delighted.

Books for Fans of John Carpenter, "Black Mirror," & "Stranger Things" | #LibrarianRecs

Q&A: Liz Gorinsky, Erewhon Books | SF/Fantasy Preview 2019

Q&A: S.L. Huang | SF/Fantasy Preview 2019

Everything Old Is New Again | Sf/Fantasy Preview 2019

PREMIUM

Zed

Kavenna (The Birth of Love), winner of the Orange Award and Granta Best of Young British Novelists, brings wit and moments of levity to this portentously dark look at a society ruled by corporate technology. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/2019.]
PREMIUM

Crush the King

Estep (Protect the Prince) knows how to create strong and relatable fantasy female leads. Evie’s rise into her power in deeds and magic is a fabulous, inspiring read. Solid writing, bold characters, and action-filled sequences create an exciting finish for this trilogy. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]

The Seep

This surreal debut takes on themes of utopia, identity, love, and loss, while readers are pulled into a full experience through Porter’s fluid prose. This unusual story will linger long past the last page.

Come Tumbling Down

The fifth volume of the “Wayward Children” series (after In an Absent Dream) gives readers the epic ending (is it really the end?) of Jack and Jill’s story line. Once again, McGuire gives readers a starkly poignant tale of longing, love, and belonging.

The Best of Uncanny

This delightful volume of imaginative writing will be devoured by genre fans and newcomers alike.

Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles

This anthology will be mostly of interest to Beatles fans, but even non-fans will find stories here that will move and surprise them.

Lady Hotspur

While this novel is not a direct sequel to Gratton’s Queens of Innis Lear, the character stories and references from the previous novel will delight the author’s longtime readers. The wondrous worldbuilding, strong female leads, and plot filled with regicide, regrets, prophecies, and magic create an intricate and layered story of honor, family, and love.
PREMIUM

The Gatherer

This near-future sf thriller illuminates tipping points in ecological power and scientific pursuit. An action-packed plot, with well-rounded characters and an intriguing premise make it recommended for all collections.

A Beginning at the End

Sometimes it is not the violent battles of post-apocalyptic stories that pull readers in; it is the emotional connection of humanity finding their way. Chen’s (Here and Now and Then) prose lights a brilliant, fragile path through the darkness.
PREMIUM

The Pursuit of William Abbey

Recommended for fantasy fans with a penchant for darker story lines that investigate themes of colonialism and struggles for power. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]

The Girl with No Face

Fans of urban fantasy, Chinese martial arts, magic, and elements of the supernatural will enjoy this second series installment, which captivates readers from the opening pages. The many characters, both human and animal, may at first confuse those unfamiliar with the first book, but the author introduces and develops each of their personalities skillfully so that there is soon no difficulty. A true page-turner not to be missed.
PREMIUM

Revolution

This supernatural spy thriller, sequel to Breach, can easily be read as a stand-alone and hits all the right notes. The fun and thrilling fantasy/thriller mashup will remind readers of Jim Butcher or Lev Grossman with a little Robert Ludlum or John le Carré thrown in.
PREMIUM

Sisters of the Vast Black

Rather’s lean prose works, but the characters, along with readers, arrive at the end with some of the same unanswered questions. Overall, an intriguing debut that touches on philosophical ideas of war, faith, and individuality.

Realm of Ash

Suri’s companion to Empire of Sand continues to expand on the stark beauty and power of this magical realm. With striking characters and court intrigue, this story is dark, melodious, and memorable. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]

Synapse

James (Every Wicked Man) delivers a thought-provoking look at the definitions of humanity, belief, and faith in this timely near-future sf thriller.
PREMIUM

Ivory Apples

The cheery red cover belies the dark, sometimes bleak story contained within. While the writing is beautiful, the story is uneven and told in fits and starts. For true fans of the author.

The New Voices of Science Fiction

While readers may be familiar with many of the names and individual works here, having them together in one volume creates a stunning set of sf shorts. Highly recommended for all collections.
PREMIUM

The Lights Go Out in Lychford

Another entertaining and imaginative entry in Cornell’s “Witches of Lychford” series. A quick read with an interesting town full of characters, but readers may want to start at the beginning of the series to fully understand the story.
PREMIUM

The Rosewater Redemption

Thompson’s smart series end (after The Rosewater Insurrection) is at once intricate and accessible. Readers will loathe saying goodbye to the vibrant people they meet.

Down Among the Dead

Wager’s follow-up to There Before the Chaos is action- and emotion-packed, folding political tension, personal relationships, and trauma into a vivid space opera that does not pull any punches.
PREMIUM

The Blue Eye

Fans of Saladin Ahmed’s Middle Eastern fantasy worlds will appreciate this series for its non-European flavor; those who enjoy Katherine Kurtz’s “Deryni” books will savor its detailed worldbuilding and shifting alliances. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]
PREMIUM

The Waters and the Wild

Some logical inconsistencies are distracting, such as Livy repeatedly mentioning moving to San Diego to attend college in Long Beach (they are 100 miles apart). New readers might welcome this coming-of-age fairy tale, but existing fans will be underwhelmed.
PREMIUM

The Vanished Birds

The boy is reminiscent of Amy Bellafonte from Justin Cronin’s The Passage, yet the journey itself evokes Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, creating crossover appeal for readers who enjoy a bit of emotional attachment with their time travel.
PREMIUM

Imaginary Friend

This epic tale of ultimate good vs. evil is a bit long-winded but still impressive in scope and truly scary.

Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

This stunning collection showcases de Bodard’s lush worldbuilding, meticulous research, and emotional prose. Whether fans of sf or fantasy, readers will find something to dive into here.
PREMIUM

Shattered Bonds

Hunter delivers another solid volume in Jane’s story (after Dark Queen), as her worldbuilding, character development, and action sequences continue to capture readers’ attention.

K. Eason's Pick of the Month, Stars for Cole, Doore, Mihalik, Solomon, plus Roberts's "Rise of Magicks" Finale | SF/Fantasy Reviews, Sept. 2019

PREMIUM

From Hell to Breakfast

Fans of magical realism and unreliable narrators might enjoy this sophomore effort from Tifft (The Long Fire), but the story leaves readers with more questions than answers. The narrative style alternates between first person and stream of conscience and at times is hard to follow. Recommended only for larger collections or where the author’s previous work circulated well.

Wonderland: An Anthology

This collection is not to be missed. Highly recommended for Wonderland aficionados as well as general fans of fantasy, sf, and horror.
PREMIUM

The Imaginary Corpse

This special and distinct novel will be enjoyed by fans of genre-bending tales and literary mashups, excellent for admirers of Jasper Fforde or Neil Gaiman.
PREMIUM

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Harrow’s expressive debut depicts humankind’s resistance to change, repression of the “other,” and the desperation of the privileged when their prosperity is threatened. Fans of C.S. Lewis will be drawn to this magical coming-of-age tale and allegorical commentary on social justice.

System Failure

A great introduction to space opera for novices and a fun time for all. This novel can be read as a stand-alone, but starting with the previous two books in the series will offer the best experience.
PREMIUM

Fortuna

Merbeth’s space opera takes off in new directions after her previous postapocalyptic books (Bite; Raid). High energy, high stakes, and lots of high notes will give readers who enjoy Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera a new volume on which to crash-land.
PREMIUM

The True Bastards

French’s sequel to The Grey Bastards, a 2018 LJ Best Book, continues the half-orcs’ penchant for rough rides, foul language, and heady action sequences. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]

Aurora Blazing

This second book in the “Consortium Rebellion” trilogy (after Polaris Rising) is another exciting, action-driven read. Strong female characters, a slow-burn romance, and interplanetary adventures will draw in both sf and romance readers, especially fans of Ilona Andrews, Becky Chambers, and Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” series.

The Killing Light

This final volume of the “Sacred Throne” trilogy (after Queen of Crows) will wreck your emotions in the worst and best ways. Writing intelligent, intense prose, Cole delivers vivid worldbuilding in a story brimming with religious and military fervor and ruthless action, offering a stunning conclusion to Heloise’s journey.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery

Wickedness and white magic, edgy prose, and celebrated authors make this a magical volume that twists and shapes the witch archetype into fascinating, dark tales.

The Deep

This slim story packs a huge punch. Beautiful and stark in its pain, this emotional journey is one that all readers should take, in order to remember the atrocities of slavery. [See “Fall Fireworks,” LJ 8/19.]

The Impossible Contract

Doore’s second novel (after The Perfect Assassin) continues the lush worldbuilding and inclusive characters of the first, while establishing exciting action- and emotion-filled sequences that will keep readers engaged.
PREMIUM

Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead: Being the Third Part of the Strange and Astounding Memoirs of Watt O’Hugh the Third

Genre mashup devotees should get some good laughs and thrills from this Western/adventure/sf/fantasy blend. Fans of Doctor Who may adapt easily to the timey-wimeyness, and readers of Richard Kadrey’s “Sandman Slim” series who long for more atypical excursions to hell will enjoy as well.
PREMIUM

The Rise of Magicks

The final volume of “The Chronicles of the One” (Of Blood and Bone; Year One) is a full fantasy, postapocalyptic version of Roberts’s tried and true storytelling mastery. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/19.]

The Name of All Things

The second of Lyons’s “Chorus of Dragons” series (after The Ruin of Kings) carries on the epic settings, memorable characters, and broad mythological foundations. Lyons is creating a complex and wonderful series that will immerse and delight.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

Exquisitely written with complex characters, sardonic wit, and immersive worldbuilding. Highly recommended for all readers.

The Starless Sea

In the end, Morgenstern proves wrong one of her villains, who proclaims that a story is like an egg; break it, and it’s lost. Her stories flow together as they flow forward and will enthrall a wide range of readers. Highly recommended. [Prepub Alert, 4/22/19.]
PREMIUM

Stellaris: People of the Stars

Recommended for fans of hard sf who enjoy speculation on human expansion into the galaxy.

Spaceside

Butler’s wry commentary on the military establishment, corporate skullduggery, and life in general feels honest and real. Highly recommended for military sf lovers, who will savor his perspective and probably want to buy the man a drink.
PREMIUM

An Orc on the Wild Side

Holt has taken over the satirical fantasy novel from writers such as Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, with a dose of Kurt Vonnegut tossed in. For readers who do not take their fantasy stories too seriously, or appreciate them a bit silly, this is a gem.
PREMIUM

The Nightjar

Hewitt’s debut is an intense, bloody, and unfortunately flawed fantasy thriller with an intriguing story line that hamstrings itself with a frustratingly inept protagonist whose romantic feelings never ring true.

Meet the 2019 Hugo Award Winners

PREMIUM

The Best Horror of the Year. Vol. 11

A must-have volume for horror aficionados and a solid starter for readers looking to discover new authors in the genre.
PREMIUM

Grave Importance

Intelligent prose and an intriguing cast of characters enhance the range of story lines, culminating in a breathtaking climax. Shaw’s third “Dr. Greta Helsing” novel (after Dreadful Company) blends medical mystery and fantasy adventure to wrap up a delightfully modern undead trilogy.

Chilling Effect

Featuring memorable Cuban-descended characters, this engaging space opera debut delivers a story that dances between hilarity and seriousness, with all the joy and frustration psychic cats can bring to the mix.
PREMIUM

Born in Syn

Recommended for all dystopian fiction lovers, especially those who appreciate the syncing (pun intended) of technology with the story line.
PREMIUM

The Harp of Kings

Told in the alternating points of views of Liobhan, Brocc, and Dau, this story contains lush worldbuilding and well-rounded characters. Here, Marrillier (Blackthorn and Grim) launches a new series, but familiar references to her other books will lead fans right into her enchanting universe once again.
PREMIUM

Trinity Sight

This harrowing debut with Southwestern sensibility depicts the dangers of destroying our planet and questions whether mythology is an apt term to describe Indigenous beliefs. Purchase where Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow are popular.

The Unkindest Tide

The 13th outing for Daye is just as fresh and exciting as the first. McGuire has built a complex world, where seemingly loose ends are woven tightly into the series. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Grasping current and potential future trends and winding them into her accessible hard science plot, Hugo Award nominee Chambers creates an energy of hope and determination with every word, bringing life to space travel and the wonders—and traumas—of Earth’s possible future. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

The Library of the Unwritten

Elaborate worldbuilding, poignant and smart characters, and a layered plot make this first in a fantasy series from Hackwith (also writing as sf romance author Ada Harper) is an ode to books, writing, and found families.

Ninth House

Demand alone would necessitate purchasing multiple copies in all formats, but this is genuinely terrific. The worldbuilding is rock solid, the plot is propulsive, and readers will be clamoring for a sequel as soon as they read the last page. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]

A Song for a New Day

Pinsker’s first novel (after Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea: Stories) depicts a moving alternate future in which technology provides everything a person could want, except human contact. Themes of virtual reality, humanity, and music are threaded throughout this melodic story. [See Editors’ Picks, “Fall Fireworks,” p. 25.]
PREMIUM

Blood of an Exile

Strongly recommended for devoted fantasy readers and a great gateway book for those new to the genre.
PREMIUM

The Furies

Drugs, sex, magic, and murder infuse this quick-paced read that will entertain teen and adult readers alike, weaving multiple layers of deception. While the characters are not quite fully developed, the relationship dynamics help form a solid story.
PREMIUM

A Pilgrimage of Swords

This grim, succinct tale should find an eager audience among fans of sword-and-sorcery fare and short stories.
PREMIUM

American Magic

This urban fantasy/spy thriller employs magic as just another superweapon, and brings all of the usual suspects to bear in order to stop it, complete with secret societies, evil government officials, and rogue agents accomplishing the mission from the outside. It all makes for a heady, page-turning mix.
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