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PREMIUM

The Best of R. A. Lafferty

The stories in this collection sum up the quintessential Lafferty, but the standouts in this volume are the heartfelt introductions. Readers wondering about this writer who influenced their current favorite authors, and those who have seen references to this influential author but are having difficulty finding his work, as much of it has gone out of print, will enjoy this collection.
PREMIUM

Dead Space

Wallace (Salvation Day) showcases themes of xenophobia, corporate profit, and AI evolution in this absorbing space thriller.
PREMIUM

Gifting Fire

The sequel to Stealing Thunder continues to entertain as a beautiful romantic fantasy series inspired by Pakistani culture.

The Witness for the Dead

The follow-up to the acclaimed The Goblin Emperor brings back a favorite character and expands the elaborate world Addison has created. Fans of the first book—and new readers—will find this novel delightful and immersive
PREMIUM

Wings of Fury

King (“Hundredth Queen” series) takes a fresh look at the Greek pantheon to create a clamor for the next book of this new series.
PREMIUM

The Second Bell

Houston projects her background of Polish mythologies and dark fairy tales onto this fanciful debut. Redemption, sacrifice, and generosity underpin this story about mother-and-daughter relationships. Fans of mythical yarns and medieval fantasies will enjoy this easy-to-read fable.

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng

The stunning conclusion of the “Chronicles of the Bitch Queen” series (after The Ikessar Falcon) is filled with high-stakes action, emotions, and magic, with an ending that will not disappoint.

The Councillor

A skilled debut of politics, secrets, and magic that will grab readers from the start.
PREMIUM

Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters

Ogden (Frozen Fairy Tales) takes “The Little Mermaid” to outer space and imagines the desires beyond love and land. This novella will tug at the heart of every reader.
PREMIUM

The Moonsteel Crown

This dark and gritty fantasy is recommended for readers wanting the scope of an epic with the grittiness of grimdark urban fantasy. It will be loved by those who are looking for stories that exhibit all the darkness at the heart of “Game of Thrones” set in the mean streets of the grittiest of fantasy cities, and/or those who like antihero protagonists stuck in a morally gray area.

Children of Chicago

With superior worldbuilding, a relentless pace, a complex heroine, and a harrowing story that preys off of current events as much as its well-developed monster, this is a stellar horror novel that fires on all cylinders, from the first page through to its horrible conclusion. For fans of dark fantasy based on fairy tales such as Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series or novels by Helen Oyeyemi, with just the right touch of Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski.
PREMIUM

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

A deft and unique blend of werewolf story with an honest and respectful discussion of bipolar disorder. It is an obvious suggestion for fans of The Last Werewolf Trilogy by Glen Duncan but also a great companion to thought-provoking creature tales that contemplate the character’s trauma as part of the horror, such as Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad.
PREMIUM

The Route of Ice and Salt

A necessary and engaging addition not only to the always popular subset of Dracula-adjacent tales such as Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker, but also to the growing pantheon of retellings of horror classics from a marginalized perspective such as Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom.

PREMIUM

Dead of Winter

While COVID-related publishing shifts delayed this collection by a few months, readers will enjoy being immersed in these winter-themed stories any time of year. Pair it with the excellent collections of Victorian winter solstice and Christmas ghost stories published by Biblioasis.
PREMIUM

The Searching Dead

A finalist in the Horror category for the British Fantasy Award, this is a slow burn of a novel with a fantastic pay-off, an intense and menacing story framed by superior worldbuilding. It is a good suggestion for fans of It by Stephen King or the “African Immortals” series by Tananarive Due.

PREMIUM

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe

A compelling, immersive, and intense time-slip horror novel with sympathetic characters that readers actively root for. The tale reads like The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle if it were written by Sarah Pinborough.

Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan

This collection by a rising star in horror harkens back to classic anthologies by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe or Arthur Conan Doyle, but with a voice that represents the rich storytelling traditions of Pakistan. For fans of dark fantasy and horror. Pair with other works exploring universal fears framed and informed by the author’s identity such as those by Stephen Graham Jones, S. A. Chakraborty, and Marlon James.
PREMIUM

The Bone Maker

With great pacing and character development, Durst’s action-packed adventure is sure to make new fans and satisfy her legions of current ones.

The Forever Sea

Johnson’s beautiful coming-of-age saga touches on subjects of conservation, water rights, morality, and relationships, without mentioning them outright. The world he builds is very different from ours but with some of the same problems. The book’s setting and plot are so original as to be a breath of fresh air to the fantasy genre.

Engines of Oblivion

Osborne’s follow-up to Architects of Memory is a solid story of corporate control versus personhood, alien encounters, and doing what is right as opposed to what is easy.
PREMIUM

A Desolation Called Peace

This follow-up to Martine’s debut, A Memory Called Empire, contains beautiful prose and complex worldbuilding that will immerse readers in a dazzling story of alien contact and colonization.
PREMIUM

Malice

Walter’s debut weaves together fairy-tale tropes into an exciting, twisted tale of friendship, love, and legacy.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry

Waggoner (Unnatural Magic) crafts an excellent historical fantasy that also manages to have a sweet and hot love story at the center. At turns laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming, this fast-paced book is for fans of romance, historical fantasy, and Theodora Goss’s “Athena Club” series.

The Witch’s Heart

Angrboda’s love for her children shines passionately through this tale. A retelling of the Norse legend from the viewpoint of a woman often left in the margins, this book deserves to be a classic. For readers of Madeline Miller’s Circe and the Marvel version of Loki.

The Queen’s Weapons

The latest “Black Jewels” novel (after The Queen’s Bargain) continues to deliver dark fantasy with lush worldbuilding, strong characters, and high-stakes action.
PREMIUM

Doors of Sleep: Journals of Zaxony Delatree

Readers will sympathize with Zax and his fellow travelers as they are yanked into new worlds every few pages or even every few sentences. Pratt’s (The Fractured Void) skillful worldbuilding will appeal to sf fans.
PREMIUM

Dune: The Duke of Caladan

Recommended for readers who feel compelled to complete their knowledge of this world, fans who want to know everything there is to know before the next movie version, and libraries where previous continuations of this series have proven popular.
PREMIUM

Rafael

The 28th novel in Anita Blake’s world centers on a supporting male character who does not necessarily advance the plot but gives space to see more of Rafael and his rodere.
PREMIUM

Voidbreaker

Recommended for readers with an interest in fantasy, fiction, magic, battle scenes, romance, and religiously driven moral debates.
PREMIUM

The Dark Archive

The seventh novel (after The Secret Chapter) keeps Irene’s story moving forward with revealed secrets and worldbuilding. Blending fantasy, mystery, and a hint of romance, Cogman continues to produce a solid series.
PREMIUM

Queen of None

Barron’s (These Marvelous Beasts) novel blends human earthiness with the mystical elements we have come to expect from Arthurian legends, allowing readers to feel as though they could slip from the mundane to the fantastical at any moment. While a bit disjointed at times, this work ably captures the essence of King Arthur’s court and those who inhabited it.
PREMIUM

The Brass Queen

A delightful gaslamp fantasy that will please readers of Gail Carriger and Kate Locke.

Fireheart Tiger

Nebula and Locus Award winner de Bodard (The House of Sundering Flames) crafts a story of love, power, and what burns within. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Methuselah’s Legacy

This book will challenge and entertain readers who enjoy a hearty dose of philosophical-based sf.
PREMIUM

Situation Normal

Richardson’s (Constellation Games) new space opera is a satirical look at war, politics, megabrands, and cultural division. Seamlessly blending serious subject matter with humor, this book shines a light on today’s issues in a way that will have readers laughing one minute and wanting to cry the next.
PREMIUM

Dealbreaker

While the future technology is fascinating and the premise of the novel is intriguing, the author has chosen to make the characters almost mechanical to the point of being artificial in nature and speech and, possibly, unappealing to their target audience. However, the first novel was well received and, for those sf junkies who enjoy everything technological, this will be a welcome return to Beckett’s world.
PREMIUM

The Mask Falling

Existing fans will cheer, while those new to the series should absolutely start with book one.
PREMIUM

Speculative Los Angeles

As with any anthology, the contents vary. Speculative fiction is a bit of a catchall term that may not be especially meaningful to readers. This particular collection seems geared toward an audience fond of dystopian short stories or longtime fans of Akashic’s “Noir” series wanting to branch out.

Best SF & Fantasy of 2020

PREMIUM

The Con

DeLuzio gives an up close and personal look at the sometimes feared, often mocked sf convention, only this one just might have real aliens in attendance. The double entendre title highlights the book’s deeper theme: How do we define what is real and what is fantasy? Some readers may be confused by the sf references and gaming jargon, but the quirky cast of characters and their relatable geekiness more than make up for it. Includes short stories “Troll Bridge” and “Do You See What I See?”
PREMIUM

XX

The combination of hard sf elements and Hughes’s background as a cartoonist create a vivid, expansive reading experience. This will especially interest readers who are excited by hybrid novels that blend traditional and illustrative formats.
PREMIUM

A History of What Comes Next

Neuvel’s intriguing first-contact story is set through centuries of manipulation and pursuit. It’s a promising start to what looks to be a dark and exciting trilogy.

The Burning God

An incredible end to this epic trilogy. Mixing historical parallels of Chinese history, the themes of war, politics, and colonialism are balanced with terrific, flawed characters and amazing worldbuilding.
PREMIUM

Persephone Station

This enjoyable and thrilling read features excellent worldbuilding and lively characterizations. The engaging crew and well-drawn plot will have readers hoping this will become a series.
PREMIUM

We Could Be Heroes

Chen’s (A Beginning at the End) writing wraps hard topics with heartfelt and humorous prose, creating a delightful novel of the steps and missteps of power, friendship, and trust.
PREMIUM

D (A Tale of Two Worlds)

Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White), an award-winning writer of short stories, fiction, and nonfiction, has created a thoroughly engaging young adult crossover fantasy that occasionally breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the reader midstory. Clever and enjoyable, this Narnia-like work will delight any fantasy buff.

Remote Control

This compelling novella is Africanfuturism sf at its best.

Colonyside

The third “Planetside” novel (after Spaceside) is a story that lives in the universe-weary voice of its protagonist. It is highly recommended for readers who like their heroes cynical, their mystery twisted, and their sf thought-provoking.
PREMIUM

Busted Synapses

A superb example of dystopian, cyberpunk f lash fiction that echoes William Gibson’s Neuromancer, this volume may be slim but it packs a punch. Satifka (A Punk Rock Future) magnificently weaves an in-depth world that is entirely believable (and possible) and that is a fast, but great, read. Readers of dystopian sf will especially love this irreverent take on the darker side of the virtual world and the move toward transhumanism.

PREMIUM

Beyond Kuiper: The Galactic Star Alliance

While there may be an audience for this, it is not a book that will have wide appeal. This novel caters to readers who enjoy hard sf in its most literal interpretation by including scientific theories and jargon that may not be accessible to average readers. The format and its reliance on footnotes to explain key elements is another drawback. But the chief issue is its complicated worldbuilding and thin plot, which all but ensures that only advanced readers of the genre may want this book.
PREMIUM

Outré

Wilson’s (Natural Complexions) latest is a wild, surreal modern trip down the rabbit hole. Anyone who enjoys stream-of-consciousness stories, as well as fans of artists Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, will enjoy this hallucinatory dreamscape. Modern cultural elements are supernaturally twisted, while the movie industry is satirized. Logophiles will love the imaginative uses of obscure words.
PREMIUM

Loveoid

While the story’s premise is interesting, the disjointed writing and plotting distracts from the work as a whole. More troubling is the author’s use of racist stereotypes, the emotionally abusive relationship of Khalid and Olivia, and the derogatory language toward overweight characters. Not recommended.

Daughter of the Serpentine

Highly recommended as a crossover for adults and YA readers drawn to fantasy novels with dragons and the women who ride them. Start with the first in the series or just dive right into this perfect adventure tale.

Overdrawn

Crosskey (Poster Boy) delivers a compelling look into an ageist culture motivated by concern for environmental sustainability but completely devoid of the true meaning of life. Yet despite the nefarious state of this postapocalyptic world, Crosskey proves that out of the darkest circumstances, kindness and selflessness can still reign. A must for all sf/dystopian fiction collections.
PREMIUM

The Bladebone

Recommended for fans of quality worldbuilding, and for libraries where Khan’s other books are popular.

The Midnight Bargain

Polk’s (Witchmark) foray into a society of magic and politics places the woman in the secondary role, but neither Beatrice nor Ysbeta will stay in place. Fans of romantic fantasy set in a multicultural world will find this a fascinating read.
PREMIUM

Across the Green Grass Fields

The sixth “Wayward Children” title (after Come Tumbling Down) is a gorgeous standalone. The prose is emotional and moving and will speak to the hearts and minds of readers.

Hollow Empire

The second of the “Poison War” series (after City of Lies) raises the stakes with a plot of thrilling suspense and characters who are dynamic. Readers will be clamoring for the next book in the series.
PREMIUM

Fathers of Cambodian Time-Travel Science

The stories here are offbeat and dark, skewing either horror (“The Milkman,” “The Mask of Cajolo,” “Magellan”) or postapocalyptic dystopian (“The Franklin Thesis”). Readers with a penchant for the weird and feverish will enjoy, but this is not an essential purchase.

King of the Rising

The second half of this duology (after The Queen of the Conquered) is a powerful look at colonialism, oppression, and rebellion, and all that it can cost the individuals involved.

The House of Styx

This electrifying planetary adventure features a hardscrabble family that earnestly addresses issues of addiction, gender, sexuality, and disability while surviving storms of all sorts in the hostile clouds of Venus. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Please Do Not Ask forMercy as a Refusal Often Offends

Dystopian novels are abundant these days, and this quirky entry feels timely and should appeal to readers who aren’t looking for romantic triangles or teen angst.

Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

Wong (“John Dies at the End”series) once again achieves the perfect balance between sardonic humor and satirical digs at the digital age in the sequel to his award-winning Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. Filled with laugh-out-loud moments and philosophical and ethical questions about the nonstop advancements of technology, this novel reminds us of an oft-forgotten question: Just because we can do something, does that mean we should??

The Factory Witches of Lowell

In her adult debut, YA author Malerich (Fire & Locket) has created a delightful historical fantasy shining a spotlight on New England history, making this a terrific companion to Alix Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches.
PREMIUM

Escape from Extinction

Overall, readers seeking the exchange of ideas at the center of their sf will find this an intriguing if uneven entry.
PREMIUM

The Blade Between

Filled with intense dread and unease; well-drawn if flawed characters; social commentary; and a satisfying resolution, this is a great example of how a century-old subgenre can still speak directly to today’s readers. Direct those who want more to John Langan’s The Fisherman, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland, or T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones.

PREMIUM

The Hollow Places

This unsettling, character-driven story of a young woman in search of herself reads like a darker, more macabre version of Alice in Wonderland, keeping readers turning the pages long after dark. Suggest with confidence to fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy or Zoje Stage’s Wonderland.

PREMIUM

Writing in the Dark

This excellent writing guide by an accomplished author and teacher will enhance all collections with its instruction. It’s also a fun read that elucidates the appeal of horror while also functioning as a solid readers’ advisory resource.

Boneset & Feathers

Kiste casts a spell with this original and suspenseful horror story, but it holds more than meets the eye. Clearly influenced by Shirley Jackson, this will appeal to fans of Naomi Alderman’s The Power, Alexis Henderson’s The Year of the Witching, or Zoje Stage’s Wonderland.

PREMIUM

The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories

This desperately needed anthology is meticulously researched and translated, offering stories from a variety of perspectives across five continents, and representing the broad range of storytelling styles and tropes that are used by all horror storytellers regardless of nationality. Readers will be clamoring for these fresh tales by current authors they probably didn’t know existed. Consider pairing it with A World of Horror edited by Eric Guignard.

Plain Bad Heroines

With a pointed female focus, an unease constantly seeping in from the perimeter, spilling fear all over the page at key moments, and characters who leap off the page, this volume will be sure to inspire many fans. Comparisons to Marisha Pessl’s Night Film or Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger are spot on, but this will also appeal to fans of dark speculative tales such as Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep and Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth.

Ring Shout

Not only the perfect choice for fans of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country or Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, but also of other dual-threat fun and thought-provoking speculative fiction such as Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth or Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation.

PREMIUM

Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Stories of Horror

A better entry into the world of horror as it stands today would be hard to find. The short, but never sweet, tales surprise as they unsettle and terrify. Readers will seek out more titles by the authors they discover here, or direct fans of the format to Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder.

PREMIUM

Dark Star Rising

This naval adventure in space is recommended for fans of David Weber’s character Honor Harrington and Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Vorkosigan Saga,” as all three combine adventure, espionage, tight-knit crews of adopted families, as well as a mix of governmental shenanigans, warfare, and political corruption.
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.

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.

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.
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