Cozy Science Fiction and Fantasy

SFF titles that offer out-of-this-world charm.

Bannen, Megan. The Undermining of Twyla and Frank. Orbit. (The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy, bk. 2). Jul. 2024. 448p. ISBN 9780316568258. pap. $19.99. FANTASY

Twyla Banneker wasn’t a typical candidate for the Tanrian Marshals. The work was incredibly dangerous, and no one expected a middle-aged widow to succeed, except her best friend and partner, Frank Ellis. After eight years on the job, Twyla can say that the work is now significantly less dangerous with the drudges gone, and keeping out smugglers, thieves, and other miscreants has even become a bit boring. But when a marshal is discovered covered in a glittering goo, and the other marshals see for themselves the beast that it came from, Twyla’s job quickly becomes interesting again. The rumored dragons of the Old Gods are alive in Tanria again, and one has just decided that Frank is its mother. A handsome dracologist arrives in Tanria to help the marshals, which seems to cause unexpected friction with Frank, and Twyla starts to realize that love has been right in front of her all along. VERDICT Bannen brings readers back to Tanria (after The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy) in another charming romantasy full of humor and adventure.—Morgan Lockard

Beagle, Peter S. I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons. Saga/S. & S. May 2024. 288p. ISBN 9781668025277. $26.99. FANTASY

Gaius Aurelius Constantine Heliogabalus Thrax (or just Robert for brevity’s sake) inherited his father’s job as a dragon exterminator for the small kingdom of Bellemontagne. It’s a role that Robert performs exceedingly well, but there’s just one problem: he likes dragons. He even keeps several as secret pets, an act of protest that only makes his career more unpleasant. However, change is in the air when the king calls upon Robert to rid the castle of the draconic vermin. There, Robert crosses paths with a princess and prince who, like him, feel trapped by the lives into which they were born. The three join forces in a bid to circumvent fate by confronting and defeating a long-forgotten evil force once thought dead. Beagle’s cozy novel embraces over-the-top fantasy tropes, and the effect is a tale that’s as hilarious as it is endearing. Evocative of Terry Pratchett, the writing grows beyond its charming aesthetic to deliver a deceptively serious narrative. VERDICT A high fantasy that’s also cozy, the latest from Beagle (The Way Home; The Last Unicorn) is recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and Travis Baldree’s Bookshops & Bonedust.—Andy Myers

Sagas, L.M. Gravity Lost. Tor. (Ambit’s Run, Bk. 2). Jul. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9781250871282. pap. $18.99. SF

Four months ago, the crew of the Ambit stopped Isaiah Drestyn from destroying an space station and reunited Jal with his family. Their hard-earned peace doesn’t last long before Jal’s sister is kidnapped, and her captors demand that the crew jailbreak Drestyn. As the Ambit crew risks their reputation to free the man they put behind bars, they find that they’re not the only Guild members gone rogue. Someone in the organization is crooked, and the Ambit is caught in the middle of it. The Ambit’s crew carries physical and mental scars from their last adventure, as Nash grapples with trusting others, Eoan with their new sense of mortality, and Saint with how much more he can take. Sagas’s earnest and action-packed novel delves deeper into Cascade Failure’s themes of betrayal, sacrifice, and extremism. The book will appeal to found-family fans, but Jal’s relationships with his sister and niece also shine in this installment and further ground his character. VERDICT The second entry in the “Ambit’s Run” series is perfect for readers who want a cozy sci-fi that doesn’t sacrifice an exciting plot.—Erin Niederberger

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