SF/Fantasy/Horror Previews: May 2023, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

Speculative fiction from dragons to witch kings.

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Blackgoose, Moniquill. To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit. Del Rey: Ballantine. May 2023. 528p. ISBN 9780593498286. pap. $18. FANTASY

Cervantes, J.C. The Enchanted Hacienda. Park Row: Harlequin. May 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780778334057. $27.99. FANTASY

Huang, S. L. The Water Outlaws. Tor.com. May 2023. ISBN 9781250180421. $28.99. FANTASY

Jackson, Sarah K. Not Alone. Doubleday. May 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780385548434. $27. Downloadable. DYSTOPIAN

Khaw, Cassandra. The Salt Grows Heavy. Tor Nightfire. May 2023. 112p. ISBN 9781250830913. $21.99. Downloadable. HORROR

McNamara, Luna. Psyche and Eros. Morrow. May 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780063295070. $27.99. FANTASY

Paolini, Christopher. Fractal Noise. Tor. May 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781250862488. $28.99. CD. SF

Saintcrow, Lilith. Spring’s Arcana. Tor. May 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781250791641. $30.99; pap. ISBN 9781250791658. pap. $17.99. FANTASY

Wells, Martha. Witch King. Tor.com. May 2023. 432p. ISBN 9781250826794. $28.99. Downloadable. FANTASY

Set in an alternate 1840s New England, To Shape a Dragon’s Breath features Indigenous teenager Anequs, honored by her people when she bonds with a newly hatched dragon but challenged by the repressive rules at her dragon school, run by Anglish conquerors; debuter Blackgoose is an enrolled member of the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe. Disappointed in love and life, Harlow Estrada returns home to The Enchanted Hacienda, where the women in her family purvey a gift she lacks, creating magic from flowers—but who knows what kind of magic might come her way as she runs the house in their absence; an adult debut from best-selling YA/Middle School author Cervantes. In The Water Outlaws, Hugo Award winner Huang draws on the Chinese classic Water Margin to tell the story of Lin Chong, who is driven from her job training the emperor’s soldiers and taken in by the Bandits of Liangshan—thieves and murderers who seek justice for the empire’s downtrodden (30,000-copy first printing). Living in an isolated apartment outside London five years after a microplastic storm killed most of Earth’s population, Katie and son Harry—born after the storm—learn they are Not Alone in ecologist Jackson’s debut; a stranger barges in, unsettling their lives but inspiring Katie to seek out her fiancé. In British Fantasy winner/Bram Stoker finalist Khaw’s The Salt Grows Heavy, a mermaid murders her husband, destroys his kingdom, and runs off with a mysterious doctor to the taiga, where they discover a village full of creepy children whose blood sport jeopardizes their visitors (125,000-copy first printing). It is foretold that Psyche will vanquish a monster that makes even the gods quake, and she dutifully trains for battle, but in debuter McNamara’s retelling of the Psyche and Eros myth, her victim is the god of love himself, pricked by his own arrow (100,000-copy first printing). In the mega-best-selling Paolini’s Fractal Noise, a huge pit clearly made by someone or something is spotted by the crew of the Adamura on the supposedly uninhabited planet of Talos, and a team is dispatched to investigate (400,000-copy first printing). Seeking a cure for her desperately ill mother, Nat Drozdova travels to a snow-shrouded Manhattan skyscraper, where she encounters a winter goddess who sends her on a dangerous mission in the New York Times best-selling Saintcrow’s Russian fantasy–inspired Spring’s Arcana (100,000-copy paperback and 10,000-copy hardcover first printing). In this new fantasy from Wells, winner of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Alex honors for her New York Times best-selling “Murderbot Diaries” series, Witch King Kai-Enna has been confined to a complex water trap after being murdered and is struggling to understand why he was imprisoned and why the Rising World Coalition is getting stronger by the day (200,000-copy first printing).

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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