Booklist: There are three things to remember about the spirit realm: follow the rules, get consent, and do not eat or drink. Another unspoken guideline is to trust no one beyond the border between the mortal and spirit worlds. Controlling each domain is a god or demon who will kill for sport, especially anyone who breaks their rules. The border keeper has had many names and inhabited untold vessels over innumerable years, but she lives alone and does not suffer fools lightly. She once loved a god king but lost him to treachery and murder centuries ago. A wandering scholar arrives at her home, seeking passage, though he will not specify what he is looking for in the world of spirits. He has a sad story that brought him to her door, and for reasons she does not understand, will compel the guardian to accept him and act as his guide. With parallels to a range of mythologies, Hall’s elegant descriptive language evokes a vivid world of lost souls and revenge in this fast-paced fantasy debut.
My name is Norah Canivan, and for 50 years I’ve kept a secret.
It is a secret about the girl I discovered hiding on our sorry patch of land – the girl in the tattered green dress who was running from something – and someone.
The Girl in Green brought something different into my young life. And something darker. And when she died, nothing was ever the same after.
For 50 years, only I’ve known what really happened to The Girl in Green.
And now, these many years later, my secret may kill me.
Publishers Weekly: Grim but brilliant sequel…. The many cultures are richly detailed, adding depth. This installment will more than satisfy fantasy readers who like deadly battles balanced with intricate worldbuilding and skilled characterization.
Debut author and Yale Writers’ Workshop alum Tori Whitaker’s MILLICENT GLENN’S LAST WISH, a dual timeline story set in post-WWII and present-day Cincinnati suburbs, in which a woman must face her decades-long secret of tragedy in a crowded baby-boom maternity ward, and its effects on her family, to Chris Werner at Lake Union Publishing, for publication in fall 2020, by Katie Shea Boutillier.
Bulgarian rights to Robert McCammon’s BOY’S LIFE, to Iztok-Zapad, in a renewal, by Milena Kaplarevic at Prava I Prevodi, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Cameron McClure.
Danish rights to Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s IF I’M BEING HONEST, to Palatium , by Philip Sane and Elin Rydner at Lennart Sane Agency on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier.
French rights to Nnedi Okorafor’s KABU KABU, to ActuSF, by Robin Batet at Anna Jarota Agency on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Donald Maass.
Kirkus: An Afrofuturist love story, set inside a giant space-creature, about two women of different castes.
In a far distant future, humans left Earth behind generations ago in a mass exodus. The survivors now travel inside enormous beasts that trek across the vacuum of space; human societies carve out spaces inside the living leviathans that carry them. Seske, the daughter of the clan matriarch, is being groomed for her eventual position of power, but she’d much rather spend her time with Adalla, her best friend since childhood; however, Adalla’s a beastworker who toils in the space beast’s organs and arteries. The chapters alternate between the first-person perspectives of the two young women, and it quickly becomes clear that Seske and Adalla are very much in love—but a beastworker isn’t considered a suitable mate for the heir apparent. When Seske suddenly becomes the clan matriarch, her title is threatened by another claimant—her own sister. Meanwhile, Adalla, heartbroken over losing Seske, is demoted until she’s a lowly boneworker. Soon the two women each uncover shocking truths about their society and how it operates—and, more importantly, about the beast that keeps them all alive. The plot twists that follow are surprising but mostly plausible, and it culminates in a gratifying finish. Everything about the Afrofuturistic worldbuilding is exquisitely imaginative, and the characters are three-dimensional, occasionally offering flashes of dark humor. The spacefaring beast is a marvel, containing a whole ecosystem with microclimates and other organisms living within it alongside humans. Although the relationship between the two young women is perpetually hampered by circumstance, as most good love stories are, it’s palpable and vibrant. One hopes to read more about Seske and Adalla’s further adventures.
Publishers Weekly: This grim but brilliant sequel to The Grey Bastards follows the Bastards’ new leader, half-orc/half-elf Fetching, as she takes charge of her cohort (or “hoof”) of half-orcs and the humans who rely on them. Fetch and her fellow “mongrels” face off against famine and starvation, cavaleros from neighboring Hispartha, another band of half-orcs who feel that Fetch is unworthy to lead, and a mysterious, enormous orc (large enough to pick up a horse and throw it like a baseball) and the oversized hyenas that he commands. The woes that face the Bastards are unrelenting, and Fetch isn’t sure she can count on their supposed allies: the other hoofs, the cultish human Unyars, the elven mountain-dwellers, and the newly arrived foreigners called Zahracenes. But by the novel’s end, Fetch has secured real connections and support for the surviving Bastards. French’s half-orcs are an uncouth lot but fiercely loyal to one another and those they protect, and Fetch herself is prepared to endure unimaginable pain to secure safety for her people. The many cultures are richly detailed, adding depth. This installment will more than satisfy fantasy readers who like deadly battles balanced with intricate worldbuilding and skilled characterization.
Booklist Readers: While for Good Omens protagonists, Aziraphale and Crowley, the apocalypse is set to start after teatime, for Elena Mendoza, it begins at Starbucks. She just wanted to talk to her crush, Freddie. But then the siren from the Starbucks logo starts speaking to Elena, and Elena saves Freddie from a gunshot wound, and before you know it, Elena is a certified miracle worker. In fact, the voices she hears want her to work more miracles, and they want her to ignore the fact that when she does, people disappear in a beam of golden light. It would be really nice if the troll dolls—and the bossy voices that appear in a variety of other objects—would just stop talking to her. But what if the disappearances tied to Elena’s miracles have the power to save people from a terrible future?
SFX Magazine: Shadows Of The Short Days offers something old and something new. Set in an alternative Iceland, it follows Smundur and Garün, former lovers turned dissidents against a repressive regime. Smundur’s experiments with magic have outraged the respectable magic institutions, but he’s determined to push ever further. Garün, meanwhile, is taking the law into her own hands. Part human, part-huldufólk (a race of extradimensional beings), she’s using magic to sow sedition in the city.
The urban setting, focus on politics and gritty tone are more than a little redolent of China Miéville’s breakout, Perdido Street Station. Like that book, Vilhjálmsson’s prose is full of a vibrant, punk energy But there’s also a sense of history, the book rooted in the myth and folklore of Iceland. His fantasy creatures feel convincingly ancient and strange—we particularly liked the Náskári, a race of jabbering ravenfolk.
Some will be put off by the reliance on Icelandic words. There is a glossary at the back, but they come so thick and fast that you’re probably best off just diving in and letting them wash over you. That could be said for the book as a whole. It’s complex, occasionally opaque, but vividly imagined and compelling.
Priyanka Krishnan at Orbit has acquired Alyc Helms and Marie Brennan’s Rook and Rose trilogy, which will be published under the pseudonym M. A. Carrick. The trilogy is a politically charged epic fantasy in which a clever but desperate con artist attempts to pull off the scheme of her lifetime—infiltrating a noble house by posing as a long-estranged family member—and finds herself drawn into an ever-deepening web of magical and political intrigue with dangerous consequences. The deal was brokered by Paul Stevens, on behalf of Helms, and Eddie Schneider at JABberwocky Literary Agency, on behalf of Brennan.