Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk
Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk
A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.
An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist—the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.
To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
Finnish rights to Nebula and Hugo Award winner Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED and ARTIFICIAL CONDITION, the first and second installments in the New York Times bestselling Murderbot Diaries series, to Hertta Kustannus Oy, by Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
French rights to Nnedi Okorafor’s NOOR, to ActuSF, by Megan Husain at Anna Jarota Agency, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Donald Maass.
German rights to Lara Elena Donnelly’s ARMISTICE and AMNESTY, to Cross Cult in a two-book deal, by Sarah Knofius at Thomas Schlueck Agency, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Caitlin McDonald.
Italian rights to Annika Martin’s JUST NOT THAT INTO BILLIONAIRES and BUTT-DIALING THE BILLIONAIRE, to Triskell in a two-book deal, by Stefania Fietta at Donzelli Fietta, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Cameron McClure.
Publishers Weekly: World Fantasy Award winner Polk (The Midnight Bargain) does what they do best with this genre-bending fantasy noir novella that brings lofty magic to a grimy 1940s city and showcases queer love along the way. Ten years earlier, warlock and private investigator Elena Brandt made a deal with the devil, bargaining away her soul to save the most precious thing in the world to her. Now she has only three days left before her deal is up and she goes to Hell. She should be spending that precious time with Edith Jarosky, the love of her life, or Teddy, her estranged brother. Instead, her best client reveals herself to be a demon and makes Elena an offer she can’t refuse: if Elena can track down a serial killer, she can have her soul back and live out her days in comfort with Edith. Simple enough—except the murders are gruesome human sacrifices used to invoke an ancient, evil, and terribly powerful magic. Though readers will wish they had more time to explore this shadowy world, Polk’s focus on character development makes every interaction matter as they craft a layered exploration of love and power with genuine emotional stakes and a soaring, perfectly bittersweet payoff. It’s another winner.”
Library Journal: In Polk’s (Soulstar) alternate-history Jazz Age Chicago, where angels live among the godly and demons stalk the streets, Helen Brandt is a woman who sold her soul to save her brother. She has one last chance to get it back and spend the rest of her days with the woman she loves. She thinks her task is to figure out which demon is poaching on another’s Chicago turf. But demons lie—and so, as Helen discovers, do angels. This bittersweet urban fantasy romance wraps its tale of love and inevitable loss in a desperate search for a serial killer that begins as a murder mystery and then grows wings—and tentacles. Polk’s world, where angels answer the prayers of the faithful while demons prey on the fallen, turns standard concepts of good and evil on their heads as the heroine learns that her world is not what she thought it was.
VERDICT Readers who fell into recent Jazz Age urban fantasies such as Desideria Mesa’s Bindle Punk Bruja and fans of time-travel or fantasy romances with tragic endings, like Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, will love Polk’s latest.
Booklist: The 1940s hard-boiled detective story is reimagined with the role of the world-weary PI played by a sapphic magic user whose damned soul is due for collection. Helen Brandt has only three days left on Earth when she’s given the chance to regain the soul she bargained away and live a long and happy life with her lover, Edith. All she has to do is track down the White City Vampire, a magical serial killer stalking the streets of Chicago. That shouldn’t be a problem for the former rising-star mystic trained by the elite Brotherhood of the Compass, especially with the street smarts Helen picked up as a crime-scene augur after she was cast out of the Brotherhood. But when Helen finds herself caught in a battle between demons and angels with the two people she cares for most in the crossfire, she realizes she might have gotten the raw end of the deal. Combining the sensibilities of Raymond Chandler and Jim Butcher, with an achingly bittersweet tribute to the lesbian underground of the 1940s, this is a must-read for those who like their queer fantasy with a little grit and a lot of soul (pun intended).
Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
Best Horror Novel
SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Noor, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
The Witness for the Dead, Katherine Addison (Tor; Solaris)
A Broken Darkness, Premee Mohamed (Solaris)
The Death of Jane Lawrence, Caitlin Starling (St. Martin’s)
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
A Snake Falls to Earth, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga)
The All-Consuming World, Cassandra Khaw (Erewhon)
A Blessing of Unicorns, Elizabeth Bear (Audible Originals 10/20; Asimov’s 9-10/21)
Remote Control, Nnedi Okorafor (Tordotcom)
Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)
“The Red Mother“, Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com 6/23/21)
“Broad Dutty Water: A Sunken Story”, Nalo Hopkinson (F&SF 11-12/21)
“The Black Pages“, Nnedi Okorafor (Black Stars)
“Proof by Induction“, José Pablo Iriarte (Uncanny 5-6/21)
Best Novel: Young Adult
A Snake Falls To Earth – Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
Nothing But Blackened Teeth – Cassandra Khaw (Tor Nightfire)
“The Music of the Siphorophenes” – CL Polk (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
Best Comics Team
Abbott: 1973 – Saladin Ahmed (writer) (Boom! Studios)
The Ember Award (for unsung contributions to genre)