Jul 192021
 

Kirkus: A 16-year-old Lipan Apache girl from Texas and a cottonmouth person from the spirit world connect when both need help.

When Nina was 9, her Great-Great-Grandmother Rosita told her a story in Spanish and Lipan Apache. Using dictionaries to painstakingly make sense of the garbled transcription app results, Nina uncovers a mysterious story about Rosita’s sighting of a fish girl in her well, long after the joined era when animal people still lived on Earth. Nina uploads her musings about her family’s stories to the St0ryte11er video platform. In the Reflecting World, innocent Oli, a cottonmouth snake person, reluctantly leaves home, settling down and befriending ancient toad Ami, two coyote sisters, and a hawk. Animal people can shift between their true and false (humanoid) forms and are able to visit Earth; Nina’s and Oli’s lives intertwine when he and his friends travel to Texas seeking help after learning that Ami is dying because the earthly population of his toad species faces extinction due to human environmental destruction. They in turn help Nina with the suspicious man lurking near her Grandma’s home, an impending tornado, and her Grandma’s unexplained illness whenever she leaves her land. Little Badger (Lipan Apache) alternates between two distinct, well-realized voices—Nina’s third-person and Oli’s first-person perspectives—highlighting critical issues of language revitalization and climate change. The story leads readers through two richly constructed worlds using a style that evokes the timeless feeling of listening to traditional oral storytelling. A coming-of-age story that beautifully combines tradition and technology for modern audiences

Jul 162021
 
Tor.com: Kerstin Hall’s Star Eater is a stunner of a novel. As debuts go, it’s up there with Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead, A.K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name, and Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire, and—to me, at least—a little reminiscent of all three. Hall’s prose is precise and striking, her characters compelling, and her narrative—well, damn. Damn. To say nothing of the worldbuilding: the bloody, visceral, deeply embodied queerness of its reified metaphors, the personal and political freight borne by the control and regimentation of the female body and its reproductive and generative potential, flesh consumed to fuel a society built on a fundamental act of theft… there are layers here. This novel has teeth and claws and it’s not afraid to use them—but it’s also a lot of fun, and undergirt with a generous helping of kindness. It’s absolutely fantastic. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Jul 152021
 

Locus: Polk draws political developments as deftly as they do personal ones…. Soulstar is a fast, gripping, engaging, and thoughtful read. It’s a worthy and satisfying con­clusion to the Kingston story.

Jul 132021
 

Debut author Mia Tsai’s BITTER MEDICINE, pitched as a xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy about a magical temp agency calligrapher who becomes involved with one of her clients and must embrace her powers in order to battle in a deadly family feud, to Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications, with Jaymee Goh editing by Anne Tibbets.

Jul 092021
 

Tor: Engrossing, horrifying, and vivid, Kerstin Hall’s debut novel Star Eater is a hard one to talk about. This is in part simply because there’s so much there there—so much inventive worldbuilding, so much carefully structured power, so many things I want to exclaim over.

Star Eater is a magical consideration of what it means to destroy a power structure. It’s an intimate, gripping exploration of what people are willing to do to maintain the systems that they believe maintain the world; it’s also a story that asks what doors might be opened if we could truly envision a world unlike the one we live in now.. Hall mixes her unique worldbuilding with familiar tropes—the chosen one, the love triangle(ish), the conspiracy, the mentor figures, the loss of a mother—and the combination creates a book that feels both familiar and unnervingly strange.

Jul 082021
 

Library Journal: The universe is controlled by the Conversation, a hive of AI minds who refuse to let what’s left of humanity take it back. The planet of Dimmuborgir is mostly legend, hiding a secret superweapon that will make whoever controls it supremely powerful. The Dirty Dozen, a diverse mercenary group, was once feared throughout the universe, but 40 years ago their last mission ended in a tragedy that still binds them together, yet apart. Now Rita and Maya are bringing the Dozen back together—kicking, screaming, dying, reviving—for one last mission: to find the secret of Dimmuborgir before the sentient spaceships do. They also need to recover one of their own who’d been thought dead. But when you’re made of clone tissue, uploaded sequences, and modified tech, can you ever die? Filled with emotional trauma, some body horror, and abusive relationships, this can be a difficult read. Yet it’s enthralling too, as it mashes and blurs the lines separating human from machine; the commanding prose brings to mind Tamsyn Muir’s “Locked Tomb” trilogy. VERDICT Khaw’s (Hammers on Bone) first full-length novel is a sensory deluge of language and action that will sweep readers away in a flood of joyful, violent abandon.