Wendy Loggia at Underlined has bought Horror Hotel by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren; Alison Romig will edit. Pitched as The Blair Witch Project for a new generation, this YA horror novel features a group of amateur YouTuber teen ghost hunters who travel to a haunted hotel, the site of an infamous L.A. tragedy, to spend the night and secretly film after dark. When they stumble upon a dead body, they realize that the most terrifying horror stories aren’t always paranormal. Publication is set for spring 2022; Katie Shea Boutillier did the deal for world rights.
Library Journal: Preservation Station was supposed to be a low threat-assessment, but the SecUnit named Murderbot finds itself standing in front of a dead body, facing a mysterious murder. Mensah asks Murderbot to help investigate the death and find out if GrayCris was involved, even though both sides have little trust for each other. Murderbot attempts to work with Senior Officer Indah and her agents, but identifying the dead is the least of their problems. Deceptions and more deaths lead them to smuggling secrets that could expose Preservation to more problems, so of course Murderbot will have to help the humans deal with it. Except this murderer may be as smart as Murderbot, or—Murderbot would never admit—even smarter. Wells’s (Network Effect) flair for balancing Murderbot’s at-length internal monologues with its external voice and decisive actions creates a main character who is addictive. VERDICT Back in novella form for a sixth outing, Murderbot continues to bring intelligence and acerbic commentary on humanity to the forefront.
Publishers Weekly: A famously haunted Japanese mansion is the wedding venue of choice for an adventurous couple in this hair-raising novella from Khaw (These Deathless Bones)—and the local spirits are not the only obstacle to marital bliss. Five childhood friends with a metric ton of baggage between them fly to Japan to witness the union of two of their own—but old hurt and stubborn grudges cast long shadows within their group, and the social drama takes center stage, even as an ohaguro-bettari, the ghost of a bride buried beneath the palace centuries ago, demands a sacrifice for hosting them. When the modern day bride-to-be is taken hostage by the spirit, the remaining friends are left to piece together the offering she demands while facing their own grievances head-on. Khaw’s prose oozes dread as malevolent creatures from Japanese mythology swarm the pages and the characters’ interpersonal relationships crash and burn. Horror readers and folklore fans will find this tale of terror to be brutally satisfying.
Library Journal: An engaging debut featuring intense feelings and situations, with plenty of heat.
Booklist: In Drayden’s Escaping Exodus series, humans carve out lives in the bodies of space creatures called the Zenzee, capturing a new home whenever an old one wears out. In the first volume ( Escaping Exodus, 2019), the matriarchal, polyamorous society realized their Zenzee had consciousness, and committed to respecting and restoring their world as much as possible, living with minimum negative impact. This second volume starts with now-ruler Doka and his wife, Seske, fighting for this new reality, which has made many unhappy, leading to political stagnation. Meanwhile, they are uncovering new secrets and issues that introduce even more turbulence. Drayden’s novel trades off humor with dark reality, connecting this sf world to our own questions of cooperation, gender inequality, and, most of all, our relationship to our planet. While some major plot points or character developments can feel rushed, Escaping Exodus: Symbiosis is, at its core, rooted in a fascinating world that presents intriguing questions to its readers, as well as driven, complex, and often queer characters.
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller sold CONSTELLATION FIVE, a new volume collecting recent short stories set in their nationally best-selling Liaden Universe® series, to Toni Weisskopf at Baen Books via Jennifer Jackson.
Emma Mieko Candon’s STAR WARS VISIONS: RONIN, an original novel inspired by one of the unique tales from the upcoming Star Wars Visions animated series, to Tom Hoeler at Del Rey, for publication in October 2021, by Caitlin McDonald.
Audio rights to New York Times bestselling author Martha Wells’s three new untitled Murderbot Diaries books, to Brian Sweany at Recorded Books, in an exclusive submission, by Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Chinese rights to James Scott Bell’s SUPER STRUCTURE, to China Renmin University Press in a renewal, by Yijhen Lee at The Grayhawk Agency, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Donald Maass.
Czech rights to Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE, to Albatros Media by Milena Kaplarevic at Prava I Prevodi, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier.
Danish rights to Nnedi Okorafor’s AKATA WITCH, to Delphiki, by Philip Sane at The Lennart Sane Agency on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Donald Maass.
Danish rights to Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s TIME OF OUR LIVES, to Palatium, by Philip Sane and Elin Rydner at Lennart Sane Agency, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier.
Japanese rights to New York Times bestselling author Tamsyn Muir’s GIDEON THE NINTH, the first book in the Locked Tomb trilogy, to Hayakawa, by Kohei Hattori at the English Agency (Japan) Ltd. in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Polish rights to Robert McCamon’s BOY’S LIFE, SWAN SONG, USHER’S PASSING and THE LISTENER, to Vesper, in a four-book deal, by Milena Kaplarevic at Prava i Prevodi on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Cameron McClure.
Turkish rights to New York Times bestselling author Tamsyn Muir’s HARROW THE NINTH, the second book in the Locked Tomb trilogy, and also PRINCESS FLORALINDA AND THE FORTY-FLIGHT TOWER, to Ithaki, by Merve Öngen at ONK Agency in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Turkish rights to Brent Weeks’s THE BURNING WHITE, to Ithaki, by Merve Ongen at ONK Agency, on behalf of Katie Shea Boutillier for Donald Maass.
Library Journal: As a member of the Sisterhood of Aytrium, Elfreda Raughn is part of a magical bloodline that preceded her, from her mother to her grandmother and generations back. But it is the same bloodline that forces Elfreda into eventual pregnancy and unavoidable death. Hoping for a way to escape her fate, Elfreda finds a mysterious group, those who believe the power of the Sisterhood has gone too far. Acting as their spy, Elfreda infiltrates a world of opulence and cunning, as drought and rationing affects the rest of Aytrium. With her closest friends by her side, Elfreda discovers that freedom could come at great cost, for the Sisterhood has made many sacrifices to keep its power, and Elfreda could find she is the next to pay. Systemic power structures built on the back of a dead god, ritualistic cannibalism, and magical disease are balanced with emotional themes of love and regret.
VERDICT Hall’s (The Border Keeper) solid worldbuilding and strong prose create an utterly gripping novel that blends the boundaries of horror and fantasy.