Congratulations to Martha Wells for her 2023 Dragon Award win in Best Fantasy Novel category for Witch King!
Locus: Stepping into The Salt Grows Heavy is like stepping into someone else’s fever dream. This strange, dark, violent, lyrical novella contains some of Khaw’s most brilliant, elegant, haunting writing: ‘‘For all that humanity professes to delighting in its own sophistication, it longs for simplicity, for when the world can be deboned into binaries: darkness and light, death and life, hunter and hunted.’’ The use of language is immaculate, but that doesn’t detract from the great pacing. The prose is lyrical and flows like water from a broken vase, but that doesn’t diminish the impact of the gore, murders, and scenes of surgery and self-mutilation. The taiga’s cold is brutal, and the small village is a bare-bones place where life seems to barely hold on, but the wealth of details Khaw injected into the narrative rivals that of any 400-page novel. In short, this is a novella that feels much larger than its word count and shows a very talented storyteller at the height of their powers.
Kirkus: A novella set in the Cinder Spires fantasy universe sees its protagonist caught up in a potentially deadly mission.
Humanity survives in the Spire-cities that tower well above the deadly surface of a steampunk world. Newly minted lieutenant of the Spirearch of Albion’s Guard and warriorborn (denoting a catlike species of humanoids with “enhanced senses and speed”) Sir Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster is called upon by the ruling Spirearch, Lord Albion himself, to go on a secret, undercover mission. He is to take the airship Predator to Colony Dependence, a backwater Spire, on an assignment to retrieve a bag that may or may not contain important intelligence information regarding a looming war with their enemies. Joining him on his mission are three notoriously uncooperative warriorborn, convicted felons who had been captured and put in jail by Benedict and have now been promised their freedom on the condition Benedict survives and successfully returns home. As the ragtag team’s journey proceeds, they investigate the mystery of the inexplicably abandoned Dependence while facing danger and death. While readers familiar with the series will have a better understanding of the ins and outs of the Cinder Spires world, this is mostly a stand-alone story that, despite its brevity, packs a lot of punch in an engaging, fast-paced read with well-defined characters, including Benedict, a reluctant yet fierce hero. But the real standout is one of the secondary characters who follow Benedict into the fray: the warriorborn vigilante serial killer Lady Herringford, who becomes his de-facto second-in-command: “She’d identified his biggest problem and was now attacking it as effectively as an excellent subordinate officer. Evidently, when Matilda Herringford gave her word, she meant it.” Add Steampunk vibes, terrifying monsters, charming talking cats, and an open ending that tantalizes readers into reading the series—this is a recipe for success.
A delectable slice of SF adventure.
Publishers Weekly: Grimshaw Griswold Grimsby returns as the newest—and least magically skilled—Auditor for the Department of Unorthodox Affairs in Butcher’s dynamic urban fantasy sequel to Dead Man’s Hand. Grimsby’s partner, Leslie Mayflower, aka “the Hunstman,” has been AWOL for weeks, limiting Grimsby to routine drudge work—until he swaps out his latest assignment for a RUIN case assigned to his newly distant colleague Auditor Rayne Bathory. Grimsby isn’t ready to investigate the “ritual of unknown intent and nature” alone, so he tracks down Mayflower, who, recognizing something from his past in the ritual’s details, reluctantly agrees to help investigate. Meanwhile, Bathory, who is still searching for her ex-partner, Hives, receives unexpected help from the New York office’s Agent Defaux, who offers to provide some ritual assistance. Complicating things further, the creature Wudge, whom Grimsby rescued in the previous volume, now needs his help to recover an item from the Elsewhere. Functional magic or no, “half-witch” Grimsby stubbornly forges ahead in his mission to save others, making up in heart what he lacks in talent. The message that determination trumps ability will please fantasy readers who love to cheer for the little guy. Butcher proves that this series has legs.
Author of TINDERBOX and TAROTMANCER, WA Simpson’s THE HATTER’S DAUGHTER, the third in the Riven Isles Series, which follows a magical woman as she teams up with the Prince of Hearts in Wonderland against the infamous Rot, to Don D’Auria at Flame Tree Press, by Anne Tibbets. (world English)
Jim Butcher sold novella WARRIORBORN, in which Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster is sent on a secret mission to the Colony Spire known as Dependence. This new installment marks a return to the world of the Cinder Spires and will be released in September ahead of November’s THE OLYMPIAN AFFAIR (PRH/Ace). VP of Acquisitions at Podium Kate Runde acquired World English rights in a significant deal negotiated via Jennifer Jackson.
Kirkus: An ambitious scientist loses herself in her work—literally.
The government and citizens of San Siroco, California, believe Myrica Dynamics privatized the city’s crumbling subway system for the public good. In truth, Myrica did so to conceal Dr. Tamsin Rivers’ quest to develop a new communications protocol involving technological mirrors mounted in subterranean geodesic domes. Success means Tamsin will “revolutionize the world” and be recognized as a genius, but while early results look promising, there’s a problem. Since testing commenced, the city has been sinking three millimeters each week. More perplexingly, Tamsin’s basement has been sinking three centimeters each week—but unlike the rest of San Siroco, “not in a way that impacts the structural integrity of her home.” Tamsin hasn’t yet told anyone about her basement; nobody can definitively link the city’s subsidence with her research, and she doesn’t want Myrica to draw premature conclusions and shut things down. Tamsin begins working from home, hoping the cellar can provide answers; instead, a door appears from which a Tamsin doppelgänger emerges. At first Tamsin’s double, “Prime,” seems sweet and accommodating, but as Tamsin starts losing both time and memories and Prime becomes more assertive, Tamsin regrets her secretive tendencies. Part existential horror, part speculative fiction, and part paranoia tale, Starling’s latest thrills and chills while exploring the contextual nature of identity and the concept of personhood. Diabolical plotting, relentless pacing, and ascetic worldbuilding function in tandem with Starling’s staccato present-tense narration to maximize tension and drive.
At once visceral and introspective.
Congratulations to DMLA author, Kate Heartfield, for her 2023 Aurora Awards win!
- The Embroidered Book, Kate Heartfield, HarperVoyager
Also, huge shoutout to Premee Mohamed and C.L. Polk for their nominations! Premee Mohamed was nominated for best novel with her work, The Void Ascendant, and C.L. Polk for best novelette with Even Though I Knew the End.
Audio rights to NYT bestselling author Skye Warren’s RED FLAGS, to Kerri Buckley at Dreamscape Media, in a three-book deal, at auction, by Katie Shea Boutillier.
Czech rights to New York Times bestselling author Martha Wells’ SYSTEM COLLAPSE, the seventh title in the Murderbot Diaries series, to Dobrovský, by Lola Dunton at Prava i prevodi in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Estonian rights to New York Times bestselling author Martha Wells’ ROGUE PROTOCOL and EXIT STRATEGY, the third and fourth titles in the Murderbot Diaries series, to OÜ Kirjastus Fantaasia, by Nada Popovic at Prava i prevodi in association with Michael Curry for Jennifer Jackson.
Brazilian Portuguese rights to C.L. Polk’s EVEN THOUGH I KNEW THE END, to Companhia das Letras, by Cristina Purchio at International Editors in association with Katie Shea Boutillier for Caitlin McDonald.
Polish rights to Kel Kade’s MAGE OF NO RENOWN, DRAGONS AND DEMONS, and DESTINY OF THE DEAD, to Fabryka Slow, by Lola Dunton at Prava i prevodi in association with Katie Shea Boutillier for Cameron McClure.