The Conductors (John Joseph Adams Books, March 2021). Cover art by Elizabeth Leggett. Click for bigger versions.
As we near the end of 2021 (thank God!), I’m already starting to look back at the big fantasy releases and debuts of the year. One that surprised me was Nicole Glover’s The Conductors, the opening novel in her Murder & Magic series, which follows the adventures of black detectives Hetty and Benjy Rhodes, who pry into cases white police officers deign to investigate in Reconstruction era Philadelphia.
The Conductors was published and edited by John Joseph Adams, the man who pulled my own debut novel out of the slush pile and published it in 2018, so perhaps you can forgive me if I think the man has superb taste. I’m not the only one, however. NPR praises The Conductors as “A history buff’s dream fantasy novel,” and P. Djèlí Clark calls it “a tangled mystery of murder, spellwork, and freedom amid the remnants of slavery’s lingering memories.” Here’s an excerpt from the starred review at Publishers Weekly.
Inventively mixing mystery, magic, and alternate history, Glover’s nail-biting debut takes readers to Reconstruction era Philadelphia. Henrietta “Hetty” and Benjamin “Benjy” Rhodes — both adept at sigil magic that draws on the constellations — are famed conductors for the Vigilance Society, which shepherded enslaved Black people to freedom along the Underground Railroad… Now, Hetty and Benjy use their magical and analytical skills as detectives, dealing with missing person cases, murders, and other crimes the white police force chooses to overlook. But when one of their friends turns up dead and their suspicions fall close to home, they’ll need to work out who in their community is not who they say they are…
The next book in the series, The Undertakers, will be published next month. Here’s the front and back covers.
The Undertakers (John Joseph Adams Books, November 2021). Cover art by Hillary D, Wilson
Here’s all the deets on both volumes. Both were published by John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books.
The Conductors (432 pages, $15.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital, March 2, 2021) — cover by Elizabeth Leggett
The Undertakers (448 pages, $15.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital, November 9, 2021) — cover by Hillary D. Wilson
See all our recent coverage of the best new SF and fantasy releases here.