Future Treasures: Fog Season, Book II of Tales of Port Saint Frey by Patrice Sarath

Monday, January 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sisters Mederos Patrice Sarath-small Fog Season Patrice Sarath-small

I was proud to publish Patrice Sarath’s short story “A Prayer for Captain LaHire” in Black Gate 4, and see it reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy 3 (2003). She turned to novels with the popular Gordath Wood trilogy (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl). But her real breakthrough came last year with her first release from Angry Robot, The Sisters Mederos, the tale of a once-great family fallen on hard times, and the two sisters — one a masked bandit, and another with secret supernatural powers — who reverse their family’s downfall. Louisa Morgan (A Secret History of Witches) called it:

A colorful Dickensian fantasy that leads the reader on an unpredictable path of murder, intrigue, and mystery… It’s a tale of magic lost and recovered, fortunes made and squandered, and broken lives healed, all of it engineered by Yvienne and Tesara, two resourceful and delightful protagonists, in the company of some charming and often dangerous sidekicks.

Publishers Weekly gave it a rousing review saying,

The young women, newly returned from boarding school to a fantasy version of a preindustrial European port city, are determined to restore their family’s fortune and revenge themselves on the corrupt Merchant’s Guild, whose machinations lie behind House Mederos’s downfall. Yvienne, “the smartest girl in Port Saint Frey,” provokes through newspaper editorials, takes a governess job as an entrée into the houses of the powerful, and eventually discovers the excitement of committing armed robbery. Tesara, who conceals supernatural powers that she blames for the shipwreck that ruined her family, ingratiates herself with the upper classes at gambling tables… [The] heroines are entertaining company, and the dynamic between the two sisters — occasionally contentious, often secretive, always loving — is the most enjoyable part of this effervescent tale.

I’m delighted to see the sequel, Fog Season, scheduled to arrive February 5, less than a year after the release of the first, and I hope it’s the sign of more to come. Here’s the description.

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Future Treasures: The Numina Trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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I think I first discovered Charlie N. Holmberg back in June 2015, while compiling a list of the most interesting fantasy releases of the month. The Master Magician, third in her (yes, Charlie is a her) Wall Street Journal bestselling Paper Magician trilogy was released that month, and it piqued my curiosity. Fast forward to 2019, and Charlie is fast tracking a brand new trilogy, with the first novel Smoke and Summons due February 1st, followed by Myths and Mortals less than three months later on April 16, 2019. They’re the first two installments of The Numina Trilogy, set in a world of monsters and magic. Here’s the blurb for the first book.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon — a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day — a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…

No news on the third book, but you can keep an eye on her website for updates. Smoke & Summons will be published by 47North on February 1, 2019. It is 365 pages, priced at $24.95 in hardcover, $14.95 in trade paperback, and $4.99 for digital editions. Myths and Mortals arrives April 16, 2019 with the same pricing; no word on page count yet. The covers are by Marina Muun.

See all our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.


The Future of Politics, a Desert Fantasy, and Murder in the City of the Dead: Spring Titles from Parvus Press

Sunday, January 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

If This Goes on Cat Rambo-small The Ragged Blade-small Necropolis PD-small

Early last year I wrote about a trio of books I discovered from a promising new publisher, Parvus Press. They were plenty interesting: Flotsam, by RJ Theodore, a steampunk space opera, and Vick’s Vultures & To Fall Among Vultures, the first two titles in Scott Warren’s Union Earth Privateers space opera. Parvus Press’s catalog was filled with an enticing assortment of new and forthcoming titles, especially for such a small company. They certainly made a fine first impression, and I made a note to keep close tabs on them.

While prowling the World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore I spotted Colin Coyle, one of the co-founders of Parvus, and after badgering him for three solid hours he cracked like a nut and started spilling secret intel on their 2019 titles. In a dark corner of the bar he grudgingly gave up details, glancing nervously over his shoulder the entire time, while I hastily scribbled notes.

Okay, it wasn’t exactly like that, but it can’t hurt if you picture it that way, so humor me a little. Besides, I did get some good quotes and lots of juicy book details out of Colin, and I’m willing to share them with you, so stop being so negative. Here’s all the secret pre-release info I gathered on the spring 2019 titles titles from Parvus Press. Many bothans died to bring us this information, so listen up.

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Future Treasures: Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds

Friday, January 4th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Alastair Reynolds’ Revenger was one of the most acclaimed SF novels of 2016. It was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and won the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book. SFX called it “By far the most enjoyable book Reynolds has ever written,” and The Guardian labeled it “”A swashbuckling thriller — Pirates of the Caribbean meets Firefly.” In his enthusiastic review for Black Gate, Brandon Crilly said:

Reynolds’ work is always fast-paced and interesting, weaving the detailed science with just enough of the fantastic to add that sense of wonder and a perfect balance of action and character work. Revenger, for example, has the pacing of Firefly or Star Wars, so that even as he’s explaining the steampunkiness (is that a word?) of the starships and personal technology in the novel, you’re never mired in an info-dump or bored by too much scientific description, just to understand how everything works.

Revenger is particularly good because it’s a very human story: it focuses on two sisters who want to escape their homeworld and sign on with a starship crew not for pure escapism like Luke Skywalker, but specifically to earn money to help their father’s struggling business. What begins as a story of adventure and wild-eyed wonder as these sisters get to know their very first crew becomes a dark and harrowing tale almost immediately, as Reynolds takes his protagonists through multiple twists and unexpected locales.

The long-awaited sequel Shadow Captain will be published by Orbit on January 15, 2019. It is 448 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. Get more details and read the complete first chapter here.


Future Treasures: The Smoke by Simon Ings

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Smoke-small The Smoke-back-small

I’m familiar with the name Simon Ings, but for the life of me I can’t remember from where. His bio says he’s the author of eight previous novels, including his “widely acclaimed” debut Hot Head and the British Science Fiction Association/Campbell Award nominee Wolves (2014), but I dunno, those don’t ring any bells either. However, his short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Meeting Infinity (2015), and Year’s Best volumes from David Hartwell, Rich Horton and Jonathan Strahan, and it seems likely I’ve encountered him in more than a few TOCs over the years. But his upcoming novel The Smoke already looks like one of major SF novels of 2019, and has been getting plenty of advance notice, including a very enthusiastic review from Gary K. Wolfe at Locus for the original UK hardcover.

Early on, we are given to understand that the “Great War” ended in 1916 with the nuking of Berlin and the irradiation of Europe, that a Yellowstone Eruption in 1874 devastated North America and led to a decade-long global winter, and that – more to the immediate point of how this world diverged from ours – the real-life Russian embryologist Alexander Gurwitsch perfected a “biophotonic ray,” which led to a form of biotech that eventually led to “the speciation of man­kind.”… At the top of the sociobiological heap is an enhanced class of urbanites call the Bund, who have taken over large swaths of London (usually referred to as “the Smoke”), and whose advanced technology has already sent robot miners to the moon… [a] haunting tale.

The Smoke will be published by Titan Books on January 22, 2019. It is 309 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 in digital formats. The striking cover is, sadly, uncredited.

See all of coverage of the best upcoming SF and Fantasy releases here.


Aliens in a Space Prison: The Sanctuary Novels by Caryn Lix

Sunday, December 9th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Sanctuary Caryn Lix-small Containment Caryn Lix-small

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we’re living in a YA golden age. The runaway success of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the Percy Jackson novels has generated a glut of books, most of which are fantasy or SF series. It reminds me of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance trend of a decade ago, when it seemed that half the books on the shelves featured superpowered vampire killers who were dating werewolves.

I know more than a few readers who avoid YA altogether. But, like any other subgenre, there’s plenty of interesting work to be found if you look hard enough. Recently I started reading Caryn Lix’s Sanctuary, which reads like Aliens set on a space prison, and have been enjoying it so far. The sequel Containment is set to be released next August. Here’s the jacket copy for Sanctuary.

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company — and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners. At first, she’s confident her commanding officer — who also happens to be her mother — will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive — all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

Sanctuary was published by Simon Pulse on July 24, 2018. It is 461 pages, priced at $19.99 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital version. The cover was designed by Sarah Creech, with art by Jacey. Read the first chapter here. See all our recent coverage of the best new fantasy series here.


Future Treasures: A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone-small A Cathedral of Myth and Bone-back-small

Kat Howard has been widely acclaimed for her novels, starting with Roses and Rot (2016), a Locus Award nominee for Best First Novel and a Publishers Weekly Best Fantasy Novel of Summer 2016, and An Unkindness of Magicians (2017), the tale of a secret cabal of wizards in New York City. Both were published by Saga Press.

She began publishing short fiction eight years ago, with “Beauty and Disappearance” in the Summer 2010 issue of Weird Tales. Since then she has become a regular in places like Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Uncanny, Nightmare, and other fine magazines, producing over 40 tales. Two decades ago that would have meant she’d have at least a successful collection or two by now, but the industry has changed at lot since the days when publishers would take a chance on a collection from an emerging author.

But apparently nobody told Saga editor Joe Monti. Howard’s new collection A Cathedral of Myth and Bone arrives next month from Saga. It contains fourteen previously published stories, plus two original to this collection, the short story “Saint’s Tide” and the 116-page Arthurian novella “Once, Future.” I’m glad to see it, and I hope it does well. And if, like me, you enjoy short story collections, then I hope you’ll support this one.

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone will be published by Saga Press on January 8, 2019. It is 358 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $7.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Amy Haslehurst. See all of our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.


Future Treasures: King of the Road, Book 2 of Brotherhood of the Wheel by R. S. Belcher

Thursday, November 29th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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I’ve been waiting for the sequel to R.S. Belcher’s Brotherhood of the Wheel since the book first appeared in 2016, and next week my wait is finally over.

Expectations for King of the Road, the second book in the series, are high. In a starred review Publishers Weekly said,

Belcher’s masterful storytelling and worldbuilding make for a gripping and consistently surprising follow-up to Brotherhood of the Wheel. Long-haul trucker Jimmie Aussapile; his squire, Hector “Heck” Sinclair; and Louisiana State Police Officer Lovina Marcou, a road witch gradually coming into her powers, are members of a secret society descended from the Knights Templar, protecting the roads and travelers. While Lovina works a missing-person case involving a ghost clown and an alchemist who assembles a cult of disaffected souls, Jimmie and Heck battle a number of supernatural horrors, including animated corpses and living shadows… [a] fascinating series.

King of the Road will be published in hardcover by Tor on December 4. The first book was released in paperback last year. Here’s the book blurb.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Outside the Gates Molly Gloss-small Outside the Gates Molly Gloss Saga-small

Molly Gloss has published only a handful of novels, but she’s accumulated an enviable number of awards and nominations, including the Ken Kesey Award and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award for the non-genre The Jump-Off Creek (also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award), and a James Tiptree, Jr. Award for SF novel Wild Life (2000). Her first novel Outside the Gates was published as a slender hardcover by Atheneum in 1986 (above left, cover by Michael Mariano), and Ursula K. Le Guin called it “The best first novel I’ve seen in years.” It has been out of print for over three decades, but Saga Press is finally rectifying that situation by reprinting it in January with a spare new cover by Jeffrey Alan Love (above right). Hard to say which one I like more; they’re both clear products of their time. Here’s the description.

Villagers were always warned that monsters live outside the gates, but when a young boy named Vren is cast out, he finds a home in the world beyond, in Whiting Award winner Molly Gloss’s classic fantasy novel.

Vren has always been told that the world beyond the gates of his village is one filled with monsters, giants, and other terrifying creatures. But when he confides with his family about his ability to talk to animals, he’s outcast to the very world he’s been taught to fear his whole life. He expects to die alone, lost and confused, but he finds something different altogether — refuge in a community of shadowed people with extraordinary powers.

Thirty years later, Molly Gloss’s dystopian fantasy novel is just as timely, poignant, and stirring as ever, in a brand-new edition!

This slender book is more a novella than a true novel; to sweeten the deal Saga is packaging it with Gloss’ 18-page story “Lambing Season,” which was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Outside the Gates was published by Atheneum in September 1986. It was 120 pages, priced at $11.95 in hardcover. It will be reprinted by Saga Press on January 1, 2019. It is 115 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition. See all our recent Tales of Two Covers here.


New Treasures: The Nissera Chronicles by Hannah West

Sunday, November 25th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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I’m still not done unpacking my free book bag from the World Fantasy Convention, but the wheels of publishing stop for no man. Review copies continue to pile up at the Black Gate headquarters, and they demand attention. At least, that’s what Realm of Ruins did when I pulled it out of an envelope on Tuesday, anyway.

First, Daniel Burgess’ cover is great. He also did the cover for the first volume, Hannah’s debut novel Kingdom of Ash and Briars, released by Holiday House in 2016. I was completely unaware of that book until Tuesday but, second, there’s ample praise for it on the back of Realm of Ruins, including a snippet from this starred review from Kirkus:

Bristal, a teenage kitchen maid, never expected to survive being forced into the Water, a pool designed to prove that a mortal may be an elicromancer, an ancient breed of ageless and immortal beings that once populated the realm of Nissera. But she does.

With elicrin stone in hand, Bristal is thrust from the Water, proving her birthright as an elicromancer. With Bristal’s true identity revealed, the last two remaining elicromancers, Brack and Tamarice, materialize to rescue Bristal from kidnappers. They begin to train her to use her gift as a Clandestine: the ability to transform into any human or animal form… Greatly influenced by the likes of “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Hua Mulan,” and arguably Harry Potter, debut author West mixes fairy-tale charm with contemporary mysticism to create a world both terrifying and wonderful… Sweet romance and strong supporting characters complete this impressive debut.

Third, all the Black Friday madness put me in a buying mood. so I ordered a copy of the first book yesterday. Will it turn out to be as lightly sweet and charming as promised, or was I just another victim of unchecked consumerism? Stay tuned to find out.

Realms of Ruins goes on sale December 4th. Here’s the description for the first book.

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