Future Treasures: The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Vanished Queen-small The Vanished Queen-back-small

The Vanished Queen (Saga Press, 2020). Cover design by Alan Dingman.

On Monday I mentioned that the publishing house that’s impressed me the most with their late-summer line up was Skybound Books, in large part because of Linden A. Lewis’s debut The First Sister, an epic space opera that Library Journal selected as their Debut of the month. Coming in a close second is the always-reliable Saga Press, and the star in their crown is Lisbeth Campbell’s debut fantasy The Vanished Queen, which Beth Cato calls “One of the best fantasy books out this year.” It arrives in hardcover next week.

Buzzfeed‘s feature 17 Summer Must-Reads For Fantasy Lovers called The Vanished Queen “One of the best epic fantasies I’ve read in a long time,” and the starred review at Library Journal says it’s “filled with political intrigue, personal anguish, and family ties that bind.” Here’s an excerpt from the Publishers Weekly review.

Campbell skillfully balances action and introspection as rebellion rises against an oppressive regime in this promising epic fantasy debut. The city of Karegg is under the control of the brutal King Karolje. When college student Anza breaks into one of the libraries that Karolje has ordered closed, she discovers the journal of Mirantha, the former queen who Karolje had disappeared. After Anza’s father is executed for unknown reasons, Anza joins the resistance movement against Karolje, inspired, in part, by reading Mirantha’s tale… By situating Anza within a larger resistance movement, Campbell steers refreshingly clear of typical “chosen one” tropes, instead illuminating the collective effort required for revolution while drawing pointed parallels to the current U.S. political climate.

The Vanished Queen will be published by Saga Press on August 18, 2020. It is 488 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $7.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Alan Dingman. Read the complete first chapter (14 pages) or listen to an audio excerpt at the Simon & Schuster website.

See all our coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy here.

Future Treasures: Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Star Daughter-smallShveta Thakrar’s short fiction has appeared in the anthologies A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, Toil & Trouble, The Underwater Ballroom Society, and Clockwork Phoenix 5, and magazines such as Uncanny, Enchanted Living, Faerie Magazine, Mothership Zeta, Mythic Delirium, and Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. Her debut novel Star Daughter mixes Hindu mythology and contemporary fantasy into something quite original.

It arrives from HarperTeen next week. Here’s the description.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens — and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

Star Daughter has been warmly reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Nerd Daily, and other sites. But I think my favorite critique comes from the Utopia State of Mind blog. Here’s an excerpt.

Star Daughter is a gorgeous fantasy debut about love, family, and humanity. You’ll be enchanted by the blending of Stardust elements meets Hindu mythology. Then the gorgeous writing will captivate you until you fall into the story of family and humanity…. Torn in two, Sheetal must grapple with her love for her father, her feelings of abandonment towards her mother, and her new family’s past in the celestial court. She so desperately wants to feel like she belongs… I loved the added element of this talent competition meets political upheavals and family secrets. Star Daughter asks what we will do for family, the desperation and agony and love and resentment.

Star Daughter will be published by HarperTeen on August 11, 2020. It is 448 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $9.99 in digital formats. The beautiful cover is by Charlie Bowater. Read an excerpt at Enchanted Living.

See all our recent coverage of the best in upcoming SF and Fantasy here.

Future Treasures: Harrow the Ninth, Book 2 of The Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Covers by Tommy Arnold

Gideon the Ninth was… well, just about the most acclaimed SF novel released last year. Acclaimed by whom? Everyone who read it in the Black Gate offices, for one thing. People who vote for awards, for another — it’s been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel, and it won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. It was voted one of the Best Books of 2019 by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, BookPage, Shelf Awareness, BookRiot, and Bustle.

Book 2 arrives next week, and as you can imagine, anticipation is high. Here’s a taste of the feature review over at Nerd Daily.

When I read Gideon the Ninth last year, I didn’t know that I would be a wreck by the end of the book. I didn’t know it would create such an impact in my emotional well-being. I didn’t know that it would be one of the best books I read in 2019. Reading its sequel, Harrow the Ninth, now is like enjoying a nice, eventful walk… and then getting hit by a bus. This brilliant, confounding, and heartstopping sequel will quench the thirst of the fans, but not without leaving a new set of mysteries to keep us hooked.

Harrow the Ninth focuses on Harrow training in the Emperor’s haunted space station to fight an impossible war. Fresh off of lyctorhood, everything should be going easy for Harrow. But the truth is that both her body and her mind are failing her. And on top of that, someone just keeps trying to kill her…. Harrow the Ninth is mind-boggling from start to finish, and it’s an electrifying sequel you do not want to miss.

The third book in the series, Alecto the Ninth, is scheduled to be released next year.

Harrow the Ninth will be published by Tor.com on August 4, 2020. It is 512 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Tommy Arnold. Download the complete first act (all 139 pages!) in multiple digital formats at Tor.com.

See all our coverage of the best new SF and Fantasy here.

Future Treasures: Chaos Vector by Megan E. O’Keefe

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Covers by Sparth

Megan E. O’Keefe’s 2019 space opera Velocity Weapon was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, and earned a bucket full of great press. The Guardian called it “A brilliantly plotted yarn of survival and far-future political intrigue,” and Booklist described it as “Full of twists, feints, and deception… [in] a visionary world rife with political intrigue and space adventure.” But my favorite review was from Kirkus:

The last thing Sanda Greeve remembers is her ship being attacked by rebel forces. She’s resuscitated from her evacuation pod missing half a leg — and two centuries — as explained to her by the AI of the rebel ship that rescued her. As The Light of Berossus — aka Bero — tells her, she may be the only living human for light-years around, as the war wiped both sides out long ago. Sanda struggles to process her injuries and her grief but finds friendship with the lonely spaceship itself. Sanda’s story is interspersed with flashbacks to the war’s effects on her brother, Biran, as well as scenes from a heist gone terribly wrong for small-time criminal Jules. The three narratives, separated by a vast gulf of time, are more intertwined than is immediately apparent. When Sanda rescues Tomas, another unlikely survivor, from his own evacuation pod, she learns that even time doesn’t end all wars….

Meticulously plotted, edge-of-your-seat space opera with a soul; a highly promising science-fiction debut.

We previously covered Velocity Weapon, and O’Keefe’s Scorched Continent fantasy trilogy.

The sequel to Velocity Weapon is one of the more hotly anticipated books of the year. Chaos Vector arrives from Orbit on July 28. It is 592 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback, and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Sparth. See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy here.

Future Treasures: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year of the Witching-smallYou know how much I enjoy a good debut. And The Year of the Witching, arriving in hardcover from Ace next week, looks very promising indeed. Publishers Weekly calls it “riveting… [it] announces Henderson as an exciting new voice in dark fantasy,” and Dhonielle Clayton says it “takes witchcraft to its very depths… horrific.” Here’s the description.

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

There’s a lot to like about this book, not the least of which is the intriguing setting and the hints of mystery. But I was pleased to see the early reviews focus on the characters, especially the heroine. Here’s a snippet from Anuska G’s rave review at The Nerd Daily.

The Year of the Witching is exactly the kind of fast-paced, terrifying, and witchy story I needed. The premise promises a deliciously dark and twisted tale of social revolution set in a dystopian world, and Henderson does not disappoint… The Year of the Witching is the best kind of horror/paranormal fiction, and not just because the bleak, eerie setup and the graphic depiction of the horrors of the Darkwood will haunt your dreams for days to come. The true horror of this story lies in the brutally honest way Henderson describes the atrocities committed in the name of religion…

The best thing about Henderson’s debut, however, is its iron-willed, multi-layered heroine.

The Year of the Witching will be published by Ace Books on July 21, 2020. It is 368 pages, priced at $26 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Larry Rostant. See all of our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy here.

Future Treasures: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Thursday, July 9th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Peace Talks Jim Butcher-smallIt’s been six long years since we’ve seen Harry Dresden.

The Dresden Files was one of the first big breakout fantasy hits of the 21st Century; beginning with Storm Front in 2000, and continuing at roughly a book a year until Skin Game, the 15th novel in the series, was published in 2014. Author Jim Butcher took a long pause after that — but now Harry Dresden returns in his long-awaited sixteenth novel, Peace Talks, which arrives in hardcover from Ace Books next week.

Tor.com broke the news last December with an announcement that included a handy summary of the series to-date:

A contemporary urban noir series that has been described as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe” (Entertainment Weekly), the Dresden Files follows Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, as he takes on supernatural cases throughout the city and an alternate magical realm. Peace Talks follows wisecracking private investigator Harry Dresden as he joins the White Council’s security team to ensure negotiations between the Supernatural nations of the world remain civil. Harry’s task is challenging, because dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago — and everything he holds dear.

A book as hotly anticipated as this doesn’t need early reviews to heighten the anticipation… but there’s no reason they shouldn’t try. Here’s a snippet from Publishers Weekly’s review.

Butcher ramps up the tension for wizard Harry Dresden in this open-ended 16th installment… When Thomas Raith, Harry’s half-brother, attempts to assassinate the leader of the Svartalves, one of the groups in attendance, Harry comes under suspicion for his role in the crime. With the aid of vampire Lara Raith and human detective Karrin Murphy, Harry frees Thomas from prison and certain death. Along the way, he discovers a new threat that could upend both the mundane and supernatural worlds… When Butcher finally pushes the story forward, readers are rewarded for their patience with gritty magical worldbuilding and bursts of dark humor.

Peace Talks will be published by Ace Books on July 14, 2020. It is 352 pages, priced at $28 in hardcover and $14.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Chris McGrath. Read the first six chapters for free at Jim Butcher’s website.

See all our recent coverage of the best forthcoming releases in SF, fantasy and horror here.

Future Treasures: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover designed by Ella Laytham

Stephen Graham Jones is the author of the World Fantasy Award nominee Mapping the Interior, The Last Final Girl, Mongrels, and the acclaimed collection After the People Lights Have Gone Off. His latest novel, The Only Good Indians, arrives from Saga Press in two weeks. Paul Tremblay calls it “A masterpiece,” and my interest was greatly heightened by a rave review at Columbia Journal by Max Asher Miller. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s unabashedly a slasher, and blood is plentiful, but a deeper layer runs through the material as Jones, a Blackfeet native, uses the trappings of horror to delve into a dissection of contemporary Native American identity.

The Only Good Indians follows a friend group of Blackfeet a decade after they trespass on hunting land reserved for tribal elders and slaughter a herd of elk, including a pregnant cow who refuses to die easily. The vengeful spirit manifests as a woman with the head of an elk who tracks the group down one by one to exact revenge. The killings are shocking, yes, but they feel like exclamation points on larger ideas. They are not the entre, but the garnish upon it.

The novel puts its ideas on the table almost immediately with a prologue in which the first of the four main characters, Ricky Boss Ribs, is jumped by a group of white guys from his construction crew outside a dive bar. The racialized dynamic of the attack is its focal point, Jones delineating the body politics of the beat-down…. Constant awareness of what it means to navigate the world as Native American is of central concern to the novel’s characters…

A terrifying whirlwind of blood with the brains to match, The Only Good Indians is sure to be among the most exciting novels this summer can scare up.

The Only Good Indians will be published by Saga Press on July 14, 2020. It is 310 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $7.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Ella Laytham.

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

Future Treasures: Where the Veil Is Thin edited by Cerece Rennie Murphy and Alana Joli Abbott

Saturday, June 27th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Where the Veil Is Thin-smallAlana Joli Abbott is the co-editor of the Blackguards anthology Knaves (with Melanie Meadors) and Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters (with N.X. Sharps). She was a reviewer at Black Gate for over a decade, dating all the way back to our early print days; these days she is Editor in Chief at Outland Entertainment. Her latest project is the anthology Where the Veil Is Thin, co-edited with Cerece Rennie Murphy, author of the popular Wolf Queen series. Where the Veil Is Thin arrives in trade paperback on July 7 and has a stellar list of contributors, including Seanan McGuire, Minsoo Kang, Carlos Hernandez, and Black Gate‘s own C.S.E. Cooney. Here’s the description.

These are not your daughters faerie stories…

Around the world, there are tales of creatures that live in mist or shadow, hidden from humans by only the slightest veil. In Where the Veil Is Thin, these creatures step into the light. Some are small and harmless. Some are bizarre mirrors of this world. Some have hidden motives, while others seek justice against humans who have wronged them.

In these pages, you will meet blood-sucking tooth fairies and gentle boo hags, souls who find new shapes after death and changelings seeking a way to fit into either world. You will cross the veil — but be careful that you remember the way back.

Here’s the impressive Table of Contents.

Introduction by Jim Hines
“The Tooth Fairies” by Glenn Parris
“Glamour” by Grey Yuen
“See a Fine Lady” by Seanan McGuire
“Or Perhaps Up” by C.S.E. Cooney
“Don’t Let Go” by Alana Joli Abbott
“The Loophole” by L. Penelope
“The Last Home of Master Tranquil Cloud” by Minsoo Kang
“Your Two Better Halves: A Dream, with Fairies, in Spanglish” by Carlos Hernandez
“Take Only Photos” by Shanna Swendson
“Old Twelvey Night” by Gwen Nix
“The Seal Woman’s Tale” by Alethea Kontis
“The Storyteller” by David Bowles
“Poisoned Hearts” by Zin E. Rocklyn
“Colt’s Tooth” by Linda Robertson

Where the Veil Is Thin was funded by a successful Kickstarter in March of this year, and will be published by Outland Entertainment on July 7, 2020. It is 210 pages, priced at $16.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 in digital formats. The beautiful cover is by Anna Dittmann. Order copies directly at Outland Entertainment. See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF and Fantasy releases here.

Future Treasures: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Sunday, June 21st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Mexican Gothic-smallSilvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Signal to Noise (2015), Gods of Jade and Shadow (2019), Certain Dark Things (2018), and Untamed Shore, just released in February. Her second novel for 2020 is Mexican Gothic, which Booklist calls “A shiver-inducing tale,” and which Kirkus raves over, calling it,

A terrifying twist on classic gothic horror . . . Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale. Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Mexican Gothic is set in glamorous 1950s Mexico, and has all the ingredients for a good beach read (providing you can find an open beach) — an isolated mansion, a suavely charismatic aristocrat, and a spunky young socialite to expose their mysterious secrets. Here’s the publisher’s description.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find — her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Mexican Gothic will be published by Del Rey on June 30, 2020. It is 320 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. Read the first chapter at Entertainment Weekly.

See all our coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy here.

Future Treasures: The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

Monday, June 15th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell. Saga Press, June 2020. Cover artist uncredited

Nick Martell is a bit of a carte blanche. He’s never published anything before, not even a short story. At the age of 23 he sold his first novel, The Kingdom of Liars, to Saga Press, and it arrives in hardcover next week. Publishers Weekly calls it a “taut, clever [tale] of rebellion and regicide in a world where the use of magic comes at the cost of one’s memories.”

The Kingdom of Liars is the opening novel in a new series, The Legacy of the Mercenary King. Kirkus Reviews gave it a warm review, saying in part,

Martell’s debut novel is a shelf-bending adventure fantasy that chronicles the life — and looming death — of Michael Kingman, an ill-fated young man awaiting execution for the killing of a king.

Set in a secondary world — particularly noteworthy for a fractured moon whose pieces frequently fall to the planet, wreaking havoc on the populace — the narrative takes place largely in Hollow, a once-thriving kingdom now beleaguered by tragedy, treason, and an impending civil war. Michael is an outcast whose father was executed for infamously killing a child prince years earlier, and he’s obsessed with finding the truth behind his beloved father’s death. A war hero, the king’s adviser, and a man of honor, his father would never have killed a child, especially a child he vowed to protect. But with the once-venerated name of Kingman now irrevocably tarnished, Michael, a con man doing what he needs to survive, is faced with the monumental task of restoring his family’s name…

Martell generally keeps the pages turning with a story full of relentless action and more than a few jaw-dropping plot twists…. An impressive fantasy debut that creates a solid foundation for (hopefully) a much larger narrative to come.

The Kingdom of Liars will be published by Saga Press on June 23, 2020. It is 608 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover. The cover artist is uncredited. If you can’t wait that long, the digital version is available today, priced at just $7.99. See all our coverage of the best new SF and fantasy here.

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