Future Treasures: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Monday, January 30th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Wintersong-smallRemember the 80s fantasy classic Labyrinth? Of course you do. Directed by the brilliant Jim Henson and introducing a 15-year-old Jennifer Connelly, the film revolved around the efforts of Sarah to rescue her brother Toby from the clutches of the Goblin King (played with marvelous panache by David Bowie).

Labyrinth is chiefly remembered today for its terrific puppetry and Brian Froud’s ace conceptual designs. But the story it tells is a very old one, one which recurs often in fairy tales. Debut author S. Jae-Jones brings us a fresh new retelling in her novel Wintersong, coming in hardcover next month from Thomas Dunne. Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen) says, “This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter. Deliciously romantic, with a nuanced Goblin King and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairy tales, music, and enchantment.”

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds ― and the mysterious man who rules it ― she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Wintersong will be published by Thomas Dunne Book on February 7, 2017. It is 448 pages, priced at $18.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition. Read a massive 44-page excerpt (in PDF format) at the Macmillan website.


io9 on January’s Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Last Sacrifice-small Windwitch by Susan Dennard-small The Hanging Tree Ben Aaronovitch-small

After we completed our round up of the most interesting Best of 2016 lists, I kinda got a little list happy. I started investigating all these other lists. Best Books of January! Best of 2017! Turns out there’s a lot of interesting books coming your way in the next 12 months. Like, a lot.

I can’t be expected to keep all this knowledge to myself. So here we are with another book list, in this case io9′s nicely comprehensive summary of January’s Must-Read Sci-Fi and Fantasy, written by Cheryl Eddy. It covers no less than 25 dynamite new releases, including new books from Terry Pratchett, L.E. Modesitt, Seanan McGuire, Adam Nevill, Charles Stross, Kim Newman, Ellen Klages, David Brin and Stephen W. Potts, and many others. Here’s Eddy’s take on The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore (Angry Robot, January 3, 2017).

The prolific fantasy author’s latest is about a warrior who becomes a hunted man when he challenges the gods who have targeted his family as their next human sacrifice.

The Last Sacrifice is the opening volume in a new epic fantasy series, Tides of War.

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Future Treasures: Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

Saturday, January 21st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Jacqueline Carey is the author of some 16 fantasy novels, including the bestselling historical fantasies in the Kushiel’s Legacy series, the post-apocalyptic superhero Santa Olivia novels, and the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. Her latest is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, exploring the same themes of twisted love and unchecked power while delivering a fresh take on two of the most famous characters in English literature.

A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.

We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?

In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin ― the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.

Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.

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The Omnibus Volumes of Cassandra Rose Clarke: Magic of Blood and Sea and Magic of Wind and Mist

Monday, January 16th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Magic of Blood and Sea-small Magic of Wind and Mist

Angry Robot is one of the most innovative (and successful) new genre publishing houses in the last decade. Not every aspect of its journey has been equally successful, however. Its Strange Chemistry imprint, launched in 2011 to publish young adult SF and fantasy, shut down in 2014… but not before publishing highly acclaimed new work by Martha Wells, Jonathan L. Howard, and three early novels by Cassandra Rose Clarke: The Assassin’s Curse (2012) and its sequel The Pirate’s Wish (2013), and The Wizard’s Promise (2014). A fourth novel, The Nobleman’s Revenge, the sequel to The Wizard’s Promise, was never published.

Clarke was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award for her first novel for adults, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, in 2013, and late last year Saga Press reprinted the book in a new trade paperback edition. Now they’re doing the same with Clarke’s Strange Chemistry novels. The Assassin’s Curse series will be reprinted in a handsome omnibus edition, Magic of Blood and Sea, arriving in hardcover in early February. And The Wizard’s Promise and the previously unpublished The Nobleman’s Revenge will appear in Magic of Wind and Mist in 2018.

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Romeo and Juliet with Undead, an Underworld, and a Juliet Who Kicks Butt: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Saturday, December 17th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

bright-smoke-cold-fire-smallWhen I published her story “Apotheosis” in the final issue of Black Gate, Rosamund Hodge was a brand new writer, with only three published stories under her belt. Now she’s an acclaimed fantasy novelist, with two YA novels, Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound to her credit, and a highly anticipated new book. Can I pick ’em, or what?

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire was released in hardcover from Balzer + Bray in September; it is the opening novel in a duology based on Romeo and Juliet (with necromancers). School Library Journal writes: “Hodge creates a world ravaged by the Ruining, a fog that killed the living and allowed the dead to walk… [with] magic, an underworld, and a Juliet who kicks butt.”

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful — and warring — families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou, share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on the Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan — and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding the Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong — killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy… and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo only wants to protect her city — but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting…

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire was published by Balzer + Bray on September 27, 2016. It is 448 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital version. See all our coverage of the latest released from Black Gate writers here.


Future Treasures: The Twenty Sided Sorceress, Volume Two: Boss Fight, by Annie Bellet

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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I love omnibus volumes. I did a series on them a while back, looking at inexpensive paperback omnibus (omnibi?) volumes from C.J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, Murray Leinster, James H. Schmitz, Steven Brust, Jack Vance, and others.

But omnibus novel collections aren’t just for classic writers — oh, no. Saga Press is putting the format to good use collecting Annie Belett’s bestselling fantasy series The Twenty Sided Sorceress, which originally appeared from a small press. The first volume, Level Grind, was published in October; the second, Boss Fight, arrives next month and collects three more novels: Heartache, Thicker Than Blood, and Magic to the Bone. Separated from her friends, their fates unknown, and without her magic, Jade must stop fighting on Samir’s terms or else her next battle will be her last.

Level up. Or die.

Jade Crow and her friends faced their worst enemy, her ex-boyfriend Samir, the most powerful sorcerer in the world, and they now lie defeated, and flung across the wilderness.

Samir had trained Jade to be a sorceress, to mold her in his image, until she rejected him and escaped here to Wylde. Jade must stop fighting on Samir’s terms or else her next battle will be her last. Leveled up and wiser, Jade stands a chance this time, if she follows the true calling of her power, and changes the playing field. Everything has been leading up to this… Roll for initiative!

This is the omnibus of the next three volumes in the USA Today bestselling fantasy series, Heartache; Thicker Than Blood; Magic to the Bone, collected together for the first time in print.

The Twenty Sided Sorceress, Volume Two: Boss Fight will be published by Saga Press on January 3, 2017. It is 397 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $15.99 in trade paperback.The cover is by Chris McGrath.


Future Treasures: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Sunday, December 11th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

perf5.500x8.500.inddElise Kova is the author of the bestselling Air Awaken series, and its prequel, the Golden Guard Trilogy, all from Silver Wing Press. Her newest novel, The Alchemists of Loom, is the opening volume in the Loom Saga. The second volume, The Dragons of Nova, arrives in July from Keymaster Press. I’ve never heard of Kaymaster, but I’ll grant them this — they produce attractive books.

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer-turned-thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

The Alchemists of Loom will be published by Keymaster Press on January 10, 2017. It is 380 pages, priced at $23.99 in hardcover and $4.99 for the digital edition.


Future Treasures: Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

nine-of-stars-laura-bickle-smallLaura Bickle is the author of the Dark Alchemy weird western series (Dark Alchemy, Mercury Retrograde), featuring geologist Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig, which have been described as “Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad.”

Nine of Stars is the newest Petra Dee novel, and also the first Wildlands novel, which the publisher describes as “an exciting new series that shows how weird and wonderful the West can truly be.” I don’t see a lot of contemporary Weird Westerns, so consider me intrigued.

Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors – especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill – a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.

It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all – before the trail turns deathly cold.

Nine of Stars will be published by Harper Voyager on December 27, 2016. It is 384 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $4.99 for the digital version.

See all of our recent coverage of Weird Westerns here.


Dark and Gritty, with Plenty of Mystery and Treachery: Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan Novels

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

the-better-part-of-darkness-small the-darkest-edge-of-dawn-small the-hour-of-dust-and-ashes-small

I don’t have anything against urban fantasy and paranormal romance… but for a very long time, it seemed like the fantasy shelves of my local bookstore were buried in the stuff. So it was easiest to ignore it all, good and bad, and just come back when the dust had settled.

Well, at long last, it seems like the tide of urban fantasy has receded a bit, which means it may be safe to go back in the waters. I’m interested in cherry-picking the most popular and acclaimed series out there — and also, naturally, the ones with the best covers.

Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan series certainly fits all of my criteria. Publishers Weekly called it a “Standout Series,” and Romantic Times called the opening novel, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, “dark and gritty, with plenty of mystery and treachery . . . . An excellent start to an electrifying new series!” The series ran for four volumes between 2009-2012, all published in paperback by Pocket Books.

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New Treasures: Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

Monday, November 28th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

congress-of-secrets-stephanie-burgis-smallStephanie Burgis is the author of the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy of Regency fantasy adventures for kids. Masks and Shadows, her first historical fantasy novel for adults, was published by Pyr earlier this year. Martha Wells calls her newest, Congress of Secrets, “A gripping and enjoyable historical fantasy thriller, with engaging characters scheming for survival and revenge, fighting addictive alchemical magic against the lush background of the 1814 Congress of Vienna.” That’s good enough for me.

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon… among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever. The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Our previous coverage of Stephanie Burgis includes:

A Most Improper Boxed Set
Masks and Shadows
Stephanie Burgis on Scandals in Regency England, Magickal Bathwater, and an Illness That Is No Laughing Matter by Emily Mah

Congress of Secrets was published by Pyr on November 1, 2016. It is 347 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Nicole Sommer-Lecht.


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