Like last week, this week's new sci-fi and fantasy books are all about the historical — only now with mythology and mobsters instead of zombies. Yeah, see. You've got your Greek mythology in the lyrical follow-up to The Song of Achilles with an epic family saga retelling the story of Circe, while a new romantic YA fantasy scratches your Norse mythological itch (it's also that rarest of beasts: a standalone fantasy novel).
This week also brings two of my most anticipated Waiting on Wednesday picks: Unbury Carol from Bird Box's Josh Malerman, which sounds like a twisted mash-up of Sleeping Beauty and psychological horror and the Weird Wild West (so, basically awesome), and Catherynne M. Valente's Space Opera, which can be summed up as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision meets Ziggy Stardust, and I am here for it.
On the SFF mobster front, there's a new YA fantasy series set in a 'City of Sin' with casino families and illicit cabarets and Mafia donnas that totally sounds like an old-school Vegas, even if this fictional city is called something else. And there's a "crazy-ass adventure" of a sci-fi novel set on a prison planet of aliens described as The Godfather meets Guardians of the Galaxy... I mean, how fun does that sound?
So fun you should check it out, along with the rest of this week's new sci-fi and fantasy books...
Ace of Shades
YA | Fantasy
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
Goodreads (4.01 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 292 ratings)
Beyond a Darkened Shore
YA | Historical Fantasy | Norse Mythology
Vikings meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy stand-alone from author Jessica Leake.
The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.
The people of Mide have always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn but the entire world.
Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle, the two might have a chance to save their world.
With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love...even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.
Goodreads (3.91 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 85 ratings)
Historical Fantasy | Greek Mythology | Retelling
The daring, dazzling and highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Song of Achilles.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.
Goodreads (4.41 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 558 ratings)
Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
YA | Fantasy
In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died.
Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.
As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.
Goodreads (4.21 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 82 ratings)
Catherynne M. Valente
Science Fiction | Fantasy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente's science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.
A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.
Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.
This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.
Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.
Goodreads (4.18 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 38 ratings)
😍 MY READING PICK THIS WEEK!
Horror | Fantasy | Western | Weird
The Bram Stoker Award–nominated author of Bird Box returns with a haunting tale of love, redemption, and murder.
Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.
Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.
And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.
The haunting story of a woman literally bringing herself back from the dead, Unbury Carol is a twisted take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Goodreads (3.69 ★ ★ ★ ¾ | 163 ratings)
The Viridian Convict
Science Fiction | Paranormal | Aliens
The Godfather meets Guardians of the Galaxy in this crazy-ass adventure set on Viridian, a prison planet full of aliens…who want to eat you. Tig, the only human, is thrust into a lose/lose/lose situation when the mob boss he works for asks him to pick up and deliver a package that the Fed—the governing body of the known universe—also wants. To make matters worse, the “package” has curves for days, an attitude to match, and her own agenda for how this is all going down.
Goodreads (4.0 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 16 ratings)