Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Week of April 17th

Best New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books - April 17

There's no unifying theme to this week's new sci-fi and fantasy books, unlike the last couple weeks which felt like publishers got together and decided 'hey, let's all release alt-historical zombie novels, or how about urban fantasy mobster novels.'

This week, there's something for everyone: you've got fantasy, from a historical fantasy set in an alternate Rome to an urban fantasy set in a post–Katrina New Orleans (my personal pick this week 😍). You've got YA fantasy, with book two in Amy A. Bartol's Secondborn series. You've got Gothic horror, in the form of a hauntingly weird little ghost story. And you've got sci-fi, with the standalone follow-up to John Scalzi's Lock In, a 'near-future sci-fi with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural.'

You've even got a dystopian sci-fi + fantasy sort of thing with a floating city in a post-climate change Arctic, social engineering, and... a woman riding an orca. With a polar bear at her side. In a Publisher's Weekly starred book that's been hailed as the book this month by Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post,, the B&N Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog, and Amazon too.

Check out this week's best new sci-fi and fantasy — including the start of an 11-episode weekly fantasy serial that's FREE to try out (for now, at least)...

Arrivals (Born to the Blade Season 1 Episode 1)
By Michael Underwood, Marie Brennan, Cassandra Khaw


(Born to the Blade #1.1)

Michael Underwood*

Fantasy | Weekly Serial

Goodreads (3.75 ★ ★ ★ ¾ | 4 ratings)

This is the 1st episode in the first season of Born to the Blade, an 11-episode serial from Serial Box. This episode written by Michael R. Underwood (*with future episodes to come from Marie Brennan, Cassandra Khaw, Malka Older).

For centuries the Warders' Circle on the neutral islands of Twaa-Fei has given the countries of the sky a way to avoid war, settling their disputes through formal, magical duels. But the Circle's ability to maintain peace is fading: the Mertikan Empire is preparing for conquest and the trade nation of Quloo is sinking, stripped of the aerstone that keeps both ships and island a-sky. When upstart Kris Denn tries to win their island a seat in the Warder’s Circle and colonial subject Oda no Michiko discovers that her conquered nation's past is not what she's been told, they upset the balance of power. The storm they bring will bind all the peoples of the sky together…or tear them apart.

The Atrocities
By Jeremy C. Shipp

The Atrocities

Jeremy Shipp 

Gothic | Horror | Ghosts

Goodreads (3.34 ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 38 ratings)

Jeremy Shipp brings you THE ATROCITIES, a haunting gothic fantasy of a young ghost's education

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn't suffer.

But Isabella's parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella's... condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.

Or is there...?

Blackfish City: A Novel
By Sam J. Miller

Blackfish City

Sam J. Miller 

Sci-Fi | Dystopian | Fantasy

Goodreads (3.5 ★ ★ ★ ½ | 93 ratings)

A Best Book of the Month in: Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post,, B&N Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog, Amazon

After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves. 

Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection. 

The City of Lost Fortunes

Bryan Camp

Urban Fantasy

Goodreads (4.38 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 26 ratings)

The fate of New Orleans rests in the hands of a wayward grifter in this novel of gods, games, and monsters.

The post–Katrina New Orleans of The City of Lost Fortunes is a place haunted by its history and by the hurricane’s destruction, a place that is hoping to survive the rebuilding of its present long enough to ensure that it has a future. Street magician Jude Dubuisson is likewise burdened by his past and by the consequences of the storm, because he has a secret: the magical ability to find lost things, a gift passed down to him by the father he has never known—a father who just happens to be more than human.

Jude has been lying low since the storm, which caused so many things to be lost that it played havoc with his magic, and he is hiding from his own power, his divine former employer, and a debt owed to the Fortune god of New Orleans. But his six-year retirement ends abruptly when the Fortune god is murdered and Jude is drawn back into the world he tried so desperately to leave behind. A world full of magic, monsters, and miracles. A world where he must find out who is responsible for the Fortune god’s death, uncover the plot that threatens the city’s soul, and discover what his talent for lost things has always been trying to show him: what it means to be his father’s son.

😍 My Reading Pick This Week!

From Unseen Fire

Cass Morris 

Historical Fantasy

Goodreads (4.31 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 36 ratings)

From Unseen Fire is the first novel in the Aven Cycle, a historical fantasy set in an alternate Rome, by debut author Cass Morris

The Dictator is dead; long live the Republic.

But whose Republic will it be? Senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for the power to shape the future of the city of Aven. Latona of the Vitelliae, a mage of Spirit and Fire, has suppressed her phenomenal talents for fear they would draw unwanted attention from unscrupulous men. Now that the Dictator who threatened her family is gone, she may have an opportunity to seize a greater destiny as a protector of the people—if only she can find the courage to try.

Her siblings—a widow who conceals a canny political mind in the guise of a frivolous socialite, a young prophetess learning to navigate a treacherous world, and a military tribune leading a dangerous expedition in the province of Iberia—will be her allies as she builds a place for herself in this new world, against the objections of their father, her husband, and the strictures of Aventan society.

Latona’s path intersects with that of Sempronius Tarren, an ambitious senator harboring a dangerous secret. Sacred law dictates that no mage may hold high office, but Sempronius, a Shadow mage who has kept his abilities a life-long secret, intends to do just that. As rebellion brews in the provinces, Sempronius must outwit the ruthless leader of the opposing Senate faction to claim the political and military power he needs to secure a glorious future for Aven and his own place in history.

As politics draw them together and romance blossoms between them, Latona and Sempronius will use wit, charm, and magic to shape Aven’s fate. But when their foes resort to brutal violence and foul sorcery, will their efforts be enough to save the Republic they love?

Head On

(Lock In #2)

John Scalzi 

Sci-Fi | Mystery

Goodreads (3.91 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 75 ratings)

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi's trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth—and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

Traitor Born

(Secondborn #2)

Amy A. Bartol

YA | Fantasy

Goodreads (4.45 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 167 ratings)

Rebel warrior Roselle St. Sismode returns in the second book of the epic Secondborn series by USA Today bestselling author Amy A. Bartol.

In the Fates Republic…
Firstborns reign supreme.
Secondborns kneel in servitude.
Thirdborns face death.
And Census shadows them all.

Secondborn Roselle St. Sismode was pressed into military service to battle the rebel uprising threatening the society that enslaves her. Now, powerful factions conspire to subvert the lines of succession, positioning Roselle to replace her mother as leader of the Republic’s armed forces. But the woman who bore her would sooner see Roselle dead than let her usurp her firstborn brother’s command.

The deadly war of intrigue between her new masters and her ruthless family is but one conflict challenging Roselle. A soldier for the rebellion has drawn her into a rogue army’s plot to overthrow the Republic and shatter its brutal caste system. Targeted by assassins and torn between allies, Roselle will have her loyalty, love, and honor tested in the greatest battle of—and for—her life.

Here's everything else that's new this week: