'Tis the season for dark, creepy fantasy . . . Like, beserkers and ancestral Viking curses. Medieval magic, murder and mayhem. A dark East Asian reimagining of The Evil Queen legend. And an epic new series from Hugo-winning author Elizabeth Bear. . . these are just a few of the new fantasies out this week.
At the sci-fi end of the bookish spectrum, you'll find new Orson Scott Card — the first Enderverse novel in years — along with the third book in Paolo Bacigalupi's acclaimed dystopian Ship Breaker series. Also, a companion to Sharon Cameron's The Forgetting, and a competition for a spot on a mysterious mission to space.
In between, there are paranormal miracles and creepy island mysteries. And, of course, horror (though not as much as I'd like) — from a modern feminist tale of assault and witchy revenge that feels super relevant given this weekend's headline news, to good old-fashioned zombies lurching together in one massive set.
Here are this week's new sci-fi and fantasy books...
All the Crooked Saints
YA | Fantasy | Paranormal
Here is a thing everyone wants:
Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.
Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.
YA | Historical | Fantasy
A Norse teen and her family are forced to flee to the American West to escape the effects of an ancestral Viking curse in this jaw-dropping historical paranormal romance from the author of Monument 14.
Are Hanne's powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?
Hanne's brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It's not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”—she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.
Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.
Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.
Children of the Fleet
Fleet School #1
Orson Scott Card
From Orson Scott Card, award-winning and bestselling author of Ender's Game, his first solo Enderverse novel in years.
Children of the Fleet is a new angle on Card’s bestselling series, telling the story of the Fleet in space, parallel to the story on Earth told in the Ender’s Shadow series.
Ender Wiggin won the Third Formic war, ending the alien threat to Earth. Afterwards, all the terraformed Formic worlds were open to settlement by humans, and the International Fleet became the arm of the Ministry of Colonization, run by Hirum Graff. MinCol now runs Fleet School on the old Battle School station, and still recruits very smart kids to train as leaders of colony ships, and colonies.
Dabeet Ochoa is a very smart kid. Top of his class in every school. But he doesn’t think he has a chance at Fleet School, because he has no connections to the Fleet. That he knows of. At least until the day that Colonel Graff arrives at his school for an interview.
Dare Mighty Things
YA | Sci-Fi
The Selection meets The 5th Wave in this heart-racing debut duology about a girl competing for a spot on a mysterious mission to the outer reaches of space.
THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.
Eighteen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she is to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.
Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.
As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down...even if it costs her everything.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Rise of the Empress #1
Julie C. Dao
YA | Fantasy | Retelling
The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.
Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of Heartless, Stealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.
Gray Wolf Island
YA | Paranormal Mystery
Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.
With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret--something they'll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.
As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends' troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby's choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure--or merely with their lives.
From debut author Tracey Neithercott comes a darkly compelling tale of profound friendship, adventure, and finding the strength to tell the truth.
The Hollow Girl
YA | Horror | Fantasy
For fans of Asylum, Anna Dressed in Blood, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl comes a new feminist horror novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Mary: The Summoning.
Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.
Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.
One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.
She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.
Enchanter General #1
Medieval magic, murder, and mayhem!
It is 1164, and for a hundred years England has been ruled by the Normans. A young Saxon boy named Durwin, crippled by a childhood accident, had caught the eye of a Norman sage teaching at a rural school of magic. Realizing that the boy had promise, Durwin was made stable boy, and eventually allowed to attend classes.
Now twenty, Durwin is proficient enough that he is assigned to teach, but the other sages refuse to promote him and he is hassled by the Norman juniors for his disability. But those troubles turn out to be the least of his worries when he manages to corrects errors in an ancient corrupted spell, which promptly prophesies murder.
Sure enough, word soon reaches the school that one of the local count’s house sage has died, perhaps slain by black magic. Durwin is whisked away to the family’s castle, only to find that one death was only the beginning. The young sage quickly learns of a dizzying plot to assassinate King Henry. Dropped into the middle of the complex politics of England’s royal courts, can Durwin stop them in time?
The Forgetting #2
YA | Sci-Fi
Samara is one of the Knowing, and the Knowing do not forget. Hidden deep in the comfort and splendor of her underground city, a refuge from the menace of a coming Earth, Samara learns what she should have never known and creates a memory so terrible she cannot live with it. So she flees, to Canaan, the lost city of her ancestors, to Forget.
Beckett has flown through the stars to find a dream: Canaan, the most infamous social experiment of Earth's antiquity. Beckett finds Samara in the ruins of the lost city, and uncovers so much more than he ever bargained for -- a challenge to all he's ever believed in or sworn to. When planets collide and memories clash, can Samara and Beckett save two worlds, and remember love in a place that has forgotten it?
At once thought-provoking and utterly thrilling, this extraordinary companion novel to Sharon Cameron's #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling THE FORGETTING explores the truth and loss that lie within memory, and the bonds that hold us together.
Last Star Burning
YA | Fantasy | Dystopian
To escape execution for a crime she didn’t commit, seventeen-year-old Sev is forced to run away from the only home she’s ever known in this exciting start to a brand-new fantasy series from debut author Caitlin Sangster.
Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.
Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.
When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.
But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.
The Stone in the Skull
Lotus Kingdoms #1
Hugo Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to her critically acclaimed epic fantasy world of the Eternal Sky with a brand new trilogy.
The Stone in the Skull, the first volume in her new trilogy, takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.
The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort.
They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.
Tool of War
Ship Breaker #3
YA | Sci-Fi | Dystopian
This third book in a major series by a bestselling science fiction author, Printz Award winner, and National Book Award finalist is the gripping story of the most provocative character from his acclaimed novels Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities.
Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered "augments" and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys. But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters... The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him. From one of science fiction's undisputed masters comes a riveting page-turner that pulls no punches.
Undead Worlds: A Reanimated Writers Anthology
Horror | Zombies | Anthology
22 Authors. 22 Undead worlds. 1 Great Book.
Do you dare?
Alone Together by David Simpson
Gone Fishin’ by Justin Robinson
The Festival by Christopher Mahood
Jimmy by Arthur Mongelli
The Fort by Michael Whitehead
Adam by Sylvester Barzey
A Peaceful Town by Jeremy Dyson
The Undead Pool: The Zombie Night by Derek Ailes
Zombie Exterminators by Grivante
The Horror at Roswell Mills by Michael Pierce
Before Safe Haven: Losing the Battle by Christopher Artinian
On the Rocks by E.E. Isherwood
Morning of The Living Dead by Mark Cusco Ailes
Defenseless: A Story of Death & Decay by R. L. Blalock
To the Hills by T. D. Ricketts
When I Grow Up, I Won’t Be by Brea Behn
Fallen by Jessica Gomez
Brain Waves by Julien Saindon
Damaged Goods by Samie Sands
Avery by Valerie Lioudis
In the Beginning, God by Charles Ingersoll
Evacuation by Adrienne Lecter
RATINGS & REVIEWS: goodreads (4.91 avg ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ | 11 ratings)