I know you need something super gay, magical, and dramatic to start your new year off appropriately. The Last Sun is a tarot-inspired (yes!) noir-fantasy mashup starring a moody fallen prince and his foul-mouthed bodyguard that you will love. Rune and Brand eke out an uneasy existence as mercenaries and criminal dogsbodies, but when they're hired to find a nobleman's missing heir they're plunged into deeper waters than ever before. In New Atlantis, the island kingdom built from a patchwork of scenery borrowed from the human world, the dead rise again, the courts go to war, and Rune must confront the bloody night that destroyed his family.
You won't want to miss a single sentence, word, not even one comma of this magical adventure. Goddesses, librarians, lost cities, adventures, fantastical dreams--have I convinced you yet? No? Well, then let me just add that this was hands down one of the most beautifully-written and imaginative books I've read in years (and, hold on to your hats folks, because the sequel is even better!). Now, what are you still doing here reading this review? Grab the book and start dreaming--I mean, reading!
Full disclosure: this is my desert island book. Clive Barker (my future husband) displays the fecundity of his imagination by creating a dark fantasy epic on the scale of Tolkien full of deliciously sacrilegious subtext. The characters and scenes within have woven themselves into my psyche never to be unraveled. Thank Goddess.
The first in the Books of Ambha, this is an epic fantasy based in Mughal India. Mehr is a young Ambhan noblewoman with the magic of her exiled Amrithi mother running through her veins. Although Amrithi have always been feared and misunderstood for their power, now huge numbers of them are disappearing. To protect her family, Mehr strikes a deal that proves to be more complicated than she could have imagined. Suri has woven an exciting tale of embracing your heritage and acknowledging your privilege, being true to yourself and doing what's right.
Forces--both natural and man made--have changed the world as we know it. Large swaths of the US are gone, and monsters and gods walk the earth. The Dinetah (the Navajo Nation) are now the dominant group--among them Maggie Hoskie, a trained monster hunter. When dark magic rises, Maggie reluctantly pairs with a smooth-talking medicine man named Kai to take it on. Roanhorse's debut is vivid, detailed, raw and human. Her characters are delightfully flawed, the world well-built, with a twisty plot and fast pace. I'm a hard sell when it comes to post-apocalyptic stories, but I loved this one. (And while you're waiting for the sequel, check out Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruhac!)
Ever wish that American Gods was well written?Look no further than Rebecca Roanhorse's debut novel Trail of Lightning. Enter the Sixth World of heroines, monsters, and life on the reclaimed rez: the land of Dinétah.
Middle-aged math professor Boe thinks the adventurous days of her youth are long gone. But when her best student goes missing, she must venture out across a terrifying dreamscape, pursued by malicious gods, to retrieve her. A beautifully written, economical little masterpiece about resiliency, second chances, and the power of women's stories.
Dr. Greta Helsing just wants to help her patients, whether they be mummy, ghoul, or vampire. It's the family business, after all. But someone in London feels very differently, attacking the creatures that live amongst humanity, and quite a few humans as well. As fear builds in the London populace, Greta and her friends must band together to save themselves and discover the real face behind the evil stalking London's streets. A smart, refreshing, deeply kind, and delightfully droll debut.
Rather than spin, I find Novik brilliantly weaves this tale, crossing contrasting threads to create a gorgeous tapestry. A wintry world, malevolent fairy creatures, a starving family, a cursed king, and in the middle of it all Miryem, a young Jewish woman forced to take over her father’s money-lending livelihood when his sentimentality leaves her family destitute. This is more than a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, it is a tale worthy of praise all on its own.
Do you ever find yourself wanting more Lovecraft in your diet, but without the misogyny and antisemitism? Johnson turns Lovecraft on his head with this fast-paced and dreamlike quest story, featuring a mature woman as the hero, and lots of strange creatures and places.
Strange, accessible, and delightful!