This week’s prompt is ‘New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021’!
Because it’s ‘new-to-me’ I decided not to include authors who published their debuts last year – those are authors new to everybody! And there were many, MANY incredible debut authors in 2021, but they have been featured elsewhere. I’m using this post to spotlight 10 ridiculously awesome authors who started publishing before last year!
did it take me so long to get to Victoria Goddard?!
Thankfully, Alexandra Rowland’s twitter thread on the heartsearing epicness of The Hands of the Emperor alerted me to the absolute TREASURES I was missing out on – and I haven’t looked back since. Hands is a revolutionary (hah!) kind of Epic Fantasy, where saving the world really does mean making the world BETTER. Everything about it is beautiful; it leaves my heart too full for words – I’d make it mandatory reading if I could!
Hands would be a masterpiece all on its own – it is a masterpiece – but what’s also breathtaking is Goddard’s range, because the Dartwing & Green series are completely different: fantasy of manners, which pretend to feel silly and are definitely somewhat whimsical and have some serious stuff going on underneath. They’re light, wonderful reads, and at one point when I couldn’t read anything else, those books were my escape.
And then again there’s Bride of the Blue Wind, which is altogether different again: it’s written in the style of a myth or folk story, and it’s gorgeous and it works and I can’t wait to read the next one.
(Oh – did I mention all of these are interwoven, taking place in the same universe/multiverse??? BECAUSE THEY ARE. You can keep the MCU; I’ll take Goddard’s fantasies, please and thank you!)
I might never have discovered Wade if not for KA Doore’s inestimable annual round-ups of Queer Adult SFF – I saw Transgressions of Power on the 2021 list, started reading Mazes of Power because I never read a series out of order if I can help it…and wow. Wow. It has been a while since I fell that hard that fast for a new series! Wade’s prose is sharp and deft and her worldbuilding is astoundingly unique and detailed; it’s one of the few times when a fictional world really and truly feels alien, like the people and cultures on it evolved in a completely different timeline to our own. This, while absolutely feeling like a real place, somewhere you could go and visit, if you dared.
And that’s without getting into the complicated web of characters, all of whom I adore (even the ones I despise!)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
I have next to no interest whatsoever in steampunk – I’m not in love with the aesthetic, and rarely come across any steampunk that remembers what punk means – but my ears perked up when I saw a book being described as dieselpunk. That was something I hadn’t heard of before!
Well, I can confirm: Maresca definitely remembers what punk means! This delves deep into the messiness of real revolution, through the lens of amazing characters, in a setting that is rich and detailed and queer as fuck! I’m almost sad it’s a standalone (only almost, because Maresca does wrap it all up perfectly). You can read my full thoughts about it over at my review!
Happily, Maresca’s written many, many other books, which I look forward to investigating!
I read this at the very start of 2021…just about a week before it was pulled off the market, because this edition was published by a micro-press and Stronach landed a deal with a trad publisher! I’ve talked a few times about how much I love this absolutely mindblowing book, and how excited I am to see the new edition coming later this year (IT’S EXPANDED). I can’t comprehend how Stronach’s mind works; I only know that I’m in awe of what he creates, and cannot WAIT to a) read the new edition and b) shove it into the hands of everyone I know!!!
Khaw was somewhere on the edge of my periphery – I knew they were a horror author, and that they wrote stuff scary enough that I ought to stay away from it. But this was another case of an early reader I trusted waxing poetic with all of my buzzwords…so I took a gamble, and IT PAID OFF! Even without the incredible flawed characters and all the shades of queerness, I would have been heart-eyes for this book for the prose alone; Khaw wields language like a weapon, and nailed me right in the heart.
As I expressed at length in my review!
Merc Fen Wolfmoor
This came so close to flying under my radar; I’m so ridiculously glad I didn’t miss it! This is another one I reviewed with a great deal of delight – I think it says all that needs saying when I tell you that yes, it absolutely gave me nightmares, and yes, they were absolutely worth it! (Asexual aromantic werewolf cinnamon roll??? Queerplatonic partners facing down monsters??? Evil white queens??? GIMME!)
Yet another case of a book I wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but that ended up on my best-of-the-year list! I usually can’t stand first-person, but Buehlman came up with such a lovable, quick, hilarious main character that I couldn’t resist. Kinch, the eponymous blacktongue thief, nicked my heart right out of my chest when I wasn’t looking (it could have been any of the MANY times I was entranced by the worldbuilding, or the giant-raven riders, or the incredible witches, or–well, you get the point) and I have yet to get it back. OH NO, WHAT A SHAME!
I admit I haven’t been able to finish any of Buelman’s other books yet – Blacktongue Thief only dresses up as grimdark, it really is very much not, but all the other books of his I’ve tried have been waaaaaay too scary for me. Gonna keep trying, though, at least until we get the Blacktongue sequel!
I have no idea how I didn’t come across this series sooner! An alt-history where magic is a science and for some unknown reason, women are much, much better at it??? And in this world, we have a young man who wants to be a flight-and-rescue flyer, literally flying into battlefields to rescue the wounded??? And has to deal with the push-back, and also the anti-magic version of the alt-right, but making some seriously cool friends along the way??? All with really well-thought-out worldbuilding and compulsively readable prose and plot that gets under your skin to give you EMOTIONS???
Yeah, sorry-not-sorry, I adore these and am pining for book three already. You can read my review of book one over here!
Listen, queer fantasy/spec-fic is what I LIVE for, so I can’t believe it took so long for this one to show up on my radar! It’s a delightfully bizarre mix of urban fantasy and magical realism, kinda, with memories playing on projector screens and babies delivered to would-be moms in BOXES by BIRDS, what even??? And yet it all works, and it’s tangled and thorny and still beautiful and fun, and I am out to devour everything Ridley has ever written now.
I find it a little bit hilarious that I picked this up because I caught wind of his upcoming fantasy book, and wanted to see what he was like as a writer…and then was completely swept away by this far-future sci-fi! I just. WHAT. This is so beautiful, it made my heart ache and I freaking sobbed and the worldbuilding and the found-family vibes, the casual queerness and interstellar travel and trade and and AND. I loved it beyond all reason, okay??? Still love it. I want everyone to read it. I HAVE SO MANY FEELS ABOUT THIS ONE STILL!
That’s 10! What authors did you discover for the first time last year???