This week’s prompt is books on your Autumn tbr, so here’s mine!
Representation: Bi/pansexual MC
Published on: 3rd October 2023
In the much anticipated sequel to Hild, Nicola Griffith's Menewood transports readers back to seventh-century Britain, a land of rival kings and religions poised for epochal change.
Hild is no longer the bright child who made a place in Edwin Overking's court with her seemingly supernatural insight. She is eighteen, honed and tested, the formidable Lady of Elmet, now building her personal stronghold in the valley of Menewood.
But Edwin needs his most trusted advisor. Old alliances are fraying. Younger rivals are snapping at his heels. War is brewing--bitter war, winter war. Not knowing who to trust he becomes volatile and unpredictable. Hild begins to understand the true extent of the chaos ahead, and now she must navigate the turbulence and fight to protect both the kingdom and her own people.
Hild will face the losses and devastation of total war, and then she must find a new strength, the implacable determination to forge a radically different path for herself and her people. In the valley, her last redoubt, her community slowly takes root. She trains herself and her unexpected allies in new ways of thinking as she prepares for one last wager: risking all on a single throw for a better future...
In the last decade, Hild has become a beloved classic of epic storytelling. Menewood picks up where that journey left off, and exceeds it in every way.
First up, is, of course, Menewood! Hild, the first book in this trilogy, is a DEEPLY BELOVED favourite of mine, which puts the sequel at the top of my tbr. Not to mention, the way nature is presented, and described, in this series somehow makes it feel very appropriate for the season – even though Hild (and presumably Menewood) is just as much about the other seasons too.
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Science Fantasy
A girl matches wits with a war god in this kaleidoscopic, epic tale of oppression and the cost of peace, where stories hide within other stories, and narrative has the power to heal… or to burn everything in its path.
In the winding underground tunnels of the Library, the great celestial peacekeeper of the three systems, a terrible secret lies buried.
As the daughter of a Library god, Freida has spent her whole life exploring the Library's ever-changing tunnels and communing with the gods. Her unparalleled access makes her unique – and dangerous.
When Freida meets Joshua, a mortal boy desperate to save his people, and Nergüi, a Disciple from a persecuted religious minority, Freida is compelled to break ranks with the gods and help them. But in order to do so, she will have to venture deeper into the Library than she has ever known. There she will discover the atrocities of the past, the truth of her origins, and the impossibility of her future…
With the world at the brink of war, Freida embarks on a journey to fulfill her destiny, one that pits her against an ancient war god. Her mission is straightforward: Destroy the god before he can rain hellfire upon thousands of innocent lives – if he doesn't destroy her first.
The Library of Broken Worlds was one of my most anticipated books of the YEAR – and I dove right in when it arrived on my ereader. But – and this does NOT happen to me often – the worldbuilding is so unique that I actually had trouble understanding it all. At this point, I think I need to start it over, and give it my undivided attention this time (as opposed to reading a bunch of books at once, which is my usual M.O).
For readers of Outlawed, Piranesi, and The Night Tiger, a riveting, roaring adventure novel about a legendary Chinese pirate queen, her fight to save her fleet from the forces allied against them, and the dangerous price of power.
When Shek Yeung sees a Portuguese sailor slay her husband, a feared pirate, she knows she must act swiftly or die. Instead of mourning, Shek Yeung launches a new plan: immediately marrying her husband's second-in-command, and agreeing to bear him a son and heir, in order to retain power over her half of the fleet.
But as Shek Yeung vies for control over the army she knows she was born to lead, larger threats loom. The Chinese Emperor has charged a brutal, crafty nobleman with ridding the South China Seas of pirates, and the Europeans-tired of losing ships, men, and money to Shek Yeung's alliance-have new plans for the area. Even worse, Shek Yeung's cutthroat retributions create problems all their own. As Shek Yeung navigates new motherhood and the crises of leadership, she must decide how long she is willing to fight, and at what price, or risk losing her fleet, her new family, and even her life.
A book of salt and grit, blood and sweat, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is an unmissable portrait of a woman who leads with the courage and ruthlessness of our darkest and most beloved heroes.
This is a book I was SO EXCITED for…but somehow never quite got to, and I desperately want to! Come on, what part of that premise doesn’t sound amazing???
Genres: Sci Fi
“Reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin’s paradigm-shattering The Left Hand of Darkness , this piercingly moving story belongs in most fantasy collections.” — Library Journal
There are secrets beneath her skin.
Sorykah Minuit is a scholar, an engineer, and the sole woman aboard an ice-drilling submarine in the frozen land of the Sigue. What no one knows is that she is also a one who can switch genders suddenly, a rare corporeal deviance universally met with fascination and superstition and all too often punished by harassment or death.
Sorykah’s infant twins, Leander and Ayeda, have inherited their mother’s Trader genes. When a wealthy, reclusive madman known as the Collector abducts the babies to use in his dreadful experiments, Sorykah and her male alter-ego, Soryk, must cross icy wastes and a primeval forest to get them back. Complicating the dangerous journey is the fact that Sorykah and Soryk do not share memories: Each disorienting transformation is like awakening with a jolt from a deep and dreamless sleep.
The world through which the alternating lives of Sorykah and Soryk travel is both familiar and surreal. Environmental degradation and genetic mutation run amok; humans have been distorted into animals and animal bodies cloak a wild humanity. But it is also a world of unexpected beauty and wonder, where kindness and love endure amid the ruins. Alluring, intense, and gorgeously rendered, Ice Song is a remarkable debut by a fiercely original new writer.
Praise for Ice Song
“A stunning debut fantasy about love and the ties of blood.” —Armchair Interviews
“Kasai’s debut is a boldly adventurous tale depicting a richly detailed world. The aspect of Traders shifting gender brings Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness to mind, while the activities on Chen’s island are more reminiscent of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry novels.” — Booklist
“ Ice Song is definitely a compelling read, largely due to the fact that Sorykah is such a well-developed character. She has an equally intense and complex sense of love and resentment for her children. And the fact that she exists between the world of humans and the mutants is also a source of conflict for her character . . . Ice Song is a near-perfect combination of fantasy, great storytelling and social commentary.” — Philadelphia Gay News
Ice Song has been on my tbr for years and years – in hindsight, I think it was one of the books I reached out for when I started having Feelings about my own gender. But I think those feelings also put pressure on the book, and I was scared to read it in case…something. Well, I don’t need fiction to help me figure out my gender any more, and now I just want to read it because I love shapeshifters who change gender/sex, and I am HERE for mothers going to the ends of the earth for their kids. Plus, I’m fascinated by what the relationship between Sorykah and Soryk must be like.
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Published on: 7th November 2023
In We Are the Crisis—the second book in the Convergence Saga from award-winning author Cadwell Turnbull—humans and monsters come into conflict in a magical and dangerous world as civil rights collide with preternatural forces.
In this highly anticipated sequel, set a few years after No Gods, No Monsters, humanity continues to grapple with the revelation that supernatural beings exist. A werewolf pack investigates the strange disappearances of former members and ends up unraveling a greater conspiracy, while back on St. Thomas, a hurricane approaches and a political debate over monster’s rights ignites tensions in the local community.
Meanwhile, New Era—a pro-monster activist group—works to build a network between monsters and humans, but their mission is threatened by hate crimes perpetrated by a human-supremacist group known as the Black Hand. And beneath it all two ancient orders escalate their conflict, revealing dangerous secrets about the gods and the very origins of magic in the universe.
Told backward and forward in time as events escalate and unravel, We Are the Crisis is a brilliant contemporary fantasy that takes readers on an immersive and thrilling journey.
No Gods No Monsters left me confused as hell – but in a great way??? That does mean I really have no idea what to expect from the sequel, though. HOPEFULLY SOME ANSWERS??? One can only hope!
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Sapphic trans MC
Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity calling itself The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.
Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seep-tech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.
Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina chases after a young boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind.
After adoring Porter’s sophomore novel, The Thick and the Lean, of course I want to pounce on Seep! I’ve heard nothing but love for it, and the premise itself sounds right up my alley.
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay Black MC, Black MCs
Thirty years ago, a young woman was murdered, a family was lynched, and New Orleans saw the greatest magical massacre in its history. In the days that followed, a throne was stolen from a queen.
On the anniversary of these brutal events, Clement and Cristina Trudeau—the sixteen-year-old twin heirs to the powerful, magical, dethroned family—are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother. Until, by chance, they discover their mother isn’t sick—she’s cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule. Someone who will come for them next.
Cristina, once a talented and dedicated practitioner of Generational magic, has given up magic for good. An ancient spell is what killed their father and she was the one who cast it. For Clement, magic is his lifeline. A distraction from his anger and pain. Even better than the random guys he hooks up with.
Cristina and Clement used to be each other’s most trusted confidant and friend, now they barely speak. But if they have any hope of discovering who is coming after their family, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other and their family's magic, all while solving the decades-old murder that sparked the still-rising tensions between the city’s magical and non-magical communities. And if they don't succeed, New Orleans may see another massacre. Or worse.
Terry J. Benton-Walker's contemporary fantasy debut, Blood Debts, with powerful magical families, intergenerational curses, and deadly drama in New Orleans.
I started reading this when it came out earlier this year, but kind of drifted away from it. (That’s not a reflection of the book, I just do that sometimes, no matter how good a book is.) Now I want to knuckle down and read it properly, all the way through, because what I remember of it I really like! Plus, seems like an excellent Halloween-season read.
In the world of Celestial Matters, Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian physics are valid scientific models of the surrounding world and cosmos. The Earth lies at the center of the universe, surrounded by crystal spheres which hold each of the planets, the sun and the moon, all enclosed in the sphere of the fixed stars. Earthly matter, composed of the classical four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, naturally moves in straight lines. Heavenly matter naturally rises and moves in circles. This is the universe as understood by the ancient Greeks.
The science of the ancient Chinese also applies, but as the novel is told from the perspective of the Greeks, it is less well understood. Xi, the Chinese notion of spirit and flow, can be manipulated to move objects and energy. The Chinese five elements of earth, metal, water, wood, and fire are transmuted one into the other. Part of the central theme of the book is the two system's mutual misunderstanding and bafflement of each other.
In this world, the Delian League (Greeks) and Middle Kingdom (Chinese) have been fighting a war for nearly a thousand years, ever since the time of Alexander the Great when the warrior-culture of Sparta and the Athenian Akademe were fused into a half-world conquering force. Their technologies are locked together, however, and neither empire can gain the upper hand. Each side secretly despairs of its chances and has come to consider desperate measures.
The story is narrated by Aias of Tyre, a scientist of the Delian League, who is preparing to embark on Project Sunthief as scientific commander. This project is an audacious and desperate mission to sail a spaceship carved out of a piece of the moon herself out through the spheres, to catch a piece of the sun and bring it back to earth to annihilate the Middler capital city. This, the league hopes, will finally end the war and give it victory.
This has been on my tbr for years, and I was recently going through some of those books – the ones that have been buried at the bottom of my tbr forever – and the first few pages of this just hooked me so hard. Plus, what I glimpsed of the worldbuilding is just really fun – which is what you’d expect of a setting where Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian physics are actually correct!
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Genderqueer/nonbinary Latine MC
From one of the leading lights of contemporary Latin American literature—a lush, lyrical, deeply moving story of a young woman whose passion for the early sounds of tango becomes a force of profound and unexpected change.
February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, carrying only a small trunk and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her Italian village for a new home, and a new husband, in Argentina. Arriving in Buenos Aires, she discovers that he has been killed, but she remains: living in a tenement, without friends or family, on the brink of destitution. Still, she is seduced by the music that underscores life in the city: tango, born from lower-class immigrant voices, now the illicit, scandalous dance of brothels and cabarets. Leda eventually acts on a long-held desire to master the violin, knowing that she can never play in public as a woman. She cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and becomes “Dante,” a young man who joins a troupe of tango musicians bent on conquering the salons of high society. Now, gradually, the lines between Leda and Dante begin to blur, and feelings that she has long kept suppressed reveal themselves, jeopardizing not only her musical career, but her life.
Richly evocative of place and time, its prose suffused with the rhythms of the tango, its narrative at once resonant and gripping, this is De Robertis’s most accomplished novel yet.
I only just discovered Robertis’ pub deal for Palace of Eros, a book I am FERAL to get my hands on – which alas, I cannot do, because it’s not out yet! Thus, checking out Robertis’ backlist. Gods of Tango in particular leapt out at me, so that’s the one I’m starting with!
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bi/pansexual MC
Published on: 24th October 2023
The second in Ed McDonald’s Chronicles of Redwinter, full of shady politics, militant monks, ancient powers... and a young woman navigating a world in which no one is quite what they seem.
The power of the Sixth Gate grows stronger within Raine each day—to control it, she needs lessons no living Draoihn can teach her. Her fledgling friendships are tested to breaking point as she tries to face what she has become, and her master Ulovar is struck by a mysterious sickness that slowly saps the vitality from his body, leaving Raine to face her growing darkness alone. There’s only one chance to turn the tide of power surging within her—to learn the secrets the Draoihn themselves purged from the world
The book can teach her. She doesn’t know where she found it, or when exactly, but its ever changing pages whisper power that has lain untouched for centuries.
As the king’s health fails and the north suffers in the grip of famine, rebellious lords hunger for the power of the Crown, backed by powers that would see the Crowns undone. Amidst this growing threat, Raine’s former friend Ovitus brings a powerful new alliance, raising his status and power of his own. He professes support for the heir to the throne even as others would see him take it for himself, and desperately craves Raine’s forgiveness—or her submission.
But the grandmaster has her own plans for Raine, and the deadly training she has been given has not been conducted carelessly. In Raine she seeks to craft a weapon to launch right into her enemy’s heart, as Redwinter seeks to hold onto power.
Amidst threats old and new, Raine must learn the secrets promised by the book, magic promised by a queen with a crown of feathers. A queen to whom Raine has promised more than she can afford to give…
Daughter of Redwinter, the first book in this series, surprised me by subverting most of my expectations and giving us a really unique heroine. However, what made her special (to me) was fixed (and it really was a fixing – what made her the way she was was a wound) at the end of the first book, so I’m not sure what I’ll think of her in the sequel. But I’m excited to find out!
What will you be reading this Fall?