Must-Have Monday #126

Posted 27th February 2023 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

ELEVEN exciting SFF releases this week!

(Books are listed in order of pub date, then Adult SFF, Adult Other, YA SFF, YA Other, MG SFF.)

The Eidolon (Magnus Academy #1) by K.D. Edwards
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Asexual MC, achillean MC, Native American MC, queernorm culture, background M/M
Published on: 28th February 2023

In the epic conclusion to K.D. Edwards' first blockbuster trilogy in The Tarot Sequence series, readers followed Rune on a race against time as an age-old threat rose to threaten the city of New Atlantis. Now, for the first time, The Eidolon tells what really happened to Max, Quinn, and Anna as prisoners in the Hourglass Throne's base of operation.

The Eidolon is the first in a brand-new collection of novels and novellas in the Magnus Academy Series. These stories will be told through the various points of view of Rune's found family, ultimately leading to a planned arc of novels set at the new Magnus Academy. The book was printed in partnership with Rainbow Crate, the world's largest queer subscription box service, which produced a limited-edition hardcover. There will also be an Audible version, along with a self-published eBook.

There was a limited print-run of The Eidolon, which has been making its way to readers for a while now (mine is waiting at the post office!) but the 28th is the release date for the ebook and audio edition that ought to be available to everyone! And personally, I think everyone should read it. (Although not before reading the first three Tarot Sequence books!)

You can read my full review here!

The Iron Princess by Barbara Hambly
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 28th February 2023

A young woman rises from the streets to battle a sinister evil in this magical fantasy adventure by the bestselling author of the Darwath series.

Something is amiss with the world's magic. Spells don't work the way they used to--when they work at all. Only the powers of the Crystal Mages remain as they were, powers founded on the use of the mystical element adamis, the harvesting of which has enslaved the peoples of the Twilight Lands.

They need a hero.

At the same time, ravenous beasts have begun to appear, legendary creatures that seem to be proof against any magic. And Clea Stylachos, granddaughter of a great sage of the Twilight people, has reason to fear that the Crystal Mages, instead of seeking to defeat these insanely destructive monsters, are attempting to weaponize them in their quest for power.

Clea's only hope to save her people is a wizard who retains his power, one who will not betray her, either to the great merchant houses or to the all-entangling web of the Crystal Mages. But that wizard--Ithrazel the Cursed, destroyer of a city and magically imprisoned to suffer undying, unremitting torment--wants nothing to do with saving the world, helping a hero, or unraveling the terrible secret at the heart of the Crystal Mages' plans.

From the slums and tunnels of the slave-city of Morne, to the watery wilderness of the Twilight lands, to the halls of her father's palace and the spell-soaked mysteries of the Crystal Mages' House of Glass, Clea works to untwist the deadly riddles of magic and monsters--to free her mother's disenfranchised people from slavery under her father's conquering forces. To save her mageborn brother from the Crystal Mages' power; to control a sorcerer legendary for his deed of evil; to keep her own small band of friends one step ahead of her father's troops and the Crystal Order's spells.

She is the Iron Princess, and she knows she must prevail or die.

But at what cost to herself?

Barbara Hambly is one of my favourite authors – so much so that when I’d read all her SFF, I read her historical fiction! That’s how much I adore her writing! But this week sees the release of her first fantasy novel IN OVER A DECADE, so it should go without saying that I am EXTREMELY EXCITED!!! Absolutely planning to stay up past midnight until my pre-order is ready to download!

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi (Amina al-Sirafi, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Brown Muslim MC, BIPOC cast
Published on: 28th February 2023

Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.

But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.

Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power…and the price might be your very soul.

Shannon Chakraborty, the bestselling author of The City of Brass, spins a new trilogy of magic and mayhem on the high seas in this tale of pirates and sorcerers, forbidden artifacts and ancient mysteries, in one woman’s determined quest to seize a final chance at glory—and write her own legend.

The reviews for Adventures have been a little mixed, and I wasn’t planning to put it on my tbr – but I fell HARD for the excerpts that have been posted (like this one over on so yes, I will in fact be giving this a go. Cautiously excited!

Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black cast
Published on: 28th February 2023

Generations of Montrose women—Augusta, Victoria, Willow—have lived together in their quaint two-story bungalow in California for years. They keep to themselves, never venture far from home, and their collection of tinctures and spells is an unspoken bond between them.

But when seventeen-year-old Nickie Montrose brings home a boy for the first time, their quiet lives are thrown into disarray. For the other women have been withholding a secret from Nickie that will end her relationship before it’s even begun: the decades-old family curse that any person they fall in love with dies.

For each member of the household, revealing this truth to Nickie also means reckoning with their own past choices and mistakes. And as new questions about long-held family beliefs emerge, the women are set on a collision course dating back to a voodoo shop in 1950s New Orleans’s French Quarter—where a hidden story in a mysterious book may just hold the answers they seek in life and in love…

Seeing as this allegedly relies heavily on the miscommunication trope, which I hate, I probably won’t be reading this, but I still wanted to include it for anyone who enjoys (or just doesn’t mind!) that trope.

The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 28th February 2023

“Mothers fly away like migrating birds. This is why farmers have daughters.”

A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mother, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries for sale. For six years, it’s been just the three of them—her mother has brought home guests before, but none have ever stayed.

Yet when her mother brings home a six-foot tall crane with an unnerving, menacing air, she lets him into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, she abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands.

All mothers leave the farm, eventually. In this stunning contemporary retelling of “The Crane Wife” by the author of the Newbery Award-winning novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon, a fiercely pragmatic teen forced to grow up faster than was fair will do whatever it takes to protect her family—and change the story.

Barnhill knocked it out of the park with last year’s When Women Were Dragons (my review), and The Crane Husband sounds very different, but still extremely interesting – and this is another case of me being won over by the excerpt. (Seriously, publishers; you should all do this! It makes it so much easier to know whether I should be preordering a book or not!!!)

A Novel Arrangement (Flos Magicae) by Arden Powell
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs, F/M/M polyamory
Published on: 28th February 2023

A dressmaker who secretly publishes thrilling romances. Her handsome war-veteran fiancé. And his best friend, a charming artist of ill-repute determined to ruin their relationship.

There are two things standing between Elizabeth Turtledove and her happily-ever-after: her fiancé’s best friend, who despises her, and the blackmailer scheming to steal her savings.

Arthur and Coxley have been inseparable since their schooldays, and Coxley will stop at nothing to keep Arthur for himself. Although he’s all bite and bad manners, Elizabeth can tell there’s a better man hiding beneath that prickly exterior. As she gets to know Coxley and the depth of his friendship with Arthur, she finds another thing in the way of her happy ending. She’s taken their case of mutual pining and inadvertently turned it into a love triangle.

She has a plan to deal with her ridiculous blackmailer by summer’s end. Unfortunately, as much as she’d like to handle this love triangle with equal efficiency, matters of the heart are rarely so simple.

A Novel Arrangement is a full-length FMM novel in the Flos Magicae series, set in an alternate 1920s universe with magic. All the books are standalones and can be read in any order.

Well, this sounds like a truly ridiculous amount of fun! And I definitely need more SFF polyamory in my life. Sign me up!

Liar City (Sugar & Vice, #1) by Allie Therin
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 28th February 2023

A murder has Seattle on edge, and it falls to a pacifist empath—and a notorious empath hunter—to find the killer before it's too late

It’s the middle of the night when part-time police consultant and full-time empath Reece gets an anonymous call warning him that his detective sister needs his help. At an out-of-the-way Seattle marina, he discovers that three people have been butchered—including the author of the country’s strictest anti-empathy bill, which is just days from being passed into law.

Soon, Reece’s caller arrives: a shadowy government agent known as The Dead Man, who is rumored to deal exclusively in cases involving empathy. He immediately takes over the investigation, locking out both local PD and the FBI, but, strangely, keeps Reece by his side. 

As the two track an ever-growing trail of violence and destruction across Seattle, Reece must navigate a scared and angry city, an irritating attraction to his mysterious agent companion, and a rising fear that perhaps empaths like him aren’t all flight and no fight after all…

"Readers will be yearning for more the minute they finish the final page." —Library Journal, starred review, on Starcrossed
Sugar & Vice

I haven’t been able to find out much about Liar City, but I’m cautiously interested? I especially want to see Therin’s take on empathy – it’s a superpower/magical ability that has so many possible permutations and applications, and I’m hopeful Therin might do something with it that I haven’t seen before!

Nightbirds (Nightbirds, #1) by Kate J. Armstrong
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 28th February 2023

The Nightbirds are Simta’s best-kept secret: Girls with a unique and powerful magic they can gift with just a kiss. Some would kill to possess them; the church would kill them outright. But protected by the Great Houses, the Nightbirds are well-guarded treasures.

As this Season’s Nightbirds, Matilde, Æsa, and Sayer will spend their nights bestowing their gifts to well-paying clients. Once their season is through, they’re each expected to marry a Great House lord and become mothers to the next generation of Nightbirds before their powers fade away. But as they find themselves at the heart of a political scheme that threatens not only their secrets, but their very lives, their future suddenly becomes uncertain.

When they discover that there are other girls like them and that their magic is far more than they were told, they see the Nightbird system for what it is: a gilded cage. Now they must make a choice—to remain kept birds or take control, remaking the city that dared to clip their wings.

I’ve been reading less and less YA SFF – I’m getting even pickier in my old age, I guess! – so I wasn’t initially interested in Nightbirds. But…you know where this is going: there was an excerpt, and I was SOLD. I officially don’t care about the premise or even the plot; I’m here for the gorgeous prose. GIMME!

The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Latine transmasculine nonbinary MC, NB/M
Published on: 28th February 2023

El Diablo is in the details in this Latinx pirate fantasy starring a transmasculine nonbinary teen with a mission of revenge, redemption, and revolution.

On Mar León de la Rosa's sixteenth birthday, el Diablo comes calling. Mar is a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate hiding a magical ability to manipulate fire and ice. But their magic isn't enough to reverse a wicked bargain made by their father, and now el Diablo has come to collect his payment: the soul of Mar's father and the entire crew of their ship.

When Mar is miraculously rescued by the sole remaining pirate crew in the Caribbean, el Diablo returns to give them a choice: give up their soul to save their father by the harvest moon, or never see him again. The task is impossible--Mar refuses to make a bargain, and there's no way their magic is a match for el Diablo. Then Mar finds the most unlikely allies: Bas, an infuriatingly arrogant and handsome pirate--and the captain's son; and Dami, a gender-fluid demonio whose motives are never quite clear. For the first time in their life, Mar may have the courage to use their magic. It could be their only redemption--or it could mean certain death.

This has been much-hyped, and there’s no denying the premise sounds pretty awesome. I’ll definitely be picking it up!

Furious Heaven (The Sun Chronicles, #2) by Kate Elliott
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: East Asian-coded cast, sapphic MC, F/F, secondary nonbinary character, queernorm world
Published on: 2nd March 2023

Non-stop action, space battles and intrigue abound in the second in a galactic-scale, gender-swapped space opera trilogy inspired by the life of Alexander The Great.

The Republic of Chaonia fleets under the joint command of Princess Sun and her formidable mother, Queen-Marshal Eirene, have defeated and driven out an invading fleet of the Phene Empire, although not without heavy losses. But the Empire remains strong and undeterred. While Chaonia scrambles to rebuild its military, the Empire's rulers are determined to squash Chaonia once and for all by any means necessary.

On the eve of Eirene's bold attack on the rich and populous Karnos System, an unexpected tragedy strikes the republic. Sun must take charge or lose the throne. Will Sun be content with the pragmatic path laid out by her mother for Chaonia's future? Or will she forge her own legend despite all the forces arrayed against her?

This is the UK release – Furious Heaven won’t be published in the US until April, I think – and although I did DNF it, it wasn’t because I thought it’s a bad book. I don’t! Because it isn’t! So if you enjoyed book one, Unconquerable Sun, I do recommend this – it just went in a direction that I, personally, did not enjoy.

In Shadowed Dreams by S. Judith Bernstein
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Asexual aromantic MC, chronic migraine rep
Published on: 3rd March 2023

Alex is trying to solve a mystery. Raven is that mystery.

Nine months ago, in New York City, Raven vanished. Not even a body was left behind because Raven’s body is still moving. Its new inhabitant is a fictional assassin summoned from the pages of his own world by Raven’s magic and desperation as she fought to escape a trap meant to take her life.

Now those who hunted Raven have returned to kill again and Alex must unravel the mystery of his best friend’s magic and disappearance before she is lost forever.

This LEAPT onto my tbr after Booktuber Reads With Rachel spoke so glowingly about it! Apparently it features a lot of books-within-books, which is a favourite trope/device of mine!

Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!


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