Must-Have Monday #132

Posted 10th April 2023 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

TEN books this week!

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

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Sapphic MC, Black secondary character, nonbinary aliens
Published on: 11th April 2023

A thrillingly told queer space opera about the wreckage of war, the family you find, and who you must become when every choice is stripped from you, Some Desperate Glory is Astounding Award Winner Emily Tesh’s highly anticipated debut novel.

While we live, the enemy shall fear us.

Since she was born, Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the majoda their victory over humanity.

They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. When Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to Nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows she must take humanity's revenge into her own hands.

Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, Kyr escapes from everything she’s known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.

If you’re an SFF fan, you must have heard the hype for Some Desperate Glory – and I happen to think it’s all justified. I was stunned to see how much story Tesh manages to pack into a standalone, without, imo, ever feeling rushed or cramped. This is one hell of a debut, folx.

My review!

Tauhou by Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall
Genres: Speculative Fiction
Representation: Indigenous cast
Published on: 11th April 2023

An inventive exploration of Indigenous families, womanhood, and alternate post-colonial realities by a writer of Māori and Coast Salish descent.

Tauhou envisions a shared past between two Indigenous cultures, set on reimagined versions of Vancouver Island and Aotearoa that sit side by side in the ocean. Each chapter in this innovative hybrid novel is a fable, an autobiographical memory, a poem. A monster guards cultural objects in a museum, a woman uncovers her own grave, another woman remembers her estranged father. On rainforest beaches and grassy dunes, sisters and cousins contend with the ghosts of the past — all the way back to when the first foreign ships arrived on their shores.

In a testament to the resilience of Indigenous women, the two sides of this family, Coast Salish and Māori, must work together in understanding and forgiveness to heal that which has been forced upon them by colonialism. Tauhou is an ardent search for answers, for ways to live with truth. It is a longing for home, to return to the land and sea.

I heard about this one by chance just in time to include it in today’s post, and I’m so glad I did, because it sounds so interesting! Sounds like the kind of alternate history I adore.

A Flame in the Night by Morgan Dante
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M/F polyamory
Published on: 11th April 2023

The start of bloody decadence...

The definition of marriage: Two people and their silver-haired vampire.

In 1924, Paris is a bastion of sexual freedom, even for shell-shocked Leon Laflamme, the most dramatic blond this side of the Seine. After years of loneliness and secrecy, he's married the clever and sumptuous burlesque dancer Claire. However, Leon truly finds liberation when he meets the stoic, intriguing, and silver-haired Count Matthias, who offers true freedom in his dark gift: immortality.

This sounds utterly delicious and like SO MUCH FUN, and I’ve been looking forward to it for ages! I can’t remember where I read a sample of this, but the writing was gorgeous, so there is absolutely NOTHING holding me back from pouncing on it tomorrow!

I mean, come on. ‘The definition of marriage: Two people and their silver-haired vampire.’ That is just PERFECT!

Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World No Magic
Representation: Persian cast and setting
Published on: 11th April 2023

From World Fantasy Award-winning author Fonda Lee comes Untethered Sky, an epic fantasy fable about the pursuit of obsession at all costs.

Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.

Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated rukhers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.

This is much more a book about falconry-with-giant-birds than it is revenge, but it’s still great, and I very much appreciated Lee’s featuring one of the scariest mythological monsters I know of (old-school manticores!)

My review!

Wings Once Cursed and Bound (Mythwoven, #1) by Piper J. Drake
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Thai MC
Published on: 11th April 2023

For fans of Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer Armentrout comes a bold and captivating fantasy by bestselling author Piper J. Drake.

My wings unbound, I am the Thai bird princess
The kinnaree
And no matter the cost,
I will be free.

Bennet Andrews represents a secret organization of supernatural beings dedicated to locating and acquiring mythical objects, tucking them safely away where they cannot harm the human race. When he meets Peeraphan Rahttana, it's too late—she has already stepped into The Red Shoes, trapped by their curse to dance to her death.

But Bennet isn't the only supernatural looking for deadly artifacts. And when the shoes don't seem to harm Peeraphan, he realizes that he'll have to save her from the likes of creatures she never knew existed. Bennett sweeps Peeraphan into a world of myth and power far beyond anything she ever imagined. There, she finds that magic exists in places she never dreamed—including deep within herself.

From the blurb, I think Drake is pulling from Thai mythology, and that’s not something we see often at all – and which I would very much like to explore. So I’m cautiously hopeful about this one!

Master of Souls (Kingdom of Souls, #3) by Rena Barron
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: African-coded cast
Published on: 11th April 2023

A king with a score to settle.
A demon driven to rebel.
A girl who holds the power of the gods.

Arrah has paid many prices in her battle against the Demon King. Now, she must decipher the legacy of her past and weave an uneasy alliance between her beloved Rudjek, the Demon King, and the remaining orishas, hoping to restore peace to all their worlds. But as Arrah’s half-demon sister regains her strength and resumes her quest for destruction, peace may require the ultimate sacrifice.

This is the finale to Barron’s Kingdom of Souls trilogy, and I have high hopes for it! But make sure you start with book one, if you’ve not been following the series so far.

The Grief Nurse by Angie Spoto
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Speculative Fiction
Representation: Pansexual MC
Published on: 13th April 2023

Imagine you could be rid of your sadness, your anxiety, your heartache, your fear.

Imagine you could take those feelings from others and turn them into something beautiful.

Lynx is a Grief Nurse. Kept by the Asters, a wealthy, influential family, to ensure they’re never troubled by negative emotions, she knows no other life.

When news arrives that the Asters’ eldest son is dead, Lynx does what she can to alleviate their Sorrow. As guests flock to the Asters’ private island for the wake, bringing their own secrets, lies and grief, tensions rise.

Then the bodies start to pile up.

With romance, intrigue and spectacular gothic world-building, this spellbinding debut novel is immersive and unforgettable.

Definitely the book I’m most excited for this week, and proud claimant of a spot on my most anticipated SFF of 2023 list, I am SO READY to finally get to read this!

Eyes Guts Throat Bones by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Speculative Fiction
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 13th April 2023

What will the end of the world look like?

Will it be an old man slowly turned to gold, flowers raining from the sky, or a hole cut through the wire fencing that keeps the monsters out?

Is it someone you love wearing your face, or a good old fashioned inter-dimensional summoning?

Does it sound like a howl outside the window, or does it look like coming home?

This startling and irresistibly witty collection from the phenomenally talented Moïra Fowley is an exploration of all our darkest impulses and deepest fears.

Consider me darkly enchanted. I’ve been reading more short story collections recently, and this is one I very much want to pounce on!

Death by Silver by Melissa Scott, Amy Griswold
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 13th April 2023

His practice newly established, metaphysician Ned Mathey can’t afford to turn away any clients. But the latest Londoner to seek Ned’s magical aid gives him pause: Mr Edgar Nevett, an arrogant banker, is the father of the bully who made Ned’s life hell at boarding school. Nevertheless, Ned accepts the commission to ensure the Nevett family silver bears no ancient or modern curses, and then prepares to banish the Nevett family to unpleasant memory again. Until Edgar Nevett is killed by an enchanted silver candlestick—one of the pieces Ned declared magically harmless.

Calling on his old school friend Julian Lynes—private detective and another victim of the younger Nevett—Ned races to solve the murder, clear the stain on his professional reputation, and lay to rest the ghosts of his past.

Assisted by Ned’s able secretary Miss Frost, who has unexpected metaphysical skills of her own, Ned and Julian explore London’s criminal underworld and sodomitical demimonde, uncover secrets and scandals, confront the unexpected murderer and the mysteries of their own relationship.

In Death by Silver veteran authors Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold introduce a Victorian London where magic works, influencing every aspect of civilized life, and two very appealing detectives.

I read the first edition of Death By Silver back when it was published through Lethe Press, and I am happy to assure you that it is marvellous. I’m so glad this series is getting republished – and I’ve heard that brand new instalments are in the works! Definitely a good time to pick this up, if you’ve not read this series before!

Thorns of Chaos by Jeremiah Cain
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay MC
Published on: 13th March 2023

“Cain crafts a vivid world ... rich with detail and myth-lore that traipses brightly through the darker themes of oppression and suffering.” —BookLife Reviews

Queer Grimdark Fantasy: Finn is no hero, chosen born, or noble. Despite escalating tensions from the Dayigan soldier’s occupation of Feah lands, the happy-go-lucky twenty-five-year-old is content to spend his days fishing and flirting with the other men in his Celtic-like village. But everything changes at their midyear’s eve festival when an angry Dayigan commander catches Finn in the arms of another man. Suddenly framed for murder, he must flee his village or face death.

However, Finn isn’t the Dayigans’ only target. They believe all Feahs are wicked and intend to destroy them by any means necessary. The Feahs’ one hope of stopping the reign of terror is to find a relic forged by dark faeries and able to control chaos magic—and claim it to protect themselves. With the fate of the Feah lands resting on his shoulders, Finn seeks out sorcerers who practice ancient, forbidden magic.

Instead, he finds love with the handsome but fierce head of the sorcerers—and a power he never knew he could possess.

But when the Dayigans strike, can Finn harness the perilous magic to save his people without losing himself in the process?

The reviews I’ve seen for Thorns of Chaos have all been very positive, so I will probably give it a try – although it does describe itself as a queer grimdark fantasy, and I usually don’t have the stomach for grimdark. Can still make the attempt, though!

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


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