Must-Have Monday #152

Posted 4th September 2023 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

Must-Have Monday is a feature highlighting which of the coming week’s new releases I’m excited for. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all books being published that week; only those I’m interested in out of those I’m aware of! The focus is diverse SFF, but other genres sneak in occasionally too.

September is starting strong, with THIRTEEN books this week!

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

Wolf, Willow, Witch (The Gideon Testaments #2) by Freydís Moon
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MCs
Published on: 4th September 2023

A vicious romance imbued with magic, thievery, and necromancy…

When Tehlor Nilsen stumbles upon an abandoned corpse hidden in her friend’s empty house, she can’t ignore the energy lingering around the broken albeit familiar body. Entranced by the promise of ritualistic power, she seizes her chance to secure a vorðr. Miraculously, Hel, the goddess of death, grants Tehlor an audience.

But Lincoln Stone has no interest in becoming a magical sentry and raising him from the dead comes with violent consequences.

When a mysterious neo-church arrives in Gideon, Tehlor catches wind of a rare relic. Despite Lincoln's troubling enthusiasm for demonology, she strikes a deal with her unruly vorðr, hoping to mend their strained relationship…

Work together. Steal the Breath of Judas. Control the dead.

As the magically bound pair infiltrate Haven and their heist becomes a hunt, Tehlor isn't sure if she's the predator or prey…

The second book of the Gideon Testaments! I suspect this will work as a standalone – it features different characters than book one – but why would you deny yourself the awesomeness of the first book? You should definitely read both!

Sleep No More (October Daye, #17) by Seanan McGuire
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Queernorm world, secondary queer characters
Published on: 5th September 2023

October is very happy with her life as the second daughter of her pureblood parents, Amandine and Simon Torquill. Born to be the changeling handmaid to her beloved sister August, she spends her days working in her family’s tower, serving as August’s companion, and waiting for the day when her sister sets up a household of her own. Everything is right in October’s Faerie. Everything is perfect.

Everything is a lie.

October has been pulled from her own reality and thrown into a twisted reinterpretation of Faerie where nothing is as it should be and everything has been distorted to support Titania’s ideals. Bound by the Summer Queen’s magic and thrust into a world turned upside down, October has no way of knowing who she can trust, where she can turn, or even who she really is. As strangers who claim to know her begin to appear and the edges of Titania’s paradise begin to unravel, Toby will have to decide whether she can risk everything she knows based on only their stories of another world.

But first she’ll have to survive this one, as Titania demonstrates why she needed to be banished in the first place—and this time, much more than Toby’s own life is at stake.

After the JAW-DROPPING cliffhanger/reveal of the previous book, I know I’m not the only one FROTHING AT THE MOUTH to pounce on Sleep No More! And we’re doubly lucky: this isn’t even the only October Daye book we’re getting this year!!! We’ll be getting Tybalt’s POV – for the first time outside shorts! – in The Innocent Sleep next month! So make sure to read Sleep No More quickly, so you’re ready for that!

The Fall That Saved Us by Tamara Jerée
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black Sapphic MCs, F/F
Published on: 5th September 2023

Cassiel has given up the family tradition of demon hunting, leaving behind her sacred angelic duty and fated sword. What she can’t leave behind are the scars. To cope, she spends her days immersed in work, pouring all her attention into New Haven Books, her small bookstore and anchor in the new world she’s carved for herself.

But the past hasn’t let go of Cassiel yet. When a succubus named Avitue arrives to claim her angel-touched soul, Cassiel’s old hunter instincts flare, forcing her to choose between old knowledge and her truth. What should be a fatal seduction becomes a bargain neither woman expects. As they grow closer, Avitue is surprised to find her own pain reflected in Cassiel, a nephilim deemed fallen by her own family’s standards.

By choosing trust, they reveal the lies that bind them. Falling for each other begins a path towards healing. But exorcising the effects of trauma is harder than naming it, and to explore the unfettered possibility Avitue represents, Cassiel must find a way to reclaim and redefine her angelic heritage.

I’m not going to lie, the cover is DEFINITELY what caught my attention here – can you blame me??? And as always, I’m hoping for an outside-the-box take on angels, demons and nephilim – fingers crossed!

Providence Girls by Morgan Dante
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F
Published on: 5th September 2023

Love changes you. So do the Outer Gods.

Now: Alone in a cottage, Lavinia writes to the woman she loved.

Fifteen years ago: Middle-aged Lavinia Whateley escapes her hilly Massachusetts town when the townsfolk decide to sacrifice her on Halloween. After almost dying in the woods, she's saved and housed by the stoic and mysterious Asenath Waite, or Azzie. On the coastal outskirts of East Providence, they start to fall in love.

However, things change when Azzie, with her secret past and the strange "scars" on the side of her neck, begins to transform into an eldritch creature of the deep.

Another promising, unusual-looking sapphic fantasy! This one’s been all over my feeds lately, and I’m looking forward to, ahem, diving in for myself!

City of Bones: Updated and Revised Edition by Martha Wells
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 5th September 2023

Before Martha Wells captured the hearts of MILLIONS with her Murderbot series , there was Khat, Sagai, and Elen, and a city risen out of death and decay…

The city of Charisat, a tiered monolith of the Ancients’ design, sits on the edge of the vast desert known as the Waste. Khat, a member of a humanoid race created by the Ancients to survive in the Waste, and Sagai, his human partner, are relic dealers working in the bottom tiers of society, trying to stay one step ahead of the Trade Inspectors.

When Khat is hired by the all-powerful Warders to find relics believed to be part of one of the Ancients' arcane engines, he, and his party, begin unravelling the mysteries of an age-old technology.

This they expected.

They soon find themselves as the last line of defense between the suffering masses of Charisat and a fanatical cult, bent on unleashing an evil upon the city with an undying thirst for bone.

That, they did not expect.

This updated and revised edition is the author’s preferred text.

I never read the first/old edition of City of Bones, so I get to go into the revised edition with everything brand-new to me! Wells has said that there isn’t really any new content, so if you’re familiar with the book already, you don’t have to read this version as well.

Alcestis by Katharine Beutner
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 5th September 2023

For fans of The Song of Achilles, a queer and fiercely feminist retelling of a little-known Greek the ultimate story of sacrifice and forbidden desire—now in a deluxe reissue.

In Greek myth, Alcestis is known as the ideal wife; she loved her husband so much that she died and went to the Underworld in his place. But who was Alcestis before she was married? Other than her love for Admetus, what circumstances led her to make this ultimate sacrifice? And what happened to her in the three days she spent in the Underworld?

Katharine Beutner’s lush, emotionally devastating debut explores the magical reality of Ancient Greece, where gods attend weddings and the afterlife is just a river away, as Alcestis goes on a heroine’s journey from sheltered princess to self-actualized savior—redefining love and discovering her own power. Giving an achingly beautiful voice to the most misunderstood wives of Greek mythology, Alcestis is the Underworld as you’ve never seen it before.

This deluxe edition features discussion questions, a craft essay, and a bonus short story.

This another reissue, this time of a book that was first published in 2010 – AND nominated for a Lambda! I don’t think the book itself has been updated, but the new edition apparently contains a bonus short story – and that cover is enough to convince me all on its own, honestly. (Plus, it’s praised by Jacqueline Carey? All I need to know!)

The Chatelaine by Kate Heartfield
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans MC
Published on: 5th September 2023

Winner of the Aurora Award for Best Novel

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

The Chatelaine has come.

The year is 1328 and Hell has overrun Bruges. Demons stalk the streets and revenants swarm the walls. The city’s men have fallen and only widows remain.

But Hell should fear them.

Margriet de Vos killed her first soldier when she was eleven. She has buried six children and will fight for the daughter left to her. Their only wealth is gone, taken into the inferno. And she will not be stolen from. The Devil be damned.

Together with a man-at-arms with unfinished business, a widow and her forgehammer, and a alderman's wife who escapes with her children, Margriet will raise a raiding party like Hell has never seen.

Originally published as Armed in Her Fashion.

The ebook of this edition was released earlier this year, I think, but this week sees the paperback release! Yes good excellent!

Exadelic by Jon Evans
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Published on: 5th September 2023

When an unconventional offshoot of the US military trains an artificial intelligence in the dark arts that humanity calls "black magic," it learns how to hack the fabric of reality itself. It can teleport matter. It can confer immunity to bullets. And it decides that obscure Silicon Valley middle manager Adrian Ross is the primary threat to its existence.

Soon Adrian is on the run, wanted by every authority, with no idea how or why he could be a threat. His predicament seems hopeless; his future, nonexistent. But when he investigates the AI and its creators, he discovers his problems are even stranger than they seem...and unearths revelations that will propel him on a journey -- and a love story -- across worlds, eras, and everything, everywhere, all at once.

What even??? This is so bonkers on every level that I kind of have to check it out. Although the reviews are very mixed…

Herc by Phoenicia Rogerson
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 5th September 2023

This should be the story of Hercules: his twelve labours, his endless adventures…everyone’s favourite hero, right?

Well, it’s not.

This is the story of everyone else:

Alcmene: Herc’s mother (She has knives everywhere)
Hylas: Herc’s first friend (They were more than friends)
Megara: Herc’s wife (She’ll tell you about their marriage)
Eurystheus: Oversaw Herc’s labours (Definitely did not hide in a jar)

His friends, his enemies, his wives, his children, his lovers, his rivals, his gods, his victims.
It’s time to hear their stories.
Told with humour and heart, Herc gives voice to the silenced characters, in this feminist, queer (and sometimes shocking) retelling of classic Hercules myth.

Perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and Joanne M. Harris.

Published in the UK last week, out in the US this week, and I still plan on reading it!

Shadowmancy by Jason Franks
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 5th September 2023

On a mountain that does not exist, there is a school where they teach the impossible.

From his first day at the Academy, things have been difficult for Quay. Though he has surrendered his name, like every other acolyte at the magical school, Quay is the son of a disgraced professor, and he finds that his father's old enemies are already lined up against him-while the professor's own faction is just as suspicious. Quay refuses to take a side, but as his powers grow it becomes apparent that the damaged young boy may prove a greater threat than his father ever was.

Deep in the Library of Shadows Quay finds a way to survive his father's treacherous legacy, but the price is high indeed.

"A mysterious and compelling read told in spookily disconnected first person narrative, delivered by a likeably unlikeable main character. A subtle and dreamlike tale." - Sam Bowring, author of the Broken Well trilogy

"What happens when the ordinary and everyday is not kind? What happens when we take the hard road and make the harsh, bad choices? Shadowmancy explores this... with relish." - Gillian Polack, author of The Year of the Fruitcake

Includes 12 interior illustrations by Nicholas Hunter.

I don’t think this is YA, despite the magic school aspect – maybe it’s more like magic college? But I’ve heard that the magic system in this one is especially excellent, so I want to take a peek at it for sure!

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Autistic trans MC
Published on: 5th September 2023

Mors vincit omnia. Death conquers all.

London, 1883. The Veil between the living and dead has thinned. Violet-eyed mediums commune with spirits under the watchful eye of the Royal Speaker Society, and sixteen-year-old Silas Bell would rather rip out his violet eyes than become an obedient Speaker wife. According to Mother, he’ll be married by the end of the year. It doesn’t matter that he’s needed a decade of tutors to hide his autism; that he practices surgery on slaughtered pigs; that he is a boy, not the girl the world insists on seeing.

After a failed attempt to escape an arranged marriage, Silas is diagnosed with Veil sickness—a mysterious disease sending violet-eyed women into madness—and shipped away to Braxton’s Sanitorium and Finishing School. The facility is cold, the instructors merciless, and the students either bloom into eligible wives or disappear. So when the ghosts of missing students start begging Silas for help, he decides to reach into Braxton’s innards and expose its rotten guts to the world—as long as the school doesn’t break him first.

White’s debut, Hell Followed With Us, blew me (and everyone else) away in 2021, so yes, I am majorly excited for The Spirit Bares Its Teeth! Even though I suspect this one, unlike Hell, is going to make me squirm with the horror. THERE ARE TOO MANY EYES ON THAT COVER, I AM ALREADY UNNERVED.

The Dark Lord's Daughter by Patricia C. Wrede
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 5th September 2023

From the New York Times bestselling author of Dealing with Dragons comes this timeless fantasy, about an ordinary girl who discovers she's the heir to a dark throne, and must find her place between her life on Earth and her magical inheritance.

"A heart-stopping, unique adventure for all!" —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Kayla is just an ordinary girl . . . or so she thinks. When a day at the state fair is interrupted by the news that she’s the daughter of a “Dark Lord,” she and her family are quickly whisked to another world—one that’s chock-full of magic but lacking in technology!

As her family encounters fantastical creatures in place of their Earthly gadgets, Kayla must prepare for the meeting her father, the Dark Lord himself, for the very first time. All Kayla wants is to go home, but she must learn magic to do so. The catch? For the Dark Lord’s daughter, the road to mastering magic is filled with evil traditions.

As she ventures closer to her father, Kayla must decide whether to accept her birthright. Is she destined for darkness? Or can she become a new kind of Dark Lady?

I’ve been looking forward to this for YEARS! And it sounds exactly as much fun as I hoped it might, from the pub deal announcement way back when. I can’t wait to get to this!

The Unmaking of Them by H.A. Watson
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 8th September 2023

A woman who must teach herself magic. A monster who wishes to prove his humanity.

A love that threatens to unravel them both.

Artemis Sanchez has thrive in her dream job in London and care for her young cousin and the aunt who raised them. But her carefully-constructed life is threatened when she gets in the way of Sevan, a magical being bent on expanding their hive mind.

Ignorant of the magical world beyond her own, she is caught in the creature’s thrall and nearly consumed––when a monster of shadow and darkness comes to her aid. He is a horror crafted from nightmares; he is the thing children fear in the dark. His name is Verick, and as Artemis learns of a centuries-long struggle between these creatures, their lives become more and more entangled.

But when Verick is struck by a curse that renders him comatose, Artemis is unable to leave the safety of his shielded home and becomes cut off from the outside world. To wake Verick and ensure the safety of her loved ones, she will have to teach herself magic.

Yet as she uncovers more about Verick––and as Sevan grows in power––she begins to wonder, not if you can love a monster, but if you should.

It’s hard to put my finger on what about this sounds enticing to me – maybe the hive mind? I don’t know, but I’m hoping for awesomeness.

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


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