Must-Have Monday #159

Posted 23rd October 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.

EIGHT books this week!

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

The Innocent Sleep (October Daye, #18) by Seanan McGuire
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bi/pansexual MC, secondary queer characters
Published on: 24th October 2023

For one bright, shining moment, Tybalt, King of Cats, had everything he had ever wanted. He was soon to set his crown aside; he had married the woman he loved; he was going to be a father. After centuries of searching for a family of his own, he had finally found a way to construct the life of his dreams, and was looking forward to a period of peace—or at least as much peace as is ever in the offing for the husband of a hero.

Alas for Tybalt and his domestic aspirations, fate—and Titania—had other ideas. His perfect world had been complete for only a moment when it was ripped away, to be replaced by hers. Titania, Faerie’s Summer Queen, Mother of Illusions and enemy of so many he holds dear, has seized control of the Kingdom, remaking it in her own image. An image which does not include meddlesome shapeshifters getting in her way. Tybalt quickly finds himself banished from her reality, along with the Undersea and the rest of the Court of Cats.

To protect his people and his future, Tybalt must find the woman he loves in a world designed to keep her from him, convince her that he’s not a stranger trying to ruin her life for no apparent reason, and get her to unmake the illusion she’s been firmly enmeshed in. And he’ll have to do it all while she doesn’t know him, and every unrecognizing look is a knife to his heart.

For Tybalt, King of Cats, the happily ever after was just the beginning.

Our second October Daye book this year, and our first one ever from Tybalt’s pov!!! This is very obviously NOT the place to jump into the series if you’re new to it, but it’s exciting as hell for all us long-term fans!

Traitor of Redwinter (The Redwinter Chronicles, #2) by Ed McDonald
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC, sapphic love interest, secondary gay character
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…

The sequel to last year’s Daughter of Red winter, Traitor brings this series to a whole new level. I got to read it early, and it blew me away – I really can’t recommend this series strongly enough!

My review of Daughter of Redwinter
My review of Traitor of Redwinter

Ogden: A Tale for the End of Time by Ben G. Price
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Published on: 24th October 2023

A story full of elemental magic It tells a tale about how an emissary from the Spirit of Nature arrives in the early days of industrialization, in the form of a young troll, to judge humanity's fitness for survival, or to doom us to extinction. The evil intrigues of men bent on eradicating the last of the trolls are offset by profound epiphanies as Ogden grows and matures from a callow babe in the woods into a burly troll who communes with the spirits of Nature. Through many adventures he learns the similarities and differences between the black magic of men conjured through deceit and clever technology and the life-affirming magic of Nature expressed in ways mysterious and infinite. Ogden is a unique fantasy novel set in the 18th century, full of magical creatures, learning, and love.

I’ve been curious about this one for ages – I love the premise, though I hope it’ll be a bit more nuanced than ‘Nature good, technology bad’.

Organ Meats by K-Ming Chang
Genres: Speculative Fiction
Representation: Possibly queer MCs
Published on: 24th October 2023

Two girls are bound by red string and canine heritage in this vivid tale about female companionship and loyalty, from the National Book Award "5 Under 35" honoree and author of Gods of Want

Best friends Anita and Rainie have made countless visits to their home base: an old sycamore tree and its neighboring lot of stray dogs who have a mysterious ability to communicate with humans. The girls learn that they are preceded by generations of dog-headed women and women-headed dogs whose bloodlines knot them together like thread. Anita convinces her best friend Rainie to become a dog with her, tying a collar of red string around each of their necks to preserve their kinship forever. But when the two girls are separated, Anita sinks into her dreams and lands herself in a coma that only Rainie knows how to rouse her from. As Anita’s body begins to rot, her mind straying farther and farther away from the waking world, it is up to Rainie to rebuild her friend’s body and keep Anita from being lost forever.* Tasked with gathering new organs from the mythical landscape of their shared childhood, Rainie must return to the past and ask herself how far she is willing to go to reunite with the girl who has haunted her and hunted her in equal measure.

In rhythmically poetic and visceral lore, K-Ming Chang veers away from the ordinary and into the macabre. Filled with ghosts and bodily entrails, this is a story about the horror and beauty of intimacy, being tethered to another person across time and space, and transforming our origins.

So this is apparently weird and surreal as fuck, which, yep, did get those vibes from the blurb. I suspect my stomach isn’t strong enough for this one, but it does sound like it might make for some good Halloween reading.

Jewel Box by E. Lily Yu
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction
Published on: 24th October 2023

A luminous collection of short fiction by award-winning writer E. Lily Yu, Jewel Box showcases incandescent stories from a master of language that reflect and refract the sharp intimacies of our world, burning brilliant against the dark.

Angels, monsters, and bees. Birdwatchers, emperors, and prison wardens. These and more populate the twenty-two new and old stories from award-winning author E. Lily Yu, collected for the first time here in her debut short story collection. From her early innovative work that won her the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, such as “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees,” to recent short fiction such as “Small Monsters,” E. Lily Yu’s writing has continued to garner award nominations and recognition from the literary community for its faceted beauty, cutting edge, and uplifting heart.

Collecting award-winning stories from across her career alongside brand-new pieces, Jewel Box rings with stories of delight and tales of tremendous weight. At turns bittersweet and boundary-breaking, poignant and profound, this collection of stories sing, as the oldest stories do, of what it means to be alive in this strange, terrible, beautiful world.

I didn’t click with Yu’s debut novel, but I did love her prose, so I’m excited to check out her first short story collection!

The Privilege of the Happy Ending: S/M/L Stories by Kij Johnson
Genres: Speculative Fiction
Published on: 24th October 2023

The Privilege of the Happy Ending collects award-winning writer Kij Johnson’s speculative fiction from the last decade. The stories explore gender, animals, and the nature of stories, and range in form from classically told tales to deeply experimental works.

I’ve heard lots of good things about Johnson’s short fiction, so again, I’m excited to check out this collection. And I love that cover!

Val Hall: Century by Alma Alexander
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 24th October 2023




Val Hall, raised by the vision and devotion of one man for others of his kind... in the wreckage of the world left behind in the ashes of the conflagration of what they called the Great War.

Men and women in whom an extraordinary moment released one singular extraordinary power, gathered under theudefinition of Superheroes (Third Class), could gather here in the twilight of their lives in search of security, contentment, care, and peace - they could come here to find, and take shelter with, others of their kind.

From those who could know the unknowable, release gifts trapped in the minds of others, free ancient memories with a single touch, lead their kin back to the Promised Land or face down a volcano; from those who use the power of their voice to make others believe anything they say, or those whose task it was to turn annihilation from their people at any cost, or stand against the storm to protect the ones they love, or walk with the dead and glimpse the world beyond - or those who can bend time, see the invisible, or save the world from ruin in their own unique ways - their powers are banked... until the instant in which they are kindled into something unforgettable.

These are their stories.

Welcome to Val Hall.

Superhero retirement homes??? That sounds – kind of amazing? Especially since Alexander’s superheroes don’t quite sound like comicbook-style heroes. ‘Knowing the unknowable’ and ‘leading their kin back to the Promised Land’? I am intrigued!

Shortage of Angels: A Novel by Penny Pickle
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 27th October 2023

Rural East Texas, 1968 Calvina ("Cal") Jean Prather is a 10-year-old precocious angel hunter living in Onward, Texas. She is blessed by birthright to be a "special purpose" child who can see the angels on Earth as they go about their celestial tasks. She lives with her mortician granddaddy in their combined house and funeral parlor. Cal's best friend is Moody, a child with social challenges. Enthralled by local legend, the duo secretly heads for the forbidden reaches of the Sabine River Bottom, where they witness a murder confession while playing an innocent game of Indian scouts. When the killers seek to silence Cal and Moody as witnesses, the children realize that they are tangled in a dangerous web. Cal must soon choose between her solemn oath not to call on the angels to intervene in Earthly matters, or risk the lives of those she loves. Only one angel can be summoned on such short notice who has the light and power to save her: Lucifer. Her gamble with the devil brings her to the jaws of death, and Onward to a reckoning with their own prejudices. Cal must choose between her promise, her loved ones, and her own place in eternity. The revelations reveal the circumstances of her mother's death, the origin of her powers, and who she can claim as her father.

The paper release isn’t till next month, as best as I can tell, but the ebook is out this week! And while the blurb is a bit of a mess, I really liked the except of the first few pages, and I’m curious about where this story is going – and how it’ll get there. Plus, I’m nearly always interested in stories about angels.

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


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