Must-Have Monday #160

Posted 30th 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.

SIX books this week!

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

The Book of Queer Saints: Volume II by Mae Murray, Hailey Piper, Alison Rumfitt, Paula D. Ashe, Sam Richard
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 31st October 2023

The award-nominated anthology series returns with The Book of Queer Saints Volume II.

Featuring 19 new stories by some of the best queer horror writers working today, it includes works by Shirley Jackson Award-winning author Paula D. Ashe, Wonderland Award-winner Sam Richard, and Rhysling Award-nominee Alison Rumfitt (Tell Me I'm Worthless).

A group of black metal punks burns down a regenerating church. Scientists seek communion with a cosmic entity. A medieval peasant is possessed by a spirit. A chrysalis devours townspeople in Mexico. A trans girl becomes one with a machine hellbent on chaos and revenge.
The Book of Queer Saints, Volume II is a terrifying blend of the gory, erotic, and monstrous as told from the queer perspective.

I was one of the original backers for volume one of Queer Saints – back when it was just Queer Saints, because no one had any idea there’d be enough demand for more volumes! (In hindsight, I feel like everyone should have seen that one coming. Us queers are freaks.) So I was EXTREMELY DELIGHTED to learn we were getting a volume two!!! Even if, ahem, the hubby will have to read it first, so I know which stories I’m likely to be able to handle…

A Season of Monstrous Conceptions by Lina Rather
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC, F/F, minor nonbinary rep
Published on: 31st October 2023

In 17th-century London, unnatural babies are being born: some with eyes made for the dark, others with webbed fingers and toes better suited to the sea.

Sarah Davis is intimately familiar with such strangeness—she herself was born marked by uncanniness. Having hidden her nature all her life and fled to London under suspicious circumstances, Sarah starts over as a midwife’s apprentice, hoping to carve out for herself an independent life. As a member of the illegal Worshipful Company of Midwives, Sarah learns to reach across the thinning boundary between her world and another, drawing on its power to heal and protect the women she serves.

When the wealthy Lady Wren hires her to see her through her pregnancy, Sarah quickly becomes a favorite of her husband, the famous architect Lord Christopher Wren, whose interest in the uncanny borders on obsession. Sarah soon finds herself caught in a web of magic and intrigue created by those who would use the magic of the Other World to gain power for themselves, and whose pursuits threaten to unmake the earth itself.

This novella is a good dark read for readers like me, who don’t want anything actually dark. The prose is lovely, and the story was much queerer than I was expecting, which was lovely! Will definitely be keeping an eye out for Lina Rather’s work in future.

My review!

In The Garden Of Echo by H.S. Wolfe
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Nonbinary MCs
Published on: 31st October 2023

Echo and Ender have existed nearly as long as the earth itself. They’re hungry, in love, and indestructible.

For centuries they’ve wandered across continents feeding from their favorite food source - humans. But the mess they’ve left in their wake starts their prey on the path of discovering that they are not what they seem.

After being forced to curb their feeding and go into hiding, a tragic incident leads Echo and Ender to learn about what they are, and the power they are truly capable of.

In The Garden Of Echo is an erotic botanical horror about two codependent monster of unknown origins born to torture the human race for their sins against the earth. Please see author's carrd for full TW's.

Well. This sounds like amazing Halloween reading! I’m very Into edritch abomination-type creatures/characters, and this sounds right up my alley. Can’t wait to pounce on it!

What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Bolivian-Argentinian MC
Published on: 31st October 2023

Bolivian-Argentinian Inez Olivera belongs to the glittering upper society of nineteenth century Buenos Aires, and like the rest of the world, the town is steeped in old world magic that’s been largely left behind or forgotten. Inez has everything a girl might want, except for the one thing she yearns the most: her globetrotting parents—who frequently leave her behind.

When she receives word of their tragic deaths, Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian, an archeologist in partnership with his Egyptian brother-in-law. Yearning for answers, Inez sails to Cairo, bringing her sketch pads and an ancient golden ring her father sent to her for safekeeping before he died. But upon her arrival, the old world magic tethered to the ring pulls her down a path where she soon discovers there’s more to her parent’s disappearance than what her guardian led her to believe.

With her guardian’s infuriatingly handsome assistant thwarting her at every turn, Inez must rely on ancient magic to uncover the truth about her parent’s disappearance—or risk becoming a pawn in a larger game that will kill her.

The Mummy meets Death on the Nile in this lush, immersive historical fantasy set in Egypt filled with adventure, a rivals-to-lovers romance, and a dangerous race.

Listen, there’s a certain subset of my generation who will pounce on anything if you comp it to The Mummy – and I am a gleeful member of that subset! I believe this is set in a slightly magical analogue of our world, rather than being straight-up historical fiction.

Sistah Samurai by Tatiana Obey
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Black MC, Japanese setting + cast
Published on: 1st November 2023

Afro Samurai meets The Sword of Kaigen in this anime-inspired novella

This is no revenge story. I ain’t got time for that. I’ve got errands to run and things to do and barely enough time to make it home before sundown. I don’t care why folks are going around stealing ink. I don’t care why the monks are acting kinda strange. I don’t care that everybody is expecting me to save them. I might be a Sistah Samurai but those days playing hero were back when my knees didn’t ache, and I wasn’t the only one left. So leave me alone.

All I want to do is get home, drink some green tea lemonade, and enjoy my peace. I’m not asking for much, so why are all these demons daring to get in my way?
I am not the one. Not today.

Sistah Samurai is an Action Fantasy novella that is an homage to the anime, Afro Samurai. Both works feature a feudal Japan-inspired setting that is rife with anachronisms. In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, “Is that a motherf—ing RPG?”

Come on, I don’t actually have to sell you on this, do I??? THAT COVER. THAT PREMISE. SOLD.

Yours Celestially by Al Hess
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Queer MCs, autistic and adhd rep, disability rep
Published on: 2nd November 2023

After divorce, death, and having his reformatted soul uploaded into a new body, Sasha expected resurrection to be a fresh start. His time spent in digital Limbo with the program’s cheeky AI guardian angel, Metatron, was cathartic, but what good is a second life when he only sees his daughter on the weekends, he has all the same problems he had before he died, and he can’t seem to shake the ache for the married life he lost?

If that weren’t frustrating enough, a glitch in the program has given Sasha the ability to sense Metatron even outside of Limbo. And Metatron is in love. The angel’s sickly-sweet yearning for one of the souls still in Limbo has turned Sasha’s stomach into caramelized lead. It’s hard enough to move on without someone else’s feelings making the emptiness in his own life even more acute. He didn’t have playing wingman to an actual winged being on his bingo card, but he’s determined to help Metatron make a move on their crush so he can get love off of his mind.

Sasha takes a job with the resurrection company in order to covertly contact Metatron. Except Sasha’s new coworker, Mr. C, keeps showing up at the worst moments. The man is annoying, he’s pushy… and he’s incredibly hot. Sasha can’t decide whether Mr. C wants to blackmail him or be his new BFF, but he seems to know things about Metatron and the resurrection program that Sasha doesn’t. Getting close to him might be the key to solving Sasha’s problem, but if he isn’t careful, he’s going to end up catching feelings of his own.

I didn’t enjoy Hess’ debut, but I fell hard for the premise of Yours Celestially the moment I heard about it, and thus am more than happy to give Hess another chance.

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


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