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.
FOUR books this week!
(Books are listed in order of pub date, then Adult SFF, Adult Other, YA SFF, YA Other, MG SFF.)
Representation: Nigerian cast
Published on: 28th November 2023
This brand-new sequel to Nnedi Okorafor’s Shadow Speaker contains the powerful prose and compelling stories that have made Nnedi Okorafor a star of the literary science fiction and fantasy space and put her at the forefront of Africanfuturist fiction
Niger, West Africa, 2077
Welcome back. This second volume is a breathtaking story that sweeps across the sands of the Sahara, flies up to the peaks of the Aïr Mountains, cartwheels into a wild megacity—you get the idea.
I am the Desert Magician; I bring water where there is none.
This book begins with Dikéogu Obidimkpa slowly losing his mind. Yes, that boy who can bring rain just by thinking about it is having some…issues. Years ago, Dikéogu went on an epic journey to save Earth with the shadow speaker girl, Ejii Ubaid, who became his best friend. When it was all over, they went their separate ways, but now he’s learned their quest never really ended at all.
So Dikéogu, more powerful than ever, reunites with Ejii. He records this story as an audiofile, hoping it will help him keep his sanity or at least give him something to leave behind. Smart kid, but it won’t work—or will it?
I can tell you it won’t be like before. Our rainmaker and shadow speaker have changed. And after this, nothing will ever be the same again.
As they say, ‘ Onye amaro ebe nmili si bido mabaya ama ama onye nyelu ya akwa oji welu ficha aru .’
Or, ‘If you do not remember where the rain started to beat you, you will not remember who gave you the towel with which to dry your body.’
Any new Okorafor book is a cause of celebration! This one is a sequel to Shadow Speaker, which was re-released earlier this year. Be sure to read that one first!
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans nonbinary Seminole demiromantic pansexual MC, polyamory, brown trans love interest, plus-sized Indigenous trans love interest, QBIPOC cast, very minor fibromyalgia rep
Published on: 28th November 2023
Infatuation. Reincarnation. Damnation.
Gem Echols is a nonbinary Seminole teen living in the tiny town of Gracie, Georgia. Known for being their peers’ queer awakening, Gem leans hard on charm to disguise the anxious mess they are beneath. The only person privy to their authentic self is another trans kid, Enzo, who’s a thousand long, painful miles away in Brooklyn.
But even Enzo doesn’t know about Gem’s dreams, haunting visions of magic and violence that have always felt too real. So how the hell does Willa Mae Hardy? The strange new girl in town acts like she and Gem are old companions, and seems to know things about them they’ve never told anyone else.
When Gem is attacked by a stranger claiming to be the Goddess of Death, Willa Mae saves their life and finally offers some answers. She and Gem are reincarnated gods who’ve known and loved each other across lifetimes. But Gem – or at least who Gem used to be - hasn’t always been the most benevolent deity. They’ve made a lot of enemies in the pantheon—enemies who, like the Goddess of Death, will keep coming.
It’s a good thing they’ve still got Enzo. But as worlds collide and the past catches up with the present, Gem will discover that everyone has something to hide.
I got to read this one early, and it blew me away. I love it SO MUCH! It is intense and gorgeous and all sharp edges, and it will be on my Best of 2023 list next month!
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Achillean MC, sapphic MC
Published on: 28th November 2023
Heartstopper meets A Knight’s Tale in this queer medieval rom-com YA debut about love, friendship, and being brave enough to change the course of history.
It’s been hundreds of years since King Arthur’s reign. His descendant, Arthur, a future Lord and general gadabout, has been betrothed to Gwendoline, the quick-witted, short-tempered princess of England, since birth. The only thing they can agree on is that they despise each other.
They’re forced to spend the summer together at Camelot in the run-up to their nuptials, and within 24 hours, Gwen has discovered Arthur kissing a boy, and Arthur has gone digging for Gwen's childhood diary and found confessions about her crush on the kingdom's only lady knight, Bridget Leclair.
Realizing they might make better allies than enemies, Gwen and Art make a reluctant pact to cover for each other, and as things heat up at the annual royal tournament, Gwen is swept off her feet by her knight, and Arthur takes an interest in Gwen's royal brother. Lex Croucher's Gwen & Art Are Not in Love is chock full of sword-fighting, found family, and romantic shenanigans destined to make readers fall in love.
This sounds like it could be cute and fun? Kinda curious to see what a contemporary England ruled by King Arthur’s descendants would look like…
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: West African cast & setting
Published on: 30th November 2023
The year is 1748. Elewa, known as ‘the Daughter of Peace’, bears a heavy responsibility on her young shoulders: to maintain the fragile truce between the warring peoples of her West African kingdom.
But as she begins to understand her role in the peace negotiations, even greater pressures emerge. Elewa discovers that she has Yeseni, a powerful gift that allows her to see events from any point in time, and to travel into the past and future.
When she experiences horrific visions of life aboard a slave ship, she realises she has to face the ultimate crossroads. She could use her gift to intervene in the past and try to prevent the transatlantic slave trade ever taking place. But that means she, as the Daughter of Peace, would be leaving her village behind at a precarious moment in the reconciliation process.
Whichever path she chooses to take, the future of her people lies on her shoulders.
I’m not clear on whether this is Adult or YA, but I’m intrigued whichever it is. Reconciliation for the people you know and live among…or changing the shape of the entire world? I don’t see how it couldn’t be a change for the better, but it would also definitely change a lot, and I can see how that could be terrifying.
Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!