Must-Have Monday #171

Posted 29th January 2024 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.

ELEVEN books this week!

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

Ocean's Blood (The Drowning Book 1) by Thelma Mantey
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 29th January 2024

“He looked newly born, as if the ocean spat him out of its womb, naked and wet, a creature made of waves and tides, of liquid and darkness, something that would slip through his fingers as soon as he tried to grasp it.”

Vindt’s tranquil life as a lord’s son comes to an abrupt end when his homeland is overthrown. Friends, family, his freedom—he loses it all to Singers and their dark song magic. Human in appearance, Singers are a different species. Their powers only fail against the demons hunting them. But even this flaw has a patch: humans with a rare and valuable “trait”. It allows Singers to take over their voice and use it like a weapon. Vindt turned out to possess this trait, and was bound to a Singer by blood. Ever since, he has struggled to break free.

Unexpectedly, a chain of events binds him to a new master, the sly and enigmatic Asche. From day one, their egos clash. Only, their encounter was no coincidence; Asche needs him—but for what? To free the Singers from the curse that plagues them? Or because Asche is on a quest for power, as the Singer’s brethren believe, who are determined to bring him down? Caught in the middle of their fight, Vindt gets yet another unexpected opponent: his wayward feelings for someone he’s supposed to hate.

When Asche’s enemies offer Vindt freedom in exchange for delivering Asche into their hands, Vindt has to make a choice.

CAPTIVE PRINCE meets INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in this dark, queer fantasy novel about corrupted hearts and the fine line between hatred and obsession.

Sliiiiiiiiightly confused by this blurb, and how it’s giving merpeople and vampire vibes but the magic is about singing and there are demons? Maybe? I’m not sure, but it’s still intriguing. I especially like the cover!

Fallen Thorns by Harvey Oliver Baxter
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 29th January 2024

‘A great death is in the air.’

Arlo is lost. He thought he had everything figured out. Go to university, fall in love, get a job. But life doesn’t always work like that, and before he has a chance to figure it out, he dies.

In the space of a night, Arlo is plunged into a world of blood and immortality and finds a group of people who swear to always have his back.

Dying is never easy, and they promise him eternal safety.

But something is after him, something no one could have ever predicted.

He craves to figure out his purpose before he falls into something he can never come back from.

I’ve heard promising things about this one in indie spaces, and I’ve been more interested in dark academia (which I think this might be???) lately!

Finding Echoes by Foz Meadows
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 30th January 2024

Snow Kidama speaks to ghosts amongst the local gangs of Charybdis Precinct, isolated from the rest of New Arcadia by the city’s ancient walls. But when his old lover, Gem—a man he thought dead—shows up in need of his services, Snow is forced to reevaluate everything. Snow and Gem must navigate not only a city on the edge of collapse, but also their feelings for each other.

It’s Foz Meadows!!! I will read anything and everything by Foz Meadows!!! I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK WHY IS IT NOT IN MY HANDS YET???

Imago: A Dystopian Gothic by Matthew Zakharuk
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic nonbinary MC
PoV: 30th January 2024

Tresor Institute accepts only the worthy, and Ada Călinescu is anything but. Intractable, mannish, a child of convicted terrorists, she can at best hope to be overlooked. Yet somehow the Institute accepts her application for transfer. Her ticket to the polar town of Heilung, home of the Institute, arrives free of charge.

Her only chance to forge a brighter future.

Except Heilung welcomes Ada with news of a brutal murder. Militiamen stalk the town, keen to fill their arrest quotas—and Ada knows she could make an easy scapegoat. At every turn the bloody conspiracy follows her, from the halls of Tresor to the arms of a stranger she yearns to make hers. What starts as a dalliance risks putting Ada at odds with the Bureau itself.

And then expulsion will be the least of her concerns.

Dark academia with toxic love, an Arctic setting, and intricate linguistic magic! And, you know, a Dystopian Gothic, which after Leech (which you should TOTALLY READ!) is a combination I’ve been craving for AGES!

The Cure for Drowning by Loghan Paylor
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer and nonbinary MCs
Published on: 30th January 2024

Evocative, magical and luminously written, The Cure for Drowning is not only a brilliant, boundary-pushing love story but a Canadian historical novel that boldly centres queer and non-binary characters in unprecedented ways.

Born Kathleen to an immigrant Irish farming family in southern Ontario, Kit McNair has been a troublesome changeling since, at ten, they fell through the river ice and drowned—only to be nursed back to life by their mother's Celtic magic. A daredevil in boy's clothes, Kit chafes at every aspect of a farmgirl's life, driving that same mother to distraction with worry about where Kit will ever fit in. When Rebekah Kromer, an elegant German-Canadian doctor's daughter, moves to town with her parents in April 1939, Rebekah has no doubt as to who 19-year-old Kit is. Soon she and Kit, and Kit's older brother, Landon, are drawn tight in a love triangle that will tear them and their families apart, and send each of them off on a separate path to war. 

Landon signs up for the Navy. Kit, now known as Christopher, joins the Royal Air Force, becoming a bomber navigator relied on for his luck and courage. Rebekah serves with naval intelligence in Halifax, until one more collision with Landon changes the course of her life and draws her back to the McNair farm—a place where she'd once known love. Fallen on even harder times, the McNairs welcome all the help she is able to give, and she believes she has found peace at last. Until, with the war over, Kit and Landon return home.

Told in the vivid, unforgettable voices of Kit and Rebekah, The Cure for Drowning is a powerfully engrossing novel that imagines a history that is truer than true.

I’ve become obsessed with wanting to reading this??? I’m not sure I can pinpoint why; the mention of Celtic magic, and referring to Kit as a changeling, is definitely part of it. I’m crossing my fingers we get at least some magical realism, but even if we don’t, I’ve got to check it out!

The Invocations by Krystal Sutherland
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Published on: 30th January 2024

From the author of New York Times bestseller House of Hollow comes a darkly seductive witchy thriller where, though both men and demons lurk in shadows, girls refuse to go quietly into the night.

Zara Jones believes in magic because the alternative is too painful to bear—that her sister was murdered by a serial killer and there is precisely nothing she can do to change it. If there’s anything Zara cannot stand it's feeling powerless, so she decides she will do whatever it takes—even if that means partaking in the occult—to bring her sister back from the dead.

Jude Wolf might be the daughter of a billionaire, but she is also undeniably cursed. After a deal with a demon went horribly wrong, her soul is now slowly turning necrotic. Flowers and insects die in her wake and monstrous things come to taunt her at night. If Jude can’t find the right someone to fix her mistake, she fears she’ll die very soon.

Enter Emer Bryne: the solution to both Zara and Jude's predicaments. The daughter of a witch, Emer sells spells to women in desperate situations willing to sacrifice a part of their soul in exchange for a bit of power, a bit of magic to change their lives. But Emer has a dark past all her own—and as her former clients are murdered one-by-one, she knows it’s followed her all the way to London.

As Zara and Jude enter Emer's orbit, they'll have to team up to stop the killer—before they each end up next on his list.

I really loved Sutherland’s debut, House of Hollow, which was packed full of creepiness and gorgeous prose that I wanted to eat up with a spoon, so I’m expecting great things from Invocations!

Breaker of Fates (Broken Song Verse #1) by Vaela Denarr, Micah Iannandrea
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer brown MC, trans MC, M/M/M polyamory
Published on: 31st January 2024

Perilous quests give rise to heroes. And broken songs call for Chosen Ones to be mended.

Roderick and Keeva, once friends, now orphaned by a dragon’s wrath that fractured the harmony between the great clans, spend their days locked in battle… until they are reunited, realizing that they’re both dating the same guy: Mateo, whose overdue transformation into a dragon is complicated by feelings of self doubt after the disastrous attempt to broker peace.

Choosing to get along is one thing, but forgiving one another—or themselves—for the hurt they’ve inflicted is another. Keeva keeps seeing the face of her dead best friend in her dreams, and Roderick’s suspicion and distrust keep him up at night. Soon, though, a great threat unites them against a common foe.

Someone has stolen a song from the gods, disrupting the tenuously rebuilt harmony of their homeland, and the very beast that tore them apart threatens to be set loose. True heroes of Koor Kosma are required to serve as vessels for the other four godly songs and reforge the divine harmony. Neither Roderick nor Keeva are such heroes, but unless they can unite the divine and broken songs, unless harmony brings the shattered clans together, all will burn.

They are not chosen.
They are not the heroes of this story.
They are broken.
And they must be forgiven.

The Broken Song Duology is a story about queer grief, trauma, forgiveness and finding your place in the world.

Polyamory and dragon-shifters with epic fantasy vibes??? Especially with the emphasis on not being Chosen Ones??? Music magic??? HERE FOR IT.

Roxy and Coco: A Novel by Terese Svoboda
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Published on: 1st February 2024

Roxy and Coco, sisters and glamorous harpies (mythical bird women), work to save the world by stopping child abuse, while also trying to evade capture. For readers of Neil Gaiman and Karen Russell. 

Sisters Roxy and Coco are two glamorous harpies—mythical bird women—attempting to outrun extinction and fix the planet by preventing child abuse, one child at a time. 

When Roxy is suddenly attracted to her human supervisor at a social work agency a hundred years too early, Coco is very suspicious. Luring Roxy with his scent, Tim is also on the payroll of a fake conservationist intent on her less-than-legal collection. Coco swoops in to vet Tim, but Interpol is hot on her trail for a series of curious homicides. (Surveillance has a very hard time convincing his boss of what he’s monitoring.) When the sisters find themselves trapped, Chris, a bipolar skateboarding truant, tries his best to rescue them but it’s Stewie, Coco’s colleague, who turns the story inside out. Roxy and Coco climaxes at a gala of egg fanciers who scramble to escape the harpies’ talons. 

Action figure–worthy, for readers of Neil Gaiman and Karen Russell, this modern take on these fabled women touches on mental illness, racism, animal rights, and the rights of children.

Also emphatically here for harpies going after child abusers and Interpol being Very Confused about it! This sounds like just the right kind of weird and hilarious to be UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL, and I’m so looking forward to it!

Orishas Among Mortals - Collection 1: An Old Gods Story by Antoine Bandele, Arthur Bowling, Fiona McLaren, Callan Brown
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 1st Feburary 2024

In this three-story collection, you’ll find magical tales of deities among mortals from the Sky Realm, New York City, and Cosmic Planes too far to reach.

Find out if Eshu, the gatekeeping trickster, can hoodwink the creation deity, Obatala, to craft him a human body. If he fails, he may never get in contact with a mortal that needs his help.

Journey with Oya, the windweaving warrior, as she battles to communicate an important message to one of her divine children on Earth. If she can’t, doom will fall upon mankind.

War with Shango, the hero of lightning, who fights alongside Thor against an uncompromising mystic foe. If they can’t come together to face the dark, there may no longer be light for humanity. Can the Orishas succeed?

I believe these are stories set in the universe of the TJ Young & the Orishas series, and they sound right up my alley – I love getting to see gods in the modern world, and it’s even better when there are more than one pantheon in play! I approve immensely!

Grieving Gold (The Luminocity Seed, #1) by Daniel McDaniel
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Published on: 1st February 2024

This brand new epic fantasy, full of strange worlds and dark twists, is perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson, Fonda Lee, Patrick Rothfuss and George R. R. Martin.

Find your strength in the light, or lose your chains in the darkness.

Three sun gods bathe the city of legends, Luminocity, in their blessed light. The city stands on the decaying ruins of an ancient civilization. Skeletal skyscrapers guard their solemn secrets of forgotten technology and past tragedies.

But under the surface the light dies and shadows began. It is a dark god’s domain, even caged. And he holds his grudges through the eons.

Five fates intertwine, thrown onto the currents of destiny, played like puppets. Will they be able to tear free from their strings?

Laxerion Tama, disowned noble son and heist group mastermind, finds his leisurely life turned upside down. Both his estranged family and an enemy from the past test his strange ability to find lies in the light.

His brother, Val-Gustus Tama, general and golden son, is forced to take responsibility for threats to the city, as war brews on the horizon. Intrigue and betrayal test his resolve and character.

New and outlandish technologies emerge that push the boundaries of morality and the conscience of a young scientist, Ilumi. She arrived in Luminocity from the far north, carrying a dark secret.

A huntress of the depths, Aiana, struggles with her inner demons and the chains of her past.

Dawb, a young urchin struck by grief, searches for monsters prowling the short nights.

And deep down, below all, eldritch things stir in the dark.

This cover is giving me Aztec + El Dorado vibes, and I do not dislike it! …The spider monster (and all the other monsters!) at the bottom and the person being??? I don’t know what??? Grabbed by a glowy thing??? Lowered into…another monster, possibly??? THAT I LIKE LESS! But the blurb sounds so interesting, I don’t think I can resist giving it a go. I’ll let everyone here know if it gives me nightmares!

The Bone Harp by Victoria Goddard
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 2nd February 2024

Thrice-cursed bard and warrior-elf Tamsin wakes up in Elfland after what might or might not have been his death, healed and hale for the first time in millennia. Somewhat confused but not entirely unhappy with this turn of events, he sets off in the hopes of finding a way home ...

A NEW VICTORIA GODDARD BOOK! What’s more, The Bone Harp is not set in the Nine Worlds universe Goddard is (justifiably) adored for – even though the Nine Worlds has an Elflands too. But nope: this is set in an entirely new universe! Which is EXTREMELY EXCITING! And a new Goddard books is always exciting anyway, regardless of where it’s set (or even what it’s about!)

You can nab the ebook on Goddard’s website as of the 2nd, and it will appear in all the usual places (along with a paper edition, which will also be available on Goddard’s website) in the next little while!

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


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