Must-Have Monday #173

Posted 12th February 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.

TWELVE THIRTEEN books this week!

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

Projections by S.E. Porter
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 13th February 2024

S.E. Porter, critically-acclaimed YA author of Vassa in the Night , bursts onto the adult fantasy scene with her adult novel that is sure to appeal to fans of Jeff Vandemeer and China Mieville

Love may last a lifetime, but in this dark historical fantasy, the bitterness of rejection endures for centuries.

As a young woman seeks vengeance on the obsessed sorcerer who murdered her because he could not have her, her murderer sends projections of himself out into the world to seek out and seduce women who will return the love she denied―or suffer mortal consequence. A lush, gothic journey across worlds full of strange characters and even stranger magic.

Sarah Porter’s adult debut explores misogyny and the soul-corrupting power of unrequited love through an enchanted lens of violence and revenge.

Porter’s written some of my favourite YA – I cannot reccomend Never-Contented Things enough! – and I’m just itching to pounce on her Adult debut! I’ve heard so many amazing things about this one; I can’t wait!

The Briar Book of the Dead by A.G. Slatter
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 13th February 2024

Perfect for fans of Uprooted and For the Wolf, a dark and addictive tale of witches, ancient mysteries and sins that refuse to be buried from the award-winning author of All the Murmuring Bones.

To the outside world, Silverton appears not to matter much at all. It sits on a remote mountain pass, far from the great cathedral city of Lodellan. It’s run by witches who, in the usual scheme of things, would be burnt. Yet a dispensation keeps the Briars safe for one simple, dangerous they are the custodians of the threshold between the civilised world and the Darklands, where Leech Lords hold sway. Vampires are especially feared by the ecclesiastics, for leeches steal souls as well as bodies, and mortal souls are the Church’s most valuable currency.

However, things are changing in Silverton, with new forces coming into play and ancient mysteries and sins refusing to stay buried − and Anni Briar, the first non-witch born into the family for three hundred years, will find herself at the centre of the maelstrom.

This is set in the same universe as Slatter’s All The Murmuring Bones, which I freaking ADORED, and I’m eager to get back to this strange, creepy, magical world! I already feel sorry for Anni…

An Education in Malice by S.T. Gibson
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MCs, F/F
Published on: 13th February 2024

Sumptuous and addictive, An Education in Malice is a dark academia tale of blood, secrets and insatiable hungers from Sunday Times bestselling author S.T. Gibson, author of the cult hit A Dowry of Blood.

Deep in the forgotten hills of Massachusetts stands Saint Perpetua's College. Isolated and ancient, it is not a place for timid girls. Here, secrets are currency, ambition is lifeblood, and strange ceremonies welcome students into the fold.

On her first day of class, Laura Sheridan is thrust into an intense academic rivalry with the beautiful and enigmatic Carmilla. Together, they are drawn into the confidence of their demanding poetry professor, De Lafontaine, who holds her own dark obsession with Carmilla.

But as their rivalry blossoms into something far more delicious, Laura must confront her own strange hungers. Tangled in a sinister game of politics, bloodthirsty professors and dark magic, Laura and Carmilla must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice in their ruthless pursuit of knowledge.

I absolutely adored Gibson’s Dowry of Blood, and this is a companion novel to that one – although by all accounts the two are wildly different books! Dowry was a Dracula reimagining; Education is apparently more in the line of Carmilla. There should still be vampires! And lots of tangled sapphic obsession, mixed in with the usual dark academia yumminess. So looking forward to this one!

The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Chinese cast and setting
Published on: 13th February 2024

Some people think foxes are similar to ghosts because we go around collecting qi , or life force, but nothing could be further than the truth. We are living creatures, just like you, only usually better looking . . .

Manchuria, 1908.
A young woman is found frozen in the snow. Her death is clouded by rumors of foxes involved, which are believed to lure people by transforming themselves into beautiful women and men. Bao, a detective with a reputation for sniffing out the truth, is hired to uncover the dead woman’s identity. Since childhood, Bao has been intrigued by the fox gods, yet they’ve remained tantalizingly out of reach. Until, perhaps, now.

Meanwhile, a family that owns a famous Chinese medicine shop can cure ailments, but not the curse that afflicts them―their eldest sons die before their twenty-fourth birthdays. Now the only grandson of the family is twenty-three. When a mysterious woman enters their household, their luck seems to change. Or does it? Is their new servant a simple young woman from the north or a fox spirit bent on her own revenge?

New York Times bestselling author Yangsze Choo brilliantly explores a world of mortals and spirits, humans and beasts, and their dazzling intersection. The Fox Wife is a stunning novel about a winter full of mysterious deaths, a mother seeking revenge, and old folktales that may very well be true.

I am always up for spending time with magical foxes, and a pair of them are apparently a major part of this book! From the early reviews I’ve read, I think they’re giving commentary on what all the humans are up to? Which sounds like fun, even if the rest of the book sounds pretty serious.

Hex Magic: Hex'd Book One by Andrew Forrest Baker
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 13th February 2024

Darragh Cullen was not expecting to find love. He wasn't expecting to reveal true witchcraft to the entire world either, but here he flying over the moon for Cernun Murphy and under scrutiny from the Moral Authority of Witches.

Being the Guy Who Exposed Magic does have its advantages though. His shop, HEX, is busier than it's ever been; and life in his little corner of Atlanta is hot and sweaty--plus there's that southern, summer heat.

But when magical artifacts begin to go missing, Learco Clarke, the sexy new head of the southeastern division of the MAW, sets his sights on Darragh.

Darragh doesn't know if he can prove his innocence in time to save himself from being flamed at the stake. But, by the Fae, he's going to try.

I’m actually really interested in a story set just after magic and witches and all have been revealed to the rest of the world! Especially since it seems like it wasn’t planned – I wonder how our MC managed it? And how everyone is dealing with it???

Arsalan the Magnificent by Jason Tolbert
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Ottoman/Turkish MC
PoV: 13th February 2024

Arsalan the Magnificent is a lighthearted but poignant novel of historical fantasy fiction. In Europe and the Ottoman Empire of the early 19th century, a profession of wizards known as magical architects have achieved wealth and fame as builders of fantastical structures. Facing disgrace after his newest and greatest work collapses, Arsalan Ozdikmen, a renowned Ottoman magical architect in the prime of his career, is exiled to the Balkans. There, he undergoes a journey of reckoning and recovery, and finally redemption, when he is called to the aid of a young Bavarian princess.

This sounds like a pretty unique take on magic’s place in society – I don’t think I’ve read about magic primarily being for architecture and engineering before! That’s something I’d love to see explored, so I hope it’s a big part of the book.

Gogmagog by Jeff Noon
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 13th February 2024

In a distant, tattered future an old woman, a young girl and mechanical man embark on a slow voyage in the shadow of the great dragon Haakenur up the vast estuary towards the city of Ludwich…

Past plants on the mud-flats that send up brief, man-shaped clouds of seeds to lure you out, past shanty towns full of old sailors and pilots scraping a living from the dregs of the passenger trade, between the wicker effigies in the Wodwo graveyards this is a journey at once familiar from folk tales and country customs and utterly strange and alien.

Cady, back on her boat and feeling every day of her 1,600 years; the tight-lipped but beautiful little girl and her rubber-stitched-faced, mechanical companion are an odd but warmly imagined and compelling cast to accompany the reader on a quest into a world of mysteries and terrors that leave the reader with an inkling that this world is perhaps more familiar than it first appears.

Can Cady find her youth again?

Quite a few people have been making a very big deal about this duology, and while the hype’s not interested me this time around, that blurb absolutely does. And I think there’s supposed to be something about a giant dragon’s corpse being why the world or river is so weird??? I’m on board! (…pun unintended, I swear.)

Call of the Sea by Emily B. Rose
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Fat demisexual MC with ADHD
Published on: 13th February 2024

Genderbent Little Mermaid retelling meets Brave in this debut NA Fantasy Romance about a fat human princess who dreams of a life of adventure on the ocean. Perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Lagends & Lattes.

Kenna has never wanted the life ahead of her; trapped in her castle and married to someone she does not love. She dreams of a life of adventure, exploring the ocean, searching for mermaids. Except mermaids don’t exist. At least, that’s what she has always been told. 

Unfortunately, her plans for exploration are thwarted. Every heir must wed, and with war on the horizon, her time is up. Five suitors are vying for her hand, but Kenna vowed never to marry someone only after her crown. Only, one of them doesn’t seem to care about her title, refusing to even use it. Just as she begins to consider opening up to him, he disappears.

Kenna chases after him and learns his secret, before a storm wrecks her boat. Finding herself stranded on an island with him, Kenna has no choice but to trust him to nurse her back to health. With the tension growing, and sparks she doesn’t trust flying between them, Kenna has to decide how to balance the desires of her heart and her duty to her people. And how far she’s willing to go to learn the whole truth.

From the early reviews, this seems like a love-it-or-hate-it book. But I do adore that premise: genderbent Little Mermaid! I definitely want to check that out.

Neferura by Malayna Evans
Representation: Egyptian MC
Published on: 13th February 2024

For readers of The Wolf Den and Kaikeyi comes the thrilling tale of the forgotten daughter of a legendary Egyptian pharaoh and the path she must take to escape her own dangerous fate.

There are many paths to power. They all come with a price.

Neferura, princess and high priestess of Kemet, knows her duty is to her people. When your mother is the great Pharaoh, it is hard to forget. But Neferura's unique position at court comes with high stakes for her country, especially when she's forced to serve her vile half-brother, a man determined to stop Neferura's potential rise. Peace, it seems, never lasts for women who wield power in the open. Especially when they cross a vengeful man. When Neferura overhears Thutmose's plot to end her mother's rule, she knows he must be stopped, no matter the cost. The discovery of a mysterious tattooed wisewoman and her shadowy network of spies offers an uneasy alliance. But the wisewoman wields more power than Neferura knew possible -- power with the potential to rival her own. Neferura must decide where her loyalties lie and how much she's willing to sacrifice to protect the people she loves before everything crumbles at the hands of a tyrant.

As far as I’m aware, this doesn’t have any fantastical elements, it’s straight-up historical fiction – but a) I was an Ancient Egypt kid, and that has never gone away, and b) the reviews I’ve read are extremely promising!

The Fox Maidens by Robin Ha
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Korean cast and setting, queer MC
Published on: 13th February 2024

An epic new graphic novel fantasy—a queer, feminist reimagining of the Fox Maiden legend from Korean mythology.

Kai Song dreams of being a warrior. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her beloved father, the commander of the Royal Legion. But while her father believes in Kai and trains her in martial arts, their society isn’t ready for a girl warrior.

Still, Kai is determined. But she is plagued by rumors that she is the granddaughter of Gumiho, the infamous nine-tailed fox demon who was killed by her father years before.
Everything comes crashing down the day Kai learns the deadly secret about her mother’s past. Now she must come to terms with the truth about her identity and take her destiny into her own hands. As Kai desperately searches for a way to escape her fate, she comes to find compassion, and even love, in the most unexpected places.

Set in 16th century Korea and richly infused with Korean folklore, The Fox Maidens is a timeless and powerful story about fighting for your place in the world, even when it seems impossible.

I don’t usually let myself get invested in graphic novels – I can’t hold paper books, and graphic novels are no good on my kindle – but this one seems especially awesome, and I just can’t resist. I’ll figure out how to read it somehow!

Next of Kin by Elton Skelter
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 14th February 2024

Even the worst of us need someone to come home to. And Jacob Mallory is the worst of all. Jake, a thrill-seeking psychopathic serial killer, has lived under the radar for years, operating within the city of New York, making kill after kill and emboldened by his lack of capture. But Jake has one big surprise coming his way. When he gets a call from the hospital to pick up a vulnerable patient, one who claims that Jake is his emergency contact, he feels like he's won the lottery. But is there more to Nathan McGuire than meets the eye? And will this supposedly vulnerable young man make or break the city's most notorious uncaught killer?

American Psycho meets Romeo and Juliet, and this satirical horrormance will have you rooting for the bad guy as he makes space in his heart for something more. Even if that something proves to be his undoing. Everybody needs someone to come home to, and what is life without family? The family you choose is the one you deserve.

A Valentine’s Day release about a serial killer probably falling in love? Hopefully with someone just as messed-up as he is? Yeah, okay, that’s definitely my thing. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out!

99 Fleeting Fantasies: A Fantasy Anthology by Jennifer Brozek, Crystal Frasier, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Premee Mohamed, Jody Lynn Nye, Cat Rambo, Charles Stross, Wole Talabi, Tyler Hayes
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 15th February 2024


There’s nothing better than a moment of whimsy and a dash of the fantastical to get the mind wandering. 99 Fleeting Fantasies is a flash fiction anthology readers can tiptoe through for a bit of wonder or while away an afternoon as they meander from old-time tales to far-flung fables to serious snippets of legend and lore that come from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, and the United States.

Featuring stories from the imaginative minds of Cat Rambo, Charles Stross, Crystal Frasier, Jody Lynn Nye, Jonathan Maberry, Premee Mohamed, Seanan McGuire, Wole Talabi, and many more!

I discovered micro- or flash-fiction via Yoon Ha Lee’s The Fox’s Tower, a collection I recommend every chance I get – so when I saw this anthology, packed full of some of my favourite authors? COUNT ME IN. The paperback is apparently just over 400 pages, which means either they’re using a ginormous font or we’re getting a LOT of microfictions! Fingers crossed for the latter!

(If you’re not sure what flash fiction/micro-fiction is – think short stories, but even shorter. Like, sometimes just a page long, or even a couple of paragraphs. They make for very quick and easy reading!)

Sunbringer (Fallen Gods, #2) by Hannah Kaner
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Representation: Brown MC, queernorm setting
Published on: 15th February 2024

“An epic fantasy odyssey.” — Entertainment Weekly

"A richly rendered world . . . Kaner writes action that's both fun and intelligible.” — The Washington Post

Return to the world of Godkiller in this thrilling sequel to the #1 internationally bestselling fantasy debut

When Middren falls to the gods, your kind will be the first to die.

Gods are forbidden in the kingdom of Middren—but now they are stirring, whispering of war. Godkiller Kissen sacrificed herself to vanquish the fire god Hseth, who murdered her family and endangered her friends. But gods cannot be destroyed so easily, and Hseth’s power threatens to reform with even greater strength and a thirst for vengeance. As tensions rise throughout the land, the kingdom needs its Godkiller more than ever.

Still reeling from the loss of Kissen, young noble Inara and her little god of white lies, Skedi, have set out to discover more about the true nature of their bond. As the divide between gods and humans widens, Inara and Skedi will uncover secrets that could determine the fate of the war to come.

Meanwhile, Elogast, no longer a loyal knight of King Arren, has been tasked with killing the man he once called friend. The king vowed to eradicate all gods throughout the land, but has now entered into an unholy pact with the most dangerous of them all. And where his heart once beat, a god now burns. . .

“Will have you in its grasp from the first pages . . . An extraordinary journey.” — Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of Priory of the Orange Tree, on Godkiller

“A triumph of storytelling.” — Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf, on Godkiller

“A bone-rattling fantasy thriller that flies by in a breathtaking rush.” — Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Godkiller

The US has to wait till next week, but the UK gets the next Fallen Gods book this Thursday! I loved the first book, Godkiller, and after how it ended?! I am FERAL to find out what comes next!!!

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


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