Must-Have Monday #174

Posted 19th 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.

SIX books this week!

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

Ours by Phillip B. Williams
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Black cast
Published on: 20th February 2024

An epic novel set in mid-nineteenth-century America about the spiritual costs of a freedom that demands fierce protection

In this ingenious, sweeping novel, Phillip B. Williams introduces us to an enigmatic woman named Saint, a fearsome conjuror who, in the 1830s, annihilates plantations all over Arkansas to rescue the people enslaved there. She brings those she has freed to a haven of her own a town just north of St. Louis, magically concealed from outsiders, named Ours.

It is in this miraculous place that Saint’s grand experiment—a truly secluded community where her people may flourish—takes root. But although Saint does her best to protect the inhabitants of Ours, over time, her conjuring and memories begin to betray her, leaving the town vulnerable to intrusions by newcomers with powers of their own. As the cracks in Saint’s creation are exposed, some begin to wonder whether the community’s safety might be yet another form of bondage.

Set over the course of four decades and steeped in a rich tradition of American literature informed by Black surrealism, mythology, and spirituality, Ours is a stunning exploration of the possibilities and limitations of love and freedom by a writer of capacious vision and talent.

This one made it onto my Unmissable SFF of 2024 list – and are you really surprised? That blurb is INCREDIBLE, and I’m hopping up and down with excitement at the thought of finally getting to read this one!!!

River Mumma by Zalika Reid-Benta
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 20th February 2024

Issa Rae’s Insecure with a magical realist spin: River Mumma is an exhilarating contemporary fantasy novel about a young Black woman who navigates her quarter-life-crisis while embarking on a mythical quest through the streets of Toronto.

Alicia has been out of grad school for months. She has no career prospects and lives with her mom, who won’t stop texting her macabre news stories and reminders to pick up items from the grocery store.

Then, one evening, the Jamaican water deity, River Mumma, appears to Alicia, telling her that she has twenty-four hours to scour the city for her missing comb.

Alicia doesn’t understand why River Mumma would choose her. She can’t remember all the legends her relatives told her, unlike her retail co-worker Heaven, who can reel off Jamaican folklore by heart. She doesn’t know if her childhood visions have returned, or why she feels a strange connection to her other co-worker Mars. But when the trio are chased down by malevolent spirits called duppies, they realize their tenuous bonds to each other may be their only lifelines. With the clock ticking, Alicia’s quest through the city broadens into a journey through time—to find herself and what the river carries.

Energetic and invigorating, River Mumma is a vibrant exploration of diasporic community and ancestral ties, and a homage to Jamaican storytelling by one of the most invigorating voices in today’s literature.

I think this night have been out in the UK last year, but this week is the US release! This very much sounds like something I want to read (poor Alicia’s confusion at being chosen this way!) especially because I know nothing about Jamaican mythology! Which automatically makes it more interesting than mythos’ I know inside and out, you know?

Vangie's Ghosts by Paul Di Filippo
Genres: Sci Fi
Representation: Autistic or autistic-coded MC
Published on: 20th February 2024

Vangie's Ghosts blends science fiction, fantasy, a bit of horror, and stark, crisp contemporary naturalism and will appeal to fans of Lucius Shepard, Theodore Sturgeon, Mike Carey, Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Tremblay.

Evangeline, or "Vangie" for short, is under the cruel domination of uncaring step-parents. Suspected of being autistic, Vangie's lack of affect is actually a result of being able to see deep into the multiverse. She is bewildered by the sensory input from a plethora of alternate timestreams. Soon, she will exhibit a strange power, activated only under extreme shock conditions.

Vangie can project her consciousness, her self or soul, from one timeline to another, fleeing danger for safety. This power will soon be exploited by a number of shady characters, as guardianship of Vangie passes from one set of exploitive adults to another.

But as Vangie ages and lives through numerous trials and adventures, she becomes more and more self-assured and powerful--talents that will eventually bring her head-to-head against a rival of her own kind.

I’m not sure whether this is YA or not, so I’m putting it at the end of the Adult books and the start of the YA ones. And I don’t love the whole ‘suspected of being autistic, Vangie is actually…’ thing. But then, several of the early reviews say she is autistic, not just possessed of powers that only make her present as autistic. So I really don’t know what to think. But the premise is interesting enough that I do want to check it out for myself.

The Diablo's Curse by Gabe Cole Novoa
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Brown nonbinary MC, brown love interest, major brown trans character
Published on: 20th February 2024

From the author of The Wicked Bargain comes a high-stakes race to defeat a curse designed to kill about a teen demon who wants to be human, a boy cursed to die young, and the murderous island destined to bury them both.

Dami is a demon determined to cancel every deal they've ever made in order to tether their soul to earth and become human again. There's just one person standing in their way: Silas. An irresistibly (and stubborn) cute boy cursed to die young, except for the deal with Dami that is keeping him alive. If they cancel the deal, Silas is dead. Unless... they can destroy the curse that has plagued Silas's family for generations. But to do so, Dami and Silas are going to have to work together. That is, if the curse doesn't kill them first. . . .

Apparently this is a kind of spin-off from Novoa’s book The Wicked Bargain, which Dami also appears in. A bunch of reviewers have said Dami was their favourite character in Bargain, and I guess Novoa agreed, because now Dami is getting their own book! I have been assured that Diablo’s Curse is a standalone, though – there’s no need to have read Wicked Bargain first!

A Tempest of Tea (Blood and Tea, #1) by Hafsah Faizal
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Brown cast
Published on: 20th February 2024

From Hafsah Faizal, New York Times–bestselling author of We Hunt the Flame, comes the first book in a hotly-anticipated new fantasy duology about an orphan girl and her crew who get tangled in a heist with vampires, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows.

On the streets of White Roaring, Arthie Casimir is a criminal mastermind and collector of secrets. Her prestigious tearoom transforms into an illegal bloodhouse by dark, catering to the vampires feared by society. But when her establishment is threatened, Arthie is forced to strike an unlikely deal with an alluring adversary to save it—and she can’t do the job alone.

Calling upon a band of misfits, Arthie formulates a plan to infiltrate the dark and glittering vampire society known as the Athereum. But not every member of her crew is on her side, and as the truth behind the heist unfolds, Arthie finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy that will threaten the world as she knows it. Dark, action-packed, and swoonworthy, this is Hafsah Faizal better than ever.

I can’t stand drinking tea, despite spending a good chunk of my childhood in England, but I love to read about it, so Tempest of Tea has been on my anticipated shelf since the book deal was announced! I mean, teahouses and vampires??? YES PLEASE!

The Rain Artist by Claire Rudy Foster
Genres: Sci Fi
Representation: East Asian MC (maybe?)
Published on: 24th February 2024

In a future where rain is a luxury enjoyed exclusively by the ultra-rich, the world’s only umbrella-maker is framed for the high-profile murder of the quadrillionaire patriarch who controls the earth’s last natural resources. Beautiful and horrific, The Rain Artist is pitched as Succession meets The Fifth Element and asks the question of how art and artists can thrive under commercialized capitalism.

This is Book One in the Clepsydra Series.

The Rain Artist started as a short story published in O: The Oprah Magazine and was included as a notable story in the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022 anthology by editors Rebecca Roanhorse and John Joseph Adams. The novel is the first in a series set in the immediate future of our mutating planet.

I am weirdly in love with this premise? There’s something so whimsical about the idea of the last umbrella-maker! But I admit to being confused; I’ve seen this one labelled horror as well as sci fi? So I’m not really sure what to expect, but I know I want to dive in!

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


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