Must-Have Monday #182

Posted 15th April 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.

EIGHT books this week!

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

A Wolf Steps in Blood by Tamara Jerée
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black sapphic MCs
Published on: 16th April 2024

Yasmine is a red wolf girl stuck in rural Alabama. Her world is small: pick up shifts at the greasy late-night diner and endure her pack’s petty squabbles. She’s not good at being a wolf or being human, directionless in life and disconnected from her ancestors.

Blessed by a century-old enchantment, the local red wolves have escaped extinction by blending into the human world. But with the old witches’ blessing wearing thin, the wolves face an uncertain future.

An answer arrives in the form of an exiled blood witch whose magic is steeped in reckless grief. Kalta rides into town in her dead brother’s truck, prophecy following on her heels. Despite the danger Yasmine can smell swirling around the witch, a fated bond tangles their futures—and those of all the wolves.

After an accident threatens the wolves’ secret, Yasmine has no choice but to join Kalta on the road, carving a path through the South’s backroads and hoping the magic brewing between them is enough to overcome their bloody pasts.

I’d have been vibrating with excitement for this WHATEVER it was about, because it’s by Tamara Jerée and after The Fall That Saved Us, I will read anything and everything they publish! But even aside from that, A Wolf Steps In Blood sounds amazing – red wolf shapeshifters! Who might not be shapeshifters for much longer! Renegade blood witches! A roadtrip that might be tied in with a prophecy! I NEED THIS IMMEDIATELY, PLEASE AND THANK YOU!

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain by Sofia Samatar
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 16th April 2024

“I am in love with Sofia Samatar's lyricism and the haunting beauty of her imagination. Her stories linger, like the memory of a sumptuous feast.”―N. K. Jemisin

Celebrated author Sofia Samatar presents a mystical, revolutionary space adventure for the exhausted dreamer in this brilliant science fiction novella tackling the carceral state and violence embedded in the ivory tower while embodying the legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin.

"Can the University be a place of both training and transformation?"

The boy was raised as one of the Chained, condemned to toil in the bowels of a mining ship out amongst the stars.

His whole world changes―literally―when he is yanked "upstairs" to meet the woman he will come to call “professor.” The boy is no longer one of the Chained, she tells him, and he has been gifted an opportunity to be educated at the ship’s university alongside the elite.

The woman has spent her career striving for acceptance and validation from her colleagues in the hopes of reaching a brighter future, only to fall short at every turn.

Together, the boy and the woman will learn from each other to grasp the design of the chains designed to fetter them both, and are the key to breaking free. They will embark on a transformation―and redesign the entire world.

I’m not sure I’ve ever come across sci fi dark academia before, but apparently that’s what this is? Intriguing! And of course, it’s Sofia Samatar, which makes it a mandatory read!

Smile and Be a Villain by Yves Donlon
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Ace-spectrum MC, bisexual MC, major trans character, major Black character, major Jewish character
Published on: 16th April 2024

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark… and that 'something' is magic.


Ophelia is a disgraced handmaid to the queen, the cast-off lover of Prince Hamlet.
She is also a witch, and a good one at that. And she can see that Denmark is rotting from the inside out, afflicted by dark magic.


Hamlet is a useless son, a failed heir. He is the prince of a nation about to fight a war they won't win.

He doesn't know about magic, but if he did he would use it to destroy their enemies—no matter the consequences.

As Hamlet and Ophelia find themselves increasingly torn apart, they must decide: how much are they willing to sacrifice in order to save Denmark?

And, by the end of it all, will they be beyond saving?

Hamlet seems to be a very popular story to retell the last few years, but I find Smile and Be a Villain a very interesting title. (It’s also a quote from the play, which I’m sure is no coincidence.) Who’s going to be the villain here? And if Ophelia’s a good witch…where’s the bad witch?

Earthflown by Frances Wren, Litarnes
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Ace-spec MLM MC, gay MC with depression, M/M, minor sapphic characters
Published on: 16th April 2024

Featuring over 60 illustrations, Earthflown is a love story that tries – and fails – to leave the water crisis behind. Set in post-flood London, futuristic medicine meets a bit of magic in Frances Wren's bittersweet debut.

When Ethan saves the life of a firestarter, it's nothing unusual. He's the only healer on call at the hospital – and that gunshot wound isn't going to regenerate itself. But his patient turns out to be Corinna Arden, heiress to a pharmaceutical empire controlling Britain's water supply. Her twin, Javier, is a man who (a) starts sending Ethan flowers at work, (b) seems terrified of a secret, and (c) has the cheekbones and earnestness to make up for both.

Ethan indulges in (what he thinks will be) a brief, harmless romance – but is swept up in a deadly collusion over Project Earthflown: the largest reconstruction tender since London clawed its way out of the rising sea.

Determined to follow the money, Ollie is a journalist who finds a corpse at the end of a too-convenient tip. The fate of water – and who profits – might depend on the perennial question: has Ethan lost his mind, or is he just an idiot?

‣‣ "A mesmerizing blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and crime noir that transcends genres. Absolutely captivating." — AIDEN THOMAS, New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys.

‣‣ “This darkly thrilling novel examines both the climate crisis and the human heart with immense tenderness. Gorgeously original.” — ESMIE JIKIEMI-PEARSON, inaugural Future Worlds Prize winning author of The Principle of Moments.

There seems to be a little confusion over the release date for this: I think the illustrated paperback may already be available, but it might be another week or two before we get the non-illustrated paperback and ebook. REGARDLESS, this book needs to be on your radar – it’s not exactly what the blurb makes it sound like, but it is really, really excellent!

My review!

Sheine Lende (Elatsoe, #2) by Darcie Little Badger, Rovina Cai
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Lipan Apache MC
Published on: 16th April 2024

Darcie Little Badger's Elatsoe launched her career and in the years since has become a beloved favorite. This prequel to Elatsoe, centered on Ellie's grandmother, deepens and expands Darcie's one-of-a-kind world and introduces us to another cast of characters that will wend their way around readers' hearts.

Shane works with her mother and their ghost dogs, tracking down missing persons even when their families can't afford to pay. Their own family was displaced from their traditional home years ago following a devastating flood - and the loss of Shane's father and her grandparents. They don't think they'll ever get their home back.

Then Shane's mother and a local boy go missing, after a strange interaction with a fairy ring. Shane, her brother, her friends, and her lone, surviving grandparent - who isn't to be trusted - set off on the road to find them. But they may not be anywhere in this world - or this place in time.

Nevertheless, Shane is going to find them.

I am SO EXCITED to be returning to Elatsoe’s world; and even more so that this time the story will follow her amazing grandmother!!! I suspect that you can enjoy this one just fine even if you haven’t read Elatsoe, but you should absolutely read Elatsoe asap, because it’s amazing.

Merciless Saviors (The Ouroboros #2) by H.E. Edgmon
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, polyamory, QBIPOC cast
Published on: 16th April 2024

That day at the First Church of Gracie changed everything for Gem Echols, and not just because Marian and Poppy betrayed them. Forced to use the Ouroboros knife on Zephyr, who had kidnapped their parents, Gem now has the power of the God of Air.

While for any other god things might work out okay, the Magician—whose role within the pantheon is to keep the balance—having the power of another god has thrown everything into chaos. The Goddess of Death can now reanimate corpses; the God of Art’s powers are now corrupted and twisted, giving life to his macabre creations; and, while the God of Land has always been able to communicate with creatures of the Earth, now everyone can hear their cries.

As Gem, Rory, and Enzo search for a way to restore the balance without sacrificing themselves, new horrors make them question how far they're willing to go. In the end, Gem may be forced to fully embrace their merciless nature and kill off their own humanity—if it ever really existed in the first place.

The second and final book in the Ouroboros duology! DO NOT EVEN READ THE BLURB IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK ONE YET.


My review!

King of Dead Things by Nevin Holness
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MCs
Published on: 16th April 2024

For fans of Legendborn, Neil Gaiman, and Leigh Bardugo, this urban young adult fantasy steeped in Afro-Carribbean folklore follows two Black teens searching for a powerful artifact in the hidden magical side of London.

Raising the dead is easy. Living is harder.

Eli doesn’t know who he is or who he came from. Three years ago, he was found by his now-best friends, Sunny and Max, who gave him a home in a magical sanctuary doubling as a Caribbean restaurant. What Eli does know is that he can heal a wound with just a touch and pluck magic from a soul like a petal from a flower—and there is nothing he wouldn’t do to survive and keep his new family together.

Malcolm would do anything to forget where he comes from. Desperate to escape his estranged father’s shadow and plagued with an inherited death magic he doesn’t fully understand, Malcolm has just one priority: save his mother, no matter the cost.

Malcolm and Eli’s paths collide when Eli and his friends are sent to track down the fang of the leopard god Osebo, a deadly weapon that can eat magic. In a job filled with enigmatic nine nights and Caribbean legends, the teens must face their own demons as they race through the magical underbelly of London to retrieve the fang…before an ancient and malevolent power comes back to life.

I’ve been looking forward to King of Dead Things since I first heard about it – and was only more excited when Reactor posted an excerpt! Diving into this ASAP!

Moon Dust in My Hairnet by J.R. Creaden
Genres: Sci Fi
Representation: Autistic MC
Published on: 19th April 2024

Moon Dust in My Hairnet is a fresh, hopeful, and diverse sci-fi romp following an autistic lunar lunch lady as she juggles relationships and threatening corporate overlords, all while adjusting to life on Lunar Trust One.

20-year-old Lane was perfectly happy living in her big sister's shadow. The great Faraday Tanner, who invented the gravdrive and inspired the movement to found the moon's first independent colony, was the unequaled voice of the post-melt generation. That is, until an unimaginable tragedy cut Faraday’s legacy short.

Wracked with survivor's guilt and desperate for her sister's utopian dream to succeed, Lane embraces her job on the moon: lunch lady—which is more than her parents think she can handle. Her boyfriend's supportive at least, when he's not drooling over one of the new recruits. Lane tries to put the past behind her, committed to enjoying her kitchen work and dating her boyfriend and his new crushes. She even participates in planning Faraday's memorial, forcing herself to grapple with monumental loss.

But when colony goods go missing and vital equipment gets tampered with, Lane can't accept the events as mere pranks, banding together with new and old friends to save their home.

It’s hard to see how autistic MCs in space can go wrong, and I’m under the impression this is supposed to be quite a hopepunk/optimistic book, which would be lovely. It’s nice to have main characters who work normal-people jobs too – when did you last see a SFF novel featuring a lunch lady?

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


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