Must-Have Monday #26!

Posted 1st March 2021 by Siavahda in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

This week we have SIX fantasy and sci-fi releases to get excited about – and I know for a fact at least two of them belong on your best-of-the-year lists!

The Councillor by E.J. Beaton
Representation: Bisexual MC, secondary M/M, past F/F, queernorm world
on 2nd March 2021
Genres: Queer Protagonists, High Fantasy

This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar's quest to choose the next ruler of her kingdom amidst lies, conspiracy, and assassination.

When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.

Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers – especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.

Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.

In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises… even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint.

As good as this book sounds, I promise you, it’s even better than that, as I stated in my review. It is SO DAMN GOOD! It’s queer and politic-y and the prose is stunning, the worldbuilding is fabulous, and it’s so intricate and clever and gorgeous and I can’t WAIT until everyone has read it! I need people to fangirl with, damn it! BUY THIS BOOK ALREADY!

A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2) by Arkady Martine
Representation: F/F, queernorm world
on 2nd March 2021
Genres: Sci Fi, Queer Protagonists

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

I got to read this one ahead of time too, but you don’t really need my review to know it’s going to be amazing – it’s Arkady Martine, of course it’s amazing, that goes without saying! I adored this for so many reasons, and anyone who loved the first book in the series, A Memory Called Empire, is going to love this one too!

(And if you haven’t read Memory…please read that first. Or lots of things will be confusing!)

The Conductors by Nicole Glover
Representation: Cast of colour, minor trans character
on 2nd March 2021
Genres: Historical Fantasy

Meet Hetty Rhodes, a former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now uses her magic to solve crimes in her community in a post-Civil War world.

As an escaped slave, Hetty Rhodes helped dozens of people find their own freedom north using her wits and her magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband, Benjy, still fight for their people by solving the murders and mysteries that the white authorities won't touch.

When they discover one of their friends brutally murdered in an alley, Hetty and Benjy mourn his loss by setting off to find answers. But the mystery of his death soon brings up more questions, more secrets, more hurt. To solve his death, they will have to not only face the ugly truths about the world but the ones about each other.

Perfect for fans of Victor LaValle and Zen Cho, The Conductors is a compelling debut by a fresh voice in fantasy fiction that will leave you longing for more.

I have heard nothing but praise for this book from every corner, and I’m especially excited because several readers have mentioned that the magic system Glover’s created is very cool! And I’m always excited at new takes on magic. Plus, you know – that premise sounds kind of ridiculously awesome???

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
Representation: Bisexual MC
on 2nd March 2021

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.
Love makes monsters of us all.

Again, all I’ve heard are good things about Down Comes the Night. I think the prose is supposed to be extra-special too? I do not know, but I have my fingers crossed!

Chain of Iron (The Last Hours, #2) by Cassandra Clare
Representation: Genderqueer character
on 2nd March 2021
Genres: Historical Fantasy

The Shadowhunters must catch a killer in Edwardian London in this dangerous and romantic sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Chain of Gold, from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cassandra Clare. Chain of Iron is a Shadowhunters novel.

Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.

But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.

Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.

I confess to not having read the first book in this trilogy yet, but it would be remiss to not include Chain of Iron here. I haven’t read the blurb, because, you know – trying not to spoil myself, but I know a lot of people who are very excited for this one, and I hope it lives up to expectations!

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
on 2nd March 2021

Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.

Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: What does it mean to love?

This sounds unique and potentially really interesting; again, I’ve only heard good things. There’s a lot of potential, with that premise, for something meaningful but also quite sweet, so I guess we’ll see how that turns out!

That’s all I’ve got! Did I miss any? Will you be reading any of these books? Let me know!

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