Must-Have Monday #43!

Posted 19th July 2021 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

It’s going to be a great week, with SEVEN new releases of interest – from post-apocalyptic hopepunk to turning the tables on utopia, and girlfriends who won’t be separated by death!

The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. Valente
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 20th July 2021

Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world.

The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown.

Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she's the only one who knows it. She's the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it's full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.

But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

HI, DO YOU HAVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT OUR LADY AND SAVIOUR, CATHERYNNE VALENTE??? Well, even if you don’t, you should read this book – I wrote a full review here, but the tl;dr version is that it’s a sneakily whimsical, sharp, gorgeous post-apocalyptic story about the most hopepunk heroine to ever punk. It’s going to be on every Best of 2021 list, and you need to read it!

She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Cast of colour, genderqueer MCs, GQ/F, GQ/M
Published on: 20th July 2021

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother's abandoned greatness.

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles; an accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China.

Has any book had as much hype this year as this one??? It’s been described as Mulan meets Song of Achilles, and it’s a great big epic of a tome that plays with an alternate ancient China and all the gender themes! I suspect this is also going to be a Best of 2021 novel, so make sure you nab a copy!

A Radical Act of Free Magic (The Shadow Histories, #2) by H.G. Parry
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 20th July 2021

The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world.

In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, protected by the gulf of the channel and powerful fire-magic, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly fearful and repressive government. In Saint Domingue, Fina watches as Toussaint Louverture navigates these opposing forces to liberate the country.

But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years. The enemy blood magician who orchestrated Robespierre’s downfall is using the Revolutionary Wars to bring about a return to dark magic to claim all of Europe. Across the world, only a few know of his existence and the choices they make will shape the new age of magic.

This is the sequel to A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians (which you can read my review of here) and the final book in the duet/duology. It’s historical fantasy about classism and slavery and who should be allowed to use what magics, with deceptively simple worldbuilding and a wonderful cast. AND WE’RE GETTING KRAKENS. YESSSSSSSSS!

The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 20th July 2021

Plagued by the creeping loss of her memory, diplomat Bréone Hemmerli continues to negotiate peace in an increasingly climate-devastated world, ensconced in the UN-owned estate Irislands alongside her longtime friend and companion Delphine.

The appearance of the alien Tura in the shadows of Bréone’s garden raises new questions about the world’s decline. Perhaps, together, Tura and Bréone will find a way forward… if only Bréone can remember it.

Neon Hemlock Press is an indie publisher specialising in convention-defying SFF, often with queer characters and themes. I don’t think this one is queer, but it’s sure to be strange and wonderful anyway!

And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy
Published on: 20th July 2021

In a far future city, where you can fall to a government cull for a single mistake, And What Can We Offer You Tonight tells the story of Jewel, established courtesan in a luxurious House. Jewel’s world is shaken when her friend is murdered by a client, but somehow comes back to life. To get revenge, they will both have to confront the limits of loyalty, guilt, and justice.

Another Neon Hemlock Press novella! Premee Mohamed is the author of Beneath the Rising, whose premise I loved, and this novella promises to be jewel-bright and eerie and lovely. I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Savage Bounty (Savage Rebellion #2) by Matt Wallace
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Published on: 20th July 2021

The sequel to the acclaimed, spellbinding epic fantasy Savage Legion by Hugo Award–winning author Matt Wallace about a utopian city with a dark secret…and the underdogs who will expose it—or die trying.

The call them Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable.

The empire relies on them. The greatest weapon they ever developed. Culled from the streets of their cities, they take the ones no one will miss and throw them, by the thousands, at the empire’s enemies. If they live, they fight again. If they die, well, there are always more.

From Hugo Award–winning author Matt Wallace comes the much-anticipated second installment to the “epic fantasy the genre has been waiting for” (Sarah Gailey, Hugo Award–winning author of Magic for Liars).

I’m reading the first book of this series now, and it’s so good I had to include the sequel here! (And very carefully avoid reading the description, so as not to spoil myself.) This is set in a utopia-which-isn’t, with a really interesting class system. I’m in love with book one, and will definitely be snapping this one up when I’m finished with it!

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MCs, F/F or wlw
Published on: 22nd July 2021


Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.
Car headlights.

The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.

But she made it, she's still here. Or is she?

This New Year's Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can't decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city's dead to await their fate.
But Ash can't forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again... even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive...


We’re getting lots of queer ghost stories lately, and I am not disapproving! I almost missed this one, but it popped up on my dash today, and with a premise like that, you know it’s going on my tbr. It’s also been optioned for a tv/movie adaption, so I’m expecting great visuals!

That’s it from me! Will you be reading any of these? Have I missed any new books I should know about? Let me know!


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