Must-Have Monday #66

Posted 27th December 2021 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

I thought I might have to make my first Must-Have Monday post featuring just one book, this week – but I was willing to do it, because The Midnight Girls ABSOLUTELY merits its own post if necessary! But in fact, I found a few more releases when I went digging – in the end, there are FIVE books that ought to be on your radar this week!

The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MCs, minor Muslim character, implied M/M
Published on: 28th December 2021

The Wicked Deep meets House of Salt and Sorrows in this new standalone YA fantasy set in a snow-cloaked kingdom where witches are burned, and two enchantresses secretly compete for the heart of a prince, only to discover that they might be falling for each other.

It's Karnawał season in the snow-cloaked Kingdom of Lechija, and from now until midnight when the church bells ring an end to Devil's Tuesday time will be marked with wintry balls and glittery disguises, cavalcades of nightly torch-lit "kuligi" sleigh-parties.

Unbeknownst to the oblivious merrymakers, two monsters join the fun, descending upon the royal city of Warszów in the guise of two innocent girls. Newfound friends and polar opposites, Zosia and Marynka seem destined to have a friendship that's stronger even than magic. But that's put to the test when they realize they both have their sights set on Lechija's pure-hearted prince. A pure heart contains immeasurable power and Marynka plans to bring the prince's back to her grandmother in order to prove herself. While Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.

When neither will sacrifice their ambitions for the other, the festivities spiral into a wild contest with both girls vying to keep the hapless prince out of the other's wicked grasp. But this isn't some remote forest village, where a hint of stray magic might go unnoticed, Warszów is the icy capital of a kingdom that enjoys watching monsters burn, and if Zosia and Marynka's innocent disguises continue to slip, their escalating rivalry might cost them not just the love they might have for each other, but both their lives.

Jasinksa’s debut, The Dark Tide, is one of my all-time favourites – I’m sitting next to a signed copy as I type, and when the author is in Australia and you are not that is a FEAT! – and she knocked it out of the park again with The Midnight Girls! HI YES ALL THE QUEER MONSTER GIRLS, PLEASE AND THANK YOU! You can read my full review here, but honestly, you should really just save yourself some time and GO BUY THE BOOK!

Square³ by Mira Grant
Genres: Horror, Sci Fi
Published on: 31st December 2021

We think we understand the laws of physics. We think reality is an immutable monolith, consistent from one end of the universe to the next. We think the square/cube law has actual relevance.

We think a lot of things. It was perhaps inevitable that some of them would turn out to be wrong.

When the great incursion occurred, no one was prepared. How could they have been? Of all the things physicists had predicted, “the fabric of reality might rip open and giant monsters could come pouring through” had not made the list. But somehow, on a fine morning in May, that was precisely what happened.

For sisters Susan and Katharine Black, the day of the incursion was the day they lost everything. Their home, their parents, their sense of normalcy…and each other, because when the rift opened, Susan was on one side and Katharine was on the other, and each sister was stranded in a separate form of reality. For Susan, it was science and study and the struggle to solve the mystery of the altered physics inside the zones transformed by the incursion. For Katharine, it was monsters and mayhem and the fight to stay alive in a world unlike the world of her birth.

The world has changed. The laws of physics have changed. The girls have changed. And the one universal truth of all states of changed matter is that nothing can be completely restored to what it was originally, no matter how much you might wish it could be.

Nothing goes back.

Mira Grant is one of the pennames of Seanan McGuire, aka a superhuman writer who works utter magic with words. Mira Grant is the name she uses for her sci-fi, and there is never a good reason to skip a McGuire book, regardless of what name is on the cover. This one sounds beguilingly weird and I am here for it!

Vile Affections by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Published on: 31st December 2021

In Vile Affections, Caitlín R. Kiernan's seventeenth short fiction collection, the boundaries of desire, fascination, passion, and dread collide. That which is beautiful may easily be profane. Those who love us may devour us alive. A shadow may shine like a supernova. The eye of the beholder is God. In these twenty-two stories, Kiernan's trademark range is on display, taking us from submerged and monster-haunted dreamscapes to quiet bedroom conversation between lovers, from unexpected and uncanny roadkill to an object lesson on the perils of picking up hitchhikers on rainy Appalachian nights. Moving deftly between such disparate genres as cyberpunk, fairy tales, and Southern Gothic, this is Kiernan at their eerie best.

The ebook is already available, but the hardcover of Kiernan’s latest short story collection goes on sale on the 31st! (…I think.) Kiernan regularly writes sublime, often queer horror that makes me sleep with the light on, so, you know, if that’s your thing…?

The Girl Sudan Painted like a Gold Ring: Folktales from the Sea Dyaks of Sarawak, Borneo (Lands Below the Winds Series) by Theresa Fuller
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 1st January 2022

If you like your fables with a dash of bloodshed, then The Girl Sudan Painted Like a Gold Ring is the anthology you have been waiting for. Author Theresa Fuller has collected a fascinating group of tales based on the oral storytelling history of the Sea Dyaks of Borneo.

The twist? The Dyaks were headhunters!




In this book you will find stories designed to entertain and teach, all from the point of view of a culture based in honor, courtesy, and war.

A book in this same series by the same author – The Girl Who Became a Goddess – was one of the first ARCs I was ever accepted for, so it’s really exciting to see Theresa Fuller’s name again! And I can safely say I know nothing at all about the mythology of Borneo, so these stories will be completely new to me!

The Gardener Kings by Monica Boothe
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 1st January 2022

All her life she’s lived in exile, hiding from the traitor who usurped her father’s throne. But now she must return to the very kingdom she’s always feared.

Iníon is the daughter of the last Gardener King, or so she thought. When the king reveals to her that she is not his blood daughter but that he found her in a tree the night that he fled Gàrradh, she begins to wonder what other secrets he’s been hiding.

She falls for Rían, the king’s wild son with Gardener blood in his veins who not only lives in the trees but speaks to them. But Rían is forbidden to marry any woman without kings’ blood.

Together Rían and Iníon concoct a plan to return to Gàrradh and solve the mystery of Iníon’s birth. But what they find when they arrive in the land of their birth turns everything upside down. After what she’s learned about the Gardener Kings, will Iníon still want to be a part of this family?

This young adult fantasy novel inspired by Celtic myth and fairylore is the first in The Gardener Kings trilogy.

I’ve got to be honest, what grabbed my attention was that beautiful cover – but I’m also intrigued by the idea of Gardener Kings (it has nothing at all to do with how my brain went straight to the myths of the Fisher King, nope). The idea of monarch as gardener of their domain is a lovely one…although somehow I doubt Boothe’s story is going to be that serene!

And that covers the transition from 2021 to 2022!!! Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!

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