Must-Have Monday #69

Posted 17th January 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

SIX new books to feature this week, including an albino witch, a circus of magical creatures, and a shovel!

Servant Mage by Kate Elliott
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bi/pansexual MC, agender secondary character, polyamory
Published on: 18th January 2022

In Kate Elliott's Servant Mage, a lowly fire mage finds herself entangled in an empire-spanning conspiracy on her way to discovering her true power.

They choose their laws to secure their power.

Fellion is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellion has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

This is one of my most anticipated books of the year – it made it onto my list of Unmissable SFF of 2022 – and I can’t wait to dive into it! I’ve heard so many good things, there is a DRAGON, and I’m utterly charmed by the shovel hidden in the corner of the cover.

Akata Woman (Akata Witch, #3) by Nnedi Okorafor
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Black albino MC, Black cast
Published on: 18th January 2022

From the moment Sunny Nwazue discovered she had magic flowing in her blood, she sought to understand and control her powers. Throughout her adventures in Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, she had to navigate the balance between nearly everything in her life–America and Nigeria, the “normal” world and the one infused with juju, human and spirit, good daughter and powerful Leopard Person.

Now, those hard lessons and abilities are put to the test in a quest so dangerous and fantastical, it would be madness to go…but deadly not to. With the help of her friends, Sunny embarks on a mission to find a precious object hidden deep in a magical realm. Defeating the guardians of the prize will take more from Sunny than she has to give, and triumph will mean she will be forever changed.

The third book in Okorafor’s Nsibidi Scripts series! Does anything more need to be said???

The Beholden by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: Brown cast
Published on: 18th January 2022

Orphaned as young women, Celestia and Izara De Malena find themselves land rich but destitute, with only a failing rainforest acreage, Celestia’s perfect manners, and Izara’s nascent magic to their aristocratic names. With the last of their money running out, they enact a dangerous plan—using a spell she doesn’t fully understand, Izara summons the Lady of the Seraphine and demands a favor: a husband for Celestia, one rich enough to enable the De Malena sisters to keep their land. But a favor from the river goddess always comes at a cost . . . 

Now, five years later, rumors of war and disease are spreading, Celestia’s husband has been called away on a secret mission for the Emperor, and the Lady of the Seraphine is back to collect her due. Izara will be forced to leave the academy where she has been studying to become a mage; Celestia will be pulled from her now-flourishing farm while newly pregnant with her first child. Together, they must repay their debt to the Lady—embarking on a mission that will put them on a collision course with Celestia’s husband, the Emperor, and a god even more powerful than the Lady of the Seraphine. 

Gorgeous, compelling, and utterly captivating, The Beholden follows Celestia and Izara as they journey from the lush rainforest to a frozen desert on an impossible quest to find a god who doesn’t want to be found and prevent the end of the world.

I didn’t love this one, but I still want to boost it so on the list it goes. Deals with gods coming due and a lush setting, and, let’s be honest, a cover to die for!

Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan, Troy L. Wiggins
Genres: Fantasy, Sci Fi
Published on: 18th January 2022

"Stories to make you feel infinitely hopeful. This collection recharges rebellion as powerfully as a dry spell broken by heavy rain."
— ZZ Claybourne, author of Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe and The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan“

Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue gathers the tidal force of bestselling, renowned writers from Lagos to New Orleans, Memphis to Copenhagen, Northern Ireland and London, offering extraordinary speculative fiction tales of ancient waters in all its myriad forms. Meet techno savvy water spirits, bayou saints and sirens, robots and river rootwomen, a pod of joyful space whales, and a castle of water-born terrors and mysteries. Including work by Nalo Hopkinson, Jaquira Diaz, Andrea Hairston, Linda D. Addison, Rion Amilcar Scott, Marie Vibbert, Maurice Broaddus, and other breakout beautiful voices, these stories and poems celebrate the most vital of elemental forces, water.

"Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue's confluence of stories range from the salt-edged to freshwater clear. The anthology's powerful water-buoyed voices represent international understandings of water's multiple mythos, its futures possible, and its pasts unforgotten. No matter where you enter these stories, you will not leave unchanged; and when you return, you may find the stories themselves have transformed as well. A fantastic collection."
— Fran Wilde, Nebula-award winning author of Riverland and Updraft

I haven’t heard much about this, and only discovered it by luck, but I’m intrigued. It sounds like there’s a huge amount of variety in the stories included, and some very positive reviews from early readers!

Contest of Queens by Jordan H. Bartlett
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Matriarchy
Published on: 18th January 2022

When an unsettling event occurs in the Queendom of Frea, Jacs, an inventor's apprentice from the Lower Realm, participates in the Contest of Queens to prove that a Queendom is strongest when united.

In a Queendom divided, can one girl unite the realms?

Jacs, an inventor's apprentice from the Lower Realm, has only ever dreamed of what the land among the clouds holds. That is until she finds a letter from Connor, an Upperite boy who sends a wooden boat into the abyss, hoping to learn more about the land below. Little does Jacs know, Connor is actually Prince Cornelius of the Queendom of Frea. With wooden boats and hot air balloons, the two begin a secret correspondence that lasts years. But their friendship is divided by a heavily-guarded bridge and an inescapable prejudice.

The strength of their bond was thought to transcend distance and time, but when the royal family visits Jacs' town of Bridgeport, the illusion of peace between the Realms dissolves, and the old feud is reignited.

Now, to save her people, Jacs must infiltrate the Upper Realm and earn her place to compete in the Contest of Queens. She must learn how to survive against the contests' grueling tasks and within a political web she could not have imagined. In a story about friendship, love, bravery, and defying gravity, Jacs will strive to prove that a Queendom is strongest when united.

My ears always perk up for matriarchies, and that’s a beautiful cover! I’m unclear on whether this is supposed to be YA or closer to MG, but I’m going to give it a go anyway!

Hoard it All Before by Tammie Painter
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Published on: 18th January 2022

Like any traveling circus, Zin's has hair-raising acts and fried food on sticks. But it's also got an aura-spotting centaur, a chain-smoking unicorn, and an omelet-addicted dragon.

Oh, and a body in the center ring.

Duncan — aka "Brutus Fangwrath, Deadliest Dragon in the West" — wakes one morning to find his best friend isn't just sleeping off a hangover.

Suspicion for the murder quickly turns to the circus's new hire, Cordelia Quinn. After all, she's got motive, she got means, and she's got loads of circumstantial evidence stacked against her.

When it looks like no one else is going to step in to help Cordelia, it's up to Duncan to unravel the case, prove Cordelia's innocence, and uncover a troubling secret along the way.

As soon as he's done with his omelet, that is.

Set in a 1930s that's just a tad different than what you're used to, Hoard it all Before is the start of a delightful humorous mystery series with plenty of tantalizing twists, a troupe of quirky characters, and death-defying feats both in and beyond the big top.

If you like paranormal mysteries like those by Kim M. Watt and C.K. McDonnell that mix laughs in with the murderous mayhem, you'll love Hoard it all Before.

Note: While this cozy mystery is mostly clean, it does have a lusty, chain-smoking unicorn who makes more than a few naughty innuendos, a dragon that drinks heavily, a tiny bit of swearing, and (obviously) there's a murder along the way.

This sounds very cute and silly, and there is always room for more magical silliness! ESPECIALLY with a circus setting! I am intrigued, and plan on curling up somewhere cozy to read this.

That’s it! Will you be reading any of these? Did I miss any books I should know about? Let me know!


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