Must-Have Monday #78

Posted 21st March 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 4 Comments

EIGHT new SFF books this week, and one contemporary novel in verse!

The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Major queer character
Published on: 22nd March 2022

A thrilling race against the clock to save the world from fantasy creatures from a cult 80s film – perfect for fans of Henson Company puppet classics like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and The NeverEnding Story.

“There's a stirring sense of adventure, excitement, and terror running throughout. A treat for fans of the movies that inspired it.” – Publishers Weekly

“Sometimes dark, but never heartless; gritty yet soulbaring. It stands proud with a VHS copy of its favorite movie held aloft, daring you to say it's not the greatest film ever.” – Edgar Cantero, author of Meddling Kids

Jack Corman is failing at life. Jobless, jaded and facing the threat of eviction, he’s also reeling from the death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, but the film flopped on release and Bob was never the same again.

In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying childhood home, where he is confronted with the impossible — the puppet heroes from The Shadow Glass are alive, and they need his help. Tipped into a desperate quest to save the world from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with an excitable fanboy and a spiky studio exec to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy and ignite a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do Bob proud.

The book I’m most excited for this week! A whole bunch of my favorite bloggers have loved this, so I can’t wait to dive in!

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy
Published on: 22nd March 2022

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren't real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

Now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.

Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

This is one that unfortunately didn’t quite work for me, but I think a lot of other people will love it, and I do plan on giving it another try eventually.

911 Vampire by Caleb James
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay MC
Published on: 22nd March 2022

A vampire succubus created during the Black Plague, Godfrey works as a Boston paramedic and battles loneliness and exhaustion as he fights to keep humanity safe from twin COVID and opioid epidemics.

He has always pursued that which provides him hope—medicine, the cello… love. But yielding to his feelings for his work partner, Trevor, would conflict with Godfrey’s complicated moral code. Instead he feeds on sexual energy when he must and investigates a drug ring in his spare time.

But even a vampire can’t ignore his feelings forever.

Sorry-not-sorry, I LOVE the idea of a vampire paramedic!

The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods, #1) by Tara Sim
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC, bisexual MCs
Published on: 22nd March 2022

Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

I haven’t read Tara Sims before, so I have no idea what to expect from her prose, but the premise and diversity promised by City of Dusk are right up my alley!

Curfew by Jayne Cowie
Published on: 22nd March 2022

Think The Handmaid's Tale but with the women in charge, set in a world where all men are electronically tagged and placed under strict curfew, and the murder investigation threatening to undo it all.
Imagine a near-future Britain in which women dominate workplaces, public spaces, and government. Where the gender pay gap no longer exists and motherhood opens doors instead of closing them. Where women are no longer afraid to walk home alone, to cross a dark parking lot, or to catch the last train.
Where all men are electronically tagged and not allowed out after 7 p.m.
But the curfew hasn’t made life easy for everyone. Sarah is a single mother who happily rebuilt her life after her husband, Greg, was sent to prison for breaking curfew. Now he’s about to be released, and Sarah isn’t expecting a happy reunion, given that she’s the reason he was sent there.
Her teenage daughter, Cass, hates living in a world that restricts boys like her best friend, Billy. Billy would never hurt anyone, and she’s determined to prove it. Somehow.
Helen is a teacher at the local school. Secretly desperate for a baby, she’s applied for a cohab certificate with her boyfriend, Tom, and is terrified that they won’t get it. The last thing she wants is to have a baby on her own.
These women don’t know it yet, but one of them is about to be violently murdered. Evidence will suggest that she died late at night and that she knew her attacker. It couldn’t have been a man because a CURFEW tag is a solid alibi.
Isn’t it?

This seems very timely, since last year a politician in the UK was advocating for a curfew for all men after 6pm. At the same time, l immediately want to know how Cowie’s premise affects nonbinary and trans people – something typically forgotten in genderpocalypse stories.

Untethered by Rhonda Parrish, Alyx Barter, Beth Cato, M.L.D. Curelas, Alyson Grauer, Lucy Hagan, Jamie Lackey, Carter Lappin, Sally McBride, Marshall Moore, Wendy Nikel, Jamie Perrault, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Rose Strickman, D.J. Tyrer, Rachel M. Thompson, Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Genres: Fantasy, Sci Fi
Published on: 22nd March 2022

Unicorns locked away in the cargo holds of spaceships, becoming roller skating phenoms or leaving sparkly rainbow poop in a poor bartender’s living room are just the start. There’s a demi-god trying to figure out where Pegasus has disappeared to, horses formed of sea, or steam and even one who thinks he’s a spider. And so much more. These stories are all a little untamed, a little wild, a little… untethered.

Featuring stories by Alyx Barter, Beth Cato, M.L.D. Curelas, Alyson Grauer, Lucy Hagan, Jamie Lackey, Carter Lappin, Sally McBride, Marshall Moore, Wendy Nikel, Jamie Perrault, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Rose Strickman, DJ Tyrer, Rachel M. Thompson, and Laura VanArendonk Baugh, this anthology is sure to have something for every horse lover.

A WHOLE BOOK OF UNICORN STORIES?! *INCOHERANT SHRIEKING* I’m always looking for more stories about unicorns, and here’s a whole new anthology I only found out about at the last second!!! I cannot WAIT to dive in!

A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Brown trans MCs
Published on: 22nd March 2022

Robin Gow's A Million Quiet Revolutions is a modern love story, told in verse, about two teenaged trans boys who name themselves after two Revolutionary War soldiers. A lyrical, aching young adult romance perfect for fans of The Poet X, Darius the Great is Not Okay, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe.

For as long as they can remember, Aaron and Oliver have only ever had each other. In a small town with few queer teenagers, let alone young trans men, they’ve shared milestones like coming out as trans, buying the right binders—and falling for each other.

But just as their relationship has started to blossom, Aaron moves away. Feeling adrift, separated from the one person who understands them, they seek solace in digging deep into the annals of America’s past. When they discover the story of two Revolutionary War soldiers who they believe to have been trans men in love, they’re inspired to pay tribute to these soldiers by adopting their names—Aaron and Oliver. As they learn, they delve further into unwritten queer stories, and they discover the transformative power of reclaiming one’s place in history.

As far as I can tell, this is contemporary with no spec-fic elements, but it still sounds like a beautiful book that I want to read – and boost, hence its inclusion in today’s post!

Comeuppance Served Cold by Marion Deeds
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Published on: 22nd March 2022

Seattle, 1929—a bitterly divided city overflowing with wealth, violence, and magic.

A respected magus and city leader intent on criminalizing Seattle’s most vulnerable magickers hires a young woman as a lady’s companion to curb his rebellious daughter’s outrageous behavior.

The widowed owner of a speakeasy encounters an opportunity to make her husband’s murderer pay while she tries to keep her shapeshifter brother safe.

A notorious thief slips into the city to complete a delicate and dangerous job that will leave chaos in its wake.

One thing is for certain—comeuppance, eventually, waits for everyone.

I think this is the second of three or four 1920s fantasies I know of this year – and I’m not complaining, the more the merrier!

Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 24th March 2022

'Absolutely brilliant - tragic, funny, eccentric . . . Claire Kohda takes the vampire trope and makes it her own' Ruth Ozeki, Booker-shortlisted author of A Tale for the Time Being

Lydia is hungry. She's always wanted to try sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside - the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But Lydia can't eat any of this. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs' blood in London - where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time - is much more difficult than she'd anticipated.

Then there are the humans: the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men who follow her after dark, and Ben, a goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can't bring herself to feed on them.
If Lydia is to find a way to exist in the world, she must reconcile the conflicts within her - between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans. Before any of this, however, she must eat.

This is the UK release; Woman, Eating won’t be released in the USA for a while still. The early reviews for this have been extremely mixed – it seems to be a love-it or hate-it kind of book – but the premise is so interesting to me that I’ll definitely be giving it a go. I don’t have much interest in the humans-with-fangs kind of vampires, but I’m always on the lookout for ones who feel properly not-human, and I’m hopeful that’s the case here!

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

4 responses to “Must-Have Monday #78

  1. I love that The Shadow Glass is here for all my 80s kid feels (and I hope to get to it before the end of the year). In the meantime, I’m absolutely beguiled by the sound of Woman, Eating – I snagged an ARC for this, which I plan to sneak in between Subjective Chaos reads over the next two months 😉

    • I’m so excited for Shadow Glass I don’t know how I’ll sleep tonight – it feels like Christmas or something!

      As usual, very interested to see what you think of Woman, Eating! Hopefully it’s great!

  2. Really enjoyed Shadow Glass, and currently finishing up City of Dusk which has been enjoyable if a little on the YA-side at times for my tastes.

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