Must-Have Monday #82

Posted 18th April 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

EIGHT wonderful SFF releases this week, from queering King Arthur to Afro-futurism and time-travelling books!

Spear by Nicola Griffith
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC
Published on: 19th April 2022

The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.

And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.

Hands down the book I’m most excited for this week! I’m a massive fan of Griffith’s, and the idea of her writing a queer take on the Arthurian mythos?! HELLS YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU! And of course, I have to leave the cover in full-view because LOOK AT IT!

The Rarkyn's Familiar (The Rarkyn's Familiar, #1) by Nikky Lee
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 19th April 2022

An orphan bent on revenge. A monster searching for freedom. A forbidden pact that binds their fates together.

Lyss has heard her father’s screams; smelled the iron-tang of his blood. She’s witnessed his execution.

And plotted her revenge.

Then a violent encounter traps Lyss in a blood-pact with a rarkyn from the otherworld and imbues her with the monster’s forbidden magic. A magic that will erode her sanity. To break the pact, she and the rarkyn must journey to the heart of the Empire. All that stands in their way are the mountains and the Empire’s soldiers—and each other.
But horrors await them on the road, horrors even rarkyns fear. The most terrifying monster isn’t the one Lyss travels with...

It’s the one that’s awoken inside her.

The early reviews for this are super intriguing; apparently the bond between human and magical creature is done very well, which definitely has my attention. Plus, check out that cover! AndThe most terrifying monster is the one inside you is absolutely my Aesthetic; I really hope Lee goes properly dark with it rather than dark-lite. Can’t wait to find out!

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, Sheree Renée Thomas
Genres: Sci Fi, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black cast, queer MC/s
Published on: 19th April 2022

In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, activist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of one of her critically acclaimed albums, exploring how different threads of liberation—queerness, race, gender plurality, and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape…and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.

Whoever controls our memories controls the future.

Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of tales comprising the bold vision and powerful themes that have made Monáe such a compelling and celebrated storyteller. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts—as a means of self-conception—could be controlled or erased by a select few. And whether human, A.I., or other, your life and sentience was dictated by those who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide your fate.

That was until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free.

Expanding from that mythos, these stories fully explore what it’s like to live in such a totalitarian existence…and what it takes to get out of it. Building off the traditions of speculative writers such as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers, and Nnedi Okorafor—and filled with the artistic genius and powerful themes that have made Monáe a worldwide icon in the first place—The Memory Librarian serves readers tales grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there.

Listen, I live under a rock and have no access to popular music; I have very little idea of who Monae is, and I definitely haven’t heard the album this book builds off. I’m still going to read it, though, because it sounds absolutely amazing. Here’s hoping it works as a standalone!

Hope: A History of the Future - A Novel by G.G. Kellner
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 19th April 2022

One quiet afternoon in 2037, Joyce Denzell hears a thud in her family’s home library and finds a book lying in the middle of the room, seemingly waiting for her―a book whose copyright page says it was published in the year 2200. Over the next twenty-four hours, each of the Denzell family members discovers and reads from this mystical history book from the future, nudged along by their cat, Plato.

As the various family members take turns reading, they gradually uncover the story of Gabe, Mia, and Ruth—a saga of adventure, endurance, romance, mystery, and hope that touches them all deeply. Along the way, the Denzells all begin to believe that this book that has seemingly fallen out of time and space and into their midst might actually be from the future—and that it might have something vitally important to teach them.

Engaging, playful, and thought-provoking, Hope is a seven-generation-spanning vision of the future as it could be—based on scientific projections, as well as historical and legal precedence—that will leave readers grappling with questions of destiny, responsibility, and the possibility for hope in a future world.

Off the top of my head I can’t think of another glimpse-of-the-future story that provided that glimpse via a time-travelling book, and I love it. I don’t really know what to expect of this one, but stories that revolve around books are always my jam.

Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Gay MC of colour
Published on: 19th April 2022

From critically acclaimed Shaun David Hutchinson comes a gritty and raw portrayal of the oftentimes traumatic experience of growing up.

Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster.

Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster.

Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. He’s positive it was a monster. But being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile.

Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.

Howl seems to be using a monster attack as a metaphor for sexual assault, which makes me extra curious to know if this is a werewolf-esque situation where the MC will turn into a monster too…

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Mesoamerican setting + cast, bi/pansexual MC
Published on: 19th April 2022

Return to The Meridian with New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Roanhorse’s sequel to the most critically hailed epic fantasy of 2020 Black Sun—finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Lambda, and Locus awards.

There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart. —Teek saying
The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.

Roanhorse’s worldbuilding wowed me in book one of this series, Black Sun, and I’m eager to dive back in in the hopes of learning more about Xiala and her people. Fingers crossed they get more page time in book two!

Singing Lessons for the Stylish Canary by Laura Stanfill
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Magical Realism
Published on: 19th April 2022

Georges Blanchard is revered in the small French town of Mireville both as a master serinette maker and for a miraculous incident in his childhood that earned him the title "The Sun-Bringer." As his firstborn son, Henri Blanchard is expected to follow in his footsteps—but Henri would rather learn to make lace than music boxes.

When Henri discovers a stash of American letters in his father’s drawer, he learns he's not the firstborn son of Georges Blanchard at all: Henri has an older half-brother born to one of Georges's American customers. When he crosses the ocean to encounter his half-brother at last, Henri discovers that there's an entire world beyond Mireville—and there may be a perfect place for him yet.

The idea of training canaries to sing using hand-cranked organs just delights me on every level, and that’s the business Henri is trying to get out of. Early reviews have described this as magical realism, with Henri having some unexpected and uncontrollable abilities that I’m eager to learn more about. Gimme!

Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MCs
Published on: 19th April 2022

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.

Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.

Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

Tooley’s prose in Sweet & Bitter Magic, her debut, was lovely, and I’m excited to see her put her beautiful writing to describing music! Especially music and (maybe?) magic!

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

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