Remixes of Greek mythology abound, but Kika Hatzopoulou brings a fresh entry into the trend with a murder mystery focused on the Fates. Io, a descendent of the Fates, is able to see the life threads of people around her and uses this ability in her job as a private investigator. When a surge of wraiths– individuals with maimed life threads– occurs in the city, Io must locate the culprit before the destruction spirals out of control. Threads that Bind is the next must-read for fans of Lore by Alexandra Bracken and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.
Threads That Bind by Kika Hatzopoulou, (List Price: 19.99, Razorbill, 9780593528716, May 2023)
Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
I knew that someone was writing a comedy manga around the world of Elden Ring, but I didn’t know it was going to hit this level of scale! Following the journey that everyone who played the game also had, except this tale takes the world and twists the situations into joking situations. Very clever idea. I hope this is able to be continued until the conclusion.
Elden Ring: The Road to the Erdtree, Vol. 1 by Nikiichi Tobita, (List Price: 13, Yen Press, 9781975364892, May 2023)
After her deadly daughters devour their father’s kingdom, the mermaid princess knows she is too soft to return to the ocean’s depths. Adrift, she decides to travel with the kingdom’s plague doctor, the only person who saw what a monster she truly was even bedecked in sugar and froth in her role of a princess. Together, they journey north into a village of children and saints and discover beauty and horror in equal measure. As always, Khaw writes beautiful, elegant prose of graphic scenes of bodies being taken apart and, sometimes, devoured. Her writing is top-notch and the ending is sweet, without being saccharine, as the monsters in this story stay true to their vicious nature. Highly recommended!
The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw, (List Price: 21.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250830913, May 2023)
Set in NOLA, this book is full of intrigue, magic, messy family drama and mystery. This book tackles, homophobia, white supremacy, and race in a way I’ve never seen before. I love seeing Chris and Clem’s character development as they find themselves and step into their power. I enjoyed every twist and turn and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Loved it!
Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker, (List Price: 18.99, Tor Teen, 9781250825926, April 2023)
Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The Insatiable Volt Sisters is straight-ahead horror, but it looks deeply into struggles of defining one’s own legacy despite a troubled heritage. Told from the perspective of four very different women, Moulton’s characters are flawed and struggling, but also courageous and unrelenting in their choice to face darkness and despair head-on. This book is eerie and mysterious…and I could feel Fowler Island dripping off the pages as the sisters reveal/fight the beast within.
The Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton, (List Price: 18, MCD x FSG Originals, 9780374538323, May 2023)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
This book is A TON of fun! There’s a Thai bird princess (with animal companions!), vampires, werewolves, witches, fae, and a host of other supernatural creatures! Not to mention the adorable (and age-appropriate!) romance between said Thai bird princess and one of the vampires!!! The dialogue is quick and witty, the characters are quirky and delightful, and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series!
Wings Once Cursed & Bound by Piper J. Drake, (List Price: 16.99, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 9781492683865, April 2023)
An old man and brilliant inventor finds a run down cottage in a forest and decides to live there, far away from the rest of the world. One day he is surprised when a distraught couple who seem to be on the run leave a young boy in his care and ask him to raise the child. Two decades later, the tender-hearted, shy, and brilliant boy finds a broken AI robot and decides to repair it. Shortly after, the world descends upon his family in their forest idyll, forcing the young man to leave on a quest to the world beyond. A place of great danger and risk; but he is accompanied by a small crew of fiercely loyal friends who are determined to help him find what they are looking for. This novel holds all the beautiful, tender sentimentality, found family dynamics, loving humor, and self-discovery that I’ve come to expect from TJ Klune. I absolutely fell in love with every character in this motley crew of creatures. I laughed out loud frequently at the antics of Nurse Ratched and Rambo. I cried when things got tough and painful. I feared for the sweet young man who is trying to find his way. It has all the best parts of a huggable book for me.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune, (List Price: 28.99, Tor Books, 9781250217448, April 2023)
Reviewed by Elizabeth DeWandeler, A Novel Escape in Franklin, North Carolina
Magic, murder, and class struggle blend together in a satisfying start to a YA fantasy sequence. Ren and her classmates are transported to a dark realm through a magical accident. One is dead, but won’t be the last to die. As they fight for survival and a way home, their secrets are their worst enemy. Until they meet one with teeth. I can’t wait for Scott Reintgen’s follow-up.
A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen, (List Price: 19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665918688, March 2023)
Lavalle’s surprising and singular horror/western will appeal to lit fic and genre readers alike with its peculiar and anachronistic, but captivating voice, and its unique wasteland of a setting. It delivers both blood and monsters (human and inhuman) and an affecting exploration of trauma and guilt. This is one that’ll stick with you.
Lone Women by Victor LaValle, (List Price: $27, One World, 9780525512080, March 2023)
“I think that all books start out with an irritation in our conscious brain, a bit of sand in the old prefrontal cortex, and then become a collaboration between our front brain, which deals in logic and puzzles and language and things making sense, and our mid- and back brain, which both deal with emotion and sense memory and symbol and metaphor. And those collaborations, depending on what other elements we draw into them, can manifest in very different ways.
For both of these stories, I was thinking about abandonment, of the ways in which women are punished for ambition, of the cruel and unexpected ways in which generational trauma follows us and bites at our heels. I was thinking about the ways in which we are failed by our mothers, and fail our mothers, and fail ourselves. And I was thinking about the solidarity of siblings. And from that, two very different stories emerged, both of which come to very different conclusions. What do I think? It doesn’t matter what I think. The only thing that matters is what the story thinks.” ―Kelly Barnhill, Interview Clarksworld
What booksellers are saying about The Crane Husband
This incredibly eerie and strange book follows a young boy whose mother inexplicably brings home a crane, and tells her two sons to refer to him as father. A retelling of a Japanese folk tale, the industrialist hellscape backdrop does very well to solidify what could be an absurd story. Very well written, great for sci-fi, horror, and folk story fans.
―Alex Einhorn from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
Creepy, melodic, and absolutely haunting, The Crane Husband is a resplendent novella destined to leave you aching. The protagonist, an unnamed fifteen-year-old girl, has to take the responsibility of protecting her family after her artist mother brings home “Father” – a crane who is sometimes a man. Sacrifices abound and love is its central theme, even when it takes wing.
―Jordan April from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books
A beautifully written retelling of the Crane Wife folktale that focuses on family and sacrifices we make for love.
―Kelley Barnes from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books
One review of Barnhill’s latest work declared her to be the next Angela Carter, which is a strikingly accurate comparison considering The Crane Husband is a retelling of a traditional Japanese folklore story, centered around the experience of the women involved. Similar to Carter as well, Barnhill leaves us in the world of the mystical and strange, often to an unsettling degree, as we follow a family whose mother has welcomed a crane into their home after the passing of her husband. With deceptively straightforward prose that is guaranteed to keep you turning the page wondering where this bizarre story will turn next, The Crane Husband is an excellent read.
― Elizabeth Findley from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books
About Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill is the author of the adult novel When Women Were Dragons and several middle grade novels, including the New York Times bestselling novels The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal, and The Ogress and the Orphans. She is also the recipient of the World Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for the SFWA Andre Norton Nebula Award and the PEN America Literary Award. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.
Gelethel is a paradise, a city within protective ice walls ruled by fourteen angels whose benisons provide everything the citizens need, but no paradise can ever really be free of darkness. No citizen is allowed to leave, war refugees starve outside the walls in Cherubtown, and the angels glut themselves on human sacrifices provided by the pilgrims petitioning for citizenship. Ishtu is the daughter of the pilgrim that brought cinema to Gelethel and the Garbage Queen of Gelethel, and the secret saint of the weakest angel, Alizar. Her life consists of running the only cinema in the city and having secrets chats with her extravagant, vain angel until a pilgrim’s sacrifice proves to be the sign Alizar has been waiting for. This is the story of the meek inheriting the city, of the powerful learning that what is given freely is always stronger than what is taken, and the value of bad uncles. Cooney’s prose is delicious and her writing reminds me in the best ways of Terry Pratchett. Fun, easy to read, and still manages to stab you in the heart. Highly recommended!
The Twice-Drowned Saint by C. S. E. Cooney, (List Price: 15.95, Mythic Delirium Books, 9781732644090, February 2023)
A woman who suffers a horrifying childhood trauma is transformed into the creator of a city, buildings and denizens alike. Who else but Salman Rushdie has the imagination required to create this woman, who has an almost endless imagination? Rushdie is a modern, male Scheherazade, spinning his fanciful tales of romance, religion, politics, and corruption, with dollops of laugh-out-loud humor and magical realism.
Victory City by Salman Rushdie, (List Price: $30, Random House, 9780593243398, February 2023)
Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia
Wow, what a beautifully written book that deals with a lot of complex issues while still feeling like a wonderful fantasy novel. What was so beautiful you may ask? First of all, the characters. Normally I find childhood bestfriends/lovers turned enemies to be very unbelievable but M.K. Lobb found the best way to do it. Roz and Damian were very believable characters with trauma that manifests in very different ways. PTSD isn’t always hiding in a corner or freaking out at loud noises. Second of all, the plot of which I’d say there are really two plot lines and then a third of when they finally converge together. A murder mystery and a rebellion don’t really seem to fit together until they finally do and I was excited for every second. This book didn’t feel like it was almost 400 pages because I just kept wanting to find out what happened next. Third of all, that twist. The villain of this story honestly blind-sided me. I went for the obvious choice because no one else met the qualifications for the big bad. Now don’t get me wrong, my guess was a very terrible person but they just weren’t the real villain we were looking for. This book also handled multiple POVs very well. There’s really only two POVs for this book, Damian and Roz, and they don’t spend time recapping events that happened in the other character’s chapter, they just move on with a maybe a line saying "I don’t know what they’re thinking so I’m just going to continue to solve this mystery" and that was it. Which I really appreciate. I don’t like being told things and M.K. Lobb delivered the story brilliantly.
Seven Faceless Saints by M.K. Lobb, (List Price: $19.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316386883, February 2023)
I devoured this gorgeous novel like I was one of the hungry jungle ghosts. I absolutely adore Victoria’s relationship with Mumma River and how nature speaks to her. Every moment they were in the jungle was absolutely magical. With a super unique magic system, high stakes, untrustworthy men, a lush, protective jungle, and a fierce, loyal main character, Blackwood’s Wildblood is not to be missed for YA fantasy lovers!
Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250787132, February 2023)