The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Fantasy

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles (Manga): Volume 1 by Shibamura Yuri

Rio is a young orphan living in the slums of the kingdom of Beltrum. When he is stricken with a high fever, he dreams of a different world where he is called Haruto. When Rio wakes up from his fever, he realizes he is two people in one, both Rio of the slums and Haruto, from the other world. When Rio is forced to rescue a kidnapped princess, his troubles get even worst. When the nobles find the young princess with Rio, they accuse him of kidnapping, but after the princess awakens, she tells of how Rio saved her. As a reward, he is granted acceptance into the Royal Academy of Beltrum. An act that upsets the kingdoms noble people, who feel he does not deserve this prestigious reward. Whether he succeeds or not, is all up to him and his new professor, Celia. Perfect manga for fans of The Irregular at Magic High School, Magic Knight Rayearth, or Snow White with Red Hair.

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles (Manga): Volume 1 by Shibamura Yuri, (List Price: $15.99, J-Novel Club, 9781718353442, February 2023)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Spotlight on: Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

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Leigh Bardugo, photo credit Christina Guerra

I have never met someone who reads only from one shelf. I don’t think young people read that way and I am always wary of what people may deem “too much” for younger readers because I think they actually have a pretty good barometer of what they can handle and will happily set a book aside when it starts to go places they don’t want to go…I suppose when I’m writing adult, I feel a little freer to take my time with the world and the lore, and to dig more deeply into the grotesque. I also swear more.” ―Leigh Bardugo, Interview, The New York Times

 

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

What booksellers are saying about Hell Bent

  • Welcome back to the hidden darkness of Yale’s campus, and the magic that soaks its architecture and history. Though society leaders have declared Darlington dead and gone, Alex and Dawes know better – and they will go to any end to save him. Hell Bent is magical, resplendent with fierce characters, a devious and twisting plot, and at its core a deep interrogation of the cost of power and the lengths at which the privileged will go to maintain it.
      ―Jordan April from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books

  • I don’t think I’ve eagerly anticipated a book as much as I have Hell Bent, and let me just say that the wait was worth every. Damn. Minute. Diving back into the world of Galaxy Stern and Lethe felt like being wrapped up in my favorite childhood blanket while also sitting just a bit too close to the fire. Leigh Bardugo somehow managed to create a story that is both intensely dark and strangely comforting and I look forward to devouring every last book in this series.
      ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Imagine if you will, me opening a window and screaming “DARLINGTON” at the top of my lungs. No that’s not my review, I just needed to make my feelings known. Hell Bent is a bloody, brilliant continuation that forces found family on the most ill fitting of individuals that somehow just work. It’s an exploration of grief, growth, and is somehow sexy despite it all. Rife with tension and lore desperate to be discovered, I can’t help but hope that book three won’t be the end. Now, if you don’t mind, I must get back to screaming out of my window about Darlington.
      ―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the Grishaverse (now a Netflix original series) which spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, The Language of Thorns, and King of Scars—with more to come. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Ninth House (Goodreads Choice Winner for Best Fantasy 2019), which is being developed for television by Amazon Studios. She lives in Los Angeles and is an Associate Fellow of Pauli Murray College at Yale University.

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A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith

A Ruinous Fate is an explosion of a beginning of what is sure to be an amazing fantasy series. Calla, cursed with magic she’s terrified of, is now forced to take her friends with her as they try to undo her fate. This has everything a fantasy reader could ever want, authentic-feeling queer characters, found family, love triangles gone awry, charming jerks, and of course, forced proximity abounds! What else could someone need? If you love a good found family story with your fantasy, this is one you won’t want to miss!

A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith, (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781368081597, January 2023)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Witcher: Ronin (Manga) by Rafal Jaki

I had been anticipating The Witcher Ronin for months and pre-ordered it. I was super excited to see Geralt as a ronin and the book didn’t disappoint in that regard. I loved the new Japanese yokai we got to explore in this Manga but with the familiar storyline we all know and love. I was expecting a little more for the book, so that made me a bit sad, but I overall enjoyed what we did get to see in this first installment.

The Witcher: Ronin (Manga) by Rafal Jaki, (List Price: $19.99, Dark Horse Manga, 9781506733500, December 2022)

Reviewed by Cass W, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

The powerful combination of otherworldly magic with this world’s grit gets me every time, in every Wayward Children novella. This one’s for anyone who’s ever experienced loss as a kid, been a lost kid, or lost their innocence—for all of us in one way or another. For Antsy, it’s the loss of her father and all the loss that occurs in its wake, and then Antsy finds the Shop Where the Lost Things Go and a vast series of doors to incredible and unusual places—but it’s easy to lose track of yourself when you’re busy finding new things, new people, and new worlds…

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire, (List Price: $21.99, Tordotcom, 9781250213631, January 2023)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

This is an absolute gem of a book! Part science-fiction, part romance, Shea Ernshaw delivers another YA novel that is a delight to read. For lovers of stars and post apocalyptic literature!

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw (List Price: $19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781665900249, December 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

I will automatically consume anything Laura Weymouth writes after this book, because WOW. Romance, adventure, intrigue, suspense, and a very cute dog: all that and more are found in A Consuming Fire, which showcases Weymouth’s ability to leave you hanging on the edge of your seat for 400 pages.

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth (List Price: $19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665902700, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Hooky Volume 2 by Míriam Bonastre Tur

Love love love this series! I still can’t wait to own all the volumes for my collection. Volume two expands the world even further and keeps up with its solid character development in such an engaging way!

Hooky Volume 2 by Míriam Bonastre Tur (List Price: $14.99, Clarion Books, 9780358693093, September 2022)

Reviewed by Lana Repic, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Spotlight on: Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

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Legendborn digs into what it means to be the only in a room. In the United States, we’re still in situations where Black students find themselves in a room and being the only Black person. The book that I wrote is about engaging with, deeply understanding, analyzing, holding on to, [and] reshaping your own Blackness in spaces where it’s being challenged or dismissed by other people.

The other theme that I wanted to really engage with is like the types of stories and the type of people that become legendary. Growing up in North Carolina [and] going to [the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill], [the Confederate monument] Silent Sam was up the entire time I was a student there and was the specter of a certain type of racism. How do these things become memorialized and legendary, and Black American people, whose ancestors were enslaved, get put in a position of absence of knowledge?
” ―Tracy Deonn, Interview, Shondaland

 

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

What booksellers are saying about Bloodmarked

  • I’ve thought for days about the review I would give this stunning sequel, but accurate words do not come to mind. I was blown away by the rawness and realness of Bloodmarked. Indeed, Tracy Deonn did not shy away from the rampant institutionalized racism built into the foundation of many influential organizations, like the Legendborn Order. Not to mention the Legendborn’s reaction to the revelation of Bree’s true lineage. Their approach to dealing with the ugly truth? Deny, deny, deny. It’s shameful and disgusting and Bree has to shoulder it along with the rising war between her world and the demons set to destroy it. Bree’s growth as a root user, ether user, and as King is stunning to witness. I truly believe this series should be required reading for young readers, not just because of the extraordinary Arthurian fantasy retelling, but because of the way the characters confront their trauma. It’s amazing, everyone needs to get a copy. I cannot stress this enough- READ THIS BOOK!
      ―Laney Sheehan from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • Can my review just be me… screaming incoherently? No? Well. Bloodmarked broke me into a million little pieces and left me a changed person in the end who wanted to chunk my arc at the wall but as I also loved it too much to hurt it, I did not do that. I merely shook it very violently and shrieked. Bree and the crew returned for an even more dangerous, action packed adventure with the truth unraveling around them faster than they can even keep up. I’m obsessed with this story, with the characters, and if I could live in it… I would not because I would not survive. Tracy Deonn has crafted an absolutely perfect story and has left me weeping on the floor, waiting for the next installment
      ―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • This book absolutely blew me away. Simultaneously a fast-paced fantasy novel and an expertly crafted meditation on Blackness, Bloodmarked had me hooked from page one. I loved the world building outside of UNC, and I cannot wait for the next book- I hope this series goes on forever!
      ―Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Tracy Deonn

Tracy Deonn is the New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award–winning author of Legendborn, and a second-generation fangirl. She grew up in central North Carolina, where she devoured fantasy books and Southern food in equal measure. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication and performance studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tracy worked in live theater, video game production, and K–12 education. When she’s not writing, Tracy speaks on panels at science fiction and fantasy conventions, reads fanfic, arranges puppy playdates, and keeps an eye out for ginger-flavored everything. She can be found on Twitter at @TracyDeonn and at TracyDeonn.com.

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This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede

I thoroughly enjoyed how Alessa came into her own as a Finestra too powerful for a single Fonte. The question posed in the book and in this [and our] society: what it means to be selfish and selfless. Is a hero the selfish Ghiotte, or the selfless Finestra, and is the balance necessary to be able to give your best? Can’t wait to see how the next book addresses this! Dante (and Alessa & his banter!) is just the best and I’m anxious to see what happens to him in #2

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250794055, June 2022)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse is a fantastic world-builder and her skills are razor-sharp in her newest fantasy set in an Old West mining town where angels had battled demons in an ancient war. Main character Celeste attempts to clear her sister from a murder charge but is impeded and manipulated by the Divines — the ruling class who are descendants of angels and dispense justice while wearing white robes and masks. As she searches for clues to free her sister, she stumbles into a bigger mystery that threatens her life and the future of the Fallen, who are the descendants of the demons and are the laborers and miners in the town. A gritty but good read!

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse, (List Price: $22.99, Saga Press, 9781982166182, November 2022)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

Spotlight on: Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo

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If the Singing Hills stories have a theme, it’s that they’re stories about stories: how we tell stories and why we tell stories, and where we get it wrong and where we get it right, even when the stories aren’t real or true. When the third volume comes out, I think it will help people see the whole scope of the series, because we’re going back and forth in Chih’s timeline, so back and forth in history. I’m asking people to sit with me for about 100 pages, and just trust me that, whatever I’m telling them, they’re going to have a good time. That’s my hope. ” ―Nghi Vo, Interview, Locus Magazine

 

Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo

What booksellers are saying about Into the Riverlands

  • I love The Singing Hills cycle by Nghi Vo. Each novella is so short and yet so mythic, intricate, and immersive. In this third in the series, which can be read in any order, the wandering cleric Chih enters the Riverlands, a place haunted by legendary martial artists. I enjoyed the journey and Chih’s new companions—but I did end the book a little unclear about something! I had a little trouble concentrating this time so might just be me!
      ―Megan Bell from Underground Books in Carrollton, GA | Buy from Underground Books

  • Somehow the Singing Hills Cycle just gets better and better, and Empress set the bar high.  ―Rosie Dauval from One More Page Books in Arlington, VA | Buy from One More Page Books

  • This absolutely delightful novella is the third in Vo’s Singing Hills cycle, though the books read very easily as stand-alones. In a high fantasy setting inspired by imperial China, a cleric roams the world looking for stories to write down. This series reads like its own mythology, full of stories-within-stories that help build a rich and multipartite world, and it brings me immediately back to my childhood love of Greek, Hindu, and Norse myths. The stories are imaginative, and the characters’ reflections on them are thoughtful and striking – this book has an impact well beyond its ~110 pages.  ―Akil Guruparan from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Nghi Vo

Nghi Vo is the author of the novels Siren Queen and The Chosen and the Beautiful, as well as the acclaimed novellas When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, a Locus and Ignyte Award finalist and the winner of the Crawford Award and the Hugo Award. Born in Illinois, she now lives on the shores of Lake Michigan. She believes in the ritual of lipstick, the power of stories, and the right to change your mind.

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The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

This dark, twisty fantasy makes the monsters that roam the forest seem to jump straight off the page! I loved the journeys the characters took and this should immediately be given to anyone looking for a fantasy that is filled with tension, intrigue, a little romance, and just overall creepiness. I will be waiting on the edge of my seat for the second book!

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard, (List Price: $18.99, Tor Teen, 9781250194046, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Lucky Girl by M. Rickert

Rickert packs a lot of horror in just over 100 pages! Four friends meet up in a diner on Thanksgiving and start a tradition of getting together for Christmas dinner and telling scary stories. Ro, an aspiring writer, learns that sometimes the scariest stories are so terrifying because they stem from fact – and no one is safe!

Lucky Girl by M. Rickert, (List Price: $15.99, Tordotcom, 9781250817334, September 2022)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is absolutely breathtaking! I had just been complaining to a colleague that I feel like too many books these days have lost a sense of lightness and whimsy in the canon. While this novel would be far from whimsical, there’s a lovely balance of humor and sweetness to the characters that balance out the darkness within the world and the story. Ultimately a story of deciding one’s birth isn’t what’s important, but what you choose to do, I fell in love with all the characters and had to immediately contact everyone I knew as soon as I finished to tell them to put this on their TBR. Katyani is relatable, talented, and has a sense of humor that had me smirking and laughing to myself without even realizing. Don’t miss out on this wonderful Indian inspired fantasy!

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250823687, October 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

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