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)
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)
“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
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
“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
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.