In this Greek-inspired fantasy, the adult debut of Wilder Girls author Rory Power, families rule with the power of saints or gods, and siblings find themselves on opposing sides of a brewing war. The world building was very unique and interesting to me, and I would recommend for fans of court politics in their fantasy.
In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power, (List Price: $27, Del Rey, 9780593354971, May 2022)
A wonderfully bent fairy tale from T. Kingfisher, the princess is not out to marry the prince, instead she’s out to kill him for his sins.This is a darker-than-usual Kingfisher title–the wit and sharp writing is there, but usual laughs she provides aren’t nor should they be. This is not a story where laughter would be right. It’s a story about endurance and necessity in a situation where there’s precious little to laugh about. Highly recommended dark fantasy for the genre-savvy who want their fairy tale with blood and bite to it.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher, (List Price: $25.99, Tor Books, 9781250244048, April 2022)
“Unlike most of my work, Apples turned up in my head whole one day a few years back. I knew exactly where it was headed, how I’d get there, and how I’d wreck the neighborhood on the way there before I ever touched one letter on my keyboard.”–Cathrynne M. Valente (My Favorite Bit)
The newest book by the prolific and much-beloved Catherynne Valente is described as a thriller, a horror story, and a fairy tale. But more detailed descriptions are delibertately lacking. That was intentional: “It has such a massive twist that we’ve worked so hard not to spoil in the lead-up to its release (and reviewers have kindly helped out!)”
The story centers around Sophia, who is a happy housewife with the perfect husband living in a gated community she loves. Until one day she discovers what looks like the tip of a human finger when she is cleaning her house. Suddenly, Sophia’s perfect life seems not quite so perfect.
The conspiracy of silence around the plot and its twists has not prevented a rising chorus of surprised delight from Valente’s readers. Valente has written across multiple genres and formats, including the recently released speculative climate-change graphic novel The Past is Red, which was a recent Read This Next! selection by Southern booksellers. Her work, as an interviewer for Gridmark Magazine notes, includes stories of myth and superheroes, science fiction and fantasy, comedy and horror, and both middle-grade and adult.
“It’s very important to me to always be trying something new,” says Valente, “pushing the edges of my skill level”
What booksellers are saying about Comfort Me With Apples
As crisp and delicious as its namesake, with an equally rotten core. Catherynne M. Valente continues to be one of the most creative, diabolical, and insightful writers of our time. ― Jenny Luper from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC Buy from Bookmarks
Small and delicious, more thrilling than thriller. Valente’s prose is gorgeous and strange. I caught the mystery halfway through the narrative, which didn’t lessen any of this little novel’s power. For that witch in your life, or for a woman you know that needs to be reminded of her own ancient worth. ― Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC Buy from Main Street Books
What a creepy delight this short book was! Valente’s masterful prose creates a sense of suspense and unease that permeates the whole book– we know something is amiss, however, it isn’t until the very end that we understand who and what the threat really is. Comfort Me With Apples is like if The Yellow Wallpaper and The Bible combined and made one twisted new story. ― Jessica Baker from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC Buy from Bookmarks
Yowza, this book! I don’t really know how to classify it – sort of horror, sort of sci-fi, sort of a class of its own. A retelling of Adam and Eve, but with a cast of Stepford-like characters, this packs a lot of wildness in just over 100 pages. Apples truly is difficult to describe without giving anything away so trust me – just read it. ― Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA Buy from Fountain Bookstore
About Catherynne M. Valente
Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, and Hugo awards, as well as the Prix Imaginales. Valente has also been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.
Hilda: The Wildnerness Stories is a fun journey through a vast world rich with magic and Pearson expertly captures the childlike sense of wonder one might experience within in. Since these stories feature less dark tones than those seen in some other Hilda storylines, they make a great light read which allow you to test the waters before you decide to swim.
Hilda: The Wilderness Stories by Luke Pearson, (List Price: $29.99, Flying Eye Books, 9781838740719, November 2021)
Xu’s beautiful artwork in combination with such strong storytelling makes for an enchanting graphic novel. Sophie’s struggles with her inner thoughts reflect much of my own as a child, making this read all the more special. I can see this story so clearly in my mind’s eye as a Studio Ghibli film – it provides such similar comfort in small things, the beauty of nature, and how two young people can have such a central impact on each other. This graphic novel is certainly a favorite for this year.
Tidesong by Wendy Xu, (List Price: 12.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780062955791, November 2021)
Count on me to fall in love with a quirky fairy tale any day of the week. But I mean, what in the world cannot be achieved by a girl who becomes a log when she’s asleep, her robot brother, a sweet family of beetles, and a clever witch? I adore this graphic novel-style picture book full of sibling love and weird vibes that manages to feel cozy-classic and totally brand new at once.
The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld, (List Price: 18.99, Neal Porter Books, 9780823446988, August 2021)
Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida
Bolu Babalola’s prose had me enraptured from the very first page! The artful way that she rewove and spun myths from around the world was absolutely masterful, and I enjoyed reading fresh takes on stories that I knew, while also having the opportunity to encounter stories that I wasn’t familiar with at all. LOVE IN COLOR is for anyone who is constantly in awe of the power of love, and also for anyone who may need to be reminded of it.
Love in Color by Bolu Babalola (List Price: $25.99, William Morrow, 9780063078499, 4/13/2021)
Popisho is pure magic. While it’s clear that Ross pulls influence from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison among others, the beautifully rendered setting and fully-realized characters (and their magical powers) are unique and wholly refreshing. The musical language makes this novel sing—a song of lost love, fate-determining meals, political intrigue, winged drugs, and lots of sex and strange occurrences. Popisho is sparkling and saucy and sensual, and readers will find themselves hankering for its food, crying at its heartbreaks, and laughing (oh, there will be a lot of laughing) at its sly wit.
Popishoby Leone Ross (List Price: $28, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 9780374602451, 4/20/2021)