New Books, 21 May 2024 – Locus Online


Bell, Crystal J.: The Lamplighter
(North Star Editions/Flux 9781635830989, $14.99, 304pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 05/21/2024)

Young-adult historical horror novel. Temperance takes over as lamplighter in the 19th-century whaling village of Warbler after her father’s death, and has to prove she can do the job after a girl disappears and her investigation shows there may be a monster at large. A first novel.


Boldizar, Alexander: The Man Who Saw Seconds
(Clash Books 9781960988072, $19.95, 325pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

SF thriller novel about a man who can see five seconds into the future. After he dodges a bullet which hits someone else, government agencies become aware of his gift, and he ends up pursued by various agents, with the fate of the world at stake.

Boldizar accomplishes an enormous amount in this novel. The ethics questions are there: What do you do with the abilities you have? To what extent do you owe your family, or your society, the use of those abilities, and what does society owe you?

Alexandra Pierce, Locus, May 2024


Burges, Audrey: A House Like an Accordion
(Ace 9780593546499, $18, 368pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Fantasy novel. Keryth wakes up one morning with her hand completely gone, and quickly realizes two things: If she is disappearing, it’s because her father, an artist with the otherworldly ability to literally capture life in his art, is drawing her. And if he’s drawing her, that means he’s still alive.


Campbell, Jack: In Our Stars
(Ace 9780593640630, $29, 400pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Military SF novel, the first in the Doomed Earth series. Genetically engineered with partly-alien DNA, Lieutenant Selene Genji witnesses the utter annihilation of Earth and is hurled forty years into the past, where she has a chance to try to change the future and save Earth—starting with the alien first contact that she knows will soon occur.


Chambers, James: Hidden Fury
(eSpec/NeoParadoxa 9781956463538, $13.95, 108pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 05/21/2024)

Historical fantasy novella, the 21st in eSpec’s Systema Paradoxa series of novellas about cryptids, this time involving the Maryland version of Goatman. Illustrated by Jason Whitley.


Chang, K-Ming: Cecilia
(Coffee House Press 9781566897075, $14.95, 144pp, formats: trade paperback, 05/21/2024)

Fantasy novella, an erotic and surreal tale about two women who meet, one who has been obsessed with the other since their school days, and past and present begin to bleed together.


Costello, Rob, ed.: We Mostly Come Out at Night
(Running Press Teens 9780762483198, $18.99, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, 05/21/2024)

Young-adult anthology of 15 tales of monsters, angels, and other creatures, using “monster” as a metaphor for the otherness of being queer. Authors include Kalynn Bayron, H.E. Edgmon, Sam J. Miller, and Alexandra Villasante.


Kann, Claire: Looking for Love in All the Haunted Places
(Penguin Random House/Berkley 9780593336656, $18, 416pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 05/21/2024)

Paranormal romance novel. Lucky Hart has an affinity for the supernatural but no one takes her seriously, so she joins a TV show about a reputedly haunted house — but the house is indeed haunted, and it decides it wants all of Lucky’s attention when she starts getting involved with a cast member.


Kendig, Ronie: Lady of Basilikas
(Enclave 9798886051148, $26.99, 288pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, 05/21/2024)

Christian SF space opera, a short novel in The Droseran Saga series. Lady Valiriana sets out to prove the new Jherakan king is unworthy of a marriage alliance, but when she delves into the depths of the king’s character, what she finds turns her mission on its head.


King, Stephen: You Like It Darker
(Simon & Schuster/Scribner 9781668037713, $30, 512pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Collection of 12 short horror stories, many never-before-published.


Kwaymullina, Ambelina: Liar’s Test
(Penguin Random House/Knopf 9780593571781, $19.99, 272pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Young-adult fantasy novel. Bell Silverleaf, a Treesinger, is one of seven girls competing in deadly challenges to determine who will rule for the next twenty-five years, unaware that she’s part of a conspiracy stretching back generations, and up against the gods themselves.


Manibo, Victor: Escape Velocity
(Kensington/Erewhon 9781645660842, $28, 368pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Near-future SF mystery novel set on the Space Habitat Altaire in 2089, a luxury orbital resort for the elite, following a member on the resort for a 25th high school reunion, and working to advance their applications to live on Mars, away from dying Earth — but the entitled are overlooking and underestimating the people they plan to leave behind.


Oates, Joyce Carol: Butcher
(Penguin Random House/Knopf 9780593537770, $30, 352pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Horror novel in the form of a fictional biography written by the son of a 19th-century doctor who did gruesome experiments on women in an asylum.


Okungbowa, Suyi Davies: Lost Ark Dreaming
(Tordotcom 9781250890757, $19.99, 192pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, 05/21/2024)

SF novella. Survivors of the Second Deluge that destroyed the city-nation of Lagos take refuge in the Pinnacle, a self-sustainable high-rise surrounded by ocean, but the near-totalitarian order is challenged when a sea monster breaks into the building.

A striking feature of Lost Ark Dreaming is how those interchapters map directly on to the central narrative, showing how a combination of inevitable climate disaster, predatory capitalism, and chronic inequality can lead credibly from our own present to a society like that of the Pinnacle.

Gary Wolfe, Locus, April 2024


Patel, Vaishnavi: Goddess of the River
(Orbit US/Redhook 9780759557345, $32, 416pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Historical/mythic fantasy novel retelling the story of Ganga, goddess of the river. Ganga is cursed to become mortal, and weds a king, but just as she escapes the curse, she is forced to leave her infant son behind.


Pearson, Leanbh, ed.: Cursed Shards
(IFWG Publishing International 9781922856487, $16.99, 236pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 05/27/2024)

Original anthology of ten dark fantasy stories inspired by folklore, fairy tales, and mythology set in a world where the shards of a cursed mirror trigger trouble whenever they reappear. Foreword by Kirstyn McDermott. Authors include Stephen Herczeg, Clare Rhoden, and Leife Shallcross.


Popp, Misha: The Last to Pie
(The Quick Brown Fox/Crooked Lane 9781639106455, $29.99, 330pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Fantasy mystery novel, the second in the Pies Before Guys series about baker Daisy Ellery, whose magic pies can avenge women done wrong by men. A job arrives in Daisy’s inbox without a referral, and she hesitates to accept it, until the woman who sent the request disappears. Includes three recipes.


Turton, Stuart: The Last Murder at the End of the World
(Sourcebooks Landmark 9781728254654, $27.99, 368pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Post-apocalyptic thriller/mystery novel with dark fantasy elements set on an island with 122 inhabitants, the last refuge from a deadly insect-filled fog that arrived 90 years before. A murder threatens the islanders’ survival, and when one woman investigates she uncovers disturbing secrets about her idyllic home.


Wexler, Django: How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying
(Orbit US 9780316392204, $19.99, 432pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

Humorous fantasy novel. Davi’s tired of being a hero, stuck in a time loop where she can never beat the Dark Lord, and decides if she can’t beat him, she’ll become him.


Whates, Ian, ed.: To the Stars and Back: Stories in Honour of Eric Brown
(NewCon Press UK 9781914953804, $17.49, 292pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, 05/24/2024)

Original anthology of 15 stories. Authors include Keith Brooke, Una McCormack, Alastair Reynolds, Justina Robson, and Ian Watson.


Wheeler, Jeff: Final Strike
(Amazon/47North 9781662505591, $16.99, 349pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

SF thriller, third in the Dresden Codex series. A depraved mastermind bent on bringing about Armageddon has kidnapped Jonathon Roth’s wife, while a plague rooted in ancient mythology begins to spread across the world.


Wolf, Sara: Heavenbreaker
(Entangled/Red Tower 9781649375704, $29.99, 494pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/21/2024)

SF novel. Synali seeks revenge by riding the enormous machine Heavenbreaker to joust against enemy nobles in space.


Wurts, Janny: Song of the Mysteries
(Harper Voyager 9780008653903, $32, 864pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, 05/23/2024)

Fantasy novel, 11th and final in the Wars of Light and Shadows series. In the final battle of Light against Shadow, warring factions prepare to meet the bare fist of Arithon’s fury, sparked by the execution of the innocents who have been murdered by divine decree.

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