cover image Projections


S.E. Porter. Tor, $29.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9677-8

Porter puts a unique spin on the vengeful ghost trope in her ambitious adult fantasy debut (after the YA novel Vassa in the Night). In 1850s New York City, 19-year-old Catherine Bildstein is murdered by her childhood friend-turned-sorcerer Angus “Gus” Farrow after she rejects his romantic advances. Rather than crossing over, Catherine’s shrieking ghost (her voice is caught in the scream of the moment before her death) attaches itself to Gus, who takes her to the supernatural world of Nautilus and uses her to fuel his power. As twisted revenge for his unrequited love, Gus utilizes his otherworldly magic to create projections of himself, which are sent to the human world to seduce young women who remind him of Catherine. Those who do not reciprocate his love are murdered. Meanwhile, Catherine learns to control her new ghostly abilities and, with the help of allies she makes in Nautilus, devises a plan to destroy Gus and his projections once and for all. The plot is fascinating and Porter’s exploration of Gus’s misogyny is incisive, but the story, which takes place over the course of a century, is occasionally bogged down by dense prose and confounding time jumps. Still, readers will cheer for Catherine to exact her revenge and reclaim her agency in the afterlife. This darkly magical historical should win Porter some new fans. (Feb.)