cover image Foul Days

Foul Days

Genoveva Dimova. Tordotcom, $17.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-87731-4

Dimova dazzles in her immersive fantasy debut. Kosara is a fire witch living in the walled city of Chernograd. Each year during the Foul Days, the 12 days after New Year’s Day, the city is plagued by attacks from terrifying folkloric monsters, among them Kosara’s ex, the Zmey, the “Tsar of Monsters,” who has hunted her since she left him seven years ago. Kosara loses her magical powers when she trades her shadow to a mysterious stranger in exchange for help crossing Chernograd’s Wall into the safety and opulence of Belograd. But witches who have lost their shadows eventually fade away until they are mere shadows themselves, and as Kosara begins ailing, she wonders if the trade was worth it. To retrieve her shadow and reclaim her magic, she reluctantly teams up with Asen, a by the book Belogradean cop, who’s investigating the murder of the man who smuggled Kosara into the city. It soon becomes clear that the Zmey has gotten his hands on Kosara’s shadow. As Kosara’s time winds down, she’ll have to face the literal and metaphorical demons of her past. Dimova’s atmospheric worldbuilding and well-shaded cast make it easy to sink into this fantasy adventure. Kosara is especially vividly rendered and her witty narrative voice is sure to get readers on her side. This is a standout. (June)