cover image Stone and Steel

Stone and Steel

Eboni Dunbar. Neon Hemlock, $12.99 trade paper (92p) ISBN 978-1-952086-05-2

Dunbar, a PW reviewer, debuts with an immersive, fast-paced fantasy novella about a general torn between love and duty. When General Aaliyah returns to Titus after years away at war, she’s shocked to see the dilapidated state of her homeland under the rule of her adopted sister and former lover, Queen Odessa. Aaliyah settles back into her life while trying to understand why Odessa broke every promise of progress she made before Aaliyah left. When Aaliyah revisits friends from her and Odessa’s childhood as orphaned street kids, the reunion opens her eyes to Odessa’s true selfish nature and she’s forced to accept that her sister does not share her same desire to raise the people of Titus out of poverty and hunger. As Odessa is consumed by the desire for power, Aaliyah teams up with her friend-turned-lover, Mercy; her long-lost father, Akil; Omar, the king of nearby Galavera; and her most loyal soldiers to save the kingdom from the queen she once loved. The plot is riveting, and readers will cheer for the cast of well-rounded Black characters, led by underdog Aaliyah, as they fights for her people. This will be an easy pick for anyone looking for queer, Black speculative fiction—and for fantasy fans more broadly. (Sept.)