Our favorite books coming out this week include new titles from Tim Seeley, Aaron Campbell, and Jim Terry, Moses Ose Utomi, and Laura Spence-Ash.

Out Beyond the Dust N’ Dark (West of Sundown # 1)

Tim Seeley, Aaron Campbell, and Jim Terry. Vault, $17.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-63849-155-2
Western gets weird in this gore-strewn, rollicking adventure set in the 1870s but with a wink toward gothic Victorian horror. Forced back to the land of her birth after her coffins of home soil are destroyed in a fire, vampire Constance der Abend and her mortal companion, former confederate soldier Dooley O’Shaughnessy, return to Sangre de Moro, N.Mex. (“If I do not rest in the soil of my rebirth,” she says, “I will have to feed... more often... and with no concern for whose hot blood pours down my throat!”) There, they encounter a cult led by the sinister Reverend Herzog Jung. Seeley (the Hack/Slash series) and Campbell (the Hellblazer series) spin up a high-speed locomotive of a plot, dense with slasher film and literary references and plot turns, where the fantastic seems utterly logical in a land populated by monsters. Is vampire hunter Dirck actually the “Modern Prometheus” of Mary Shelley? He’s full of stitches and limbs that need to be reattached by albino companion Griffin, who just might be H.G. Wells’s Invisible Man. Terry (Come Home, Indio) lays out suitably eerie settings and elevates the sanguinary mood as Constance and her allies close in on Jung’s fiendish plot. It’s a tawdry monster mash that’s bloody entertaining. (Feb.)

The Lies of the Ajungo

Moses Ose Utomi. Tordotcom, $19.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-250-84906-9
Utomi perfectly blends fantasy and fable in his mesmerizing debut novella. In the vast Forever Desert lies the City of Lies, a town with no water. To survive, the city struck a deal with the fierce Ajungo Empire, trading the severed tongues of all citizens aged 13 and older for water. Tutu is days away from his 13th birthday when his mother falls gravely ill from dehydration. Desperate to save her, Tutu asks the city’s leader, Oba Ijefi, permission to go search the desert for water. Along the way, he befriends fellow travelers from other cities where lives have also been destroyed by the Ajungo demanding various body parts. All decide to band together to seek out the Ajungo and put a stop to their endless cycles of greed—a quest that leads them to a deadly secret that will change the lives of Tutu and his people forever. Utomi does a fantastic job pacing Tutu’s coming-of-age as his experiences in the desert challenge his ingrained beliefs. The simple yet effective plot draws readers into a harsh and beautiful world where nothing is as it seems. Fantasy fans will want to keep an eye on this up-and-coming author. (Mar.)

Beyond That, the Sea

Laura Spence-Ash. Celadon, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-85437-7
A young’s woman’s family loyalties are divided as she leaves her London home for Boston during WWII in Spence-Ash’s magnetic debut. In 1940, 11-year-old Bea Thompson’s parents take advantage of a short-lived program to keep British children out of harm’s way during the war, and ship her to America. Bea stays in Boston with the wealthy Gregorys and quickly becomes part of their family, which includes sons 13-year-old William and nine-year-old Gerald. Nancy Gregory treats Bea as the daughter she never had, while her husband, Ethan, sees Bea as a welcome addition to the household, despite his austere manner. Bea learns how to swim at the Gregorys’ island house in Maine, excels academically, and, as a teen, falls for the handsome but mercurial William. At the end of the war, Bea returns to a London transformed by bombings and copes with the absence of her father, who died from a heart attack. Torn by her dedication to the Gregorys, she tries to acclimate to life in London with her mother and new stepfather, and after finishing school and finding work as a teacher, Bea’s surprised by a visit from William. The author’s choice to highlight an obscure corner of history with the overseas program adds a note of poignancy to Bea’s story, as her voyage took place shortly before two other ships were sunk by the Germans. As well, Spence-Ash generates a stronger emotional charge with her contrasting portrayals of the two families, whose cultural and economic differences make it difficult for Bea to find her own way. Readers will be riveted. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agency. (Mar.)

How I’ll Kill You

Ren DeStefano. Berkley, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-43830-5
Three murderers are better than one, especially when they’re psychopathic identical triplets, as shown in this outstanding serial killer thriller from DeStefano (Dreaming Dangerous and other YA titles as Lauren DeStefano). Abandoned in childhood and raised in foster homes, 25-year-old sisters Sissy, Moody, and Iris (not their legal names) have maintained a “clean streak” of messy crimes across several states before settling in Rainwood, Ariz., where “nothing ever happens,” until Sissy tells the story of targeting a grieving, church-going 29-year-old widower, Edison. The only rule the three have always had is that they seduce their marks, “live out every fantasy” they desire, and then finish them off. Garroting, skewering, bludgeoning, and burying their victims is like “assembling a new bookshelf.” The only problem is that this time Sissy’s dispassionate routine turns to passion when she takes a liking to Edison and has to decide where her loyalties or betrayals lie. Several bombshell revelations make that easier than it might seem in this dark scenario. DeStefano does a superior job delving into the disturbed minds of the twisted sisters. This devilishly clever textbook of malicious mayhem is a must for Dexter fans. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (Mar.)

The Hand That Feeds You

Mercedes Rosende, trans. from Spanish by Tim Gutteridge. Bitter Lemon, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-913394-74-5
In this darkly humorous caper, the terrific sequel to 2021’s Crocodile Tears, Uruguayan author Rosende expertly juggles the different points of view of various amoral characters. From a mistaken phone call, poetry translator Ursula López gets caught up in the chaos of an armored truck heist gone wrong in the back streets of Montevideo and escapes with Diego, one of the inept robbers, and a van loaded with the loot. After the two split up, the anxiety-ridden Diego disappears with the cash, terrified he’ll end up back up in prison. Meanwhile, corrupt Inspector Clemen, who planned and mismanaged the robbery, and Antinucci, a shady attorney who helped arrange the inexperienced crew’s release from prison, are frantically seeking the money. They must recover the cash and continue diverting the suspicions of their superiors and the beleaguered Capt. Leonilda Lima, who’s on Ursula’s trail. Infectious characters match the playfully woven narrative. This complex portrait of social and political anxieties within Montevideo is sure to win Rosende new fans. (Mar.)


Esther Yi. Astra House, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-6626-0153-8
In Yi’s stunning debut, a writer becomes obsessed with a K-pop idol. When the unnamed narrator sees a boy band’s performance, she’s struck with an overpowering love for one of the members, Moon. After, her fandom verges on religious devotion, and she does whatever she can to feel close to Moon, even if it means losing her boyfriend or risking her job. She begins writing stories about meeting him, identifying her protagonist as “Y/N” (your name), so that her readers can imagine themselves as Y/N. When Moon announces he’s leaving the group and retreating from the spotlight, the narrator flies to Seoul to find him, where her fervor increases. Yi brings a distinctive voice and lush prose to her depiction of the narrator’s fixation, which culminates in a contest for fans to meet the band and intertwines with the narrator’s Y/N stories: “One evening, Y/N and Moon buy a pair of codfish and let the bodies hiss parallel in the pan until the smell fills their tiny apartment like the spirit of a third person.” The narrator’s feelings for Moon are complex and varied, which makes her quest endlessly intriguing. Strange, haunting, and undeniably beautiful, this shines. Agent: Ian Bonaparte, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Mar.)


Jinwoo Chong. Melville House, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-68589-034-6
Three timelines converge in Chong’s mind-bending debut, a subtle and moving exploration of grief and pop culture. After eight-year-old Bo’s mother dies in a traffic accident, his mind keeps flashing to scenes from his favorite TV show for comfort. Brandon, 28, loses his job, falls down an elevator shaft, and emerges with a mysterious new employment opportunity. And Blue, 48, temporarily recovers the ability to speak after almost two decades of being mute to give a tour of the abandoned corporate building where he blew the whistle on the deaths of three employees. Woven throughout are detailed essays on fictional ’80s show Raider from the analytical but relentlessly forgiving point of view that only a superfan could have. How do these disparate pieces fall into place? Time travel, partly. The author slowly and cleverly illuminates the connections between the show and the characters, highlighting the regret and loss all three have experienced. Chong writes with such subtlety and skill that readers won’t realize the true nature of the speculative mystery at play until they’re already waist-deep in these interlocking narratives. The result is a gorgeous speculative gem for fans of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War. Agent: Danielle Bukowski, Sterling Lord Literistic (Mar.)

The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans

Bill Hammack. Sourcebooks, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-7282-1575-4
Chemical engineer Hammack (Eight Amazing Engineering Stories) makes a fascinating case that engineering isn’t the same as science in this sweeping history. He defines engineering as “solving problems using rules of thumb that cause the best change in a poorly understood situation using available resources,” and suggests that such problem-solving is “the force that has created the human world as we know it.” He begins with medieval cathedrals—immense, beautiful, and durable structures built by masons using “experience-derived, provisional guidelines, none of which guarantee a correct answer, yet when woven together create works of stunning utility, reliability, and beauty”—and hopscotches forward through breakthroughs in, for instance, ceramics that were made thanks to “key strategies of the engineering method” (including “building on past knowledge” and “accepting trade-offs”), and the advent of the microwave oven, which became ubiquitous despite being “a failed version of what the Raytheon engineers were trying to build.” Hammack brilliantly delineates the role of trial and error in human progress, and presents a knockout argument that a perfect understanding of the world is not a prerequisite to innovation. This clever and curious account delivers. (Mar.)