In these comforting stories, relationship building is as important as worldbuilding.

Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea

Rebecca Thorne. Bramble, May

In BookTok favorite Rebecca Thorne’s lighthearted queer romantasy, Reyna, one of the Queen’s private guards, and Kianthe, a gifted mage, flee their stressful professional lives and open a homey bookshop in the remote town of Tawney. Their refuge is threatened by Reyna’s erstwhile royal employer, but the camaraderie they’ve found among new friends in their adopted home helps save the day.

Cascade Failure

L.M. Sagas. Tor, Mar.

Debut author Sagas launches her Ambit’s Run trilogy with the story of a misfit spaceship crew out to stop a world-destroying corporate behemoth. “Rapid-fire adventures spiked with army jargon and balanced with touching resolutions of personal conflicts keep the pages turning,” per PW’s review. “Add in a charming found family—and even a space-faring cat—and this spirited space opera is a resounding success.”


The Dallergut Dream Department Store

Miye Lee, trans. from the Korean by Sandy Joosun Lee. Hanover Square, July

Credited with kicking off a “healing fiction” trend in the author’s native South Korea, this novel is set in the realm of the subconscious. As Penny, a new employee at a department store whose stock in trade is dreams, learns her way around its specialized floors, she gets to know colleagues including a dream designer, a nightmare creator, and a maker of mysteries, as well as the many customers who rely on the store’s offerings to inspire them in the waking world.

Floating Hotel

Grace Curtis. DAW, Mar.

“Curtis spins a cozy and compulsively readable sci-fi adventure set aboard the Grand Abeona Hotel, a luxurious resort starship on a perpetual tour of the galaxy,” according to PW’s starred review. “The subtle plot chronicles the experiences of the hotel’s staff and guests as they delve into the Grand Abeona’s many mysteries” while “keeping things intimate and understated.”

The Full Moon Coffee Shop

Mai Mochizuki, trans. from the Japanese by Jesse Kirkwood. Ballantine, Aug.

This translation of a Japanese bestseller centers on a magical Kyoto café staffed by talking cats, drawing on a folk belief that when a cat is shown kindness, it will one day return that kindness. The shop has no set location and instead manifests where it’s most needed so that its feline proprietors can offer astrology consultations and other guidance as well as sweet treats.

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles

Malka Older. Tordotcom, Feb.

The sequel to The Mimicking of Known Successes, a gaslamp mystery set on the rings surrounding Jupiter, finds now-reconciled ex-girlfriends Mossa and Pleiti investigating disappearances from the university where Pleiti works. The search for answers “sends the duo from the halls of the university to night clubs and one of Jupiter’s moons, chasing a conspiracy,” per PW’s review. “Readers looking for a quick, comforting mystery will enjoy curling up with this.”


Key Lime Sky

Al Hess. Angry Robot, Aug.

On a drive across Wyoming, neurodivergent and nonbinary pie aficionado Denver Bryant witnesses a UFO and documents the odd events that follow on his blog. Soon after, fellow residents of Muddy Gap disappear, and Denver, along with handsome bartender Ezra, embarks on a world-saving mission. PW called Hess’s previous novel, World Running Down, a “playful and lovingly crafted romp” in a starred review.

A Letter to the Luminous Deep

Sylvie Cathrall. Orbit, Apr.

Debut author Cathrall, who married her former pen pal, composes an underwater epistolary romantasy through letters between scholar Henerey Clel and E., who fall in love on paper then vanish when a seaquake destroys E.’s home. Amid what PW’s starred review called the story’s “luscious worldbuilding and slow-burning plot,” E.’s sister and Henerey’s brother piece together the mystery of their siblings’ disappearance and what it may mean for their aquatic world.


Return to the main feature.