Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Strange Flight

Edited by Leonie Sky. Elm, $14.95 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-1-941614-30-3

This well-intentioned but wildly uneven anthology features six stories of characters with disabilities navigating science fiction worlds, from both #OwnVoices authors and allies. Yvette Franklin’s “The Darkness of Goo” is the strongest offering, about a crew finding alternative means of communication while navigating through a strange, viscous substance that prevents them from using American Sign Language. Unfortunately, the authenticity and empathy of Franklin’s tale does not pervade the other pieces in the anthology. Though “Music of the Spheres” by Victoria Feistner, about a space-faring woman discovering a pulsar with musical emissions, gets off to a promising, even poetic start, the tale disappoints by ending in a melodramatic suicide. David Preyde’s “Twentieth Century, Go to Sleep” is the most confusing of the bunch, with several historic assassins making appearances in the modern world. Preyde offers moments of loveliness and insight (“That’s the special gift of trauma, it turns you into a time traveler”), but on the whole readers will be lost. The often muddled narratives and inconsistent quality rob the anthology of its potential. Readers will be disappointed. (July)

Reviewed on 04/10/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Metapheromenoi

Brendan Connell. Snuggly, $17.95 trade paper (308p) ISBN 978-1-64-525025-8

Connell’s poetic, post-structuralist dark fantasy offers a phantasmagoric account of intertwining lives as bizarre and fascinating as it is perplexing. A nameless man visits a dentist’s office where Leaena, the woman he is enamored with, works. She is nowhere to be found, and the dentist informs the man that he’ll need a root canal. After a heavy dose of anesthetic, the dentist begins violently removing the man’s teeth. From there, the story fractures. Connell (Metrophilas) takes the reader through a menagerie of increasingly lurid incidents in the lives of Leaena, whose dedication to her son creates a rift in her marriage; Yves Hermite, who writes lecherous short stories; Jae-Yong, who questions whether cannibalism can cure his ennui; and Mrs. Cheng, whose dark secret is as bloody as it is unexpected. Though the voice is lyrical and the vibrant descriptions will grab readers’ attention, the jumbled perspective proves tricky to follow as the form switches between prose, poetry, and screenplay. Some readers of experimental fiction will delight in this complex, disorienting work, but most will be met only with confusion. (May)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Hawkesmoor

Anne Merino. Rivercliff, $18.95 trade paper (486p) ISBN 978-0-99714-168-9

A vampire finds an unexpected happy ending in Merino’s suspenseful but uneven debut romantic fantasy, the first in a trilogy. Vampire Robin Dashwood, the former Earl of Hawkesmoor, has lived quietly in New York City for the past 300 years, ever since his transformation into a supernatural creature on the eve of his betrothal ball in Yorkshire, England, forced him to flee his ancestral estate. Then a chance encounter with Lady Caroline DeBarry offers him a new lease on life and a second chance at love. The DeBarry family took over the Hawkesmoor estate after Robin quit it, and, through Caroline, Robin learns that his beloved home is in dire straits. He returns to England to repair the house and atone for his past. In the process he uncovers a long-forgotten murder and the secrets of his own lineage while learning to embrace his supernatural powers. Multiple shifts in timeline and point of view create confusion on the way to a too-tidy ending and the love-at-first-sight between Caroline and Robin may disappoint readers hoping for a more realistic romantic progression, but the paranormal features are refreshingly unconventional and well handled. Despite the few rough patches, fans of romantic fantasy will be interested to see where the series goes. (May)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Quantum Shadows

L.E. Modesitt Jr. Tor, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-22920-5

Modesitt (the Saga of Recluce series) explores the nature of belief with this dense, thoughtful work. Corvyn is an immensely powerful air spirit: sometimes man, sometimes raven, always wry. In the millennia since the Third Fall of humankind destroyed the Earth, Corvyn has tried and failed to stop multiple subsequent Falls from Grace on the planet called Heaven, which is home to the gods and personified philosophies of every human religion. When a mysterious power etches the image of a trident into the sanctums of numerous holy sites on Heaven, as well as into the wall of Corvyn’s own study, he sets out on an enthralling expedition to discover who’s responsible, and how—or if—he can stop them from triggering yet another Fall. Through Corvyn’s investigation, Modesitt displays his formidable talent for worldbuilding, incorporating a multitude of belief systems into the fabric of Heaven’s society. The heavy doses of philosophy make this cross-genre novel a slow but enriching reading experience; fans of thought-provoking speculative fiction will be hooked. (July)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Vanished Queen

Lisbeth Campbell. Saga, $27.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-982141-29-5

Campbell skillfully balances action and introspection as rebellion rises against an oppressive regime in this promising epic fantasy debut. The city of Karegg is under the control of the brutal King Karolje. When college student Anza breaks into one of the libraries that Karolje has ordered closed, she discovers the journal of Mirantha, the former queen who Karolje had disappeared. After Anza’s father is executed for unknown reasons, Anza joins the resistance movement against Karolje, inspired, in part, by reading Mirantha’s tale. Anza is arrested for her involvement with the movement and interrogated by Esvar, one of Karolje’s sons, who, along with his brother, Tevin, plots to overthrow his father, but fears a lack of support among the nobility. Anza is released, and she, Esvar, and Sparrow, the mysterious leader of the resistance, come together to put an end to Karolje’s tyranny. By situating Anza within a larger resistance movement, Campbell steers refreshingly clear of typical “chosen one” tropes, instead illuminating the collective effort required for revolution while drawing pointed parallels to the current U.S. political climate. This competent, character-driven debut may not be splashy, but it is solid. Agent: Bridget Smith, Dunham Literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Oppenheimer Alternative

Robert J. Sawyer. CAEZIK, $16.99 trade paper (374p) ISBN 978-1-64710-013-1

This dense alternate history from Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Sawyer (Quantum Night) probes into the ambitions and shortcomings of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. As the reluctant director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, N.Mex., Oppenheimer believes he has “sold his soul to the atom bomb” and laments the mass killings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Meanwhile, Hungarian physicist Edward Teller’s work on a nuclear fusion bomb leads him to discover that the sun has an unstable core and will extinguish all life on Earth by 2028. Now Oppenheimer has the chance to turn his genius to good, gathering a team of the greatest scientists in the world to figure out how to shield Earth and whether humanity can flee to Mars. Sawyer’s impressive use of scientific and historical detail makes the drastic solution they land on believable, but threatening to derail their progress is communist paranoia and Oppenheimer’s loveless marriage. Though the subplots about Oppenheimer’s romances are poorly handled, Sawyer’s characterization of the man himself are well done and pull back the layers of Oppenheimer’s morals, genius, and grief. Science fiction fans will devour this smart speculative tale. Agent: Chris Lotts, The Lotts Agency. (June)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Best of Jules de Grandin

Seabury Quinn. Night Shade, $24.99 (560p) ISBN 978-1-949102-26-0

This pulpy collection comprises 20 short supernatural detective tales from the prolific Quinn (1889–1969), all originally published in Weird Tales magazine between 1926 and 1945 and featuring Jules de Grandin, a French “occult detective” who resembles both Holmes and Poirot. Throughout these action-packed but dated adventures, De Grandin and his Watsonian sidekick, Dr. Samuel Trowbridge of Harrisonville, N.J., confront a wide range of monstrous creatures, ancient superstitions, and then little-understood science. “Restless Souls” pits them against vampires, “The Jest of Warburg Tantavel” features visitations from the dead, and “Isle of Missing Ships” sees the pair contend with cannibals, while “The Devil’s Rosary” hinges on atomic theory. With unquestioning support from Trowbridge, de Grandin invariably defeats evil monsters and rescues scantily clad beauties, presaging the paranormal romance novels and supernatural soap operas of today. Pulp devotees will take a historical interest in this collection, but formulaic plots and abundant clichés will make it an easy pass for most readers. (June)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Drowned Country

Emily Tesh. Tor.com, $14.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-250-75660-2

Tesh returns to the Victorian-inspired world of Silver in the Woods with this gorgeous, finespun fantasy. Henry Silver, lord of Greenhollow Hall, neglects the magical Hallow Wood he oversees, allowing the trees to consume his home while he pines for Tobias Finch, the former steward of the woods. Tobias left Henry two years before to join Henry’s mother, Adela, a “practical folklorist” (monster hunter), on her travels. Adela’s arrival at Greenhollow puts an end to Henry’s wallowing as she recruits him to help her and Tobias rescue Maud Lindhurst from a vampire. As it happens, spunky Maud has already handily dispatched the vampire herself and plans to use his supernatural lair to travel to Fairyland. When Henry and Tobias attempt to stop her, all three topple into an eerie underwater portion of the Hallow Wood. Tesh intersperses their search for an exit with emotional flashbacks to the dissolution of Tobias and Henry’s relationship. As the trio explores the “half-forgiving land in a dim and wild wood” and stumble on Fairyland, the tale swerves into taut horror. The creepy supernatural elements are pitch perfect, and the tender, frustrated romance between the dramatic Henry and taciturn Tobias shines. Tesh’s second outing is elegant, evocative, and irresistible. Agent: Kurestin Armada, Root Literary. (June)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Devil’s Ways

Edited by Anna Kashina and J. M. Sidorova. Dragonwell, $16.95 trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-1-940076-49-2

The Devil goes globe-trotting in this eclectic anthology that explores the many guises of the Dark Lord across cultures and ages. Persephone D’Shaun’s shocking “Nzembe” is a twisted tale of zombie-like creatures set in the plains of Africa with an ending some readers will find hard to stomach. An unnamed girl tries to steal back her heart from her winged lover in R.S.A. Garcia’s lyrical “Fire in His Eyes, Blood on His Teeth,” which draws from Caribbean folklore and the legend of Nanny of the Maroons. Feminist themes carry through many of the tales. Imogen Howson’s “Frayed Tapestry,” which follows an amnesiac woman and her manipulative husband, is a bit too on the nose, but elsewhere gender dynamics are handled more gracefully, as in “Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown” by Michael Swanwick, in which 15-year-old Su-yin follows her father into hell, where she must endure a series of horrible dates in order to save him from eternal damnation, and in Nancy Kress’s brilliant “Unto the Daughters,” a powerful reimagining of the story of Adam and Eve. Though horror fiends may be disappointed to find little blood-curdling terror, there are very few duds among these wide-ranging tales. Readers are in for a devilish treat. (June)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Fallen Dagger

Jenna Lyn Wright. Jenna Lyn Wright, $0.99 e-book (162p) ASIN B0825GWWLW

Wright launches her Hellion Saga series with this brisk, trope-filled urban fantasy. Assassin Gray Carver was recruited from a troubled childhood into Ash City’s shadiest organization by the dangerous, elusive Lilah. Now she wants out. But on her first night after walking away from her criminal life, Gray and her pediatrician fiancé are murdered. Lucifer offers her resurrection with a catch: Gray must steal the Dagger of the Fallen, the knife that mutilated Lucifer’s wings, from Lilah before she uses it to raise a demonic host. Invisible to mortals and intent on revenge, Gray follows the dagger’s trail through the supernatural streets of Counterfeit City. Wright’s clean prose and snappy pacing moves this thriller along quickly, but the plot that links the cursory fight scenes is lifted from an array of genre staples (including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, and John Woo films) leaving little room for surprise. This paint-by-numbers paranormal adventure is solid but simple. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 04/03/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.