The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear

The Red-Stained Wings is a delightful follow-up to Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. While my one complaint from the previous book still stands (LET ME SEE THE GAGE FIGHT dangit!), I was enthralled by the new events and plot points introduced in The Red-Stained Wings. Bear’s prose and worldbuilding is stellar as always, and it’s a joy to see characters you’ve been following for 500-odd pages across two books meet up and finally interact.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

R. F. Kuang nails not one, but two sub-genres in The Poppy War. I was drawn in by the initial magic/military school premise, a trope I’m quite fond of, and was impressed by the explosive and action-packed second half. Although the start-up may be slow by some standards, the latter half of the book is a sprint!

The Undefeated by Una McCormack

The Undefeated is a novel that fails to live up to an interesting premise. I was excited to read about a “warrior of words” and “no holds barred” journalist – the blurb mentions front-line war zones, courageous exposés on corruption, scandal, et cetera. I came in expecting a thrilling space opera with excitement and action.

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The plot and all of its twists and turns is carried lightly atop Bear’s prose.  She is not, however, pretentious in her word-weaving – far from it! I was taken by both her ability to create a glistening, crystalline scene that seemed to hold me hostage as well as her ability to drop me back down to earth with surprising grace and humor. I laughed aloud at several lines, and grinned at the wry comments sprinkled throughout the novel. 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This book ripped me apart and wrote me back together again. Alix E. Harrow’s debut novel is truly a work of art. I laughed, I cried, and I sat on the edge of my seat in suspense. January’s voice comes through each and every word – first like a gentle rain when her life is filled with upper class stability, and later like a typhoon when she must break away from the chains and preconceived notions holding her back. She wants so badly to be free, but can’t quite tear away without a push. 

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

The heavens have burst and the gods have fallen. Some are minor pests, mere godlings, but some are high gods with unknown magics and powers. David Mogo, a half-god, contracts himself out to the people of Lagos to help with godling infestations. However, when the local ruling wizard offers him a contract to capture a pair of twin gods, David knows the job is bad news. 

Los Nefilim by T. Frohock

Up until I read Los Nefilim, I had never really considered myself a fan of urban fantasy. I’ve read and enjoyed a couple one-offs, sure, but it was never a genre I actively sought out. Reading this book gave me a full-blown identity crisis. I utterly ADORED these novellas. I ate them up. They were wonderful. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved the writing! I could gush for a while about these books. I currently have the sequel full length novel, Where Oblivion Lives, on order, and I can’t wait to read it. 

The Path Keeper by N J Simmonds

This is actually the worst book I’ve ever read. Literally, the worst book. I’ve read and enjoyed some trash in my time, but the only reason I kept going with The Path Keeper was to see just how far this train wreck could take me. This book is essentially what you’d get if you took Twilight, removed everything about it that was even remotely interesting, and THEN you added in a dose of super fun sexual assault and a variety of other utterly tasteless spices to the whole hot mess. Almost every decision Bella, whoops, I mean ELLA, made me want to (╯°□°)╯︵ 📘 The Path Keeper out the window.

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, Translated by Yuri Machkasov

The House is a liminal space between reality and a surreal secondary world which may or may not truly exist. It’s unclear whether the House is truly an entity, whether it’s simply a conduit for something entirely different, or if, perhaps, those who live in it have merely dreamed it all up.