TEMPER by Nicky Drayden

A new review over at Tor.com:

Temper is Nicky Drayden’s second novel. Her first novel, The Prey of Gods, was a weird and inventive thriller that combined fantasy and science fictional elements. Temper is a standalone work in a new setting, one that involves fantasy, religion, and a touch of steampunk SF. This review will contain spoilers, because there’s absolutely no way to talk about even half of this book without them—much less the more interesting half.

DREADFUL COMPANY by Vivian Shaw

A new review over at Tor.com:

Dreadful Company is Vivian Shaw’s second book, sequel to last year’s excellent Strange Practice. And if anything, it’s even more fun.

How fun is it? So much fun that I had to steal it back from my girlfriend, who pounced on it as soon as she saw it, and refused to put it down after she read the first page. (Fortunately, we’re both pretty fast readers, and we’re pretty good at sharing.)

THE FURNACE by Prentis Rollins

A new review over at Tor.com:

[M]y tolerance for stories of straight white men in prestigious careers and how their moral weakness is the defining trauma of their adulthood is at an all-time low. (I’m sure it could get lower yet: I’m only in my early thirties, after all.) And my tolerance for stories in which gay white men are tortured by their fathers for their soi-disant “deviance” and go on to die young of overindulgence in alcohol (“Bury Your Gays” strikes again) is also very low. Especially when that death comes after said gay man has (a) attempted to proposition the straight guy narrator, declaring his unrequited love and attraction, and (b) successfully convinced the straight guy narrator to smother his moral qualms at being part of a government project that’s essentially a giant human rights abuse.

EUROPEAN TRAVELS FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN by Theodora Goss

A new review over at Tor.com:

Though European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman is a long book, clocking in at some 700 pages, it’s well-paced and enormously readable. Goss is an accomplished writer, whose characters come across as distinct and engaging individuals…

…This is another fantastic book from an excellent writer. I enjoyed it greatly, and I’ll be looking forward to Goss’s next novel—not least because European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman ends with a cliffhanger.

 

A THOUSAND BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

A new review over at Tor.com:

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is an anthology of stories influenced by South and East Asian folklore and mythology.  Its editors, Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, are both board members of We Need Diverse Books, an organisation dedicated to advocating for diversity in literature. (Oh is the organisation’s current president.) The list of contributors includes names like Aliette de Bodard, Alyssa Wong, Roshani Chokshi, and Renée Ahdieh, all people with strong track records in the fiction field.

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man

A new column over at Tor.com:

This is a compelling novel with fascinating worldbuilding. In some ways, it shows its age—the Concord doesn’t really seem to have a place for people whose gender identities don’t fit their bodies, even if it allows a wider range of bodies to be recognised as distinct in gender from each other—but in other ways, it remains fresh and new. Particularly in its approach to social revolution: Warreven fights for change on Hara, but ultimately fails to achieve tangible change in for himself. But he opens up a symbolic space, a naming—as it were—of things and of people, even though the authorities ultimately drive him off-planet. (The end of the novel leaves space open for him to return.)

STARLESS by Jacqueline Carey

A new review over at Tor.com:

Khai’s complicated negotiation of his self-image and his feelings about Zariya also make Starless feel fresh. It’s not often that you come across an epic fantasy where the main character can be described as nonbinary—even if Khai keeps using masculine pronouns. Even less often does one read a novel where a main character—Zariya, in this case—must deal with physical disability and concomitant issues with both self-image and other people’s prejudices. The hope of a magical cure is held out to Zariya several times in the course of the novel, but while some of her symptoms are alleviated, she never stops needing crutches to walk.

Carey’s characters feel real and alive, and her world is lush and well-realised. This is an excellent novel. I recommend it.

A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE VAMPIRE UPRISING by Raymond A. Villareal

A new review over at Tor.com:

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is a novel about which I would like to be engaged enough to be scathing. But it’s hard to be properly scathing about something so deeply mediocre. I’m sure that it will speak to some people: for me, it fails to even be interestingly bad. It comes across as slapdash but self-important, and that’s a mode of art that’s absolutely not my scene.

Sleeps With Monsters: Fun in Imaginary Countries

A new column over at Tor.com:

Stories about imaginary countries are, I feel, sufficiently science fictional (or fantastical) to count as SFF. And Anthony Hope’s 1894 adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda with its imaginary country of Ruritania has inspired a number of science fiction and fantasy writers, not to mention writers of romance. Now K.J. Charles, whose works frequently combine fantasy and queer romance, has written a response to The Prisoner of Zenda: The Henchman of Zenda.

 

THE THOUSAND DEATHS OF ARDOR BENN by Tyler Whitesides

A new review over at Tor.com:

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is a little disappointing. This is a very straight novel, to all appearances, and if you are supposed to read any of the characters as people of colour, I’m hard-pressed to tell. Also, while there are a number of female characters in the book, the two most-developed are romantically linked to Ardor Benn, and no friendships or independent relationships between women are depicted or even mentioned in passing.

And I have the niggling feeling that Benn is a little bit of a Mary Sue.

Sleeps With Monsters: The Atmospheric Fantasy of Melissa Scott’s Astreiant Novels

A new column over at Tor.com:

If you’re a fan, especially of the Astreiant novels (and as you may have guessed, I am), I have good news for you. There’s a new one out, and I’m utterly delighted, because it’s—as usual—fantastic.

This newest novel, Point of Sighs, is the fifth book in the Astreiant setting, and Scott’s third as sole author. (The first two, which are also excellent, were co-written with the late Lisa A. Barnett.) Astreiant’s a rich and atmospheric setting, a city of merchants where women predominate in high-status roles, and where astrology has real-world significance.

ARMED IN HER FASHION by Kate Heartfield

A new review over at Tor.com:

Armed in Her Fashion is Kate Heartfield’s debut novel, and what a strange, compelling, genre-bending debut it is. Part horror, part fantasy, part history, and part epic, it combines all of its elements into a commentary on gender, power, and patriarchy. It centres around several women (and one man) who want in their own ways to have their due.

That makes it sound deeply serious. Actually, it’s enormously fun.

ARMISTICE by Lara Elena Donnelly

A new review over at Tor.com:

Where Amberlough spiralled down into tight, claustrophobic tragedy, Armistice opens up with the promise of change. It teases with the idea that personal happiness is possible for its protagonists, and the idea that a fascist regime may be opposed—may not, after all, last forever. That makes Armistice a rather easier book to read than Amberlough: less harrowing and less tragic in the Shakespearean sense. It doesn’t hurt than Donnelly paces her twists and revelations very well, creating a remarkably smooth narrative experience.

BY FIRE ABOVE by Robyn Bennis

A new review over at Tor.com:

Like The Guns Above, By Fire Above shines with its voice and sense of humour—gallows humour, mostly, blackly glittering. Bennis slyly slides in a nod to the dead lesbians trope—in which Josette fails to recognise an obvious couple and one member of that couple remarks that everyone seems to expect her to die (she doesn’t)—and manages to make a fraught parent-child relationship grimly hilarious.

BORN TO THE BLADE by Michael R. Underwood, Marie Brennan, Cassandra Khaw, Malka Older

A new review over at Tor.com:

The things that annoyed me about Born to the Blade are the same things that annoy me with every serial—or with almost every long series, for that matter. It possesses at least as many things that delighted me, including a willingness to play with culture and the ability to depict collegiate friendship along with professional (and sometimes personal) antagonism in the miniature diplomatic circuit of the Warders in Twaa-Fei. Born to the Blade is enjoyable and immensely readable, and if I had the opportunity to read the second season right now, I’d take it.

ARTIFICIAL CONDITION by Martha Wells

A new review over at Tor.com:

Artificial Condition is the second of Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, after last year’s All Systems Red. It could be subtitled “Murderbot makes a friend, finds it harder to pretend not to be a person, and discovers some truths about their past,” but that’s a really long subtitle, so it’s probably just as well it isn’t.

 

AFTERWAR by Lilith Saintcrow

A new review over at Tor.com:

Afterwar is the first of Saintcrow’s novels that I’ve read than can be parsed as purely science-fictional, and the first that is purely human in its horror. It is also very much in dialogue with the present political moment in American life, where at least one swastika-burning Nazi rally has occurred and been reported in the international press.