MixedBooklistMuch development here is relatively small-scale for an epic fantasy this ambitious, with character introspection ultimately at the forefront; nonetheless, there’s plenty of action, and the setup for sequels promises plenty of epic struggle for the fate of the world.
Ed. by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington
PositiveBooklist... revisits the Arthurian mythos through a variety of perspectives that make even the most familiar stories yield new fruit ... Whether or not the reader is familiar with the intricacies of Arthurian tales, each of these new additions is well worth savoring—these are legends that don’t just allow the gender-bending, race-bending, and queering that the editors aimed for, they flourish with the additions.
PositiveBooklistThis interesting and occasionally unsettling read shines with an atmosphere and imagery straight out of Bosch and Bruegel.
PositiveBooklistThe Wayward Children series tackles the harsher underpinnings of fairy tales head-on, and McGuire’s depiction of the girls’ dynamic is painfully accurate. But McGuire can be trusted to give her stories depth that both the characters and readers—even newcomers who start the series here—can handle.
Aliette de Bodard
RaveBooklist... packs the world-building and emotional punch of an epic into a shockingly slim novella. This touching romance with the delicate negotiations of a small country’s survival against an imperial adversary would be a lovely place to start with de Bodard’s work, and fans will find more of what they’ve come to love about her stories.
S. L. Huang
RaveBooklist... perfectly epic, even in the span of a novella. Huang’s [...] use of threads from many different stories creates a satisfying backdrop, and presents the reader with familiar plot tropes from an entirely new perspective. It’s an excellent piece of work, and Huang is clearly an author to watch.
C. S. Malerich
PositiveBooklistWhile this is not a long book, Malerich packs a lot into the story, with a satisfyingly positive conclusion and a timely reminder that the work for justice is never-ending.
PositiveBooklistBoth the successes and the flaws of the storytelling will be familiar to readers of Brooks’ extensive oeuvre, and the way every thread plays out is a satisfying enough place to end the massive epic of Shannara, although of course the end isn’t so final that there isn’t room to carry on.
PositiveBooklist... meanders through the ways in which people get lost and what happens when the lost get found again. The islands are harsh, but there are plenty of little joys to be found, and readers will enjoy following the story’s winding path.
Alaya Dawn Johnson
PositiveBooklist... relentless ... Johnson skillfully hammers home how little uncanny power does in the face of systemic oppression when a white person can get away with anything as long as the victim isn’t white. That’s not to say this is an entirely grim novel; it includes hope, fierce passion, and a powerful romance.
PositiveBooklistThalia has its own peculiar politics, with an entertaining entanglement of characters from Shakespeare and history, and when the narrator sets his plan in motion, there are ripples that will disturb the long, comfortable rut of an immortal city of artisans. It is interesting to see this approach to the consequences of immortality and what it means to the creation of art to have stopped death by stopping progress. Meanwhile, Sylvia’s situation is much more individual, focused on her own current experience. Fans of Walton’s style will be overjoyed with her storytelling here.
PositiveBooklistThe dynamic between Valerie and Naomi drives a lot of the narrative, and their characterizations stand out above the rest. Ultimately hopeful, the majority of the story is grim and thriller-tense, with plenty of twists and turns.
PositiveBooklistNothing is as it seems, even where it seems quite unusual, like the figures at a foggy window on the outskirts of the city ... Reality is shaped by expectations and force of habit, and a sudden change in either leads to revelations. It is a clever story, reliant more on its central thematic conceit than character, but certainly entertaining and quite satisfying.
PositiveBooklistThis is a sweet narrative about the value of asking questions and the benefits of giving people (especially children) a chance to be safe, protected, and themselves, regardless of what assumptions one might glean from, say, reading their case file. The world is harsh—magical people are required to register with the government, and there are quite a lot of rules—but the orphanage is a place where perhaps there is room for people to understand one another instead of blindly fearing the unknown.
PositiveBooklistMcGuire continues to write magnificent worlds with a wonderful variety of characters in the Wayward Children series, and handles questions of body and identity, and the consequences of finding a magical world that is home and then returning to this one, with grace and consideration. The illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to McGuire’s beautiful subversions of the genre.
PositiveBooklistThe fourth Witches of Lychford book balances gracefully on the border of cozy, small-town mystery and cosmic horror, with deft and entertaining character development. Although Judith’s deterioration is painful to read, her determination is a joy. It’s a small book that packs a solid narrative punch.
Howard Andrew Jones
PositiveBooklistVarama’s guerilla resistance, and the spectacular subterfuge of Rylin, are entertaining enough on their own; add in the search for allies and the strange things hidden by the shifting lands, and the web of the tale becomes quite epic ... This straightforward political fantasy is bolstered by the strong character relationships and an interesting world to explore, though background characters and races are often no more than one-note set dressing.
PositiveBooklistThe larger world of the novel is only hinted at as Rosalyn’s background is revealed, but the setting is a sound enough framework for this solid piece of survival horror in space. The tension and desperation of the situation meshes perfectly with the characters’ development as they struggle to stay themselves and survive.
PositiveBooklistThe mission itself is ultimately a framework for a story about how a group of people under pressure copes with isolation and responsibility for one another’s safety—and the consequences of agreeing to a journey well beyond anything humans have experienced before. The mission is complicated by the very real dangers of space travel. A relatively small cast of characters allows for some satisfying exploration of the ways people might cope with exactly what being on an interstellar journey means for their relationships and whether or not they are ready for the consequences.
PositiveBooklist... a dense but rewarding look at the long, long road to redemption. The background characters—including some well-known historical figures—are an interesting and varied bunch, and the trials of Florence are a wonderful backdrop for the story.
PositiveBooklistMacallan hits most of the key high notes of epic fantasy: hardships overcome, rise and fall of empires, grand battles, political machinations, and ancient legendary magic. It’s an entertaining story, with the characters motivated by a complicated web of greed, politics, and desire for revenge. It is refreshing to see an epic fantasy door-stopper draw inspiration from outside Europe; though the author does not always successfully subvert stereotypes, the action adds depth to the story.
Robert Jackson Bennett
MixedBooklistThe final act doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and the characters are a bit too broadly drawn, but the moral of the story is a clear one that may attract readers across genres.
PositiveBooklistThe pacing and a certain consistency of character allow the abduction to unfold without being ultimately coercive. The tyrannical Empire is not groundbreaking, but the story is well told and the characters engaging, and the ways in which they impact their world suitably epic.
PositiveBooklistCertainly an engaging look at the work of revolution, and James doesn’t allow for easy answers, even when the solution to a problem seems obvious, creating some juicy dilemmas for its multifaceted cast of characters ... The ending is not, in itself, necessarily unexpected, but it leaves open doors for all of the characters, heroes and villains alike, and promises them a great deal of postrevolutionary work. The telling is fast paced, entertaining, and a satisfying end to an epic story.
Dietmar Dath, Trans. by Samuel P. Willcocks
PositiveBooklistThis is a dense historical narrative, with an arc of centuries, but it is worth the effort. The long-lived characters provide a slow-growing framework to a story that ultimately leads to a promising, open-ended conclusion.
PositiveBooklistTold in a perfectly human voice—someone who questions and shifts his or her stand on things, who has unusual friendships and clings to small details—[The Freeze-Frame Revolution is a genuinely pleasing story. Although it certainly could sustain greater length, the latest from Watts packs a significant punch into a small package.
Catherynne M. Valente
RaveBooklist Online\"Valente has pulled off another spectacular feat of world building (it’s worth reading just for the descriptions of previous performances) and a story which is uproariously funny, sweet, and hopeful.\