Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya DyerFantasy. The realm of Canopy is divided into 13 kingdoms, each ruled by a different god or goddess. The privileged Upper Canopians enjoy sunlight and fresh fruit, while Understorey denizens subsist on grubs. When her destitute parents decide to sell her into slavery, 13-year-old Unar runs away and dedicates herself to the goddess Audblayin. With her affinity for magic, she hopes to serve as the personal bodyguard of Audblayin's next avatar, thus rising above her humble origins. Detailed world-building and a realistically flawed heroine distinguish this debut by an Australian writer, which is the 1st book in a projected series.
Bookburners by Max Gladstone (creator), Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis SlatteryUrban Fantasy. NYPD detective Sal Brooks is shocked to learn that her brother has been dabbling in demonology. Is this stuff even real? It is, confirm the Bookburners, a group of occult investigators for the Vatican Black Archives. Working with martial artist Grace, tech wizard Liam, archivist Asanti, and priest Father Menchú, Sal enters a world of cursed tomes and conspiracies. With its blend of supernatural chills and dark humor, this collaborative novel, which began life as an online serial, may appeal to fans of classic paranormal-themed television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files.
Gilded Cage by Vic JamesFantasy. In an alternate England, "commoners" without magic must serve the Equals (magic-wielding aristocratic families) for a period of ten years. Considering the alternatives, the Hadleys are fortunate: the entire family has been assigned to Kyneston, the estate of the powerful Jardine family, where they'll complete their compulsory service requirement together. But that dream is shattered when brother Luke is sent to the workhouse in Millmoor, where he becomes involved with a group of radicals. Meanwhile, eldest daughter Abi is drawn into a web of intrigue involving the most powerful families in the country. Fans of Dan Vyleta's Smoke should appreciate this atmospheric and intricately plotted novel that describes a rigid class system reinforced by magic.
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuireContemporary Fantasy. In the wake of her sister Patty's suicide, Jenna experienced her own untimely death. That was 43 years ago. Since then, Jenna has been residing in New York City, working at a suicide hotline in order to earn the right to pass on. But Jenna's self-imposed sentence is suspended when the city's ghosts start vanishing. As she investigates, Jenna discovers that there is, indeed, such a thing as a fate worse than death. Readers who enjoyed the subtle supernatural atmosphere of Charles de Lint's The Mystery of Grace should appreciate this poignant meditation on love and loss.
Heartstone by Elle Katharine WhiteHistorical Fantasy. To halt the onslaught of gryphon attacks that plague the town of Hart's Run, the Lord of nearby Merybourne Manor hires an elite band of dragon-mounted Riders. Aliza Bentaine, whose beloved younger sister was killed by gryphons, rejoices at the arrival of their saviors -- well, except for handsome but arrogant Rider Alastair Daired, whose disdain for Aliza and her family is palpable. Although she'd rather avoid the man, circumstances keep throwing them together until they're forced to work with each other to save the town. Think Pride and Prejudice with dragons and you'll know what to expect from this debut.
The Silver Witch by Paula BrackstonCeltic Fantasy. Seeking a change of scene after her husband's untimely death, ceramic artist Tilda moves to a secluded cottage in Wales -- and begins to manifest magical powers. A chance encounter with archaeologist Dylan leads her to explore local legends of a medieval shaman tasked with protecting a Welsh prince. Those stories, it turns out, could be the key to protecting the community from a powerful supernatural adversary that has recently resurfaced. The Silver Witch is the 3rd stand-alone installment in the Shadow Chronicles, a series that includes The Witch's Daughter and The Witch's Return.
Hounded by Kevin HearneUrban Fantasy. At 21 (centuries old), handsome, tattooed Irish druid Atticus O'Sullivan is the proprietor of an occult bookshop in Arizona, a place he's come to love due to its "low god density" and utter lack of faeries. He's got good reason to avoid both groups: Atticus has stolen the magical sword of Aenghus Óg, the Celtic god of love -- who's willing to send as many fae assassins as it takes to get the weapon back. Hounded kicks off the fun, fast-paced, and darkly humorous Iron Druid Chronicles, which continues with Hexed and Hammered.
Dreamer's Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel by Juliet MarillierCeltic Fantasy. To avoid execution, imprisoned healer Blackthorn strikes a bargain with one of the fae: her freedom in exchange for seven years' service in the kingdom of Dalriada. Accompanied by fellow ex-convict Grim, Blackthorn travels to Winterfalls, the seat of Crown Prince Oran's royal court, where she soon discovers that something's rotten in Dalriada. Dreamer's Pool is the 1st book in the Blackthorn & Grim series, which follows a pair of flawed but sympathetic protagonists on adventures inspired by Irish mythology.
The Silver Bough by Lisa TuttleCeltic Fantasy. The last Apple Queen was crowned in 1950. Since then, the Scottish village of Appleton has experienced a slow but steady decline. That is, until three travelers come from abroad: Ashley, a young woman searching for her roots; Kathleen, Appleton's new librarian; and Nell, a widow and apple grower. Not long after the women arrive, a landslide cuts off the village from the rest of the world and Appleton's long buried magic begins to blossom once more. This charming story may appeal to fans of Sarah Allen Addison's Garden Spells, which is set in North Carolina but offers a similar earth-based magic that transforms the lives of women living in bucolic small towns.
The Swan Maiden by Jules WatsonCeltic Fantasy. Raised in seclusion, Deirdre has been betrothed since birth to Conor, the aging ruler of the Kingdom of Ulster. What her husband-to-be doesn't know is that Deirdre is cursed: a prophecy predicts that she will cause Ulster's downfall. That prophecy seems especially likely to come true once Deirdre meets (and subsequently elopes with) handsome warrior Naisi, prompting the king to pursue the lovers. Based on the legend of Deirdre of the Sorrows, this novel by the author of the Dalriada trilogy (The White Mare) is a lush and dramatic reimagining of Irish legend.
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