Fantasy and Science Fiction
American Magic: A Thriller by Zach FehstWhat it is: a globe-trotting fantasy spy thriller reminiscent of the work of Dan Brown and Robert Ludlum.
Starring: former CIA operative Ben Zolstra, who must track down a terrorist who has uploaded to the dark web incantations that allow ordinary people to wield powerful magic.
You might also like: Bookburners by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery.
Meet Me in the Future: Stories by Kameron HurleyWhat it is: a short story collection by speculative fiction writer Kameron Hurley, containing "16 hard-edged pieces that gleam like gems in a mosaic" (Publishers Weekly).
Don't miss: "When We Fall," a prequel to The Stars are Legion, and "The Light Brigade," which became the novel of the same name.
Reviewers say: "These are stories that pack a punch" (Booklist).
The Harp of Kings by Juliet MarillierWhat it's about: A group of apprentice warriors from Swan Island must locate the ancient Harp of Kings before Midsummer, when it will be used in the coronation of the next king of Breifne.
Why you might like it: Unfolding from the perspectives of its three main characters, this intricately plotted series opener's central quest narrative is enhanced by a coming-of-age story and a slow-building romance.
About the author: No one does Celtic-inspired historical fantasy like New Zealand-born, Australia-based author Juliet Marillier, best known for her Sevenwaters series.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn MuirIntroducing: Lesbian swordswoman Gideon Nav, indentured servant in the House of the Ninth; and her nemesis, necromancer Lady Harrowhark Nonegesimus, who may be her best shot at freedom.
Why you might like it: This edgy, irreverent debut boasts a foul-mouthed, snarky heroine; an enemies-to-not-quite-lovers plot; a murder mystery in the midst of an interplanetary competition; and necromancy.
For fans of: the revenge plot of Jay Kristoff's Nevernight Chronicle; the protagonist and atmosphere of Nicole Kornher-Stace's Archivist Wasp.
Blood of an Exile by Brian NaslundWhat it's about: Exiled lord-turned-dragonslayer "Flawless" Silas Bershad has a chance to redeem himself by rescuing a kidnapped Almiran princess and assassinating the emperor of neighboring Baleria.
Why you might like it: This opening installment of the Dragons of Terra series boasts an action-packed plot, compelling (if not exactly sympathetic) characters, and an immersive setting.
You might also like: John Gwynne's Of Blood and Bone series, a similarly verging-on-grimdark fantasy where no character is safe.
It Devours! A Welcome to Night Vale Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffery CranorWhat happens: Local scientist Nilanjana Sikdar investigates strange goings-on in the desert and discovers...well, you'll just have to find out.
Should you start here? While this spin-off of the popular Welcome to Night Vale) podcast stands on its own, it does contain some (minor) spoilers for the main series.
Food for thought: "Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you."
Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuireThe prodigal daughter: Cryptozoologist Verity Price comes from a renowned family of monster hunters, but what she really wants is to become a professional ballroom dancer. Or does she?
Series alert: Discount Armageddon kicks off the InCryptid series, which continues with Midnight Blue-Light Special.
About the author: In addition to horror-tinged books published under the name Mira Grant, the versatile and prolific Seanan McGuire is the author of the October Daye novels and the Wayward Children series.
Storm of Locusts by Rebecca RoanhorseWhat it is: the sequel to the Nebula Award-nominated Trail of Lightning.
Starring: Diné (Navajo) monster hunter Maggie Hoskie, who must rescue her best friend, Kai, from a cult.
For fans of: Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels novels, another post-apocalyptic urban fantasy series featuring a strong heroine and plenty of monster-battling thrills.
The New Annotated Frankenstein by Mary Shelley; edited by Leslie S. KlingerWhat it is: a thoroughly annotated, lavishly illustrated edition of Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein.
Includes: both the 1818 and 1831 versions of the text, as well as 200 illustrations ranging from engravings to photographs.
Series alert: Readers whose sweet spot is the intersection of horror and SF will be pleased to learn that editor Leslie S. Klinger is also responsible for The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft.
Echopraxia by Peter WattsWhat it's about: Biologist Daniel Brüks, a "baseline" human adrift in a post-human world, gets caught up in a conflict between the monastic hive-mind of the Bicameral Order and a genetically engineered vampire (and her zombie bodyguards) as they search for a ship that disappeared.
Is it for you? This deeply philosophical hard SF novel offers a challenging but rewarding read to those who enjoy mind-bending concepts (and enjoy fiction that includes citations and appendices).
Should you start here? Although this 2nd Firefall novel stands on its own, you may want to start with the Hugo-nominated Blindsight.
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