Normally I would do this post a little bit later in the year, like July, but since time has lost all meaning and I already have a huge list of anticipated releases for the remaining half of the year, I figured why not.
Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
June 16th, 2020
As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now. But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten. In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.
Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death. Yet it is also far more than that. Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.
Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.
When I read World War Z, I came very close to having actual panic attacks. I don’t scare easy, but there was something about WWZ that terrified me and filled me with dread. Bigfoot wouldn’t normally be my first choice for a thrilling horror story, but I’ve always been really drawn to the Pacific Northwest and its folklore, and I trust Max Brooks to unsettle me, at least.
Nothing Can Hurt You
Nicola Maye Goldberg
June 23, 2020
On a cold day in 1997, student Sara Morgan was killed in the woods surrounding her liberal arts college in upstate New York. Her boyfriend, Blake Campbell, confessed, his plea of temporary insanity raising more questions than it answered.
In the wake of his acquittal, the case comes to haunt a strange and surprising network of community members, from the young woman who discovers Sara’s body to the junior reporter who senses its connection to convicted local serial killer John Logan. Others are looking for retribution or explanation: Sara’s half sister, stifled by her family’s bereft silence about Blake, poses as a babysitter and seeks out her own form of justice, while the teenager Sara used to babysit starts writing to Logan in prison.
A propulsive, taut tale of voyeurism and obsession, Nothing Can Hurt You dares to examine gendered violence not as an anomaly, but as the very core of everyday life. Tracing the concentric circles of violence rippling out from Sara’s murder, Nicole Maye Goldberg masterfully conducts an unforgettable chorus of disparate voices.
I could love this or hate this; early reviews aren’t boding super well, but I love the cover, which gives me claustrophobic 90s suburbia vibes, and I love stories about murder mysteries.
The Sin in the Steel
Ryan Van Loan
July 21, 2020
Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few.
It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her. Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker’s ship….Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans. Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.
Buc has been advertised as a teenage Alexander Hamilton, and I kind of love Musical!Hamilton’s ridiculous personality, so I’m very, very excited. Add old gods and swashbuckling pirate queens and I am very much sold!
July 21, 2020
They call them Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable. The empire relies on them. The greatest weapon they ever developed. Culled from the streets of their cities, they take the ones no one will miss and throw them, by the thousands, at the empire’s enemies. If they live, they fight again. If they die, well, there are always more.
Evie is not a Savage. She’s a warrior with a mission: to find the man she once loved, to find the man who holds the key to exposing the secret of the Savage Legion and ending the mass conscription of the empire’s poor and wretched. But to find him, she must become one of them, to be marked in her blood, to fight in their wars, and to find her purpose. Evie will die a Savage if she has to, but not before showing the world who she really is, and what the Savage Legion can really do.
I’ve been seeing some great buzz about this book; a few early reviews I’ve read make it sound like something I’d enjoy. Also, I’ll sample pretty much any newly published high fantasy with a lead female character.
Deal With the Devil
July 28, 2020
Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.
They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process… Or they could do the impossible: team up.
I’m not super sold on what looks to be a very prominent romance in this book, and dystopia isn’t normally my thing at all, but there’s also mercenary librarians! Plus I’ve seen some encouraging reviews.
The Vanished Queen
August 18, 2020
Long ago, Queen Mirantha vanished. King Karolje claimed it was an assassination by a neighboring king, but everyone knew it was a lie. He had Disappeared her himself.
But after finding the missing queen’s diary, Anza—impassioned by her father’s unjust execution and inspired by Mirantha’s words—joins the resistance group to overthrow the king. When an encounter with Prince Esvar thrusts her into a dangerous game of court politics, one misstep could lead to a fate worse than death.
Esvar is the second son to an evil king. Trapped under his thumb and desperate for a way out, a chance meeting with Anza gives him the opportunity to join the resistance. Together, they might have the leverage to move against the king—but if they fail, their deaths could mean a total loss of freedom for generations to follow.
The plot sounds weirdly YA, but I love the cover, I generally enjoy books from this imprint, and hey, high fantasy with a lead female character and court politics!
One by One
September 8, 2020
Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?
When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?
I absolutely love locked room mysteries, and being snowed in at a remote location is one of my favorite premises ever. Ever since I read Shari Lapena’s thoroughly disappointing version of this I’ve been hoping to find a better iteration, and who better to write a creepy mystery than Ruth Ware? I have really high hopes for this one, and would you look at that incredible cover!
The Bone Shard Daughter
September 10, 2020
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic. Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
This sounds pretty intriguing, is written by a Chinese American woman, has a spectacular cover, and comes from Orbit, one of my favorite publishers!
September 15, 2020
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
I’ll be real, half the reason I’m excited for this is because of the absolutely bonkers cover. But! I’ve heard good things about another novel by this author that I actually own, Summer of Salt; I hear that she does atmosphere very well, which is exactly what you need for a horror novel!
Hannah Abigail Clarke
September 15, 2020
Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.
Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?
So far this book has a relatively low rating on GR, but folks I trust are loving it, which bodes well! It sounds like it’s kind of inspired by The Craft (this is a loose guess, as I’ve never actually seen The Craft) but with some more diversity and weirdness. Erewhon is a new fantasy imprint and I think this will be one of their first published titles!
A Deadly Education
September 29, 2020
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
I am SO excited for this book! Magic, dark academia, scholomances, and Naomi Novik?? What more is there to say except that one of the reviews on GR describes it thusly: “Galadriel—don’t look at her like that she didn’t pick the name—is essentially a background slytherin at the Scholomance, which is Hogwarts + carnivorous monsters. When Orion (aka Harry Potter) saves her from a monster she would have been perfectly capable of handling herself, thanks asshole, her lack of fawning gratitude begins a suspicious friendship.” Also I love this cover!!
The Hollow Places
October 6, 2020
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.
I loved – and was genuinely chilled by – Kingfisher’s horror novel The Twisted Ones, so I’ll read any other horror she puts out. This one sounds excellent.
October 2, 2020
Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.
April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.
Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her. With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?
I know: me, highly anticipating a romance novel??? This could so easily be terrible and cringey, but I’m intrigued enough by the high concept and the elements of fandom to give it a shot. And a plus-sized heroine! And the cover is so delightful and bright!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
October 6, 2020
When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.
Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.
Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him. Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.
I have already read this book and loved it, but I had to include it on here anyway, because I’m excited for it to be out in the world where everyone can read it!
The Once and Future Witches
Alix E. Harrow
October 13, 2020
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
I’m not entirely sure I understand what this is about, but I felt the same about Harrow’s other novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, which, admittedly, I didn’t love, but liked enough to continue reading Harrow’s work. Her writing is really gorgeous, and this is a 19th-century book about witches! With such a gorgeous cover!
P. Djeli Clark
October 13, 2020
D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.
Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.
This sounds so wild. Djeli’s short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo is one of my favorite things ever, so I’m determined to at least try out everything he ever writes. This is a short little novella that sounds like it’ll be one hell of a romp. And this cover is something else.
Plain Bad Heroines
Emily M. Danforth
October 20, 2020
Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, author of a scandalous bestselling memoir that transforms these acolytes into bold rebels. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, a seeming paradise, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered, a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, the School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling manner.
Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” gilded-age institution. Her bestseller inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells, as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.
A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.
An adult historical dark academia horror-comedy with sapphic themes already sounds bonkers amazing, but written by Emily Danforth, of Cameron Post fame? Granted, I’ve never read Cameron Post, but I’ve heard enough to know Danforth is a seriously capable writer, and I am so excited!!
Kingdom of the Wicked
October 27, 2020
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…
Now, I didn’t really like Maniscalco’s Jack the Ripper series (well, the one book I’ve read), but I was intrigued enough that I’m still determined to read the second book, so there’s clearly something about her writing that intrigues me. This particular release could be really great or utterly awful, though what’s weird to me is this sounds like exactly the same plot as Jack the Ripper, but in a different setting with different characters.
The Good Girls
Claire Eliza Bartlett
December 1, 2020
The troublemaker. The overachiever. The cheer captain. The dead girl.
Like every high school in America, Jefferson-Lorne High contains all of the above.
After the shocking murder of senior Emma Baines, three of her classmates are at the top of the suspect list: Claude, the notorious partier; Avery, the head cheerleader; and Gwen, the would-be valedictorian. Everyone has a label, whether they like it or not–and Emma was always known as a good girl. But appearances are never what they seem. And the truth behind what really happened to Emma may just be lying in plain sight. As long-buried secrets come to light, the clock is ticking to find Emma’s killer–before another good girl goes down.
I haven’t read this author’s other books, which have been high fantasy, but I’ve heard excellent things! Plus I love me a good high school thriller. And this cover slaps.
Anticipating any of these yourself? Read any ARCs? Tell me in the comments!