Make Some Room: January

Header (text): MAKE SOME ROOM (there's always room for one more)

2020 has had its ups and downs, but if the publishing line-up for January is anything to go by, 2021 has lots of treats in store to look forward to. If There’s Always Room For One More, let’s see what you should make space for…

I announced in all earnestness a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t be committing to much in 2021. Blog tours, awards panels, anything that involves reading to deadlines was off the menu. 2021 is to be a year of reading on a whim.

…my newfound commitment to making no commitments lasted about as long as it took for Titan and Rebellion to drop me emails introducing some of the titles they’ve got coming our way in January. 2021 is going to be epic, folks and while I do intend to limit my commitments – no, really – that doesn’t mean I won’t be making time to support some amazing new releases. Let’s start with ones already on my January schedule.

First up is Courttia Newland’s latest novel, set in a world like and yet unlike our own, weathering its own apocalypse and battling its own social demons. The dystopian set-up and supernatural abilities suggest familiar shenanigans, but I’m here to see them played out in a world where colonialism never happened. A River Called Time is published by Canongate on January 7th.

I was one of the heretics who admired Trail of Lightning rather than loving it, but Rebecca Roanhorse did more than enough tantalising worldbuilding to convince me to dip my toe into any new world she creates. Even better, Black Sun is a fantasy based in a world inspired by the Pueblo cultures, which had me excited even before the rave reviews started echoing across the Atlantic (where our American friends have had their hands on it for some time). The UK edition is due out from Solaris on January 21st.

Joshua Phillip Johnson’s debut novel The Forever Sea (look at that cover. LOOK AT IT) took me unawares and I’ve been desperate to read it ever since. Environmental epic fantasy? Ecopunk? Sure, that sounds intriguing, but what got me excited is that this is a book about ships sailing grasslands, a prairie sea home to magic, pirates and beasts from the deep. Oh yes, I need this book. The Forever Sea is out on January 26th from Titan Books.

My next three are fantasy romps I hadn’t even heard of until I started my research for this post, but which have immediately intrigued me with their playful concepts.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide To Wizardry (well hello, awesome title) teams up a con artist with a young lady in need of ‘Female Persons, of Martial or Magical ability, to guard a Lady of some Importance, prior to the celebration of her Marriage‘. CM Waggoner’s latest promises f/f romance, necromancy and hi-jinks and is out from Ace on January 21st.

Step up Manchester, it’s your urban fantasy time to shine – CK McDonnell’s debut The Stranger Times focuses on a dysfunctionoal paranormal newspaper whose new assistant editor is about to discover that the weird and wonderful stories are all too real. This comic dark fantasy is out from Transworld Publishers on January 14th.

Gideon Sable (not his true identity) specialises in stealing things that you just can’t – like a ghost’s clothes – but his next heist is going to require a crew who can do the truly impossible. Gideon is determined to steal the only thing that matters from the worst man in the world and live to tell the tale… Out from Severn House Publishers on January 29th.

Last up, three titles that promise three very different reads.

Camilla Bruce’s dark fairytale You Let Me In debuted last March, but completely passed me by for some reason (I wonder why <gazes to camera>). When bestselling author – and alleged murderess – Cassie Tipp disappears leaving only a letter, the world is eager to discover what really happened. But surely the letter’s tale of mistreated children and magically-crafted husbands can’t be true? I’m instantly getting The Thirteenth Shelf vibes, soo I’m looking forward to the UK paperback on January 28th from Black Swan.

I’m always queued up for pretty much anything involving Marie Brennan, but having heard her and Alyc Helms talk about culture and archaeology (my jam!) at Worldcon, I’ve been looking forward to their debut as MA Carrick ever since. Besides, I have a weakness for fantasy con artists. The Mask of Mirrors is out from Orbit on January 19th.

Bob/Sally at Beauty in Ruins gets the nod for bringing Persephone Station to my attention during SciFiMonth. Stina Leicht’s space opera has a familiar pitch – a backwater planet is threatened by corporate exploitation, and a criminal gang (who only do bad things for good reasons) step up to take them on with violence and wisecracks – but Persephone Station stands out for having female, nonbinary and transgender characters in the spotlight for once. Count me in. Out from Saga Press on January 5th (import only).

What releases are you looking forward to in January?

All release dates and publishers are for the UK unless otherwise mentioned.