Make Some Room: February

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

Wait, where did January go? If 2021 is going to rocket along like this we’re in trouble, because there are a lot of exciting books on the horizon! If There’s Always Room For One More, these are the ones I’m most intrigued by next month…

This is one of those rare months where I’m mostly making noise about books I’ve already made room for, so I feel a bit like I’m cheating. BUT I wouldn’t have requested the ARCs or placed the pre-orders if I weren’t very excited, so let me share my enthusiasm.

AJ Hackwith’s The Library of the Unwritten was one of my favourite 2020 reads, so I pounced on the Request button as soon as sequel The Archive of the Forgotten was posted on NetGalley. Having survived an infernal conspiracy, Claire and Brevity are back with a new problem: the books damaged during the storming of the Library have begun leaking ink. Hell’s Library is oncee again poised to disturb the balance of power across the underworlds – and our heroines don’t see eye to eye on how to handle the crisis. Out in the UK on February 9th from Titan Books.

The Edge is the much-delayed third instalment in James Smythe’s Anomaly quartet. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the first two in preparation; The Edge picks up as the Anomaly encroaches on Earth, playing out on an orbital space station where the team (mentored by an elderly Tomas Hyvonen) race against time to stop it. I expect more psychological horror than space heroics from this series, and I’m excited that we get a female perspective this time around. The Edge arrives on February 18th from HarperVoyager.

Speaking of James Smythe, I picked up Light Perpetual on the basis of Smythe’s effusive praise for it on Twitter. SF loves to tease what if scenarios; here, Spufford makes it personal by exploring the alternate lives of five children killed during the Blitz, providing snapshots of London through the 20th century – a literary takes on the Up documentaries, if you will. Not my usual reading diet, but I have previously enjoyed Spufford’s non-fiction and am intrigued by this blend of the sociological and fantastic. Out on February 2nd from Faber & Faber.

Becky Chambers brings her Wayfarers sequence to an end on February 18th with the release of The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Hodder & Stoughton). In the final standalone instalment, we visit a galactic truck stop for an introspective tale of stranded travellers – promising the usual low-key, high-feelings wander through life in the Galactic Commons. I’ve pre-ordered a signed copy from Goldsboro Books to celebrate the end of one of my favourite series.

Also out on February 18th from Orbit is The Black Coast, the start of a new epic fantasy from Mike Brooks. Brooks had me at war dragons, but this promises a blend of high stakes adventure and cultural tensions as the Black Keep readies itself to face down the aggression of a daemonic warlord by integrating an ancient enemy into their community. Also, war dragons.

My final February pre-purchase is TL Huchu’s debut The Library of the Dead, out from Tor on February 4th. I hesitated purely because I hesitate at any book with a teenage protagonist these days, but here our heroine is a ghost talker in Edinburgh, carrying notes for the dead. Promising Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism, this is an irresistible urban fantasy pitch (and thankfully the Goldsboro SFF saved me from my dithering by making it February’s pick).

I’ll close with three titles whose lure I haven’t yet succumbed to (but almost certainly will). Two out of three featured in my round-up of exciting 2021 debuts. Winter’s Orbit is a: queer romance and political space opera by Everina Maxwell, out from Orbit on February 2nd. Titan Books will be releasing Hannah Mathewson’s YA debut, Witherward – a new London urban fantasy of mirror worlds and changelings – on February 16th.

Last but very far from least is Sarah Gailey’s new SFnal thriller, The Echo Wife, out on February 18th from Hodder & Stoughton. The prolific and eclectic Gailey goes from strength to strength: this time, she’s serving up domestic drama as a celebrated scientist takes revenge on her husband for cheating on her with her own clone: expect sharp-edged feminist commentary as the women engage in murderous shenanigans.

What releases are you looking forward to in February?

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