Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. I’m still playing catch up on recent prompts, so this week I’m looking ahead to what the second half of the year has in store…
I have a fairly limited grasp of what the publishing world has lined up for us later in 2022, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few titles on my radar that I’m gasping to read. I looked at July releases last week, so I’m skipping ahead to take a first look at August and beyond today.
Big themes and bold cover art are the name of the game in August, which sees the release of one of my most-anticipated books of 2022: The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri (Orbit, August 16th). If you haven’t yet read The Jasmine Throne, you’ve got time to catch up: expect an Indian-inspired fantasy of ancient temples and deadly politics, where the battle of wills between a cruel Emperor and his rebellious sister has become intertwined with an oppressed province’s desire to regain independence and a deadly magical rot is infecting the land. Epic, queer and on fire in every sense – I can’t wait to see where Malini and Priya’s journeys take them in volume two.
First though, there’s The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia (Tachyon Publications, August 9th). A debut Persian-inspired fantasy in a queernorm world, where a refugee blood magician must investigate a mysterious new sickness ripping through the city-state that shelters them. Expect themes of prejudice, integration, gender and family.
RF Kuang is back to hammer your hearts on September 1st with Babel: Or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution, which may be THE most academic fantasy title of all time. I am always drawn to tales about language and protagonists caught between cultures, so this had me at hello – I am doing my level best to avoid ALL the hype so that I can go in knowing practically nothing about it. Historical fantasy! Magic! Language! That’ll do, donkey.
I had mixed feelings (a melange of bemused, impressed and devastated) about The Four Profound Weaves, RB Lemberg’s first novella of the Birdverse – but they certainly intrigued me enough to be excited to dive back into that universe. This is a world where names have meaning, family comes in many forms, and transformation is accepted and embraced. In The Unbalancing (Tachyon Publications, September 20th), a poet and a starkeeper are drawn together as a star awakens beneath the waters near their island home.
Camilla Bruce flew onto my ‘authors to watch’ list with You Let Me In, so damn right I’m excited to read her follow-up The Witch In The Well this autumn. A battle of wills between a school teacher determined to write the true history of the woman her town drowned as a witch and her old friend – now a celebrity author – who wants to write a bestseller focused on the witch’s magic. One woman will die, one will stand accused of murder – and as Camilla Bruce loves to tease and twist her narratives, will we ever know the truth about the witch in the well? Unlikely, but we’ll probably love every minute (ebook due on October 4th from Transworld; hardcover apparently delayed until 2023).
Sticking with dark gothic fantasies, Fiona Barnett’s debut The Dark Between The Trees (Solaris, October 13th) will be stalking the shadows and making you hope that’s just a tree branch knocking on your window. A classic set-up of what can possibly go wrong as a team of academics venture into a haunted wood to unpick the tall tales that have obscured the truth of how Cromwell’s men disappeared there. Can scepticism and modern technology save them from the darkness within Moresby Wood? Unlikely, I suspect. I’ll be reading this with the lights on.
Taran Hunt’s debut The Immortality Thief (Solaris, October 11th) is a smorgasbord of my favourite space opera tropes: a linguist protagonist; a salvage mission; an abandoned spaceship full of booby traps; and politically-sensitive treasure. Stir in genetically engineered monsters and an actual supernova and this sounds like absurdly high-octane entertainment as humanity’s alien rulers and our last independent government all vie to get their hands on the recipe for immortality.
Speaking of damn good fun, Daniel O’Malley is back – HOORAY! – with a third novel of the Checquy; Britain’s supernatural intelligence service. This is a series that often flies below the radar (go find a copy of The Rook), but serves up gripping dishes of paranormal hijinks featuring compromised protagonists trying to escape the attentions of their colleagues. Blitz (Little Brown, October 18th) introduces a new recruit who is assigned to investigate a string of brutal murders – only to realise they all look an awful lot like she did them. The answers lie deep in the past – if Lyn can evade capture long enough to unearth them.
November means SciFiMonth, and it looks like the universe is going to assist with some awesome space opera releases to help us celebrate our tenth event.
Before I get as far as Cleopatra in space (oops, got there, AAAAAAH) let’s take a moment to admire that iconic cover art, can we? Yes, this one had me at hello on all fronts: a computer that holds a god’s immortal soul; and a woman determined to do whatever it takes to reclaim her throne – and access to the machine god that whispers in her ear. Does much gender-swapping indicate some queer romance too? That remains to be seen, but frankly I’m already sold. The Stars Undying is out from Orbit on November 8th.
Last but by no means least, Aliette de Bodard has a new space opera for us to close out the year – The Red Scholar’s Wake (Gollancz, November 24th) doesn’t have cover art yet, but with a pitch of ‘an arranged marriage between space pirates’ who needs cover art? This has all the hallmarks of de Bodard scifi, promising interstellar war and aching romance. Can’t. Wait.
What are you looking forward to reading later this year?