September is always a busy month in publishing, and this year is no exception. My apologies to the many titles I’ve ruthlessly ignored – and the many I’ve been ignorantly unaware of – in compiling my list of intriguing releases to make some room for this month…
I’ll start with two books that are already out and that probably need no boost from me as they have been all over my timeline for the past few weeks (but they’re getting one anyway, because I am excited about them) and one book that looks divine and shouldn’t fly under the radar.
I’m going to say it: I’m so over Norse-inspired fantasy and the second I see an axe on a cover, my heart sinks. Thankfully, Shauna Lawless is here to explore a different epic tradition with The Children of Gods and Fighting Men (out now, Head of Zeus / Ad Astra). The Viking King of Dublin is dead: now kings and immortals will vie to rule all of Ireland. I am so excited for a fantasy woven of Irish history and mythology (which kicks ass)!
RF Kuang is back with a new historical fantasy – billed by some oh so clever marketing person as a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange and Doctor Norrell. Forget the plot synopsis, that is enough to have me clamouring for a copy. But Babel (out now, HarperVoyager) is also a fantasy of linguistics and colonialism and honestly the more I hear the more I need to read it – so I’d like you to take a moment and witness that I stood in front of it in the bookshop today and didn’t buy it because I’m several hundred miles from home and it’s a long way to carry a chonk. But damn right I’m buying it when I get back.
Welsh Monsters & Mythical Beasts by CCJ Ellis (September 29th, Eye of Newt Press) caught my eye because of course it did – look at that cover. This is part of the Wool of Bat series, aimed at preserving and promoting folklore from around the world. As the name suggests, this illustrated guide delves into the dragons, beasts, fair folk, and spirits of Wales. It joins volumes on the myths and monsters of Greenland and Iceland – I look forward to seeing where the series ventures next.
Looking ahead: : next up is The Coral Bones, a stand-alone novel by EJ Swift (September 8th, Unsung Stories). Three women in three eras, bound to and by the sea – seeking to save, seeking to survive, seeking hope. Described as an elegy for a disappearing world, this sounds as beautiful as its jaw-dropping cover.
Sticking with stories told across different periods, Christopher Priest is back with a tale of a Victorian petty thief and two sets of twins separated by centuries, but whose lives are connected nonetheless. I haven’t read anywhere near as much Christopher Priest as I feel I should have done, so Expect Me Tomorrow (September 15th, Gollancz) is a good excuse to fix that!
I’ve not read any Rin Chupeco so Silver Under Nightfall (September 13th, Hodder & Stoughton) will be a first for me. I have feelings about vampire narratives – somewhere between instant excitement and eye roll – but I am always here for a new angle and Chupeco had me at vampire bounty hunters. Stir in a mutating virus that is producing dangerous new breeds of bloodsucker and a vampire couple our hero just has to team up with for the greater good and I’m reaching for the popcorn and red wine.
The end of the month sees two books that have been on my radar all year, one that took me by surprise but has me hopping keen, and one that I’ve only just discovered and can’t wait to read. In other words: some good shit, right here.
First up is The Unbalancing by RB Lemberg (September 20th, Tachyon Publications). Love blossoms between a starkeeper and a poet as the star beneath the waters around their island home begins to awaken, threatening to destroy it. Expect a lyrical, folkloric feel as Lemberg revisits familiar themes of transformation and queerness in the first full-length novel of the Birdverse.
I loved the novellas of The Tensorate, so I’m very excited to see what Neon Yang brings to space opera. The Genesis of Misery (September 27th, Tor Books) is a space fantasy reimagining of the Joan of Arc with giant robots and frankly that’s all I need to know.
I somehow completely missed that Dave Hutchinson was revisiting Fractured Europe – Cold Water appears to be a stand-alone spin-off introducing a new (former) agent of Les Coureurs des Bois who is determined her people-smuggling, border-crossing days are over… until a friend is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Fractured Europe has always owed a debt to Le Carré – Cold Water sounds like a straight spy thriller on the surface; but things are very rarely what they seem in this alternate future of micro-states and pocket universes…
Last of the new releases for this month is Leech by Hiron Ennes (September 29th, Tor). Set the dial for icy terror and dystopian body horror – in the farthest north, a baron’s doctor dies. The autopsy reveals a parasitical infection, but this is impossible. Every doctor is already possessed by the Institute. Now, it seems, the Institute has a rival – but are this rival’s intentions as pure as the Institute’s (and do we think for even a second that their self-appointed mission to “cradle and protect” humanity from past horrors sounds pure? Well, quite). Gothic science fiction is calling – this may be a perfect genre read as October nights draw in…
Before I go, a shout out to Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke, which gets a paperback release on September 27th (Hodder Studio). I loved this absurd little book, an office satire of a PR flak who accidentally uploads himself to the corporate Slack. Fun, silly and surprisingly touching, this was a little ray of sunshine in the first half of the reading year. Highly recommended.
What books coming out this month are you excited for?
All release dates and publishers are for the UK unless otherwise mentioned.