Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for January

Stories range from 1980s nerds, stolen airships, demons in Regency London, and China Miéville, so it must be genre-benders! This month’s twelve titles include stories from, among others, China Miéville, David Nickle, Alison Goodman, Megan E. O’Keefe, and Lena Coakley.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

 

WEEK ONE

Once Upon a KissRobin Palmer (January 5, Speak)

Young Adult. It’s 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner’s world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn’t associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

Passenger (Passenger #1)Alexandra Bracken (January 5, Disney-Hyperion)

Young Adult. In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. She’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods, a powerful family in the colonies, and the servitude he’s known at their hands. The Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. Treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home, forever.

Pawn’s Gambit: And Other StratagemsTimothy Zahn (January 5, Open Road Media)

Collection. The pieces included in Pawn’s Gambit range from the adventure science fiction Timothy Zahn is famous for to post-apocalyptic tales and humorous fantasy. In “The Price of Survival,” an alien ship arrives in our solar system without hostile intentions, but with a desperate need that could destroy humanity. “The Giftie Gie Us” is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, in which two lonely survivors find love among the ruins. And in the title story, a human and his alien opponent face off over a game that will decide which one of them will return home, and which will not. This collection also includes the Hugo Award winning novella Cascade Point and eight stories previously unpublished in book form.

Steal the Sky (The Scorched Continent #1)Megan E. O’Keefe (January 5, Angry Robot)

Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sights on their biggest heist yet, the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia. A face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. The doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. He has to be careful, there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. If his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

The Children’s HomeCharles Lambert (January 5, Scribner)

In a sprawling estate, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection, One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up. Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. The children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the BrontesLena Coakley (January 5, Amulet Books)

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters, the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna, refuse to let them go.

 

WEEK TWO

And AgainJessica Chiarella (January 12, Touchstone)

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda, four terminally ill patients, have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves, without a single imperfection. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

The Killing JarJennifer Bosworth (January 12, Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR)

Young Adult. Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret. She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people, even her own mother, at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance. Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. She discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. She starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. The longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her.

This Census-TakerChina Miéville (January 12, Del Rey)

Novella. In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries, and fails, to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape. When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over. But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?

 

WEEK THREE

The Caretakers: A Tor.Com OriginalDavid Nickle (January 20, Tor)

Digital. A tale about a group of people called to a meeting with their intimidating boss. The newest member of their organization is not so sure she wants to even be there.

 

WEEK FOUR

Rise of the Wolf (Mark of the Thief #2)Jennifer A. Nielsen (January 26, Scholastic Press)

Young Adult. Nic may have escaped enslavement in the mines outside of Rome, but his troubles are far from over. The Praetor War, the battle to destroy Rome from within, is in full force, and Nic is caught in the crossfire. The secretive Praetors are determined to unlock a powerful amulet. The Praetors believe Nic holds the key to finding this amulet, and they will stop at nothing to steal it, even if that means harming the people Nic holds most dear. When the Praetors capture Nic’s mother, Nic knows he must do anything to save her. He challenges the Praetors to a chariot race. If he wins, they will release his mother. If he loses, he must hand over a magic that will certainly destroy Rome and end his own life. Can Nic once again harness his magic and gather the strength to defeat his enemies? Or will he lose his mother and bear witness to Rome’s destruction?

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)Alison Goodman (January 26, Viking BYR)

Young Adult. London, 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation at the royal court of George III. When one of her family’s maids disappears, she is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few able to stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons that has infiltrated all levels of society. Carlston is not a man she should be anywhere near, especially with the taint of scandal that surrounds him. He offers her help and the possibility of discovering the truth about the mysterious deaths of her parents. Soon the two of them are investigating a terrifying conspiracy that threatens to plunge the newly Enlightened world back into darkness. Can Helen trust a man whose own life is built on lies? Does she have the strength to face the dangers of this hidden world and her family’s legacy?

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, and, as Susannah Sandlin, the Penton Legacy paranormal series and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou suspense series. You can find her on Facebook and on her website.

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