Autumn only ever helps me forget the death of the earth. As green withers to brown and wind sharpens into something like winter, it’s easy to think of the dying earth as an annual ritual rather than a looming (and more permanent) scientific reality. And where the turn in scifi towards eco-futurism, solarpunk, and dystopian climate disasters is a constant reminder of humanity’s relationship to that countdown, I tend to consider the high fantasy genre to hold a more romantic perspective, one that invokes the cyclical nature of the seasons. Whether it’s magic growing out of humanity’s connection to earth, or an abomination against it, the genre so often yearns for equilibrium and for a pre-modern relationship to nature.
It’s not an overarching theme, of course, but often the secondary worlds that break that mold are doing it so deliberately that we can’t help but sit up and take notice. Last year, one of those novels was Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. This fall, while trees are dying and the air is quickening, the exception to watch for is The Queen of Blood, by Sarah Beth Durst. Nature in this world is anything but benevolent. The bond it has formed with humanity is anything but equal. Nature, in Renthia, is honestly a bit terrifying.