Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage of February releases in fantasy, young adult paranormal, and science fiction. Today’s column examines new releases in URBAN FANTASY and PARANORMAL ROMANCE.
The Symptoms: Children are in peril, magical cats are solving cozy mysteries, and vampires are winning the war of dominance against other critters.
The Diagnosis: Forty-two new urban fantasy (22) and paranormal romance (20) books fight their fanged path through February, including eight vampires, six demons, five witches, five ghosts, four shapeshifters, and a slew of undead literary legends.
The Cure: Avoid anything with fangs, stay out of shadowy corners, and don’t enroll in night classes taught by a guy claiming to be Lord Byron.
Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch (Feb. 1, Del Rey)
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Now, as a wave of bizarre killings engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
Unseen, by Rachel Caine (Feb. 1, Roc)
After Cassiel and Warden Luis Rocha rescue an adept child from a maniacal Djinn, they realize two things: the girl is already manifesting an incredible amount of power, and her kidnapping was not an isolated incident. This Djinn—aided by her devoted followers—is capturing children all over the world and indoctrinating them so she can use their strength for herself. With no other options, Cassiel infiltrates the Djinn’s organization. Third in the Outcast Season series.
Storm of Reckoning, by Doranna Durgin (Feb. 1, Tor)
Lisa “Garrie” McGarity leads a ghost buster team—and has recently become entangled with Trevarr, a fiercely driven demon-hunter from a different dimension. After tumultuous adventures in San Jose, Trevarr returns to this world and to Garrie, a battered exile. But there’s little time to recuperate; a friend in Sedona needs their help. There, in that area of power convergence, Garrie is astonished to find the ethereal breezes quiet, the earth’s activity so diminished as to be nonexistent, if you don’t count those oddball surges that don’t taste like our world at all.
Jane Goes Batty, by Michael Thomas Ford (Feb. 1, Ballantine)
After 200 years undead, Jane Austen still has bite. But will her most recent literary success be her last? Life was a lot easier for Jane when she was just an unknown, undead bookstore owner in a sleepy hamlet in upstate New York. But now the world embraces her as Jane Fairfax, author of the bestselling novel Constance—and she’s having a killer time trying to keep her true identity as the Jane Austen a secret. Even the ongoing lessons in “How to Be a Vampire,” taught by her former lover Lord Byron, don’t seem to be helping much, not to mention the constant threat of a certain bloodsucking Brontë sister coming back to finish her off.
Halfway Hexed, by Kimberly Frost (Feb. 1, Berkley Trade)
New witch Tammy Jo Trask has a whole town full of trouble. First, there are the local residents who form a scripture-spouting posse and kidnap Tammy to “defend” Duvall, Texas, against witchcraft. Next, someone saddles her with a secret package full of dangerous visions. And who worse to examine Tammy’s entanglement with off-limits and drop-dead gorgeous wizard Bryn Lyons than his ex-girlfriend? Not to mention that the clash between the locals and the magical visitors leads to a series of unnatural disasters that may doom them all.
Forest Moon Rising, by P.R. Frost (Feb. 1, Daw)
A new Tess Noncoiré adventure finds the successful fantasy writer and Celestial Blade Warrior making a deal with the Powers That Be, forfeiting her own dreams in order to save those nearest and dearest to her. Tess, along with her imp Scrap, is determined to hunt down a demonic intruder from another dimension, the Norglein, who seems bent on ravishing young women, leaving them pregnant, and waiting for the proper time to steal their babies for his own purposes.
Blood Wyne, by Yasmine Galenorn (Feb. 1, Berkley)
The D’Artigo sisters have turned in their badges to the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. Now that they’re free agents they’re hoping things will be easier, but when you’re half-human, half-Fae, things can go astray at the most inopportune times—especially if you’re attempting to go undercover and penetrate the underworld of a vamp society on the brink of war.
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, by Sofie Kelly (Feb. 1, Signet)
When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minn., she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen’s fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there’s something more to these magical felines.
Evenfall, by Liz Michalski (Feb. 1, Berkley Trade)
Frank Wildermuth always regretted a mistake he made as a teenager: choosing Clara Murphy over her sister Gert. And like a true Murphy woman, Gert got on with her life, never admitting to heartbreak. Not even now, decades later, with Frank dead—dead, that is, but not quite gone.
666 Park Avenue, by Gabriella Pierce (Feb. 1, Avon)
What if your mother-in-law turned out to be an evil, cold-blooded witch—literally? Ever since wealthy Malcolm Doran swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan’s most feared families, Jane’s fairy tale takes a darker turn. Now she must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.
Siren’s Surrender, by Devyn Quinn (Feb. 1, Signet)
Never embracing her mermaid heritage, Gwen Lonike lives in the human world as the owner of a Maine B&B. But when the gateway to a lost mermaid kingdom is opened, freeing its dangerous queen, Gwen can no longer hide, nor keep her secret from covert agent Blake Whittaker. How long can Gwen and her sisters remain safe from a destructive queen, and from Blake’s superiors, whose ultimate mission could prove the greatest threat of all?
The Curse-Maker, by Kelli Stanley (Feb. 1, Minotaur)
When Roman physician Arcturus and his stunning wife Gwyna arrive at Bath for a holiday, a dead body is floating in the sacred spring. It turns out that the murdered man is a curse maker whose curses actually come true, and as murder follows murder, it looks like there’s now a curse on Arcturus. An exotic look at the sideshow world of fake healers, ghost-raisers and medicine men, The Curse-Maker is the story of a spa town where people go to heal—only to wind up dead.
Angel’s Verdict, by Mary Stanton (Feb. 1, Berkley)
Celestial advocate Brianna Winston-Beaufort is eager to set aside handling appeals for condemned souls and get back to practicing law in the land of the living. Three months after taking over the family practice Bree jumps at the opportunity to work for an earthly client. But when elderly actress Justine Coville walks into Beaufort & Company’s office to make changes to her will, she drags Bree into a whole otherworld of troubles.
A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah E. Harkness (Feb. 8, Viking)
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of demons, witches and vampires descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries—and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages, by Tom Holt (Feb. 21, Orbit)
Polly is a real estate solicitor. She is also losing her mind. Someone keeps drinking her coffee. And talking to her clients. And doing her job. And when she goes to the dry cleaner’s to pick up her dress for the party, it’s not there. Not the dress—the dry cleaner’s. And then there are the chickens who think they are people. Something strange is definitely going on, and it’s going to take more than a magical ring to sort it out.
Serpent’s Storm, by Amber Benson (Feb. 22, Ace)
Calliope just wants to make it big in the Big Apple like any other working girl. But Callie is also Death’s daughter, no matter how much she tries to stay out of the family business. And now her older sister has made a deal with the Devil himself to engage in a hostile takeover of both Death Inc. and Heaven—once they get Callie out of the way.
King’s Justice, by Maurice Broaddus (Feb. 22, Angry Robot)
From the drug gangs of downtown Indianapolis, the one true king will arise. Guided by the crazed visions of his advisor Merle, King knows that he must unite the opposing factions before the streets erupt in all-out war. But how can he preach peace when even his own warriors are plotting against him? Second in the Knights of Breton Court series.
Pale Demon, by Kim Harrison (Feb. 22, Eos)
Condemned and shunned for black magic, Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the annual witches’ conference and clear her name, or be trapped in the demonic ever-after—forever after. But a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixie in one car going across the country? Talk about a recipe for certain disaster, even without being the targets for assassination. For after centuries of torment, a fearsome demon walks in the sunlight—freed at last to slay the innocent and devour their souls. But his ultimate goal is Rachel Morgan, and in the fight for survival that follows, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her. Ninth in the Hallows series.
Dead Waters, by Anton Strout (Feb. 22, Ace)
Simon Canderous, of the Department of Extraordinary Affairs, is used to fighting vampires and zombies. But the strange murder of a professor has everyone stumped. And it’s making some people crazy. Literally.
Dead Streets, by Tim Waggoner (Feb. 22, Angry Robot)
You’ve got to keep your head to survive in the teeming undead city known as Nekropolis. It’s a pity crazed genius Victor Baron couldn’t manage that. Now everyone wants a piece of him. Zombie detective Matt Richter and his glamorous she-vampire companion Devona are back on the case.
Green-Eyed Demon, by Jaye Wells (Feb. 22, Orbit)
Things to do: 1.) Rescue sister. 2.) Murder grandmother. 3.) Don’t upset the voodoo priestess. The clock is ticking for Sabina Kane. Her sister has been kidnapped by her grandmother, the Dark Races are on the brink of war, and a mysterious order is manipulating everyone behind the scenes. Working on information provided by an unlikely ally, Sabina and her trusty sidekicks—a sexy mage named Adam Lazarus and Giguhl, a Mischief demon—head to New Orleans to begin the hunt.
The Rogue Oracle, by Alayna Williams (Feb. 22, Pocket)
Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around—and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn’t need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi’s Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…
Haunting Jasmine, by Anjali Banerjee (Feb. 1, Berkley Trade)
A call from the past brings divorcee Jasmine Mistry home to Shelter Island to run her beloved aunt’s bookstore, which has always been rumored to be haunted. With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, and guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors. Surprisingly, she finds herself moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger.
The Werewolf Upstairs, by Ashlyn Chase (Feb. 1, Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Alpha werewolf Konrad Wolfensen sees it as his duty to protect the citizens of Boston, even if it means breaking into their businesses just to prove their security systems don’t work. But when his unsolicited services land him in trouble with the law, he’ll have to turn to his sexy new neighbor for help. Attorney Roz Wells is bored. She used to have such a knack for attracting the weird and unexpected, but ever since she took a job as a Boston public defender, the quirky quotient in her life has taken a serious hit. Until her sexy werewolf neighbor starts coming around.
Darkness Dawns, by Dianne Duvall (Feb. 1, Zebra)
Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control.
Visions of Magic, by Regan Hastings (Feb. 1, Signet)
In the ten years since magic has re-emerged in the world, witches have become feared and hunted. For weeks Shea Jameson has been haunted by visions of fire. When she unintentionally performs a spell in public, she becomes one of the hunted. Her only hope is Torin, a dangerously sensual man who claims to be her eternal mate.
Biting Me Softly, by Mary Hughes (Feb. 1, Samhain)
Blood, sex, violence. Blood, okay, but computer geek Liese Schmetterling had enough S&V when her cheating ex fired her. Now security expert Logan Steel saunters into her Blood Center, setting fire to her libido. Centuries old and tragedy-scarred, Logan’s mission is to fortify the Blood Center’s electronic defenses against his nemesis, the leader of a rogue vampire gang. He’s ready for battle but not for Liese, who slips under his skin, laughs at his awful puns, charges beside him into dark, scary places—and tastes like his true love.
First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones (Feb 1, St. Martin’s Press)
A debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. Charley sees dead people, and it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances, sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life—and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
Moon Burning, by Lucy Monroe (Feb. 1, Berkley)
On a mission to save her people from extinction, Sabrine pretends she has no memory in order to gain access to her enemies, the Donegal clan. A raven shifter, she is determined to retrieve the sacred stone that rightfully belongs to her people. But soon she’ll be engulfed in her growing love for the Donegal laird who believes he saved her—and the dangerous and inescapable secrets destined to keep them apart.
Blaze of Glory, by Sheryl Nantus (Feb. 1, Samhain)
Saving the world is easy for a superhero—unless you’re a fraud. Jo Tanis fights evil, and it’s all just a show. The Agency captures her and others like her, pitting them against each other in staged fights. But when Earth comes under attack, it becomes deadly real. Millions are going to die unless Jo can cobble together a team from the surviving supers. Including Hunter, who seems to know more than he should. She must decide if Hunter is friend or foe—and become a real superhero.
Before the Storm, by Marian Perera (Feb. 1, Samhain)
In Dagran society, Alex is the lowest of the low—a “mare,” an object to be used by the nobility. When her owner, Stephen Garnath, gifts her to his greatest rival, she begins plotting her path to freedom. Robert Demeresna is instantly suspicious of such a generous gift. Yet she comes to him armed with only her sharp mind—a potent weapon he can use to defend his people from the enemy. And underneath, an unbreakable spirit that besieges the walls of his heart. But first they must fight a new kind of war, fought with steam engines, explosives—and magic with a killing edge.
Blood of the Rose, by Kate Pearce (Feb. 1, Signet)
When vampire slayer Rosalind Llewellyn had to join forces with her enemy Christopher Ellis to defeat a rogue vampire threatening Henry VIII, their alliance led to a surprising passion. Reunited after a year’s separation, they now face a new threat that could destroy their last chance at happiness. Part of the Tudor Vampire Chronicles.
Mists of Velvet, by Sophie Renwick (Feb. 1, NAL)
Hidden from mortals, Annwyn, the Otherworld, is home to shapeshifters, wraiths and dragons. Rhys MacDonald, the mortal great-grandson of a banished prince, races to Annwyn to offer help when his ancient homeland is threatened by a dangerous Dark Magick. There he encounters a young goddess and shapeshifter, who thinks he is the mate foreseen in her dreams.
Nightshade, by Michelle Rowen (Feb. 1, Berkley)
Jillian Conrad never believed in vampires—until she was unwillingly injected with a serum that was supposed to act as a deadly poison to them. Now, tormented half-vampire Declan Reese wants her blood to destroy the undead kingdom.
On the Hunt, by Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Andersen & Deidre Knight (Feb. 1, Signet)
Gena Showalter headlines an all-star cast of authors in On the Hunt, a collection of novellas featuring sensual hunters, shadowy creatures, intoxicating magic and out-of-this world passion. In “Ever Night,” Gena Showalter tells the story of a beautiful woman who is swept into a world of nightmares ruled by a warrior king who’s as seductive as he is terrifying. Shannon K. Butcher continues her Sentinel Wars series with “The Collector” as Neil Etan meets a human who can heal his pain—and replace it with rapture—with the merest touch. Also features a Final Prophecy novella by Jessica Andersen and a Gods of Midnight tale by Deidre Knight.
Absolutely, Positively, by Heather Webber (Feb. 1, St. Martin’s Press)
“Exposed” by a Boston Herald reporter, Lucy is suddenly the talk of the town. Long back-story short: Even though the rest of her Valentine ancestors were blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, Lucy’s only special power lies in her ability to find things. This skill has proven quite a blessing for those who come to her matchmaking agency in search of finding their long-lost loves. Now that Lucy’s secret is out, she has more new clients than she knows what to do with. But soon a certain man of mystery steals Lucy’s spotlight.
Bad Karma, by Theresa Weir (Feb. 1, Samhain)
Officer Daniel Sinclair can spot an outsider a mile away. He ought to know—he’s the worst kind. A natural-born native of Egypt, Missouri, who left home and came back citified. Even before he lays eyes on Cleo Tyler, his L.A.-honed suspicions tell him the psychic hired to locate Egypt’s missing master key is a fraud. Cleo’s used to dealing with skeptics—in fact, she is one. She longs to believe abilities like hers don’t exist, yet she can’t explain the odd glimpses into other people’s lives, nor the terrible flashbacks from her own past.
Aftertime, by Sophie Littlefield (Feb. 15, Luna)
Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Wearing unfamiliar clothes and having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Her daughter has vanished. And with her, nearly all of civilization. In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke.
The Truth About Vampires, by Theresa Meyers (Feb. 15, Nocturne)
All her life Seattle reporter Kristin Reed sought her breakout story. She never thought she’d find it in the crimson lair of a real creature of the night. Kristin never believed vampires existed—until with dark brooding eyes and a decadent chocolate scent, Dmitri Dionotte called out to her. Dmitri and his clan’s true nature was cloaked in secrecy until a warring vampire order threatened their existence. Kristin was just the woman he needed.
American Vampire, by Jennifer Armintrout (Feb. 22, Mira)
Buried in the Heartland is a town that no one enters or leaves. Graf McDonald somehow becomes its first visitor in more than five years—and he was only looking for a good party. Unfortunately, Penance, Ohio, is not that place. And after having been isolated for so long, they do not like strangers. Jessa’s the only one to even remotely trust him, and she’s desperate for the kind of protection that only a vampire like Graf can provide.
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (Feb. 22, Avon)
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance. With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war… to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined. Fifth in the Night Huntress series.
Etched in Bone, by Adrian Phoenix (Feb. 22, Pocket)
More beautiful and powerful than any creature the world has seen, Dante Baptiste has become the supreme target of the three worlds that spawned him. The mortal agents of the Shadow Branch have tried to control his mind through psychological torture. The vampire elders who guide nightkind society have plotted to use him in their bloodthirsty bid for power. And the Fallen have waited for millennia for Dante to claim his birthright as their Maker. But Dante belongs to no one—except the woman he loves.
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson finds demonic romance vaguely unsettling. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.