Seventeen new fantasies hit the shelves in April, including five Young Adult titles (or are they sci-fi? Or genre-benders? Or romance?). A new standalone comes from Guy Gavriel Kay to kick off the month, plus there are series additions from Mercedes Lackey/Rosemary Edghill, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, John Marco, Mary Robinette Kowal, Robin Hobb, Freda Warrington, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Jenna Black—plus an anthology of animal tales chosen by Neil Gaiman.
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.
Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment changed his life in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. He emerges years later, and his life changes again as he circles towards the court and emperor while war approaches Kitai from the north. Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. When her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has. In an empire divided by bitter factions circling a cultured emperor, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.
Young Adult. The students of Oakhurst Academy believe they have triumphed over the Shadow Knights. But Spirit, Burke, Muirin, Loch, and Addie know better. Under the guise of a company called Breakthrough Adventure Systems, the Shadow Knights have actually taken over the campus. The new regime is brutal, designed to turn the students into soldiers wielding both weapons and magic. Anyone who protests disappears. Desperate, the group decides that Muirin should go undercover to spy on Breakthrough. But Muirin’s act is a little too good, and Spirit begins to fear that her friend’s loyalties might have truly changed. Surrounded by enemies and friends who suddenly seem like strangers, Spirit has decide who can, and cannot, be trusted.
Venice stands victorious. It has beaten back the German emperor’s army and the Byzantine navy. The Duchess Alexa’s party at court is strong again. Her niece, Lady Giulietta, will be the next Regent. Giulietta’s lover, Lord Tycho, will sit beside her. No one is prepared for the fury of Prince Alonzo, exiled regent and traitor to his city. No one is prepared for the harshest winter Europe has ever known. As the canals of Venice freeze and wolves cross the ice from the north, Alonzo’s plotting brings the Venetian empire to the very edge of destruction. With the Millioni family at war with itself, Lord Tycho, once a slave and a trained assassin, has to ask himself the only question that matters. How much is he prepared to sacrifice to keep Lady Giulietta’s city safe?
Lukien is the Bronze Knight, beloved by his kingdom and renowned in battle throughout his world. After betraying his king and losing his beloved, he wishes only for death, but rather than die, Lukien is given a chance for redemption: to be the protector of the Inhumans, those fragile mortals who live deep in the desert, far from the prying eyes of their world. These remarkable individuals have been granted magical powers in exchange for the hardships and handicaps life has handed them. And Lukien, now immortal himself, must be their champion. But how can one man, even an immortal warrior, protect hundreds from a world of potential enemies?
Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane’s family, but quickly turn restless. The year is unseasonably cold. No one wants to be outside and Mr. Ellsworth is concerned by the harvest, since a bad one may imperil Melody’s dowry. Melody has concerns of her own, given the inadequate selection of eligible bachelors. When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to take it, and take Melody with them. There, talk is of nothing but the crop failures and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north. Jane and Vincent realize that in addition to getting Melody married, they must take on one small task: solving an international crisis.
Young Adult. When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven, the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico. Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico. Even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. It’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth, to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.
The dragons and their dedicated band of keepers have at last found the lost city of Kelsingra. As the mystical bonds with their dragons deepen, Thymara, Tats, Rapskal, and even Cedric, the unlikeliest of keepers, have begun transforming into beautiful Elderlings. While the humans have scoured Kelsongra, they cannot find the mythical silver wells the dragons need to stay healthy and survive. The keepers must risk “memory walking,” immersing themselves in the memories of long-deceased Elderlings. The legendary Tintaglia has returned, wounded in a battle with humans hunting dragon blood and scales. She is weakening and only the hidden silver can revive her. If Tintaglia dies, so, too, will the memories she carries, a loss that will ensure the dragons’ extinction.
Young Adult. Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy, all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen gather. In the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. It also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces. Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail. As attacks batter them, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should.
Young Adult. The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. Between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She could be the catalyst for their final destruction. The Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade and Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, know it. When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?
A painting, depicting haunting scenes of a ruined palace and a scarlet-haired goddess in front of a fiery city, arrives unheralded in an art gallery with a cryptic note saying, “The world needs to see this.” The painting begins to change the lives of the woman who is the gallery’s curator and that of an ancient man of the fey Aetherial folk who has mysteriously risen from the depths of the ocean. Neither human nor fairy knows how they are connected, but when the painting is stolen, both are compelled to discover the meaning behind the painting and the key it holds to their future.
Young Adult. Jake’s father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger. The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn’s estate: Sarah, a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne, who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. A tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.
Himiko’s world is falling apart. An attack by a rival clan, the Ookami, has left many from her tribe dead or enslaved. Amid the chaos and fear, Himiko hatches a plan to save her people. But just when it seems that she will outwit Ryu, the cruel Ookami leader, she is captured. Held against her will, Himiko starts to realize that not all of the Ookami are her enemies. Though she may not see her path as clearly as the spirits seem to, there’s more adventure (and even unexpected love) for this princess turned shaman-warrior.
Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman, edited by Neil Gaiman, (April 23, HarperCollins)
A griffin, a werewolf, a sunbird. These are just some of the fantastical creatures you’ll encounter within these pages. From the cockatoucan, whose laugh rearranges an entire kingdom, to the roving shapeless Beast that lurks in a forest, herein is a collection of rare and magnificent species. Each one will thrill, delight, and quite possibly unnerve you. Selected by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, the sixteen stories in this menagerie will introduce you to a host of strange, wondrous beings that have never existed anyplace but in the richness of the imagination. With stories from Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, E. Nesbit, and many more, Unnatural Creatures will benefit the literacy nonprofit 826DC.
Among the fiercest Andarion warriors ever born, Hauk is one of the five founding members of the Sentella, an organization that has declared war on the League that rules the Ichidian universe with an iron fist and terrifies it with an army of well-trained assassins. Hauk’s enemies are legion. Sumi Antaxas is one of the best assassins the League has ever trained. When she’s assigned Hauk, she believes it’ll be a quick and easy mission. As she pursues him, she stumbles upon the key that will bring down not only Hauk, but the entire Sentella organization. She is overtaken by enemies out to end her as effectively as she intends to end Hauk. Her only key to survival is the man she’s been sent to kill. Hauk doesn’t trust her at all. Will he help her to live, or send her to her grave?
No longer the leader of the Olympians, Konstantin has now gone into hiding. Anderson believes now is the perfect time to destroy his nemesis. He orders private eye Nikki Glass to use her powers to locate Konstantin. Nikki’s search is complicated by Cyrus, Konstantin’s son and the leader of the Olympians, who threatens retribution if his father is killed. Nikki begins to suspect that Konstantin might not be behind the attacks after all. The only person who hates Konstantin more than Anderson does is Anderson’s estranged wife, Emma, who has joined the Olympians. As Nikki tries to figure out who the true enemy is, she deals with her relationship with Jamaal, who struggles to control his death magic. Being loved by a descendant of a death goddess is the least of Nikki’s worries.
When Blud princess Ahnastasia wakes up, drained and starving in a suitcase, she’s not sure which calls to her more: the sound of music or the scent of blood. The source of both sensations is a mysterious man named Casper Sterling. Once the most celebrated musician in London, Sangland, he’s fallen on hard times. The debauched and reckless human is her only ticket back home to Freesia. Together with Casper’s charge, a scrappy orphan named Keen, they seek passage to Ahna’s homeland, where a power-hungry sorceress named Ravenna holds the royal family in thrall. Ahna discovers that Freesia holds new perils and dangerous foes. She is forced to choose between her heart and the land that she was born to rule. With Casper’s help, Ahna may find a way to have it all.
Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series is published by Tor Books. You can find Suzanne on Facebook and on her speculative fiction blog, Preternatura.