Twenty books wander between genres this month, from alternative histories to cozy paranormal mysteries. Look for series additions from, among others, Juliet Blackwell (Witchcraft Mystery), E.C. Ambrose (Dark Apostle), Steve White (Blood of the Heroes), Tom Kratman (Desert Called Peace), Bailey Cates (Magical Bakery), D.B. Jackson (Thieftaker Chronicles), Mark Hodder (Burton and Swinburne), and Harry Turtledove (The War That Came Early).
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.
Lily Ivory hopes to score some great vintage fashions when she buys an antique trunk full of old clothes. She may have gotten more than she bargained for. As soon as Lily opens the trunk, she feels strange vibrations emanating from a mysterious velvet cloak. When she tries it on, Lily sees awful visions from the past. And when the antiques dealer who sold her the cape is killed, Lily suspects a supernatural force might be behind his death. Then Lily’s familiar, Oscar the potbellied pig, disappears. Lily will do anything to get him back, including battling the spirit of a powerful witch reaching out from the past. But even with the aid of her grandmother, unmasking a killer and saving Oscar might be more than one well-intentioned sorceress can handle.
An extraordinary, intense, compressed novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real history of the Park family, from differing points of view. The first section is set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a world in which the Queen of the North has negotiated a two-nation settlement. The second, taking place in northwestern Massachusetts, investigates a secret project during World War II, in a time somewhat like the present. The third is set in the near-future United States, with aliens from history.
Elisha, a barber-surgeon from the poorest streets of fourteenth-century London, has come a long way from home. Elisha accepted the offer of Lucius, serving under Lucius as a battle surgeon of the king’s army. Elisha soon found that he had a talent for a surprising and deadly sort of magic, and was drawn into the clandestine world of sorcery by the enchanting young witch Brigit. Beneath the politics of court and castle are those of power in its purest form: magic. There are the magi, those who have grasped the secrets of affinity and knowledge to manipulate mind and matter. There are indivisi, thought mad by the rest of the magical world. There are the necromancers, whose methods, motives, and very existence remain mysterious. As Elisha begins a journey to help rebuild the country he shattered, will he be able to overcome the darkness inside himself?
Ghosts of Time (Blood of the Heroes #4)—Steve White (July 1, Baen)
Special operations officer Jason Thanou of the Temporal Regulatory Authority must once again plunge into Earth’s blood-drenched past to combat the plots of the Transhumanist underground. The transhumanists are attempting to use the chaos of the American Civil War to escape the Observer Effect: the immutable law that recorded history cannot be changed. It is the last days of the Confederacy, and the Fall of Richmond looms. In the Shenandoah Valley, in the region later known as Mosby’s Confederacy, insurgency brews, and the time travelers must join the raiders to prevent a transhumanist trap from dooming the mission. The leader of a secret slave underground fighting for liberty possesses a secret that may change Jason’s fate, and that of the future itself, forever.
Marathon. Malta. Gallipoli. Balboa’s Patricio Carrera has driven the Tauran Union from his adopted country, driven them out with appalling loss and worse humiliation. To finish his enemies, Carrera needs to draw them back for a more telling defeat. When they return, they don’t plan to come alone; they insist on having someone else do most of the bleeding for them. That’s why Carrera has provoked the Zhong Guo mercilessly, infuriating their ruling Empress. He needs the Zhong in the war, to buck up the Taurans to continue the war to its bitterest end. To get to Carrera, the Zhong must take the Isla Real, the strongest island fortress on two worlds. They’ll learn why Marines never forget those other names. Gallipoli, Malta, Marathon. Carrera’s enemies are about to learn why the expression “blood-stained water” is not just a literary allusion.
In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of- age test not only decides her place in society, Elite, Member, Inter or Trog, but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor. These are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide? Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out.
When Hollywood invades Savannah’s historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot, and her witches’ coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie’s firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie’s “fixer” fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy. But when someone fixes the fixer, permanently, and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects, before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor.
While investigating a “spirit photographer” accused of fraud in the Old West, psychic detective Ophelia Wylde makes contact with the ghost of Angus Wright, who was murdered nearly 20 years ago during the Gold Rush, and discovers that the living are far more dangerous than the dead.
Imaginarium 2014: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing—edited by Sandra Kasturi and Helen Marshall (July 2, ChiZine)
Imaginarium 2014: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing is a reprint anthology collecting speculative short fiction and poetry (science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, etc.) that represents the best work published by Canadian writers in the 2013 calendar year.
A new adventure of Peter Crossman, special agent of the Knights Templar, a man prepared to administer last rites with one hand while wielding a flamethrower with the other. Now an ancient manuscript of peculiar power has surfaced, and Crossman’s assignment is simple: Get it for the Temple at all costs. This will lead to conflict with entities secular and otherwise, and to a new encounter with Sister Mary Magdalene of the Special Action Executive of the Poor Clares. (Digital)
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2014 Edition—edited by Paula Guran (July 2, Prime Books)
No matter your expectations, the dark is full of the unknown: grim futures, distorted pasts, invasions of the uncanny, paranormal fancies, weird dreams, unnerving nightmares, baffling enigmas, revelatory excursions, desperate adventures, spectral journeys, mundane terrors, and supernatural visions. You may stumble into obsession, or find redemption. Often disturbing, occasionally delightful, let The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror be your annual guide through the mysteries and wonders of dark fiction. Contributing authors include: Laird Barron, Elizabeth Bear, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Tanith Lee, Sarah Monette, Brandon Sanderson and Carrie Vaughn.
Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villans and defeated magic. A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest. Most troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. Ethan discovers the source of this trouble and realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. Ethan must thwart the monster’s terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave.
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. Georgie doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally ruined everything. Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, exactly. She feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. Is that what she’s supposed to do? Would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
It’s 9 p.m. on February 15, 1860, and Charles Babbage, the British Empire’s most brilliant scientist, performs an experiment. Blood red snow falls from the sky and Spring Heeled Jack pops out of thin air in London’s Leicester Square. The strange creature is intent on one thing: hunting Sir Richard Francis Burton. Spring Heeled Jack isn’t alone in his mental confusion. Burton can hardly function; he’s experiencing one hallucination after another, visions of parallel realities and future history. Someone, or something, is trying to tell him about, what? When the revelation comes, it sends Burton and his companions on an expedition even the great explorer could never have imagined. A voyage through time itself into a twisted future where steam technology has made a resurgence and a despotic intelligence rules over the British Empire.
The Teacher of Symmetry is the “echo” of a British novel that Andrei Bitov once read and is now trying to reconstruct through the moth holes of memory and the fog of a foreign tongue. We encounter a series of curious episodes: A man meets the devil on a park bench and the devil shows him photographs of the fall of Troy, Shakespeare’s legs, and a terrible event that will take place in his future. A king who reigns over all possible worlds and uses his power to remove stars from the sky turns out to be the compiler of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Villagers squabble over a self-proclaimed space alien, and a literary society decides that it will accept only new members whose works are unwritten.
In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them. Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, this is a novel of love and magic set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. The story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs.
Hitler’s Plan A was to win in a hurry, striking hard and deep into France. The Nazis fortify thin lines with Hungarian and Romanian troops. England, after the suspicious death of Winston Churchill and a coup d’état, fights back in Europe and on the seas of the North Atlantic. Jews fight on both sides of the war, in secret in German uniform, openly in Spain, France, and Russia. Japan prepares bombs filled with biological concoctions to be dropped on Hawaii. For the U.S., the only enemy is Japan. Hitler becomes desperate and declares war on the United States. His own people are rising up in revolt. The German military may have to put down the violence. A Czech sniper fighting with the Republicans in Spain changes the war almost single-handedly. In Philadelphia, an American woman meets a scientist who reveals a momentous secret.
A happy workforce, it is said, is a productive workforce. Mmmm. Try telling that to an army of belligerent goblins. Or the Big Bad Wolf. Or a professional dragons layer. Who is looking after their well-being? Thankfully, with access to an astonishingly diverse workforce and limitless natural resources, maximizing revenue and improving operating profit has never really been an issue for the one they call “the Wizard.” Until now. Now, a perfectly good business model, based on sound fiscal planning, entrepreneurial flair, and only one or two of the infinite parallel worlds that make up our universe, is about to be disrupted by a man not entirely aware of what’s going on. There’s also a risk that the fabric of reality will be torn to shreds. You really do have to be careful with these things.
The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Volume Two, edited by Gordon Van Gelder (July 15, Tachyon)
Fantasy & Science Fiction continues to showcase some of the most famous authors writing in any genre. The magazine jumpstarted the careers of bestselling authors such as Roger Zelazny, Bruce Sterling, and Jane Yolen and continues to champion bold new crossover talents including Paolo Bacigalupi and Ken Liu. Now drawing upon F&SF’s impressive history of classic and contemporary tales, this extraordinary companion anthology revisits and expands upon sixty-five years’ worth of top-notch fiction. These broad-ranging, award-winning tales appeal to readers of genre fiction and beyond, exploring alternate history, time travel, urban fantasy, virtual reality, modern myth, horror, interstellar travel, epic fantasy, mystery, and space opera.
It’s 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist, and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite, discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. They rule but at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russians and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology. This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game. Into this conflict is pitched Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. She will learn the secret behind Annapurnite. What she learns will change the destiny of the world forever.
The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day. Still, Appaloosa Elim has heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient earthly gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight. If he ever wants to go home again, he’d better find his missing partner before they do. But if he’s caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth that lives in his own flesh, and discovering just how far he’ll go to survive the night.