Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for September

Twenty-six books wander between genres this month, from alternative histories to steampunk mysteries. Look for series additions from, among others, Kat Zhang (Hybrid Chronicles), Bec McMaster (London Steampunk), and David Barnett (Gideon Smith), as well as story collections from Margaret Atwood, Terry Pratchett, and the late Jay Lake.

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

The Masked Songbird (Scottish Songbird #1)Emmie Mears (September 1, Harlequin)

Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss. Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbor from a beat-down by political thugs. Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. She must uncover how this is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence. Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends, even her country. (Digital)

Blood Red Tide (Deathlands #118)James Axler (September 2, Gold Eagle)

In a nuclear wasteland where death and destruction are the norm, Ryan Cawdor and his fellow survivors seek out refuge while looking to one another for protection. Civilization no longer exists in the barren Deathlands. There is only the will to survive and the dim hope of a promised land. Taken captive on a ship in the former Caribbean, Ryan and his companions must work as part of the crew or perish at the hands of the captain. But the mutant in charge of the vessel is the least of their worries. Each day is a struggle as they face rivalry among the sailors, violent attacks and deadly storms. Worse, a powerful enemy is hunting the ship to destroy everyone on board. Fighting for their lives and those of their shipmates, the companions must find unity within the chaos or die in the attempt.

Dinosaurs and a DirigibleDavid Drake (September 2, Baen)

Henry Vickers’s job is to keep clients safe from the dinosaurs they’re hunting. That’s the easy part. The hard part is to keep the clients safe from themselves and each other. Some act like decent human beings, but more are selfish, stupid, sadistic, or all three together. The few women are worse. Vickers doesn’t expect them to be competent with the powerful rifles they carry; and he doesn’t expect them to be reasonable. Eventually there are moral questions that Vickers can’t ignore. When Henry Vickers starts to behave like a human being instead of a hunting guide, things get really dangerous. In “Travellers.” An airship is crossing the United States in 1897 in search of the weird and the wonderful. The two teenagers aboard know that the airship’s captain is a great scientist and inventor, but they don’t know how much more he is also.

Enchantress (Rav Hisda’s Daughter #2)Maggie Anton (September 2, Plume)

Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia. One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava, whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a “man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death, the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people., even while putting their romance at risk.

Forged by Desire (London Steampunk #4)Bec McMaster (September 2, Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Captain Garret Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner, Perry, in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap. Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship, especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped.

Radiant (Towers Trilogy #1)Karina Sumner-Smith (September 2, Talos)

Xhea has no magic. Xhea is an outcast, no way to earn a living. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers. A rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body so that it can regain its position. The Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Xhea thinks herself powerless, until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

The BarterSiobhan Adcock (September 4, Dutton Adult)

Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter. For Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. Now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it. On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good. Each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families, and themselves?

The Bone ClocksDavid Mitchell (September 2, Random House)

Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. As she wanders into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics, and their enemies. Her lost weekend is the prelude to a disappearance that leaves her family scarred. A Cambridge scholarship boy, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list, all have a part to play in this war on the margins of our world. Their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

The Weird Company: The Secret History of H.P. Lovecraft’s Twentieth CenturyPete Rawlik (September 2, Night Shade)

The story of Dr. Hartwell (Reanimators) continues, but now he has company. Weird company: a witch, a changeling, a mad scientist, and a poet trapped in the form of a beast. These are not heroes but monsters, monsters to fight monsters. Their adventures rage across the globe, from the mountains and long-forgotten caves of Antarctica to the dimly lit backstreets of Innsmouth that still hold terrifying secrets. The unholy creatures released upon the world via the ill-fated Lake expedition to Antarctica must be stopped. And only the weird company stands in their way.

 

WEEK TWO

Monstrous Affectations: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (September 9, Candlewick)

Young Adult. Predatory kraken that sing with, and for, their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders. Contributing authors include: M. T. Anderson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nathan Ballingrud, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, Nalo Hopkinson, Dylan Horrocks, Nik Houser, Alice Sola Kim, Kathleen Jennings, Joshua Lewis, Kelly Link, Patrick Ness and G. Carl Purcell.

Of Monsters and MadnessJessica Verday (September 9, Egmont)

Young Adult. Annabel Lee is summoned from Siam to live with her father in 1820’s Philadelphia shortly after her mother’s death. Annabel becomes infatuated with her father’s assistant Allan, who dabbles in writing when he’s not helping with medical advancements. But in darker hours, when she’s not to be roaming the house, she encounters the devilish assistant Edgar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Allan, and who others insist doesn’t exist. A rash of murders across Philadelphia, coupled with her father’s strange behavior, leads Annabel to satisfy her curiosity and uncover a terrible truth: Edgar and Allan are two halves of the same person, and they are about to make the crimes detailed in Allan’s stories come to life. Unless Annabel stops them.

The TwyningTerence Blacker (September 9, Candlewick)

Young Adult. Efren is a young rat, unnoticed and timid among the kingdom of rats living in the London sewers. When the king dies, leaving the kingdom in upheaval, only Efren dares to journey into the human world, where he discovers a human doctor’s plan to destroy London’s entire rat population. Meanwhile, Peter, otherwise known as Dogboy, does odd jobs for both the scheming doctor and the town ratcatcher. But his gift for understanding animals, even rats, forces him to decide where his allegiances truly lie. Dogboy and Efren, along with the waifish girl Caz and her pet rat, Malaika, set out to test the strengths of friendship and loyalty against the gut-wrenching cruelties of the world. (U.S. Release)

Tuckitor’s Last Swim: A Tor.Com OriginalEdith Cohn (September 9, Tor)

Tuckitor Hatterask had a fierce desire to go for a swim, even though a storm was brewing and he knew it wasn’t a good idea to go into the water. But the forces pulling him toward the ocean were much stronger than he ever could have imagined. In this companion short story toSpirit’s Key, readers learn how a family on a small southern island came to be haunted by hurricanes. (Digital)

 

WEEK THREE

Echoes of Us (The Hybrid Chronicles #3)Kat Zhang (September 16, HarperCollins)

All Eva ever wanted was the chance to be herself. In the Americas, to be hybrid, to share your body with a second soul, is not tolerated past childhood. Eva and Addie, her sister soul, are constantly on the move, hiding from the officials who seek to capture them. People are starting to question the hybrids’ mistreatment. Marion, a reporter, offers Eva and Addie a proposal: If they go undercover and film the conditions of a hybrid institution, she will not only rescue them, she’ll find a way to free Jackson, the boy Addie loves. Eva will have to leave Ryan and her friends behind. If she succeeds, it could also tip the scales forever and lead to hybrid freedom. They cling to each other and the hope of a better future. The price they might pay is higher than they ever could have imagined.

Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon (Gideon Smith #2)David Barnett (September 16, Tor)

Young Gideon Smith has seen things that no green lad of Her Majesty’s dominion should ever experience. Gideon has become the newest Hero of the Empire. The dreaded Texas pirate Louis Cockayne has stolen the mechanical clockwork girl, Maria, along with a most fantastical weapon, a great brass dragon that was unearthed beneath Egyptian soil. Maria is the only one who can pilot the beast, so Cockayne has taken girl and dragon. Gideon and his band take to the skies, hot on Cockayne’s trail. Not only does Gideon want the machine back, he has fallen in love with Maria. Their journey will take them to the lawless lands south of the American colonies, to free Texas, where the mad King of Steamtown rules with an iron fist (literally). Does Gideon have what it takes to not only save the day but win the girl?

Gifts for the One Who Comes AfterHelen Marshall (September 16, ChiZine)

Ghost thumbs. Microscopic dogs. One very sad can of tomato soup. A series of twisted surrealities that explore the legacies we pass on to our children. A son seeks to reconnect with his father through a telescope that sees into the past. A young girl discovers what lies on the other side of her mother’s bellybutton. Death’s wife prepares for a very special funeral. Eighteen tales of love and loss.

Last Plane to Heaven: The Final CollectionJay Lake (September 16, Tor)

The final and definitive short story collection of author Jay Lake. Long before he was a novelist, Jay Lake, was an acclaimed writer of short stories. Here are thirty-two of the best of them. Aliens and angels fill these pages, from the title story, a hard-edged and breathtaking look at how a real alien visitor might be received, to the savage truth of “The Cancer Catechisms.” More than thirty short stories written by a master of the form, science fiction and fantasy both. This collection features an original introduction by Gene Wolfe.

Stone Mattress: Nine TalesMargaret Atwood (September 16, Nan A. Talese)

Nine tales of acute psychological insight and turbulent relationships. A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband in ”Alphinland,“ the first of three loosely linked stories about the romantic geometries of a group of writers and artists. In ”The Freeze-Dried Bridegroom,“ a man who bids on an auctioned storage space has a surprise. In ”Lusus Naturae,“ a woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire. In ”Torching the Dusties,“ an elderly lady with Charles Bonnet syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence. In ”Stone Mattress,” a long-ago crime is avenged in the Arctic via a 1.9 billion-year-old stromatolite.

The Clockwork DaggerBeth Cato (September 16, Harper Voyager)

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. The airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened. She is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers, the Queen’s spies and assassins, and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

Tut: The Story of My Immortal LifeP.J. Hoover, (September 16, Starscape)

Young Adult. You’d think it would be great being an Egyptian demigod, but if King Tut has to sit through eighth grade one more time, he’ll mummify himself. Granted the gift of immortality by the gods, or is it a curse?, Tut has been stuck in middle school for ages. Even worse, evil General Horemheb, the man who killed Tut’s father and whom Tut imprisoned in a tomb for three thousand years, is out and after him. The general is in league with the Cult of Set, a bunch of guys who worship one of the scariest gods of the Egyptian pantheon, Set, the god of Chaos. The General and the Cult of Set have plans for Tut, and if Tut doesn’t find a way to keep out of their clutches, he’ll never make it to the afterworld alive.

 

WEEK FOUR

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fictionTerry Pratchett (September 23, Doubleday)

A collection of essays and other non fiction from Terry Pratchett, spanning the whole of his writing career from his early years to the present day. In recent years he has become equally well-known and respected as an outspoken campaigner for causes including Alzheimer’s research and animal rights. A Slip of the Keyboard brings together examples of Pratchett’s non fiction writing, both serious and surreal: from musings on mushrooms to what it means to be a writer (and why banana daiquiris are so important); from memories of Granny Pratchett to speculation about Gandalf’s love life, and passionate defences of the causes dear to him.

The End of the SentenceMaria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard (September 28, Subterranean)

It begins with a letter from a prisoner. As he attempts to rebuild his life in rural Oregon after a tragic accident, Malcolm Mays finds himself corresponding with Dusha Chuchonnyhoof, a mysterious entity who claims to be the owner of Malcolm’s house, jailed unjustly for 117 years. The prisoner demands that Malcolm perform a gory, bewildering task for him. As the clock ticks toward Dusha’s release, Malcolm must attempt to find out whether he’s assisting a murderer or an innocent. The End of the Sentence combines Kalapuya, Welsh, Scottish and Norse mythology, with a dark imagined history of the hidden corners of the American West.

A Sudden LightGarth Stein (September 30, Simon & Schuster)

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation. Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

GoodhousePeyton Marshall (September 30, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

At the end of the twenty-first century, in a transformed America, the families of convicted felons are tested for a set of genetic markers. Boys who test positive become compulsory wards of the state, removed from their homes and raised on Goodhouse campuses, where they learn to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. Goodhouse is a feral place, part prison, part boarding school, and now a radical religious group, the Holy Redeemer’s Church of Purity, has begun to target these schools for attack, with purifying fire. James, a transfer student who watches the radicals set fire to his old Goodhouse and everyone he’d ever known. James now has to contend with Bethany, a wild tech genius with a heart defect who wants to save him. James realizes that the biggest threat might already be there, inside the fortified walls of Goodhouse. (U.S.)

The Only Thing to FearCaroline Tung Richmond (September 30, Scholastic)

Young Adult. It’s been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler’s genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race. Zara dreams of the free America she’s only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Führer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she’s spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis. Zara must decide just how far she’ll go for freedom.

WinterspellClaire Legrand (September 30, Simon & Schuster)

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer. On Christmas Eve, disaster strikes. Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—beings distinctly not human. Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets, and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed. A dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.


Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. You can find Suzanne on Twitter and on her daily blog, Preternatura.

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