Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for March

Twenty books defy genrification in March, including creepalicious new anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Mark Teppo, and new series starts from Carrie Patel (Buried Life), Ian Tregillis (The Alchemy Wars), Alan Smale (Clash of Eagles), and Gail Carriger (The Custard Protocol).

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

Bone GapLaura Ruby (March 3, Balzer + Bray)

Young Adult. Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps, gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame? Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

Dead BoysGabriel Squailia (March 3, Talos)

A decade dead, Jacob Campbell is a preservationist, providing a kind of taxidermy to keep his clients looking lifelike. In the Land of the Dead, Jacob abandons his home and his fortune for an opportunity to meet the man who cheated the rules of life and death entirely. The Living Man is the only adventurer to ever cross into the underworld without dying first. Jacob’s vow to find the Living Man and follow him back to the land of the living sends him on a perilous journey through an underworld where the only certainty is decay. Accompanying him are the boy Remington, an innocent with mysterious powers over the bones of the dead, and the hanged man Leopold l’Eclair, a flamboyant rogue whose criminal ambitions spark the undesired attention of the shadowy ruler known as the Magnate.

Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk #5)Bec McMaster (March 3, Sourcebooks Casablanca)

When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body. A woman of mystery, Mina’s long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she’s hiding something, and he’s determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn’t expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort, or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.

The Buried Life (Buried Life #1)Carrie Patel (March 3, Angry Robot)

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation, Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility. When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs.

The Shape of My Name: A Tor.Com OriginalNino Cipri (March 4, Tor)

A time-travel story about what it means to truly claim yourself. (Digital)

 

WEEK TWO

The Doll Collection—edited by Ellen Datlow (March 10, Tor)

A treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. Featuring everything from life-sized clockwork dolls to all-too-human Betsy Wetsy-type baby dolls, these stories play into the true creepiness of the doll trope, but avoid the clichés that often show up in stories of this type. A list of beautiful and terrifying stories from bestselling authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Pat Cadigan, Tim Lebbon, Richard Kadrey, Genevieve Valentine, and Jeffrey Ford. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other doll collectors. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere.

The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars #1)Ian Tregillis (March 10, Orbit)

Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn’t long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world’s sole superpower. Three centuries later, it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men, flesh and brass alike. After decades of warfare, the Dutch and French have reached a tenuous cease-fire in a conflict that has ravaged North America. But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences of his escape will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.

 

WEEK THREE

Clash of Eagles (Clash of Eagles #1)Alan Smale (March 17, Del Rey)

In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, a legion under the command of general Gaius Marcellinus invades the newly-discovered North American continent. But Marcellinus and his troops have woefully underestimated the fighting prowess of the Native American inhabitants. When Gaius is caught behind enemy lines and spared, he must reevaluate his allegiances and find a new place in this strange land.

Less Than HeroS.G. Browne (March 17, Gallery)

For the pharmaceutical soldiers on the front lines of medical science, volunteers who test experimental drugs for cash, the common side effects are a small price to pay to defend your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of antidepressants. Lloyd Prescott, thirty-year-old professional guinea pig, is the first to notice the bizarre, seemingly implausible consequences of years of testing not-quite-legal drugs: his lips go numb, he becomes overwhelmed with exhaustion, and instantly a stranger crumples into a slumbering heap before him. Lloyd and his guinea pig friends band together to project their debilitating side effects onto petty criminals who prey upon the innocent. When a horrible menace with powers eerily similar to their own threatens the city, only one force can stop this evil: the handful of brave men who routinely undergo clinical trials.

Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1)Gail Carriger (March 17, Orbit)

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances: names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

Reluctantly CharmedEllie O’Neill (March 17, Touchstone)

Kate McDaid is listing her new-year’s resolutions hoping to kick-start her rather stagnant love life and career when she gets some very strange news. She is the sole benefactor of a great great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. The will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week. Kate agrees and opens the first letter, and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye. Kate must decide whether she can fulfil her great-aunt’s final, devastating request, and whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t. (U.S.)

Thirteen: Stories of Transformation—edited by Mark Teppo (March 17, Underland Press)

The thirteenth Tarot card is Death, and he is a symbol not of the end, but of transformation and rebirth. The authors of this collection are voices who are not afraid to explore what comes next. Whether it be a life after death, a life without love, a life filled with hunger, or the life shared by a ghost. The ghosts of the past have been eaten by the children of the future: this endless cycle of birth, death, and renewal is the magic of thirteen. With stories from: Liz Argall, M. David Blake, Richard Bowes, George Cotronis, Amanda C. Davis, Julie C. Day, Jetse de Vries, Jennifer Giesbrecht, Daryl Gregory, Rik Hoskin, Rebecca Kuder, Claude Lalumière, Marc Levinthal, Grá Linnaea, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Juli Mallett, Lyn McConchie, Fiona Moore, Gregory L. Norris, Adrienne J. Odasso, Cat Rambo, Andrew Penn Romine, David Tallerman, Tais Teng, Richard Thomas, Fran Wilde, A. C. Wise and Christie Yant.

The Museum and the Music Box: A Tor.Com OriginalNoah Keller (March 18, Tor)

A neglected museum gradually succumbs to the elements. A music box rusts beneath a bell of glass. Fragmented texts are pieced together which tell the history of a lost love, the destruction of a civilization, and the origin of the museum. (Digital)

 

WEEK FOUR

Guardians (Wasteland #3)Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan (March 24, HarperTeen)

Young Adult. No one dares leave the District, the towering structure of glass and steel that is their protection against the unruly bands of Outsiders that roam Mundreel and the deadly rain that carries the disease that kills all over the age of nineteen. This skyscraper stands amid the urban devastation, the city rumored to have once been called “Montreal.” Esther and her allies have created a haven on the rooftop, a garden that flourishes, and a home for her new baby, hidden from all but the very few who know her secret. But as Gideon’s power grows and factions form, an unlikely leader learns to control every action of the District’s people. As the ultimate darkness is born from greed, Esther must find a way to save the citizens from themselves.

Medicine for the Dead (Children of the Drought #2)Arianne “Tex” Thompson (March 24, Solaris)

Two years ago, the crow-god Marhuk sent his grandson to Sixes. Two nights ago, a stranger picked up his gun and shot him. Two hours ago, the funeral party set out for the holy city of Atali’Krah, braving the wastelands to bring home the body of Dulei Marhuk. One more corpse should hardly make a difference. But the blighted landscape has been ravaged by drought, twisted by violence, and warped by magic, and no-one is immune. Vuchak struggles to keep the party safe from monsters, marauders, and his own troubled mind. Weisei is being eaten alive by a strange illness. Fearful, guilt-wracked Elim hopes he’s only imagining the sounds coming from Dulei’s coffin. As their supplies dwindle and tensions mount, the desert exacts a terrible price from its pilgrims, one that will be paid with the blood of the living, and the peace of the dead.

The Fifth HeartDan Simmons (March 24, Little, Brown)

In 1893, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James come to America together to solve the mystery of the 1885 death of Clover Adams, wife of the historian Henry Adams, member of the Adams family that has given the U.S. two Presidents. The suspected foul play may involve matters of national importance. Holmes is currently on his Great Hiatus, his three-year absence after Reichenbach Falls during which time the people of London believe him to be deceased. Holmes has faked his own death because the great detective has come to the conclusion that he is a fictional character. This leads to complications for James, for if his fellow investigator is a work of fiction, what does that make him? What can the storyteller do to fight against the sinister power, possibly named Moriarty, that may or may not be controlling them from the shadows?

The Lost Boys SymphonyMark Andrew Ferguson (March 24, Little, Brown)

After Henry’s girlfriend Val leaves him and transfers to another school, his grief begins to manifest itself in bizarre and horrifying ways. Either he’s hallucinating, or the strength of his heartbreak over Val has unhinged reality itself. On the George Washington Bridge, a powerful hallucination knocks him out cold. When he awakens, he finds himself kidnapped by two strangers, one old, one middle-aged, who claim to be future versions of Henry himself. Val is the love of your life, they tell him. We’ve lost her, but you don’t have to. Henry’s best friend Gabe is on the verge of breakdown of his own. Gabe is consumed by a potent mix of guilt and sadness. When he is approached by an enigmatic stranger claiming to be an older version of his lost friend, Gabe begins to fear for his own sanity. With no one else to turn to, he reaches out to the only person who can possibly help him make sense of it all: Val.

The Diamond Conspiracy (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #4)Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris (March 31, Ace)

Having narrowly escaped the electrifying machinations of Thomas Edison, Books and Braun are looking forward to a relaxing and possibly romantic voyage home. When Braun’s emergency signal goes off, all thoughts of recreation vanish. Braun’s street-wise team of child informants, the Ministry Seven, is in grave peril, and Books and Braun must return to England immediately. When the intrepid agents finally arrive in London, the situation is even more dire than they imagined. The Ministry has been disavowed, and the Department of Imperial Inconveniences has been called in to decommission its agents in a deadly fashion. The plan reeks of the Maestro’s dastardly scheming. This time, he has a dangerous new ally, a duplicitous doctor whose pernicious poisons have infected the highest levels of society, reaching even the Queen herself.

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2)Danielle Paige (March 31, HarperCollins)

Young Adult. To make Oz a free land again, Amy Gumm was given a mission: remove the Tin Woodman’s heart, steal the Scarecrow’s brain, take the Lion’s courage, and then Dorothy must die. But Dorothy still lives. Now the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked has vanished, and mysterious Princess Ozma might be Amy’s only ally. As Amy learns the truth about her mission, she realizes that she’s only just scratched the surface of Oz’s past, and that Kansas, the home she couldn’t wait to leave behind, may also be in danger. In a place where the line between good and evil shifts with just a strong gust of wind, who can Amy trust, and who is really Wicked?

Twist (Loop #2)Karen Akins (March 31, St. Martin’s Griffin)

Young Adult. Bree Bennis finally has it all, a non-comatose mother, a boyfriend named Finn, and a newfound mission to protect the timeline from those who would skew it for their own gain. When she leans over one day to kiss Finn, her lips meet those of her arch-nemesis Wyck instead. The timeline has been altered. When she goes back to repair the damage, she is stopped by her Future Self, who delivers an urgent message: Someone is kidnapping Shifters from the distant past. Bree reluctantly accepts her new undercover gig as Wyck’s girlfriend. Finn shows up in the 23rd century on the eager arm of a gorgeous fellow Shifter. Bree battles the dread that Finn might be better off with someone less chronologically complicated. Her worst fear is confirmed when Finn becomes the kidnapper’s next victim. She realizes that she alone has the power to save herself and everyone she loves. To do that, she may lose Finn forever.


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

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