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Angela Maria Spring

Building a Mythology: Honeycomb by Joanne M Harris

Some authors are masters of worldbuilding and Joanne M. Harris continues her reign as one them. Like the ever-present honeybees who buzz through her fantasy hybrid novel through stories, Honeycomb, carrying stories from world to world, protecting the Honeycomb Queen and her son, the Lacewing King, Harris constructs a magical universe, called the Nine Worlds and ruled by the insect-like Fae Silken Folk, as intricate as the beehives internal lives and delicate hexagonal walls.

As if each small room of the hive contains a small story, Honeycomb is comprised of mostly two-to-three page stories that begin as if wholly separate beings and as the book continues on, we see a cast of complicated, beautiful, and terrible recurring characters, all centering around the Lacewing King as we follow him on his adventures and his own complicated emotional maturity throughout his life of near immortality. Amplifying the book’s magic even more are the illustrations of Charles Vess, who never ceases to delight fantasy lovers with his whimsical, flowing art.

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Magic and Culture Thrive in Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun

Rebecca Roanhorse captivates once again with her latest adult novel, Black Sun: Between Earth and Sky, the first of a vivid original fantasy series interwoven with the threads of the powerful spirits of the pre-contact indigenous peoples of the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Central and South America. She creates the world of the Sky Made clans, their powerful priests, and a boy who would hold a god inside himself to bring about a people’s vengeance and rebellion.

Touching on no particular civilization and, somehow, many, Roanhorse creates a unique mythology and builds a world at once recognizable and new, a breath of fresh air for all fantasy lovers, especially those who recognize that not all fantasy worlds are rooted in European-esque landscapes and harken back to the Celts. Magic, adventure and heroes are everywhere, but particularly potent and beautiful everywhere from Africa to the Caribbean to the Americas. Her characters are a perfect blend of anti-hero, adventurer, dreamers, zealots, and warriors.

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Mythology, Trauma, and Bachata in Lilliam Rivera’s Never Look Back

Only Lilliam Rivera could write a beautifully haunting, healing ode to our isla in guise of a young adult novel wrapped in a reimagined myth, then tied off in a bright bow flourishing ode to a magical, musical Bronx. Her latest book, Never Look Back, is both a powerful tribute to Puerto Rico, and all Boricuas left in intense grief after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and a love story between her protagonists Pheus and Eury that transcends even death itself.

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Unghosting the Secret Rooms: Reclaiming Haunted Spaces for the BIPOC Imagination

Summer is a haunted season and none more so in my lifetime than this summer. While some may deem specters as appropriate for the time surrounding Halloween, it is actually when deep summer grips us in its sweaty fever when I wrap the cloak of the unexplained and spiritual around me.

If you could take out my heartbox and look inside it, like a diorama, you would glimpse shimmers of ghostly presences amongst the tiny, flickering candelabras and miniature lush velvet settees. And inside that diorama is a dollhouse-sized fierce brown girl, transposed with dark, terrified delight. A haunted place does not exist in books, film, television, and real life I will not devour whole. We are a haunted country and this is a haunted time in a haunted world, especially for those of us who already occupy the liminal space of other, such as myself. We find comfort in strange places.

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Beware the Ojos Pequeños: Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin

In our new lives of social isolation, where video technology has erupted into a way of life for those with the means and privilege, Samanta Schweblin’s latest offering takes on an even more disquieting quality in her slightly futuristic world populated with toys inhabited by anonymous people, watching us in our most intimate spaces.

Already a master at a creating that slow-closing-in horror with her debut novel, Fever Dream, Schweblin’s new novel, Little Eyes, turns her unnerving style a notch tighter. The book opens in South Bend, with a clique of teenage girls playing cruel games with a garish plush panda bear on motorized wheels that seems to have a camera installed inside, but we have no idea what is until the toy reveals a consciousness within in that blackmails the girls.

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The Ghastly & Grotesque in Molly Pohlig’s The Unsuitable

If the repulsive can strive to be resplendent, then Molly Pohlig’s debut novel, The Unsuitable, a gothic horror story full of shudder-inducing grotesqueness, achieves such a paradox—perhaps a little too well.

Set in Victorian England, The Unsuitable centers around 28-year-old pseudo-spinster Iseult Wince, and the ghostly presence of her mother, Beatrice. Iseult has spent her life both battling and embracing Beatrice’s presence in the deep scar on her neck, remnants of a wound Iseult believes was created when she was ineptly yanked from her mother’s birth canal by an inexperienced midwife, causing Iseult’s collarbone to protrude and leading Beatrice to bleed to death. Iseult is forced to wear mourning garb since her childhood, and is paraded through a series of potential suitors in Mr. Wince’s attempt to rid himself of the daughter he neither likes or nor wants.

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Dark Spaces and Futures in Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac (translated by Roy Kesey)

A brutal poetry lives in the dark spaces, between the stars, and it is through them that Argentinian writer Pola Oloixarac paints a twisted portent of the future path of the world in her cyberpunk novel, Dark Constellations.

In this book, both tongue-in-cheek and terrifying, translated from the Spanish by Roy Kesey, Oloixarac gives us a surreally terrifying answer to the age-old question of what the next stage of evolution humanity is hurtling toward—the true fusion of human and technology via the ultimate destruction.

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