Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari. ★★★
I picked up this YA science fiction because I heard it had asexual representation. That turned out to be the only memorable thing about it.
Isaak is a teenage boy living on a future Mars colony. Then he sees a strange arch formation that almost exactly matches the depiction on an ancient coin belonging to his missing father. But how is that possible? There’s no such thing as ancient Martian civilization… right?
A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows. ★★★★
A Tyranny of Queens is the sequel to the portal fantasy novel, An Accident of Stars, and I’m happy to report that I liked it even more than the first book! If queer feminist fantasy sounds at all your thing, I suggest you start reading this series. This is a series that should really be read in order – A Tyranny of Queens picks up almost directly from where An Accident of Stars left off. If you haven’t read the first book, I doubt you’d be able to make sense of this one. Forewarning, this review may contain spoilers for the first book.
Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn. ★★★★
I loved this fantasy novella! I picked it up mainly because I heard the protagonist was asexual (true), and I ended up with a novella that was beautiful in so many ways and really resonated with me.
Lai’s mother and grandmother before her have been priestesses, and Lai can’t imagine any other life for herself. In order to become a priestess, she must win through the trials, for only one girl can be selected by the gods as the next priestess. But what about after the trials? What will happen to the friends she’s in competition with? And what if… she fails?
The Root by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun. ★★★1/2
The Root is an intriguing blend of urban and portal fantasy with a wonderfully diverse cast.
Erik’s a former teen star living in San Francisco. He thought his life was complicated enough, but now he’s finding out that he’s Blooded – descended from gods and gifted with powers he doesn’t understand. He also finds himself in the middle of a secret battle, between Blooded and a government organization kidnapping them and trading them off to an alternate dimension.
Lil’s an apprentice archivist in said alternate dimension, where humans are subservient to demonic beings. Yet a strange and powerful darkness is taking over her city, and the rulers are turning to the human archivists to look for answers. Lil’s life will soon become a tightrope walk between her demonic rulers and her power hungry fellow archivists.
This Other World by A.C. Buchanan. ★★★★
What a lovely science fiction novella! It’s a quiet story, and a short read (I read it in under an hour). Because of that, this review will be a bit shorter than normal.
Vonika’s an autistic engineer who chose to immigrate to an alien planet. She has built a career and life for herself there, complete with a marriage to an alien woman. In Temia, older citizens go through a process where they transition away from individuality and towards a group consciousness. Vonika is still deciding whether or not she’s willing to go through the process when she begins to get flashes of memories that don’t belong to her… At the same time, Temia is on the brink of war with a neighboring country, so Vonika’s life may be changing in more ways than one.
This Other World is intimately focused on Vonika’s life. While she is effected by larger events and affects them in turn, This Other World is no the sort of story that has a large scope or a heavy focus on action. It’s the sort of book I’d imagine would be perfect for curling up with a cup of tea on a cold day.
Vonika never felt like she fit in on Earth, and she still doesn’t really fit in in Temia. But as one of the only humans in the nation, her differences are presumed to be a feature common to her species and she finds herself more readily accepted. I can’t speak as to how her autism is portrayed, but I’ll note that this is own voices – the author is autistic as well.
I suggest This Other World for anyone looking for charming sci-fi novella with a bit of a mystery element.
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller. ★★★1/2
I saw the words “gender fluid assassin” and was sold. I immediately requested an ARC, even though I already had a number of other books to read. Then I saw the back blurb comparing it to Throne of Glass, and I started getting nervous. I hated Throne of Glass. Turns out, I shouldn’t have been worried. Mask of Shadows is way better, and it delivers practically everything I want from a YA fantasy book about a battle of assassins.
Sallot Leon makes a living as a thief, but Sal doesn’t plan on staying a thief forever. They are still haunted by memories of their family and homeland… and the twisted Shadows that destroyed them both. Sal planned on joining the army to try and gain their vengeance, but then they find a flyer announcing that the Queen is holding trials for her new Opal, one of her four most trusted assassins. And Sal spies an opportunity. But it’s not until they’ve already joined the competition that they realize this is a fight to the death.
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie. ★★★★
The Edge of the Abyss is the high octane sequel to the fabulous The Abyss Surrounds Us. Bad news? You have to read the books in order. So if you aren’t familiar with The Abyss Surrounds Us, grab yourself a copy before diving into The Edge of the Abyss. And do pick up a copy, particularly if sea monsters, pirates and f/f romance sound at all up your alley.
Also, spoilers will follow for The Abyss Surrounds Us. So beware!