Black Wolves by Kate Elliott. ★★★★
Trigger Warning: Rape
This may be my favorite read yet from Kate Elliott, and I have the feeling that this trilogy will become one of my all time epic fantasy series. If non-Western epic fantasy with loads of ladies who do things sounds like something you’d like, then you need to read Black Wolves.
The first hundred pages of Black Wolves introduce many of the central characters, but everything then changes after a forty-four year time skip. King Anjihosh saved the Hundred from demons and conquered it in the process. The story starts with Kellas, a captain of the Black Wolves, the king’s elite unit of soldiers and spies. The king’s son, Atani, learns of a family secret and soon after disappears. Kellas is tasked with his retrieval. The first section ends soon after. In the time skip, Atani both became king and was murdered on one fateful night still shrouded in questions and mysteries. Now Atani’s son is king, and he fears that no one around him can be trusted. His aunt Dannarah enlists a now elderly Kellas to return to safeguard her nephew and his kingdom.
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. ★★★★
I’ve always loved science fiction mysteries, and Six Wakes did not disappoint.
Maria Arena is a clone. Whenever she dies, she wakes up in a new body with memories from whenever she last downloaded them. But now Maria has awaken in a new body where her old one is still floating dead — the entire six person crew of the spaceship Dormire are clones, and all of them have woken up with no memories of the last twenty years after they’ve apparently been murdered. Not only that, but the cloning machine is broken. If the killer strikes again, there will be no more second chances.
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly. ★★★★
The best comparison I can make for Amberlough is that it’s a cross of Orwell’s 1984 and Kushner’s Swordspoint. It’s fantasy without magic, set in a world based on Weimar Berlin and experiencing the rise of fascism. Oh, and the three central characters are a gay spy, his smuggler lover, and a stripper who acts as his beard. Amberlough is both dark and somehow delightful.
Amberlough City is a corrupt but cultured city, the bustling heart of Gedda. But the One State Party (“Ospies”) want to unite Gedda’s four provinces into one centralized, socially conservative nation, and they are making increasing strides in shaping Gedda to their vision. Cyril DePaul is a spy who’s masters are growing concerned with the Ospies’s rise, but when Cyril’s cover is blown, he makes the decision to work with the Ospies for his own survival and that of his lover, smuggler Aristide Makricosta. Into this delicate dance of politics and survival, Aristide brings Cordelia Lehane, a dancer and drug dealer who works alongside him at the Bumble Bee club. As their way of life is threatened, these three will have to decide what they are willing to do to ensure their own survival and at what costs.
The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey. ★★★★
I’m not a huge fan of zombies, but when I heard M.R. Carey was writing a prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible.
Years before the start of The Girl with All the Gifts, the last human city of Beacon sends out an expedition to try and find a cure. The Rosalind Franklin is part tank, part laboratory. The crew consists of soldiers (including an infamous military officer), scientists (including Dr. Khan, who realizes she’s pregnant not long into the mission), and a teenaged autistic genius (Stephan), who created the e-blocker that prevents the Hungries from being able to smell humans. As the mission wears on, it looks like the Rosie will be as unsuccessful as all previous missions, but then Stephan finds something new: children who are not quite Hungries and not quite human.
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee. ★★★★
Last year, I read and loved Ninefox Gambit, a stunning military space opera. This year, I had the pleasure of reading the sequel, Raven Stratagem, and may have loved it even more than the first book. I highly encourage you to read these books, but they need to be read in order. If you haven’t read Ninefox Gambit, you may want to skip the rest of this review, since I’ll be mentioning spoilers from the first book.
General Kel Khiruev is leading a fleet to stop the advance of a neighboring enemy, the Hafn, when she loses control of her own fleet to Shuos Jedao. She and all of her officers are frozen, unable to resist due to programmed obedience to authority… except for Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, who suddenly discovers he’s a crashhawk. Can either of them trust Jedao? And if not, is either capable of regaining control of the fleet?
All Good Things by Emma Newman. ★★★★
All Good Things is the fifth and final book in Emma Newman’s Split Worlds urban fantasy series. You absolutely must read the series in order! Seriously, you will be totally confused if you pick up this book without the context of the previous books. If you’re unfamiliar with the series but fae and feuding families sounds like something you’d be into, go check out Between Two Thorns. Oh, and avoid the rest of this review because this late in the series there’s literally no way I can avoid spoilers for Between Two Thorns.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. ★★★★
Edit: I just read the sequel. It added romance. After I spent my entire review praising this book for not having romance. And yes, I’m super salty about it.
This Savage Song is a YA fantasy novel that I had serious trouble putting down. Also relevant? There’s a male narrator and a female narrator but no romance whatsoever.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are heirs to a city of monsters. Long before the start of our story, acts of human violence began to form creatures that were decidedly inhuman. Violent crime leads to Corsai, murder to Malchai, and mass murder to Sunai. These monsters began to destroy the city and the people living in it, and yet more destruction was caused by a war between two fractions of the populace. Kate’s father made a deal with the monsters, letting them hunt those who hadn’t paid for his protection. August’s father believed that the only right thing to do was continue to fight the monsters and protect human lives, regardless of whether or not they could pay. After much death, the two sides entered a truce, dividing the city between them. But now, that truce threatens to break, and Kate and August are right in the middle of it.