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Books Received, June 8 — June 14

15 Jun, 2024


The Mercy of Gods by James S. A. Corey (August 2024)

How humanity came to the planet called Anjiin is lost in the fog of history, but that history is about to end.

The Carryx – part empire, part hive – have waged wars of conquest for centuries, destroying or enslaving species across the galaxy. Now, they are facing a great and deathless enemy. The key to their survival may rest with the humans of Anjiin. 

Caught up in academic intrigue and affairs of the heart, Dafyd Alkhor is pleased just to be an assistant to a brilliant scientist and his celebrated research team. Then the Carryx ships descend, decimating the human population and taking the best and brightest of Anjiin society away to serve on the Carryx homeworld, and Dafyd is swept along with them.

They are dropped in the middle of a struggle they barely understand, set in a competition against the other captive species with extinction as the price of failure. Only Dafyd and a handful of his companions see past the Darwinian contest to the deeper game that they must play to survive: learning to understand – and manipulate – the Carryx themselves.

With a noble but suicidal human rebellion on one hand and strange and murderous enemies on the other, the team pays a terrible price to become the trusted servants of their new rulers.

Dafyd Alkhor is a simple man swept up in events that are beyond his control and more vast than his imagination. He will become the champion of humanity and its betrayer, the most hated man in history and the guardian of his people. 

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Books Received, June 1 to June 7

8 Jun, 2024


Sleeping Worlds Have No Memory by Yaroslav Barsukov (November 2024)

Sleeping Worlds Have No Memory is a mesmerizing journey through a world where the extraordinary becomes the ordinary. The novel unfolds in a realm where the past and the present intertwine, crafting a narrative that is as enchanting as it is thought-provoking. At the heart of the story is a compelling exploration of memory and its profound impact on our identities and relationships. The characters are richly developed, each grappling with their own intricate histories and secrets that gradually unravel as the plot progresses.

Barsukov’s mastery in world-building is evident throughout the novel. He creates a vivid and detailed universe that feels both familiar and entirely new, drawing the reader into a world where the boundaries between reality and imagination blur. The storytelling is immersive, combining elements of fantasy, science fiction, and drama in a seamless and captivating way. The prose is lyrical and evocative, making every scene resonate with emotion and depth.

Sleeping Worlds Have No Memory is a remarkable achievement, a book that offers both an exhilarating adventure and a profound meditation on the human condition. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves stories that not only entertain but also challenge and inspire. Barsukov’s unique voice and imaginative storytelling make this novel a standout in the genre, a work that will linger in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned. 

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Books Received, May 25 — May 31

1 Jun, 2024


Motheater by Linda H. Codega (January 2025

After her best friend dies in a coal mine, Benethea Bennie” Mattox sacrifices her job, her relationship, and her reputation to uncover what’s killing miners on Kire Mountain. When she finds a half-drowned white woman in a dirty mine slough, Bennie takes her in because it’s right — but also because she hopes this odd, magnetic stranger can lead her to the proof she needs.

Instead, she brings more questions. The woman called Motheater can’t remember her true name, or how she ended up inside the mountain. She knows only that she’s a witch of Appalachia, bound to tor and holler, possum and snake, with power in her hands and Scripture on her tongue. But the mystery of her fate, her doomed quest to keep industry off Kire Mountain, and the promises she bent and broke have followed her a century and half into the future. And now, the choices Motheater and Bennie make together could change the face of the town itself. 

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May 2024 in Review

31 May, 2024


Late March, early April were as atypical as I expected. May did not feature the same award nomination per week. Or even any during the whole month.

Thanks to Facebook memories, I know May 30th was the 10th anniversary of my having the idea for the Because My Tears Are Delicious to You reviews. It took a full two days to turn the concept into reality.

May 2024

23 works reviewed. 15 by women (65%), 8 by men (35%), 0 by non-binary authors (0%), 0 by authors whose gender is unknown (0%), and 13 by POC (57%).

2024 to Date

109 works reviewed. 61 by women (56%), 45 by men (41%), 2 by
non-binary authors (2%), 1 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 46 by POC (42%).

Grand Total to Date

2638 works reviewed. 1473 by women (56%), 1100 by men (42%), 42 by non-binary authors (2%), 23 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 817.75 by POC (31%).

Government Types May 2024

Total 23, Not Applicable 1 (4%), Unclear 1 (4%), Anarchy 0 (0%), Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 10 (43%), Oligarchy 11 (48%), Autocracy 0 (0%).

Government Type 2024 TD

Total 109, Not Applicable 14 (13%), Unclear 5 (5%), Anarchy 4 (4%),
Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 37 (34%), Oligarchy 45 (41%), Autocracy 4 (5%).

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Books Received, May 18 — May 24

25 May, 2024


The Lies We Conjure by Sarah Henning (September 2024)

Knives Out meets The Inheritance Games with magic in this standalone supernatural thriller by Sarah Henning: thirteen witches, a locked-room murder, and two non-magical sisters trapped in a deadly game of Clue

Ruby and her sister, Wren, are normal, middle-class Colorado high school students working a summer job at the local Renaissance Fest to supplement their meager college savings.

So when an eccentric old lady asks them to impersonate her long-absent grandchildren at a fancy dinner party at the jaw-dropping rate of two grand — each — for a single night… Wren insists it’s a no-brainer. Make some cash, have some fun, do a good deed.

But less than an hour into the evening at the mysterious Hegemony Manor, Ruby is sure she must have lost her mind to have agreed to this.

The hostess is dead, the gates are locked, and a magical curse ensures no one can leave until they solve both her murder and the riddles she left behind — in just three days. Because everyone else at this party is a powerful witch. And if the witches realize Ruby and Wren are imposters? The sisters won’t make it out of Hegemony Manor alive. 

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Books Received, May 11 — May 17

18 May, 2024


Januaries by Olivie Blake (October 2024)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six comes Januaries, a stunning collection of short fiction featuring fourteen magical ruminations on life, death, and the love — or desire for revenge — that outlasts both

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, a wish-granting spirit rapidly approaches burnout. Meanwhile, a banished fairy answers a Craigslist ad, a Victorian orphan navigates an occult situationship, and a multiverse assassin contemplates the one who got away.

With both iconic fan-favorite stories and entirely original pieces, Januaries features modified fairy tales, contemporary heists, absurdist poetry, and at least one set of actual wedding vows. Escape the slow trudge of mortality by diving into these enchanting new worlds with a master of imagination. 

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Books Received, May 4 — May 10

11 May, 2024


Fears: Tales of Psychological Horror edited by Ellen Datlow (September 2024)

Bestselling horror editor Ellen Datlow (Body Shocks) returns with twenty-one stories of extreme psychological dread from such horror icons as Stephen Graham Jones, Priya Sharma, Josh Malerman, Margo Lanagan, and more. The unsettling tales explore the nature of fear as it stirs in dysfunctional families, toxic friendships, and mismatched lovers, which culminates in relentless stalkers, remorseless killers, and perpetrators of savage rituals.

Far beneath the mere supernatural lives something worse: the depths of human depravity. Your child is sacrificed in compensation for your social misstep. You compete in a sick game to save your loved ones. Your mom is insane, your dad is dying, your brother is not your brother, and you’re stuck in the same house until one or all of you are dead. In her newest landmark anthology, Ellen Datlow has unearthed twenty-one exemplary tales of what people should fear the most: other people. 

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Books Received, April 27 — May 3

4 May, 2024

1 comment

The Naming Song by Jedediah Berry (September 2024)

When the words went away, the world changed. 

All meaning was lost, and every border fell. Monsters slipped from dreams to haunt the waking while ghosts wandered the land in futile reveries. Only with the rise of the committees of the named — Maps, Ghosts, Dreams, and Names — could the people stand against the terrors of the nameless wilds. They built borders around their world and within their minds, shackled ghosts and hunted monsters, and went to war against the unknown. 

For one unnamed courier of the Names Committee, the task of delivering new words preserves her place in a world that fears her. But after a series of monstrous attacks on the named, she is forced to flee her committee and seek her long-lost sister. Accompanied by a patchwork ghost, a fretful monster, and a nameless animal who prowls the shadows, her search for the truth of her past opens the door to a revolutionary future — for the words she carries will reshape the world. 

The Naming Song is a book of deep secrets and marvelous discoveries, strange adventures and dangerous truths. It’s the story of a world locked in a battle over meaning. Most of all, it’s the perfect fantasy for anyone who’s ever dreamed of a stranger, freer, more magical world. 

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May 2024 Patreon Boost

1 May, 2024


A huge shout-out to my donors, subscribers and audience, for their part in my nomination to the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association Hall of Fame1.

James Nicoll Reviews is supported by spontaneous donations, review commissions and Patreon subscribers. If you would like to commission a review, please see my guidelines. My Patreon is here. Spontaneous donations can be done via my Paypal. Advice on how to better promote my Patreon is also welcome. 

1: Contrary to my expectation last month, the nomination high has not worn off. It helps that in addition to the CSFFA Hall of Fame nomination, Young People Read Old SFF is an Aurora Award finalist.

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