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Blog Posts from May 2024 (5)

Books Received, May 18 — May 24

25 May, 2024

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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