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Books Received, March 16 — March 22

24 Mar, 2024


Crypt of the Moon Spider

Crypt of the Moon Spider by Nathan Ballingrud (August 2024)

Crypt of the Moon Spider is a dark and dreamy tale of horror, corruption, and identity spun into the stickiest of webs. 

Years ago, in a cave beneath the dense forests and streams on the surface of the moon, a gargantuan spider once lived. Its silk granted its first worshippers immense faculties of power and awe. 

It’s now 1923 and Veronica Brinkley is touching down on the moon for her intake at the Barrowfield Home for Treatment of the Melancholy. A renowned facility, Dr. Barrington Cull’s invasive and highly successful treatments have been lauded by many. And they’re so simple! All it takes is a little spider silk in the amygdala, maybe a strand or two in the prefrontal cortex, and perhaps an inch in the hippocampus for near evisceration of those troublesome thoughts and ideas. 

But patients aren’t the only ones with trouble on their minds, and although the spider’s been dead for years, its denizens are not. Someone or something is up to no good, and Veronica just might be the cause. 

Coriolis The Great Dark Quickstart v1

Coriolis: The Great Dark Quickstart published by Free League (March 2024)

The Quickstart offers a condensed version of the rules, a short primer to the setting and a ready-to-play adventure: The Sky Machine.

Blackheart Man

Blackheart Man by Nalo Hopkinson (August 2024)

The magical island of Chynchin is facing conquerors from abroad and something sinister from within in this entrancing fantasy from the Grand Master Award – winning author Nalo Hopkinson. 

Veycosi, in training as a griot (an historian and musician), hopes to sail off to examine the rare Alamat Book of Light and thus secure a spot for himself on Chynchin’s Colloquium of scholars. However, unexpected events prevent that from happening. Fifteen Ymisen galleons arrive in the harbor to force a trade agreement on Chynchin. Veycosi tries to help, hoping to prove himself with a bold move, but quickly finds himself in way over his head. Bad turns to worse when malign forces start stirring. Pickens (children) are disappearing and an ancient invading army, long frozen into piche (tar) statues by island witches is stirring to life — led by the fearsome demon known as the Blackheart Man. Veycosi has problems in his polyamorous personal life, too. How much trouble can a poor student take? Or cause all by himself as the line between myth and history blends in this delightfully sly tale by one of greatest novelists. 

A Sorceress Comes to Call

A Sorceress Comes to Call by T. Kingfisher (August 2024)

From New York Times bestselling and Hugo Award-winning author T. Kingfisher comes A Sorceress Comes to Call — a dark reimagining of the Brothers Grimm’s The Goose Girl,” rife with secrets, murder, and forbidden magic.*The hardcover edition features a foil stamp on the casing and custom endpapers illustrated by the author.*Cordelia knows her mother is … unusual. Their house doesn’t have any doors between rooms — there are no secrets in this house — and her mother doesn’t allow Cordelia to have a single friend. Unless you count Falada, her mother’s beautiful white horse. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is on her daily rides with him. 

But more than simple eccentricity sets her mother apart. Other mothers don’t force their daughters to be silent and motionless for hours, sometimes days, on end. Other mothers aren’t evil sorcerers. 

After a suspicious death in their small town, Cordelia’s mother insists they leave in the middle of the night, riding away together on Falada’s sturdy back, leaving behind all Cordelia has ever known. They arrive at the remote country manor of a wealthy older man, the Squire, and his unwed sister, Hester. Cordelia’s mother intends to lure the Squire into marriage, and Cordelia knows this can only be bad news for the bumbling gentleman and his kind, intelligent sister. 

And indeed Hester sees the way Cordelia shrinks away from her mother. How the young girl sits eerily still at dinner every night. Hester knows that to save her brother from bewitchment and to rescue the terrified Cordelia, she will have to face down a wicked witch of the worst kind. 

Kingfisher never fails to dazzle. 


Babel by R. F. Kuang (August 2022)

From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire. 

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel. 

Babel is the world’s center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working — the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars — has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization. 

For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide…Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? 

Daughter of the Merciful Deep

Daughter of the Merciful Deep by Leslye Penelope (June 2024)

A woman journeys into a submerged world of gods and myth to save her home in this powerful historical fantasy that shines a light on the drowned Black towns of the American South. Our home began, as all things do, with a wish.” Jane Edwards hasn’t spoken since she was eleven years old, when armed riders expelled her family from their hometown along with every other Black resident. Now, twelve years later, she’s found a haven in the all-Black town of Awenasa. But the construction of a dam promises to wash her home under the waters of the new lake. Jane will do anything to save the community that sheltered her. So, when a man with uncanny abilities arrives in town asking strange questions, she wonders if he might be the key. But as the stranger hints at gods and ancestral magic, Jane is captivated by a bigger mystery. She knows this man. Only the last time she saw him, he was dead. His body laid to rest in a rushing river. Who is the stranger and what is he really doing in Awenasa? To find those answers, Jane will journey into a sunken world, a land of capricious gods and unsung myths, of salvation and dreams made real. But the flood waters are rising. To gain the miracle she desires, Jane will have to find her voice again and finally face the trauma of the past. 

The Knife and the Serpent

The Knife and the Serpent by Tim Pratt (June 2024)

From Hugo Award winning author Tim Pratt comes a new, high-concept space opera, exploring technology, family and the price we pay to follow our destiny, perfect for fans of Peter F. Hamilton and Adrian Tchaikovsky. 

After her grandmother is murdered in a home invasion, Tamsin Culver leaves her cushy programming job in San Francisco and returns to her Midwestern hometown to settle the estate. What she doesn’t expect is to find out her grandmother’s life-changing secret: She’s not an Earth native, but an exile from another level of the Nigh-Space continuum, an adjacent reality with technology far more advanced than ours. What’s more, her grandmother ruled there as an oligarch, meaning Tamsin is the heir to vast wealth only accessible by someone from her bloodline… but the enemies who tried to exterminate her family won’t be happy to see her return. 

Back in the Bay Area, grad student Glenn makes a startling discovery about his girlfriend Vivy. She’s a secret agent for the Interventionists: an interdimensional organisation devoted to protecting the inhabitants of Nigh-Space from those trying to take advantage of less-developed worlds. When she lands in trouble, Glenn finds himself on a sapient starship in a distant level of the continuum, racing to save her. But when Glenn and Vivy’s plans clash with Tamsin’s, and secret connections among them all are revealed, their situation becomes catastrophically complicated. 

It’s a princess of Nigh-Space versus a champion of Nigh-Space in a reality-spanning adventure that ranges from alien planets to mysterious space stations to Bay Area bars, with starship battles, cyborg augmentation, abductions, snark, betrayal, and fallout both nuclear and emotional. 

Rough Pages

Rough Pages by Lev Ac Rosen (October 2024)

Private Detective Evander Andy” Mills has been drawn back to the Lavender House estate for a missing person case. Pat, the family butler, has been volunteering for a book service, one that specializes in mailing queer books to a carefully guarded list of subscribers. With bookseller Howard Salzberger gone suspiciously missing along with his address book, everyone on that list, including some of Andy’s closest friends, is now in danger. 

A search of Howard’s bookstore reveals that someone wanted to stop him and his co-owner, Dorothea Lamb, from sending out their next book. The evidence points not just to the Feds, but to the Mafia, who would be happy to use the subscriber list for blackmail. 

Andy has to maneuver through both the government and the criminal world, all while dealing with a nosy reporter who remembers him from his days as a police detective and wants to know why he’s no longer a cop. With his own secrets closing in on him, can Andy find the list before all the lives on it are at risk?Set in atmospheric 1950s San Francisco, Rough Pages asks who is allowed to tell their own stories, and how far would you go to seek out the truth. 


Returners by Nahoko Uehashi (March 2024)

Van’s chase to rescue the kidnapped Yuna leads him to the Ahfal Oma, the People of the Fire Horse. They reveal that the sickness plaguing Aquafa is no random resurgence but a carefully orchestrated revenge plan, and they want the leader of the Lone Antlers to join. Van can’t abide a destructive quest that threatens all of Aquafa, but he’s still only one man. And how can a single man stop a disease — especially one that already lives within him?