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Books Received, May 4 — May 10

11 May, 2024


Fears Tales of Psychological Horror

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. 

Monstrous Nights

Monstrous Nights by Genoveva Dimova (October 2024)

Dive into the breakneck conclusion to the Slavic folklore-inspired Witch’s Compendium of Monsters series, which began with Foul Days

With her magic reclaimed and her role in the community of Chernograd restored, Kosara’s life should finally be back to normal — but, of course, things can’t possibly be that simple. 

She is now in possession of twelve witch’s shadows, which belonged to a series of young, magically powerful women lured into the deadly marriage with the Zmey that Kosara only narrowly escaped as a young woman. Holding them may grant her unprecedented power, but that doesn’t mean they’re always willing to do her bidding. 

Across the wall in Belograd, Asen chases the only lead on his latest case, one of several unsolved witch murders, even against the orders of his direct superior and the mayor. He’s convinced the smuggling kingpin Konstantin Karaivanov is behind them, and follows his trail to an underground monster auction — which leads him right back to Chernograd. 

There, sinister events follow one after another: snow falls in midsummer, a witch with two shadows is found dead, monsters that should only appear during the Foul Days have been sighted, and cracks appear in the sky that only Kosara seems able to see. The barrier between worlds thins… and Kosara can’t help but feel her actions are the cause. 

Jamaica Ginger and Other Concoctions

Jamaica Ginger and Other Concoctions by Nalo Hopkinson (October 2024)

Caribbean-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring, Falling in Love with Hominids) is an internationally renowned storyteller. This long-awaited new collection of her deeply imaginative short fiction offers striking journeys to far-flung futures and fantastical landscapes. Hopkinson is at the peak of her powers, moving effortlessly between art, folklore, science, and magic.

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as having an imagination that most of us would kill for,” Nalo Hopkinson and her Afro-Caribbean, Canadian, and American influences shine in truly unique stories that are gorgeously strange, inventively subversive, and vividly beautiful.

In Hopkinson’s first collection since 2015, a woman and her cyborg pig eke out a living in a future waterworld; two scientists contemplate the cavernous remains of an alien lifeform; and an artist creates nanotechnology that asserts Blackness where it is least welcome. 

Jasmine Is Haunted

Jasmine Is Haunted by Mark Oshiro (October 2024)

Jasmine Garza has a problem: a ghost has been following her for years, ever since her Papi died. Not that Mami will admit anything supernatural is going on. But even the ghost she won’t acknowledge makes real trouble, so Jasmine and her mami are moving (again) to a new apartment in East Hollywood. This time Jasmine is committed to living a normal life with normal friends.

Enter: Bea Veracruz and Jorge Barrera. They’re the only two members of Jasmine’s middle school’s Gay Straight Alliance and they’re already obsessed with all things supernatural. Bea wants to prove herself to her paranormal investigator parents and Jorge is determined to overcome his fear of the beyond. And when Jasmine confesses she’s been tormented by a ghost for years, they not only believe her, they’re thrilled!

Together they set out to prove that Jasmine’s not just acting out after her father’s death – ghosts are real and Jasmine is haunted. But not everyone agrees how to deal with the departed. As Jasmine’s hauntings increase in intensity, her resentment builds. Why is her Mami so secretive about her past? Why is she the center of such a terrible vortex of supernatural activity? And why hasn’t her Papi ever reached out to her since he passed?

In order to face her ghosts — both internal and external — Jasmine must come to terms with her own history. 

The Stars Are Dying

The Stars Are Dying by Chloe C. Peñaranda (October 2024)

The Serpent and the Wings of Night meets Shadow and Bone in a dark romantic fantasy loosely inspired by the Greek myths of Astraea with a page-turning new epic world and a darkly seductive star-crossed romance. 

The brightest star needs the darkest night. 

Astraea is a prisoner of her own mind, the past sliding from her grasp like water. But she knows she must escape the tyrannical king who holds her captive and find her clouded memories once again. This quest leads her to the Libertatem, a succession of trials hosted by the king in which five human lands compete for a cycle of safety from the vampires seeking blood, claiming souls, and savaging after dark. 

But even winning the Libertatum will not keep Astraea safe from vampires. She’s made a bargain with Nyte, the beautiful, deadly vampire who stalks her dreams and haunts her waking hours. He promises to keep her safe, but she knows she cannot trust him, cannot trust his lies, even as she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into his seductive embrace. 

Caught between Nyte and her own mysteries, Astraea must decide if winning the Libertatem for her kingdom is worth her life, or if protection — and the answers to her past — really are her strongest desires. 

A Magical Girl Retires A Novel

A Magical Girl Retires: A Novel by Park Seolyeon (April 2024)

A millennial turned magical girl must combat climate change and credit card debt in this delightful, witty, and wildly imaginative ode to magical girl manga. 

Twenty-nine, depressed, and drowning in credit card debt after losing her job during the pandemic, a millennial woman decides to end her troubles by jumping off Seoul’s Mapo Bridge. 

But her suicide attempt is interrupted by a girl dressed all in white — her guardian angel. Ah Roa is a clairvoyant magical girl on a mission to find the greatest magical girl of all time. And our protagonist just may be that special someone. 

But the young woman’s initial excitement turns to frustration when she learns being a magical girl in real life is much different than how it’s portrayed in stories. It isn’t just destiny — it’s work. Magical girls go to job fairs, join trade unions, attend classes. And for this magical girl there are no special powers and no great perks, and despite being magical, she still battles with low self-esteem. Her magic wand … is a credit card — which she must use to defeat a terrifying threat that isn’t a monster or an intergalactic war. It’s global climate change. Because magical girls need to think about sustainability, too. 

Park Seolyeon reimagines classic fantasy tropes in a novel that explores real-world challenges that are both deeply personal and universal: the search for meaning and the desire to do good in a world that feels like it’s ending. A fun, fast-paced, and enchanting narrative that sparkles thanks to award-nominated translator Anton Hur, A Magical Girl Retires reminds us that we are all magical girls — that fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight can be anyone’s game. 

Translated from the Korean by Anton Hur