Grief-stricken over the death of his wife, Lord Alistair Worthington founded the Hermetic Brotherhood of Al-Jahiz. He hopes that the society can re-discover the occult secrets with which the famed Al-Jahiz restored magic to the world. As founder, he is the Grand Master — of course. Some of his followers are as sincere as he is. Others merely crave proximity to the man’s wealth and influence.
Motives don’t matter in the end, because everyone present at what turns out to be their final meeting is brutally murdered, burned to death by a fire that consumes flesh but not clothing.
Greg van Eekhout’s 2019 Cog is a standalone young-adult SF novel.
The untrained eye could mistake Cog for a twelve-year-old boy. In fact, he is a humanoid robot, designed as a tool for research on cognitive development. Like humans, Cog can learn from his experiences.
Sometimes he learns the wrong thing. Assured by his parent-figure, uniMIND researcher Gina, that ‘good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment,’ Cog sets out to optimize his learning environment by making some big mistakes.
Mission more than accomplished!
2020’s These Violent Delights is the first volume in Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights series.
Proud heir to leadership of the Scarlet Gang, Juliette Cai is determined to lead her father’s gangsters to total domination of Jazz-era Shanghai. There are but two small impediments to this scheme: firstly, that the Russian-run White Flowers do not care to admit defeat in the on-going blood feud between the gangs and secondly, that the current occupation of Shanghai by arrogant foreign powers appears to have tilted the balance in favour of the White Flowers.
There is also the almost inconsequential matter that White Flower heir Roma Montagov used to be Juliette’s lover. It’s an age-old story: two star-crossed teens meet and then part amid a flurry of bloody mutual assassination attempts facilitated by information clearly gleaned from each other. Their affair is the past. The only question now is who will kill whom.
A scattering of dead gangsters from both gangs, dumped on the waterfront, could be simply another bloody chapter in the gang war. It isn’t. Each of the dead men killed themself.
King of the Rising is the second volume in Kacen Callender’s Islands of Blood and Storm series.
The Islanders’ cunning ruse allowed them to slaughter Fjern slavers; many Fjern aristocrats are among the dead. The rebels are in firm control of the island on which the revolution started. Rebellions have cropped up all across the archipelago.
But … the rebellions are not coordinated. The Fjern still control many islands, patrol the sea at will, and they have more armed men at their command than any of the rebel groups. Absent some brilliant strategy, time is not on the rebels’ side.
Alaya Dawn Johnson’s 2020 Trouble the Saints is a standalone urban fantasy novel.
A lucky few have been given remarkable gifts, special powers in their hands that have been revealed by mysterious dreams. Some can sense malice with a touch, other can feel a person’s darkest secrets. Phyllis Green has a preternatural talent with knives. She works under the name of Phyllis LeBlanc, as an assassin who delivers pointy justice to deserving miscreants. Her boss? Depression-era crime-lord Victor.
“Victor’s angel,” as she is known, has come to terms with her bloody occupation by assuring herself that she is killing the worst of the worst. Because if you can’t trust a career criminal who has arrived at the top over the dead bodies of his rivals, who can you trust?
2017’s Son of a Trickster is the first volume of Eden Robinson’s Trickster trilogy.
Jared Martin might look like just another a drifting loser high-schooler. Look closer and you’ll see a First Nations kid who’s dealing with more than he should be expected to handle. Look even closer; if you have the sight, as his maternal grandmother does, you might have reason to think that he’s really Wee’git, the trickster.
She’s not entirely right but she’s also not entirely wrong.
Waubgeshig Rice’s 2018 Moon of the Crusted Snow is a standalone post-apocalyptic novel.
The end of civilization comes to Evan Whitesky’s northern Anishinaabe community not as panicked broadcasts or fire dropping from the skies. Instead there is simply a sudden quiet as satellite communication abruptly stops.
Kalynn Bayron’s 2020 Cinderella Is Dead is a standalone fantasy.
Cinderella is long dead but her legend lives on in the fairy tale kingdom of Lille. So does her legacy.
Unfortunately for the women who live in Lille.
E. Lily Yu’s 2021 On Fragile Waves is an upcoming ghost story, suitable for Halloween (eve).
When parents Atay and Abay decide to flee war-torn Afghanistan for the safety of Australia, they spin tales of the wonderful life to come to their daughter Firuzeh and son Nour. The trip is fantastically expensive and the route frustratingly indirect, but once they wend their way through Pakistan and Indonesia, a new home in Australia will be theirs.
Or, as it turns out, not.