Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC Content warning: intergenerational trauma, domestic violence, divorce, blood, vehicular manslaughter
Fifteen-year-old Sara is really going through it between her parents’ impending divorce, her Bibi Jan’s dementia, and the house her mother is flipping that is unequivocally haunted by a ghost which may be a part of Sara’s past. Family secrets and a truth hidden for generations come together in this contemporary fiction that’s as much about community within an immigrant family as it is about Sara’s personal coming of age.
If you’re looking for a YA book with a younger protagonist and no romance arc that’s as heart-wrenching as it is spooky, you are in for a treat. Definitely among the best books I’ve read this year.
Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC Content warning: body & bug horror, death, on-page violence, racial microaggressions, vomiting
Aja’s perfect sister Fiona goes missing and strange things start happening: blood rain, a mysterious fog, blood-sucking grubs, all precursors to the arrival of a vampire. She strikes a bargain with Padraic and tries to free the kids in his thrall, including her ex-friend Mary.
Gross, goth, and steeped in 90’s vampire aesthetic, a fun read for folks constantly searching for new vampire content.
Vera Crowder comes home to settle the estate while her mother lives out her final days. Their relationship has always been strained and it doesn’t help that her father is Francis Crowder, a storied serial killer who used the house for his deadly extracurriculars. Though her father died years ago, something else haunts the house, leaving behind notes and making sure Vera doesn’t get a wink of sleep.
Claustrophobic, melancholy, and atmospheric, this story about a woman packing up her family’s possibly haunted house is a delight for both true crime and horror fans alike.
An interview with the author will be going up on release day, July 19th, 2022.
Liz Rocher returns to her predominantly white town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania to attend her best friend’s wedding. She thought the worst she would have to deal with are micro-aggressions and passive-aggressive reunions with people she hasn’t seen, in some cases, since high school. But when the couple’s daughter, Caroline, goes missing in the world, what unfolds is a race against time and a horrific history of Black girls going missing in the woods every summer for years.
It’s a little bit The Ritual meets Hereditary on a community level, and a lot bit about a divided past that haunts not only the town as a whole but also the characters driving the story.
Read a NetGalley eARC Content warning: Vomiting, gore, bloodshed, death by drowning, dismemberment, death in childbirth, misgendering, deadnaming, slavery, pregnancy
The Iliad with a trans lens. Achilles is a trans woman living on Skyros with women just like her when Odysseus comes searching for him to partake in a war to retrieve Helen from the Hittites. Instead of fighting as a man, Athena intervenes and gives her the body of a woman, and she goes off to war.
Drenched in glory and war-time gore, there is also a surprising amount of love and beauty to be found in this modern retelling.
An interview with the author will be posted on June 7th, 2022 (release day!).
It’s another post-apocalypse in Appalachia, but this one has to do with a war long thought over against an AI named Athena Parthenus. Decades go by, and the main character, Marcia, is about to retire until she’s reinstated for one more mission to investigate an automaton that’s reawakened.
The world-building is really cool in this one. There’s a band of Owl and Crow resistance groups who cosplay as their respective birds, and it’s interesting to see the different community dynamics of the few remaining human enclaves. There several different types of robots, and it’s not entirely clear if all the people aren’t some kind of cyborg as well. The writing is clear and crisp, and it’s easy to keep all the different factions clear.
It’s a bit on the nose in its exploration of the collapse of an empire and the cycles of violence that come with it, citing examples of Greek and Roman history in casual dialogue. But for a small vignette of a greater world, it simply deepens the worldbuilding.
Due to the brevity of the work, the character development loses a bit of its depth. That being said, it’s rad to have a genre work about a reckoning with past and present while AI have different agendas with regards to where the world goes next.
Read a NetGalley eARC Content warning: Body horror, gore, skin diseases, gun violence, deadnaming, plague, religious abuse, suicidal ideation, dead parents, homophobia
The area of Appalachia where Hell Followed With Us takes place has been ravaged by a virus unleashed by an eco-fascist Christian cult that wants to usher in the end days to meet their God. They do this by an infection called the Flood and the creation of literal monster called Graces, the most powerful of which is Seraph. It’s host is Benji, who’s on the run from the cult because he’s trans and has had enough. He finds sanctuary with a small resistance group, but it wont’ belong long until the cult finds him and take back the monster he stole.
It’s gory, it’s fun, it twists and surprises, and features a cast of queer teens at its center whose thorny found family relationship lends itself to a post-apocalyptic landscape.
An interview with the author will be posted on June 9th, 2022.
Read an eARC from NetGalley Content warning: Murder, war crimes, sexual assault (not depicted), comfort women, gore, PTSD, terminal illness
A historical fiction journey following one family spanning several generations and centuries. Starting with colonial Japan and a murder, going all the way to post-the-current-year (2035 to be precise) to a V.R. utopia masking future-type horrors unfolding. It’s about cycles of imperialism, violence, and generational trauma, some of which isn’t necessarily dealt with, but very much explored.
Told in a wide range of styles, from interviews to more straightforward narratives to diary entries, I found myself having a hard time believing that this was fiction and not something like a Svetlana Alexievich collection of accounts.
*In an effort to get my reading list under control, I will be finishing up a few ARCs that I should have finished, in some cases, years ago. Yes, I am embarrassed.
Read a NetGalley eARC Content warning: dead parent (father), dementia, PTSD
One of my favorite subgenres of science fiction and fantasy comes in the form of “what happens to the main characters when they return from their adventure?” This book is split into three POVs: one sister, Kass, who kept herself firmly rooted on Earth, her twin, Jakob, who disappeared in a first contact episode fifteen years prior, and their younger sister, Evie, who wants to find her brother but also proof of extra-terrestrials. Jakob does return one day, and it’s a race to complete a space military mission while trying to tie knots longed frayed by hurts gone unmended.
A compelling story about siblings trying to mend rifts that go beyond the pedestrian and tear into space and time amid a veritable Easter basket of Assassin’s Creed references.
Read a NetGalley eARC from the publisher Content warning: Famine, poverty, flaying, plague, war, queerphobia, misogyny, immolation, dismemberment
A girl’s family dies in a famine-stricken village at the hands of despair and bandits. Instead of succumbing to her nothing fate, so takes on her brother’s name, Zhu Chongba, and takes on his destiny of greatness. She joins a monastery, gets enlisted in the army, and seeks greatness at every turn. On the opposite side of war, there is Ouyang, the eunuch general, whose everything was taken from him by the family he serves.
My official review is one long joyous screech of hype. This book has so many things I love, such as character archetypes and depictions of betrayal. The balance between political intrigue and epic battles is masterful, as are the parallels between Ouyang and Zhu.