Read an ARC from the publisher Content warnings: earthquakes and the aftermath of natural disasters, references to past ableism
Gelle-Geu is an island city whose star god is restless and earthquakes come closer and closer. Ranra has taken on the role of starkeeper, and her first task is to unravel the problems left attended by her predecessor. She seeks the counsel of Lilún, a poet whose ancestor is begging them to take on the role of starkeeper. Their relationship ignites while disaster strikes, and it’s a race against star charts and magic to possibly save the city.
This novel has all the dreaminess of poetry and being told a bedtime story with intense calamity on the horizon and tender romance at its core.
Read an ARC from the publisher Content warnings: blood, surgery, bigotry, xenophobia, hate crime (aftermath depicted), plague, medical racism, corpses
Qilwa is a city-state which is the new home of our healer protagonist, Firuz-e Jafari, who lives with their trans brother, Parviz. A plague sweeps the city, but takes on a more menacing tone when new symptoms appear and the body count increases at the clinic. All the while, their younger sibling wants to transition and the siblings bring a fellow blood magic user into their fold.
This novella has a bit of everything: medical fantasy, slice-of-life, and a mystery, all presented in some of the tightest, most layered writing I’ve had the joy and privilege of reading.
An interview with the author will be posted on August 9th, release day.
In the Birdverse, weaves carry magic and four are the most profound: change, wanderlust, hope, and death. Having mastered three of them, Uiziya goes on a journey with her close friend the nameless man to learn the fourth from her aunt.
What really makes this story stand out is how often we don’t see older protagonists get to go on an adventure. There is a sense of recovery and a continued exploration of identity even at older ages. The nameless man is searching for a name, and in a world where magic stems from the number of syllables in a name, this ties in the world-building to a character arc. I won’t spoil how it ends, but it left me with light in my heart.
In addition, the villain worked so well because he represents an opposite theory . There is melancholy in that to weave from death means weaving from bones, but the framing Lemberg establishes throughout infuses the book with brilliant, resistant hope (in addition to hope being one of the weaves). The novella takes its time in these explorations, especially as it relates to connections both familial and platonic.
A delightful debut about identity, art, and friendship.