The Ark Sakura by Kobo Abe
Release Date: Mid Aug 2021
This 1988 book is part of the Penguin science fiction classics imprint and features a rather bizarre take on nuclear war anxiety.  Convinced of an imminent nuclear apocalypse, our protagonist, Mole, decides to build an ark in an abandoned quarry. Things go awry after completion however, and Mole’s Ark is soon invaded by a gang of youths and a sinister group of old people. Leaving Mole trapped at the centre of his ark in what is basically a giant toilet. This is a dark satire of the paranoia of the nuclear age. Trivia for movie buffs: Kobo Abe wrote the screenplay, adapted from his own novel of the same name for the award winning 1964 movie Woman of the Dunes.

Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan
Release Date: Mid Aug
This is the third, but not final, book in the Black Iron legacy, which is possibly one of my favourite fantasy series of the last few years. It’s exceedingly dark, has loads of magic and some quite disturbing and confronting ideas and images. It’s also a wonderful mix of magic, fantasy and cosmic horror. In this third book, the Godswar has finally come to Guerdon with terrible consequences, while our protagonists strive to reclaim their powers, save what powers they have left or even save one another. This is a fun and original series and if you’re a grimdark fan up for a lot of magic, I highly recommend you get onboard if you are not already.

Hard Reboot by Django Wexler
Release Date Mid Aug
In this new novella from, store fantasy favourite, Django Wexler, tries his hand at science fiction. In it, a junior academic named Kas, on earth for a research mission discovers the world of robot combat sports. After an unwise wager she then gets drawn into the seedy underworld that is interwoven with the sport. Conspiracies, gangsters, constant danger and robots punching on. Sounds awesome.

The Desert Prince by Peter V Brett
Release Date: Early Aug
This book returns to the world of the Demon Cycle series but 15 years later. Our two protagonists are Olive, a princess of the realm, and Darin, the son of the man credited with saving the world from the demons. Or did he? Evidence appears that the demons are not entirely gone and that the ones that remain are keen for revenge. It’s time again to fight the darkness so Olive and Darin are going to have to become heroes like their forebears, whether or not they’re up to it.

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid
Release Date: Mid Aug
A stand-alone fantasy that draws on Hungarian history and Jewish folklore. It’s also about ancient magic and the beginnings of modern nations. Vike is a pagan, but without the magic the rest of her people possess. An outcast among her own, when soldiers from the King come demanding someone to be sacrificed in a ritual to consolidate the King’s rule, she is immediately handed over. Attacked by monsters on the road, only Vike and a single guard survive, but he is more than he appears and they tentatively agree to work together to avert Vike’s sacrifice and save the kingdom from a traitor at it’s very heart. A collision of two worlds, the Sacred Grove and the smoke filled city this is quite dark for this type of book and while I’d suggest it for fans of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden, it’s far more bloody and goes places they don’t.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
Release Date: Mid July
In horror film vernacular, the girl who makes it to the end of the movie, killing the monster or the serial killer, often surviving just by the skin of her teeth and her wits, is called the final girl. In this world, there are multiple final girls and they have their own very special support group. When one of them goes missing the others decide to find out what happened to her. Somebody is stalking the final girls. Somebody who has failed to take into consideration that all of them have survived something terrible, they don’t get scared, they know how to defend themselves and they’re not even remotely squeamish. Great fun from Grady Hendrix who always adds something a bit subversive to his takes on popular ideas.

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Release Date: Mid Jul
This is actually a July book that I missed in the last newsletter, but I really want folks to know about it, so I’ve snuck it into this one. It’s an East-Asian retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm story of The Six Swans, sometimes also called the Swan Princes. Princess Shiori accidentally reveals that she can do forbidden magic on the day of her betrothal, ending a potential marriage that she didn’t want. Her stepmother, also a worker of magic, banishes the girl to protect her own secret and turns Shiori’s six brothers into cranes. Furthermore she curses Shiori so that each word she speaks will kill one of her brothers. Silent and exiled, she must find a way to undo the curse, save her brothers and unravel the plans her stepmother has for the kingdom. Her allies? An unpredictable dragon, a paper bird and the very boy she rejected as a husband. One for fans of Jane Yolen, Naomi Novik and Juliet Marillier‘s wonderful Sevenwaters series.

The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox
Release Date: Late Jul
The first in a new urban fantasy crime series that begins with Detective Joe Lazarus storming into a crime scene to discover a body – his own – and a spirit guide that informs him that he’s dead and has been drafted into the supernatural police force, The Dying Squad.  His first task as a ghost policeman is to solve the mystery of his own death.  Being dead has its advantages, but also disadvantages. It turns out there are worse things than death, and that catching his killer is the only way he’ll escape eternity in purgatory. Also his memory is starting to fade which is a serious problem since he’s a man full of truth and lies and he’s struggling to remember which is which. This is an urban fantasy/ police procedural that might appeal to Ben Aaronovitch readers, though I suspect this will be a bit darker. It’s also listed as a standalone book rather than a series, but it’s got the makings of a one so I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard he was working on a sequel.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Release Date: Late Aug
Store regulars will probably recognise Silvia Moreno-Garcia as the author of Mexican Gothic and Gods of Jade and Shadow. However this new book is not magical realism or urban fantasy but is instead a dark political thriller set in 1970s Mexico around student radicals and dissidents. Hit men, spies, secret police and cover-ups, this has all the elements of a great thriller. It’s also set in a time and place that’s perfect for this sort of story, but will probably be quite new for many readers. Definitely one for political thriller fans looking for something different.

Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis
Release Date: Early Aug
A new urban fantasy set in 1860s Prague, a city that is beset at night by vampires and other nasties. The only thing keeping the city safe is a secret cadre of monster hunters known as the Lamplighters. One of these, Domek, discovers a conspiracy that involves vast supernatural forces and may well spill out from under the city and takeover the daylight world. A terrific fun urban fantasy that mixes folklore, alchemy and an unconventional romance in one of the best locations for the genre you could possibly imagine.

A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurel K Hamilton
Release Date: Mid Aug
This is the first in a new series by urban fantasy heavyweight, Laurel K Hamilton. It’s set in a city where angels are real and interact with humans through the artifice of angel-speakers. Detective Zaniel Havelock used to be an angel-speaker until a series of events and a betrayal caused him to abandon the role. During his work as a detective, however, he has come across a crime that could very well be the result of a demonic possession, which means in order to solve it he is going to have to go over some bridges that he thought thoroughly burned and confront some things about himself that he doesn’t want to look at again. This sounds like it could be a lot of fun. At this stage it looks like this is the kind of gritty crime+supernatural of Hamilton’s earlier work rather than her more recent supernatural erotica. We’ll have to wait and see if that continues as future books are released.

The Pariah by Anthony Ryan
Release Date: Late Aug
Anthony Ryan is one of our most popular grimdark fantasy authors, so I’m thrilled to be getting a new series from him. Alwyn Scribe is an outlaw, born and bred with a sharp mind and a sharp blade, his fellow thieves are his family. When that is taken from him he swears revenge. It’s a path that will take him into the army in the service of a possibly mad noblewoman and through the horrors of war. But in the end, there’s always a choice and a price to be paid for revenge. This is low-magic fantasy told in diary style first person, which I’m intrigued by since I loved his only other first-person novel, Blood Song and have wanted to see more from him like that.

Court of The Dead: Rise Of Reaper General by Beatrice van Slee
Release Date: Early Aug
The Court of the Dead is a cross medium milieu featuring a board game, comics, collectables and now this large format illustrated hardcover novel. It’s set in a universe where heaven and hell have been at war for aeons, caught in an endless, bloody stalemate. Finally Death himself, driven to stop the ceaseless waste, rebels and seeks to return order and stability. The Underworld and the Court of the Dead have become the unlikely defenders of life. This is the story of Demithyle, servant of Death, from his humble origins as a footsoldier to Reaper General and defender of the Underworld. This is a gorgeous book full of wonderful illustrations in the darkly Gothic style of all the Court of the Dead material but it does come with a warning. If the game and collectables are as beautiful as this book, you could find yourself wanting a lot of new stuff.