Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction for December 2021

December 2021 brought a plethora of great short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories to my inbox. Judging by the stories that ended up on my spotlight this month, I went on an environmental disasters kick. From fussy lake gods to exploitative space station dwellers, from technology-infused religious beliefs to robots repopulating the planet, with a few creepy houses to spice things up.

Plus! Four extra stories from a few publications whose summer and fall issues I missed when they were initially released.

Read the rest of this spotlight at Tor.com.

Review: “Redemptor” by Jordan Ifueko

Release Date: August 17, 2021
Series: Raybearer #2
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Description

For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.

Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Continue reading “Review: “Redemptor” by Jordan Ifueko”

Best Young Adult Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror of 2021

With more than 300 young adult speculative fiction novels and graphic novels traditionally published in 2021, putting together a Best Of list is a massive undertaking. After weeks of hemming and hawing, adding and subtracting, making decisions and changing my mind, here is a big batch of 35 titles. “Best” is, of course, a totally subjective concept, but these are the science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels that I think absolutely nailed how much young adult fiction can change, inspire, teach, and reflect its readers…

Read the rest of this spotlight at Tor.com.

Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction for November 2021

November is a weird month. The beautiful fall colors of October are gone, but the crisp bite of December has yet to arrive. Things are coming due and end of year lists are being made, as if there isn’t a whole other month left. November is an inhale, a hesitation, a glitch in the timestream. So here are my ten favorite speculative fiction stories from that strange eleventh hour pause…

Read the rest of this spotlight at Tor.com.

A Fresh Take on Old Tropes: Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

Release Date: November 9, 2021
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Description

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.

Continue reading “A Fresh Take on Old Tropes: Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier”

Review: “White Smoke” by Tiffany D. Jackson

Release Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Horror, Young Adult

Description

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

Continue reading “Review: “White Smoke” by Tiffany D. Jackson”

New Young Adult Speculative Fiction for December 2021

I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in December 2021. Up first is a short list of the books I highly recommend, followed by a long list of basically every book being published.

Get your library cards and indie bookstore pre-orders ready, y’all.

Continue reading “New Young Adult Speculative Fiction for December 2021”