Review: “Rust in the Root” by Justina Ireland

Release Date: February 7, 2023
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: YA, Historical Fantasy


Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Since she was kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travelers in a Jamaican jungle teeming with ghostly monsters.

When the boss denies Victoria an earned promotion to team leader in favor of Dean, her backstabbing ex, she’s determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s not the image the boss wants to send their new client, Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle.Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants?

A fierce, lush fantasy by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blackwood, Wildblood tells the story of a girl who must find the strength to defeat the demons of the jungle as well as her own to find where she truly belongs.

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Review: Voodoonauts Presents: (Re)Living Mythology by Shingai Njeri Kagunda, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, H.D. Hunter, & LP Kindred, eds.

Release Date: November 22, 2022
Publisher: Android Press
Genre: Anthologies


From the Voodoonauts Afrofuturist collective for Black science fiction and fantasy writers.

When a desperately mundane woman borrows clothing from her mother, a soucouyant goes searching for her skin. A Nigerian parent climbs mountains to heaven to steal a name and glorious destiny for their newborn. A master tailor gets her skills tested when a spectral customer enters her workshop and she can’t say no. A preacher casts dark magic from his pulpit when the Word ain’t enough to run his church. These tales and more populate Voodoonauts Present: (Re)Living Mythology.

Called from the imaginations of its inaugural fellows and a handful of solicited authors including Christopher Caldwell, TL Huchu, and Eden Royce, Voodoonauts curates a coterie of short fiction and poetry that paints across the breadth of magic and Blackness. Co-editors/founders Shingai Njeri Kagunda, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, Hugh “HD” Hunter, and LP Kindred ask Black Writers to interrogate their mythologies, folklores, superstition, and wives’ tales to create the book within your hands.

Continue reading “Review: Voodoonauts Presents: (Re)Living Mythology by Shingai Njeri Kagunda, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, H.D. Hunter, & LP Kindred, eds.”

Review: “Rust in the Root” by Justina Ireland

Release Date: September 20, 2022
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: YA, Historical Fantasy


It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided–between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology–otherwise known as Mechomancy–not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura disagrees. A talented young queer mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker.

But four months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power–work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.

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Queer Slice-of-Life Episodes of SFF Television

How are we feeling, cannibal fungus fans? Still floating in the cozy feels of the third episode of The Last of Us? Episodes like that where we spend time watching people exist in the world largely outside bigger plot dynamics don’t happen often—less so in the age of “diverse” shows getting canceled after a single season. When you narrow the field down to just speculative shows and just queer characters, that slice gets thinner and thinner. So let’s take this opportunity to celebrate queer life, queer joy, and queer people just being themselves.

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Something Old Yet New: Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

Release Date: January 10, 2023
Publisher: Tordotcom Publishing
Series: Wayward Children #8
Genre: Fantasy


A young girl discovers an infinite variety of worlds in this standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series from Seanan McGuire, Lost in the Moment and Found.

Welcome to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go.

If you ever lost a sock, you’ll find it here.
If you ever wondered about a favorite toy from childhood… it’s probably sitting on a shelf in the back.

And the headphones that you swore this time you’d keep safe? You guessed it….

Antoinette has lost her father. Metaphorically. He’s not in the Shop, and she’ll never see him again. But when Antsy finds herself lost (literally, this time), she discovers that however many doors open for her, leaving the Shop for good might not be as simple as it sounds.

And stepping through those doors exacts a price.

Lost in the Moment and Found tells us that childhood and innocence, once lost, can never be found.

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Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: 12 Works You May Have Missed in 2022

Every month I read a couple dozen or so short speculative fiction stories from 60+ publications in order to put together my monthly short SFF/H column. That’s a lot of reading! It’s always impossibly hard to narrow down to just my ten favorite pieces; if I had the time and energy, I’d do a massive list every month. So this year, instead of doing a best of list, I thought I’d put together a little collection of my alternates, one story from each month that I loved but that didn’t make my original spotlight. Let’s take a walk back through last year and some absolutely epic short fiction.

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10 Great Young Adult Space Operas

You know, I really want to thank the authors that looked at young adult fiction and space opera and thought “why not both?” Because this is one of my favorite subgenres of YA science fiction. There’s adventure, there’s romance, there’s danger, there’s high stakes, there’s a pack of outcasts who have the fate of the galaxy in their hands. What more could you want? Here are ten great YA space operas from the last few years.

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A Dark Fantasy Popcorn Novel: Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: January 10, 2023
Series: Alex Stern #2
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Fantasy


Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory–even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.

Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters.

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