Must-Read Short Speculative Fiction: June 2021

The days are longer and longer and the sun burns hotter and hotter. It’s summertime in the northern hemisphere, and where I live that means hiding in the shade as the heat bakes everything into oblivion. Good thing, then, that I have a plethora of excellent short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories to keep me company. Here are my ten favorite stories from June 2021, full of haunted mirrors, monstrous men, tricksy curses, and climate crises…

Read the rest of this spotlight at Tor.com.

More Than Just a Mean Girl: A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

Release Date: June 1, 2021
Series: A Song Below Water #2
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Description

Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, privileged, has “the good hair”— and she’s an Eloko, a person who’s gifted with a song that woos anyone who hears it. Everyone loves her — well, until she’s cast as the awful person who exposed Tavia’s secret siren powers.

Now, she’s being dragged by the media. No one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, nor her Eloko community. But Naema knows the truth and is determined to build herself back up — no matter what.

When a new, flourishing segment of Naema’s online supporters start targeting black girls, however, Naema must discover the true purpose of her magical voice.

Continue reading “More Than Just a Mean Girl: A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow”

Review: “After the Dragons” by Cynthia Zhang

Release Date: August 19, 2021
Publisher: Stelliform Press
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Description

Dragons were fire and terror to the Western world, but in the East they brought life-giving rain…

Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern dragons survive. As drought plagues the aquatic creatures, a mysterious disease—shaolong, or “burnt lung”—afflicts the city’s human inhabitants.

Jaded college student Xiang Kaifei scours Beijing streets for abandoned dragons, distracting himself from his diagnosis. Elijah Ahmed, a biracial American medical researcher, is drawn to Beijing by the memory of his grandmother and her death by shaolong. Interest in Beijing’s dragons leads Kai and Eli into an unlikely partnership. With the resources of Kai’s dragon rescue and Eli’s immunology research, can the pair find a cure for shaolong and safety for the dragons? Eli and Kai must confront old ghosts and hard truths if there is any hope for themselves or the dragons they love.

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Must-Read Short Speculative Fiction: May 2021

May’s featured short science fiction, fantasy, and horror brings a rather unexpected trend of melancholy. Stories of death and anger, of learning painful lessons, of carving a life out of grief. Some of these stories have moments of hope peeking through the cracks while others are bleak and brutal, but each of them are excellent in their own ways…

Read the rest of this spotlight at Tor.com.

Review: “A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark

Release Date: May 11, 2021
Series: Dead Djinn Universe #1
Publisher: Tor.com Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate History

Description

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems….

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Review: “Written in Starlight” by Isabel Ibañez

Release Date: January 26, 2021
Series: Woven in Moonlight #2
Publisher: Page Street Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Description

Catalina Quiroga is a condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. Her duty is to rule.

While running for her life, Catalina is rescued by Manuel, the son of her former general, who has spent years searching for allies. With his help, Catalina could find the city of gold that’s home to the fierce Illari people and strike a deal with them for an army to retake her throne.

But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own–a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. As a seer, Catalina should be able to help, but her ability to read the future in the stars is as feeble as her survival instincts. While on her journey, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which is key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.

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Feature: “Bacchanal” by Veronica Henry

Release Date: June 1, 2021
Publisher: 47North
Genre: Fantasy

Description

Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.

Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she’s a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she’s a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza’s ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge.

Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she’s met her match in Eliza, who’s only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers.

Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.

Continue reading “Feature: “Bacchanal” by Veronica Henry”