Another book list for the end of January

11 new SF/F/H books to check out

Another book list for the end of January
Image: Andrew Liptak

January kicked off the year with a whole bunch of new SF/F books, and you can check out the first list I published here. But as always, there's more than I like to contain in one list, so here's the second (belated) one for the month.

As always: books with a link to are affiliates, and might yield a small commission to Transfer Orbit. You can also support this newsletter by signing up for a paid subscription (details here)

Here are 11 new books that you should check out for the remainder of January:

The Longest Autumn by Amy Avery (January 16th)

Tirne is a woman who is one of four people who're help the gods change over the seasons. She's tasked with escorting god of Autumn between the human and ethereal realms, and will stick around with her until Winter comes to take his place. This time around, their portal between the worlds has broken, leaving both of them trapped in the human world, bringing with it devastating consequences for humanity and the pair.

Kirkus Reviews notes that it's a "whodunit in fantasy form makes for a complex, original tale."

Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are by Rebecca Boyle (January 16th)

The Moon last long been a source of fascination and inspiration for scholars, artists, and everyone in between. This new book from Rebecca Boyle takes a look at how the Moon has had an impact on human life, looking at everything from how it influenced the development of life to how we mark time, and imagined worlds beyond our own.

The Knights of Breton Court by Maurice Broaddus (January 9th)

Maurice Broaddus has written some excellent, inventive novels in recent years, and this month, he's gone out and reissued some of his earlier books. This omnibus edition features three novels: King Maker, King's Justice, and King's War, in which he retells the story of Arthur and Camelot in the modern world of Indianapolis.

Faebound by Saara El-Arifi (January 23rd)

Saara El-Arifi kicks off a new trilogy with Faebound, about a pair of sisters: Yeeran, who has spent her entire life in the elvish military, and Lettle, who is seeking out prophecies for a new future. When Yeeran is exiled, the sisters have to contend with the wild world beyond the Elvish realm. They find themselves in the fae world, and have to figure out how to navigate this strange, magical, and dangerous place.

Publishers Weekly says "The worldbuilding is lush and exciting, and the focus on character development and relationships makes for a cast that readers will be excited to revisit in future installments."

Unbound by Christy Healy (January 16th)

A queen named Rozlyn Ó Conchúir has spent her entire life in waiting for others: she's been waiting for a monster to be killed, or a prophesied lover to arrive, and waiting for a curse to be lifted. When a suitor named Jamie arrives, she thinks that her time waiting has come to an end. But it's clear that Jamie has other intentions, and as she continues to wait, she discovers that her own powers are growing and that the only person she can really depend on is herself.

Kirkus Reviews says "Healy has also clearly taken inspiration from Grendel’s mother, and even goes so far as to have Rozlyn reading Beowulf. The resulting tale, told in chapters alternating between Rozlyn’s and Jamie’s points of view, is a delightful amalgamation that readers will find familiar but that stands on its own as a delightful, heart-clenching story of love and betrayal."

This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer (January 16th)

In her debut horror novel, Jenny Kiefer takes us on a trip into the wilderness of Kentucky to follow four graduate students as they set out to climb an untouched cliffside and become rock climbing legends. Three of their bodies are recovered months later: one a skeleton, another missing its organs, and the third missing its tongue, eyes, ears, and fingers. The final student, Dylan, is still missing.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying "Through vivid descriptions of the creepy setting and thoughtful character portraits, Kiefer maintains a feeling of unease and nail-biting tension throughout. Devotees of daylight horror will be entranced."

You can listen to an interview with Kiefer over on NPR.

The Djinn Waits A Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan (January 9th) 

A mansion called Akbar Manzil sits on the coast of South Africa, and was once a grand house and grounds. A century later, it's fallen into disrepair, occupied by misfits who are looking to escape from the world. One resident, Sana, has been exploring the house and its history, discovering a locked door to a bedroom.

The room has been frozen in time, and holds the story of a woman named Meena, who died a century ago. It's also occupied by a djinn who's been grieving and watching over the mansion in that time. As Sana digs into Meena's story, she discovers some terrible secrets that linger in the estate and which could affect those who still reside there.

Lauren Beukes reviewed the book for The New York Times, saying "Despite the Gothic trappings, this is not a novel of creeping dread. It’s rich and swoony, tilting for the ecstasy of Sufi poets like Rumi, with a wink to those epic Indian romance movies Pinky adores."

The Parliament by Aimee Pokwatka (January 16th)

A chemist named Madigan Purdy and a group of students she volunteered to teach have found themselves stuck in her local library: tens of thousands of owls have flocked around the building, attacking anyone who attempts to leave. To distract her students, she looks to a favorite childhood book for inspiration to try and escape, especially as their food and water have begun to run low.

Publishers Weekly says "Pokwatka manages both a unique exploration of the effects of trauma, especially on children, and a thoroughly moving portrayal of the power of solidarity in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, combined with a healthy dose of rage at the lack of care and effort on the part of the government to combat gun violence."

Machine Vendetta by Alastair Reynolds (January 16th)

Alastair Reynolds brings out a new standalone adventure in his Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies
series (it's preceded by Elysium Fire and Aurora Rising), in which an orbital police force called the Panoply is tasked with keeping the peace amongst settlements over a planet called Yellowstone.

One of the Panoply's operatives is Ingvar Tench, who was killed when she walked into a habitat occupied by people who really hated her and her unit. As her colleagues investigate her death, Prefect Tom Dreyfus has to figure out what his role was in her death, and try and solve a long-simmering mystery.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying "Every chapter reveals another layer to the far-reaching mystery, all the while building to a stunning crescendo in which characters old and new band together to face a long-dreaded scenario."

Kinning by Nisi Shawl (January 23rd)

Tor re-released Nisi Shawl's novel Everfair last year (it had been released previously in 2016), in which she introduced an alternate history where she reimagined Belgium's colonization of the Congo, one where African American missionaries carve out a free state called Everfair, a home for formerly enslaved people to come to.

In this sequel, Everfair has fended off some internal strife and conflicts, and we pick up the story of Tink and his sister Bee-Lung, who have been traveling around the world to spread spores of a fungus that helps generate empathy, building up sentiment for the principles that their nation was founded on. At the same time, Everfair's Princess Mwadi and Prince Ilunga have returned home from a trip to Egypt, and are each bent on taking the throne, and have to deal with new problems, external and internal, in order to survive as a symbol of hope for the rest of the world.

Publishers Weekly says that Shawl has "clearly done the research to create this expansive and well-crafted world."

Three Eight One by Aliya Whiteley (January 16th)

Set hundreds of years in the future, Aliya Whiteley follows the story of Rowena Savalas, the curator of an archive of the 21st Century internet, when she discovers a strange story posted in 2024. It's a story of a person named Fairly who is undertaking a quest now that she's come of age, followed by a mysterious "breathing man", and it's unclear if it's a true story or a fantasy. As she follows the rabbit hole of this story, Rowena begins to question the choices she's made in her life, and muses on some of the story's recurring elements, such as the number 381.

Publishers Weekly says "Whitely’s ear for poetic prose will draw in readers who prefer their speculative fiction on the more literary side. Strange and slippery, this experimental outing offers lots to chew on."