New Book Roundup: Magic Is a Drug, Magic Is in Music, and Magic Can Stop Death

wellsThis week’s new releases prove magic is nothing to mess with. Sure, it seems like using your ability to alter the world through music is a good idea—until you’re addicted to using it like a drug, or banished into exile for a quarter-century, or turned into an uncontrollable fiend. Be careful out there, kids.

Deadly Spells, by Jaye Wells
The third book in the Prospero’s War series finds Kate Prospero and the Magical Enforcement Agency investigating the brutal slaying of the head of a powerful coven of witches and teaming up with the local P.D. to keep organized crime out of Babylon’s magical underworld. The central coneit of the series—that magic operates like a drug, one with serious black market value—is as reliable as ever and Wells’s characters continue to shine, particularly in the interplay between Kate and her ex-boyfriend-turned-magically-adept-mayor John Volos.

Finn Fancy Necromancy, by Randy Henderson
This hilarious debut novel puts a lighthearted twist on the darkest magic, somehow managing to mix fizzy ’80s nostalgia with a story of betrayal, death, and, er, undeath into an irresistible, fast-moving mystery. Finn was 15 and just entering the family necromancy trade when he was framed for performing illegal black magic and sent into exile for 25 years. There, his body grew up, but his mind stayed the same, meaning he has only the wits (and pop culture references) of a teenager from the 1980s at his disposal as he attempt to track down those responsible for getting him sent away—before they manage to do it again.

Signal to Noise, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This charming literary fantasy will resonate for readers of all ages. After all, we were all once teenagers, and can remember a time when we discovered that one band that seemed to be speaking directly to us, transmitting a message so powerful it felt like it could change the world. For Meche, an oddball teenager living in Mexico City in the late ’80s, that literally becomes true when she discovers she can cast spells using music. She and her friends decide to use her newfound ability to repair their broken lives, but things don’t go exactly as planned. From there, the story jumps 20 years into the future, as Meche returns home to try to put the wrong things right once again.

The Very Best of Kate Elliott, by Kate Elliott (February 10, Tachyon Publishers—Paperback)
Elliott is known for her expansive fantasies, from the seven-book Crown of Stars series to the recently completed Spiritwalker trilogy, but this collection proves she’s equally adept at writing short fiction. Collecting stories set in worlds both familiar (including the settings of the Spiritwalker books and her Jaran quartet) and new, as well as non-fiction essays about writing, it makes an excellent introduction to the work of one of epic fantasy’s most reliably fantastic writers.

Righteous Fury, by Markus Heitz
Heitz earned a huge following with his grim fantasy series The Dwarves, and now he launches a whole new series that will appeal to readers seeking epic fantasy that doesn’t pull punches. The Alfar are a race of infamously brutal warriors, feared by elf, dwarf, and humans in equal measure. And with good cause, it would seem: The book follows a plan by two Alfari soldiers to conscript a powerful demon into their already mighty army. One of them only wants to use this fighting force to defend their kingdom’s borders, but the other dreams of invading the lands of the other races and bringing the entire world under his control. This isn’t a book about heroes, but one that revels unabashedly in villainy.

The Autumn Republic, by Brian McClellan
Brian McClellan’s celebrated flintlock fantasy series The Powder Mage Trilogy reaches its thrilling conclusion. The previous books built the rich guns-and-magic world and established our grizzled hero, Field Marshal Tamas, who has killed royals and started wars in an attempt to safeguard his homeland. Returning to the Republic of Adro with some new friends following the events of The Crimson Campaign. Tamas finds his country once again facing disaster: The army is divided, foreign powers are seeking a foothold with the government, and his own son, skilled powder mage Taniel, must match wits with a vengeful god. This propulsive series will appeal to fans of Brandon Sanderson’s detailed world-building and larger-than-life characters, and they can now swallow the whole thing in one gulp, no waiting.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde, by Viola Carr (February 10, HarperCollins Publishers—Paperback)
This debut electropunk monster mashup gives you exactly what you never knew you wanted: The classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a genderbent twist. Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the famed mad scientist, is a skilled crime scene investigator in an alternate Victorian London where magic exists, electricity has been discovered, and each new technological marvel threatens to upset the precarious social order. Eliza works to crack a career-making case—putting a stop to a vicious serial killer known as the Chopper—while keeping her own darker nature at bay: Lizzie Hyde, unleashed by her father’s infamous elixir.

The Eterna Files, by Leanna Renee Hieber
Daphne du Maurier Award-nominee Hieber launches a new Victorian influenced gaslamp fantasy series with this story of secret societies hunting for a death cure. In the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, a group of American magicians and scientists began to develop Eterna, a mix of technology and magic that would grant invulnerability and eternal life, but just as they neared a breakthrough, they were wiped from the face of the earth, leaving only one woman who must decide whether to end the project or continue her life’s work. Meanwhile, across the sea in England, strange things are happening, and the queen believes that discovering the true secret of Eterna is the only way to get to the bottom of things.

What new books are you reading this week?

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