New Book Roundup: Tri-Color Londons, an Apocalypse Grab Bag, and Getting Lost Between Worlds

shadowelliottThis week’s new releases included a much-anticipated fantasy about three connected versions of London, a harrowing zombie survivalist tale, and an emotional horror story about loss and regret. Sounds like just the February pick-me-ups we need!

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab
In her followup to 2013’s genre-busting supervillain story Vicious, V.E. Schwab creates a tri-layered Neapolitan fantasy world that smooshes three alternate versions of London side-by-side: Red London, where magic’s waters run deep; White London, where there is both power and terrible darkness; and Dull Grey London, where spells lose their luster (guess which one we inhabit). Only unique individuals known as Travelers can pass between the city, but they are a dying breed—probably because someone is trying to kill them all. Kell, the Traveler from Red London, wears a coat with infinite sides which he uses to smuggle magical objects from one London to another, until during one fateful trip, he brings back the wrong thing, setting up a crisis that might wipe London off the map—all of them.

Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse, edited by John Joseph Adams
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a…take your pick. This collection of 30 post-apocalyptic tales, edited by John Joseph Adams, offers enough end times scenarios for as many sleepless nights, with contributions from some of the most exciting writers working in the genre including Paulo Bacigalupi, Lauren Beukes, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Cory Doctorow, Hugh Howey, and George R.R. Martin.

The Remaining: Allegiance, by D.J. Molles
Fans of The Walking Dead won’t want to miss out on Molles’ grim and gritty post-apocalyptic military sci-fi series about a small group of survivors of a viral pandemic that turned most of the nation’s population into mindless, ravenous monsters. Led by Special Forces Captain Lee Harden, the members of the group try to hold themselves together and rebuild what fragile civilization they can, even with the threat of the infected growing greater with every passing day. Themes of heroism and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable (and not to mention ravenously hungry) enemies set this one apart from the zombie pack.

Dead Spots, by Rhiannon Frater
This new horror fantasy from zombie writer Frater (well, her books are about zombies; presumably she’s still among the living) is a tale of loss, grief, and terrible choices. After losing her unborn child and ending her marriage, Mackenzie returns to her childhood home. On the way, a near-accident leaves her trapped in a dead spot—a gap between the worlds of the living and the dead, where all your worst fears are realized. Tormented by her past choices, haunted by a strange child, and befriended by a mysterious stranger, she must find the strength within herself to escape the dead spot—or risk being trapped there forever.

Grave Matters, by Lauren M. Roy
This fast, fun urban fantasy continues the Night Owls series, about a very particular bookstore that helps to keep evil creatures at bay (sounds like my kind of store). Elly works at the store alongside a group of peaceful vampires and succubi, but when her employers run afoul of a dark wizard with plans to raise an undead army, she’s in even more trouble than usual.

Shadow, by Will Elliott
This book continues the portal fantasy series that began with The Pilgrims, in which layabout London journalist Eric Albright discovered a small red door to the land of Levall, a fantasy kingdom inhabited by dragons and giants, where the evil ruler Lord Vous seeks immortality. In Shadow, the magical wall keeping Vous contained begins to crumble, and war spills out across the land. Eric and his friends are tossed into the thick of it—and I didn’t even mention the escaped dragon. This series will appeal to anyone who has ever dreamed of finding a passageway to a more interesting life in a far stranger world.

Shadow Study, by Maria V. Snyder
In Poison Study, Snyder introduced us to Yelena, a woman offered a reprieve from death if she was willing to become a poison taster. From that position, she become embroiled in a web of political and romantic intrigue, and by the start of Shadow Study, the fourth book in the series, she has become a key player in a power struggle between rival nations, her magic keeping both in check. But when that magic starts to fail… Epic fantasy, politics, and romance mingle in this captivating series.

Fields of Wrath: A Renshai Novel, by Mickey Zucker Reichert
In two earlier trilogies, Reichertbuilt the richly imagined world of the Renshai, a legendary warrior race trained from birth in the deadly art of the blade.This new novel picks up the story a generation late. The Renshai have reclaimed their homeland, after coming back from the brink of total extinction. However, some elders warn that a new, even more powerful foe lurks on the Fields of Wrath, threatening everything they’ve fought for.

 What are you reading this week?

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