January 2016 Must Reads in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

The new year is just around the corner! Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF and Horror for January (so, SO, much awesome)! What are you looking forward to?


The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert (Scribner-Jan 5th)

Synopsis (all synopsis are from B&N or Amazon)-For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor—and the startling revelations their behavior evokes.

In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.

Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.

The Children’s Home is a genre-defying, utterly bewitching masterwork, an inversion of modern fairy tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, in which children visit faraway lands to accomplish elusive tasks. Lambert writes from the perspective of the visited, weaving elements of psychological suspense, Jamesian stream of consciousness, and neo-gothic horror, to reveal the inescapable effects of abandonment, isolation, and the grotesque—as well as the glimmers of goodness—buried deep within the soul.


Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris (Little, Brown-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-A chilling fable about a family marooned in a snowbound town whose grievous history intrudes on the dreamlike present.

The Addisons-Julia and Tonio, ten-year-old Dewey, and derelict Uncle Robbie-are driving home, cross-country, after collecting Robbie from yet another trip to rehab. When a terrifying blizzard strikes outside the town of Good Night, Idaho, they seek refuge in the town at the Travelers Rest, a formerly opulent but now crumbling and eerie hotel where the physical laws of the universe are bent.

Once inside the hotel, the family is separated. As Julia and Tonio drift through the maze of the hotel’s spectral interiors, struggling to make sense of the building’s alluring powers, Dewey ventures outward to a secret-filled diner across the street. Meanwhile, a desperate Robbie quickly succumbs to his old vices, drifting ever further from the ones who love him most. With each passing hour, dreams and memories blur, tearing a hole in the fabric of our perceived reality and leaving the Addisons in a ceaseless search for one another. At each turn a mysterious force prevents them from reuniting, until at last Julia is faced with an impossible choice. Can this mother save her family from the fate of becoming Souvenirs-those citizens trapped forever in magnetic Good Night-or, worse, from disappearing entirely?

With the fearsome intensity of a ghost story, the magical spark of a fairy tale, and the emotional depth of the finest family sagas, Keith Lee Morris takes us on a journey beyond the realm of the known. Featuring prose as dizzyingly beautiful as the mystical world Morris creates, Travelers Rest is both a mind-altering meditation on the nature of consciousness and a heartbreaking story of a family on the brink of survival.


Written in Fire by Marcus Sakay (47North-Jan 12th)

Synopsis-For thirty years humanity struggled to cope with the brilliants, the one percent of people born with remarkable gifts. For thirty years we tried to avoid a devastating civil war. We failed.

The White House is a smoking ruin. Madison Square Garden is an internment camp. In Wyoming, an armed militia of thousands marches toward a final, apocalyptic battle.

Nick Cooper has spent his life fighting for his children and his country. Now, as the world staggers on the edge of ruin, he must risk everything he loves to face his oldest enemy—a brilliant terrorist so driven by his ideals that he will sacrifice humanity’s future to achieve them.

From “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly) comes the blistering conclusion to the acclaimed series that is a “forget-to-pick-up-milk, forget-to-water-the-plants, forget-to-eat total immersion experience” (Gillian Flynn).

The explosive conclusion to the bestselling Brilliance Trilogy.


The Cyclops Initiative by David Wellington (William Morrow-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-To save an innocent friend, soldier and spy Jim Chapel will risk his own life and reputation to stop a deadly conspiracy from threatening the country in this relentless, non-stop action adventure from the author of the acclaimed thrillers Chimera and The Hydra Protocol.

Jim Chapel pledged his life to protect his country from its enemies. But now, the one-armed Special Forces soldier turned spy is on the wrong side of the law. The person he trusts most in the world, the brilliant hacker known only as Angel, is suspected of terrorism. When his boss calls for Angel’s arrest, Chapel—certain it’s a frame job—has only one option: to go rogue.

To protect Angel—a woman he’s never actually met—Chapel must clear her name. But first he has to find her, before a deadly Marine sniper, a drone aircraft gone feral, and the entire intelligence community closes in. With the aid of old friends and his ex-lover Julia, the search to find who framed Angel leads Chapel deep into the dark and lethal underbelly of the covert intelligence world . . . to a conspiracy with deep roots that shocks even this hardened veteran—and a plan that will destroy the United States as we know it if it succeeds.


Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (Amulet-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings find escape from their constrained lives via their rich imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy world of Gondal literally come to life under their pens, offering the sort of romance and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as the characters they have created—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.


Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (HMH-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road?

In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa.


The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (Margaret K. McElderry Books-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-The elders chose Elli to be queen, but they chose wrong in this beautifully crafted novel in the tradition of Kristin Cashore and Victoria Aveyard.

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.


Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older (Ace-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-The author of Half-Resurrection Blues returns in a new Bone Street Rumba Novel—a knife-edge, noir-shaded urban fantasy of crime after death.

The streets of New York are hungry tonight…

Carlos Delacruz straddles the line between the living and the not-so alive. As an
agent for the Council of the Dead, he eliminates New York’s ghostlier problems. This time it’s a string of gruesome paranormal accidents in Brooklyn’s Von King Park that has already taken the lives of several locals—and is bound to take more.

The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie’s botánica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts. And the situation is far more sinister than that—because whatever is bringing out the dead, it’s only just getting started.


Drake (The Burned Man by Peter McLean (Angry Robot-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.

Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice The Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.


Skinner Luce by Patricia Ward (Talos-Jan 12th)

Synopsis-“Skinner was what servs called each other. It was because they were fake, their skins a disguise…”

Every year when the deep cold of winter sets in, unbeknownst to humanity, dangerous visitors arrive from another world. Disguised as humans, the Nafikh move among us in secret, hungry for tastes of this existence. Their fickle, often-violent needs must be accommodated at all times, and the price of keeping them satisfied is paid most heavily by servs.

Created by the Nafikh to attend their every whim, servs are physically indistinguishable from humans but for the Source, the painful, white-hot energy that both animates and enslaves them. Destined to live in pain, unable to escape their bondage, servs dwell in a bleak underworld where life is brutal and short.

Lucy is a serv who arrived as a baby and by chance was adopted by humans. She’s an outcast among outcasts, struggling to find a place where she truly belongs. For years she has been walking a tightrope, balancing between the horrors of her serv existence and the ordinary life she desperately longs to maintain; her human family unaware of her darkest secrets.

But when the body of a serv child turns up and Lucy is implicated in the gruesome death, the worlds she’s tried so hard to keep separate collide. Hounded by the police, turned upon by the servs who once held her dear, she must protect her family and the life she’s made for herself.


Steal the Sky: The Scorched Continent Book One by Megan E. O’Keefe (Angry Robot-Jan 5th)

Synopsis-Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sights on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.


And Again by Jessica Chiarella (Touchstone-Jan 12th)

Synopsis-In the spirit of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles, this exciting literary debut novel imagines the consequences when four ordinary individuals are granted a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies.

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?


Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers (William Morrow-Jan 19th)

Synopsis-From the award-winning author of Hide Me Among the Graves, Last Call, Declare, and Three Days to Never, a phantasmagoric, thrilling, mind-bending tale of speculative fiction in which one man must uncover occult secrets of 1920s Hollywood to save his family.

In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and his sister, Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they once shared. While Scott desperately wants to go back to their shabby South-of-Sunset lives, he cannot pry his sister away from this haunted “House of Usher in the Hollywood Hills” that is a conduit for the supernatural.

Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film stars. A collection of hypnotic eight-limbed abstract images inked on paper allows the Maddens to briefly fragment and flatten time—to transport themselves into the past and future in visions that are both puzzling and terrifying. Though their cousins know little about these ancient “spiders” which provoke unpredictable temporal dislocations, Ariel and Claimayne have been using for years—an addiction that has brought Claimayne to the brink of selfish destruction.

As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott discovers that to protect her, he must use the perilous spiders himself. But will he unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s past and finally free them. . . or be pulled deeper into their deadly web?


Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing edited by Sandra Kasturi and Jerome Stueart (ChiZine-Jan 14th)

Synopsis-Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing is a reprint anthology collecting speculative short fiction and poetry (science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, etc.) that represents the best work published by Canadian writers in the 2014 calendar year.


Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan (HarperTeen-Jan 19th)

Synopsis-In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley calls “fascinating and unique,” debut author Kathy MacMillan weaves palace intrigue and epic world-building to craft a tale for fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that’s been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance–an underground rebel army–to help liberate the city’s slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries–one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.


The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome by Serge Brussolo (Melville House-Jan 19th)

Synopsis-An undisputed French master of the fantastic—as prolific as Stephen King; as original as Philip K. Dick—now in English for the first time

In The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, lucid dreamers called mediums dive into their dreams to retrieve ectoplasms—sticky blobs with curiously soothing properties that are the only form of art in the world. The more elaborate the dream, the better the ectoplasm.

David Sarella is a medium whose dream identity is a professional thief. With his beautiful accomplice Nadia, he breaks into jewelry stores and museums, lifts precious diamonds, and when he wakes, the loot turns into ectoplasms to be sold and displayed.

Only the dives require an extraordinary amount of physical effort, and as David ages, they become more difficult. His dream world—or is it the real world?—grows unstable. Any dive could be his last, forever tearing him away from Nadia and their high-octane, Bond-like adventures.

David decides to go down one final time, in the deepest, most extravagant dive ever attempted. But midway through, he begins to lose control, and the figures in the massive painting he’s trying to steal suddenly come to life . . . and start shooting.


Patchwerk by David Tallerman (Tor.com-Jan 19th)

Synopsis-Fleeing the city on the TransContinental airship, Dran Florrian is traveling with the Palimpsest-the ultimate proof of a lifetime of scientific theorizing.

When a rogue organization attempts to steal the device, however, Dran takes drastic action.

But his invention threatens to destroy the very fabric of this and all other possible universes, unless Dran-or someone very much like him-can shut down the machine and reverse the process.


We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Simon Pulse-Jan 19th)

Synopsis-From the “author to watch” (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.


Dark Homecoming by William Patterson (Pinnacle-Jan 26th)

Synopsis-William Patterson weaves a chilling novel of gothic suspense about the terror lurking within a beautiful mansion—and the consequences for a newcomer who dares to call it home…

Liz Huntington met her husband David, scion of one of Palm Beach’s wealthiest families, just weeks ago. Their honeymoon was idyllic and Liz is blissfully happy—at first. But she feels increasingly uneasy in her lavish new home. Huntington House and its staff still seem to be in the thrall of David’s first wife. In fact, the housekeeper, Mrs. Hoffman, has made it clear that Liz can never measure up to the stunning, sophisticated, deceased, Dominique.

Though Dominique drowned in a yachting accident, Liz still senses her spirit in the house. She hears unexplained noises…sees shadowy figures vanishing down the long corridors. The scent of Dominique’s favorite flowers fills the air. But Liz’s fears are more than insecurity. Two young women connected to Huntington House have already met terrible deaths. More will die—and soon. Because behind the house’s polished façade is an unimaginable secret and a love turned to twisted, unnatural obsession…


Staked by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey-Jan 26th)

Synopsis-Iron Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne’s epic New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire’s heart.

When a Druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.

As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.

As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.


American Nocturne by Hank Schwaeble (Cohesion-Jan 31th)

Synopsis-American Nocturne by Hank Schwaeble collects the very best short stories and novellas by the Stoker Award-winning author.

A merging of Sin City and LA Confidential, with a touch of Twilight Zone for added spice, American Nocturne includes what could be the LAST authorised Carl Kolchak/Night Stalker novella.

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Jonathan Maberry
American Nocturne
Midnight Bogey Blues
Gomorrah
Bone Daddy
Phantom Hill
A Murmur of Evil (Night Stalker tale)
Nurture
To Judge the Quick
Mugwumps
Cold Service

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