Now that the weather is warming up, we’re itching to take a trip. Nowhere fancy—we’d be happy just hitting the park and curling up with any of these must-read novels. There are two set in Los Angeles: one dealing with angels and the end of the world, and the other featuring a disabled protagonist learning to manage both borderline personality disorder and a parallel world of fae. Joe Hill is delivering a terrifying novel about a fiery pandemic, and David J. Schow has a short story collection for anyone willing to give up a few nights’ sleep. If you’d prefer a trip to outer space, we have that for you too. With so many great fictional places to visit, we suggest you start reading soon.
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story
A rebellion is brewing in the land of Olondria, a place readers of A Stranger in Olondria should remember well. In that novel, readers saw the beginnings of a war. The Winged Histories isn’t a straight sequel; instead this companion novel tells the story of that conflict from the perspectives of four incredibly different women. Tav is a noblewoman who decides to pick up a sword and fight. Seren is Tav’s lover and a member of an oft-persecuted nomadic tribe. Siski is Tav’s sister and a socialite, and Tialon is a scholar. Political, religious, and cultural conflicts come to a head in this engrossing tale of how war affects us all. Kirkus calls Sofia Samatar a “writer of uncommon beauty,” and readers with a love of intricate details and well-drawn characters will easily find themselves immersed in her tale.
On shelves: March 1
Three weapons: fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency
Poldek Tacit is a man psychologically tormented by his parents’ murder in 1889, and he is generous when it comes to doling out violence. This brandy swigger isn’t what most would picture as a defender of the Catholic Church, and, to be honest, the Vatican isn’t too happy about it either. But if there’s one person Tacit is loyal to, it is the Father who took him in and raised him. So when clergymen are found murdered, he teams up with Sister Isabella to find the guilty party. But this is France in 1914, and danger lurks around every corner. The country is at war and trenches on both sides of the conflict have been visited by an unexpected enemy: werewolves. This is the first in a new series by debut author Tarn Richardson, so there is plenty of horror left to come.
On shelves: March 1
Hidden in the Hollywood hills
Mishell Baker’s urban fantasy debut is the first in a series about Hollywood and a parallel magical world. Former filmmaker Millie Roper lost her legs in a failed suicide attempt. Struggling with borderline personality disorder, she checks herself into a psychiatric facility in Los Angeles and watches as the monotonous days begin to slip by. Millie’s future is utterly directionless until a mysterious woman named Caryl offers her a job working for an organization called the Arcadia Project. The job? Hunting down a fae noble who has come through from a parallel world and gone missing. Entering the real world again is frightening—Millie feels as though she no longer knows her own body or mind. But the chance to get out is too good to pass up, and so she takes off to find the missing fae. Millie is sarcastic, innovative, and readers won’t be able to get enough of her.
On shelves: March 1
Guilty until proven innocent
Space opera fans, start your spring reading here. Elena Shaw and Treiko Zajec had planned on a one night stand, but that changes when Danny, a former lover of Elena’s, turns up dead and Treiko is accused of murder. Elena is the only person who knows that Treiko is innocent. Together, they begin to trace Danny’s final hours, hoping to uncover who the killer is and why they wanted to frame Treiko. What they find instead is a 25-year-old conspiracy that could start a war. To find the truth, Elena and Treiko must risk their lives by flying to the edge of a wormhole. If you’re looking for a galactic adventure with a side of romance, Elizabeth Bonesteel’s debut is sure to satisfy.
On shelves: March 8
Thicker than water
The final volume in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy begins with the world on the verge of genocide. The inhuman and immortal Csestriim forces are invading. They seek to cleanse the world of humans, and siblings Valyn, Adare, and Kaden don’t know if they’ll survive. Even if one of them were to survive and claim their father’s throne, how do you begin to rule a world destroyed by war, betrayal, and violence? Publishers Weekly says this finale checks “all the epic fantasy boxes,” and Kirkus found it, “deeply satisfying.” So we think it’s safe to say that fans of Brian Staveley’s series will thoroughly enjoy this last volume.
On shelves: March 15
David J. Schow’s latest short story collection was named one of the most anticipated books of 2016 by Publishers Weekly. So if you’re ready to lose some sleep, dive in. The anthology contains 13 stories and 12 reminiscences from Schow’s own life. But don’t be fooled: His nonfiction tales of working on the set of The Crow are just as creepy as his fiction. The stories themselves cover monsters in all shapes and forms. It doesn’t matter if your fears are rooted in ghosts, aliens, giant dinosaurs, or serial killers—you’re guaranteed to be terrified. Short story fans might also be interested in K.J. Parker’s novella about selling souls and demons: The Devil You Know (March 1).
On shelves: March 31
Through the looking-glass
With tales such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Peter Pan; and Alice in Wonderland crowding our shelves, it is no wonder that many readers long to find the entrance to a magical world hidden in plain sight. In Seanan McGuire’s novel, children often find their way to these fantastical worlds but are unable to return after re-entering the real world. These lost souls seek refuge at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Nancy arrives at the home not long after she returns from a world called the Halls of the Dead. She doesn’t plan on staying for long, but shortly after she arrives a murder occurs at Eleanor’s manor. Tensions rise and the former safe haven turns quickly into a home where no one feels protected. Nancy decides to help her new friends track down the killer. This gothic novel is ideal for fantasy fans who have longed for a world of their own, as well as readers looking for books with diverse casts.
On shelves: April 5
The end of the world as we know it
Richard Kadrey’s fans will be ecstatic to hear that he’s starting a new urban fantasy series. In Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, Los Angeles is hell, and the city doesn’t seem to be faring much better in this comedic release. Protagonist Coop is immune to magical traps and spells, making his job as a thief much easier. When he’s asked to steal a mysterious box, he doesn’t think much of it. That is, until he learns that the box could bring about Judgement Day. Oh, and it’s wanted by a cult, an angel, and a magical law enforcement agency. As it turns out, thievery isn’t so easy when you have the fate of the world resting in your hands. Fans of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens are sure to enjoy this one.
On shelves: April 19
Lurking beneath the surface
Sylvain Neuvel’s first novel focuses on the hunt for giant metal body parts hidden beneath the Earth’s surface for millennia. A young girl named Rose Franklin fell into a hole in the ground in South Dakota and straight into the palm of one of the hands. She was only a kid at the time, but decided to dedicate her life to learning more about the hand, and the robot she believes it belongs to. Told through transcripts of interviews, the story follows Rose, now a physicist, as she attempts to learn more about who hid the robot on Earth and why. The project is going well until it’s accidentally revealed to the world, creating global tensions as other nations vie for the right to control the mysterious robot. Neuvel seamlessly blends elements of science fiction and thrillers, crafting a novel that readers won’t want to put down.
On shelves: April 26
It was a pleasure to burn
A pandemic known as Dragonscale is spreading across America in Joe Hill’s latest novel. Victims’ first symptoms are gold marks appearing on their skin. After the spots appear their days are numbered before the deadly spores cause them to burst into flames. Harper and her husband Jakob agreed to die on their own terms if they were ever infected. But when Harper notices gold marks appearing across her skin, she changes her mind and decides that she wants to live until the baby she’s carrying is born. As their world grows more dangerous and chaos erupts, Jakob leaves to join a Cremation Squad—a group of vigilantes who have taken it upon themselves to kill anyone they believe carries the virus. Harper’s only hope is the mysterious Fireman. He’s a carrier himself, though he’s learned how to harness the fire within him. Now he protects the persecuted. If Harper can learn to control the fire like he has, both she and her child may survive. If not, they could both burn. Unsurprisingly, this is another title that Publishers Weekly named one of the most anticipated books of 2016. Don’t be shocked if this gripping read has you sleeping with a fire extinguisher next to your bed.
On shelves: May 17