Spring’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Arthurian England, Pinhead’s Hell, and more

Spring’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Arthurian England, Pinhead’s Hell, and more

If you’re looking for good science fiction and fantasy books to read this spring, you should go to hell. Or at least visit it with Clive Barker’s sequel to Hellbound Heart. But perhaps Arthurian England is more your speed. In that case, who better than master storyteller Kazuo Ishiguro to guide you through a land of mysticism and memories? Then again, maybe you’d like to spend some time causing mayhem on Asgard with trickster Loki. If you’re ready for an adventure this season, check out the books below.

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The Buried Giant

Don’t you forget about me

Nearly a decade after he gave us Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro makes a grand return with a quiet tale of myth and memory. The fog covering the Arthurian countryside where Axl and his wife Beatrice live not only clouds their land but also their minds and memories. The two start on a journey to find a son they can only half-remember, and along the way explore their own relationship, a mystery within itself formed by fragmented remembrances. Filled with allusions to J.R.R. Tolkien, Dante Alighieri, and others, this is a journey that readers won’t soon forget. It’s already received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, making us believe that Ishiguro will never let us down.

On shelves: March 3

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The Fire Sermon

An unspoken connection

Best known for her poetry, Francesca Haig makes a departure from her usual work to a time four hundred years in our future, after the Earth was devastated by a nuclear fire. People are now born as twins: one perfect child (the Alpha) and one that is deformed or mutated (the Omega). While Alphas live a life of luxury compared to the Omegas, the twins remain tied to each other: If one dies, so does the other. In The Fire Sermon, Cass is the Omega twin. But her mutation isn’t an extra arm, it’s a psychic ability. When her Alpha twin, Zach, begins gaining political power, Cass can’t help but dream of an equal world.

On shelves: March 10

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Prudence

Time for tea

Parasols at the ready, readers. Lady Alexia Maccon’s daughter Prudence is all grown up and already following in her mother’s footsteps. Out on a relaxing trip to India in search of tea, Rue (as she prefers to be known) finds herself mixed up in political scandal, kidnapping, and espionage. Extra delight is in store for readers who are familiar with Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, though new readers can easily use this as an entry point to her world of  dirigibles, werewolves, and high tea.

On shelves: March 17

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Dark Alchemy

Urban coyote

When Petra Dee enters the town of Temperance, Wyoming, she’s hoping to find her missing father, or at least a clue to explain his disappearance. What she finds instead are deformed skeletons, a meth-dealing alchemist, and a mysterious relic that might just be the thing that saves or damns her. In far too deep to leave, Petra and her coyote sidekick need to uncover the secrets that Temperance has to offer if she ever hopes to find out what happened to her father. A fun urban fantasy read, complete with undead cowboys, Dark Alchemy received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and is a great standalone for readers not looking to jump into a series.

On shelves: March 24

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A Crown for Cold Silver

Long live the Queen

Once a rebel-leader-turned-queen, Cobalt Zosia gave up the titles and glory she won to live out a quiet and peaceful life. But when her village and husband are slaughtered, this middle-aged warrior finds herself taking up the sword once again. Convinced that it is the new Queen who ordered the attack, Zosia sets out to rebuild her former rebel army and seek her revenge. She quickly learns, however, that nothing is straightforward in love and war, and the search for her true foe becomes more complicated with each passing day. The first in a series, Alex Marshall (a pseudonym) delivers a tale that feels familiar but is anything but.

On shelves: April 14

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The Affinities

Friend request pending

Facebook has started a book club, Google wants to be in your eyewear, and everyone you know has an iPhone. Technology has evolved from an optional tool to a necessary part of our everyday lives. In Robert Charles Wilson’s novel of a near-future world, technology isn’t simply a part of our lives, it controls our lives. Taking the concept of Facebook friends to the next level, technology now is able to sort people into social groups called Affinities. Members of the same Affinity become closer than family and slowly begin to resent those in other Affinities. As this fictional world begins to prepare for war, readers might find themselves turning off their devices and trying to interact face-to-face rather than screen-to-screen.

On shelves: April 21

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No One Gets Out Alive

Haunted house, haunted girl

“This house will be a new start for me!” The moment any seasoned horror fan sees this thought cross a character’s mind they know it’s time to sit back with some popcorn and watch the chaos unfold. Stephanie Booth is seeking more than a fresh start; she’s seeking a complete do-over. Nearly broke and completely desperate, she takes the cheapest room she can find, even though it comes with a landlord, Knacker McGuire, whose description is shudder-inducing. The book is divided into two halves and while the first half deals with what happens to Stephanie while staying in the house, perhaps the more terrifying half is what comes next, when she’s escaped and believes that she’s safe. The Ritual author Adam Nevill doesn’t disappoint and readers ready for a few sleepless nights will surely find enough horrors to keep them wide away and wondering.

On shelves: April 28

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Day Shift

Didn’t see that coming

Psychic Manfred Bernardo is back in Day Shift, the second book in Charlaine HarrisMidnight, Texas series. While he first appeared in Harris’ Harper Connelly series, Manfred moved to Midnight in search of quiet solitude, so being followed by the press, who want more information about the mysterious death of his wealthy client, is far from his ideal situation. With a town full of hermit-like misfits, it’s tough to know who to turn to for help, but the peculiar and beautiful Olivia Charity seems like a good place to start. While Harris is best known for her bloodsucking vampires, this series gives readers the opportunity to enjoy her vampiric characters, while mostly focusing on the troubles of the human cast.

On shelves: May 5

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The Gospel of Loki

Burdened with glorious purpose

Chocolat author Joanne Harris takes readers from treats to tricks with this first-person tale of the rise and fall of the Norse gods. First things first, Loki is far from the realest. Unhappy with the way history has portrayed him, he wants to set the record straight. The problem? He’s a liar. A charming, sarcastic, and funny liar, but a completely unreliable narrator. Take his word with that in mind, but this read is sure to please any reader interested in mythology, as well as Marvel fans, who are likely to hear Tom Hiddleston’s voice echoing in their head as they read.

On shelves: May 5

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The Scarlet Gospels

To hell and back again

Horror author Clive Barker gave readers a reason to rejoice when he announced that his planned novella, a sequel to Hellbound Heart, had evolved into a full-length novel that would feature a struggle between fan-favorite characters Harry D’Amour and Pinhead. The battle begins when private investigator D’Amour accidentally opens a portal to hell (hey, it happens), unleashing Pinhead, a creature from an extradimensional realm who harvests human souls. When D’Amour refuses to join Pinhead as one of his Scarlet Gospels, Pinhead kidnaps Norma Paine (a blind medium fans will also recognize) and forces D’Amour to literally go to hell to get her back.

On shelves: May 19

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