Elephants in space, sirens in the water, and Greek gods in the streets—what more could you want from winter’s science fiction and fantasy books? If you’re looking to start a new series, we’ve got you covered with great reads like a tale of science and magic working together from the editor-in-chief of io9, or Tim Powers’ Hollywood time-travel horror story. This season also brings lots of sequels and dynamic conclusions: Brandon Sanderson returns to the Mistborn universe and James Treadwell finishes his Advent trilogy with a search for the source of magic. Whether you’re hankering for a new series, or long to dive back into a familiar world, we’ve got you covered.
In The Mechanical, we learned about Ian Tregillis’ Dutch-ruled world and the Clakkers, a race of mechanical beings enslaved by the Dutch. Clakker Jax escaped to freedom in the first book, but finds himself in trouble once more. In this sequel, the Dutch are preparing to attack Canada, where the French government continues to resist their rule, with their army of Clakkers. The fight is futile unless Berenice, a former spymaster, can figure out how Clakkers are programed so that she can change their loyalty from Dutch to French. Meanwhile, Jax is searching for other rogue Clakkers and their rumored ruler, Queen Mab. There’s one final book in this trilogy, and this exciting volume ensures that readers will be dying to get their hands on it.
On shelves: December 1
Have you ever wanted to speak with the dead? The Fant can. Set in a futuristic world without humans, the galaxy is filled with races of sentient, anthropomorphic animals. The Fant are a species of elephants that have been shunned by other races and left to live in the bleak world of Barsk. The Fant specialize in developing medicines, including koph, a drug that allows users to speak with the recently deceased. But not every race likes that the Fant control the supply of koph, and one group is willing to use force to take what they want. Lawrence M. Schoen has won a Nebula and Hugo for his writing, and this new novella is already generating buzz from fantasy readers. For fans for Schoen, this is a can’t-miss read.
On shelves: December 29
Not what she appears to be
Do you feel as though you are different from other people? You might be an alien. The Nafikh invaded Earth years ago, though humans have no idea. They’re a violent alien race and their human disguises are indistinguishable from real people. Their aggressive urges frequently get messy and that’s where Servs come in. Servs are a race enslaved by the Nafikh. They are bound to clean up after their masters until their service quotas are met and they can be freed. Lucy Hennessey grew up believing she was a normal girl, never knowing that she was a Serv who was adopted by human parents. When Lucy discovers who and what she truly is, she attempts to live her life as a Serv, until she’s implicated in the death of a child. Forced to flee, Lucy must find a way to protect her human family from the aliens living among them, all while attempting to stay away from those who want to kill her.
On shelves: January 12
If you like haunted houses and Hollywood, this is the winter read for you. After their aunt’s suicide, siblings Scott and Madeline Madden return to their childhood home, Caveat, a creepy, deteriorating mansion in the Hollywood hills. Their cousins Claimayne and Ariel still live there, though the reunion is more strained than joyous. Scott would be happy to leave their cousins and Caveat behind, but Madeline finds herself enchanted by the mansion. The rooms are filled with pieces from old hotels and movie sets, though the most fascinating treasures are the spider drawings that allow the Maddens to travel to the past and future. Silent movie stars meet modern horrors in this claustrophobic and thrilling read.
On shelves: January 19
It’s the end of the world
Publishers Weekly is calling this novel from the editor-in-chief of io9 “clever and wonderfully weird.” The tale centers around two outcasts who band together in middle school, each gifted in a way that makes them strange to their peers and fascinating to each other. After the two friends part ways, Patricia dedicates herself to studying magic and enrolls in an academy for the magically gifted. Laurence throws himself into science and becomes a talented engineer, working to make the world a better place. In San Francisco, they’re drawn together once more as the apocalypse threatens the world. They’re each convinced that their preferred discipline holds the answer, but to save the world they need to learn to use both magic and science together. This is an engaging and funny novel that is ideal, not only for SFF fans, but for any lover of smart fiction.
On shelves: January 26
Gone but not forgotten
This sequel to the dark fantasy City of Stairs presents readers with a world plagued by imperialism. Turyin Mulaghesh, a general in the Saypuri army, is sent to the city of Voortyashtan to retrieve a missing secret agent. Once home to the god of death, the city has been left in ruins, and it is far from safe. But these days nothing feels safe to Turyin. Her mind is haunted by the things she’s seen and the cruelty she’s committed herself. Sharp-witted, serious, and at times even humorous, this is a sequel that lives up to its predecessor.
On shelves: January 26
Real or not real
Brandon Sanderson is an author who needs no introduction, especially to seasoned SFF readers. This is the third installment in his Mistborn spinoff series, which takes place 300 years after the original trilogy. Needless to say, this shouldn’t be the first book you pick up in this series. In this new title, Waxillium Ladrian is traveling to the city of New Seran to investigate the myth of the Bands of Mourning, mythical metalminds said to grant anyone who wears them the same powers that the Lord Ruler possesses. Few believe this tale, but when a researcher finds evidence of their existence, Wax is called in to find the truth. Along the way, he uncovers more than he bargained for about his uncle Edwarn and a mysterious organization called The Set.
On shelves: January 26
Fall deeper and deeper, the sirens are singing
Ten-year-old Rory is the only boy left on the island of Scilly, just off the coast of England. Every other male has been drowned by the sirens that haunt and hunt in the surrounding ocean. He knows he’ll be next if he stays, which is why he decides to join the three strangers who suddenly arrive on the island. They waste no time getting back to the mainland and starting their search for a powerful ring that is rumored to be the source of all magic. This is the final volume in James Treadwell’s Advent trilogy. Long-time fans are sure to be satisfied, while new readers are encouraged to start with the first book in this fascinating series.
On shelves: February 2
It’s all Greek to me
If you’re looking for thrills this winter, Jordanna Max Brodsky has you covered. In her debut novel, she brings ancient Greek mythology to the streets of New York City. The huntress Artemis does what she can to avoid the other immortals living in the city, but she can’t shake the vow she made to protect innocent lives. When she comes across the body of young woman, it’s instantly clear that this is more than an ordinary murder. Together with Theo Schultz, a classics professor, she begins to hunt for the killer and uncover the age-old myth tied to the crime. Grown-up fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians will devour this first installment in the Olympus Bound series.
On shelves: February 16
A world about to dawn
Critics loved V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, and Schwab delivers another fantastic tale in the sequel. Kell lives in a world where a powerful few can travel between the dimensions of Grey London (a non-magical world), White London (a world with very little magic), and his home of Red London (a world filled with magic). After traveling to the other worlds in the first novel, Kell is back home and watching as Red London prepares for the Element Games, an international magic competition meant to foster friendship between nations. There’s danger on the horizon, though. Black London, rumored to have been consumed by magic and destroyed, is rising once more. Its very existence threatens the other London dimensions, and Kell will have to act quickly if he hopes to save his world.
On shelves: February 23