Winter 2017’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Russian Folklore, Alternate Londons, and Shakespeare Revisited

Winter 2017’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Russian Folklore, Alternate Londons, and Shakespeare Revisited

Craving a tale about a galaxy far, far away? Want to visit London in an alternate universe? We’ve got you covered. This winter is delivering a fantastic crop of sci-fi and fantasy books. Fans of V.E. Schwab and Ian Tregillis will be ecstatic to get their hands on the final books in these authors’ respective series. Meanwhile readers looking for a brand new adventure will have to decide whether to pick up a retelling of The Tempest or a Russian folklore first. There are ten books on this list, so you better start reading—it’ll be spring before you know it!

The One Hundred Nights of Hero

Stories tell us how to live, and why

Isabel Greenberg’s graphic novel follow-up to The Encyclopedia of Early Earth takes readers back to her three-mooned planet. Two women weave an enchanting series of tales in this book inspired by The Arabian Nights. Cherry’s husband, Jerome, made a bet with his friend, Manfred. If Manfred can seduce Cherry in 100 nights, he can keep Cherry and Jerome’s castle. Cherry plots with her maid Hero, who she is in love with, to distract Manfred. Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, agrees to help Cherry, and together they spin story after story. The tales borrow from fairy tales and folklore, celebrating the everlasting power of stories.

On shelves: December 6

The Liberation

The cost of freedom

Ian Tregillis’ Alchemy Wars trilogy comes to a dramatic and bloody close this winter. The series is set in an alternate history where the Dutch empire is served by mechanical beings called Clakkers. Daniel was the first Clakker to become sentient, and he worked to free the others from their bonds. Some stayed loyal to the Dutch, others sought vengeance. The mechanical Queen Mab takes advantage of the chaos by stoking the flames of violent revolution, pushing the Dutch and French to work together in the hopes of defeating her. Kirkus notes that this is “a frighteningly frank and brutal consideration of slavery, post-slavery, and colonialism in metallic garb.”

On shelves: December 6

After the Crown

Heavy is the head

Craving a galactic adventure? K.B. Wagers’ second Indranan War novel is just the ticket. Hail Bristol, Empress of the Indranan Empire and former gunrunner, never wanted to rule. She was forced into the position after the murders of her parents and sisters, and now there’s a price on her head. Hail must act quickly, making alliances and learning to navigate court politics if she has any hope of surviving long enough to see her empire thrive.

On shelves: December 13

The Bear and the Nightingale

If you’re afraid of wolves, stay out of the forest

Fairy tale lovers, if you’re going to read one fantasy book this winter, let this be it. Starred by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, Katherine Arden’s beautiful debut takes its inspiration from Russian folklore. Set in 14th-century Russia, this tale centers on Vasya, an independent and strong-willed girl who spends her days wandering through the forest around her family’s estate and speaking to the wood and water spirits who keep the land safe. But the local priest and her father’s new bride believe the spirits are demons. As the priest’s ideas spread, the villagers turn away from their old beliefs and the spirits begin to fade. When her home is threatened by a dark force, Vasya is the only one who can step in to save her family and the land she loves.

On shelves: January 10

Crossroads of Canopy

How the mighty fall

Thoraiya Dyer’s debut kicks off her epic fantasy trilogy, Titan’s Forest. The forest is ruled by thirteen gods and goddesses who live in the sun-drenched Canopy. Below, the dark Understorey and Floor are populated by slaves. Unar is one of the few who are given the chance to serve the gods. She hopes to become a bodyguard for Audblayin, the goddess of birth and life. But her plans change when she decides to rescue a slave sentenced to death. Unar must escape to the Understorey, where she learns of a revolutionary plot to overthrow the mighty gods.

On shelves: January 31

All Our Wrong Todays

All of time and space, where do you want to start?

Tom Barren lives in 2016, but readers quickly realize that his world looks nothing like our own. He lives in a techno-utopia, complete with flying cars, moon bases, and moving sidewalks. Still, happiness evades him. So he makes a decision, a very bad decision (the first of many) that results in his using time-travel technology and journeying 50 years into the past. After a series of mishaps, he returns to 2016 only to find that the world isn’t the one he left; in fact it looks a lot like the world we readers currently live in. In some ways, Tom prefers it. His family likes him more and he finally has a shot at the girl of his dreams. Tom has to make a choice: stay in this brave, new world or travel back in time to correct his mistake and recreate the world he knew. Elan Mastai’s debut is full of laughs, adventure, and heart.

On shelves: February 7

Winter of the Gods

Sacrificial lambs

Last winter, Jordanna Max Brodsky introduced readers to the Greek goddess Artemis, now living as Selene DiSilva in New York City. In this sequel, Selene is horrified to learn that members of her family are being hunted and killed by a powerful cult with the ability to wield the weapons of the gods. With the help of her boyfriend, mortal Theo Schultz, she begins to round up her estranged siblings to warn them. This urban fantasy cleverly examines mythology and religion while still giving readers a thrill-packed adventure.

On shelves: February 14

Miranda and Caliban

Awake, dear heart, awake

Have you ever read a book and found yourself longing to read more about a side character? Jacqueline Carey is here to answer that wish. Her latest is a retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest with Miranda and Caliban taking center stage. Miranda loves her magician father, Prospero, but is still a very lonely child. She bonds with Caliban, a boy magically bound to serve her father. Prospero tolerates the friendship at first, but as the children grow into young adults and things take a romantic turn, his patience wears thin. Prospero has plans for Miranda’s future and they do not include Caliban. Fans of the Bard won’t want to miss this nuanced and thoughtful exploration of his characters.

On shelves: February 14

Gilded Cage

The light of rebellion ablaze in their eyes

In Vic James’ alternate England, the aristocrats of society are those gifted with magical abilities. By law, they can force anyone without powers to serve them for a period of ten years. Sixteen-year-old Luke Hadley is serving time at a workhouse in the slave town of Millmoor, and his sister Abi works for the powerful Jardine family. As Luke becomes wrapped up in the idea of revolution, Abi finds herself falling for one of her employer’s sons. Originally published on Wattpad, this novel is the first in a new series is perfect for readers who always wished that Downton Abbey had a bit more darkness and magic.

On shelves: February 14

A Conjuring of Light

London haunts us still

The third installment in the Shades of Magic series might be the most thrilling one yet. A Gathering of Shadows left readers with a doozy of a cliff-hanger: Kell trapped in White London by a collar that blocks his magic, Holland on his way to Red London to wreak havoc, Rhy possibly dying in Alucard’s arms, and Lila ready to test the limits of her abilities to save Kell. This final book is sure to bring tons of action, adventure, magic, and badassery. What more would you expect from author V.E. Schwab? She’s been posting tantalizing and torturous teasers on her Twitter account for months now, and readers are more than ready to learn what will become of their favorite characters. Though we are ecstatic to reunite with Lila, Rhy, Kell, and Alucard, we don’t know if we’re quite ready to say goodbye to this fantastic world.

On shelves: February 21

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