The year is halfway over and everyone deserves congratulations for simply doing their best.
Look, I get it. Pandemic life is not how I saw 2020 unfolding. However, I am a firm believer in extreme escapism. I think that's why I've been drawn to SFF since I discovered vampires in high school. July brings with it heat, social reckonings, and brand new releases from some favorite and soon-to-be favorite debuts. I've been particularly looking forward to Kate Elliott's space opera and Alaya Dawn Johnson's adult debut since I first heard the books pitched.
Epic retellings, a reimagined magical New York City, MERCENARY LIBRARIANS? These new releases are bringing it. And by it* I mean your perfect summer read.
Unconquerable Sun (The Sun Chronicles #1) - Kate Elliott [July 7]
Leading the pack of July releases is Elliott’s Alexander the Great reimagining set in space. Everything is better in space. That’s a fact.
Kate Elliott’s latest, Unconquerable Sun, gender-remixes the ancient Greek ruler in Princess Sun, a girl who has come of age under the shadow of her mother. Sun has a legacy to contend with. Her mother, Eirene, is the fierce queen-marshal who expelled invaders and turned their land into a republic. But, as her family's enemies scheme to rid Chaonia of its heir, Princess Sun turns to unlikely allies to survive. Among them are her biggest rival, her secret love, and a dangerous prisoner of war. I always miss Princess Leia, and so a space opera that gives me the same cunning sci-fi heroine vibes is always going to be at the top of my list.
Bonus: Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives trilogy is one of the best series I've ever read, and I’ve been dying for her next words.
The Sin in the Steel (The Fall of the Gods #1) - Ryan Van Loan [July 21]
For an adventure out at sea, try Ryan Van Loan's debut novel, The Sin in the Steel. I’ve seen this described as Sherlock meets high-fantasy Pirates of the Caribbean. I am a sucker for most SFF set on the high seas, and I’m instantly drawn to Buc, a street-rat, and her partner in crime, Eld. They’re the private detectives taking on a job that will change their entire lives. They just need to survive it first. Buc and Eld are hired to investigate why ships carrying precious bounties are going missing. When they discover the one behind the disrupted trade routes is a pirate queen, the private detectives set out to sink the Widowmaker's ship.
The Sin in the Steel promises action and adventure, two things I am highly here for.
Trouble the Saints - Alaya Dawn Johnson [July 21]
Hailed as "awesome" by N.K. Jemisin, Trouble the Saints is Alaya Dawn Johnson’s debut adult novel. I’ve been a big fan of her YA fantasy worlds, which is why I’m excited for her shift into adult SFF.
While I feel I can truly say I haven’t quite read anything like this premise, Trouble the Saints is described as having a unique magic a la The Night Circus meets a historical exploration of The Underground Railroad in World War II-era NYC. Set in the glittering underground Manhattan, Phyllis LeBlanc is an assassin who strikes fear into the hearts of many. But, after a decade, she has given up on the man she loved and her dreams. When the past rears its head, Phyllis is set on a path that could change her fate. Magic, assassins, and impossible odds set up Johnson’s latest novel perfectly.
Savage Legion (Savage Rebellion #1) - Matt Wallace [July 21]
For a taste of the utopian future, Hugo Award–winning author Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion kicks off the first in a series about underdogs ready to expose the secrets of their so-called perfect society. These underdogs are called many things: Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable. Whatever the name, they’re the greatest weapon the empire created because they’re raised to fight until they can’t fight anymore. The Savages are taken from their cities because they’re the ones who won’t be missed.
But Evie is not a Savage. She’s the warrior who is going to end the empire’s mass conscription and exploitation of the poor. Her missing piece is a man who holds the secret to exposing the Savage Legion, and he just so happens to be her ex. To find him, Evie goes undercover in the Savage Legion and she’s willing to risk her own life to unravel the cruelties of the utopia she lives in.
Deal with the Devil - Kit Rocha [July 21]
Get ready for post-apocalyptic mercenary librarians with a healthy side of romance. You read that right. The New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha packs an Avengers-scale adventure featuring guardians of the written word. I have to be honest, this hits all my buttons.
Nina and her team of librarians are trying to save the hopeless in a destroyed America. Knox is the battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils just trying to get by after a horrible ordeal. Nina and Knox are set to collide in an apocalyptic meet-cute. Sort of. Together they can team up and either help save their hopeless world, or burn everything down — along with each other.
I know our real world already feels like it’s on fire, but I’m hoping the romance in Deal with the Devil will be a delightful distraction.
Flyaway – Kathleen Jennings [July 28]
Not every family saga has to be a tome. If you want a shorter read that still delivers, Kathleen Jennings' debut novella, Flyaway, is exactly what those of us with pandemic-attention spans need.
Set in the small Australian town of Western Queensland, Flyaway follows Bettina Scott, who is on the search for her family and their secrets. Bettina's father and brothers are gone. Disappeared gone. After receiving a note from one of those vanished brothers, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about her missing relatives.
Combining horror and gothic elements, Flyaway is a young woman's quest for truth while encountering monsters and all sorts of enchantments along the way.