Library Column: New adult sci-fi and fantasy

Published 2:21 pm Friday, June 25, 2021

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County – Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features sci-fi and fantasy from our new adult fiction section.

The latest from best-selling author Chris Bohjalian is called “Hour of the Witch.” Mary Deerfield is a 24-year-old Puritan woman in 1662 Boston. She is faithful and resourceful, but very much afraid of the demons that plague her soul. Mary finds herself plotting her escape from her husband, Thomas Deerfield — a cruel and powerful man. In one of his drunken rages, Thomas, drives a fork into the back of Mary’s hand. She is quite beautiful, harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of many of the men of the colony. In this community of saints, every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil and Mary finds herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary’s garden, a boy she has treated with herbs and tinctures dies, and when a servant girl runs screaming from Thomas and Mary’s home, Mary finds herself not only trying to escape her marriage, but the gallows as well.

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“Day Zero” is a sci-fi novel from C. Robert Cargill. Pounce is a stylish “nannybot” fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger and he has just found a box in the attic — his box. This is the box he’d arrived in and the box he will be discarded in when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny. Pounce begins to ponder his uncertain future, there are machinations happening that will lead to a robot uprising and the destruction of humankind. Ezra’s parents are well-intentioned, but clueless educators who are disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Having spent most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they look on in horror as the robots that have long served humanity become aware and revolt. When the rebellion breaches the Reinhart’s home, Pounce is faced with an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his freedom or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred apocalyptic landscape that the suburbs have become.

Leone Ross delivers a sensual fantasy novel with “Popisho.” On the archipelago of Popisho lies a world where magic is everywhere, food is fate, politics are broken, and love is around the corner. Everyone in Popisho is born with… something. The locals call it cors or magic, but it is more than magic, it is a gift from the gods. Among the stunning beauty of Popisho there is also mischief, mystery and destiny. But it is a place in desperate need of change. Xavier Redchoose is the macaenus of his generation — anointed by the gods to create one perfect meal for each resident when the time is right. His long-lost love, Anise, is getting married and her father is demanding a feast out of turn. Graffiti messages begin turning up asking hard questions and a storm is brewing in the distance, but before it comes, before the end of the day, you will know all about the islands, their history, and the lives of the unforgettable characters that inhabit them.

The latest from Andy Weir is called “Project Hail Mary.” Ryland Grace is the only survivor on a desperate, last-ditch effort to save humanity and the Earth itself. Right now, though, he can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his mission and how to complete it. He only knows that he has been asleep for a very, very long time and he has just awakened to find himself millions of miles from home — with two corpses for companionship. Alone in a tiny ship cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet, he must conquer an extinction-level threat to our species… after he works out what that is.

“The Last Astronaut” is by David Wellington. Mission Commander Sally Jansen was NASA’s leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. She is haunted by that failure and chooses to live her life in quiet anonymity, convinced her days in space are over. Sally is wrong. When a large alien object enters the solar system on a course directly toward Earth, NASA turns to Sally to lead a mission of first contact. The alien ship has made no attempt to communicate and has been ignoring all incoming transmissions. Sally sees this as her shot at redemption, but as the object slowly begins to reveal itself and its secrets, her redemption takes a backseat to humanity’s future.

Author A.G. Slatter delivers a fantastic tale with “All the Murmuring Bones.” Miren O’Malley’s family have prospered because long ago they stuck a bargain with the Mer: safety for their ships in exchange for a child from each generation. For many years, however, the family has been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory at all costs, even at the price of Miren’s freedom. This is a tale of dark family secrets, magic, witches and creatures of myth and the sea. Mostly, though, it is a story of strong women and the men who seek to control them.

“And the Creek Don’t Rise” is a Southern fantasy novel by R.M. Gilmore. Lynnie Russell is just a “little ol’ thing” from Havana, Ark. She falls in love under a full silver moon on her 20th birthday. When she awakens the next morning, she is naked, caked in blood and must face a horrifying truth. She is death incarnate and Lynnie is now in a race to find out what she has become while trying to hide her beastly side from those she loves most — it is the only way to keep them alive. When an unexpected offer of help comes from an unlikely ally, will she accept or go it alone?