ON THE SHELF: New Sci-Fi and Fantasy titles for the interplanetary mind

Published 8:00 am Sunday, June 5, 2022

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 collection. 

Fantasy novelist Holly Black brings us her latest book called “Book of Night.” Charlie Hall is the queen of picking locking, stealing books and making bad decisions. For most of her life she has worked for Gloamists — magicians who manipulate shadows to see into locked rooms, murder people in their beds, or worse. They guard their secrets viciously and have created a black market for grimoires. In order to procure merchandise, they need Charlie, but she is working hard on distancing herself from past mistakes and extricating herself from this dark underground syndicate. This is easier said than done because she is stuck bartending at a dive in the Berkshires were too many of the corrupt underbelly like to hang out. On top of this, her sister is obsessed with acquiring magic and Charlie’s shadowless — and possibly soulless — boyfriend is keeping some major secrets from her. When a dark and dangerous figure from Charlie’s past returns, all hell breaks loose and she must try and stop a cast of doppelgangers, unscrupulous billionaires, Gloamists and the people she loves best in the world from getting their hands on a secret that could bring about the apocalypse.

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The latest from T.L. Huchu is called “Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments.” Ropa Moyo expected great things when she discovered an occult underground library. She has always been into Edinburgh’s secret societies, but it turns out they are not so into her. Instead of getting paid to work magic, she is relegated to a crummy unpaid internship. With bills to pay and a pet fox to feed, Ropa jumps at the chance her friend Priya offers her. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies — a very specialized hospital — where a new illness has proven unresponsive to both magical and medical remedies. The first patient who presented with the illness was teenager Max Wu and his case has baffled the healers. If Ropa can solve this case, she might earn as she learns and impress her mentor, Sir Callander. Along the way, she will find a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret long buried in Scotland’s past. Lives are at stake and there is precious little time to find the answers.

“Shadow Fallen” is the latest novel from bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon. For centuries, Ariel was tasked with protecting the souls of innocent mortals when they die. One day Ariel is captured by a powerful sorceress who transforms her into a human who has no memory of her real life or calling. She is then promptly dropped into the middle of the Norman invasion of England. Valteri was cursed with a “demonic deformity,” and he wants nothing to do with this earth except to depart it. Until then, he will do his duty to the king. A strange noblewoman is brought before him one day and Valteri realizes that he has met her before… in his dreams. When shadowy figures come for her, bringing with them their supernatural predators, he realizes that he has a destiny that no one could have foreseen. Valteri wants no part of it, but this son of one of the deadliest powers in existence knows that if he doesn’t restore Ariel to her place, she is not the only one in danger. He must find a way to work with the woman who stands for everything in the universe that he hates.

Jenn Lyons has added two new books to her “Chorus of Dragons” series. “The House of Always” is book four of the series. In the aftermath of the Ritual of Night, everything has changed. The Eight Immortals have failed spectacularly in their efforts to stop Kihrin’s enemies. These enemies are planning on releasing Vol Karoth, the King of Demons. Kihrin has his own ideas on how to defeat the darkness that is descending on his world, but he may have to sacrifice everything to do so. His allies think the cost of this plan is too high and the choice that lies before them is this: can they save the world while saving Kihrin, too? Or will they be forced to watch their friend become the very evil they have all sworn to destroy?

Book five of the “Chorus of Dragons” series is called “The Discord of Gods.” Relos Var is ready to complete his plans to enslave the universe, but he believes there is only one being who can stop him: the demon Xaltorath. While these two masterminds circle one another, neither is paying attention to Kihrin who is keeping himself squarely in the ‘pawn’ category. To do that Kihrin must pretend to be everything the prophecies threaten he will become: the destroyer of all, the sun eater, a mindless, remorseless plague upon the land. It also means he must find excuses not to destroy any of the remaining Immortals nor any of the people he loves without arousing suspicions. Though his intentions are sincere, he must still come to grips with the corrupted magic that twisted both him and the dragons. To add insult to injury, he is now tied to a body that is the literal avatar of a star — a form that is increasingly and catastrophically unstable. Time is running out and Kihrin knows it.

Activist, author and singer Janelle Monae brings us “The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer.” This collection of tales is written by an array of collaborating creators with bold visions and powerful themes. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts could be controlled or erased by a select few. Whether human, AI, or other, your life and sentience are dictated by those who have convinced themselves they have the right to decide your fate. That is until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free. These stories explore what it’s like to live in such a totalitarian state. How do you get out of it? Building off the ideas of writers such as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers and Nnedi Okorafor, this collection gives readers a collection grounded in the very human trials of identity, technology and love, but also touching the worlds of memory and time.