I rarely pay much attention to upcoming releases, mostly cos my existing TBR is already beyond parody and even if I never read a new book again I’ve got enough already on there to see me through several ages of man. That being said, there are quite a few 2021 releases I’m counting down the days for.
A MASTER OF DJINN by P. Djèlí Clark
Regular P&P readers will know that 2020 was the year I discovered P. Djèlí Clark and he very quickly cemented himself as one of my favourite writers of all time. I started with his short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo and quickly devoured his entire list of published works after that. His most recent novella Ring Shout, in particular, is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. A Master of Djinn takes us back to the world of Fatma el Sha’arawi, an alternative early 20th century steampunk Cairo where the experiments of the zany scientist/sorcerer al-Jahiz broke down the dimensional barriers between the magical and mundane world. Fatma works for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities and is called in to investigate the murder of the member of a secret brotherhood dedicated to al-Jahiz. Things get a bit dicey however, when the murderer claims to be al-Jahiz himself, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions, and soon his rhetoric and magical abilities begin to stir up unrest on the streets of Cairo that threatens to spill over onto the global stage.
JADE LEGACY by Fonda Lee
I read Jade City and Jade War at the start of 2020 and they too were some of the best fiction I’ve ever read. I don’t throw these terms around lightly either, I really mean they surpassed almost every other book I’ve read in my life. The first two books follow the Kaul family, who dominate the No Peak clan, one of two powerful crime syndicates that control the island nation of Kekon and the rare magical jade buried in its rich mineral deposits. I don’t know which direction Fonda Lee is gonna take the story in for Jade Legacy, but if it’s got even a fraction of the drama and intelligence of the first two books then it will likely still be one of the best books of the year.
FIREHEART TIGER by Aliette de Bodard
I love Aliette de Bodard’s novellas. Her next release is described as a romantic fantasy that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world. Now I’ve read neither of those books but I know they’re considered all time favourites by a lot of people and if you’ve never read any Aliette de Bodard before then that might pique your interest. The story itself centres around a royal princess recently returned to the imperial court after years abroad as a hostage to a rival nation, whose new role as a diplomat places her once again in the orbit of her first love, who also happens to be a member of the rival court… Sounds like it promises that signature de Bodard flair for intrigue and high drama that I’ve come to love so much.
PRIEST OF GALLOWS by Peter McLean
This is the third instalment of Peter McClean’s War for the Rose Throne books, which I only started reading very recently. I devoured Priest of Bones and actually started reading Priest of Lies immediately afterwards, which is something I very rarely do and speaks to how much I enjoyed book one. They’re grimdark books about a street gang called The Pious Men that reads very much like a fantasy Peaky Blinders. I’ve not read the blurb for Priest of Gallows yet for fear of spoilers, as I’m partway through book two at the moment, but I’m a big big fan of this story, it’s characters and of McClean’s writing style. Thank you to Justine and The Chronicler for recommending this series to me, I owe you a debt.
THE COUNCILLOR by E. J. Beaton
I’d actually never heard of E. J. Beaton until very recently, when I chanced across this upcoming book. The first line of its blurb describes it as a Machiavellian fantasy, so naturally my attention was caught immediately. It follows a palace scholar as they attempt to select the next ruler of the kingdom following the death of its queen. She must traverse the lies and conspiracies of the city-rulers vying for the throne while also investigating what she suspects was the queens murder, aided by the use of magic. I really really love books that get deep in the weeds of intrigue and diplomacy and this sounds like the perfect indulgence.
RISE OF THE RED HAND by Olivia Chadha
For those of you who followed my cyberpunk-themed SciFi month, you’ll know how much of a cyberpunk fan I am, while also picking up on some of my criticisms of the genre. I reviewed a few recent books that felt like they’d started lifting the lid on the kind of stories cyberpunk has the potential to tell and I think Olivia Chadha’s Rise of the Red Hand could continue that trajectory. The story portrays the future of climate change in South Asia and tells the story of a ‘streetrat’ turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician, who try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia. Honestly I’m so so excited for this!
THE BLACKTONGUE THIEF by Christopher Buehlman
Another book and author I hadn’t heard of until reading about it on Books, Bones & Buffy, another blog I regularly frequent. The Blacktongue Thief is set in a world of goblin wars, stag-sized battle ravens and assassins who kill with deadly tattoos; it centres on Kinch Na Shannack, who owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for the training they gave him as a thief and assassin, a debt which he turns to robbery to repay. However, when he targets Galva, a knight and veteran of the brutal goblin wars, things do not go to plan. Thief and knight then find their lives entangled on a journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters and honour is a luxury few can afford. This is why I love book bloggers man, I’d likely never have heard about this book if it weren’t for Tammy. Book bloggers, you’re doing good work.
THE CONDUCTORS by Nicole Glover
This was recommended to me on Twitter just yesterday when I saw a post someone was doing where they asked for one of your favourite reads of 2020 and they’d recommend an upcoming book based on it. I chose Ring Shout, a book about Black women fighting monsters and racism while running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia. The recommendation I got based on this was The Conductors by Nicole Glover. Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic wielder and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia. Heck. Yes.
PERSEPHONE STATION by Stina Leicht
I’ve mentioned Persephone Station before and, while I’ve not read any Stina Leicht before, this is described as The Mandalorian meets Cowboy Bebop so honestly, how can I not take notice? Persephone Station is a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, but becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation when they discover it has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit. It follows Rosie, the owner of a dive bar serving rich Earther tourists and the criminals they seek to employ, and Angel, ex-marine and head of a semi-organised band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins and washed up mercenaries contracted by Rosie. What the job reveals puts Angel up against the might of the Serrao-Orlov Corporation and will have lasting consequences for Persephone Station.
So there you have it gang, my most anticipated upcoming releases of 2021. What are you looking forward to reading this year?