Can’t Wait Wednesday: Servant Mage by Kate Elliott

This week I’m waiting on Servant Mage by Kate Elliott.

Fellion is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellion has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

I’m (very) slowly making my way through Elliott’s backlist (starting with her highly enjoyable Spiritwalker trilogy) and her use of historical inspiration and ability to touch on related themes around colonialism and the power of government and ideology is excellent – so I expect this one to be no different. (Also, every time I see that it’s about “Lamplighters”, I’m immediately reminded of my favourite childhood movie, Mary Poppins).

Servant Mage will be released January 18, 2022 by Tor.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Widow Queen by Elżbieta Cherezińska

This week I’m waiting on The Widow Queen by Elżbieta Cherezińska (translated by Maya Zakrzewska-Pim)

The bold one, they call her—too bold for most.

To her father, the great duke of Poland, Swietoslawa and her two sisters represent three chances for an alliance. Three marriages on which to build his empire.

But Swietoslawa refuses to be simply a pawn in her father’s schemes; she seeks a throne of her own, with no husband by her side.

The gods may grant her wish, but crowns sit heavy, and power is a sword that cuts both ways.

This isn’t really a new book I guess (given its status as a translation), but I’m keen to learn something about Polish history via fantasy (my knowledge is very limited, so it won’t take much). Plus women defying marriage is a trope I always love.

The Widow Queen will be released on 6 April 2021 by Tor.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Sistersong by Lucy Hounsom

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings.

This week I’m waiting on Sistersong by Lucy Hounsom.

535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

(Very) early Middle Ages? Check. Feminism and sisterhood without gender essentialism? Check. Perfect for fans of Madeline Miller? Check. I also love the cover and can’t wait to see this book on shelves.

Sistersong will be released on 13 April 2021 by Macmillan.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Sequels edition

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings.

This week I’m waiting on A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine & Namesake by Adrienne Young.

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found

I’ve been reading R.J. Barker’s Call of the Bone Ships (which is so far incredible), and it reminded me how many other great books are awaiting sequels in 2021. A Memory Called Empire was a well-deserved Hugo winner and one of my favourite books of 2020, and I can’t wait to see what potentially empire-shattering trouble Merit and Three Seagrass find themselves experiencing in the sequel. (I luckily have an ARC, so shouldn’t have to wait much longer). Meanwhile, Fable was one of the best YA fantasy books I read in 2020 (and had one of the best covers): it slipped under my end of year roundup radar due to all the amazing adult SFF I read, but this rollocking pirate adventure is well worth a read.

A Desolation Called Peace will be released on 2 March 2021 by Tor Books. Namesake will be released on 16 March 2021 by Wednesday Books.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Emporium of Imagination by Tabitha Bird

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings.

This week I’m waiting on The Emporium of Imagination by Tabitha Bird.

Welcome to The Emporium of Imagination, a most unusual shop that travels the world offering vintage gifts to repair broken dreams and extraordinary phones to contact lost loved ones.

But, on arrival in the tiny township of Boonah, the store’s long-time custodian, Earlatidge Hubert Umbray, makes a shocking realisation. He is dying…

The clock is now ticking to find his replacement, because the people of Boonah are clearly in need of some restorative magic.

Like Enoch Rayne – a heartbroken ten-year-old boy mourning the loss of his father, while nurturing a guilty secret.

Like Ann Harlow, who has come to the town to be close to her dying grandmother. Though it’s Enoch’s father who dominates her thoughts – and regrets . . .

Even Earlatidge in his final days will experience the store as never before – and have the chance to face up to his own tragedy . . .

I loved Bird’s 2020 debut, A Lifetime of Impossible Days, a hard-hitting magical realism novel about the intergenerational impacts of abuse, and I have no doubt her sophomore novel will be as beautiful, and as heartbreaking.

The Emporium of Imagination will be released on 30 March 2021 by Penguin Random House Australia.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings.

I should stop dreaming about 2021 releases and actually read the backlog of books I already have available to me, but alas.

This week I’m waiting on On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu (I actually have an ARC of this one to read, so I feel slightly less guilty).

Firuzeh and her brother Nour are children of fire, born in an Afghanistan fractured by war. When their parents, their Atay and Abay, decide to leave, they spin fairy tales of their destination, the mythical land and opportunities of Australia.

As the family journeys from Pakistan to Indonesia to Nauru, heading toward a hope of home, they must rely on fragile and temporary shelters, strangers both mercenary and kind, and friends who vanish as quickly as they’re found.

When they arrive in Australia, what seemed like a stable shore gives way to treacherous currents. Neighbors, classmates, and the government seek their own ends, indifferent to the family’s fate. For Firuzeh, her fantasy worlds provide some relief, but as her family and home splinter, she must surface from these imaginings and find a new way.

The treatment of refugees in Australia is a contentious – and heartbreaking – issue, and I’m really curious to see what issues Yu brings to the forefront in a fictional context. I have no doubt this book is going to be incredibly sad, but it’s a story that I think is very important to tell.

On Fragile Waves will be released on 2 February 2021 from Erewhon.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Greek Myths

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings.

I’m going for a mini theme this week: a (not really) quick scroll through my TBR highlighted how many releases about Greek myths and legends I have lined up to read in 2021. Retellings – particularly ones that reconsider the original canon through a feminist lens and while also saying something about modern gender relations – are something I will always look forward to.

So, this week I’m waiting on Daughter of Sparta by Claire Andrews and Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood (are you sensing any other themes?).

Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body and mind into that of a warrior, hoping to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But an unexpected encounter with the goddess Artemis—who holds Daphne’s brother’s fate in her hands—upends the life she’s worked so hard to build. Nine mysterious items have been stolen from Mount Olympus and if Daphne cannot find them, the gods’ waning powers will fade away, the mortal world will descend into chaos, and her brother’s life will be forfeit.

Guided by Artemis’s twin-the handsome and entirely-too-self-assured god Apollo-Daphne’s journey will take her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes, team her up with mythological legends such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and pit her against the gods themselves.

As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivaled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece. But such privilege comes at a cost. While still only girls, the sisters are separated and married to foreign kings of their father’s choosing – Helen remains in Sparta to be betrothed to Menelaos, and Klytemnestra is sent alone to an unfamiliar land to become the wife of the powerful Agamemnon. Yet even as Queens, each is only expected to do two things: birth an heir and embody the meek, demure nature that is expected of women.

But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty, and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, Helen and Klytemnestra must push against the constraints of their society to carve new lives for themselves, and in doing so, make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years.

Daughter of Sparta will be released on 8 June 2021 by Jimmy Patterson Books. Daughters of Sparta will be released on 20 July 2021 by Dutton books.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Councillor by E.J. Beaton

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings. I have an insane number of 2021 books on my TBR, so this seems like an appropriate activity to take part in.

This week I’m waiting on The Councillor, by E.J. Beaton.

This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar’s quest to choose the next ruler of her kingdom amidst lies, conspiracy, and assassination.

When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.

Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers – especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.

Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.

In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises… even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint.

I can never pass up the opportunity to spotlight an Australian author, particularly on debut. Throw in the phrase ‘Machiavellian fantasy’, and the possibilities associated with a non-hereditary monarchy, and I’m sold.

The Councillor will be released on 2 March 2021 from DAW Books.