Here it is—you're go-to guide for the best science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction reads landing on bookstore shelves this month.
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A sequel of sorts to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan as told from the perspective of Captain Hook, the one-handed pirate from Neverland who seeks revenge on Peter for feeding his hand to a crocodile. In Alias Hook, Captain James Benjamin Hook is a more sympathetic fellow, the victim of a curse that puts him in the role of villain to a pack of mischievous young boys. When and adult woman named Stella Parrish dreams her way into Neverland, she learns that not only did Captain Hook not meet a watery death by crocodile, but that he is a far more complex man than the storybook villain he was portrayed to be. Will Stella finally provide Hook with the redemption he so desperately seeks?
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Don't be fooled by the material on which it is based, which is often aimed at children. Alias Hook is a fairy tale for adults who still enjoy magical stories.
Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A woman named Kai creates Gods that protect the Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When she tries to save one of her creations is a desperate, near-suicidal rescue attempt, she is branded as crazy. But Kia, seeing a pattern, begins to investigate why her creations are dying and uncovers a larger conspiracy.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: This is the third novel set in this compelling Aztec-inspired world of the Craft Sequence. You don't need to read the previous books (Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise), but after experiencing this richly detailed world populated with strong female characters, you'll want to.
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A coming-of-age tale in which a young man name Yarvi, seen as a weakling in the eyes of his father, vows to regain the throne he never wanted. He'll attempt to do so after being cast out to fend for himself, and with the aid of fellow outcasts.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Abercrombie is a modern fantasy master and you'll want to get in on the ground floor of this accessible new trilogy, which emphasizes characterizations and action over the setting.
Hardship by Jean Johnson
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A woman named Ia, who can foresee many possible futures, tries to manipulate events through her role in the Earth's military forces to save billions. But things are not going according to plan; it seems that humanity's alien foes have other plans.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The latest installment of Theirs Not to Reason Why, a military sci-fi series-with-a-twist, promises to upend Ia's long, arduous journey to save her home galaxy.
How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Angel Crawford, a zombie who has already had a rough afterlife, gets knee-deep into trouble when she investigates the disappearance of her zombie friends at the apparent hands of the "Zombie Mafia."
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Remember when book used to fun? No? Read this and you'll remember.
Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A near-future technothriller in which a former operative of the Caribbean Intelligence Group—a man named Prudence “Roo” Jones—is faced with a series of events that shake up his now-laid-back lifestyle. First, he becomes the guardian of his orphaned teenage nephew; then he receives a package from a murdered fellow spy; next he is visited by his murdered friend's sister; together, they become involved in a global conspiracy revolving around a weapon that could forever change the face of the world.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: This fast-paced thriller is compelling, engrossing and infused with a distinct Caribbean flavor that only adds to its value.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A television writer named Georgie McCool is quite aware of her troubled marriage to Neal. When she pulls out of a planned trip to visit Neal's family in another state, she fears that her marriage is over. But then she finds a way to talk to Neal—not the one from the present, but a younger version of him from right before they got engaged. Will Georgie be able to repair her marriage and fortify the love that she and Neal once shared?
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Though not marketed as speculative fiction, the low-key fantastical nature of the plot makes it ideal for folks looking to dip their toes into fantastical waters.
The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Set in a world where history books are forbidden, Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian. But things are not at all as they appear, she learns, when she gets stonewalled by the Directorate of Preservation, the city's top-secret historical research facility. Can Liesl and her partner stop the assassin before he strikes again?
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: It's a steampunk-political-mystery mashup that sounds enticing from the get-go.
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Within the clandestine organization responsible for protecting Britain against supernatural threats (known as the "Laundry"), Bob Howard has seen his fair share of nasties. This time around, while the Landry is (as usual) mired down in red tape, Bob, an applied computational demonologist, must contend with an occult parasite spreading a deadly virus through London, the symptoms of which appear to be vampirism.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Bob Howard's supernatural exploits are simply awesome to read.
The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed, leaving his daughter Raesinia Orboan situated to become the first Queen Regnant in centuries. That does not sit well with Duke Orlanko, the Minister of Information and master of the secret police and the most powerful and ruthlessly ambitious man in the kingdom. The thing that tips the balance is that Orlanko knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy. Thus, Raesinia turns to returning war heroes Janus bet Vhalnich, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass. But at what cost can the kingdom be saved?
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Like The Thousand Names, the previous volume in the Shadow Campaigns series—which detailed the adventures of Janus, Marcus and Winter—The Shadow Throne is a gripping story of adventure and intrigue in a fascinating world of muskets and magic.
Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Sergeant Lester Ferris is an eye blink away from retirement when he decides to take a rest on the island of Mancreu, a former British colony with more than a few shady suspects and illegal goings-on. Lester is happy to look the other way until a local's murder and a street kid with a comic book fixation prompt Lester to save the day by becoming the superhero known as Tigerman.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Harkaway's farce is simultaneously riveting and meaningful.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The media-soaked near future of tomorrow has all but forgotten Pittsburgh, the city that was reduced to ash a decade ago, but not survivor John Dominic Blaxton. Dominic is obsessed with the past (or more accurately with remembering his wife and unborn child who died in the blast) and relives it regularly thanks to the Archive, a fully interactive digital reconstruction of old Pittsburgh that allows one to interact with the lost people and places. Dominic uses the Archive to solve old cases, but a newly discovered glitch in the system breaks Dominic's cycle of grief, and thrusts him into danger, both real and virtual.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a delicious dystopian mystery being described as Blade Runner meets Minority Report.
For Short Fiction Readers
Do you like to throw a little short fiction into your reading mix? Select from this helpful and tasty menu of short fiction anthologies and collections due out in July:
- Academic Exercises by K. J. Parker
- New Frontiers: A Collection of Tales About the Past, the Present, and the Future by Ben Bova
- The Best British Fantasy 2014 edited by Steve Haynes
- The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron edited by Ross E. Lockhart & Justin Steele
- The Collected Short Stories of R.A. Lafferty Volume Two: The Man with the Aura by R.A. Lafferty
- The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2 edited by Gordon Van Gelder
- The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois