19 SFFH Books We’re Looking Forward to in May 2024

Written By Maria Haskins

Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and reviewer of speculative fiction. She lives just outside Vancouver with a husband, two children, several birds, a snake, and a very large black dog. Her work has appeared in several publications, and is also available in her short story collections Wolves & Girls (2023), and Six Dreams About the Train (2021).

Ghostroots, by ’Pemi Aguda

Over the last few years, I’ve read Aguda’s beautifully dark and unsettling short fiction in publications like Nightmare, Omenana, and and I’ve always been impressed with the way she tilts and twists her stories to find unexpected edges and shadows in both people and settings. Ghostroots brings together a treasure trove of her stories. Aguda’s tales are set in Lagos, Nigeria, and beneath the surface of everyday life, reality seems to twist and shift with both purpose and menace.  You can read the razor-sharp “What Boys Do” in Nightmare, to get a taste of what to expect in this collection.

The Ministry of Time, by Kaliane Bradley

Described as “part time travel romance, part spy thriller,” the premise of this book sounds absolutely far-out and rather intriguing. It’s set in the near future where a government ministry is in charge of investigating time travel. The ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to study the effects of time travel on humans, and on the fabric of space-time. A civil servant is hired to be a “bridge” for this project, meaning she will live with, and keep an eye on, an expat named Graham Gore, a man who, according to the history books, died on Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition. During a year as roomies, the two end up falling in love, and time travel shenanigans ensue.

The Archangels of Funk, by Andrea Hairston

Any book that includes something called The Water Wars, and has a protagonist named Cinnamon who is fighting Darknet Lords and a nostalgia militia while traveling with two dogs has my undivided attention. In Hairston’s book, the world has been torn apart by conflict, but Cinnamon is still trying to make a life, build a new community, and find a way toward a livable future. On the way, she is helped by a community of farmers, Motor Fairies, and Wheel-Wizards(!). I love everything about this description, including the fact that Cinnamon’s entourage includes three Circus-Bots.

The Z Word, by Lindsay King-Miller

The publisher’s blurb describes this as “the queer Zombieland you didn’t know you needed,” and as a “funny, emotional horror debut.” In the book, there’s a zombie outbreak in Arizona where “chaotic bisexual” Wendy has settled down after a bad breakup. When people are infected and start turning into violent mindless killers, Wendy and her friends and frenemies—including drag queen Logan, sword lesbian Aurelia and a mysterious pizza delivery stoner named Sunshine—have to stay alive, fight zombies, and figure out how the whole outbreak got started.

The Brides of High Hill, by Nghi Vo

The Brides of High Hill is a standalone gothic mystery set in the world of Vo’s award-winning Singing Hills Cycle, a series that includes the novellas The Empress of Salt and Fortune, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, Into the Riverlands, and Mammoths at the Gates. In this latest novella, a young bride is set to marry an aging ruler who lives on a crumbling estate. Strange and ominous portents abound, and soon both the bride-to-be, and Cleric Chih, who has accompanied her to the wedding, find themselves in grave peril. A bit of gothic, a bit of a mystery, a whole lot of danger and darkness, and Vo’s prose? Oh yes, I’m in.

Snowblooded, by Emma Sterner-Radley

I do have a special place in my heart for fantasy tales about assassins, and in this book, we follow not one but two assassins, Valour and Petrichor. Both are members of an assassin’s guild in the rough city of Vinterstock and have been trained by the guild since they were children. While the two are rivals, both looking for the guild’s approval, they also have to work together on a special assignment: to kill a mysterious man who is the leader of Vinterstock’s illegal magic trade. At the same time, Valour also has to protect a (dangerously attractive) aristocrat named Ingrid Rytterdahl, which leads to further complications. Attraction and rivalry, danger and magic abound and yes, it sounds thoroughly delightful.

I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons, by Peter S. Beagle

Peter S. Beagle needs no introduction, really. He’s the author of The Last Unicorn, and has received Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Mythopoeic Awards, among other literary award achievements. In Beagle’s new book, we find ourselves in the kingdom of Bellemontagne, where there are dragons of all sizes—from tiny to behemoth—pretty much everywhere. Enter Gaius Aurelius Constantine Heliogabalus Thrax (who’d rather you call him Robert). Robert has inherited the job as dragon catcher/exterminator. Complicating his new career path is the fact that he really likes dragons, and you can probably surmise that his dragon-exterminating new career will not go as planned.

Lovely Creatures, by K.T. Bryski

This novella comes to you right from Psychopomp’s own ghostly and gorgeous novella series, and it is an exquisitely wrought, dark, and unsettling twist on folklore and fairytales. I read an early review copy and found myself pulled right into Bryski’s haunting tale where the Devil stalks a storm-whittled landscape while a woman called Bryony searches for her long-lost sister. The story is written as a dark and devastating weave of tales, centered on a small group of travelers, journeying together in the belly of a wooden whale (!) toward a distant, mythical river. A woman finds her sister sleeping in a glass coffin. There’s a wolf and swan-maiden, and there is a man who holds everyone in thrall with his stories. Bryski delves deep in heartache and guilt, love, and friendship.

The House That Horror Built, by Christina Henry

Horror tales set in gothic mansions might be a trope, but it’s a trope for a reason: because gothic mansions are freaking awesome. In Henry’s novel, the gothic mansion in question is located in Chicago and belongs to a reclusive horror director. It is also filled with terrifying props and costumes. Single mom, and horror-movie-lover, Harry Adams has been hired to clean the house, and she’s been told to be discreet and not ask any questions about anything in the house. Harry tries to do her job and keep her head down, but that becomes difficult when she finds a locked door and hears someone calling for help from behind that door. Gothic mansions + sinister secrets + mysterious locked doors = hell yeah.

Cinderwich, by Cherie Priest

I’m reading an advance reading copy of this novella right now and a few chapters in, it has me hooked. It has this compelling, dark, twisty vibe, and there’s a deliciously unsettling sense of foreboding as deep, dark secrets from the past are being slowly unfurled. The story’s narrator is Kate Thrush who goes looking for her long-lost aunt, Ellen, in a town called Cinderwich. Along for the ride is Ellen’s old lover, Dr. Judith Kane. Many years ago, in Cinderwich, the body of a woman was found wedged in a treetop. There are clues and circumstances indicating it might have been the body of Ellen, but finding out what really happened, and who might have killed Ellen and why, will be no easy task in a town where the rot, and the roots of evil, go deep.

The Garden of Delights, by Amal Singh

I’ve been a fan of Amal Singh’s short fiction for a long time, and I am so freaking excited about this book. (Check out his “Notes from a Pyre” in The Deadlands, and “A Home for Mrs. Biswas” in Clarkesworld to get a taste of his wonderful prose.) The Garden of Delights is a fantasy novel set in the city of Sirvassa, “where petals are currency and flowers are magic.” Here, the Caretaker tends to the Garden of Delights and gives temporary magical abilities to the citizens, but all is not well in the garden. There’s a curse to deal with, there’s a quest to find a god, there’s a girl who gains the power to change reality, and in the midst of it all, a terrible rot is spreading both in the garden and in the city of Sirvassa. (By the way, if you love books with maps, check out Kehkashan’s beautiful art/maps for Singh’s book in this post on X.)

Signals in the Static, by A.T. Sayre

I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Sayre’s debut collection, and it is full of wonderful science fiction tales that make your heart ache and your mind stretch. There are determined robots here, stories of alien diplomacy, and space exploration. There is darkness too, dangers and monsters, and there are deep, emotional currents running through all of it. All the stories in this collection are good, but for a fan of Mars and robots (me!), “Rover,” the story about a terribly lonely but very determined Mars rover, will definitely linger.

Queen of None, by Natania Barron

Queen of None is the first book in Barron’s new Arthurian fantasy romance trilogy. The main character is King Arthur’s sister, Anna. Throughout her life, Anna has done what was required of her, like getting married at age 12 in order to bring the kingdom of Orkney under Arthur’s rule. Twenty years have passed since Anna left Arthur’s court, and now, after the death of her husband, she is summoned back to Carelon where she must “face the demons of her childhood: her sisters Morgen, Elaine, and Morgause; Merlin and his scheming priests; and Bedevere, the man she once loved.” Anna’s world is changing, and so is she, as a strange new power awakens in her. I am a huge fan of everything Arthur-related, and Barron’s book seems to be taking on the old legends and stories from a new and interesting point of view.

We Mostly Come Out at Night – 15 Queer Tales of Monsters, Angels & Other Creatures, edited by Rob Costello

I read an advance reading copy of this cross-genre YA anthology about “monsters, angels, and other creatures” and the stories were a true joy to read. The stated goal of the book, is to reclaim “the monstrous for the LGBTQA+ community while exploring how there is freedom and power in embracing the things that make you stand out.” The impressive list of contributing authors includes Kalynn Bayron, David Bowles, Shae Carys, Brittany Johnson, Naomi Kanakia, Claire Kann, Jonathan Lenore Kastin, Sarah Maxfield, Sam J. Miller, Alexandra Villasante, and Merc Fenn Wolfmoor. Each story centers a monster or creature—Mothman, Carabosse, a girl with thirteen shadows, a living house, werebeasts, gorgons, sirens, angels, and more—and the whole anthology is a great celebration of life, queerness, and resilience.

Escape Velocity, by Victor Manibo

The publisher calls Manibo’s science fiction novel a “twisty new near-future genre-bending thriller: Knives Out in space with a Parasite twist” and, having read it, I’d call that a pretty spot-on description. It starts out with a man drifting in space and by the end, we have a totally new perspective on that lonely person floating above Earth in a spacesuit. The book mostly takes place in a super deluxe space resort for the very rich and very privileged. There’s a lavish school reunion, old secrets and rivalries lurking beneath the surface, and, almost out of sight and hidden beneath a veneer of opulence and servitude, there are simmering tensions between the rich guests and the staff working on the ritzy space station. There’s love, sex, manipulation, politics, violence, and a tangle of conflicts heating up a story that takes a turn I definitely did not expect.

Lost Ark Dreaming, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Described as a “high-octane post-climate disaster novella,” and classified as science fantasy by the writer himself, Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s story takes place off the coast of West Africa. A rising Atlantic Ocean has forced people to flee their old homes, and the survivors now live inside five partially submerged, kilometers-high towers. In an interview at The Skiffy and Fanty Show, Okungbowa calls it a “vertical Snowpiercer in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean” with the rich ruling everyone else from the top of the towers, while the poor are left to survive as best they can on the floors below sea level. There’s another force at play too: those who were left for dead in the Atlantic and have been reawakened by an ancient power, and they are seeking vengeance. There might be hope even in this harsh future, but to find it, three inhabitants of the towers—a rookie analyst, an undersea mechanic, and an egotistical bureaucrat—must work together.

Goddess of the River, by Vaishnavi Patel

One of the things that drew me to this book is that gorgeous cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio. Another thing that attracted me is Patel’s description of the book as “a Mahabharata retelling from the perspective of Ganga and her son, Bhishma, a story of dharma and responsibility, of family and finding hope in tragedy.” In the book, Patel reimagines the story of Ganga, goddess of the river, and her doomed mortal son. Ganga is a goddess but is cursed to become mortal until she fulfills the obligations of her curse. In her mortal form she gives birth to a son, Devavrata, and is then forced to leave him behind when she is freed from the curse. Through the years that follow, the lingering effects of the curse lead to tragedy and war, while destiny keeps bringing mother and son together, again and again.

Blood Covenant, by Alan Baxter

When a bank heist goes terribly wrong, James Glenn and his crew of thugs are forced to flee the scene of the crime. They end up at a remote mountain lodge and hope to hide out there until the heat dies down. Only one problem: the lodge isn’t empty. It’s occupied by the Moore family who are taken hostage by the criminals, and when blood is spilled in the process, an ancient, ravenous evil awakens. I do have a weakness for stories where Bad Guys accidentally awaken a Big Bad and pay the price, so I’m keeping an eye out for this novel. There is a great video on YouTube where Baxter talks about the book, and the seriously haunting cover art by Francois Vaillancourt. (Baxter’s pup, Maximo, also makes a cameo appearance.) You can also read an excerpt on the author’s website.

Ghostdrift, by Suzanne Palmer

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2024, and, after reading an advance reading copy, it is now one of my favorite books of 2024. Ghostdrift is the fourth and final (say it ain’t so!) instalment in Palmer’s Finder Chronicles, and I was blissfully happy to be back and traveling through the universe in the company of Fergus Ferguson. In Ghostdrift, Fergus tries to solve a conflict between two alien races while being held for ransom and looking for the missing sister of one of his archrivals. It’s a lot even for Fergus, and there are more than a few twists and turns along the way. Ghostdrift is described as a “hopepunk sci-fi caper,” and I could talk all day about how much, and why, I love this universe and these characters, but the tl;dr version is: this is gripping, thrilling, fun science fiction that makes me feel good when I’m reading it.

Evocation, by S.T. Gibson

Evocation is the first book in The Summoner’s Circle, a new series by S.T. Gibson, and it’s all about David Aristarkhov, formerly a psychic prodigy, now a Boston attorney who is “moonlighting as a powerful medium.” In an interview at Books, Bones & Buffy, Gibson describes the book as “a contemporary fantasy romance set in a magical Boston. It follows a psychic lawyer who has to team up with his sorcerer ex-boyfriend and the boyfriend’s witch wife in order to break a deadly family curse.” The Devil also makes an appearance, there’s some secret society drama, and a haunted house. That sounds like a lot, and all of it good. You can read the first chapter over at Paste Magazine, and it definitely left me hungry for more.