Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 2020.02


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The Sinister Booksellers of Bath: Entertaining but I wanted more magic

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix

Garth Nix’s The Sinister Booksellers of Bath (2023) is the follow-up to 2020’s fantasy novel, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London. Both books are set in the 1980s, or, as Nix calls it, “a somewhat alternative 1980s.”

We reunite with familiar characters; siblings Merlin and Vivien St. Jacques, both of whom have magic, and Susan, the young art student whose father is an Ancient Sovereign, an old and powerfully magical being.


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A Swift and Savage Tide: A pleasant romantic fantasy with a nautical setting

A Swift and Savage Tide by Chloe Neill fantasy book reviews

A Swift and Savage Tide (2021) is the second novel in Chloe Neill’s CAPTAIN KIT BRIGHTLING series. You’ll want to read the first novel, The Bright and Breaking Sea, first. These are pleasant romantic fantasies that will especially appeal to readers who enjoy a nautical setting.

Captain Kit Brightling has, once again, been called on by her queen to save their country from usurper and former emperor Gerard Rousseau.


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Val Hall: The Odd Years: Enjoyable and often moving

Val Hall: The Odd Years by Alma Alexander

Val Hall: The Odd Years, by Alma Alexander, is the second collection of linked stories set in what is basically a retirement home for superheroes (or possibly villains as one story asks). Particularly “Third-class superheroes”, those who have a singular, lesser power that might only have been used once or a handful of times. As with just about every collection, the stories vary in effectiveness/impact, but overall, as with Val Hall: The Even Years,


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The World We Make: High stakes and good fun

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

Book Two in N.K. Jemisin’s GREAT CITIES duology, 2022’s The World We Make is full of action, suspense, humor and good fun. That doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t serious (the continued existence of our reality), but as she did in The City We Became, Jemisin lets herself have fun with a self-aware New York and its human avatars. In spite of the seriousness of the plot, this book is lighter in tone than the first one.


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Fevered Star: A somewhat slower pace through a richly constructed world

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse 

Fevered Star (2022) is the follow-up to Rebecca Roanhorse’s enjoyably original Black Sun, set in a fantastical Mesoamerica (with a few other cultures mixed in as well). As the second book, it does suffer somewhat from that dreaded middle book curse, but Roanhorse offers enough original worldbuilding here to compensate for the book’s weaker aspects, leaving the reader eager to see the trilogy’s conclusion.

As with Black Sun,


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Flash Fire: The best of its sub-sub-genre

Flash Fire by T.J. Klune

2021’s Flash Fire is the second book in T.J. Klune’s YA Series The Extraordinaries. This is the best YA superhero origin story / Spiderman-movie parody / coming of age / neurodivergent / queer rom-com I’ve read this year. With most of the background put in place by its predecessor, The Extraordinaries, Flash Fire is tighter, filled with action sequences, super-villains, and a deadly ordeal known as Prom.


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The Thousand Eyes: A good continuation of the SERPENT GATES series

The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood

In The Thousand Eyes (2022), A.K. Larkwood keeps all the good parts of The Unspoken Name — the first book in THE SERPENT GATES series — brings back most of the characters, and adds a few new ones into the mix while improving on some of the prior novel’s weaker areas, crafting a successful sequel that avoids the dreaded “second book” syndrome. Some inevitable spoilers for The Unspoken Name ahead.


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The Girl and the Mountain: Stunning scenery

The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Mountain (2021) is the second installment in Mark Lawrence’s BOOK OF THE ICE series. It follows The Girl and the Stars, which you need to read first. There will be a few spoilers for that book in this review.

The Girl and the Stars introduced an icy world inhabited by tribes that follow a spiritual leader who, every few years,


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The Bone Shard Emperor: A step backwards

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart

Andrea Stewart’s debut novel, The Bone Shard Daughter, was an engaging beginning to a new fantasy trilogy, showing some originality in setting and magic system, introducing a few interesting characters, and incorporating several complex moral questions. While it also had its fair share of weaknesses (half the characters were far less interesting, a major implausible narrative contrivance, and some predictable plotting), they were outweighed by the novel’s strengths enough to make it a solid recommendation.


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Along the Saltwise Sea: Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for a week

Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker 

In the 2020 portal fantasy Over the Woodward Wall, by A. Deborah Baker (a pseudonym for the prolific Seanan McGuire), two children, Avery and Zib, climbed a granite wall that had inexplicably appeared in the road and were transported to a magical world, the Up-and-Under. It’s much like the land of Oz but with far sharper teeth, and Avery and Zib are anxious to find their way home to our world.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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