The Girl in the Tower: A Novel by Katherine ArdenStarring: Vasilisa "Vasya" Petrovna, first introduced in The Bear and the Nightingale, who disguises herself as a boy and sets out to see the world -- accompanied by faithful steed Solovey and aided by frost demon Morozko.
Why you might like it: This 2nd book in the Winternight trilogy boasts a strong heroine determined to choose her own path in life.
Try this next: Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy is a similarly lush and descriptive fantasy series inspired by Russian folklore.
The Spark by David DrakeWhat it's about: Country boy Pal of Beune, a "Maker" who can shape the ancient artifacts of a fallen civilization, travels to Dun Add, the "capital of the human universe," in the hope of becoming a warrior in the service of the Leader.
Read it for: an inventive take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, set in a far-future world in which magic and advanced technology are one and the same.
Terminal Alliance by Jim C. HinesWhat it's about: Lt. Marion "Mops" Adamopoulos, head of the Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team of the ECMS Pufferfish, must clean up the mess caused by an alien bioweapon.
Why you might like it: This humorous SF adventure pits quirky underdog heroes against plagues and space-zombies.
Series alert: Terminal Alliance kicks off the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series.
The Tiger's Daughter by Arsenault K. RiveraIntroducing: two children of prophecy: O-Shizuka, heir to the Hokkaran Empire, and Barsalyya Shefali Alshar of the Qorin, the nomadic "horselords" of the Silver Steppes.
Is it for you? Female friends become lovers while fighting the demons that threaten their world.
You might also like: With its strong characters and Asia-inspired world-building, this series opener may appeal to fans of epic fantasy sagas such as Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori or Ken Liu's Dandelion Dynasty.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers SolomonWhat it's about: Born into slavery aboard the generational starship Matilda, Aster Grey struggles to survive in a rigidly stratified society ruled by the elite of the upper decks. But Aster's discovery that something is wrong with the ship sets the stage for dramatic transformation -- both personal and political.
Why you might like it: This ambitious debut tackles weighty topics (including race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and religion) in a manner that fans of Octavia Butler may appreciate.
Midnight Riot by Ben AaronovitchWhat it's about: Rookie constable Peter Grant's ability to communicate with the dead attracts the notice of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who recruits him for a special branch of London's Metropolitan Police dedicated to investigating the paranormal.
Read it for: a snarky protagonist, a diverse cast of characters, and an atmospheric London setting.
You might also like: This fast-paced 1st entry in the Rivers of London series may appeal to fans of Mike Carey's Felix Castor series.
The Invisible Library by Genevieve CogmanStarring: Librarian Irene, who travels between worlds to acquire books of power, and her new apprentice Kai, who's not quite what he seems.
Series alert: If you enjoy this opening installment of the Invisible Library series, check out its three sequels, including the forthcoming The Lost Plot.
For fans of: dimension-hopping fantasy adventures such as Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels or Jodi Taylor's The Chronicles of St. Mary's series.
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyIn a world... where Earth has colonized the solar system, diplomatic relations between Earth, Mars, and the unincorporated settlements of the asteroid belt are strained, to say the least.
What it is: A hard -- and hard-boiled -- geopolitical space opera with a dash of noir detective story.
Book buzz: This ongoing series provides the source material for the Syfy television series The Expanse.
Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José OlderWhat it's about: Neither fully alive nor fully dead, "inbetweener" Carlos Delacruz, an agent of the New York Council of the Dead, must apprehend a malevolent sorcerer who plans to open an entrada to the Underworld, literally unleashing Hell upon an unsuspecting city.
Crossover alert: This 1st book in the Bone Street Rumba series is loosely linked to the author's YA Shadowshaper Cypher series.
Try this next: For more urban fantasy about the thin line between life and death, check out Doug Dorst's Alive in Necropolis.
Hope and Red by Jon SkovronStarring: Bleak Hope, a young assassin bent on revenge for the murders of her family, and Red, the street urchin and thief who becomes her accomplice as they plot to take down a corrupt empire.
Series alert: This opening installment of the Empire of Storms series continues with Bane and Shadow, followed by Blood and Tempest.
You might also like: Hope's transformation from traumatized orphan to cold-blooded killer should appeal to readers of Mark Lawrence's Book of the Ancestor series, while fans of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastards novels will follow Red's path with anticipation.
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