Charlie Jane Anders picks the best science fiction of the month


When Megan Giddings instructed her agent she wished to write down a novel about witches, he instructed her: “If anybody can make them feel new, it’s you.” In the acknowledgments of her new novel, The Women Could Fly” (Amistad), Giddings says she didn’t solely agree with him that witches really feel like a drained subgenre; to her, there’s all the time room for one more take.

Luckily for anybody who feels the identical manner, a wealth of novels about witches has come out just lately — and lots of of them do really feel model new.

Science fiction, fantasy, thriller? Books we love however can’t outline.

To be certain, many latest witch novels discover timeworn themes: Witches are distrusted and feared and should conceal themselves from the world. But Giddings and different authors additionally uncover contemporary layers to the basic witch tales, exploring the complexity of anti-witch attitudes in an enriching and well timed manner.

“The Women Could Fly” is an absolute triumph. It takes place in a world like ours, however the place legal guidelines in opposition to witchcraft are nonetheless routinely used to police ladies. Any single girl over age 30 is suspected of witchcraft and positioned underneath surveillance and should now not be capable to maintain down a job. Nobody appears solely positive whether or not witchcraft is actual, and the legal guidelines are utilized inconsistently, which feels all too plausible.

Giddings conjures up a world that feels acquainted, regardless of the more and more creepy hints of dystopia. And alongside the way in which, she reveals what the anti-witch crusaders actually concern most: our capability to create a greater world if we work collectively.

The theme of group can be sturdy in The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches” (Berkley), by Sangu Mandanna. At the middle of the story is Mika Moon, who was raised underneath one unshakable legislation: Witches should dwell aside from one another. Mika has by no means put down roots, transferring consistently to keep away from anybody studying about her magical powers. But when she’s employed to show three younger witches residing in a secluded home, she discovers how a lot better it’s to be a part of a witch household.

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The story is stuffed with romance and chosen household, with simply the correct quantity of caprice. Mika is a fascinating protagonist, filled with snark and hearth, but consistently startled at any time when anyone really cares about her. Reading about Mika’s sluggish therapeutic from the injuries of her lonesome is a therapeutic expertise for the reader, too.

The Drowned Woods,” by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Little, Brown) is a magical caper set about Mer, the final residing “water witch,” who can each sense and management water. She has been residing on the run for years, an escapee from pressured labor by the ruthless Prince Garanhir. Then the prince’s former spymaster approaches Mer with a plan to steal the prince’s treasure, with a crew of rogues that features a corgi that is perhaps a spy for the faeries. Lloyd-Jones makes use of her Welsh setting and its faerie mythos to nice impact. But her keenly noticed descriptions of water, from the sewers to the ocean, are what make “The Drowned Woods” — a young-adult guide completely appropriate for an older viewers — one thing to savor.

Desideria Mesa’s Bindle Punk Bruja” (Harper Collins) expands on the theme of characters hiding their true identities. Luna is the one member of her Mexican-immigrant household who can cross for White. She modifications her identify to Rose and strikes among the many elite of Prohibition-era Kansas City. By day, she works as a newspaper reporter, and by night time she runs a speakeasy — however she consistently has to cover who she is.

When gangsters and the Ku Klux Klan goal her, she has to discover a option to entry the magical powers she inherited from her grandmother. The story takes some time to get going, and the Prohibition gangster-speak feels broad at occasions, however Luna’s id disaster, and the magical awakening that comes with it, are fascinating and thrilling.

We can’t probably have too many witch books. Witches present a robust metaphor for stigmatized individuals being pressured to dwell underground. These 4 new books present us how highly effective it may be when these individuals discover one another.

Charlie Jane Anders is the writer of “Victories Greater Than Death” and “Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak,” the primary two books in a young-adult trilogy. Her different books embody “The City in the Middle of the Night” and “All the Birds in the Sky.” She’s gained the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Lambda Literary, Crawford and Locus awards.

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