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A blog about books and other things speculative

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The View From Monday - September 20, 2021

Happy Monday! There are 3 debuts this week:

Gutter Mage by J. S. Kelley

The Witchfinder (The Deiparian Saga 1) by J. Todd Kingrea;

and

The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



The View From Monday - September 20, 2021
 
 
 
Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

September 21, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Purgatory's ShoreTaylor Anderson SF/AH - Artillerymen 1
Born to the DarkRamsey Campbell H - The Three Births of Daoloth
Leviathan Wakes: 10th Anniversary EditionJames S. A. Corey SF/SO/SE - Expanse 1
The Poison ThroneWalker Dryden HistF
Dune: The Lady of CaladanBrian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson
SF/SO - Caladan Trilogy 2
HEX (ri)
Thomas Olde Heuvelt H/Th/SF
The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova (ri)Ruth Hogan W
Quantum Shadows (h2tp)
L. E. Modesitt Jr. SF
Gutter Mage (D)J.S. Kelley F
Under the Whispering DoorTJ Klune CF/HU
In the Name of the Otherworld (e)
Hermione Lee F
The Body Scout (D)Lincoln Michel SF/CyP/Cr
The Last CrucibleJ.D. Moyer SF/AP/PA - Reclaimed Earth 3
Harrow the Ninth (h2tp)Tamsyn Muir SF/SO/F - Locked Tomb Trilogy 2
Stolen EarthJ.T. Nicholas SF/GenEng
Strange Tales from JapanKeisuke Nishimoto
William Scott Wilson (Tr)
GH/FairyT/FolkT/LM/H/Classics
The Book of Form and EmptinessRuth Ozeki LF/CoA/MR
The EscapementLavie Tidhar F/LF
Awake
Harald Voetmann
Johanne Sorgenfri Ottosen (Tr)
AB
The Tensorate Series: The Black Tides of Heaven, The Red Threads of Fortune, The Descent of Monsters, The Ascent to Godhood
Neon Yang F - The Tensorate Series



September 23, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Witchfinder (D)
J. Todd Kingrea Dys/PA - The Deiparian Saga 1



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Illus - Illustrator
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator



AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
BHU - Black Humor
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CM - Crime & Mystery
CoA - Coming of Age
CrM - Crime and Mystery
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GothicR - Gothic Romance
GW&CC - Global Warming and Climate Change
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistM - Historical Mystery
HistR - Historical Romance
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
Med - Medical
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
MU - Mash-Up
NF - Near Future
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PF - Paranormal Fantasy
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PolTh - Political Thriller
PopCul - Popular Culture
PP - Police Porcedural
Psy - Psychological
R - Romance
RF - Romantic Fantasy
ScF - Science Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SFTh - Science Fiction Thriller
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
SS - Short Stories
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VM - Visionary and Metaphysical
WS - Women Sleuths

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September 2021 Debuts



Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the beginning of 2022 the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2021 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on September 30, 2021, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2021 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls





Cover art by Ashe Samuels
Cover design by Samira Iravani










Jacket design by Lauren Panepinto
Cover images by Shutterstock
Cover copyright © 2021 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.










Cover design by Mark Ecob










Cover art by Sasha Vinogradova
Design by Christine Foltzer





Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming novels by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.


Jonathan French (2018)

The Free Bastards
The Lot Lands 3
Del Rey, September 28, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 560 pages
The long-awaited war has come in the sweeping conclusion to the Lot Lands trilogy—another irresistibly swashbuckling, swaggering, foul-mouthed fantasy from the author of The Grey Bastards (“Nonstop action, though not for faint hearts.”—The Wall Street Journal).

War has come to the Lot Lands—and Oats stands upon the frontline.

The Hisparthan armies on the horizon are mighty, bolstered by divine champions, dread sorcerers, and gunpowder. It’s almost more than the half-orc rebellion can hope to repel.

But Oats has won impossible fights before. He’s a thriceblood, after all, more orc than man. And he hasn’t forgotten how to kill. He’ll stack the bodies high for his chief and his brethren, if that’s the price of freeing the Lots from human tyranny.

Besides, the invading forces are getting a damned sight more than they bargained for. They’re not facing a handful of half-orc hoofs, but a true army—one forged from all the peoples of the Lots. At its head are Fetching, in full command of the ruinous power that runs through her veins, and Jackal, armed with the blessings of a dead god.

Yet Oats can’t help but find his faith wavering. Once the strongest Bastard, he soon realizes that in this battle, even the strength of a thriceblood is easily conquered. And after a grievous loss strikes, he begins to fear that this war will lead the Lots not to freedom but to ruin.

So when another path to peace beckons, he has no choice but to walk it. Even if it means betting the Lots’ fate, and his own, on the promises of the Bastards’ wiliest adversary—and making a perilous journey into the heart of Hispartha itself.

Brimming with all the epic battles, surprising sorcery, and fiendish twists a Bastards fan could wish for, alongside unforgettable moments for characters old and new, The Free Bastards builds a new future for the Lots—even as it gives our beloved trio of Jackal, Fetching, and Oats the rousing, blood-soaked sendoff they deserve.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo
Book One
Book Two





Walter Goodwater (2018)

The Liar of Red Valley
Solaris, September 28, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
Lead title for Fall 2021 - a fresh, rich, American Gothic "yarn" with a highly relatable female lead.

Don’t trust the Liar.
Do not cross the King.
Never, ever go in the River.

In Red Valley, California, you follow the rules if you want to stay alive. But they won’t be enough to protect Sadie now that she’s become the Liar, the keeper of the town’s many secrets. Friendships are hard-won here, and it isn’t safe to make enemies.

And though the Liar has power — power to remake the world, with just a little blood—what Sadie really needs is answers: Why is the town’s sheriff after her? What does the King want from her? And what is the real purpose of the Liar of Red Valley?
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : Kobo





Marina J. Lostetter (2017)

Activation Degradation
Harper Voyager, September 28, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra.

When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphere—is activated for the first time, it’s in crisis mode. Aliens are attacking the Helium-3 mine it was created to oversee, and now its sole purpose is to defend Earth’s largest energy resource from the invaders in ship-to-ship combat.

But something’s wrong. Unit Four doesn’t feel quite right.

There are files in its databanks it can’t account for, unusual chemical combinations roaring through its pipes, and the primers it possesses on the aliens are suspiciously sparse. The robot is under orders to seek and destroy. That’s all it knows.

According to its handler, that’s all it needs to know.

Determined to fulfill its directives, Unit Four launches its ship and goes on the attack, but it has no idea it’s about to get caught in a downward spiral of misinformation, reprograming, and interstellar conflict.

Most robots are simple tools. Unit Four is well on its way to becoming something more....
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

The View From Monday - September 13, 2021

Happy Monday!

There is one debut this week:

The Offest by Calder Szewczak
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



From formerly feature DAC Authors:

Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire 1) by Jay Kristoff
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



The View From Monday - September 13, 2021
 
 
 
Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

September 14, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Wisdom of CrowdsJoe Abercrombie F/DF/HistF - Age of Madness 3
WinterlightKristen Britain F/DF - Green Rider 7
Slewfoot: A Tale of BewitcheryBrom H/DF/HistF
The Actual StarMonica Byrne Sagas
These BonesKayla Chenault Hist/H/LF
The Yellow Wallpaper & Herland (ri)Charlotte Perkins Gilman Classics/GH/Psy
True DeadFaith Hunter UF/CF/P - Jane Yellowrock 14
The Reluctant KingsK'wan PolTh/Cr
Dare to KnowJames Kennedy TechTh/Sus
Empire of the VampireJay Kristoff F - Empire of the Vampire 1
AI 2041Kai-Fu Lee
Chen Qiufan
Future Studies/AI
To Hold Up the Sky (h2tp)
Cixin Liu SF/HSF
In the Land of Dead HorsesBruce McCandless III H/SF
When Sorrows ComeSeanan McGuire UF/CF/P - October Daye 15
Among the LiliesDaniel Mills LF/SS
The Villa and The Vortex: Supernatural Stories, 1916-1924
Melissa Edmundson (Ed)
Occ/Sup - Anthology
MordewAlex Pheby F/UF
Eartheater (h2tp)Dolores Reyes
Julia Sanches (Tr)
LF
Barnabas, Quentin and the Body SnatchersMarilyn Ross Gothic - Dark Shadows the Complete Paperback Library Reprint Book 26
Barnabas, Quentin and Dr. Jekyll’s SonMarilyn Ross Gothic - Dark Shadows the Complete Paperback Library Reprint Book 27
Oaths of LegacyEmily Skrutskie SF/SO - The Bloodright Trilogy 2
Hell Divers VIII: King of the WastesNicholas Sansbury Smith SF/AP/PA - Hell Divers 8
The Offset (D)Calder Szewczak SF/AP/PA/Dys/PolTh
Waterfall GirlsKimberly White DF/LM
From the Neck UpAliya Whiteley F/SF/SS



September 15, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
War of OmissionKevin O'Donnell SF/SO



September 18, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Spiritus ex Machina (e)G. Allen Wilbanks SF - Three Ghosts in the Machine



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Illus - Illustrator
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator



AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
BHU - Black Humor
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CM - Crime & Mystery
CoA - Coming of Age
CrM - Crime and Mystery
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GothicR - Gothic Romance
GW&CC - Global Warming and Climate Change
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistM - Historical Mystery
HistR - Historical Romance
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
Med - Medical
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
MU - Mash-Up
NF - Near Future
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PF - Paranormal Fantasy
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PolTh - Political Thriller
PopCul - Popular Culture
PP - Police Porcedural
Psy - Psychological
R - Romance
RF - Romantic Fantasy
ScF - Science Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SFTh - Science Fiction Thriller
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
SS - Short Stories
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VM - Visionary and Metaphysical
WS - Women Sleuths

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

Tood McFarlane Launches Gunslinger Spawn Series

Tood McFarlane Launches Gunslinger Spawn Series
TODD MCFARLANE LAUNCHES ICONIC GUNSLINGER SPAWN SERIES—ANTICIPATED TO BE BIGGEST NEW CHARACTER MONTHLY LAUNCH IN 30 YEARS

Two Incentive Covers Announced


PORTLAND, Ore. 09/10/2021 — The NEW and HIGHLY anticipated Gunslinger Tood McFarlane Launches Gunslinger Spawn SeriesSpawn series hits comic store shelves this October as part of Todd McFarlane's ongoing expansion of the Spawn Universe. Much to the excitement of old and new Spawn fans alike, the title is expected to shatter even more comic book records, like the recent King Spawn #1, which sold over a half-million copies. This will be the third (of four) number one release that will climb into the #1 spot for orders in less than five months.

Early indications suggest this will be the single biggest monthly comic book launch for a new character in well over 30 years, which includes any superhero publisher, including Marvel and DC Comics.

The new comic title features Gunslinger Spawn, a man out of time who is unwillingly thrust 200 years in the future to the 21st century. Not only does he have to navigate a new world, but he’ll have to deal with the demons of his past. No one is safe from his vengeance as he heads into battle with guns blazing as he tries to find his way back home.

Acclaimed artist Brett Booth will be the featured artist on this book, with additional art by Philip Tan, Kevin Keane, and Thomas Nachlik, with colors by FCO, Andrew Dalhouse and others. McFarlane will take the lead on writing the regular ongoing story and he and Aleš Kot tackle the back-up tales. Gunslinger Spawn #1 will feature covers by a roster of superstar artists: Greg Capullo, John Romita Jr., TonTon Revolver, Booth, McFarlane, and The Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman!

Gunslinger Spawn #1 cover G adds another level of excitement to this new ongoing series. With pencils by Booth and inks by McFarlane, this cover along with both the King Spawn #1 and The Scorched #1 (releasing in December 2021), interconnect to form one epic work of art.

Gunslinger Spawn #1 includes a 1:250 copy incentive cover. McFarlane will hand-sign and create a unique sequential number for each issue just like he did for the record-breaking King Spawn #1 (based on the Final Order Cutoff total). Each signed Gunslinger Spawn #1 1:250 includes a CGC Certificate of Authenticity that retailers can send in and redeem though CGC to have their books graded. This is the only time McFarlane will sign the Gunslinger Spawn #1 1:250 incentive copy issue.  

Additionally, there will be a Gunslinger Spawn #1 1:50 copy incentive cover by Capullo.

"Gunslinger Spawn returns with a vengeance, and he will make Spawn look like a Boy Scout," said McFarlane, Spawn creator and President at Image Comics. "Finally, fans will get a glimpse into his history as we dig deeper into his past and explore his future.”  

The Spawn character was first introduced in 1992, to a record-setting of 1.7 million copies that still stands today as the highest-selling, creator-owned comic issue of all time. Published by Image Comics (the third largest comic publisher in North America), the Spawn character also set a record as the longest-running, creator-owned comic on the planet when issue #301 was published in 2019. In August 2021, the newest Spawn Universe title King Spawn #1 sales numbers demolished The Avengers' record and became a 25-year record-breaking new superhero monthly title launch. 

Gunslinger Spawn #1 will be available at comic book shops (48 pages, full color, rated: Teen+, $5.99, premium 10 pt cover stock) and on digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Google Play on Wednesday, October 20: 
  • Cover A by Booth - Diamond Code AUG210013
  • Cover B by McFarlane - Diamond Code AUG210014 
  • Cover C by John Romita Jr. - Diamond Code JUL219298
  • Cover D by Greg Capullo - Diamond Code JUL219299
  • Cover E by Robert Kirkman - Diamond Code JUL219300
  • Cover F by TonTon Revolver - Diamond Code JUL219301
  • Cover G by Booth (Connecting Cover) - Diamond Code JUL219302
  • Cover H 1:50 copy incentive by Capullo (Raw Pencils) - Diamond Code JUL219303
  • Cover I 1:250 copy signed incentive by McFarlane - Diamond Code JUL219304
Follow Todd McFarlane on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook.

ABOUT SPAWN, LEGENDARY ARTISTS AND SPAWN CREATOR AND IMAGE COMICS PRESIDENT, TODD MCFARLANE
Todd McFarlane's Spawn is one of the world's best-selling and longest-running monthly comic books, with several hundred million copies sold worldwide in more than 120 countries. In addition, Spawn's Universe #1 is Image Comics' top-selling first issue of the 21st century.
The new Spawn Universe title King Spawn #1 sales numbers demolished The Avengers record and became a 25-year record-breaking new superhero monthly title launch.  

McFarlane's Spawn made history with the release of the historic Spawn #300, and Spawn #301 has earned the Guinness World Records title for the longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series in the world. The road to McFarlane's history-making comic run began in 1992 when he co-founded Image Comics and the released Spawn #1, still the single-best-selling issue all-time for any creator-owned comic.

The comic became an Emmy Award-winning animated series on HBO and a live-action feature film that grossed $100 million. In addition, McFarlane became a true comic book superstar for his record-setting work on Marvel Comics' Spider-Man franchise, where he co-created Marvel's top villain Venom.  

After garnishing prominent success in the comic industry, McFarlane founded the international award-winning McFarlane Toys, one of America's top action figure manufacturers. In 2020, the new release of a Spawn figure on Kickstarter set a new Kickstarter record, in its category, for raising just under $3.5 million in 30 days.

Spawn and all related characters and elements © & ™ TMP

[click to embiggen]

ABOUT IMAGE COMICS
Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has six individuals on the Board of Directors: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and Eric Stephenson. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit
www.imagecomics.com.

Covers Revealed - Recent and Upcoming Works by DAC Authors

Here are some of the recent and upcoming works by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.


Nina Allan (2016)

The Art of Space Travel and Other Stories
Titan Books, September 7, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
A stunningly inventive collection from multi award-winning author, Nina Allan. Unsettling, dark and brilliantly astute, these weird and wonderful tales take us on journeys through time and space to explore enduring questions of memory and loss. Her worlds are recognisably our own but always closer to the edge, on the slant – and sharply unexpected. These stories are an unmissable insight into a writer at the top of her game.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





RJ Barker (2017)

The Bone Ship's Wake
The Tide Child Trilogy 1
Orbit, September 28, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 592 pages
Discover a brilliantly imagined epic fantasy of honor, glory, and warfare in this action-packed conclusion to the David Gemmell Award-nominated trilogy.

Joron Twiner's dreams of freedom lay shattered. His Shipwife is gone and all he has left is revenge. Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child, he takes every opportunity to hurt the Hundred Isles he is given. But his time is limited.

His fleet is shrinking, the Keyshan's Rot is running through his body, and he hiding from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer will end the entire world.

But the Sea Dragons have returned, a miracle in itself, and who is to say that if you can have one miracle, there cannot be another?

The Tide Child Trilogy
The Bone Ships
Call of the Bone Ships
The Bone Ship's Wake

For more from RJ Barker, check out:

The Wounded Kingdom
Age of Assassins
Blood of Assassins
King of Assassins
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

Book One
Book Two





Jay Kristoff (2012)
Illustrations by Bon Orthwick

Empire of the Vampire
Empire of the Vampire 1
St. Martin's Press, September 14, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 752 pages
From New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff comes Empire of the Vampire, the first illustrated volume of an astonishing new dark fantasy saga.

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hand sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order could not stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

Review: The Pariah (The Covenant of Steel 1) by Anthony Ryan

The Pariah
Author:  Anthony Ryan
Series:  The Covenant of Steel 1
Publisher:  Orbit, August 24, 2021
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 608 pages
List Price:  US$17.99 (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780316430760 (print); 9780316430777 (eBook)

"A gritty, heart-pounding tale of betrayal and bloody vengeance. I loved every single word." —John Gwynne

The Pariah begins a new epic fantasy series of action, intrigue and magic from Anthony Ryan, a master storyteller who has taken the fantasy world by storm.

Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier's life in the king's army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine's rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?

"This makes a rich treat for George R.R. Martin fans." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)


For more from Anthony Ryan, check out:

Raven's Shadow Trilogy
Blood Song
Tower Lord
Queen of Fire

Raven's Blade Duology
The Wolf's Call
The Black Song

The Draconis Memoria Trilogy
The Waking Fire
The Legion of Flame
The Empire of Ashes
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo



Trinitytwo's Review:

The Pariah, book one of New York Times best-selling author Anthony Ryan’s The Covenant of Steel trilogy, opens with murder. Alwyn, is smart, quick with a knife, adept at disguise and a shrewd judge of character. He is also a liar, a thief and the aforementioned murderer, making him a valuable asset to Deckin, the self-proclaimed ruler of the Shavine Marches. Alwyn and his companions carry out their mission with deadly efficiency, to reap the rewards of a royal convoy’s cargo. But Alwyn and his ilk are no ordinary brigands. Deckin’s target has a purpose other than ill-gotten gains; to intercept the royal courier. The messenger carries a missive for the King containing sensitive information about the Pretender’s War; information that Deckin desperately wants. This message tips the scales and events begin to unfold quickly, leading to a course of action that will shake Alwyn’s life to the core.

One of the things I love about The Pariah is how it surprised me. I tend to avoid reading books heavy in gratuitous violence, so the blasé killing in the first chapter rang a warning bell or two. However, I am a huge fan of Anthony Ryan so I kept reading. And I was not disappointed. Ryan is a master storyteller whose every detail is filled with intention. Before I knew it, I was well into the third chapter and couldn’t put the book down. To hell with responsibilities and work, I needed to keep reading!

The Pariah checks off all my fantasy reading requirements. Alwyn is a multi-faceted character that often surprised this reader (and himself) with his decisions. His motivations and his loyalties are complex, which leads him time after time into dangerous and desperate situations. Since Alwyn is always on the move, his roster of companions changes and yet Ryan does a great job of keeping the names and faces memorable. There is never a “who is that again?” moment for which I’m grateful.

Speaking of memorable characters, I really enjoyed the vague likenesses to historical or legendary figures in our own timeline. Take for instance, Lady Evadine Courlaine. This beautiful and courageous noblewoman/warrior inspires and encourages loyalty to which even Alwyn, bent on a road of vengeance, is not immune. Her eloquence and earnestness, coupled with her bravery on the battlefield conjured (for me) comparisons to Joan of Arc. Yet, Evadine is her own person. Tormented by visions of a demonic apocalypse, her insight allows her to see into other’s hearts and capture them. She shines as a commander, both considerate of her soldiers and unyielding in her quest to prevent the Second Scourge.

Another remarkable character is the self-proclaimed Outlaw King, Deckin Scarl. Although the common folk give Scarl a “rob from the rich and give to the poor” reputation, he and his band of outlaws are a far cry from being “merry men.” Scarl’s followers are brutal folk whose warped values and violent natures are kept in line only by Scarl’s iron leadership. Due to Ryan’s mastery of the written word, I can picture him down to his callused and massive hands.

I appreciate how Ryan maps out Albermaine through Alwyn’s travels. Through highly descriptive dialogue and first-person narrative, Ryan transports readers directly into the story. We meet Alwyn in the Shavine Marches and travel to Moss Mill in the northern part of the Shavine Forest. Through action-packed storytelling, we visit Castle Duhbos and spend time in the Pit Mines. As Alwyn navigates his way through betrayal, vengeance, intrigue and the ugliness of war, the reader learns key facts about Albermaine and the surrounding lands’ history and political systems, alleviating the need for tiresome exposition dumps.

Paradoxically, The Pariah is a welcome escape to a world riddled with war and violence. And although Alwyn is a murderer and a thief, his unique brand of loyalty and morality keep him likable. I am fascinated by the hints of the magical system that Ryan has sprinkled throughout the story and want more. Reading The Pariah filled me with adrenaline and excitement and I would highly recommend adding it to your TBR list.

2021 Debut Author Challenge - September 2021 Debuts



There are 8 debuts for September 2021.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The September debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite September cover for the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting in the latter half of September.



Paige Crutcher

The Orphan Witch
St. Martin's Griffin, September 28, 2021
Hardcover, Paperbook and ebook, 352 pages
"Mystical, magical, and wildly original...If Alice Hoffman and Sara Addison Allen had a witchy love child, she would be Paige Crutcher. Do not miss this beautifully realized debut!"--- JT Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Her Dark Lies on The Orphan Witch.

A deeper magic. A stronger curse. A family lost...and found.

Persephone May has been alone her entire life. Abandoned as an infant and dragged through the foster care system, she wants nothing more than to belong somewhere. To someone. However, Persephone is as strange as she is lonely. Unexplainable things happen when she’s around—changes in weather, inanimate objects taking flight—and those who seek to bring her into their family quickly cast her out. To cope, she never gets attached, never makes friends. And she certainly never dates. Working odd jobs and always keeping her suitcases half-packed, Persephone is used to moving around, leaving one town for another when curiosity over her eccentric behavior inevitably draws unwanted attention.

After an accidental and very public display of power, Persephone knows it’s time to move on once again. It’s lucky, then, when she receives an email from the one friend she’s managed to keep, inviting her to the elusive Wile Isle. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. However, upon arrival, Persephone quickly discovers that Wile is no ordinary island. In fact, it just might hold the very things she’s been searching for her entire life.

Answers. Family. Home.

And some things she did not want. Like 100-year-old curses and an even older family feud. With the clock running out, love might be the magic that saves them all.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





J. S. Kelley

Gutter Mage
Gallery / Saga Press, September 21, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
J.S. Kelley weaves epic fantasy and hardboiled noir in this fast-paced, twisting tale of magic, mystery, and a whole lot of unruly behavior.

In a kingdom where magic fuels everything from street lamps to horseless carriages, the mage guilds of Penador wield power equal to the king himself. So when Lord Edmund’s infant son is kidnapped by the ruthless Alath Guild, he turns to the one person who’s feared by even the most magically adept: Rosalind Featherstone, a.k.a. the Gutter Mage.

But as Roz delves into the circumstances behind the child’s disappearance, she uncovers an old enemy from her traumatic past and a long-brewing plot that could lead to the death of countless innocents, as well as the complete collapse of Penadorian society itself!
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Cassandra Khaw

The All-Consuming World
Erewhon, Septemenr 7, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages
Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies through the years of a long, dangerous career with the infamous Dirty Dozen, the most storied crew of criminals in the galaxy, at least before their untimely and gruesome demise.

Decades later, she and her diverse team of broken, diminished outlaws must get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade . . . but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir.

The highly evolved AI of the galaxy have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humanity from ever regaining control. As Maya and her comrades spiral closer to uncovering the AIs’ vast conspiracy, this band of violent women—half-clone and half-machine—must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.

Welcome to The All-Consuming World, the debut novel of acclaimed writer Cassandra Khaw. With this explosive and introspective exploration of humans and machines, life and death, Khaw takes their rightful place next to such science fiction luminaries as Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo






J. Todd Kingrea

The Witchfinder
The Deiparian Saga 1
BHC Press, September 26, 2021
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 318 pages
In a post-apocalyptic world where tyranny and medieval torture reign supreme and witch burnings are an everyday occurrence, a top Witchfinder must confront the very Church he serves when he learns of its dark past and twisted plans for the future.

The Church of the Deiparous rules with an iron fist and its rising star, Witchfinder Imperator Malachi Thorne, is committed to leading its cause. Thorne is a man on the fast track to greater things so when a convicted traitor and heretic escapes his grip, he won’t tolerate it marring his perfect record.

As he pursues his quarry, he must confront demons, sorcery, and a cult of witches out for his blood. But when Thorne comes face to face with the Church’s dark past and its twisted present, his faith is tested to its limits. Now Thorne must decide who and what he believes in—and what he will do about it. In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





M. J. Kuhn

Among Thieves
Gallery / Saga Press, September 7, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
A thrilling fantasy debut—a high-stakes heist novel set in a gritty world of magic and malice, and perfect for fans of Six of Crows!

In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.

For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down...but even the most powerful men can be defeated.

Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons
Tordotcom, September 28, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
Lee Mandelo's debut Summer Sons is a sweltering, queer Southern Gothic that crosses Appalachian street racing with academic intrigue, all haunted by a hungry ghost.


Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom that hungers for him.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble.

And there is something awful lurking, waiting for those walls to fall.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Lincoln Michel

The Body Scout
Orbit, September 21, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
"I devoured it." —Jonathan Lethem

“Completely weird and still completely real. Delightful—I couldn't put it down."–Shea Serrano

In the future you can have any body you want—as long as you can afford it.

But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn't get much worse.

Then his brother—Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz—is murdered at home plate.

Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he's in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he'll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder.

Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Calder Szewczak

The Offset
Angry Robot Books, September 14, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages
On your eighteenth birthday, one of your parents must die. And you must be the one to decide. Who will you choose?

In a dying world, the Offset ceremony has been introduced to counteract and discourage procreation. It is a rule that is simultaneously accepted, celebrated and abhorred. But in this world, survival demands sacrifice so for every birth, there must be a death.

Professor Jac Boltanski is leading Project Salix, a ground-breaking new mission to save the world by replanting radioactive Greenland with genetically-modified willow trees. But things aren’t working out and there are discrepancies in the data. Has someone intervened to sabotage her life’s work?

In the meantime, her daughter Miri, an anti-natalist, has run away from home. Days before their Offset ceremony where one of her mothers must be sentenced to death, she is brought back against her will following a run-in with the law. Which parent will Miri pick to die: the one she loves, or the one she hates who is working to save the world?

File Under: Science Fiction [ Only One Leaves | The Choice is Yours | Last Hope | Counting Down ]
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

September 2021 Releases

Here is The Qwillery's list of novels, etc. being published in September 2021. If there is something that we've missed, please leave a comment below. Any genre mistakes are ours. Leave a comment below if you feel that the genre is wrong. Also note that this list is always under revision. Publication dates change. We try to keep this as accurate as possible. Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the US. Check The View From Monday each week for each week's updated release list.


September 2021 Releases
 
 
 
Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

September 1, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Buried Memories (e)Simon R. Green SupM - Ishmael Jones 10
The Madness of Mister. ButlerMichael Haase SF/SO
The Golden DaughterDayna Ingram F
Horror: A Very Short IntroductionDarryl Jones H/HC - Very Short Introductions
The Strange Thing We Become and Other Dark TalesEric LaRocca H/SS - Collection
Bodies Full of Burning: An Anthology of Menopause-Themed HorrorNicole M Wolverton (Ed) H - Anthology



September 2, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
White Queen (e)
Gwyneth Jones SF/CyP - SF Materworks
Monstrum PoeticaJezzy Wolfe Poetry



September 5, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Kindly Ones (e)Cliff James H



September 7, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Art of Space Travel and Other StoriesNina Allan SF/F/H - Collection
The Hierarchies (h2tp)Ros Anderson Dys/W/LF
World Engines: CreatorStephen Baxter SF/HSF/SO
Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story CyclesRay Bradbury
Jonathan R. Eller
SF/DF/Dys - Library of America 347
The Spinter KingMike Brooks F
Grieversadrienne maree brown H - Black Dawn
Children of the Mind (ri)
Orson Scott Card SF/SO - The Ender Saga 4
Ender in Exile (ri)
Orson Scott Card SF/SO - The Ender Saga 5
The Haunting of Leigh HarkerDarcy Coates H/GH/Gothic/SupTh
The Inheritance of Orquídea DivinaZoraida Córdova CF
Carmilla, Deluxe Edition (ri)Sheridan Le Fanu H/Occ/Sup
Jekyll & Hyde Inc.Simon R. Green UF
Plague of GullsStephen Gregory H
Grimoire of the Four ImpostorsCoy Hall H/Gothic - Collection
Magic Lessons (h2tp)
Alice Hoffman LF - Practical Magic
Going Interstellar (ri)
Les Johnson (Ed)
Jack McDevitt (Ed)
HSF - Anthology
The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror: Evil Lives On in the Land!Stephen Jones (Ed)H - Anthology
Hooked on a FelineSofie Kelly PCM - A Magical Cats Mystery 13
The All-Consuming World (D)
Cassandra Khaw SF/GenEng
Among Thieves (D)M. J. Kuhn F
The PeculiaritiesDavid Liss HistF/Hist/AH
Certain Dark Things (h2tp)Silvia Moreno-Garcia H/Noir/DF
Weird Women Volume 2: 1840-1925: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female WritersLisa Morton (Ed)
Leslie S. Klinger (EdP
H - Anthology
The House of AshesStuart Neville M/SupTh/H
1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of StonerKerryn Offord
Rick Boatright
SF/TT - Ring of Fire 33
The Invention of Sound (h2tp)
Chuck Palahniuk H/Occ/Sup/LF/Cr/Noir
The Living Dead (h2tp)
George A. Romero
Daniel Kraus
H/SupTh
Stranger to the MoonEvelio Rosero
Anne McLean (Tr)
SpecFic/Columbia
No Gods, No MonstersCadwell Turnbull F - Convergence Saga 1
Lady's RansomJeff Wheeler F/HistF - The First Argentines 3
Dark Force Rising: Star Wars Legends (ri)
Timothy Zahn SF/SO - Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy2
The Last Command: Star Wars Legends (ri)
Timothy Zahn SF/SO - Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy 3



September 8, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Floaters (Ke)Garrett Boatman H



September 9, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
KarliquaiRosie Cranie-Higgs PsyH - Whiteland Novels 2



September 10, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Floaters (Ke)Garrett Boatman H
The Gate to the Underworld (e)E.L. Giles H - Underground 8



September 14, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Wisdom of CrowdsJoe Abercrombie F/DF/HistF - Age of Madness 3
WinterlightKristen Britain F/DF - Green Rider 7
Slewfoot: A Tale of BewitcheryBrom H/DF/HistF
The Actual StarMonica Byrne Sagas
These BonesKayla Chenault Hist/H/LF
The Yellow Wallpaper & Herland (ri)Charlotte Perkins Gilman Classics/GH/Psy
True DeadFaith Hunter UF/CF/P - Jane Yellowrock 14
The Reluctant KingsK'wan PolTh/Cr
Dare to KnowJames Kennedy TechTh/Sus
Empire of the VampireJay Kristoff F
AI 2041Kai-Fu Lee
Chen Qiufan
Future Studies/AI
To Hold Up the Sky (h2tp)
Cixin Liu SF/HSF
In the Land of Dead HorsesBruce McCandless III H/SF
When Sorrows ComeSeanan McGuire UF/CF/P - October Daye 15
Among the LiliesDaniel Mills LF/SS
The Villa and The Vortex: Supernatural Stories, 1916-1924
Melissa Edmundson (Ed)
Occ/Sup - Anthology
MordewAlex Pheby F/UF
Eartheater (h2tp)Dolores Reyes
Julia Sanches (Tr)
LF
Barnabas, Quentin and the Body SnatchersMarilyn Ross Gothic - Dark Shadows the Complete Paperback Library Reprint Book 26
Barnabas, Quentin and Dr. Jekyll’s SonMarilyn Ross Gothic - Dark Shadows the Complete Paperback Library Reprint Book 27
Oaths of LegacyEmily Skrutskie SF/SO - The Bloodright Trilogy 2
Hell Divers VIII: King of the WastesNicholas Sansbury Smith SF/AP/PA - Hell Divers 8
The Offset (D)Calder Szewczak SF/AP/PA/Dys/PolTh
Waterfall GirlsKimberly White DF/LM
From the Neck UpAliya Whiteley F/SF/SS



September 15, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
War of OmissionKevin O'Donnell SF/SO



September 18, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Spiritus ex Machina (e)G. Allen Wilbanks SF - Three Ghosts in the Machine



September 21, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Purgatory's ShoreTaylor Anderson SF/AH - Artillerymen 1
Born to the DarkRamsey Campbell H - The Three Births of Daoloth
Leviathan Wakes: 10th Anniversary EditionJames S. A. Corey SF/SO/SE - Expanse 1
The Poison ThroneWalker Dryden HistF
Dune: The Lady of CaladanBrian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson
SF/SO - Caladan Trilogy 2
HEX (ri)
Thomas Olde Heuvelt H/Th/SF
The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova (ri)Ruth Hogan W
Quantum Shadows (h2tp)
L. E. Modesitt Jr. SF
Gutter Mage (D)J.S. Kelley F
Under the Whispering DoorTJ Klune CF/HU
In the Name of the Otherworld (e)
Hermione Lee F
The Body Scout (D)Lincoln Michel SF/CyP/Cr
The Last CrucibleJ.D. Moyer SF/AP/PA - Reclaimed Earth 3
Harrow the Ninth (h2tp)Tamsyn Muir SF/SO/F - Locked Tomb Trilogy 2
Stolen EarthJ.T. Nicholas SF/GenEng
Strange Tales from JapanKeisuke Nishimoto
William Scott Wilson (Tr)
GH/FairyT/FolkT/LM/H/Classics
The Book of Form and EmptinessRuth Ozeki LF/CoA/MR
The EscapementLavie Tidhar F/LF
Awake
Harald Voetmann
Johanne Sorgenfri Ottosen (Tr)
AB
The Tensorate Series: The Black Tides of Heaven, The Red Threads of Fortune, The Descent of Monsters, The Ascent to Godhood
Neon Yang F - The Tensorate Series



September 23, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Witchfinder (D)
J. Todd Kingrea Dys/PA - The Deiparian Saga 1



September 26, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Whitesands (Ke)Johann Thorsson H/SupTh



September 28, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Light From Uncommon StarsRyka Aoki SF
The Bone Ships WakeRJ Barker F -Tide Child Trilogy 3
Fledgling (ri)
Octavia E. Butler SF/GenEng/PNR
Piranesi (h2tp)Susanna Clarke LF/F/DF
The Orphan Witch (D)Paige Crutcher F/P/W
When Things Get DarkEllen Datlow (Ed) H - Anthology
Cosmic CorsairsHank Davis (Ed)
Christopher Ruocchio (Ed)
SF - Anthology
Cloud Cuckoo LandAnthony Doerr LF
Lightning Game (h2mm)
Christine Feehan PNR/SF/GenEng - GhostWalker 17
The Constant Rabbit  (h2tp)
Jasper Fforde CF/HU/F
The Free BastardsJonathan French F/DF - The Lot Lands 3
The Liar of Red ValleyWalter Goodwater H
The UnknownHeather Graham Sus/GH/PNR - Krewe of Hunters 35
The Once and Future Witches (h2tp)
Alix E. Harrow HistF/AH/Occ/Sup
Weird World War IIISean Patrick Hazlett (Ed)
SF - Anthology
Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow
Christina Henry H/DF/CF
The Morning StarKarl Ove Knausgaard
Marin Aitken (Tr)
LF/VisM/Occ/Sup
The Other Emily (h2tp)
Dean Koontz Sus/PsyTh/Th
Trader's Leap (h2mm)
Sharon Lee SF/SO - Liaden Universe® 23
Activation DegradationMarina J. Lostetter SF/SO
Summer Sons (D)Lee Mandelo DF/H
The Seven Visitations of Sydney BurgessAndy Marino H/PsyTh/SupTh
The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic PoemJack Mitchell SF/SO/Poetry
The Godless
James A. Moore F - Seven Forges 5
The Shadows (h2tp)Alex North Sus/Cr/PP/H
The Whisper Man (tp2mm)Alex North Sus/Cr/PP/H
The Last GraduateNaomi Novik F/CF/CoA - Scholomance 2
Murder Can Frost Your DoughnutRose Pressey PCM - A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery 4
The Residence (h2tp)
Andrew Pyper H
HydeCraig Russell M/Detective/Hist/H
Mile High with a VampireLynsay Sands PNR - Argeneau Vampire 33
The Ice CovenMax Seeck
Kristian London
Jessica Niemi
Some Faraway Place: A Bright Sessions NovelLauren Shippen Bright Sessions 3
A Neon DarknessLauren Shippen Bright Sessions 2
The Dreamer and the Dream: Afrofuturism and Black Religious ThoughtRoger A. Sneed New Suns: Race, Gender, and Sexuality
The Year's Best Science Fiction Vol. 2 Jonathan Strahan SF - Collection
Invisible SunCharles Stross Empire Games 3
Survivor SongPaul Tremblay PP/M/Occ/Sup
The Smallest of BonesHolly Lyn Walrath Poetry
The Last House on Needless StreetCatriona Ward H/Th/W
Star Trek: Coda: Book 1: Moments AsunderDayton Ward SF - Star Trek
The Christmas Spirits on Tradd StreetKaren White Holidays/W/GH - Tradd Street 6



September 30, 2021
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Among the HuntedCaytlyn Brooke LM/F - Skyglass 1



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Illus - Illustrator
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator



AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
BHU - Black Humor
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CM - Crime & Mystery
CoA - Coming of Age
CrM - Crime and Mystery
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GothicR - Gothic Romance
GW&CC - Global Warming and Climate Change
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistM - Historical Mystery
HistR - Historical Romance
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
Med - Medical
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
MU - Mash-Up
NF - Near Future
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PF - Paranormal Fantasy
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PolTh - Political Thriller
PopCul - Popular Culture
PP - Police Porcedural
Psy - Psychological
R - Romance
RF - Romantic Fantasy
ScF - Science Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SFTh - Science Fiction Thriller
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
SS - Short Stories
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VM - Visionary and Metaphysical
WS - Women Sleuths

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

Nicki Rapp: The Road to Psychonauts 2

Nicki Rapp: The Road to Psychonauts 2
A Look Inside the Mind, of the Voice, of Lili Zanotto


Written by: Mitchell Walter Maknis

Image courtesy of Nikki Rapp


At the tail-end of gaming’s sixth console generation, Tim Schafer pushed the envelope of conventional game design by injecting players into a bizarre world filled with psychedelic puzzles, zany acrobatics, and bacon. The resulting cult phenomenon Psychonauts (2005) has since become a timeless classic. After almost two decades and a VR spinoff (Rhombus of Ruin (2017)) later, the long-awaited sequel Psychonauts 2 (2021) has remained a fixture within the minds of gamers. So, the question remains; what has kept this IP relevant within the psyche of the gaming community sixteen years later?

Perhaps, it’s iconic verbatims such as “Oh my god! Let’s make out!” that quickly harken fans back to that hypnotic moment shared between gifted psychics Lili Zanotto (Nicki Rapp) and Razputin (Richard Horvitz). These performances are nostalgic, for both the fans and the actors who created them. “I love [Lili’s] intelligence and sassiness; she doesn’t take any shit, she’s just awesome” affectionately confessed Nicki Rapp. “I have met so many fans who connected with [the game]. I love the message that Double Fine so tenderly, yet brilliantly produced about mental health, helping people feel less alone.” Rapp, who portrayed Lili in the original game, lights up any room or convention hall she enters. In truth, she just needs to take her vocal pitch a little bit higher, and gamers would be awestruck to realize they are talking to the real-life Lili Zanotto. Nicki Rapp takes fans for a walk through her cognitive landscape to hear her thoughts about her career in a changing industry, and her journey to Psychonauts 2.

Rapp's foray into the arts began in in the sixth grade when she was signed up for choir class by her mother. Her interests began to peak in Junior High when she became involved with the school’s theater program. “I was shy about my experience at first, but I really enjoyed singing” cited the actor on the wire from her L.A. home. “[Later,] I realized I loved acting; it helped bring me out of myself and it was something I was good at.” Rapp was indeed a bona fide theater nerd, performing in show after show, in musicals and stage plays alike. “Acting wasn’t anything I thought I was going to choose as a career. But it felt cool to escape from myself and be someone else for a while, so I just kept going.”

Subsequently, by a friend’s suggestion she did keep going, and after a lengthy road trip, Rapp successfully matriculated into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. “When I got in, I was shocked” she exclaimed “It was the first time I was able focus on something I loved completely.” Nearing the end of her second year, Rapp was pulled aside by the director of the school and was told that because of the way her voice sounded, she was not going to get any work as an actor after she graduated. “I didn’t understand.” She confessed “They cast me in all these crazy roles. I even got to play my dream part of Anne Frank (“The Diary of Anne Frank”) and I pulled that one off even when the professors teased me saying I was too old to play her.”

Rapp had devoted her life to acting since she was twelve, and at that point a career in voice-work never crossed her mind. “Many voice actors start out knowing that that’s what they want to do. I didn’t” She stated, “I just never thought I was as good as anyone else.” She was directionless. “People always made fun of the sound of my voice.” She admits “I honestly thought [my voice] was going to be the thing that would hold me back from everything.” However, everything changed when she was introduced to a voice-over school near San Francisco by her father. “My dad told me the woman who ran the place had a voice just like mine, he wanted to help me get in.”

After graduating from drama school at age 23, she shifted gears to voice-acting and that’s when things started to click. “It was beautiful.” She reminisced “I was just in there by myself, and the solitude gave me the ability to create without restrictions. When I’m inside the recording booth I don’t have to think about stage blocking or editing my body language. That’s why I love voice acting, it’s like acting for introverts.” Although Rapp admits there were some dream roles she would have loved to have had the chance to play on stage, she is happiest now when she is creating characters.

“I booked the part [of Lili Zanotto] in early 2000 and after I was done recording, it took five years for the game to come out.” Incidentally, “that’s how [the development] of Psychonauts 2has gone.” The role of Lili Zanotto garnered a loyal fanbase that opened the door to other creative opportunities. “I have a lot of gratitude for [casting director] Khris Brown. She’s the one who auditioned me for Psychonauts and Broken Age (2014). It’s because of her I’ve had some of the greatest parts of my life.” Beckoning the question, what was it like for Rapp developing the character of Lili Zonatto in such a unique world? “When I was cast, I was so fresh and new to voice-acting” declared Rapp “I remember being in awe of [Lili’s] dialogue and, there is a depth to be discovered beyond the vivid colors and snappy dialogue in the story of Psychonauts.”


MWM: Could you elaborate your exact mind-frame when started recording for the character?

NR: When recording my role, I had to keep a fine line between her sarcasm and sweetness. Lili is a very intelligent girl, [with] a lotta powers. She isn't mean, but she definitely keeps it real, especially when it involves Raz. She may be wise beyond her years, but she is still a little girl in a crazy reality. It was a roller coaster of "what's next?" in the best way. I love the imagination involved in this game and how much it opens my mind as well.


MWM: After your time on Psychonauts, what do you consider to be your next breakthrough role?

NR: It would have to be Morgan LeFlay from [Telltale/LucasArts] Tales of Monkey Island(2009). She was a new addition to the series and when I auditioned for her, I didn’t have a picture of the character to work with, I only had a description of what they wanted.


MWM: What was the description?

NR: A cross between Rosario Dawson and Cameron Diaz. Honestly though, I did not know how to approach that in a voice-over context. So, what I took from the script was that Morgan LeFlay was definitely a badass, but she also had a crush on [series lead] Guybrush Threepwood and fangirled over him. I leaned towards that aspect more than anything else. After I was cast [the game’s writer and director] Mark Darin told me, ‘We had a totally different idea for this character, but you brought something different that we all loved.’


MWM: Considering you worked with the company again in Sam and Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (2010) after Tales of Monkey Island. It’s safe to say you left an impression on the staff at Telltale Games.

NR: I suppose you can say that. In those days when I was recording for Telltale Games, I used to go record at a dear friend’s studio in the San Francisco Bay area. Unfortunately, he has since passed away. He was my cheerleader and would recommend me for roles. I loved recording at his studio especially since it was an environment working with people I trust. [That studio] was where I first worked with Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin (Now of Campo Santo Productions). Those two are Psychonauts fans and after our time working together on Tales of Monkey Island, they wanted me for a game they’d written called The Walking Dead (2012).


MWM: Enter Lilly Caul, she may share a name with your Psychonauts roots. That’s as far as the similarities go. She’s a polar opposite in terms of personality; a drastic change from what your fans would expect.

NR: I’m really proud of that role. Nobody thinks it’s me. It’s crazy to think that I almost didn’t do the audition.


MWM: Is there a reason why?

NR: Yes. That day I was just pissed off and mad at the world. But after I read the script, Lilly matched how I was feeling, and her voice just came out. I am so grateful that I was cast as Lilly. [I thought], I’ll always be cast as kids. Even while I was auditioning for TWD, I was also reading for Clementine, and I came close to being cast in [Melissa Hutcherson’s] role. Finding that voice and that character helped me realize what else I could do. That’s why I like doing video games, you really get to play that character.


MWM: Throughout your twenty-plus years in the voice-acting profession you’ve worked on gaming titles such as Brooktown High (2007), Obscure: The Aftermath (2007), XCOM Enemy Unknown (2012) as well as a few animated programs like Cartoon Network’s Long Live The Royals (2015). Now, looking back at your career what do you consider your longest character journey?

NR: The Sims. [In 2002] I auditioned for The Sims 2 inside this little studio. I had to improvise (Simlish) sounds and match it to this kid’s animation on this tiny TV. One of my favorite exercises from drama school was when I had to perform scenes in complete gibberish. I guess I’m good at making words up on the spot because I was cast two months later. It was good for my brain to speak Simlish and think on the spot. When they were auditioning for The Sims 3, I ended up being the only actor they kept on staff. I was even asked to direct the last three expansion packs [of that particular installment].


MWM: What was it like being on the other side of the booth, in the director’s chair for The Sims 3?

NR: It was a good creative lesson but directing wasn’t anything I had aspired to do. When they asked me to do it, I was like ‘wait really?’ It did make sense having me direct, since I worked on the series for so long and I knew how exhausting it could get improvising Simlish for six-hours. I just love the days when I get to be in the booth so when I was directing, I just kept thinking about how much I wanted to be in the booth with them.


MWM: Out of all the characters you have created. Which ones are you most proud of?

NR: “Definitely my Lilly’s. Lili from Psychonauts is my favorite as far as just being uplifting and happy. But then on the other hand when you go to my other Lilly on the TWD, she’s special because playing her I had to do some of the most challenging acting I’ve ever done.”


MWM: Could you elaborate?

NR: First off, I was shocked when I booked the part. Second, playing Lilly really stressed me out, it was the most challenging acting I’ve ever done. It was difficult to put myself in those grim situations I had no life experience for. I didn’t know how else to approach the emotional depth of the subject matter, so I had to throw myself into it completely. After I finished recording Episode 2 everybody in the studio thought I was losing my mind.


MWM: You’ve mentioned Lili Zanotto and Lilly Caul but there was also a third completely different Lily you played in Firewatch (2016).

NR: Yes! She was completely different. That Lily was a drunk, skinny dipping brat! That was really fun because Sean and Jake sent me an email that basically said, ‘we are doing this game [and] we want you to be in it.’ So, I was like alright. I recorded my role in my souped-up closet studio and the rest is history. That game is just a beautiful thing.


MWM: Was the Lili namesake throughout these multiple properties a coincidence?

NR: Partially, I mean Psychonauts was first, then in TWD Sean and Jake joked saying ‘we have to cast you as Lilly Caul because you played Lili in Psychonauts.’ But when the two of them asked me to be in Firewatch they named her Lily on purpose. They said’ it was so that the people in the know would know.’ The greatest compliments I get is when people say to me ‘wait you played these characters? You don’t even sound like them!’ Ya that’s because I’m a voice actor. (stated with humor) I’ve learned that every character I play, I bring a part of myself into them and that’s what makes a personality really special.


MWM: That’s quite the accomplishment.

NR: Right? The thing that I find interesting about a lot of the characters that I’ve played is that in their own way they are all badasses, and I like that. I love that I get to play these characters who don’t take shit, who are tough and tell you like it is. I’m not sure how much of a badass I am.


MWM: After everything we’ve discussed. The risks you’ve taken and the roles you’ve personified in your life. It’s safe to say there is a badass in you.

NR: You’re right! There is a badass in me. Especially when I think of the things I have done in my life. The truth is this business is hard. In this industry you have to find your place, but you also have to keep going further than what you think you can do. I’ll tell you what, when I auditioned for XCOM Enemy Unknown (2012) I was living in San Francisco. For that game it was a situation where if I booked the part, I would have to pay my own fare to LA to record. After that session, I literally ruined my voice for three days because it was a lot of screaming. There are some days I really do miss San Francisco. I was working a lot more there in the Bay Area than I have been since I moved to L.A. I just wish that all these characters I played like Morgan LeFlay had a longer life than they did. Even with The Sims. I was a part of that franchise for twelve years, so it was a bummer when they didn’t bring any actors back for The Sims 4. For the longest time I didn’t think any of these characters would come back.


MWM: Well as a fan of these characters I personally was thrilled to see them make their triumphant comebacks. Lilly Caul blew the gaming community away when she returned for TWD’s final season and now Lili Zanotto is back for Psychonauts 2. What was it like playing these characters again after all this time?

NR: When I read the script for [TWD], I was scared to see how fans were going to react to Lilly. I mean, she changed. She became a villain. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to play someone so unapologetically bad. But I started to panic a little about how it’d be received. Then, when I heard that Psychonauts was back I was so happy. [Lili Zanotto’s] story revolves around her mission to try and rescue her father. She has a different tone now and it felt good to revisit and explore her in that mind-frame. It was also great because for the first time in over a year I got to record in a real studio with a real engineer!


MWM: I believe I speak for our readers when I say how thrilled we are to hear your voice return through Lili Zanotto once again. But before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final thoughts you want to share to the PSI-Cadets who’ve been anticipating Psychonauts 2 for as long as you?

NR: I just have a lot of gratitude for all of this. The fans I meet at conventions have kept these characters and these games alive all these years. I attended the E3 2019 Psychonauts 2 demo showcase. No one knew I was in there sitting with the audience while they watched the demo. I was in the thick of it. I got to hear people enjoying the demo and laugh at my dialogue. It was so special; the joy people bring me makes me feel that I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Nicki Rapp: The Road to Psychonauts 2
Photo courtesy of Nikki Rapp

Rapp has proven herself to be artist who defies stereotypes. No matter what life may throw at her, she continues to follow her life’s path, creating inimitable characters and performances along the way. Follow Nicki Rapp on Twitter @itsuhrapp and IG @nickirapp and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Psychonauts 2 in its physical or digital editions.
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