Intrepid heroines are a common denominator among this month's best new science fiction and fantasy releases.
★ Deal With the Devil
Kit Rocha’s thrilling, sexy Deal With the Devil is a rollicking good time complete with warrior women, cybernetically enhanced super soldiers and a treasure hunt in a post-democracy United States. Nina leads a group of mercenary librarians who protect content from destruction. Knox leads the Silver Devils, a covert ops team that has defected rather than follow orders to kill. When the two groups join up to recover the digital record of the Library of Congress, more than just sparks will fly. Each of the hypercapable team members gets ample opportunity to brandish firearms, throw fists and blow stuff up. The dialogue is confident, funny and modern, like something out of an Avengers flick. There’s a good amount of steam here, too, as Rocha’s background in romance is on full display. Deal With the Devil is a solid sci-fi debut with unforgettable characters.
Trouble the Saints
Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Trouble the Saints is a historical fantasy set in the criminal underworld of New York City during World War II. Phyllis Green, a hired killer for silver-toothed Russian mobster Victor, is feared for her skills with throwing knives. When Victor gives her a new target, Phyllis senses a change in her abilities, putting her in mortal danger. What follows is a wild ride as she and her closest friends try to right her past wrongs. Beautiful prose and an omnipresent sense of regret build an intense, dark mood throughout the whole book. Johnson explores the intersection of race, violence and personal identity in this powerful, passionate story.
Imagine being thrown in jail after a night of carousing, only to discover you’re now a recruit in something called the Savage Legion. In Crache, the lowest of the low can be forced to serve as a human battering ram against the nation’s enemies. A warrior among the doomed in the Savage Legion, Evie will stop at nothing to find her former lover and expose the truth so that no more will suffer. Matt Wallace has written a rich multiperspective fantasy; it’s not every day that a brilliant woman with paraplegia who uses a mecha-magical wheelchair offers her voice to a narrative. This is a big, fun book, and anyone seeking a dose of large-scale epic fantasy with some fresh viewpoints will be right at home.