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16 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books to read this October

16 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books to read this October


Demons, space pirates, and more to add to your to-read pile

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It seems like yesterday that I put together the September book list. Where did the month go?

I’ve been trying to read more non-fiction and specifically non-genre books recently. My background is in military history, so when I first saw Josh Dean’s The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History, I was intrigued. The book is a really fascinating look at a chapter of the Cold War, about a mission to recover a sunken Soviet submarine from several miles under the ocean. It’s an engaging and interesting history, and I’ll bet that someone is going to snap up the movie rights at some point.

In the meantime, though, there’s a ton of science fiction, fantasy, and horror books coming out in October that I’m looking forward to digging into.

October 3rd

The Core by Peter V. Brett

A major fantasy saga is coming to an end. Peter V. Brett made a name for himself with his novel The Warded Man in 2009, and The Core is the conclusion to his five-book Demon Cycle. In this fantasy world, humans use magical runes to ward off the demons who hunt them at night, and two heroes, Arlen Bales and Jardir, have been united and divided as they fight against evil in that series. Now, they’ve unwittingly unleashed a swarm of demons, and they must force a captured demon prince to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons lives and end the threat once and for all.

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

In this debut novel from Ausma Zehanat Khan, an evil force known as the Talisman rules over the world, led by a man known as the One-Eyed Preacher. His followers are a superstitious patriarchy that oppresses women and suppresses knowledge, and their influence is growing. The only people who can stop them are the Companions of Hira, a group of women who draw power from a scripture called the Claim. They’ve been fighting against the Talisman for years, and uncover something that they might be able to use as a weapon against it: the Bloodprint, a text that the One-Eyed Preacher tried to eradicate.

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

In 2011, Nnedi Okorafor published Akata Witch, about a albino girl named Sunny who lives in Nigeria, where she discovered that she has magical powers. Okorafor is back with a sequel, in which Sunny learns that she has been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse. She begins studying with her mentor, and with the support of her friends, sets off to travel through magical worlds to confront the Black Hat Otokotoin order and save humanity. Publisher’s Weekly says that the book is “filled with marvels and is sure to appeal to teens whose interest in fantasy goes beyond dwarves and fairies.” 

Image: Tor Books

The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera

Centuries ago, the Hokkaran Empire conquered the world, pushing out the nomadic Qorin tribes that used to live in the steppes. That empire has begun to decay, leading to corruption, and allowing villages to fall to an encroaching demon horde. It’s up to two women, Barsalayaa Shefali, a Qorin warrior, and O Shizuka, a spoiled, divine empress to face down the demons and save their homes. The novel earned a starred rating from Publisher’s Weekly, which said that “Rivera’s immense imagination and finely detailed worldbuilding have produced a series introduction of mammoth scope.”

The Name of the Wind, 10th Anniversary Edition by Patrick Rothfuss

Anytime someone brings up epic fantasy novels one recommendation inevitably comes up: Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. Rothfuss is currently at work on the final, long-awaited installment of his Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy, The Door of Stone, but if you haven’t picked up the book, DAW Books is releasing a 10th anniversary edition that features some new illustrations, a new note from Rothfuss, and supplementary information about the world.

To Fall Among Vultures by Scott Warren

Scott Warren published his debut military science fiction novel last year: Vick’s Vultures, a short, durable adventure about the crew of a starship that salvages alien technology from advanced civilizations. When they rescued an alien prince, they earned the wrath of another alien empire. In this sequel, the crew is trying to avoid trouble. But when an alien commander appears offering a strategic alliance, they have little choice but to accept, even as it draws them into a centuries-long conflict that could spell the extinction of humanity.

October 5th

The Crow Garden by Alison Littlewood

When his father commits suicide, Nathaniel Kerner leaves his life as a consultant to work at the Crakethorne Asylum, where he finds that the owner is more interested in phrenology and skulls than his patients. There, Kerner meets Victoria Harleston, who hears voices from beyond the grave. He wants to save her, but she was placed in the asylum by her husband, who harbors even more terrible secrets.

October 10th

Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi might be best known for his adult novels such as The Windup Girl or The Water Knife, but he’s also earned considerable acclaim for his YA novels. His first, Shipbreaker, was nominated for the National Book Award, and he followed it up with a fantastic sequel, The Drowned Cities, a post-apocalyptic novel in which climate change has ruined the United States. Tool of War is a new installment of that series, following a genetically modified creature named Tool. He was designed for combat, and left his pack of fellow “augments” to lead a group of child soldiers to freedom. Now, he’s being hunted, and he must go on the offensive against those who would enslave him.

Image: Tor Books

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

A couple of years ago, Elizabeth Bear earned acclaim for her Eternal Sky trilogy: Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky. She’s returning to that world with The Stone in the Skull, the first installment of a new trilogy. The book follows The Gage, a brass automation created by a wizard, who’s found work as a mercenary. Accompanied by a former bodyguard and a priest, he carries a message from a powerful sorcerer to the leaders of Sarathai-tia, asking for assistance as war looms. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a star rating and says that the book “stands head and shoulders above nearly everything else” in a crowded field.

October 17th

Breach of Containment by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Last year, Elizabeth Bonesteel published the first two novels in her debut Central Corps series, The Cold Between and The Remnants of Trust. They’re a fantastic start to a new space opera series that I really enjoyed. Bonesteel is now back with the conclusion to the trilogy. In it, the galaxy’s two major political factions, the Central Corps and the PSI have sent their forces to the moon of Yakutsk. As war is about to break out, an artifact is discovered, which has enormous ramifications for the balance of power in the galaxy. The discovery draws former Central Corps Commander Elena Shaw back into the conflict, and she discovers that there’s ties to a corrupt corporation that she’s come up against before. As she continues her investigation, contact with Earth is cut off, and an enemy armada is is headed its way.

October 24th

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Joe Hill is responsible for some fantastic horror stories, like his take on vampire mythology NOS4A2 and last year’s apocalyptic The Fireman. Hill is back with a new book, but with a twist. Strange Weather contains four short novels: “Snapshot”, about a teenager who’s threatened with a Polaroid camera that erases memories, “Aloft,” about a parachutist who finds himself stranded on a strand and solid cloud, “Rain,” which follows a apocalyptic rainstorm of sharp crystals that spreads to the rest of the country, and “Loaded,” about a mall security guard who becomes a hero after he stops a shooting, only to unravel as his story does. The book earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, which says that if you’re not already a fan of Hill’s, “this is the book to turn you into one.”

Image: Saga Books

Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess

Above the Timberline is about a polar explorer searching for his stranded father, and a city that’s long been lost in the snow. This isn’t your typical novel, however: the story is accompanied by over 120 pieces of artwork from artist Gregory Manchess. It’s a beautiful, engrossing read.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise and Certain Dark Things are wonderful, fantastic novels, about magic, music, and vampires set in Mexico. Moreno-Garcia sets The Beautiful Ones in a fantasy world based on Paris’s Belle Époque era, in which Antonina Beaulieu arrives in the city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, to mingle with high society. She becomes the the center of the court’s gossip when she manifests telekinetic powers, but those abilities attract the attention of a performer named Hector Auvray. As he trains her to control her powers, she begins to fall for him, but it becomes clear that his courtship is more treacherous than she first realized.

Switchback by Melissa F. Olson

In last year’s Nightshades, Melissa F. Olson introduced readers to The Bureau of Preternatural Investigations, a federal agency tasked with confronting Shades, a type of vampire. That novella was a lightning-fast, bite-sized adventure in which the Feds track down a rogue band of shades, succeeding only after a high, bloody body count. In this sequel, members of the Chicago branch of the BPI are recovering from that mission, only to get a call from Wisconsin, where a young man has been arrested, on the suspicion that he is a shade. However, when he escapes, the team thinks that there might be more to the jailbreak than meets the eye.

October 31st

Siege Line by Myke Cole

In Myke Cole’s military fantasy novels Gemini Cell and Javelin Rain, we were introduced to Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer, who was killed and resurrected as part of a secret military program called Gemini Cell. He escaped from his captors and went on the run to try and protect his family. His story now comes to an end with Siege Line, where he realizes that the only way to save them is to destroy the program that brought him back to life. However, the Gemini Cell has gone rogue, and Schweitzer must ally himself with American and Canadian special forces to take it down.

Image: Saga Books

Barbary Station by R. E. Stearns

In R.E. Stearns’ debut novel, a pair of engineers steal a spaceship to join a band of pirates located on Barbary Station. Once they arrive, they discover that there’s a complication: the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI that’s taken over the station, and they can’t escape. The only way for them to join the crew is to destroy the AI, and the last pirate to attempt that ended up dead.