Tag Archives: Fantasy

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Venom & Vow by Anna-Marie McLemore and Elliott McLemore

You know when two humans you really like also happen to be married and also happen to have written a book you know is absolutely fantastic before you’ve even read a word? And then you get to reveal its cover?? Such is the case for me, and I am thrilled to be revealing the cover of Venom & Vow by Anna-Marie McLemore and Elliott McLemore today, a trans YA fantasy releasing from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on May 16, 2023! Here’s the story:

Two enemy kingdoms are forced to work together to break a curse in this lush YA fantasy, featuring a transgender prince and a bigender dama/assassin in the lead roles.

Keep your enemy closer.

Cade McKenna is a transgender prince who’s doubling for his brother.
Valencia Palafox is a young dama attending the future queen of Eliana.
Gael Palma is the infamous boy assassin Cade has vowed to protect.
Patrick McKenna is the reluctant heir to a kingdom, and the prince Gael has vowed to destroy.

Cade doesn’t know that Gael and Valencia are the same person.
Valencia doesn’t know that every time she thinks she’s fighting Patrick, she’s fighting Cade.
And when Cade and Valencia blame each other for a devastating enchantment that takes both their families, neither of them realizes that they have far more dangerous enemies.

Cowritten by married writing team Anna-Marie and Elliott McLemore, Venom & Vow is a lush and powerful YA novel about owning your power and becoming who you really are.

And here’s the epic cover, designed by Lindsey Whitt and illustrated by Mx. Morgan!


Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Anna-Marie McLemore grew up hearing la llorona in the Santa Ana winds and now writes books as queer, Latine, and trans as they are. They are the author of The Weight of Feathers, a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; Wild Beauty, a Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist best book of 2017; Blanca & Roja, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; Dark and Deepest Red, a Winter 2020 Indie Next List title; The Mirror Season, which was also longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and the forthcoming Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix (September 6, 2022)

Elliott McLemore is a nonbinary trans guy who comes from mountains and loves trees. As a child, he romped in dresses, fought with plastic swords, and dreamed up his first stories. Between then and now, he has focused on academic and professional writing, research, and advocacy, including work toward adding nonbinary gender markers to California identity documents. Venom & Vow is his debut novel.

Fave Five: Sapphic Fairytale Reimaginings, Part I

These are all reimaginings of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, or a combination of the two.

Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells (YA)

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (YA)

The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder (YA)

A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

Malice by Heather Walter

New Release Spotlight: Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane

Look, I know queer readers are mythology nerds, and I’ve seen what readers of all genders and orientations have done for Song of Achilles. So what I’m saying is, this Pride month, treat yourself to a fantastic fantastic featuring a badass trans woman Achilles. You can thank me in July when we get to Wrath month. (It’s a perfect read for that one too.) Wrath Goddess Sing releases from William Morrow on June 7th, and is available for preorder now. (See handy links below!)

Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.

The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.

Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.

But the gods—a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries—have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.

An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight…and chooses to trust.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Painted Devils by Margaret Owen

Did you love the demisexual YA fantasy Little Thieves by Margaret Owen? Of freaking course you did. Which means this post is for you, since we’re revealing the cover of the sequel, Painted Devils, which releases from Henry Holt and Co. on May 16, 2023! I know, I know, it’s a long wait, but on the bright side, you don’t have to wait one minute more for the cover! First, the story:

Let’s get one thing straight—Vanja Schmidt wasn’t trying to start a cult.

After taking down a corrupt margrave, breaking a deadly curse, and finding romance with the vexingly scrupulous Junior Prefect Emeric Conrad, Vanja had one great mystery left: her long-lost birth family… and if they would welcome a thief. But in her search for an honest trade, she hit trouble and invented a god, the Scarlet Maiden, to scam her way out. Now, that lie is growing out of control—especially when Emeric arrives to investigate, and the Scarlet Maiden manifests to claim him as a virgin sacrifice.

For his final test to become a prefect, Emeric must determine if Vanja is guilty of serious fraud, or if the Scarlet Maiden—and her claim to him—are genuine. Meanwhile, Vanja is chasing an alternative sacrifice that may be their way out. The hunt leads her not only into the lairs of monsters and the paths of gods, but the ties of her past. And with what should be the simplest way to save Emeric hanging over their heads, he and Vanja must face a more dangerous question: Is there a future for a thief and a prefect, and at what price?

And now, the beautiful cover, designed and illustrated by M.S. Corley!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Margaret Owen was born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, and has worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned. She now spends her days in Seattle, Washington, writing and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her monstrous cats. In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @what_eats_owls (truly, a question for our time.)

Backlist Book of the Month:The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

Super queer found family. Witches and fairies. Trans main character. Badass fantasy. Swoony romance between two guys doing the best friends-to-betrothed-to-enemies dance. Awesome duology opener with a sequel coming on May 31st. Just stop me when you’ve read enough to get the grabbiest of hands for The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon, a rare YA fantasy I absolutely loved that you should check out ASAP so you can jump right into The Fae Keeper!

Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Fave Five: LGBTQIA YA About Plagues

At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp

All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown

Spellhacker by M.K. England

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

The Names We Take by Trace Kerr

Bonus: Coming up in November, The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix

Fave Five: Queer Jewish YA Fantasy

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (Historical)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (Historical)

From Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos (Contemporary)

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke (Historical)

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb (Historical)

Bonus: For queer adult Jewish fantasy, check out Shira Glassman’s Mangoverse series and The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming, Book Two: Practice by Sienna Tristen

Today on the site, we’re revealing the cover for the second book in the Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming series, namely The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming, Book Two: Practice by Sienna Tristen, which releases on October 22nd from the Shale Project! The book features an asexual genderqueer narrator, a queerplatonic partnership, and diverse case, and you can get more info on the first book here. Now read on to see where the story continues!

“All good theory stands up to the test of practice.”

Freshly risen from the underworld of his insecurities, Ronoah Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani is halfway through his journey to the fabled Pilgrim State. But the world this side of the Iphigene Sea is not an easy one: violence and subterfuge litter the way forward, and something meaner stalks the edges of Ronoah’s certainty, something that threatens to turn the very reason for his pilgrimage to dust.

To survive, he will have to be clever and kind in equal measure. To ask for help from the acrobats and queens-to-be and foreigners’ gods that cross his path. To confront that beguiling, bewildering companion he travels with, the one whose secrets are so vast and unforgivable. He will have to draw on every story he knows in order to make it to the Pilgrim State with his soft heart intact—and then make it home again.

Mythic and multilayered, the final installment of the Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming duology is a love letter to losing and regaining faith in the world and the way you move through it.

And there’s the gorgeous cover, designed and illustrated by Haley Rose!

Preorder: Books2Read

Sienna Tristen is an author, poet, and literary organizer living in Treaty 3 territory who explores queer platonic partnership, the nonhuman world, and mythmaking in their work. The first installment of their award-winning fantasy duology The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming came out from indie arts collective The Shale Project in 2018; you can find their poetry in Augur Magazine and Plenitude, and their chapbook hortus animarum: a new herbal for the queer heart is forthcoming from Frog Hollow Press. When the sun is up, they work with The Word On The Street Toronto to showcase the coolest Canadian & Indigenous literature.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: LifeBringer by Aaron S Bentzel

Today on the site, we’re revealing the cover to Aaron S Bentzel’s LifeBringer, officially closing out the fantasy western Prime Wranglers Saga with its release on April 12th! Here’s the story:

Cazo Briggs used to be somebody. He had a handsome boyfriend in Zee, and a legendary Prime who wanted to be his partner. And then it all fell apart at Echo Rock.

Now, defeated, Cazo and his allies seek refuge in the desert fortress of the Acanti people. But that is not all that they seek there.

The Acanti have a Prime that controls water, the scarcest and most vital element in the desert. They call it the LifeBringer, and now the Republic has their eyes on it.

The same Republic that drove Cazo out. The same Republic that forced his Redhand allies onto reservations and killed their sacred Primes. The same Republic that seduced his beloved Zee away from him.

Having fought the Republic before, Cazo and friends know what a relentless foe they can be. The only way to win a lasting peace in an independent West is to set the LifeBringer free. But can they convince the Acanti prince?

And without Zee, does Cazo still have the will to fight? Or will he yield to the doubts that hound him and lose the West for them all?

LIFEBRINGER is the stunning conclusion of the Prime Wranglers saga, a fantasy western set in a reimagined West. Here, powerful creatures known as Primes roam the frontier, and daring wranglers risk their lives to capture them.

And here’s the cover, designed by Ebook Launch (www.ebooklaunch.com)!

Buy it: Amazon

From Atlanta, GA by way of Albany, NY, Aaron has been writing books for the past 10 years. An omnivore when it comes to story, he takes inspiration from such diverse works as Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, daytime soap operas, and the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

When not curled up on his rattan chair with a 5-subject notebook on his lap, he can usually be found boiling water for tea, walking up and down the banks of the Chattahoochee River in his orange-billed baseball cap, or singing show tunes to himself in the bathroom mirror.

Exclusive Cover+Excerpt Reveal: Uncommon Charm by Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver

Today on the site I’m delighted to reveal the cover for yet another Neon Hemlock novella, Uncommon Charm by Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver, which releases on May 17, 2022! Crowdfunding will begin on March 14th on Indiegogo as part of the 2022 Novella series crowdfunding campaign, so in anticipation of that, let’s get to the story:

In the 1920s gothic comedy Uncommon Charm, bright young socialite Julia and shy Jewish magician Simon decide they aren’t beholden to their families’ unhappy history. Together they confront such horrors as murdered ghosts, alive children, magic philosophy, a milieu that slides far too easily into surrealist metaphor, and, worst of all, serious adult conversation.

And here’s the dreamy cover, created by the amazing
Marlowe Lune!

 

But wait, there’s more! Read on for an excerpt of Uncommon Charm by Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver!

Chapter One

Three days after I was expelled from the Marable School for Girls, our poor Simon arrived. My mother told me to expect him, so when the bell rang, I opened the door onto a gloomy November sky, a gloomy November street, and a gloomy November of a boy. (And boy he was, only twenty years old to my sixteen.) He was short and nicely strong, wiry, with tanned cheeks and big dark eyes. Not at all like his father—but on second glance, there did lurk a spectre of Uncle Vee in his prettyish face, down which a raindrop gently rolled. He’d already doffed his hat; those slick curls of his would be ruined.“You’re Mr. Wolf,” I said. “Or is it Mr. Koldunov now?”

The car behind him hadn’t left yet. I saluted the Koldunovs’ driver, Tom, to let him know everything was well, he’d safely delivered the goods, he needn’t subject himself to the weather. Simon and I could surely handle his single, very sad suitcase. Tom returned my wave and drove away.

“Er,” said our guest. “Mr. Wolf will do. You’re Miss Selwyn-Stirling?”

“When I care to answer to it, but don’t call me miss around the Koldunovs. They’ll tease you, and not in the nice you’re-one-of-us-now way.”

“Thanks for the advice,” he said, and he continued to stand on our doorstep, looking about and letting himself be drizzled upon. I wondered why until I realised, oh no, he was waiting for me to invite him inside, at which point I decided I would walk to the moon and back for my new friend.

Grandly, I bowed him into the front hall. As he was taking off his wet things—he clutched his coat and hat until I nodded at the rack, strange boy, it was right there—Muv appeared on the first floor landing, at the top of the stairs.

You’d have thought Simon was a bird that’d biffed itself against a window instead of a student meeting his new mentor, though he wasn’t wrong to find Muv intimidating. From his point of view, I’d have seen not only a small, brisk woman whose bobbed auburn hair absolutely guillotined her jaw, whose freckles foxed her face like that rust on old books, whose black suit cut her body into clean ink lines, but the most ruthless magician England had ever borne. And she was a pretty ruthless mother, too.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Wolf,” she said. “You may address me as Lady Aloysia, my lady, or ma’am.” It was her way of trying to set him at ease, laying out the protocol, only she was always so dreadfully blunt about answering questions you hadn’t asked. More embarrassing still, Simon’s nod became a strange half-bow.

“Oh, don’t,” I groaned.

“Julia will show you around the house.” Muv fixed an eye on me. “His room first, please. You will not make him haul his luggage everywhere. Is there more?”

Simon’s hands tightened around the handle. “No, ma’am. Just the one.”

“Very well. We will meet for dinner three hours from now. Do tell me whether I’ve correctly understood your dietary needs.”

“Muv, honestly, you needn’t be the lepidopterist pinning butterflies. You can ask him these things like you’re both human people.”

She gestured for me to take the suitcase. I hefted it before Simon could object.

“I—thanks, Miss Sel—er, Lady Aloysia, ma’am, no, it’s—” Simon grasped uselessly at the air. “Thanks, but you don’t have to do all that.”

Muv tapped her elbow. “I see. Julia, after you help Mr. Wolf get settled, please inform Beth the week’s menu may remain as it is. I asked,” she continued, both addressing him and chiding me, “because I would not put it past Madam Koldunova to serve you roast pork every day.”

“It was every other day,” said Simon.

Muv blinked down at him. He blinked up at her. Silence could be loud indeed. An entire three-second opera played out as I started to drag the suitcase upstairs.

Simon’s footsteps came in a flurry after me, and, generous girl that I was, I let him take charge of his own belongings. When we reached the second floor, he turned back with a perplexed look, but Muv had disappeared into her laboratory. He couldn’t have expected hugs and smiles, not from the Lady Aloysia Stirling, not with her reputation, though I knew for a fact he’d received colder welcomes: I had the whole of it from Marie and Adele Koldunova. After three weeks with the Koldunovs, Muv ought to seem downright tropical.

“Er,” Simon murmured, “did you see—?” Though I tilted my head, yes, do go on, he shuttered himself. “Never mind.”

“These games are unnecessary, you know. You don’t have to keep secrets, and you don’t have to doubt your eyes. I can help! I did grow up here. Muv never fails to keep a thread in her needle, not that I pay her magic any mind. It is so tedious when your mother always knows where you are and what you’re thinking, but you’ll find out soon enough. I didn’t see anything. What did you see?”

“A woman,” Simon said, startled into answering. “Not your mother, but tall and blonde. A bit, er, bony. And bleeding.”

“Oh, well. I should have expected you’d be a medium. Come along!” I bounded up the stairs. “The ghosts will wait.”

***

About the authors: Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with their two small birds. Emily is a Twin Cities bookseller whose reviews have been published in The Riveter magazine. Find her on Twitter @eudaemaniacal. Kat’s short fiction has appeared in Apex Magazine, Lackington’s, Timeworn Literary Journal, and elsewhere. She is a senior fiction editor at Strange Horizons. Her art can be found at kathrynmweaver.com and on Twitter @anoteinpink.
About the press: Neon Hemlock is a Washington, DC-based small press publishing speculative fiction, rad zines and queer chapbooks. We punctuate our titles with oracle decks, occult ephemera and literary candles. Publishers Weekly once called us “the apex of queer speculative fiction publishing” and we’re still beaming. Learn more about us at neonhemlock.com and on Twitter at @neonhemlock.