Happy Tuesday, y’all. Today we’re diving into SF/F screen adaptations in the works, new additions to older franchises (including The Dragonriders of Pern!), new releases, and The Witches of New York by Ami McKay.
This newsletter is sponsored by Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep.
Dark forces are at work inside the Bellona royal court. When the crown princess assassinates her mother to take the throne by force, even seventeenth-in-line-for-the-throne Lady Everleigh is in danger. Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain, the gladiators are highly trained warriors. Uncertain of her future Evie begins training with the troupe. But as the bloodthirsty queen exerts her power, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a gladiator . . . and kill the queen.
There is so much adaptation news:
Netflix is going to make a Narnia TV show. I have very mixed feelings about this — the books are an old favorite, but there are so many newer properties that would give opportunities for modern, inclusive storytelling. I guess we’ll see.
The Wheel of Time TV series goes tooooooo …. Amazon.
Who, by the way, have also signed a big deal with Neil Gaiman.
And in new book(ish) developments:
We are getting a comic about Ripley’s daughter! As a die-hard fan of the Alien franchise, I am delighted.
Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams have put together an anthology for the Resistance called A People’s Future of the United States and I am here both for the author list and for the Howard Zinn reference.
We’re getting a new installment in the Dragonriders of Pern series, penned by Anne McCaffrey’s daughter Gigi (but not a TV show anytime soon, don’t let that headline fool you). I’d like to join Team Piemur, and will be curious to see how her addition holds up to the earlier books.
New release-wise, here are some to keep an eye out for this week:
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria (on the top of my TBR)
The Future Is Female!: 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, edited by Lisa Yaszek (do want)
And now, for a very witchy review.
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Trigger warning: violence against women, suicide
I recently went on a quest for what I’m calling “science witches.” In my head it looks something like, witches doing witchcraft the way that Marie Curie discovered radium. (Side note: was Marie Curie a witch? Someone write me that book.) Perhaps joining up technology to witchcraft a la Willow and Jenny Carpenter? And while The Witches of New York is not that, it is one of my favorite recent witchy reads.
A scientifically minded young woman named Beatrice Dunn sets out to get a job in a New York City tea shop run by a soothsayer and an herbalist with one goal: to find out if magic is real. Adelaide and Eleanor, the proprietors, are delighted by their new apprentice but have troubles of their own. Eleanor is recently heartbroken after an affair with a now-married woman; Adelaide is restless and wants something bigger and better in her life, but doesn’t know where to look for it. Meanwhile, a local preacher has recently decided that he is on a holy mission to rid New York of witches and their devilish ways, and a possibly-supernatural obelisk is on its way to Central Park.
McKay takes the actual history of Cleopatra’s Needle and 1880s NYC, adds a hefty dose of magic that feels more real than fictional, and creates a beautifully immersive historical fiction. Alternating POV between the characters gives us lots to love in Eleanor, Adelaide, and Beatrice, and lots to hate with the Reverend Townsend. If I were going to try to comp it, I’d say it was Practical Magic meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (no footnotes!), or perhaps a kissing cousin to Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni. Ghosts, murder, revenge, curses, blessings, prophecies, pixies, a possessed raven, an enchanted obelisk, religious fundamentalism, and actual fire and brimstone; The Witches of New York has all of this and more. But most of all, it’s the story of a found family of women holding space for and supporting each other — and now is the perfect time to remember that we’re stronger together.
And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda, or on Twitter as jennIRL.
Your fellow booknerd,