by BERNADETTE D’AURIA
The fall book release schedule is about to begin, and there are many books that are going to be added to the shelves of local bookstores. Whether these books are authorial debuts, anticipated releases or sequels to your favorite series, it’s important to know what books will be hitting the shelves so that you can snag some copies for yourself. To save you some time, I have gone through different publishers’ September releases to curate a list of some of the books that are coming out. Without further ado, here are my top three anticipated September book releases.
“The Sunbearer Trials” by Aiden Thomas | Release Date Sept. 6
“As each new decade begins, the Sun’s power must be replenished so that Sol can keep traveling along the sky and keep the evil Obsidian gods at bay,” reads the description for New York Times bestselling author Aiden Thomas’s newest novel. In a world inspired by Mexican folklore, ten semidioses between thirteen and eighteen are selected by Sol himself to compete in the legendary Sunbearer Trials, where the winner gets to bring light and life to the temples of the land and the loser gets the honor of being sacrificed to Sol. At the center of this year’s Sunbearer Trials is Teo, the 17-year-old trans son of Quetzal, goddess of birds. In an unlikely turn of events, Teo is chosen to compete in the trials, and alongside him is a group of individuals who are much more powerful and better trained for survival.
While much of the hype behind this novel is in part due to Thomas’s previous success, “The Sunbearer Trials” seems to stand on its own as a novel. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “Thomas’s queernormative world and distinctly drawn cast deliver an upbeat fantasy teeming with captivating worldbuilding, earnest friendships, and electrifying adventure.” Though the novel may not be a debut for Thomas, it is his first ever series and first ever venture into a full-fledged fantasy setting. While his previous works have had fantastical elements attached to them, this is the first time fans of Thomas will be seeing how he constructs a world from the ground up.
As a fan of Thomas’s previous works, I am excited to see how he is able to adapt his writing to a new genre. The world seems to be very thought out and grounded in the folklore and mythos it is based around. However, the thing that I am most anticipating from this novel is the character work. Thomas’s ability to construct fleshed-out characters with distinct voices is something that any writer would be envious of. With the introduction of a large cast of characters, I am curious to see how Thomas will keep up with creating so many distinct voices, though I have total faith that Thomas will stick the landing.
“The Witch and the Tsar” by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore | Release Date Sept. 20
Described by Publisher’s Weekly as bringing “both history and folklore to vivid life,” Gilmore’s debut novel adds to the trend of historical and mythological retellings. “The Witch and the Tsar” tells the tale of Yaga Mokoshevna, a half-mortal half-goddess who has garnered the name Baba Yaga the Bony Leg by those who fear her. For years Yaga has lived in isolation, having been spurned by humans once too many times. However, when her old friend Anastasia—the wife of the tsar—comes to her seeking refuge after falling victim to a mysterious illness, Yaga realizes that she must remerge into society to protect her friend and her country.
Other authors have been buzzing about this debut. Mary McMyne, author of “The Book of Gothel,” described it as “expertly drawing from Russian history and mythology, Olesya Salnikova Gilmore transforms Baba Yaga into a complex heroine, whose quest to save her country sparkles with folk magic and supernatural intrigue.” Genevieve Gornichec, author of “The Witch’s Heart,” praised the novel for delivering “high stakes, memorable characters, and a sixteenth-century Russia you can almost reach out and touch.”
Overall, I am pretty excited for this debut work. I am an avid fan of both Russian history and folklore, and this book seems to be a perfect blend of both. I have yet to read a Baba Yaga retelling and am fascinated to know how Gilmore weaves in different aspects of her mythos with historical aspects of Ivan the Terrible’s rule. It’s definitely something that I believe will be worth picking up.
“House of Hunger” by Alexis Henderson | Release Date Sept. 27
Blood is power in this thrilling new Gothic tale by “Year of the Witching” author Alexis Henderson. When Marion Shaw, a young woman raised in the slums, comes across a listing in a newspaper for a bloodmaid, she takes it upon herself to apply for the odd position. As it turns out, in the far north where the position is located, nobles live their lives in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service. Once Marion is inscribed as one of the many who give their blood to the wealthy, she is swept into a world full of darkness and treachery. At the center of it all is Countess Lissavet, who takes a special interest in Marion.
Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Eric Larocca has called Henderson’s work “a Gothic masterpiece that demands to linger like the coppery scent of blood in the air long after the final page is turned.” This praise is hardly surprising, as Henderson’s debut novel received much of the same acclaim for its use of the Gothic tradition to fabricate an eerie tale full of witchcraft. It seems that Henderson has now attempted to take a stab at another beloved supernatural entity—the vampire.
What is most intriguing about Henderson’s work to me is the way she is able to blend tradition with modernity. What I mean by that is I love how she is able to set her stories in historical settings that are traditionally known for their strict social mores and use those traditions as a way to comment on issues of sexism, classism and more. I’m excited to see where Henderson takes her tale about such a grim and bloody setting.