The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included, along with series information and the publisher’s book description.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of, and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Last week brought a finished copy of a rather pretty recently released novel, one that was included in my anticipated 2024 speculative fiction book releases.

In case you missed the last post since one of these features, I wrote an overview of my 2024 reading so far after seeing this post on Lady Business. This survey covers my favorite books read this year, my favorite debut, books I want to read, and more.

On to the latest book added to the TBR!

Cover of The Night Ends with Fire by K. X. Song

The Night Ends with Fire by K. X. Song

An Echo in the City author K. X. Song’s first fantasy novel, a reimagining of the legend of Mulan, was released on July 2 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Penguin Random House website has a text excerpt from the beginning of the novel and an audio sample, a reading guide, and K. X. Song’s tour schedule (currently an event at Books Inc. in Palo Alto, CA).

I was curious about this one from the first time I heard about it since I love retellings of myths and legends, but I was even more interested in it after seeing the author’s statements about it with an excerpt on Today, including the following:

‘The Night Ends with Fire’ takes my love for the Chinese wuxia drama – with its epic scale, star-crossed romance, and emotionally charged plot full of hairpin turns – and melds it with my interest in questions of female ambition and power, and what it costs.

This article also mentions some questions about Mulan that the author explored, such as: “What if, upon experiencing freedom disguised as a man, she no longer wished to confine herself to the restrictive gender boundaries of her society?”


Infused with magic and romance, this sweeping fantasy adventure inspired by the legend of Mulan follows a young woman determined to choose her own destiny—even if that means going against everyone she loves.

The Three Kingdoms are at war, but Meilin’s father refuses to answer the imperial draft. Trapped by his opium addiction, he plans to sell Meilin for her dowry. But when Meilin discovers her husband-to-be is another violent, ill-tempered man, she realizes that nothing will change for her unless she takes matters into her own hands.

The very next day, she disguises herself as a boy and enlists in her father’s place.

In the army, Meilin’s relentless hard work brings her recognition, friendship—and a growing closeness with Sky, a prince turned training partner. But has she simply exchanged one prison for another? As her kingdom barrels toward destruction, Meilin begins to have visions of a sea dragon spirit that offers her true power and freedom, but with a deadly price.

With the future of the Three Kingdoms hanging in the balance, Meilin will need to decide whom to trust—Sky, who inspires her loyalty and love; the sea dragon spirit, who has his own murky agenda; or an infuriating enemy prince who makes her question everything she once knew—about her kingdom and about her own heart.

With the year halfway over, I thought it would be fun to reflect on books read this year so I’m considering myself tagged and doing this survey I saw on Lady Business. If you see this here and also want to do this overview of your own 2024 reading so far, you can consider yourself tagged too!

I wasn’t sure how much I’d have to discuss at first since I’ve basically read only 3 new-to-me standout books this year, but there was enough variety here that I managed to cover more than just the books I thought were excellent (even if some of those did come up more than once). It hasn’t even been an especially bad reading year; it’s just that the majority of the books I’ve read so far this year fall into the 7/10 category, meaning they’re good, solid books but not ones I found especially memorable. But then, I have also left several books that I didn’t find compelling unfinished, including a couple I had been really excited about, so it certainly hasn’t been the best reading year either!

Cover of Warchild by Karin Lowachee Cover of The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman Cover of Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel

Best book you’ve read so far in 2024

This is a tough one because I reread one of my favorite books ever and also discovered a new book I absolutely loved.

The book I reread is Warchild by Karin Lowachee, the first book in my favorite science fiction series. I wanted to read it again before writing about the series here, and I was once again amazed by Karin Lowachee’s skill at writing characters with such depth and the way she digs into dark subjects and trauma.

The best new-to-me book I read this year is The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, a historical fiction book about the War of the Roses and Richard III. I read this after adoring the author’s Welsh Princes trilogy, and I loved this one because it was sprawling and epic and also has many characters who are very flawed but also have good qualities. Sharon Kay Penman’s books were recommended for A Song of Ice and Fire fans, and though there are no fantastical elements, they’re an excellent fit if you’re looking for something with a wide cast of characters with different motivations and court intrigue/politics.

The best 2024 release I’ve read this year is Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel, a reimagining of the Mahabharata that focuses on the goddess Ganga and her son. It’s beautifully written, and I loved how Vaishnavi Patel captured the perspective of a goddess and the emotions she had about humanity, as well as the exploration of questions related to duty and responsibility.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2024

In an unusual turn of events, I’ve only read one sequel so far this year: Under the Silence by Karin Lowachee, a novella that is set after the second book in The Warchild Mosaic, Burndive. I didn’t love it quite the same way as the novels, but as a fan of the series, I’m glad I read it. It’s a lovely, character-driven story about a changing relationship that’s delicate because of scars that make it impossible for someone to just be close to someone else, no matter how much they want to be.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

There are a couple of these that come to mind, both of which were on my anticipated 2024 releases list.

Medea by Eilish Quin is a reimagining of the story of the titular Greek sorceress, and I was especially interested in reading it after seeing an interview with the author discussing retellings, questioning narrator reliability, and wanting this novel to make people think more critically about storytelling.

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain by Sofia Samatar is a science fiction novella about power and academia set on a generation space ship, and editor Emily Goldman described it as “‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’ taken to whole new level.”

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

If I had to pick just one, I think I’d choose A Song to Drown Rivers by Ann Liang, an epic historical fantasy novel inspired by the Chinese legend of Xishi. I love mythic/epic/historical fantasy, and it has a protagonist infiltrating a palace for the good of her kingdom, which is something else I love: characters spying and pretending to be someone else.

There are others I’m excited for as well, though:

  • The Ending Fire by Saara El-Arifi, the final book in the trilogy that began with my 2022 Book of the Year, The Final Strife
  • Mistress of Lies by K. M. Enright, which features a villainous, bloodthirsty heroine and court intrigue
  • The Mountain Crown, the first novella in a new fantasy trilogy by Karin Lowachee that features dragons
  • The Scarlet Throne by Amy Leow, a debut novel with a power-hungry protagonist and talking cats

These were all also on my anticipated 2024 releases list.

Biggest disappointment

Of the books I actually finished reading, The Serpent and the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent was my biggest disappointment. I loved the beginning and the non-romantic relationships introduced there, and then I found the tournament and romance to be dull and rushed. (Since I was busy with holidays and then sick shortly after starting it, I thought it might be those and not the book, but I went through it again later and found those had nothing to do with my experience and opinions.)

If going by books I was very excited to read but didn’t finish, it would be To Gaze Upon Wicked Gods by Molly X. Chang.

Biggest surprise

This probably isn’t the way this was intended to be answered, but I don’t have a book that took me by surprise by how much I ended up loving it so I’m going with a book I was surprised I didn’t love more: The Hidden City by Michelle West. From all I’d heard about this book and The House War series, I expected to love it, but instead I thought it was decent enough with a nice found family dynamic without being something I found especially notable.

I’m on the fence about continuing the series since it also didn’t actually get to any of the house wars of the series title yet. If you’ve read the series, does the next book have more intrigue or is this a case where the first book is a pretty good indicator of how much I’d enjoy the other books? Should I try another one of the series set in this same world?

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Samantha Mills is my pick for favorite new author after reading her debut novel The Wings Upon Her Back. This science fantasy has a unique setting and some pretty writing, and it also explores fascism, extremism, complicity, disillusionment, and well, a lot. (It’s my favorite 2024 release after Goddess of the River.)

Newest favorite character

That would have to be Richard from The Sunne in Splendour, who was portrayed as someone who tried hard but still had flaws and made mistakes. In particular, the depiction of his complicated relationship with his brother Edward was wonderfully done.

Book that made you cry

There haven’t been any books that made me cry so far this year, but The Sunne in Splendour came closest since it had its share of tragedy.

Book that made you happy

I haven’t read anything new that qualifies, but I recently reread the first book in The Dark Elf Trilogy, Homeland by R. A. Salvatore. It was fun to revisit the start of Drizzt’s story, seeing him doing his best while surrounded by followers of Lolth and their political machinations, and his friendship with the panther Guenhwyvar made me happy.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I am horrible at sticking to any sort of plan since I’m a mood reader and easily distracted so I won’t say there’s anything I need to read by the end of the year, but there are books I’d like to read by then. Those books include all the 2024 releases I mentioned earlier. As for books I haven’t mentioned here yet, I’d like to reread Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart and then read Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar for the first time. I’d also like to reread She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan before finally reading He Who Drowned the World.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included, along with series information and the publisher’s book description.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of, and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Last week brought an ebook I’m rather excited about—after all, it was featured as one of my anticipated 2024 speculative fiction book releases.

In case you missed it last week, I posted a review of The Serpent & the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent. This was a bit of a frustrating book for me because I loved the beginning, thought the ending was intriguing, and enjoyed the father/daughter relationship, but was underwhelmed by everything else (especially the dull trials and the central relationship in this fantasy romance, which were rather rushed).

On to the latest book, which sounds amazing!

Cover of The Mountain Crown by Karin Lowachee

The Mountain Crown (The Crowns of Ishia #1) by Karin Lowachee

The Mountain Crown, the first book in a trilogy of fantasy novellas with dragons, will be published on October 8 (trade paperback, ebook).

In an interview about her upcoming novella on Transfer Orbit, Karin Lowachee discussed colonialism, dragons, her growth as a writer, and more. I love so much of what she said here, especially about why she writes and what hasn’t changed for her as a writer, and here’s a bit about what she wanted to do with this particular novella:

Specifically with The Mountain Crown, I wanted to write a woman who is grounded in her spirituality, who is contained, who is purposeful in her movements, who outsiders might consider stoic, who is capable without being flashy, who (Western) readers might consider passive as if it’s a fault (it isn’t). I wanted to write about her culture that seeks other avenues besides war, that is connected to nature on an atomic level in a conscious way. I wanted this story to unfold in its own way, with a character who wasn’t pushing to be pigeonholed as a specific type of personality. I think my focus on these aspects of both character and story are because I’ve become interested in narratives that explore people and ways of living that aren’t the commonly considered Western narratives of “active” protagonists and constant “action” to drive a plot.

I’m particularly excited about this book because Karin Lowachee’s Warchild Mosaic is my favorite science fiction series. As I wrote in a post highlighting it during this year’s Women in SF&F Month, “Karin Lowachee has the gift of creating characters that are more complex, flawed, compelling, and real than most fictional people.”


An epic dragon-rider quest where Empress of Salt and Fortune meets Temeraire

Méka must capture a king dragon, or die trying.

War between the island states of Kattaka and Mazemoor has left no one unscathed. Méka’s nomadic people, the Ba’Suon, were driven from their homeland by the Kattakans. Those who remained were forced to live under the Kattakan yoke, to serve their greed for gold alongside the dragons with whom the Ba’Suon share an empathic connection.

A decade later and under a fragile truce, Méka returns home from her exile for an ancient, necessary rite: gathering a king dragon of the Crown Mountains to maintain balance in the wild country. But Méka’s act of compassion toward an imprisoned dragon and Lilley, a Kattakan veteran of the war, soon draws the ire of the imperialistic authorities. They order the unwelcome addition of an enigmatic Ba’Suon traitor named Raka to accompany Méka and Lilley to the mountains.

The journey is filled with dangers both within and without. As conflict threatens to reignite, the survival of the Ba’Suon people, their dragons, and the land itself will depend on the decisions – defiant or compliant – that Méka and her companions choose to make. But not even Méka, kin to the great dragons of the North, can anticipate the depth of the consequences to her world.

The Serpent & the Wings of Night
by Carissa Broadbent
480pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.31/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.33/5

As an Amazon Associate and Bookshop affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Serpent & the Wings of Night is the first book in The Nightborn Duet, the first of three related fantasy romance duologies in The Crowns of Nyaxia series. After seeing a lot of praise for this novel and reading a bit of the beginning, I was looking forward to it. (I may have also been a bit more intrigued by vampire books than usual due to my favorite character from Baldur’s Gate 3.)

Yet, as much as I loved its beginning, I was underwhelmed by almost everything between its earliest chapters and its intriguing conclusion. There wasn’t much depth to the worldbuilding and characterization, and the overall story seemed rushed, especially the early stages of the romance and the tournament. (Seriously, I never realized trials to the death could be so dull.)

Set in a secondary fantasy world, The Serpent & the Wings of Night follows Oraya, the human daughter of a vampire king, as she competes in a four-month-long tournament honoring the goddess who created vampires. Held only once per century, the competition contains five trials that each represent a key part of the goddess’ life and ascension to divinity. Though only one contestant survives, there is no shortage of volunteers since the winner receives a favor from the goddess herself—and Oraya intends to become powerful enough that she’ll never need to fear being a human with tasty blood living among vampires ever again.

But when she makes a temporary alliance with one of her rivals, she ends up falling for him and starts to question her father’s ways, complicating everything.

The Serpent & the Wings of Night was a strange, frustrating book for me. It had such potential and there were a couple of things I loved about it, but other than the beginning and ending, I found it uninteresting. I thought this may have been due to reading it while I had a really bad cold and that I might have enjoyed it more if I’d felt better when I read it. However, I went through it again in order to write this review and was able to confirm that illness had nothing to do with my prior experience.

As I mentioned previously, the opening did hook me. One of my biggest disappointments with this book is that it introduces a couple of really compelling relationships in the prologue and first couple of chapters—that between Oraya and her father as well as her friendship with an older human woman—and the romantic relationship pales in comparison to these. I loved the prologue, which shows the vampire king Vincent finding Oraya, a lone orphaned child so fierce and determined to survive that he saw some of himself in her and wanted to protect her.

The father/daughter bond was by far the best part of this novel, and though neither of these characters were even close to the most complicated characters I’ve encountered, they had an interesting dynamic with at least some complexity. Even though the ruthless vampire king wasn’t a good person or a good father, he did truly care about his daughter and wanted what he thought was best for her, and his fears for her were valid. I appreciated that this wasn’t a simple, easy-to-define relationship, especially as Oraya had to reckon with the parts of her father she didn’t know about after having spent her entire life seeing him as the only one she could trust. (Unfortunately, the aforementioned friendship with the human woman isn’t as prominent and only comes up occasionally in memories after the opening.)

Much of the novel covers the span of the four-month-long tournament that has five trials spread throughout that period, and I thought the lack of worldbuilding and rushed pacing made everything related to the competition rather dull. Most of the individual trials only get a short couple of chapters or so, and they’re accompanied by brief infodumps about how they tie into the goddess’ life without making the mythology and her backstory feel like a big part of it.

That may be due to this being in the fantasy romance category rather than fantasy with romance, but even the central relationship seemed hastily developed. After Oraya and her love interest forge an alliance, it just glosses over all the training they do together, skipping over a lot of their getting to know each other. These two had a promising dynamic as a human raised as a vampire who didn’t really understand humanity and a vampire who used to be human and still tries to retain that side of himself, but though sweet, it wasn’t fleshed out enough to be interesting. (And I agree with those who think “There she is” was used far too much.)

Another reason I was underwhelmed by this was the lack of subtlety and depth given to Oraya’s competitors, making it quite clear who is trustworthy and who is not. Maybe my expectations were just all wrong, but given that this novel featured a tournament to the death, I was anticipating glittering danger, betrayals, and questions about different characters’ motivations. But it’s not about who Oraya can trust or whether or not she should trust some people—that’s far too obvious—but whether or not she can learn to trust after spending her entire life mistrusting and fearing everyone but her father. Maybe this would have worked for me if I liked Oraya more, but even though I admired her fierceness and determination at first, she didn’t have much dimension. Her characterization was limited to a small number of traits that kept coming up throughout the story, and these weren’t fleshed out enough to make up for these limits.

The writing was a bit odd for me, and I had such mixed feelings about it. It drew me in during the short prologue showing Vincent finding Oraya, which set up the melodrama of his greatest love being his downfall and how he should have known to protect his heart above all as a vampire. (What can I say, I love a good tragedy.) However, the fragmented prose that worked for me as part of an interlude did not work as well for me throughout a novel, and though there were some lovely parts on occasion, the prose felt rushed to me like everything else. It had a quality I don’t quite know how to describe since it was an unusual reading experience: it made me want to move ahead and not spend time focusing on it. This might sound like a positive aspect, but it just seemed to immediately slip away from me, and I prefer prose that makes me pause and reflect.

Although Oraya needed to stop and think about what she was doing more in the end, the conclusion did intrigue me since it seemed to be setting up more of the dangerous court politics I’d been hoping for. However, I doubt I’ll read the sequel since there’s still no real ambiguity or mystery surrounding character motivations by the end, and this didn’t have enough characterization or worldbuilding for my personal taste.

My Rating: 5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included, along with series information and the publisher’s book description.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of, and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

This past week brought new editions of the books in The Dark Elf Trilogy by R. A. Salvatore, which were rereleased on May 21. More of The Legend of Drizzt books will follow, starting with a rerelease of The Icewind Dale Trilogy in September.

I read a bunch of The Legend of Drizzt books a long time ago and found them to be great fun, but The Dark Elf Trilogy are actually the ones I remember most fondly. The Underdark and drow characters were most compelling to me, and I had actually already been thinking about rereading this trilogy since I can’t stop playing Baldur’s Gate 3. (I’m excited to revisit these partially because I don’t remember enough about the different houses that come up in the game and partially because I want to refresh my memory before doing a run as a cleric of Lolth.)

Cover of Homeland by R. A. Salvatore

Homeland (The Dark Elf Trilogy #1) by R. A. Salvatore

The Penguin Random House website has an excerpt from Homeland.

I just love seeing Guenhwyvar on the cover.


Discover the origin story of one of Dungeons & Dragons’ greatest heroes, drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, in the thrilling first adventure in The Dark Elf Trilogy.

As the third son of Mother Malice and weaponmaster Zaknafein, Drizzt Do’Urden must be sacrificed to Lolth, the evil Spider Queen, per the tradition of their matriarchal drow society. But the unexpected death of his older brother spares young Drizzt—though he is still at the mercy of his abusive sisters.

As Drizzt grows older and proves himself to be a formidable warrior at Melee-Magthere Academy, he realizes that his idea of good and evil does not match that of his fellow drow, who show only cruelty to the other creatures of the Underdark. Can Drizzt stay true to himself in a such an unforgiving, unprincipled world?

Cover of Exile by R. A. Salvatore

Exile (The Dark Elf Trilogy #2) by R. A. Salvatore

The Penguin Random House website has an excerpt from Exile.


Drizzt Do’Urden fights for survival in the labyrinthine Underdark in the second book of The Dark Elf Trilogy.

Ten years have passed since we last saw Drizzt Do’Urden and his magical feline companion, Guenhwyvar—and much has changed. Exiled from Menzoberranzan, the city of his childhood and the hub of drow society, Drizzt now wanders the subterranean maze of the Underdark in search of a new home.

But loneliness is not the only thing that preys on Drizzt: His drow enemies, including his own siblings, would like nothing more than to see him dead. With murder on their minds, they begin their own search of the Underdark tunnels, forcing Drizzt to watch his back at every turn.

Cover of Sojourn by R. A. Salvatore

Sojourn (The Dark Elf Trilogy #3) by R. A. Salvatore

The Penguin Random House website has an excerpt from Sojourn.


Lone drow Drizzt Do’Urden emerges from the Underdark into the blinding light of day in this epic final chapter of The Dark Elf Trilogy.

After years spent in the ruthless confines of the Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden has emerged from the subterranean society of his youth to start a new life. Accompanied by his loyal panther, Drizzt begins exploring the surface of Faerûn, a world unlike any he has ever known. From skunks to shapeshifters, Faerûn is full of unfamiliar creatures and fresh dangers, which Drizzt must learn to navigate if he is to survive.

But while Drizzt acts with the best intentions, many of the surface dwellers regard him with fear and mistrust. Can he find faithful allies in this foreign land—or is he doomed to be a lonely outsider, just as he was in the Underdark?

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included, along with series information and the publisher’s book description.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of, and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

It’s actually been a little while since I’ve done one of these posts, largely because I was working on the two big annual posts and then getting Women in SF&F Month together. (If you missed any of the guest posts or book recommendations from last month, you can find links to all of them here.)

One book showed up in the mail last week, and I’m also covering one that arrived the week before last. Both of these books appeared on my list of anticipated 2024 speculative fiction book releases.

Cover of Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel

Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel

Vaishnavi Patel’s second novel, a reimagining of the Mahabharata and Ganga’s story, will be released on May 21 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

I’ve been looking forward to reading more by Vaishnavi Patel since reading her debut novel, Kaikeyi, which reimagines the story of the titular queen from the Ramayana. As I wrote in my review:

Kaikeyi is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I appreciated its focus on a compassionate but flawed heroine determined to carve a place for herself in a society that didn’t want her to be her true self as a woman with ambition: a queen and a warrior, a mother and a political adviser, an advocate for other women, and ultimately, someone who had a profound impact. It’s a fantastic debut—from the protagonist’s story and voice to the depth of her familial relationships to the more epic scenes involving gods and other supernatural beings—and I’m eagerly anticipating Vaishnavi Patel’s next novel.

This was a book that I appreciated and enjoyed but found I admired even more after finishing it and reflecting on it.

The author also shared about a trope she wanted to challenge through Kaikeyi’s story in her Women in SF&F Month guest post from 2022, “Divorcing the Evil Stepmother.”


A powerful reimagining of the story of Ganga, goddess of the river, and her doomed mortal son, from Vaishnavi Patel, author of the instant New York Times bestseller Kaikeyi.

A mother and a son. A goddess and a prince. A curse and an oath. A river whose course will change the fate of the world.

Ganga, joyful goddess of the river, serves as caretaker to the mischievous godlings who roam her banks. But when their antics incur the wrath of a powerful sage, Ganga is cursed to become mortal, bound to her human form until she fulfills the obligations of the curse.

Though she knows nothing of mortal life, Ganga weds King Shantanu and becomes a queen, determined to regain her freedom no matter the cost. But in a cruel turn of fate, just as she is freed of her binding, she is forced to leave her infant son behind.

Her son, prince Devavrata, unwittingly carries the legacy of Ganga’s curse. And when he makes an oath that he will never claim his father’s throne, he sets in motion a chain of events that will end in a terrible and tragic war.

As the years unfold, Ganga and Devavrata are drawn together again and again, each confluence another step on a path that has been written in the stars, in this deeply moving and masterful tale of duty, destiny, and the unwavering bond between mother and son.

Cover of Saints of Storm and Sorrow by Gabriella Buba

Saints of Storm and Sorrow (The Stormbringer Saga #1) by Gabriella Buba

This Filipino-inspired debut novel will be out on June 25 (paperback, ebook). This sounds fantastic, and it’s described as being my sort of book: “perfect for fans of lush fantasy full of morally ambiguous characters.”

Gabriella Buba also discussed it in her Women in SF&F Month guest post last month:

But Fantasy can ask all the what ifs of history: what if all the victors destroyed and time has lost still remained? It can fill in the gaps between the lines of racist reports written by Spanish clergy—Spanish that I read with more fluency than my stumbling Tagalog.

And so reading and then writing Fantasy became the vehicle by which I could safely unspool and grapple with the history of colonialism and imperialism that created the war, want, and waste that sent my Filipino family across an ocean.

Taking this fragmented pre-colonial history together with re-imaginings of myths and folklore, Saints of Storm and Sorrow is a Filipino-inspired Fantasy in which Lunurin, a bisexual nun hiding a goddess-given gift, is unwillingly transformed into a lightning rod for her people’s struggle against colonization.

It is Lunurin’s efforts to protect those she loves from the crushing realities and abuses of colonialism and its twin tools of greed and religion that ultimately awakens her Goddess and forces Lunurin to act, to break the status quo, and finally face the past she’s become so good at running from.

You can read “Fantasy Safe Spaces: Facing the Specters of the Past Now They’ve Come Back to Haunt Us” in its entirety here.


In this fiercely imaginative Filipino-inspired fantasy debut, a bisexual nun hiding a goddess-given gift is unwillingly transformed into a lightning rod for her people’s struggle against colonization.

Perfect for fans of lush fantasy full of morally ambiguous characters, including The Poppy War and The Jasmine Throne.

María Lunurin has been living a double life for as long as she can remember. To the world, she is Sister María, dutiful nun and devoted servant of Aynila’s Codicían colonizers. But behind closed doors, she is a stormcaller, chosen daughter of the Aynilan goddess Anitun Tabu. In hiding not only from the Codicíans and their witch hunts, but also from the vengeful eye of her slighted goddess, Lunurin does what she can to protect her fellow Aynilans and the small family she has created in the convent: her lover Catalina, and Cat’s younger sister Inez.

Lunurin is determined to keep her head down—until one day she makes a devastating discovery, which threatens to tear her family apart. In desperation, she turns for help to Alon Dakila, heir to Aynila’s most powerful family, who has been ardently in love with her for years. But this choice sets in motion a chain of events beyond her control, awakening Anitun Tabu’s rage and putting everyone Lunurin loves in terrible danger. Torn between the call of Alon’s magic and Catalina’s jealousy, her duty to her family and to her people, Lunurin can no longer keep Anitun Tabu’s fury at bay.

The goddess of storms demands vengeance. And she will sweep aside anyone who stands in her way.