The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be 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. Cover images are affiliate links to Bookshop, and I earn from qualifying purchases.

I’m very excited about this week’s featured book—it’s one that appeared on my list of anticipated 2022 speculative fiction releases!

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah - Book Cover

The Stardust Thief (The Sandsea Trilogy #1) by Chelsea Abdullah

Chelsea Abdullah’s debut novel is scheduled for release on May 17 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

I’ve been looking forward to this epic fantasy book ever since reading Orbit’s acquisition announcement, which includes this description:

Set in a world filled with dangerous jinn, magical artifacts, and shifting dunes, The Stardust Thief tells the story of a legendary smuggler and a cowardly prince who are forced to quest out across the desert in search of the long-lost city of the jinn and a magical lamp. Weaving together tales from One Thousand and One Nights, American-Kuwaiti author, Chelsea Abdullah has crafted an enchanting novel that feels both familiar and entirely new.

It had me on board after seeing it was a story about a smuggler and a cowardly prince inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, but it sounds even more fantastic from the official book description below. (She smuggles illegal magic! And it’s in “a world where story is reality and illusion is truth”!)


Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be 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. Cover images are affiliate links to Bookshop, and I earn from qualifying purchases.

For today’s feature, I have one book I ordered and one e-ARC that I recently downloaded (more than a week ago, but better late than never!). But first, here’s the latest review since the last one of these posts in case you missed it:

And now, the latest books!

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee - Book Cover

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

This standalone young adult fantasy novel by New York Times bestselling author Traci Chee was just released early this month (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The publisher’s website has an excerpt and audio sample from A Thousand Steps into Night, and also has an excerpt.

A Thousand Steps Into Night is one of the books that appeared on my list of 30 Anticipated 2022 Speculative Fiction Releases. After the copy I ordered showed up, I read the opening:

LONG AGO, in the noble realm of Awara, where all creation, from the tallest peaks to the lowliest beetles, had forms both humble and divine, there lived an unremarkable girl named Otori Miuko. The daughter of the innkeeper at the only remaining guesthouse in the village of Nihaoi,1 Miuko was average by every conceivable standard—beauty, intelligence, the circumference of her hips—except for one.

She was uncommonly loud.

That was all it took to know I had to read it right away. I’m about halfway through it now, and it is delightful.


From New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Traci Chee comes a Japanese-influenced fantasy brimming with demons, adventure, and plans gone awry.

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter.

But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again.

With her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Book Cover

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

New York Times bestselling author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s next novel is scheduled for release on July 19 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook, large print paperback).

I very much enjoyed Gods of Jade and Shadow and Mexican Gothic, so I’m interested in taking a look at Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s upcoming book.


From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.


Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is either a genius or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and, in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

The Quicksilver Court
by Melissa Caruso
559pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 7.5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.6/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.17/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Note: Although I tried to keep this review relatively spoiler free for both books in this series, it does mention some of the characters the protagonist remains friendly with after the first book. Since there is some uncertainty about who can be trusted in that one, you may prefer to read my review of The Obsidian Tower.

I’ve been a fan of Melissa Caruso’s work since reading her debut trilogy, Swords and Fire (The Tethered Mage, The Defiant Heir, The Unbound Empire). These books were immensely entertaining with great dialogue (and the occasional dramatic party), and though there are familiar elements, there were elements that made it feel fresh. The setting was one such highlight: it showed how the protagonist’s nation prevented mages from taking over everything and contrasted this with a neighboring country containing several domains, each of which was managed by a powerful Witch Lord.

So of course, I was thrilled to learn that Melissa Caruso’s next series, Rooks and Ruin, followed a Witch Lord’s granddaughter in the same world about 150 years later. And though it took a little while to fully hook me, I also ended up loving the first book in the series, The Obsidian Tower. Its mysteries and constantly escalating stakes had me riveted, and I had the hardest time putting it down during the last 80%.

In fact, “nearly impossible to put down” was my experience with all of Melissa Caruso’s books, but though I enjoyed it, The Quicksilver Court didn’t quite get there.

Don’t get me wrong: The Quicksilver Court is still a very good book. Even if it didn’t make it on to my 2021 favorites list, I think it’s better than most of the books I read or sampled last year with fun dialogue, lots of revelations, and some great moments—even a disastrous party. I wasn’t tempted to leave it unfinished or anything drastic like that, and I definitely want to finish the series. It just took me by surprise that it didn’t hit the same high bar of “unusually absorbing” as the author’s other books, especially since there was a lot to enjoy about it.

The Obsidian Tower introduced Ryx, Warden of her Witch Lord grandmother’s castle—to the great chagrin of most of her relatives, who don’t consider her worthy because of her unusual magic that kills all she touches. For the last four thousand years, her family has guarded the castle’s mysterious Black Tower, passing down the knowledge that the Door must remain closed. But it was briefly open early in the novel when another Witch Lord’s diplomat meddled with it, and to make matters worse, she was killed by Ryx’s magic when the Warden tried to stop her from opening the Door. Aided by a team of magical experts, Ryx studied the Door and unearthed more of its mysteries—all while dealing with a diplomatic mission gone awry, family drama galore, and a murderer on the loose in the castle.

At the start of The Quicksilver Court, Ryx is aware of just how terrible what came into the world through the Door could be for everyone. She’s also aware that the Zenith Society has no qualms about using this to their advantage regardless of the consequences, so she is horrified to learn they have stolen a weapon that could destroy all life in a Witch Lord’s domain. When they hear the organization was last seen heading toward the Summer Palace, Ryx and her new friends travel there to try to uncover their plans. But they end up trapped in the palace, surrounded by foes old and new, haunted by eerie occurrences—and increasingly disturbed by the queen and her new adviser’s odd behavior.

Like the previous book in the series, this is primarily set in one location, but I thought this worked better in the first book. The ancient castle Gloamingard had history and character with its mysterious Black Tower and the various additions Witch Lords had made through the ages—showcasing styles like a fondness for bone décor—and a special path just for Ryx to try to prevent people from accidentally stumbling into her and dying. Though fitting given the differences between Witch Lords and the other nation (or really, the Witch Lords and just about anyone else), the Summer Palace was closer to standard-issue royal housing. It was a place of beauty, and though the taste for illusion made it more unique than most, it didn’t have the same sort of individuality that Gloamingard had.

However, my preference for the first book’s main setting is not just due to the castles themselves. The diplomatic mission that kicked off the main plot involved more exploration of various people’s agendas and motivations, and I found it more intense than being trapped in the Summer Palace since it wasn’t always clear which visitors were friends and which were running around committing murder. Most of all, everything that happened in Gloamingard was deeply personal to Ryx: it was her home and her responsibility as the castle’s Warden, and the diplomatic mission that went so horribly wrong was also her project.

Although the goal of preventing someone from destroying all life in a Witch Lord’s domain certainly meant a lot to Ryx, a lot of the conflict in The Quicksilver Court didn’t seem as intensely personal to her. There are revelations that are a rather big deal to her that I can’t discuss without huge spoilers, but the magical experts of the Rookery are the ones who have history with the Zenith Society. It’s their pasts and traumas that are explored through the experience of being trapped in a palace with them, and I didn’t find that especially compelling because I don’t find those characters especially compelling.

When I mentioned that some characters seemed to fit too neatly into certain boxes in my review of The Obsidian Tower, I was mostly referring to the four from the Rookery. And though they are fleshed out a bit more in this installment, they still seem more like archetypes than characters to me: the leader, the compassionate one who looks out for everyone else, the awkward scholar, the swordswoman who wants to stab first and ask questions later. Because of that, I just don’t care all that much when they’re in danger or at odds with each other. I like them well enough and am a little fond of the latter two, but I don’t have particularly strong feelings about what happens to them beyond how it would affect Ryx. She’s never really had friends before since she had to social distance for her entire life, and the first time she wanted to court someone as a teenager, her grandmother had the other girl sent away because of Ryx’s deadly magic.

Although I don’t think any of the characters in Rooks in Ruin are quite as vibrant as some of those from Swords and Fire, I do like Ryx with her fierce loyalty to those she cares about and desire to do what’s right. Her narrative voice tinged with humor and observations on the absurdity of many of her situations is great, and I did enjoy every interaction she had with her grandmother and the foxlike chimera Whisper (who actually does have a good reason for being one of those characters who makes cryptic statements all the time instead of being direct about what he knows).

I also enjoyed her potential romance with Severin, a Witch Lord’s heir who can communicate with animals and travels to the palace with Ryx and the Rookery. Their interactions were a little more fun in the previous book when Ryx wasn’t sure what to think of him, but I still enjoyed their relationship and seeing how they gravitate toward each other. They have some shared perspective as mage-marked people from Witch Lord families, and they’re also both outsiders who never really learned how to be good at people and often feel like they’re out of their element with their traveling companions. (And what can I say, I have a soft spot for characters who plot dastardly deeds with cats, as Severin does.)

Though I didn’t find The Quicksilver Court to be as much of a page-turner as the previous book in the trilogy due to the some of the character work, this series continues to be an entertaining fantasy adventure with delightful dialogue and a fun narrative style. I am looking forward to finishing the story in The Ivory Tomb, coming later this year—especially since I got the impression it will likely have more of what I loved about the previous book.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

Read an Excerpt from The Quicksilver Court

Reviews of Previous Book(s) in the Rooks and Ruin trilogy:

  1. The Obsidian Tower

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be 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. Cover images are affiliate links to Bookshop, and I earn from qualifying purchases.

Last week brought one book in the mail that I’m very excited about! First, here’s last week’s post in case you missed it:

  • Review of The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu — This is a great collection containing six short stories and one novella, as well as brief commentary on each and an introduction by the author. Though it contains different subgenres and settings, there are some common themes and elements that crop out throughout these stories, and I really enjoyed and appreciated every single one of them.

Now for the latest book!

The Thousand Eyes by A. K. Larkwood - Book Cover

The Thousand Eyes (The Serpent Gates #2) by A. K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name won the r/Fantasy Stabby Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for a Locus Award in the same category. Its sequel will be released on February 15 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Tor/Forge Blog has an excerpt from The Thousand Eyes, and has an excerpt from The Unspoken Name.

I’ve been excited about The Thousand Eyes for a while, and it appeared on my 30 Anticipated 2022 Speculative Fiction Book Releases list since The Unspoken Name was one of my favorite books of 2020:

The Unspoken Name drew me in immediately with its atmospheric depiction of life in the Shrine of the Unspoken One, and the different worlds explored via Gate-travel and the sweet romance that developed between the orc and a priestess were also highlights. But my favorite parts of this novel were the interactions between characters—particularly the dynamic between the main character and another one serving the mage, who despise each other but are often forced to work together anyway—and the frequent entertaining line of dialogue or narrative.

If you want to learn more about why A. K. Larkwood decided to write a non-human protagonist in her debut novel, she discussed that in her 2020 Women in SF&F Month essay. (A German translation of the entire essay can be found on the FISCHER Tor website.)


The sequel to A. K. Larkwood’s stunning debut fantasy, The Unspoken NameThe Thousand Eyes continues The Serpent Gates series—perfect for fans of Jenn Lyons, Joe Abercrombie, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Just when they thought they were out…

Two years after defying the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and escaping into the great unknown, Csorwe and Shuthmili have made a new life for themselves, hunting for secrets among the ruins of an ancient snake empire.

Along for the ride is Tal Charossa, determined to leave the humiliation and heartbreak of his hometown far behind him, even if it means enduring the company of his old rival and her insufferable girlfriend.

All three of them would be quite happy never to see Sethennai again. But when a routine expedition goes off the rails and a terrifying imperial relic awakens, they find that a common enemy may be all it takes to bring them back into his orbit.

The Tangleroot Palace
by Marjorie Liu
256pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.6/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.17/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.06/5

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Tangleroot Palace contains six short stories and one novella by New York Times bestselling author and comic book writer Marjorie Liu, each of which is followed by her reflections on it. The author’s introduction mentions that she could not resist making some edits to these previously published stories, but they remain essentially the same as they were beforehand.

I’d never read any of these stories before this book so I can’t comment on any changes, but I can say this: The Tangleroot Palace is one of the best short story collections or anthologies I’ve ever read. Admittedly, I haven’t read a huge number of these from start to finish since I tend to be more of a novel reader, but the fact that I did read this one from start to finish—without even taking a break to read another book in between—is a testament to Marjorie Liu’s writing. As usual, I did like some stories more than others, but there weren’t any that I thought were far better or worse than the rest. In fact, I rather enjoyed and appreciated every single story in this collection.

These seven stories are all quite different from each other, and this collection encompasses a variety of subgenres and settings: paranormal fantasy, a fairy tale retelling, high fantasy, our world with alternate history and superpowers, and our world with a fictional tech giant and a speculative science experiment (that goes awry, of course!). Even the two stories set in the same world as the Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series seem like completely separate worlds since one is a prequel set decades earlier and the other is set in the future—I never would have guessed these were in the same setting except for their endings, which loosely tied them together. These stories also vary in tone and style: some are darker, some are lighter, and two are told from first-person perspectives.

Despite their differences, the order of these stories makes them seem like they are in conversation with each other in some ways. As Marjorie Liu discussed in her introduction, there are common threads like “a longing for home, friendship, love—characters often driven by a weary hope in the possibility of something good.” There’s also some thematic overlap that carries throughout the book. The first couple of stories have characters who have had their bodily autonomy stolen by witches, and the second and third touch on how tales and legends grow and change in the telling. Part of the next is about finding friendship, and the final three all feature friendship/found family, romance, and mysterious creepy forests. Some of these were written as feminist versions of specific fairy tales or stories with certain elements, and many have women who rescue themselves, each other, and/or others.

Another common thread is how perfectly Marjorie Liu parceled details about the world and/or the protagonist’s predicament throughout these stories. She didn’t explain all the specifics right up front but revealed them naturally as they became relevant. There were a few times I wasn’t sure exactly was happening at the beginning of the story, but there was enough of a hook that I wanted to find out—and it always came together by the end. I thought Marjorie Liu struck just the right balance between too much and too little information, making it alluring rather than too confusing, and she revealed more at just the right time.

Since I did have fun going into these stories without knowing where they would take me, you may not want to read more about the individual stories below. (In particular, I enjoyed this about the first and third stories and the beginning of the second.) That said, I did reread the first story and parts of the others later, and I don’t think having this knowledge beforehand made them any less enjoyable—if anything, it made me admire them more.

But if you would prefer to pick up The Tangleroot Palace without having too much of an idea of what each story is about, I’ll just leave you with a few more general thoughts since I’ve discussed the positive aspects of this great collection without touching on why I didn’t absolutely love it. There wasn’t anything I especially disliked about it, but the middles of stories could be a bit slow, especially the novella. And as usual with short stories, there wasn’t enough page time for me to get too emotionally invested even if I did adore a couple of the characters (who were both women probably somewhere around middle age).

For those of you who would like to know more about these stories before deciding whether or not this is a book for you, there’s a little about each below.

“Sympathy for the Bones” is a creepy tale told from the first-person perspective of an orphaned teenage girl who learned hoodoo from the old woman who took her in. She’s a clever survivor who has planned a long game to try to escape a bad situation, and this is one of the stories that I thought was all the better for letting it unravel piece by piece. Although I wasn’t captivated from start to finish, I appreciated this a lot more after having read it.

“The Briar and the Rose” is a loose retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” centering two women: a scarred guardswoman known as the Duelist, and the princess she loves but only sees one day a week because her current employer is a body-snatching witch. It’s about their relationship and quest to break the spell, and in fairy tale fashion, it’s also about the power of storytelling and naming. This had a wonderful premise, beginning, and ending, and although I thought the middle felt a little too drawn out at times, I enjoyed it overall.

“The Light and the Fury” follows the Lady Marshal, a super-powered warrior who comes out of retirement for one last mission involving a woman with whom she has a complicated friends-to-lovers-to-enemies history. This is my absolute favorite story in this collection because the world and protagonist are so richly developed—I was surprised to read the commentary afterward and learn this was not a story that took place in the same setting as one of Marjorie Liu’s series. The Lady Marshal is a fantastic character I’d love to read more about. She’s haunted by what she did in the war a decade ago and would rather live in peaceful solitude, and she doesn’t feel like she can measure up to other’s expectations of her when they treat her with reverence for her past exploits—but she does her best regardless.

“The Last Dignity of Man” is about a lonely, wealthy genius who made his family’s company into a global leader in biotech—and fears that between his career and his name being Alexander Lutheran, he is basically Lex Luthor. Yet he wants to believe in goodness and that where there is a Lex Luthor, there is also a Superman. This story features finding friendship and a scientific development that’s supposed to solve an environmental problem, but instead, it goes horribly wrong with the federal government’s involvement. It did require some suspension of disbelief to imagine a corporate giant who actually treated his employees well and had some concerns about playing god, but like Alexander, I wanted to believe in something better and did so. I really liked this this because of the hope, compassion, and the protagonist’s thoughts on superheroes and villainy.

“Where the Heart Lives” is a prequel to the Dirk & Steele series about seventeen-year-old Lucy, who finds something unexpected when her father sends her away to work for a woman named Miss Lindsay: a home. When she becomes the only person to ever hear the voice of a woman lost to the woods twenty years ago, she learns that neither she nor the world are as normal as she’d always thought. This is a lovely feel-good story, and I was particularly fond of Miss Lindsay for the way she took others under her wing, making Lucy feel welcome, safe, and valued for the first time in her life.

“After the Blood” is also in the same setting as the Dirk & Steele series, but in the future after a devastating pandemic changed the world, resulting in fewer cities and more dependence on agricultural communities. (Rest assured that it’s not actually about a pandemic, though.) It’s a story about surviving monsters and grappling with being monstrous told from the first-person perspective of Amanda, who has blood with the power to keep dangerous supernatural beings away. She’s close to the two sons of her Amish neighbors, particularly the one rejected by his family after they realized he was a vampire, believing him to be just as bad as the monsters he was trying to protect them from when he revealed his secret. This was my least favorite story in the collection, but I still enjoyed it, especially the way Amanda and the two brothers were there for each other.

“The Tangleroot Palace” is the novella-length story, which tells of a princess whose father arranged for her to wed the Warlord of the South: the king is desperate for alliances, and the infamous young man can’t be that bad as the son of the deceased queen’s dearest friend. Sally, the king’s daughter, believes her betrothed can be exactly as bad as rumored, so she flees to the Tangleroot Forest in hopes of finding magic and answers. She finds all that and more as she learns about the forest’s mysteries and her mother’s past—and befriends a group of traveling performers along the way.

Although I thought the middle had some parts that were a bit dull, “The Tangleroot Palace” is a delightful story overall. It’s the most humorous and light-hearted in the collection, and having suspicions about the “surprise” reveal at the end made it all the more fun so I assume it was intentionally predictable. I especially loved how Marjorie Liu wrote the unconventional princess in this story. Sally is one of those feisty princesses who gets her hands dirty in the garden, speaks her mind, and rebels against her father’s choice of marriage partner. But she also thinks her father is a good man who wouldn’t put her in this position if he were not truly terrified, and she won’t abandon him: instead of running away permanently, she gives herself one week to search for a different solution. I rather liked how Sally took matters into her own hands without completely throwing duty to the wind.

“The Tangleroot Palace” is a strong ending to this collection of the same name, but as I wrote before, I found every single story noteworthy. This book is a keeper with a range of wonderful stories, and I hope to see future collections of Marjorie Liu’s short fiction.

My Rating: 8/10

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

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be 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. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Although I am working on a review of a GREAT book that I hope to have finished soon, there have been no new posts since the last of these spotlights—but if you missed it and want to discover some books coming out in 2022, I covered 30 of them here. Today’s featured book is also coming out this year, but it will be out a lot sooner than most of those since it’s being released this week!

Good Neighbors by Stephanie Burgis - Book Cover

Good Neighbors: The Full Collection by Stephanie Burgis

This fantasy romance collection following the same couple will be released on February 2 (paperback, ebook).

Good Neighbors contains a short story, a novelette, and two novellas that first appeared on Stephanie Burgis’ Patreon:

  1. Good Neighbors
  2. Deadly Courtesies
  3. Fine Deceptions
  4. Fierce Company

Stephanie Burgis wrote that it’s “about 60,000 words of metal magic, fake dating, undead minions, midnight balls, illicit opera house adventures and more!” on her blog, and she has a couple of snippets from it here.

This sounds like fun, and I was immediately intrigued by the first line: “It wasn’t so bad living next door to a notorious necromancer, most of the time.”


When a grumpy inventor meets her outrageous new neighbor in the big black castle down the road, more than one type of spark will fly!

Mia Brandt knows better than to ever again allow her true powers to be discovered. Ever since her last neighbors burned down her workshop in a night of terror and flame, she’s been determined to stay solitary, safe, and – to all outside appearances – perfectly respectable…

But Leander Fabian, whose sinister castle looms over her cozy new cottage, has far more dangerous ideas in mind. When he persuades Mia into a reluctant alliance, she finds herself swept into an exhilarating world of midnight balls, interfering countesses, illicit opera house expeditions, necromantic duels, and a whole unnatural community of fellow magic-workers and outcasts, all of whom are facing a threat more ominous than any she’s confronted before.

Luckily, Mia has unnatural powers of her own – but even her unique skills may not be enough to protect her new found family and help her resist the wickedly provoking neighbor who’s seen through all of her shields from the beginning.

This novel-length collection includes all four stories and novellas originally published on Stephanie Burgis’s Patreon in 2020-2021: Good Neighbors, Deadly Courtesies, Fine Deceptions, and Fierce Company.