Ten Fantasy and Science-Fiction Novels Worth Reading in April 2014

Our second monthly list of Novels Worth Reading is again filled with ten wonderful new speculative novels. While April lacks the level of anticipation Sanderson’s Words of Radiance brought to March, it promises to be another amazing month for our genre.

As with last month, this will be a very balanced list. Featuring five female and five male authors—including one very exciting science-fiction novel with intriguing feminist themes—we present you with three science-fiction, three urban fantasy, and three epic fantasy novels, plus a dystopian science-fiction to top it off. And did I mention there are no less than three propitious debuts on the list? Seriously, it’s exciting to see how many great novels are published across all subgenres and flavors of speculative fiction.

Anyway, judge for yourself! Here are The Ranting Dragon’s ten speculative novels worth reading in April:


10. Lovecraft’s Monsters by Ellen Datlow ed.
The first—and tenth—item on this list is Lovecraft’s Monsters, an anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and filled with great speculative authors. Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, and Elizabeth Bear (who will show up further down this list, as well) are just some of the names featured in this Lovecraftian anthology. In Lovecraft’s Monsters, H.P. Lovecraft’s famous creations—Cthulhu, Shoggoths, Deep Ones, and more—are celebrated in all their terrifying glory. The monsters are lovingly rendered in spectacular original art by World Fantasy Award–winning artist John Coulthart.
Published by Tachyon on Apr 15. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
9. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
The first debut on this list is Alena Graedon’s The Word Exchange. I hadn’t heard of this novel until I received a review copy. When I read the weird premise, I was immediately intrigued. This dystopian novel is set in a not-so-distant future where words have become the currency. The protagonist, Anana, works on the very last dictionary ever to be published when her dad suddenly disappears and leaves behind a handwritten message indicating he’s in danger. Anana’s search takes her from dark basements and subterranean passageways to the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary—the spiritual home of the written word. The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word.
Published by Doubleday on Apr 8. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
8. Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
The second of three debuts on this list is Salvage by Alexandra Duncan. This thrilling, thought-provoking science fiction novel is about Ava, a girl living aboard a conservative spaceship. When she faces betrayal, banishment, and death, she decides to flee to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean. Salvage promises to be literary science-fiction with a twist reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, exploring themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family. It sure sounds intriguing!
Published by Greenwillow on Apr 1. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
7. Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson
With a gorgeous cover and an intriguing premise, Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky promises to be one of those typical epic fantasy novels set in a magical location with a name the typical English speaker cannot pronounce. I’m a sucker for books like that, though, so I definitely look forward to Unwrapped Sky. The unpronounceable location in this case is Caeli-Amur, an ancient city perched on white cliffs overlooking the sea, ruled by three war-mongering Houses. Caeli-mutter-mutter is a city that harbors ancient technology and hidden mysteries and is soon going to change when ancient minotaurs arrive to celebrate a traditional festival. Frankly, Unwrapped Sky doesn’t sound like it’s going to do anything new for the genre, but amid all the fresh and original fantasy, some familiar, traditional tropes and epic worldbuilding sound wonderful. I just wish the city had a simpler name.
Published by Tor on Apr 24. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
6. Peacemaker by Marianne De Pierres
Angry Robot Books is one of my favorite publishers, well known for publishing quality speculative fiction with a bit of weirdness. Their new author, Marianne De Pierres, doesn’t seem to be an exception to that. I wasn’t familiar with De Pierres yet, but apparently she’s already somewhat big in Australia and the UK. I’m pretty sure her newest science-fiction western Peacemaker is going to make her a global success, though. In Peacemaker, dead bodies start piling up and it’s up to Virgin, a ranger in the world’s largest natural landscape, to figure out what’s going on. Set in a future megacity, Peacemaker is going to be a science-fiction novel with a mystery bent and Angry Robot’s familiar weird edge.
Published by Angry Robot on Apr 29. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
5. The Revolutions by Felix Gilman
I liked Felix Gilman’s Wild West steampunk novel The Half-Made World, and I absolutely adored its weird sequel, The Rise of Ransom City. Therefore, I am extremely excited for Gilman’s next standalone novel, The Revolutions, introduced by the publisher as “a sweeping stand-alone tale of Victorian science-fiction, space exploration, and planetary romance.” A tale of war between magic societies in historic London, The Revolutions will probably be as weird as Gilman’s previous works, and it sounds twice as amazing.
Published by Tor on Apr 1. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
4. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
It’s time to fess up. I have a guilty pleasure unbecoming of a “serious” speculative fiction reader: I absolutely adore the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. They are just so sweet and wonderfully written. I was, therefore, elated when putting together this list and discovering a new Brashares novel coming out in April—and it’s the kind of novel definitely fit for discussion on The Ranting Dragon! The Here and Now is an epic romantic science-fiction thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world; all she has to do is not fall in love. And guess what happens? If Brashares’ previous works are any indication, The Here and Now will be a lovely science-fiction novel filled with realistic characters and heartrendingly beautiful romance.
Published by Delacorte on Apr 8. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
3. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
When I first came across The Goblin Emperor, I wasn’t sure whether this was a serious fantasy book or not. I mean, look at that title and cover! However, once I read the description, I knew one thing: Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor sounds seriously perfect! In this brilliant debut novel filled with political intrigue, dark magic, and steampunk-influences, a young half-goblin is unexpectedly taken out of exile to become emperor. Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. The Goblin Emperor promises to be a wonderful epic fantasy novel and is definitely a debut to keep an eye on.
Published by Tor on Apr 1. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
2. Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear
Whenever I see one of the books in Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy pop up, I marvel at those beautiful covers and remember that I really need to read those books. I’ve heard it described as one of the best trilogies in fantasy, and it continues the recent emphasis on exploring new themes, worlds, and cultures in fantasy. The third and final volume in the brilliant Eternal Sky trilogy, Steles of the Sky, comes out this month and continues the story of Re Temur and the Wizard Samarkar, who fight against the Nameless Ones. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to read this trilogy. Who will join me?
Published by Tor on Apr 8. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
1. Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
Finally, the book most worth reading in April is a book I’ve already had the pleasure of reading. Michael J. Sullivan is known for rocking the publishing industry in all kinds of ways, having released books with a small press publisher, a “Big Five” publisher, and on his own. Sullivan undertakes a new approach with Hollow World, which was financed through Kickstarter first and is now being published by Tachyon Publications. More importantly, Hollow World is a deeply wonderful literary science fiction novel reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine. Hollow World is one of those rare literary gems that exceed the speculative genre to become worthy of any English literature class.
Published by Tachyon on Apr 15. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads


As always, I’d love to hear from you. What books are you particularly looking forward to?  Did I miss any?  Let me know in the comments and forums!

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 31 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he can be found in a comfy chair reading a fantasy book. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing to boot. Stephan lives in a small town in The Netherlands with his wife Rebecca, an editor for The Ranting Dragon, and their two cats.

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  1. I’m looking forward to both “The Unwrapped Sky” and “The Goblin Emperor.” I’ve heard good things about both!

  2. I remember I saw the unwrapped sky a fair while ago! It looked BEYOND amazing. I’ve never heard of the Eternal Sky trilogy but the concept looks interesting. I keep hearing about Peacemaker but it didn’t seem like my sort of thing. It’s popularity is making me think twice! Ashana.

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