Late October Reviews (2023)


Welcome to the Books That Burn Fortnightly Roundup! Releasing every two weeks (one week early for Patrons).

News and Events

Notable OCTOBER Releases:

  • THE DEAD TAKE THE A TRAIN by Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw (October 3rd)

  • LAST TO LEAVE THE ROOM by Caitlin Starling (October 10th) ARC Review

  • SOUL JAR by Annie Carl (October 17th)

  • UNDER THE SMOKESTREWN SKY by A. Deborah Baker (October 10th)

  • THE INNOCENT SLEEP by Seanan McGuire (October 24th) ARC Review

Recent Reviews

THE ARCHIVE UNDYING by Emma Mieko Candon, book 1 of The Downworld Sequence is Sci-Fi, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Sunai was resurrected by the AI of his city and now finds himself back in the tangles of robotic gods. Told in First/Third Person with Dual POVs.

NEVER A HERO by Vanessa Len, book 2 of Only a Monster is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Joan unmade Nick so that he never was a hero, but right after they meet again their lives are upended by monsters once more. Told in Third Person with Single POV.

WAKE THE DEAD by Sophie Whittemore, book 2 of Gamin Immortals is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Lili finds herself playing detective once more, this time without some of the friends who surrounded her before, but with a few new faces. Told in First Person with Single POV.

SLIPPERY CREATURES by K.J. Charles, book 1 of The Will Darling Adventures is Historical/Romance, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Will Darling inherits his uncle's bookshop, and a whole lot of trouble. Told in Third Person with Single POV.

Reviews forthcoming for THE SALT GROWS HEAVY by Cassandra Khaw and THE SUGARED GAME by K.J. Charles.


I had a string of DNFs because I went through the books which have lingered on my to-read pile the longest and tried a bunch of them. It was emotionally draining because I prefer re-reads and DNFs of new-to-me books is about as far from a comfort re-read as it gets.

  • THE SUN AND THE VOID by Gabriela Romero Lacruz - Lots of visual descriptions, doesn’t mesh well with aphantasia.

  • AWAKEN: The Alora Chronicles Prequel by Lara Wynter - just not my thing.

  • A FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE by K.J. Charles - I didn't like the dynamics between the main characters.

  • BALLAD OF THE BEANSTALK by Amy McNulty - Didn't catch my interest.

  • YOUR LONELY NIGHTS ARE OVER by Adam Sass - Teens and horror protagonists both make strange decisions for the sake of the plot, the combination of both was too much for me.

  • NOT YOUR VILLAIN by C.B. Lee - Felt uneven and didn't explain contemporaneous events from the other book at all. Left me unsure where it fit in.

  • LIGHT by 'Nathan Burgoine - Copaganda.

  • TRIAD BLOOD by 'Nathan Burgoine - Pinkwashed copaganda.

  • THE REUNION by M.D. Neu - Mysterious and slow, but not enough of a hook for me to care about the mystery.

  • SKIN FOLK by Nalo Hopkinson - I couldn’t handle some specific horror elements related to my personal triggers.

  • WITCH EYES by Scott Tracey - Random misogyny towards someone the protagonist has barely interacted with.

  • A CURSE OF ROSES by Diana Pinguicha - I need to not read a book about a fantasy eating disorder.

  • THE BLIGHTED STARS by Megan E. O'Keefe - If you take a trans person without any access to transition care and replace them with a copy of their personality in a new, ideal body, you’ve just murdered a trans person to make a cis person with extra steps. No thank you. This immediately threw me out of the story.

  • UNHOLY LAND by Lavie Tidhar - Some details in the forward made me think the premise would not be treated well.

  • THE BLADED FAITH by David Daglish - It’s possible that this would turn out to be foreshadowing the discovery that this guy is bad, but I was offput by a conversation where the fantasy arms dealer CEO explains that it’s fine for him to pay for revolutions with funds gotten from selling arms to the colonizers, thus making more money as they buy more weapons to put down the revolutions he’s funding. Oh also he’s a tragic gay widower whose husband died for one of those revolutions. I’m uninterested in pinkwashing arms dealers who enable colonizers.

  • JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by Jodi Taylor - Has a weird mix of flippancy and casual discussions of violence in a way that was off-putting.

  • THE SCOURGE BETWEEN STARS by Ness Brown - Didn't engage me.

  • THE MEMORY EATER by Rebecca Mahoney - By now it felt like I just didn't want to read new books at the moment.

No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)

UNFIT TO PRINT by K.J. Charles - I liked this one but didn't have much else to say, definitely not enough for a full review.

Rereads and Older Reviews

I finished a re-read of OCEAN'S ECHO by Everina Maxwell.

Current Reads

I'm still trying to finish IMMORTAL LONGINGS by Chloe Gong. I don't know if I'm having trouble because it's a hardback book or if it's something with the actual story.

I'm enjoying my ARC of The Diablo's Curse by Gabe Cole Novoa.

The Cool Zone Media book club is reading THE LAMB WILL SLAUGHTER THE LION by Margaret Killjoy, which means for four weeks a quarter of the book is read to me (and all the other podcast listeners) each week.

DRACULA DAILY is nearing its end but it's not over yet.

I started DOWN COMES THE NIGHT by Allison Saft, an author whose work I've enjoyed before. It's a bit frustrating that the protagonist is a guard/healer, but otherwise I like it so far.

UNDER THE SMOKE-STREWN SKY by A. Deborah Baker (Seanan McGuire) is a joy and I'll probably finish it long before the regular audience gets this newsletter.

In Case You Missed It

This time last year I read THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME by Nafiza Azad.

Pluggables and Podcast News

If you're looking for a place to buy any of the books I've reviewed, please consider our Bookshop page (if you use our links to purchase any books we get a small commission). Let us know if there's a category you'd like to see curated and we'll see if we can get some titles together.

The 2023 prompts are now available from the annual reading challenge! It runs from January 1st to December 31st this year. Find info and links here.

As for the podcast, hopefully you're enjoying our most recent episode. If you'd like to receive episodes early, as well as bonus content, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Patrons receive this newsletter one week early, as well as a list of upcoming podcast episodes.

Patrons pledging $20 or more each month receive a bonus episode. Patrons pledging $50 or more can vote once per month on what we'll cover in the podcast. You can find all of those polls here. Patrons at any level receive the booklist with our planned episodes for up to three months at a time.

Thanks for reading, the next roundup will be in two weeks!


Co-host of Books That Burn


Want this newsletter delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe via Buttondown. 

A black and brown tortoiseshell cat with wide yellow eyes is on the shoulder of a nonbinary person in multicolor glasses and a white and brown tunic. The person is bending over slightly to allow the cat to perch more comfortably.


Popular Posts