Charlie Jane Anders picks this month’s best sci-fi

When Megan Giddings told her agent that she wanted to write a novel about witches, he told her, “If anyone can make them feel new, it’s you.” In appreciation of her new novel, Women can fly(Amistad)And the Giddings says she didn’t fully agree with him that witches feel like a tired subtype; For her, there is always room to take another shot.

Fortunately for anyone who feels the same way, a slew of accounts of witches have recently surfaced – and many of them feel completely new.

Science fiction, fantasy, thriller? Books we love but can’t define.

To be sure, many modern witch novels explore ancient themes: witches are suspicious and afraid and must hide themselves from the world. But Giddings and other authors also reveal new layers of classic witch tales, exploring the complexity of anti-witch situations in a rich and timely manner.

“A woman can fly” is an absolute victory. It takes place in a world like ours, but where anti-witchcraft laws are still routinely used to discipline women. Any unmarried woman over the age of 30 suspected of practicing witchcraft is placed on probation and may not be able to hold a job. No one seems quite sure whether the magic is real or not, and the laws are applied inconsistently, which seems completely believable.

Giddings evokes a world that seems familiar, despite increasingly frightening hints of dystopia. And along the way, it shows what crusaders fear most against witches: our ability to create a better world if we work together.

The theme of community is also strong in The Top Secret Society of Irregular Magicians(Berkeley)by Sango Mandana. At the heart of the story is Mika Moon, who was brought up under one unshakable law: Witches must live separately from each other. Mika never really takes root, and constantly moves to avoid anyone knowing about her magical powers. But when she is assigned to teach three young witches who live in a secluded house, she discovers how much better it is to be part of a witch family.

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The story is full of romance and family casting, with just the right amount of whimsy. Mika is a charismatic heroine, full of fire and flame, but she constantly amazes whenever anyone really cares about her. Reading about mecha’s slow healing from lonely wounds is a healing experience for the reader as well.

the sunken forestWritten by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Little, Brown) is a magical bird game about Mer, the last living “water witch” who can sense and control water. She has been living on the run for years, escaping from forced labor by the ruthless Prince Garanhir. The Prince’s former spy chief then approaches Mir with a plan to steal the Prince’s treasure, with a team of crooks that includes a Corgi who may be a spy for the pseudo. Lloyd-Jones uses her Welsh setting and mad legends to great effect. But it’s her highly noteworthy descriptions of water, from sewers to ocean, that make “The Drawn Woods”–a book well-suited for an older audience–something to savor.

Desideria Mesa Pindle Bank Bruges(Harper Collins) It expands on the theme of characters who hide their true identities. Luna is the only member of her Mexican immigrant family who can pass to Wyatt. She changed her name to Rose and moved among the elite in Prohibition-era Kansas City. By day she works as a reporter, and at night she turns on a headset – but she always has to hide her identity.

When she is targeted by gangsters and the Ku Klux Klan, she must find a way to gain access to the magical powers she inherited from her grandmother. The story takes a while to get going, and the gangster talk on Prohibition seems broad at times, but Luna’s identity crisis, and the magical awakening that comes with it, is fascinating and exciting.

We can’t have too many witch books. Witches provide a powerful metaphor for stigmatized people who are forced to live underground. These four new books show us how powerful it is when these people find each other.

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of “Victories greater than death” And the “Dreams greater than heartbreak“The first two books in the Youth Trilogy. Her other books include”The city in the middle of the night” And the “All the birds in the sky. It has won Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Lambda Literary, Crawford and Locus Awards.

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