12 new SFF books to help beat back the January blues

Photo: The Night Country by Melissa Albert.. Image Courtesy Macmillan Publisher
Photo: The Night Country by Melissa Albert.. Image Courtesy Macmillan Publisher /
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Dark and Deepest Red – Anna-Marie McLemore

Dark and Deepest Red comes from Anna-Marie McLemore, the author behind such books as Blanca & Roja and Wild Beauty, who frequently uses magical realism to explore complex contemporary topics. And this novel, a story that blends a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Red Shoes” with the real life history of a mysterious dancing plague that struck the village of Strausborg in 1518, sounds as though it will be no different.

It follows the story of two women: Lavinia, whose family is suspected of witchcraft during the sixteenth century dancing outbreak, and Rosella, a modern girl who falls victim to a pair of red shoes five hundred years later. Their stories intertwine as Rosella must figure out what happened to cause the original plague in Strasbourg, and save herself from a grisly fate. The tale is one of forbidden magic, passion and betrayal – with more than a few surprises along the way.

The official synopsis has a more detailed explanation of how the novel’s two stories intertwine.

"Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves. Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes."

Dark and Deepest Red is available on January 14.