11 must-read SFF book releases that will kick your July into high gear

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House
The Damned by Renee Ahdieh. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House /
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Splinters of Scarlet – Emily Bain Murphy

Emily Bain Murphy’s Splinters of Scarlet is touted as a mix of hit series Downton Abbey and the popular YA novel Enchantee, and is there a more perfect Venn diagram of my interests? No, no there is not.

This historical YA fantasy is set in a version of nineteenth-century Denmark in which magic exists but comes with often deadly consequences. It follows the story of  Marit Olsen, a young girl who has lost everything from her father (dead in a mining accident) to her sister Ingrid (dead from magic overuse) to her place in the orphanage where she ended up afterward. But she’s determined not to lose Eve, a fellow orphan she fees as a little sister, as well.

Even if it means reneging on her promise to herself to never use magic again.

When Eve is adopted by a rich woman named, Marit risks everything to stay by her side. She gets a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household to stay close to her, a position which requires her to gamble her life by using the same magic that led to her sister’s death to perform basic tasks for the family. But Marit also has another, secret goal: She thinks her father’s death, which occurred in the Vestergaard family’s jewel mines, may not have been an accident at all.

The official synopsis has more details about the story.

"For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household. But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first."

Splinters of Scarlet is available on July 21.