12 spellbinding new science fiction and fantasy books to read this November

Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix
Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix /
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Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen. Image courtesy Penguin Random House
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen. Image courtesy Penguin Random House /

November 2021 release: Skin of the Sea – Natasha Bowen

A West African-inspired fantasy that mixes myth, religion, and history, Skin of the Sea is one of the month’s buzziest fantasy debuts. (If only because it has one of the most incredible covers of any titles hitting shelves in November!)

The story follows the mermaid Simidele, who is charged to collect and care for the souls of the deceased West African people thrown overboard from passing slave ships. But when she breaks all the rules of her people to save a living boy who’s been tossed into the sea, she must face a difficult and dangerous punishment.

Returned to land in her human form, she must journey to make amends to the Supreme Creator, but something dark and unexplained is following her along the way. Something that – for some reason – really wants to make sure Simi fails.

The official synopsis describes the story in more detail.

"Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it."

Skin of the Sea is available on November 2.