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The Mary Sue Book Club, April 2022: Family Secrets & More Mythological Retellings (Because We Can’t Get Enough)

Nuclear time travel, elaborate art heist, and fake dating.

Three fantastical books features in this list of April reads. Image: Orbit Books, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, and Harper Voyager.

It’s already April, and with a new month comes highly anticipated new novels featured on our TMS Book Club! Once again, there appear to be a few running themes between these novels. The two YA SFF books feature strong leads whose actions come from a desire to showcase their strength and honor their families. Many novels play with time, from time travel to exploring the passed-down stories and narratives from the past. While the idea of romance, courtship, and marriage plays out in a few of these novels in the background, we also paired that up with a delightful new romance novel that features fake dating and the marriage of convenience tropes.

While there are no April Fool’s jokes on this list, there is plenty of twists, turns, and surprises!

Portrait of a Thief by Grace Li

Portrait of a Thief: A Novel by Grace D. Li. Image: Tiny Reparations Books.
(Tiny Reparations Books)

Inspired by real-life events of Chinese art vanishing from “Western” museums (no, really), this story follows Chinese-American Harvard senior and art history student Will Chen. After a mysterious benefactor offers him millions of dollars in an illegal scheme to reacquire five priceless works of Chinese art looted centuries ago, Chen meets a handful of other college students across the country also presented with this offer. Each person has a very different relationship with China and their Chinese American heritage. Still, the chance to change history with this heist and money that would set them up for life brings them together.

Portrait of a Thief releases on April 5.

The Blood Trials by NE Davenport

The Blood Trials by NE Davenport (Image: Harper Collins.)
(Harper Voyager)

After the assassination of her grandfather, a young half-Khanian woman with the gift of blood magic is out for revenge. Ikenna knows that only someone from the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and only some from the Praetorian Guard could’ve completed that order. She enrolls in the brutal Praetorian Trials (which only feature a 25% survival rate), determined to figure out who sentenced her grandfather to death. If her identity were revealed, she would meet the same fate. This YA SFF is the first book in The Blood Gift duology.

The Blood Trials releases on April 5.

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa (Image: Avon Books.)
(Avon Books)

Roped into helping her wedding planner cousin on a clients’ big day, Solange learns information that reveals this engaged couple is not meant to be. The bridegroom, Dean, was entirely okay with his marriage of convenience and moving to the next steps of his mapped-out future. (After all, marriage for men only enhances career and pay prospects.) However, everything changes when Solange crashes the wedding. Feeling guilty for stopping the wedding, Solange agrees to fake date Dean to not worsen the situation. The performance for a Dean’s promotion starts to get a little too real as they both develop feelings for one another.

The Wedding Crasher releases on April 5.

Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum

Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum (Image: Grand Central Publishing.)
(Grand Central Publishing)

Three generations of women travel in time (the ’60s, ’80s, and ’90s) to try and prevent the Chernobyl disaster and must also face the other traumas of their past. Ripped through time the moment the nuclear power plant melts, scientist Anna Berkova awakens six years into the future with her daughter, Molly, shot in the chest and begging for her mother, Anna, to go back and prevent the disaster and help stop Raisa (Molly daughter and Anna’s granddaughter) from straying off into the wrong path. Throughout the story, these comics created by Molly as a child, Atomic Anna, appear at different moments to bring the women together.

Atomic Anna releases on April 5.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan (Image: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers.)
(Image: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers)

From the author of the beloved 2019 book The Astonishing Color of After, this sophomore novel features a magical star-crossed love story (a la Romeo and Juliet) woven into Chinese Mythology. As seniors belonging to the very tight-knit Taiwanese-American (itself within the majority-white American suburb), their families being sworn enemies are supposed to keep them apart. However, that never works. As these young reincarnations of the god of archery (Hunter) and the goddess of the moon (Luna) grow closer, supernatural forces start changing the town, and family secrets also start spilling out.

An Arrow to the Moon releases on April 12.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (Image: Orbit Books.)

This reimagining of the infamous queen from the Indian epic Ramayana starts Kaikeyi as a child raised to solidify a strategic marriage alliance, then later warrior and queen that learns her value, magic, and connection with the cosmos. Within the original epic, Kaikeyi is painted as spiteful and jealous when she sends the main hero of Ramayana to exile so that her son can be the next in line to the throne. Those unfamiliar with the original story will still enjoy this if they like nuanced tales of women maligned in mythological and religious text.

Kaikeyi releases on April 16.

(Image: Orbit Books, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, and Harper Voyager)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. Starting as an Online Editor for her college paper in October 2017, Alyssa began writing for the first time within two months of working in the newsroom. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3. Still trying to beat Saxon Farm on RCT 3 (so I can 100% the game.)