A human and an alien on opposing sides of a galactic conflict while away their days selling alien liquor at a pub in a technophobic British enclave--but that's only the beginning of Skyward Inn, a book that over the course of its 200-some pages finds room for meditations on Brexit, colonialism, difficult parent-child relationships, fraught male adolescence, freakish body horror, and an endgame scenario that rivals Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End in scope, while having it beat for prose style and characterization. If you're a fan of Le Guin, Butler, or Vandermeer, or even have a soft spot for Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, this is the best recent SF novel you likely haven't read.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a combination of immersive fantasy and historical fiction that never feels forced. Taking place in not one, not two--but four versions of London, and with a hefty dose of magic, it has something for everyone. Schwab's world is so lush, and her characters--including an aspiring pirate--are so likeable and complex, that I was rooting for all of them.
This book is a brilliant, soul-crusher of a novel. Writing in prose at once melancholy and lush--and that makes the most mundane activities, like steeping tea, seem brand new and magical--Schwab follows Addie LaRue through the slow-burn of a love story spanning some three centuries. As she explores the question of what it means to leave a legacy, and what happens if you can't, Schwab dramatizes Addie's frustration with being unable to create, and she leads readers to one of the most epic finales ever.