A True Account: Hannah Masury’s Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself by Katherine Howe
In Boston, as the Golden Age of Piracy comes to a bloody close, Hannah Masury – bound out to service at a waterfront inn since childhood – is ready to take her life into her own hands. When a man is hanged for piracy in the town square and whispers of a treasure in the Caribbean spread, Hannah is forced to flee for her life, disguising herself as a cabin boy in the pitiless crew of the notorious pirate Edward “Ned” Low. To earn the freedom to choose a path for herself, Hannah must hunt down the treasure and change the tides.
Meanwhile, professor Marian Beresford pieces Hannah’s story together in 1930, seeing her own lack of freedom reflected back at her as she watches Hannah’s transformation. At the center of Hannah Masury’s account, however, lies a centuries-old mystery that Marian is determined to solve, just as Hannah may have been determined to take it to her grave.
Gaslight by Femi Kayode
A shadow has fallen over the megachurch in Ogun State, Nigeria: the beloved Bishop Dawodu has been arrested for the murder of his wife. Sade Dawodu has vanished without a trace and although no body has been found, the police have acted based on what they claim is damning evidence. Philip Taiwo, hot off the success of solving the Okriki Three case, is brought on to investigate. He quickly learns that Sade, young, impulsive, and outspoken, is no favorite of the congregants. She has also been known to disappear for long stretches of time. As Taiwo and his trusted associate, Chika plunge into the investigation, they unearth secrets that go beyond the missing persons case, ones that if leaked, threaten to shatter not only the Bishop, but the church itself. Taiwo quickly begins to feel like a hired gun, put up to the task with the express purpose to clear the bishop’s name rather than find the naked truth.
As Taiwo strives to crack the vast conspiracy he’s up against, he’s tugged away by the demands of family life, and derailed by systemic challenges: in Nigeria, cash is king, there are no viable databases, and records are sparse.
Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South by Elizabeth R. Varon
It was the most remarkable political about-face in American history. During the Civil War, General James Longstreet fought tenaciously for the Confederacy. He was alongside Lee at Gettysburg (and counseled him not to order the ill-fated attacks on entrenched Union forces there). He won a major Confederate victory at Chickamauga and was seriously wounded during a later battle.
After the war Longstreet moved to New Orleans, where he dramatically changed course. He supported Black voting and joined the newly elected, integrated postwar government in Louisiana. When white supremacists took up arms to oust that government, Longstreet, leading the interracial state militia, did battle against former Confederates. His defiance ignited a firestorm of controversy, as white Southerners branded him a race traitor and blamed him retroactively for the South’s defeat in the Civil War.
Although he was one of the highest-ranking Confederate generals, Longstreet has never been commemorated with statues or other memorials in the South because of his postwar actions in rejecting the Lost Cause mythology and urging racial reconciliation. He is being rediscovered in the new age of racial reckoning. This is the first biography in decades and the first to give proper attention to Longstreet’s long post-Civil War career.
Mister Lullaby by J. H. Markert
The small town of Harrod’s Reach has seen its fair share of the macabre, especially inside the decrepit old train tunnel around which the town was built. After a young boy, Sully Dupree, is injured in the abandoned tunnel and left in a coma, the townspeople are determined to wall it up. Deputy sheriff Beth Gardner is reluctant to buy into the superstitions until she finds two corpses at the tunnel’s entrance, each left with strange calling cards inscribed with old lullabies. Soon after, Sully Dupree briefly awakens from his coma.
Before falling back into his slumber, Sully manages to give his older brother a message. Sully’s mind, since the accident, has been imprisoned on the other side of the tunnel in Lalaland, a grotesque and unfamiliar world inhabited by evil mythical creatures of sleep. Sully is trapped there with hundreds of other coma patients, all desperately fighting to keep the evils of the dream world from escaping into the waking world.
Sailing the Graveyard Sea: The Deathly Voyage of the Somers, the U.S. Navy’s Only Mutiny, and the Trial That Gripped the Nation by Richard Snow
On December 16, 1842, the US brig-of-war Somers dropped anchor in Brooklyn Harbor at the end of a cruise intended to teach a group of adolescents the rudiments of naval life. But this seemingly harmless exercise ended in catastrophe. Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie came ashore saying he had narrowly prevented a mutiny that would have left him and his officers dead. Some of the thwarted mutineers were being held under guard, but three had been hanged: Boatswain’s Mate Samuel Cromwell, Seaman Elisha Small, and Acting Midshipman Philip Spencer, whose father was the secretary of war, John Spencer.
Eighteen-year-old Philip Spencer, according to Mackenzie, had been the ringleader who encouraged the crew to seize the ship and become pirates, raping and pillaging their way across the old Spanish Main. And while the young man might have been a rebel fascinated by pirates, it soon became clear the order that condemned the three men had no legal basis. And worse, that perhaps a mutiny had never really occurred, and that the ship might instead have been seized by a creeping hysteria that ended in the sacrifice of three innocents.
Months of accusations and counteraccusations were followed by a highly public court martial which put Mackenzie on trial for his life, and a storm of anti-Navy sentiment drew the attention of the leading writers of the day (Washington Irving thought Mackenzie a hero; James Fenimore Cooper damned him with a ferocity that still stings). But some good did come out of it: public disgust with Mackenzie’s training cruise gave birth to Annapolis, the place that within a century, would produce the greatest navy the world had ever known.
The Ghosts of Beatrice Bird by Louisa Morgan
Beatrice Bird is plagued by ghosts. It’s a gift she’s had since she was a small child. Unfortunately, it’s a gift that has grown more intense, shifting from flashes and feelings to physical manifestations she can’t escape.
In a desperate attempt for relief, Beatrice flees her home, her partner, and a psychology practice in San Francisco for a remote island with only nuns and a few cows for company. She sees as few people as she possibly can. She doesn’t call home. Then she meets Anne Iredale, a timid woman who has lost everything that matters to her.
For the first time in a long time, Beatrice’s gift will be called on to help someone in need. The path to healing awaits both of them—if Beatrice can find the courage to take the first step.
There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh
They met when they were teenagers. Now they’re adults, and time has been kind to some and unkind to others—none more so than to Bea, the one they lost nine long years ago.
They’ve gathered to reminisce at Bea’s family’s estate, a once-glorious mansion straight out of a gothic novel. Best friends, old flames, secret enemies, and new lovers are all under one roof. But when the weather turns and they’re snowed in at the edge of eternity, there’s nowhere left to hide from their shared history.
As the walls close in, the pretense of normality gives way to long-buried grief, bitterness, and rage. Underneath it all, there’s the nagging feeling that Bea’s shocking death wasn’t what it was claimed to be. And before the weekend is through, the truth will be unleashed—no matter the cost.
Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games
From the earliest computers to the smartphones in our pockets, video games have been on our screens and part of our lives for over fifty years. Critical Hits celebrates this sophisticated medium and considers its lasting impact on our culture and ourselves.
This collection of stylish, passionate, and searching essays opens with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado, who edited the anthology alongside J. Robert Lennon. In these pages, writer-gamers find solace from illness and grief, test ideas about language, bodies, power, race, and technology, and see their experiences and identities reflected in―or complicated by―the interactive virtual worlds they inhabit. Elissa Washuta immerses herself in The Last of Us during the first summer of the pandemic. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah describes his last goodbye to his father with the help of Disco Elysium. Jamil Jan Kochai remembers being an Afghan American teenager killing Afghan insurgents in Call of Duty. Also included are a comic by MariNaomi about her time as a video game producer; a deep dive into “portal fantasy” movies about video games by Charlie Jane Anders; and new work by Alexander Chee, Hanif Abdurraqib, Larissa Pham, and many more.