Arthurian legends are reborn in this upbeat queer urban fantasy with a mystery at its heart
The knights of the round table are alive in Vancouver, but when one winds up dead, it’s clear the familiar stories have taken a left turn. Hildie, a Valkyrie and the investigator assigned to the case, wants to find the killer — and maybe figure her life out while she’s at it. On her short list of suspects is Wayne, an autistic college student and the reincarnation of Sir Gawain, who these days is just trying to survive in a world that wasn’t made for him. After finding himself at the scene of the crime, Wayne is pulled deeper into his medieval family history while trying to navigate a new relationship with the dean’s charming assistant, Bert — who also happens to be a prime murder suspect. To figure out the truth, Wayne and Hildie have to connect with dangerous forces: fallen knights, tricky runesmiths, the Wyrd Sisters of Gastown. And a hungry beast that stalks Wayne’s dreams.
The Winter Knight is a propulsive urban fairy tale and detective story with queer and trans heroes that asks what it means to be a myth, who gets to star in these tales, and ultimately, how we make our stories our own.
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Jes Battis (they/them) is a queer autistic writer and teacher and the author of the Occult Special Investigator series and Parallel Parks series (as Bailey Cunningham) with Ace. Their first novel, Night Child, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award. Jes teaches queer and trans studies, medieval literature, and representations of disability/neurodiversity in pop culture at the University of Regina. They split time between the prairies and the west coast.
Published: April 2023
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.
“Authentic portrayals of queer, trans, and disabled characters along with a delightful mash-up of modern Vancouver, college life, and Arthurian legends become an immersive story of trying to be in control of your own path, no matter your past. VERDICT Battis (Bleeding Out) gives Arthurian retellings a new twist with this queer urban fantasy.” — Library Journal Starred Review
“Much of this novel will be most resonant for readers familiar with the relationships between characters in Arthurian legends. However, readers in search of queer and autistic representation in fantasy will gladly skim over the confusing parts to savor the heart of the tale: people defying expectations—including, at times, their own—to rewrite their stories and forge their own happy endings.” — Booklist
“A charming story of mythological figures in the modern day. Battis’s prose breathes new life into ancient folklore.” — Zabé Ellor, author of Silk Fire
“Old friends wear new faces in this lively, funny, heartbreaking tour of a modern city peopled by stories. The Winter Knight will take you kindly by the hand, and leave you believing in courage, compassion, and a world we might be able to see, if we just turn our heads at the right moment. A worthy reimagining.” — Kate Heartfield, author of The Embroidered Book
“This is such a fresh interpretation of Arthurian legend, with rich character diversity and a super entertaining plot.” — BuzzFeed
“Battis handles the psychology of the reincarnated characters well, balancing their awareness of past lives with their present-day agendas. Weaving endearing queer coming-of-age threads throughout the mythically grounded mystery, this satisfying reimagining delivers.” — Publishers Weekly
“This inventive take on the Arthurian myth is a testament to story — the wisdom inherent in old stories, and the power that lies in reimagining what they could be. The possibilities for a combination like this? Endless, as Jes Battis will show you!” — Amanda Leduc, author of The Centaur's Wife
“Arthurian knights vie for power at a university in a contemporary Vancouver where queer and genderqueer students must contend with magic and murder among the faculty. Richly imagined and lushly written, The Winter Knight gives us intriguing characters, a compelling story, and a vivid sense of a beautiful and complex city colonized by invasive myths and ancient dread.” — A.M. Dellamonica, author of Child of a Hidden Sea
“It’s not just that Battis’ worldbuilding delights me (though it does!), but their prose is more than up to the task of conveying the wonder, the strangeness, the cold-sharp-glass thrill when things come to a head. The writing flows like water between lines that make you laugh.” — Every Book a Doorway blog
“For fans of urban fantasy and ancient legends alike, The Winter Knight is a rare blend — a fun read and a beautiful one, too. It’s full of mythical quests, but it’s driven by its sensitively drawn and complex characters. It’s full of metal forges and runes, but it’s also full of student services and public transit. In short, it’s a joy.” — Topaz Literary blog