I have read two so far and-- well, apparently what all those rec lists have in common is that they neglect to mention when something is the start of a series. And both books have ended on cliffhangers (( spoilers )), WHY.
...of course only one of them is one I think I'll actually continue.
Look, I WANTED to like Mary Gentle's The Lion's Eye. It's an alternate history where Carthage doesn't fall, the Holy Roman Empire is in shambles, Egypt is ruled by a queen, and the main character Ilarrio is a hermaphrodite and former slave on the run from their mother, who's just tried to kill them! There are great characters, like the Egyptian eunuch who helps them and has some cool chemistry with and is may or may not be a spy but is also CERTAINLY a scribe and book-seller who conveniently wanders around the continent, and the main character's father who didn't know they existed and is now super cheerful about his daughter-son and keeps trying to coax them to come and be his heir and live on his nice little villa and do what they like! The hapless assassin that Ilarrio makes pose as a model for their painting of Judas for hours on end, being uncomfortable and super confused about things!
...but then there is the whole there where about three-fourths of the way through the book everything gets...weird. ( More spoilers )
I am, however, looking forward to Lisa Bowen's sequel to Wake of the Vultures, which is due out in October. Even if it ended on a LITERAL CLIFFHANGER (thanks, Bowen!), it was definitely a better book and one I want to continue with, despite a few negative qualities to the book. (Two rape attempts, really? Must we?)
But Wake of the Vultures is also an alternate historical fantasy, this time set in a vaguely American West, with the main character Nettie Lonesome, an ill-used half-black, half-Indian girl who murders a stranger one day and begins to see monsters all around her, from vampires to shape-shifting coyotes who have the habit of transforming into Indian twins and ruining Nettie's life. And her entire life changes, with her struggling to find her place in a world that doesn't understand her (although it's a tight third-person POV focused on her and the book uses she/her pronouns, Nettie repeatedly identifies as a man and attempts to pass as one among other people) and in a role she doesn't want (once you've killed a monster, the other monsters tend to come looking for you). The magic in this is wonderfully creepy, the characters are great, and I'm interested in seeing what happens next. I just have to...wait until October. *pulls a face*