Praise for No Gods, No Monsters

Both beautifully fantastical and wondrously mundane. . . Possibilities scattered like pennies on the ground.

NPR: Best Books of 2021

Epic, meta, Caribbean-inspired fantasy.

Booklist (Starred review)

Turnbull delves into the complexities of injustice and identity in this powerhouse contemporary fantasy.

— Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

Turnbull’s sophomore work (after The Lesson) puts him at the top of the field of fantasy literary fiction. It reveals social faults with insightful commentary and intriguing characters.

— Library Journal (Starred review)

This is a deeply human story, beautifully and compellingly told.

— Kirkus Review (Starred Review)

An intricate sequence of moving, intimate character portraits.

New York Times

Praise for The Lesson

The Lesson is thrilling, moving and thought-provoking. This may be Turnbull’s debut, but it reads like the work of a seasoned writer. It s also proof that science fiction is more than entertaining it s a vital genre that lays bare the perils of the age and the boundlessness of the human spirit.

— Shelf Awareness

A parable of cultural conflict, conflicting moralities, colonialism, and the costs of being a decent person in the midst of desperate times…This is one of those books in which the setting becomes almost a character in itself. The Virgin Islands and their people are drawn in vibrant detail…Turnbull has been compared to Octavia Butler, and in his case I think the observation is a valid one. The Lesson isn’t just a serious, important book–it’s also a fun and rewarding one.”

— Analog Science Fiction and Fact

[A] rich debut novel about family, love, and loyalty in turbulent times…Turnbull uses a beautifully drawn cast of black characters to convey the complexity of ordinary hardship in extraordinary times. This is an ideal story for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and other literary science fiction novels.

— Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

A compelling tale of invasive occupation and emotional uprising, Turnbull’s debut is complex and enthralling. It’s a must for all libraries, and the writer, who crafts speculative stories with black characters on par with Octavia Butler, is definitely one to watch.

— Library Journal (Starred review)

A persuasively—almost musically—worded meditation on colonialism and whether it’s really possible to return home again.

— Kirkus Review (Starred Review)

Turnbull artfully incorporates the history of slavery and colonialism on the US Virgin Islands into the story, imagining that history’s legacy on a future in which it’s hard to differentiate between the cruel nature of man and alien. The Lesson is an impressive first book that takes a classic science fiction archetype and makes it feel new.

— Booklist

The Lesson should appeal to fans of the socially aware and thoughtfully constructed science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia E. Butler, works that are concerned with more than the gee-whiz noise and flash of strange aliens and nifty new tech, that are deeply concerned with how encounters with beings not like us might change society, even as they echo events from our own past.

— Barnes & Noble SFF

Turnbull’s honesty here is important: the world we’d like to see, that we think is so obviously a better one, is hard to get to, because it leaves out the need for reckoning, symmetry, satisfaction that drives our sense of justice. It’s not a happy idea, but it is an exciting one, and it’s necessary to make that idealism achievable, one day.

— Fiction Unbound

The Lesson is everything I adore about a debut, a bold new voice that applies a fresh coat of paint to an old idea and does so with a sense of daring, compassion, and intelligence.

— Locus

The Lesson is a story that should not be missed by readers who embraced such books as Emily St. John Mandel s Station Eleven or even Arthur C. Clarke s Childhood’s End…Truly gripping and shocking.


Turnbull paints a stunningly intricate portrait of humanity, capturing hopes and dreams, flaws and failings with remarkable depth and texture. The Lesson is a blast to read and a meaningful exploration of the bearing of colonialism and the perils of human ambition.

— Sylvain Neuvel, author of The Test and the Themis Files trilogy

I came for the aliens and a war of the worlds. I stayed for the deadpan St. Thomas humor; the complicated, charming, sexy island folk; and Turnbull’s delicious prose. He may not only be a new voice in sci-fi, but also a major new name in Caribbean American literature.

— Wilton Barnhardt, New York Times bestselling author of Lookaway, Lookaway

The Lesson brings an alien invasion to St. Thomas with a breadth that encompasses the past, present, and future. As his well-drawn characters wrestle with interspecies challenges, Turnbull imparts lessons that both embrace and transcend culture and race to drive at the heart of what it means to be human.

— Tananarive Due, American Book Award winner, executive producer of Horror Noire

In The Lesson Cadwell Turnbull, by setting his story in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, makes something completely new of the old theme of humans’ first contact with superior aliens. Putting these ‘colonizing aliens’ in a place shaped by colonialism opens new perspectives on issues of race and culture and sex and exploitation. But the true wonder of this novel is its beautifully realized portrayal of Charlotte Amalie and its deeply human and complex characters, young and old, all of them transformed by the arrival of the ambiguously motivated Ynaa. It’s a story of mystery, romance, tragedy, and redemption. Like Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin before him, Turnbull uses the tools of science fiction to illuminate the human heart. The Lesson stands at the beginning of what I expect to be a long and illustrious career.

— John Kessel, Nebula Award-winning author of The Moon and the Other and Pride and Prometheus

A welcomed addition to the new wave of Virgin Islands literature. The plot is smooth and exciting, the polemics are subtle but smart, and the characters are heartfelt.

— Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning

Bold and provocative…On the island of St. Thomas, a family collides with intergalactic meddlers, stranding two lovers with souls in distant worlds…

— Kris Lackey, USA Today bestselling author of Nail’s Crossing

A compelling and layered narrative that explores colonialism and our messy human flaws through a diverse and painfully real cast of characters. The Lesson is smart, full of dry wit and creeping dread-a unique and artful debut.

M. K. England, author of The Disasters