It is time for my favourite blog post of the year: my 21 most anticipated books of 2021! I love working myself up into a frenzy of excitement for books, and I love writing lists, which makes today’s post the most fun to write. I spent the last month putting all of my Goodreads 2021 shelf (over 200 books…) into Notion so I can play with lots of filters to make it easy to see what’s coming out. And it was very handy to help me figure out what books are my most anticiapted (cry there are so many good books coming in 2021).
Before I start, know that I had over 200 books on my 2021 shelf, and it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to just 21. There are so many more than the ones on this list that I can’t wait to read. I also want to give a shout out to a few books that aren’t on this list, because I already have a copy of them due to ARCs/through my work, and so technically don’t count as anticipated anymore (yes I needed every little excuse to manage to help me narrow this list down). So a shout out to Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales and Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft, which I have ARCs for, and also The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He – I’m lucky enough to work for the Commonwealth publisher of that book! Anyway, without further ado, here are my 21 most anticipated books of 2021!
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
The order of books on this list is completely random, EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE. I could not start this list with any other, because She Who Became the Sun is my *most* anticipated book of 2021 so of course it had to be at the top of this list. Every time I see someone tweet about this book, I get more and more excited: from the general kneeling in front of his Prince tweet, to the ancient sex toys, to the bloodied, crying men, to the “gender fuckery but with feelings” to the stark realisation that this is comp’ed to The Song of Achilles which is a tragedy. Anyway suffice to say, I am inordinately excited for this book and I want everyone else to be too. (Release date: July 20)
Mulan meets The Song of Achilles; an accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China.
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
A lush, fresh literary voice merges with commercial appeal in this accomplished debut. Powerful and poetic, beautiful and brutal, She Who Became the Sun is a bold reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
It is no surprise that The Fever King is my favourite book, that series broke me in the best way possible and made Victoria Lee an autobuy author for me until the end of time itself. A Lesson in Vengeance is a book they describe as their “gothic lesbian murder book” and yes that does indeed sound amazing. It’s got dark academia, witchcraft and a dormitory haunted by the spirits of five girls who died at the boarding school. (Release date: August 3)
For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.
Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.
Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.
Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.
It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.
And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.
On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu
I think this might be my favourite cover of 2021 so far – it’s just so simple, and yet feels so gentle and beautiful, and almost haunting in it’s fragility. MUCH KUDOS TO THE COVER DESIGNER (Kimberly Glyder). On Fragile Waves is coming from independent publisher Erewhon who only started publishing in 2020, but they’ve had some incredible books this year and their 2021 list looks just as brilliant so I encourage everyone to check them out! This is a magical realism novel about two children made of fire who are born in Afghanistan during a war and decide to leave for Australia. (Release day: February 2)
Firuzeh and her brother Nour are children of fire, born in an Afghanistan fractured by war. When their parents, their Atay and Abay, decide to leave, they spin fairy tales of their destination, the mythical land and opportunities of Australia.
As the family journeys from Pakistan to Indonesia to Nauru, heading toward a hope of home, they must rely on fragile and temporary shelters, strangers both mercenary and kind, and friends who vanish as quickly as they’re found.
When they arrive in Australia, what seemed like a stable shore gives way to treacherous currents. Neighbors, classmates, and the government seek their own ends, indifferent to the family’s fate. For Firuzeh, her fantasy worlds provide some relief, but as her family and home splinter, she must surface from these imaginings and find a new way.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
I am living for all these dark academia books being written by marginalised authors, this is MY JAM. I’ve been excited for this book for what feels like years, since I first saw these really cool character card artworks on Àbíké-Íyímídé’s website (I can’t seem to find them there anymore, but here’s one she posted on Twitter!) Part thriller, part dark academia, part exploration of institutional racism, Ace of Spades is about two teens whose dark secrets are being exposed by an anonymous texter called “Aces”. (Release date: June 10)
An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Detransition, Baby is one of the very few contemporary novels which made it onto this list – as a huge SFF reader, my most anticipated lists tend to be full of fantasy/scifi/horror. But that just means that the few contemporary books that make it onto this list must be truly spectacular, to have won over my fantasy heart! And Detransition, Baby definitely is. It’s about three people (trans and cis) who take a rather unconventional route to raising a child together. (Release date: January 12)
A whipsmart debut about three women–transgender and cisgender–whose lives collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex.
Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese–and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby–and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it–Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family–and raise the baby together?
This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
One of my biggest reading regrets of 2020 is that I still have not read Tasha Suri’s The Books of Ambha duology. (We’ve still got most of a month left, so maybe I’ll make it?!) I don’t think anything I say will make this book sound more amazing than the tags Suri mentioned on Twitter so I’ll hand things over to them: ‘enemies to lovers (well, ‘reluctant allies to lovers’), it’s all about the yearning™, wet sari scene, secret identities, tragic pasts, ReVENGE, the imperialist patriarchy is bad actually, burn it all down, the enemy of my enemy is my girlfriend, long lost siblings’ and also ‘Indian epic fantasy, morally grey lesbians (in love), reluctant-allies-to-lovers, vicious family dynamics, and monstrous women’. Insert incoherent screech of excitement here. (Release date: June 10)
Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.
Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.
But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen
I first found out about this book thanks to a Syfy article and I think it’s one of the only times I’ve ever been unable to hold back an actual squeak at just what Mike Chen is giving us with this book. Not only are we getting a pansexual main character, they are also a SUPERVILLAIN who has to work with a SUPERHERO to figure out what the fuck happened to them because yes, they’ve lost all their memories. Yes I am crying at how incredible this sounds, what of it. (Release date: January 26)
An extraordinary and emotional adventure about unlikely friends and the power of choosing who you want to be.
Jamie woke up in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to his identity, but with the ability to read and erase other people’s memories—a power he uses to hold up banks to buy coffee, cat food and books.
Zoe is also searching for her past, and using her abilities of speed and strength…to deliver fast food. And she’ll occasionally put on a cool suit and beat up bad guys, if she feels like it.
When the archrivals meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize the only way to reveal their hidden pasts might be through each other. As they uncover an ongoing threat, suddenly much more is at stake than their fragile friendship. With countless people at risk, Zoe and Jamie will have to recognize that sometimes being a hero starts with trusting someone else—and yourself.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
SPACE GAYS ALERT. This sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted in SFF: the fun, queer romance from Red, White & Royal Blue but in SPACE with the cool worldbuilding and tech that comes with that. In addition to all that epicness, Winter’s Orbit also includes a murder plot, being forced to marry your husband’s cousin when your husband is murdered, and then trying to prove that you did not in fact murder your husband, Prince of the Iskat Empire. (Release date: February 2)
Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue in Everina Maxwell’s exciting debut.
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J Klune
Do I still count as a Klune baby? Yes. But that only means I have his entire backlist to read until this book comes out in MY BIRTHDAY MONTH next year. I adored his 2020 releases (specifically The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries, as I’m still making my way through the Green Creek series), and Under the Whispering Door sounds like it has Klune’s classic combination of pure joy and utter destructive heartbreak (Klune remains to this day the only author that has me literally laughing on one page, and then crying the next). (Release date: September 21)
Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune’s signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Another of my favourite covers of 2021 I think, the colour palette is just so soft and gentle, I love it. After another white author decided to show their racism on Twitter this week, this time about classics, I want to push this book into even more people’s hands! The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents The Great Gatsby, with a queer Asian lead. I don’t actually think I’ve ever read The Great Gatsby but I do not care, all I want is this book. Pretty sure it’s going to be a thousand times better than the original anyway! So put aside the classics by racist white men, and pick up this one instead! (Release date: June 1)
Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society―she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.
But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.
Nghi Vo’s debut novel reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.
Darling by K. Ancrum
K. Ancrum is another one of my autobuy authors, I absolutely love both The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars. Her past books have had some really cool page designs as well, so I’m hoping we’ll see that trend continue! Darling is a retelling of Peter Pan as a thriller, and set in the modern world and from what I gather from Ancrum’s twitter account, will delve into Peter Pan as a villain/not the good guy he’s usually made out to be, THANK YOU YES PLEASE I NEED. It also has a bi Tinkerbelle!! (Release date: June 22)
A teen girl finds herself lost on a dangerous adventure in this YA thriller by the acclaimed author of The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars—reimagining Peter Pan for today’s world.
On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.
Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?
Acclaimed author K. Ancrum has re-envisioned Peter Pan with a central twist that will send all your previous memories of J. M. Barrie’s classic permanently off to Neverland.
The Witch King by H.E Edgmon
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about fae? But the one way to get me to is to make it an angry trans witchy fae book. The Witch King also has one of my favourite ever tropes, but a trope that I don’t think I’ve actually read any book with outside of fanfic: FATED SOULMATES!!!! I just fucking love that trope so much. Other tags (from the author’s Twitter) include: arranged marriage, fated soulmates, also platonic soulmates, friends to enemies to lovers, trans MC, everyone’s queer and dramatic, on god bro we’re gonna get you some therapy, this started as a revenge fantasy lol, hopeful ending? (Release date: June 1)
To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.
Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.
In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.
Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.
The Unbroken by C.L Clark
Ahem. Arms. Wow. Do I want to have arms like those or do I want those arms wrapped around me? Both? Both sounds good. The Unbroken is a military fantasy with assasinations and espionage, about a princess and a soldier whose lives become entwined. And it also has SEXY KNEELING SOLDIER IN FRONT OF HER PRINCESS, we are seriously blessed with sexy kneeling in 2021. I don’t know what brought this on, but I am thankful for it. (Release date: March 23)
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr
The Prophets is another of the very few non fantasy/scifi/horror books on this list (which as I said earlier, means this must be really fucking good). The Prophets is set on a Southern plantation and follows two teen slaves who find safety in each other, and what happens after a fellow slave starts preaching the master’s gospel and their love becomes a sin. I think this book is going to end up on a lot of best of 2021 lists. (Release date: January 5)
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.
With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr. fiercely summons the voices of slaver and the enslaved alike to tell the story of these two men; from Amos the preacher to the calculating slave-master himself to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminate in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.
The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver
The last of the contemporary books on this list, and the only YA contemporary on the list, is none other than The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver. Deaver’s debut, I Wish You All the Best, is one of the best YA books I’ve ever read. It was so beautifully honest, spectacularly emotive, and such an important book for teens questioning their gender. So I am absolutely sure that The Ghosts We Keep is going to break me just as spectacularly, as it’s a book about grief. (And as the blurb even says, this book will rip you heart out before showing you how to heal from tragedy). Prepare for tears. (Release date: June 1)
Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, this book will rip your heart out before showing you how to heal from tragedy and celebrate life in the process.
When Liam Cooper’s older brother Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationship with his two best friends.
Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam finds themself sharing time with Marcus, Ethan’s best friend, and through Marcus, Liam finds the one person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through, for the better, and the worse.
This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
This book sounds like one of the most unique premises I’ve ever read: queer (poly!!!) Handmaid’s Tale x Pacific Rim retelling of the only female emperor in Chinese history. Combined with the inspiration from East Asian myth to create the giant magical mecha machines, everything about this book sounds ridiculously good! (Release date: Fall 2021)
Iron Widow is a YA Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. The duology will follow an 18-year-old re-imagining of her as she avenges her sister’s murder by an intensely patriarchal military system that pairs boys and girls up to pilot giant magical mecha based on creatures from East Asian myth (Nine-Tailed Fox, Moon Rabbit, etc.), but in which boy pilots are treated like celebrities, while girl pilots must serve as their concubines.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
I was new to horror last year which means I have been blessed by getting into the genre at a time when queer horror specifically is absolutely killing it! Summer Sons is one of these: it’s a queer southern gothic Fast & the Furious but with a phantom with bleeding wrists who wants revenge. (Release date: September)
Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six month later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.
As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.
Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
I am a huge fantasy fan, but I have to say, I think 2021 is the most excited I’ve ever been for a year of science fiction releases. There are a lot of really brilliant sounding books coming. Light From Uncommon Stars already has a greast review up on Goodreads from sci-fi legend Charlie Jane Anders, which I encourage everyone to read as it goes into a lot of depth about the care and detail this book has gone into around trans identity and transitioning (which makes me even more excited to read this!!) With a trans female musician MC, this book follows them, a violin legend and a spaceship captain as they find each other when trying to flee a war. (Release date: Fall 2021)
Cornell University MFA graduate, poet, professor, and performer Ryka Aoki’s LIGHT FROM UNCOMMON STARS, about three women trying to escape their pasts — a Hell-damned violin legend and teacher, a young transgender runaway and aspiring musician, and a spaceship captain fleeing a faraway war — who find each other, and unexpected magic, in California’s San Gabriel Valley, to Lindsey Hall at Tor, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company (world English).
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Rivers Solomon’s novella The Deep is one of the only books I read twice this year, which should tell you how good it is. (And I actually think it’s even better on a second read, because there was so much more I noticed!) But this makes me very excited for her full-length book coming next year, Sorrowland. It’s a gothic, genre-bending novel about a pregnant woman escaping a cult whose body starts to undergo strange changes that make her capable of more damage than should be possible against those who hunt her. (Release date: May 4)
A triumphant, genre-bending breakout novel from one of the boldest new voices in contemporary fiction.
Vern―seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised―flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.
But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.
To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future―outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.
Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske
Historical fantasy is really killing this list beteween She Who Became the Sun, The Jasmine Throne, The Chosen and the Beautiful, and THIS BABY, A Marvellous Light. A Marvellous Light is set in Edwardian England, with magic, a murder mystery and what sounds like some really fun political shenanigians! It also has some rather exciting fanfic style tags including: overthinking under-powered spiteful librarian/genial jock with surprising layers, UST (unresolved sexual tension), VRST (very resolved sexual tension), fantasy of very bad manners, hurt/comfort, Houses That Love You, bound by blood, bound by sexy magical restraints (lol), gratuitous library porn, homicidal hedge maze, sleeves rolled up forearms, Messing About In Boats (classically english homoerotic trope there). I am MOST EXCITED about sleeves rolled up forearms, I feel like not enough people appreciate a good forearm. (Release date: November)
Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.
Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.
Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.
The Taking of Jake Livingston Ryan Douglass
I am living for the growth of the YA horror genre, and leading the charge is a book I have been excited about for OVER A YEAR, The Taking of Jake Livingston. Previously titled Jake in the Box, this book follows Jake, one of the only Black kids at school, who gets haunted by the ghost of a school shooter. (Release date: July 13)
Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.
Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed sixteen kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.
I wish I could talk about so many more books, there are so many others I also want to read but I’m trying to actually stick to my list goal for once and not go over the ’21 books for 2021′ thing. It’s almost impossible. However, I will also be back with several more lists of 2021 books I’m excited for! I’ll definitely be doing one for YA and cpontemporary as I feel they suffered on this list because I love SFF so much. But what books are you excited for in 2021? Did any of them feature on my list? Let me know in the comments!