49 must read fantasy of 2021!

Hi everyone,

I started writing this post about all the fantasy I’m looking forward to this year, and oh my god, there are so many?! How am I going to possibly manage to read all of these?! But writing this just made me so excited for the state of fantasy right now, the brilliance on this list is unparalleled and I’m so happy I exist in a time where I get to read them. So without further ado, I have for you today a post with the 28 adult fantasy books and the 21 YA fantasy books that I want to read in 2021! Please cry with me in horror that there’s no way I can possibly buy this many books.

Adult

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

We all know this is my most anticipated book of the year, and I can now say, IT IS NO LONGER ANTICIPATED BECAUSE I’VE READ IT. I am deceased, and writing this post from beyond the grave. Holy fuck. All I can say is the hype is so worth it, I was already planning a quote tattoo before I reached the midway point. I would die for Ouyang. I would die for Zhu. There is so much pain and suffering all bound up in the most beautiful prose. My heart felt like it was being slowly ripped out the whole way through. So in summary: GO PRE-ORDER THIS BOOK.

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything
.

“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 takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárat (translated by David Bowles)

Dracula is my favourite classic and so I immediately want to buy any and all retellings. Particularly when they’re written by a Mexican author and are explictly queer. This is a reimagining of Dracula’s journey to England, published by the legendary Silvia Moreno-Garcia at her own mini-publishing company and I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive!!

A reimagining of Dracula’s voyage to England, filled with Gothic imagery and queer desire.

It’s an ordinary assignment, nothing more. The cargo? Fifty boxes filled with Transylvanian soil. The route? From Varna to Whitby. The Demeter has made many trips like this. The captain has handled dozens of crews.

He dreams familiar dreams: to taste the salt on the skin of his men, to run his hands across their chests. He longs for the warmth of a lover he cannot have, fantasizes about flesh and frenzied embraces. All this he’s done before, it’s routine, a constant, like the tides.

Yet there’s something different, something wrong. There are odd nightmares, unsettling omens and fear. For there is something in the air, something in the night, someone stalking the ship.

The cult vampire novella by Mexican author José Luis Zárate is available for the first time in English. Translated by David Bowles and with an accompanying essay by noted horror author Poppy Z. Brite, it reveals an unknown corner of Latin American literature.

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

This is one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I am so ecstatic it’s publishing in January because I do not have to wait long until I can read it. This is a superhero novel where a superhero and supervillain have lost their memories and must work together to reveal their pasts. It also has ON PAGE PAN REP yes this is amazing.

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.

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Check! Out! That! Cover! What a stunner. Son of the Storm is about a scholar who discovers an injured warrior in his barn, claiming she comes from a place which shouldn’t exist, and is brought on a adventure with her that will reveal the hidden truth of his city.

A young scholar’s ambition threatens to reshape an empire determined to retain its might in this epic tale of violent conquest, buried histories, and forbidden magic.

In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands–which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist–and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields. Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso will have to set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore.

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Blessed are we with Dracula retellings!! A Dowry of Blood is a novella reimagining of Dracula’s Brides, but with a MOTHERFUCKING POLY RELATIONSHIP YES! And all four of the main characters are bi (my little bi heart is literally screaming out in love). I am so excited to read this gothic book, I will never get tired of Dracula retellings!

A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death. 

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Loki is getting a lot of love this year with a TV show AND a wonderful retelling from Genevieve Gornichec about a banished witch who falls in love with him. And obviously I will consume as much Loki media as possible.

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

I read the first two books in Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga at the start of 2020 and have spent the entire last year longing for the finale, which is coming in September!! This is a series that will definitely break your heart, and Jade Legacy is a finale that I know will destroy me. So obviously, I can’t wait! Please destroy me, Fonda Lee.

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.

The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

The Unbroken by C.L Clark

TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE SEXY ARM BOOK. Look, if you don’t want to buy this book simply from looking at that cover, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. ‘Cause those arms are something else. But if you need more information, The Unbroken is a military fantasy about a soldier who is sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion but also, it’s really really gay according to the author.

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 Library of the Dead by T.L Huchu

Edinburgh is one of the best settings for ghost stories and I’m so happy we’re getting an adult fantasy set there!! (I grew up near there and am very excited to recognise all the places the author mentions). But even better, The Library of the Dead is inspired by Zimbabwean magic and has a girl who talks to ghosts and a monster who drains children of joy.

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

Not much can get me more excited about a book than “government nuns who partake in ritualistic cannibalism”. Like seriously, what a fucking pitch point for a book. And according to a review on Goodreads this also has sexually transmitted zombieism?!?! Whhhhaaaaat. I’m ready to be fucked up by this book.

All martyrdoms are difficult.

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard is one of the most legendary novella writers around right now, and Fireheart Tiger sounds just as amazing as her others! It’s set in a Vietnamese inspired world, and follows a princess sent away as a hostage as she returns to her home, haunted by memories of her first love and a dangerous fire.

Award-winning author Aliette de Bodard returns with a powerful romantic fantasy that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world.

Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate—and her own?

Under the Whispering Door by T.J Klune

T.J Klune is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, I have cried at every book of his I’ve read so far (and I rarely cry at books so this is quite a feat). And by the blurb alone, it looks like Under the Whispering Door will be much the same! This is about a ghost who doesn’t want to cross over into the afterwold, so sticks around in a small village on the ouskirts of the afterworld. There, he falls in love with the owner of a local tea shop, and is given just 7 days spend together until he must cross over. I CAN FEEL THE TEARS ALREADY.

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.

On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Hu

On Fragile Waves, or ‘book with the most gorgeous cover of 2021’ is a magical realism novel about a pair of siblings who are children of fire, who are trying to travel from Afghanistan to Australia, which they see as a fantasy land of hope and opportunities. It sounds like such a moving portrayal of war and immigration and it is one of my most anticipated books of the year!

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.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Another one of the most gorgeous covers of 2021 is Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland! This genre-bending gothic novel addresses the violence of America’s history and follows a pregnant woman escaping from a cult, whose body starts to change to perform incredible feats of brutality that shouldn’t be possible.

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.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Sapphic fantasy is going to make 2021 worth living. And this is one of them!! The Jasmine Throne is an Indian inspired fantasy about a princess and a maidervant trying to save their empire from the princess’s brother. It also has: 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 (from the author’s Twitter!)

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.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

I loved Uprooted so I have very high hopes for this book which is compared to it! This wolfy adult fantasy is about a woman who is due to be sacrificed to the Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom, and she’s kinda happy about it because she has a terrible power she can’t control and doesn’t want to hurt her loved ones. But not everything in the woods is as it seems… Dun dun duuuuuuun. I hope that sounded ominous.

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.


For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

Set in the same world as P. Djèlí Clark’s short story, A Dead Djinn in Cairo, A Master of Djinn follows a woman working at the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities who is tasked with hunting down the murderer of a secret brotherhood who is claiming to be the very person the secret brotherhood was dedicated to.

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe for his fantasy novel debut, A Master of Djinn

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems….

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

2021 is the year of historical fantasy!! Every single one sounds absolutely incredible and I don’t know how I’m going to find time to read them all. The Conductors is set in post-Civil War Philadephia and follows a magic user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves murders that the white authorities refuse to touch.

A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred: Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

In this vibrant and original novel, Nicole Glover joins a roster of contemporary writers within fantasy, such as Victor LaValle and Zen Cho, who use speculative fiction to delve into important historical and cultural threads.

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turner

This book sounds absolutely monstrorous and we’re all going to love it. It follows a woman whose brother is killed by police. But the killing reveals something strange underneath: monsters are real. And they are ready to come out of the shadows and show themselves to humanity. But what are they running from?

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur

Another gorgeous cover is here! Folklorn is a genre-bending novel about Korean myth and science, following a particle physicist running from her family ghosts, but is followed by her childhood imaginary friend – a spectral woman in the snow who has come to claim her, as warned in the myths of her family.

A genre-defying, continent-spanning saga of Korean myth, scientific discovery, and the abiding love that binds even the most broken of families.

Elsa Park is a particle physicist at the top of her game, stationed at a neutrino observatory in the Antarctic, confident she’s put enough distance between her ambitions and the family ghosts she’s run from all her life. But it isn’t long before her childhood imaginary friend—an achingly familiar, spectral woman in the snow—comes to claim her at last.

Years ago, Elsa’s now-catatonic mother had warned her that the women of their line were doomed to repeat the narrative lives of their ancestors from Korean myth and legend. But beyond these ghosts, Elsa also faces a more earthly fate: the mental illness and generational trauma that run in her immigrant family, a sickness no less ravenous than the ancestral curse hunting her.

When her mother breaks her decade-long silence and tragedy strikes, Elsa must return to her childhood home in California. There, among family wrestling with their own demons, she unravels the secrets hidden in the handwritten pages of her mother’s dark stories: of women’s desire and fury; of magic suppressed, stolen, or punished; of the hunger for vengeance.

From Sparks Fellow, Tin House alumna, and Harvard graduate Angela Mi Young Hur, Folklorn is a wondrous and necessary exploration of the myths we inherit and those we fashion for ourselves.

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

ANOTHER STUNNING COVER!! It is so so beautiful!! Black Water Sister is a Malaysian contemporary fantasy from fantasy legend Zen Cho and follows a medium who begins to hear the voice of her dead grandmother, who demands help to settle a score against a gang boss.

A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

I’m yet to read a Natasha Pulley book but I’ve heard so many people absolutely rave about her books. I have a copy of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and I’ll be getting a copy of The Kingdoms as soon as it’s released!! The Kingdoms is a historical fantasy in a nineteenth-century French colony of England following a man with amnesia whose only clue to his identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse.

For fans of The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and David Mitchell, a genre bending, time twisting alternative history that asks whether it’s worth changing the past to save the future, even if it costs you everyone you’ve ever loved.

Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia. His first memory is of stepping off a train in the nineteenth-century French colony of England. The only clue Joe has about his identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse that arrives in London the same month he does. Written in illegal English-instead of French-the postcard is signed only with the letter “M,” but Joe is certain whoever wrote it knows him far better than he currently knows himself, and he’s determined to find the writer. The search for M, though, will drive Joe from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland and finally onto the battle ships of a lost empire’s Royal Navy. In the process, Joe will remake history, and himself.

From bestselling author Natasha Pulley, The Kingdoms is an epic, wildly original novel that bends genre as easily as it twists time.

Malice by Heather Walter

A dark sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty where the princess falls in love with the evil sorceress?! Sign me the fuck up. I have been loving the dark sapphic fantasy retellings we’ve been getting recently, and I am sure I will love this one because this sounds perfect!!

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Not much can make me more excited than a queer, sapphic, Asian-American, fantasy retelling of a white man’s classic, in this case: The Great Gatsby!! The Chosen and the Beautiful follows Jordan Baker, immigrant, socialite and magician in the most exclusive circle in 1920s America.

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. 

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

The Wolf and the Woodsman is a book inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology and follows a young pagan woman who teams up with a one-eyed captain to overthrow a tyrant. It also has a magic system based on body horror which sounds incredible! And sexy kneeling! There can never be enough sexy kneeling in the world!! And in case you still need a reason to pick up this book, read this quote from Shelley Parker-Chan, author of sexy kneeling book She Who Became the Sun: “Do you maybe like beautiful, mutilated enemy love interests who look good on their knees? DO YOU?” As matter of fact, I DO like beautiful, mutilated enemy love interests who look good on their knees!!

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

The Thousand Eyes by A K Larkwood

Another sequel, The Thousand Eyes is the sequel to one of my favourite books of 2020, The Unspoken Name. The characters are some of my favourite characters in fantasy, and I cannot wait to see what happens to them next! Especially Shuthmili, powerful sapphic goddess CLINGING TO HUMANITY!

Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they’re beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.

Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal’s old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever…

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

QUEER SCHOLARS ALERT! This should be a genre and I would like to read every book in it please. A Marvellous Light follows a civil service liason assigned to a hidden magical society. There’s also a murder mystery, it’s set in Edwardian England and it sounds VERY GOOD. From the publisher, this has: 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, gratuitous library porn, homicidal hedge maze, sleeves rolled up forearms, and Messing About In Boats.

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 Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso

Imagine me emitting just a high pitched screaming noise right now. The first two books in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy are incredible, and were two of my favourite books of 2020. They are SOUL-DESTROYINGLY good and I am scared about what K.S. Villoso is going to put these characters through in the finale!!

The stunning finale to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy where the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)

Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father’s castle.

War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.

Worse yet, her father’s ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.

Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.

Blackheart Knights by Laura Evie

This is the Camelot retelling but if Aruthrian legend was very queer and very violent. The author describes it as:

• it’s Camelot but in Gotham City.
• Knights ride around on motorbikes instead of horses, in leather, with swords, because that is a world I’d like to live in.
• There’s magic but also electric trains and television and urban wastelands and dive bars.
• It’s sexy, and violent, and queer, and did I mention swords

So yes I want to read it.

Power always wins.

Imagine Camelot but in Gotham: a city where knights are the celebrities of the day, riding on motorbikes instead of horses and competing in televised fights for fame and money.

Imagine a city where a young, magic-touched bastard astonishes everyone by becoming king – albeit with extreme reluctance – and a girl with a secret past trains to become a knight for the sole purpose of vengeance.

Imagine a city where magic is illegal but everywhere, in its underground bars, its back-alley soothsayers – and in the people who have to hide what they are for fear of being tattooed and persecuted.

Imagine a city where electricity is money, power the only game worth playing, and violence the most fervently worshipped religion.

Welcome to a dark, chaotic, alluring place with a tumultuous history, where dreams come true if you want them hard enough – and are prepared to do some very, very bad things to get them

YA

The Scratch Daughters by Hannah Abigail Clarke

Yes, first up for YA is the sequel to one of the best YA novels of 2020, The Scapegracers. The Scapegracers was a fantasy novel about a group of teen witches that had one of the best portrayals of female friendship I’ve ever read in YA, so I am extremely excited to see where the sequel takes this coven!! Particularly given the title… (Mr Scratch is the BEST).

Blurb taken from the cover reveal on Tor.com.

It’s been a wild year for Sideways Pike. She formed a coven with the three most popular girls in school, fell for a mysterious stranger, and threw a massive Halloween party with said coven to impress said stranger, only for her to literally rip Sideways’ specter out—a soul-like organ that gives witches the ability to perform magic. For Madeline, stealing Sideways’ specter was a necessary evil: after her witchfinder ex-boyfriend robbed her of her own, Madeline’s been hellbent on getting it back and exacting vengeance on the whole Chantry family, even if that means hurting another witch in the process. Sideways can have her specter back when Madeline’s done with it. She’ll be fine until then, right?

Except Winter break is looming and specter-less Sideways is feeling rotten. She can’t do magic on her own, parts of her mind are tangled with Madeline’s, and if it weren’t for Mr. Scratch, the inky book devil consensually possessing her, she’d probably be dead. Sideways and her fellow (much merrier) Scapegracers have set up shop as curse crafters for girls in their school who’ve been done wrong by guys, following dead-end trails in pursuit of Madeline where they can. But when Sideways comes up with a reckless plan to get her specter back, she finds the other Scapegracers think it’s too dangerous to proceed.

Well, Sideways is used to going it alone, and she’s desperate. She’s not going to let an ex-crush and six unhinged witchfinders stand between herself and her magic. But she, Mr. Scratch, and her trusty stolen bike are in for a bumpy ride…

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

This book sounds absolutely amazing, it’s a Jamaican-inspired fantasy all about a fight between mother and daughter – because the daughter of the queen has no intention of dying like sister, to strengthen her mother’s power.

Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

The angry trans book of your dreams is here!! The Witch King is one of my most anticipated books of the year. It has a trans witch, his fae ex-fiancé prince who is hunting him down to make him marry him, a grumpy/sunshine duo and one of the best tropes in the world, friends to enemies to lovers.

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.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

This is a book I’m going to be reading very soon, because I was lucky enough to get an ARC!! I’m heard so many amazing things about this gothic fantasy, it sounds to be lush and dark and I think it has lots of yearning?! Which is all anyone can want in a book right?!

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all. 

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

I feel like I’ve been waiting on this one for years, because I think it got pushed back to 2021. But that doesn’t make my excitement any less than it was a year and a half ago when I first heard about it! It’s an East Asian inspired fantasy about a peasant who must save her grandmother from a cult of priests, and the exiled prince she allies with.

Told in a dual POV narrative reminiscent of EMBER IN THE ASHES, JADE FIRE GOLD is a YA fantasy is inspired by East Asian mythology and folk tales. Epic in scope but intimate in characterization, fans of classic fantasies by Tamora Pierce and the magical Asiatic setting of AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER will enjoy this cinematic tale of family, revenge, and forgiveness.

Her Destiny. His Revenge.

In order to save her grandmother from a cult of dangerous priests, a peasant girl cursed with the power to steal souls enters a tenuous alliance with an exiled prince bent on taking back the Dragon Throne. The pair must learn to trust each other but are haunted by their pasts—and the true nature of her dark magic.

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Check out that cover?!?! It is incredible?!? I love it so much!? This witch book is about a girl who can summon the dead, and is warned by the dead to stop doing what she does or they’ll “burn everything down”. And then she accidentally raises someone from the dead…

For fans of Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

I finally read my first Anna-Marie McLemore book in 2020! Whilst I didn’t love it as much as expected after all the hype, I’ve heard that I started with the wrong one – so I will definitely still be picking up their newest book when it releases this year. The Mirror Season is a magical realist tale about two teens who were sexually assaulted at the same party.

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Wings of Ebony by J Elle

Another glorious cover!! There is such a trend of purples and pinks and golds in 2021 covers and I am LOVING it. This fantasy is about a teen whose mother is murdered and then finds out she’s actually part god when her never-seen-before-father turns up to take her away to an island of magic wielders. But when she breaks the rules and leaves the island to visit her sister, she finds out that Black kids are being forced into crime by an evil that lurks in the magic world as well as the human one.

In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry–and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she’ll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds.

Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games.


“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

There’s just something about girls with sharp knives on covers that make me immediately need to buy a book. Especially when they’re sapphic. In A Dark and Hollow Star, a fae prince, a half-fae outcast, a Fury, and a bodyguard must work together to hunt down a murderer who threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.

For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?

Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Yes I love tragic fantasies, I just like PAIN okay?!? Which means I’m going to adore Blood Like Magic, a book where a teen witch must save her family’s magic by sacrificing her first love. But since she hasn’t ever been in love, she has to first find the poor soul she’ll need to sacrifice, which she does through a new matchmaking program! Bring on the blood…

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

In Deeper Waters by F.T Lukens

I love pirates. Or maybe I love the pirate aesthetic? They just always have such great coats and eyeliner. Either way, it means I’m excited for In Deeper Waters, a book about a prince who is kidnapped by pirates on his coming-of-age tour and must appeal to one of his captors to help set him free and stop a war.

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

The long-awaited sequel and conclusion to Faizal’s debut We Hunt the Flame is finally here!!! And there is one question on everyone’s mind: IS ALTAIR OKAY AND ALIVE PLEASE GOD!?

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.

Blood Scion by Deobrah Falaye

This sounds like it will be one of the best YA of the year. Military fantasy is a genre less seen in YA than adult, so I’m really excited to see how Blood Scion adds to the genre. This is a West African fantasy inspired by the child soldier crisis and follows a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods when she is drafted into the military that hunts her kind.

Inspired by Africa’s child soldier crisis and set in a West African fantasy world, the novel follows a young Scion—the all but extinct descendants of the ancient Orisha gods—who is drafted into the very military that has hunted her kind for centuries. Stealing the opportunity to uncover what happened the night her mother disappeared, she will do anything to learn the truth —even if it means becoming the killer the army demands.

Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

We really are blessed with a surge of sapphic fantasy in 2021 and I am so excited to read every single one. Sweet and Bitter Magic is about a witch who is cursed with the inability to love, who can only feel love by stealing it from others. She makes a bargain with a girl whose father is dying to try find the source of a magical plague!

In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Girls of Paper and Fire, a witch cursed to never love meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic, and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first..

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

This has one of the most beautiful covers of 2021!! It’s so stunning, the covers are just so gorgeous I love it! And after the success of Cemetery Boys, this is sure to be one of the most talked about books of the year. Lost in the Never Woods is a Peter Pan retelling following Wendy and her brothers several years after they went missing in the woods, when more children begin to disappear.

When children go missing, people want answers. When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

The publisher describes this as “the lesbian love story you’ve been dying to read” and I definitely believe them!! Ash is dead. In the afterlife, she becomes a reaper, someone who takes souls to their afterlife fate. But Ash is also determined to see her first love again, and will do anything to make it happen.

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.

Car headlights.

The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.

But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?

This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.

But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…

NOT EVEN DEATH CAN TEAR THEM APART.

Second Coming by André-Naquian Wheeler

Look, I’ve always wanted a queer Jesus retelling (I’m a queer teen who was brought up Christian, the Jesus/Judus story is literally made for a queer retelling). But I might finally be getting it! Second Coming is about a teen who falls in love with an immigrant who might also be the son of God.

Set in the near future, Second Coming follows Ebb, a teen with a traumatic romantic past; that is, until he meets Manny, an immigrant from Nicaragua who loves him openly⁠—and might also be the son of God.

From Dust, a Flame by Rebecca Podos

From Dust, a Flame (previously The Dust Alphabet) is a sapphic Jewish fantasy about a teen cursed by a Jewish demon!! They have to hunt back through their family history to the Golem of Prague to find a way to break the curse.

A contemporary YA fantasy about identity, faith, and fate. On her 17th birthday, Hannah is cursed by a sheyd (a Jewish demon) as the price for a desperate bargain that her mother made long ago. To break the spell, she and her brother must track down their mother’s estranged family and discover a legacy they never dreamed of—one that traces back to the famous Golem of Prague.

The Coldest Touch by Isobel Sterling

Look, I adore vampires. It is my dream to write (and sell) a vampire book one day! So I’m super excited for Isobel Sterling’s sapphic vampire book (especially since her witchy debut, These Witches Don’t Burn, was so much fun!)

The contemporary fantasy follows Elise, a mortal girl who feels the death of anyone she touches, and Claire, the vampire assigned to recruit her for the Order, as they team up to stop a paranormal killer and realise they might be falling in love.

Briar Girls by Rebcecca Kim Wells

Sapphic girl who is poisonous to the touch? Yes please!! I am a big fan of this trend (can you call it a trend if it’s only two books that I know of so far?!) I’m loving it either way!

Catherine Laudone at Simon & Schuster has bought Briar Girls, a queer YA fantasy by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter the Sky). Cursed to kill all those she touches, Lena endures an isolated life on the run from her fellow humans. But when an enigmatic stranger offers to help her break the curse in exchange for her aid in waking a princess hidden in an enchanted forest, Lena embarks on a quest to win her freedom, no matter the cost.

The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl

Yes, there are MORE sapphic vampires coming in 2021 which is exactly what I needed this year! The Lost Girls follows a girl who is turned into a vampire by the boyfriend who immediately breaks up with her once she’s turned. She joins up with two of his previous exes (also vamps) to try kill him before he can change anyone else. YES this sounds INCREDIBLE.

When the vampire who turned Holly into the undead in 1987 (leaving her as a 16-year-old with badly crimped hair for all eternity) breaks up with her, she’s approached by two girls he also claimed to love, turned, then ditched. But their plan to kill him before he can strike again grows complicated when Holly starts to fall for the mortal girl they’re trying to protect.

Dark Rise by C.S Pacat

Dark Rise comes from the author behind the Captive Prince trilogy, and is her first foray into YA! We really know next to nothing about what this series might be about, but that doesn’t make me any less excited!

C.S. Pacat’s first YA series is set in an alternate London, and follow “the heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war who are being reborn, ushering in a dangerous new age of magic”.

And there you have it, my extremely long list of fantasy I want to read this year. I’m going to ignore the fact that there’s no way I can possible read this many books on top of all the other books I want to read for as long as humanly possible. But of course, I always love to hear about more! Are there any fantasy novels I’ve missed that you’re looking forward to? Or what fantasy novel are you most excited to read this year? Let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “49 must read fantasy of 2021!

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