42 must read science fiction books of 2021!

Hi everyone,

I’m here with another post of books to look out for in 2021. Today, I’m looking at science fiction, and all I say is wow, we have an absolutely incredible year of scifi coming! For some personal most anticipated novels, check out YA books The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He and Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao; and for adult, Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki and the brilliant Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell which I have read and adored!

YA

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

DOESN’T THIS JUST SOUND DELIGHTFUL?!?! Two sworn enemies from the last two remaining countries on Earth are sent to space to conduct a resuce mission, with missing memories, strange things happening on the ship, and a handsome brooding shipmate. Sign me the fuck up.

Two boys, alone in space.

After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, neither remaining country on Earth can afford to scramble a rescue of its own, and so two sworn enemies are installed in the same spaceship.

Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor, with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: Evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing is his own sister.

In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust one another… especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Legendary adult science fiction author, Charlie Jane Anders, is coming to YA with her debut Victories Greater Than Death. I have an ARC of this one and I can’t wait to read it in the next month or so! It’s described as Star Wars meets Dr Who so there’s almost no way I could dislike this.

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes a thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war—Anders’s long-awaited YA debut.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

Yesterday is History is a time travel novel about and by a Black, queer man and I very much need this book in my life. It’s about a boy who gets a liver transplant and can now travel through time. He is torn between one boy in the past and one in his present as he tries to learn the consequences of jumping through time and changing the future.

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

Rise of the Red Hand is coming from a publisher that has only been around about a year, but have published some of the most exciting novels in the genre (Erewhon). It sounds so incredible, a scifi portrayal of the future of climate change set in South Asia and following a hacker and revolutionary trying to take down the government.

A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

One of TWO very exciting Pacific Rim style YA scifi novels coming this year, Gearbreakers follows a rebel who takes down mechanised weapons and finds herself in prison after one of her missions, where she teams up with one of the weapon pilots to take down the rulers who use the weapons to wage war and oppression.

Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I’ve only read one novel from Akemi Dawn Bowman (Starfish), but it was such a brilliant book that I know I need to read everything else she has and will write. The Infinity Courts is an afterlife book, set in a place called Infinity, where a virtual assistant used on Earth forces humans into servitude in repayment for how she has been forced to serve in the real world. This sounds different and interesting and I can’t wait to read Bowman in a scifi realm.

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Joan He is one of the most exciting authors in YA, I absolutely adored her debut Descendant of the Crane and I am just as excited to read her newest one, The Ones We’re Meant to Find. This is a Black Mirror-esque scifi with He’s trademark twisty nature, and follows two sisters. One is on an abandoned island with no memory of anything except that she has a sister, the other is a STEM prodigy in an eco-city, the last unpolluted place on earth.

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

Aetherbound by E.K Johnston

I really loved E.K Johnston’s The Afterword, a quiet fantasy novel about what happens after the quest is over. I can’t wait to see what she does in a scifi context, in a book about a family-run interstellar freighter.

A thought-provoking new YA space adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka.

Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston’s latest is story of survival and self-determination.

Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.

Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora

I’ve had an ARC of this book since last year, but as it was pushed back to a 2021 pub date because of covid, I haven’t read it yet! But soon! Fragile Remedy is about a world with genetically engineered medi-tissue people, who have been created as a cure for the rich suffering from fatal lung rot. But GEMs have a failsafe: their health will rapidly deteriorate unless they are regularly dosed with medication by the creators, a way to keep the GEMs close. The book follows a GEM called Nate who has to decide whether to work for the shadowy terrorist organisation to keep himself alive, or stay and die with the boy he loves.

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue created by the scientists of Gathos City as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, he was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. Nate manages to survive by using his engineering skills to become a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.

But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their GEMs—a flaw that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. As Nate’s health declines, his hard-won freedom is put in jeopardy. Violence erupts across the Withers, his illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay — and die — with the boy he loves.

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

The Electric Kingdom looks to be a more hopeful outlook on a deadly flu pandemic that what the actual world has given us. It follows a girl and her DOG and really that’s all I need to know (and NO the dog does not die!!!! At least according to Goodreads).

When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and light in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of love, art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another. 

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

Brittney Morris’s debut, Slay, was absolutely brilliant (in fact, it is the only book I’ve been able to get my very-not-a-reader partner to read in the past 2 years). Her next novel, The Cost of Knowing, follows a Black teen with the power to see into the future who forsees his brother’s death.

Dear Martin meets They Both Die at the End in this gripping, evocative novel about a Black teen who has the power to see into the future, whose life turns upside down when he foresees his younger brother’s imminent death, from the acclaimed author of SLAY.

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li

Clues to the Universe reminds me of the kind of soft scifi we saw with K. Ancrum’s The Weight of the Stars, and I just love this genre!! Clues to the Universe follows Rosalind, a teen who is building a rocket with her dad before he dies, and Benjamin, who loves space comics and whose dad left years ago, when they become science partners and help each other with the unfinished business their dads left behind.

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate

Lord of the Flies but in space and written by an author of colour?! Yes that sounds absolutely incredible!! This space thriller is set in a future where the first daughter and 53 other teens escape a dying Earth as the only hope for humanity’s survival.

SEVEN WAYS WE LIE, NOTEWORTHY, and FINAL DRAFT author Riley Redgate’s ALONE OUT HERE, pitched as LORD OF THE FLIES in space, a thriller set in a future in which the first daughter and 53 other teens end up on the only ship escaping a dying Earth and must contend with being the last hope for humanity’s survival as they fight to preserve their own humanity

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

There is nothing I can say that will sounds more fun than what the author has on her website so, City of Shattered Light is about: Cyborgs! Guns! Flirting! 🔥 Matriarchal crime syndicates! Heists! Brain-tech interfaces! 🎮 Girls kissing girls! Girls kissing boys! 💋 Bass-pumping cyberpunk nightscapes! 🌃 Queer found family! Possessed murderous tech! 💀 Drugged bubblegum! Creepy labs! Organ piracy! ⚡️ Cute girls who are actually steel-and-silicon death machines! Gravity-shifting gladiatorial pits! 🌆154-hour nights!

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Another of my most anticipated books of the year! Iron Widow is a polyamourous retelling of the rise to power of the only female Chinese emperor, Wu Zeitan, if you mixed it up with Pacific Rim and the Handmaid’s Tale.

Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But when she gets her vengeance, it becomes clear that she is an Iron Widow, a rare kind of female pilot who can sacrifice males to power up Chrysalises instead.

To tame her frightening yet valuable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest male pilot in Huaxia, yet feared and ostracized for killing his father and brothers. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will take over instead, then leverage their combined strength to force her society to stop failing its women and girls. Or die trying.SEE LESS

For All Time by Shanna Miles

I always love a good time travel romance, I think there at least 3 on this list which is so exciting! For All Time follows two lovers repeating their story across hundreds of lifetimes: fall in love, fight to be with each other, die. But now it’s time to break the cycle!

Outlander meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this teen romance that follows two lovers fated to repeat their story across hundreds of lifetimes, who hope to break the cycle once and for all.

Tamar is a headstrong slave in Mali, a high school junior with a terminal illness on a last-chance trip, a young woman struggling for independence in a segregated train car steaming her toward an arranged marriage. She is a musician, a warrior, a survivor.

Fayard is a soldier that must obey all the rules set before him, a charming high school senior who wishes to give his high school sweetheart a promise ring, a lost young man who runs numbers for King Fats in Chicago. He is a con man, a pioneer, a hopeless romantic.

Together, Tamar and Fayard have lived a thousand lives, seen the world go through revolutions and civil wars, and have even watched humanity take to the stars. But in each life one thing remains the same: Tamar and Fayard fall in love. Tamar and Fayard fight to be with each other. Tamar and Fayard die. Over and over again until, perhaps at last, they learn what it will take to break the cycle.

Borderland by Graham Akhurst

We know almost nothing about Borderland, other than one line on Goodreads “A coming-of-age, YA eco-thriller about Indigenous land rights with sci-fi elements” and the fact this is a LoveOzYA book coming from an Indigenous author. Which, really, is exactly all I need to know to know I want to read this book!

Adult

The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

Adult scifi is looking extremely good this year and starting this list off is The All-Consuming World, a book about a team of half-clone, half-machine, former criminals who get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission. But they are up against the highly-evolved AI of the universe who will do anything it takes to stop the humans from being in control every again. Also it has sentient spaceships which is one of my favourite tropes in scifi!!

A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade… but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. 

Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.

Machinehood by S.B Divya

I love a good scifi that tackles classic scifi tropes such as capitalism, AI, labour rights and big pharma, and that’s what Machinehood is giving us!! The blurb asks us “if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?” and yes this that just sounds excellent and the exact type of shit I expect to see if capitalism continues for the next 100 years.

From the Hugo Award nominee S.B. Divya, Zero Dark Thirty meets The Social Network in this science fiction thriller about artificial intelligence, sentience, and labor rights in a near future dominated by the gig economy.

Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It’s 2095 and people don’t usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive, but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.

All that changes when Welga’s client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.

Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.

Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood and what do they really want?

A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Yes I have read this and yes it is every bit as excellent as it sounds!! It was my last read of 2020 and of course made it onto my 2020 favourites list. It’s just so brilliantly fun and comforting: it felt like the book equivalent of a hug, all cosy and warm and soft with all your favourite tropes and the best kind of character development. But just as a note, there is a big content warning for past domestic abuse, so do be aware of that going in.

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.

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

I had such a great time reading Gailey’s novella Upright Women Wanted, a book about queer librarian spies fighting fascists, so I can’t wait to see how they handle something more scifiy. The Echo Wife is about a clone having an affair with her creator’s husband. But now the husband is dead and the two wives have to clean up the mess.

The Echo Wife is a non-stop thrill ride, perfect for readers of Big Little Lies and enthusiasts of “Killing Eve” and “Westworld­”

Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be. And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.

Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty.

Dark Lullaby by Polly Ho-Yen

Loving all these Black Mirror books coming in 2021!! Dark Lullaby combines this with the Handmaid’s tale and follows a mother who decides to have a child in a world where parenting standards are extremely heavily surveilled.

For fans of Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale, in Dark Lullaby a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored.

When Kit decides to have a child, she thinks she’s prepared. She knows how demanding Induction is. She’s seen children Extracted. But in a society where parenting is strictly monitored under the watchful gaze of OSIP (The Office of Standards in Parenting), she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together.

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day

It feels more rare to find romance in scifi than fantasy, which means I’m extra excited for this science fiction romance! It follows a young astronaut trying to solve the mystery of her uncle’s lost spaceship who falls in love with her uncle’s protégée.

A young, ambitious female astronaut’s life is upended by a fiery love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew in this brilliantly imagined novel in the tradition of Station Eleven and The Martian.

June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention, who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive.

She seeks out James, her uncle’s former protégée, also brilliant, also difficult, who has been trying to discover why Inquiry’s fuel cells failed. James and June forge an intense intellectual bond that becomes an electric attraction. But the love that develops between them as they work to solve the fuel cell’s fatal flaw threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create–and any chance of bringing the Inquiry crew home alive.

Equal parts gripping narrative of scientific discovery and charged love story, In the Quick is an exploration of the strengths and limits of human ability in the face of hardship and the costs of human ingenuity. At its beating heart are June and James, whose love for each other is eclipsed only by their drive to conquer the challenges of space travel.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

It’s a new Becky Chambers!!! Queen of scifi, this is the fourth novel in Chambers’ exceedingly popular Wayfarer’s series. It’s bound to have Chambers’ trademark joy and hope in a genre that often tackles very bleak and pessimistic futures.

With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.

When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

The Swimmers by Marian Womack

First off, what a stunning cover?! It’s so pretty?! Second of all, The Swimmers is set in a world ravaged by global warming, and now has lots of new strange animals and settings, with humanity separated into those who live on the surface and those who live at the edge of the planet’s atmosphere.

A claustrophobic, literary dystopia set in the hot, luscious landscape of Andalusia from the author of The Golden Key.

After the ravages of global warming, this is place of deep jungles, strange animals, and new taxonomies. Social inequality has ravaged society, now divided into surface dwellers and people who live in the Upper Settlement, a ring perched at the edge of the planet’s atmosphere. Within the surface dwellers, further divisions occur: the techies are old families, connected to the engineer tradition, builders of the Barrier, a huge wall that keeps the plastic-polluted Ocean away. They possess a much higher status than the beanies, their servants.

The novel opens after the Delivery Act has decreed all surface humans are ‘equal’. Narrated by Pearl, a young techie with a thread of shuvani blood, she navigates the complex social hierarchies and monstrous, ever-changing landscape. But a radical attack close to home forces her to question what she knew about herself and the world around her. 

The Effort by Claire Holyrode

The Effort sounds like the kind of scifi that really focuses on humanity and hope, which I think we all need a bit of right now! It follows a group of scientitsts studying a dark comet who have to come up with a plan to destroy the comet, the greatest threat the earth has ever seen, or accept the annihilation of humanity.

When dark comet UD3 was spotted near Jupiter’s orbit, its existence was largely ignored. But to individuals who knew better — scientists like Benjamin Schwartz, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies — the threat this eight-kilometer comet posed to the survival of the human race was unthinkable. The 150-million-year reign of the dinosaurs ended when an asteroid impact generated more than a billiontimes the energy of an atomic bomb.

What would happen to Earth’s seven billion inhabitants if a similar event were allowed to occur?

Ben and his indomitable girlfriend Amy Kowalski fly to South America to assemble an international counteraction team, whose notable recruits include Love Mwangi, a UN interpreter and nomad scholar, and Zhen Liu, an extraordinary engineer from China’s national space agency. At the same time, on board a polar icebreaker life continues under the looming shadow of comet UD3. Jack Campbell, a photographer for National Geographic, works to capture the beauty of the Arctic before it is gone forever. Gustavo Wayãpi, a Nobel Laureate poet from Brazil, struggles to accept the recent murder of his beloved twin brother. And Maya Gutiérrez, an impassioned marine biologist is — quite unexpectedly — falling in love for the first time.

Together, these men and women must fight to survive in an unknown future with no rules and nothing to be taken for granted. They have two choices: neutralize the greatest threat the world has ever seen (preferably before mass hysteria hits or world leaders declare World War III) or come to terms with the annihilation of humanity itself.

Their mission is codenamed The Effort.

Skyward Inn by Aliya Whitley

I have an ARC of this one waiting for me right now, better get my act together and read it!! Skyward Inn is about an inn in the middle of nowhere, removed from technology and politics. It’s a story about togetherness and community and belonging and sounds like it will be a beautiful and hopeful science fantasy novel.

This is a place where we can be alone, together.

Skyward Inn, on the moorlands of the Western Protectorate, is removed from modern technology and politics. Theirs is a quiet life – The Protectorate has stood apart from the coalition of world powers that has formed. Instead the inhabitants choose to live simply, many of them farming by day and drinking the local brew at night.

The co-owners of the inn are Jem and Isley. Jem, a veteran of the coalitions’ war on the perfect, peaceful planet of Qita, has a smile for everyone in the bar. Her partner Isley does his cooking in the kitchen and his brewing in the cellar. He’s Qitan, but it’s all right – the locals treat him like one of their own. They think they understand him, but it’s only Jem who knows his homeland well enough to recreate it in the stories she tells him at dawn.

Skyward Inn is Jamaica Inn by way of Ursula Le Guin, bringing the influences, too, of Angela Carter, Michel Faber and Jeff Vandermeer to create a fantastic story of love, belonging, and togetherness. Asking questions of ideas of the individual and the collective, of ownership and historical possession, and of the experience of being human, it is at once timeless and thoroughly of its time.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

The legendary Casey McQuiston is here with time travel romance number 3 on this list!! Yes I love this trope, it’s the yearning that knowing the love is impossible that really gets me. One Last Stop is about a girl who meets another on the subway and falls for her. There’s just one problem: she’s displaced in time from the 1970s.

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

This is one of my favourite covers of 2021! I want to be the person on the cover so much. Persephone Stations is a space opera about a backwater planet ignored by the government, where a bar that caters to wannabe criminals is located, and the bar owner who seeks out the head of a criminal organisation to do a job for them.

Hugo award-nominated author Stina Leicht has created a take on space opera for fans of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop in this high-stakes adventure.

Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire was one of the most unique, exciting and fresh science fictions I’ve ever read: part love letter to poetry, part murder mystery, part political thriller, part exploration of colonisation and imperialism. It was an absolute triumph of the genre and I am incredibly excited to read the sequel (and read it extremely soon because I have an ARC!!!)

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built is the beginning of a new novella series for sci-fi legend Becky Chambers. Aiming to give hope for the future, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is set centuries after robots gained self-awareness and follows a tea monk who has a run in with a robot who won’t leave until they work out what people need.

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools.
Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum

Coming from one of my favourite new publishers (Erewhon), The Unraveling is set in a future society where biotechnology has revolutionised gender – everyone can have multiple bodies! It follows a bioengineer and a child who accidentally end up in the centre of a scandalous art piece and unintentionally become icons for revolution. Give me all the scifis revolutionising gender please!! I NEED THEM ALL.

In a far-future society where biotechnology has revolutionized gender, young Fift must decide whether to conform or carve a new path.

In the distant future somewhere in the galaxy, a society has emerged where everyone has multiple bodies, cybernetics has abolished privacy, and individual and family success within the rigid social system is reliant upon instantaneous social approbation.
Young Fift is an only child of the staid gender, struggling to maintain their position in the system while developing an intriguing friendship with the poorly-publicized bioengineer Shria–somewhat controversial, since Shria is bail-gendered.
In time, Fift and Shria unintentionally wind up at the center of a scandalous art spectacle which turns into the early stages of a multi-layered revolution against their strict societal system. Suddenly they become celebrities and involuntary standard-bearers for the upheaval.

Fift is torn between the survival of Shria and the success of their family cohort; staying true to their feelings and caving under societal pressure. Whatever Fift decides will make a disproportionately huge impact on the future of the world. What’s a young staid to do when the whole world is watching?

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Yes, Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro is back with a new book – the first since his win – and it sounds absolutely excellent! Klara and the Sun follows Klara, an Artificial Friend sitting in a shop and waiting for someone to choose her to take home. Look I’m sorry, but even this description makes me teary because WHY DOES NO ONE WANT HER?!

Klara and the Sun is a magnificent new novel from the Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro–author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day.

Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.

Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

Sarah Pinsker is the author of Nebula award-winning novel A Song for a New Day and her newest book sounds just as epic! We Are Satellites is a novel about a family divided by technology when their teenage son wants a new brain implant, but their teenage daughter rises up against the corporate tech powerhouse, pitting the family against one another.

From award-winning author Sarah Pinsker comes a novel about one family and the technology that divides them.

Everybody’s getting one.

Val and Julie just want what’s best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all.

Soon, Julie feels mounting pressure at work to get a Pilot to keep pace with her colleagues, leaving Val and Sophie part of the shrinking minority of people without the device.

Before long, the implications are clear, for the family and society: get a Pilot or get left behind. With government subsidies and no downside, why would anyone refuse? And how do you stop a technology once it’s everywhere? Those are the questions Sophie and her anti-Pilot movement rise up to answer, even if it puts them up against the Pilot’s powerful manufacturer and pits Sophie against the people she loves most.

Future Feeling by Joss Lake

Future Feeling sounds all kinds of weird and wonderful! It’s about a dog walker who tries to curse fellow trans man (and Instragram influencer) but accidentally curses a different trans man by sending him to the Shadowlands, an emotional landscape where trans people journey to achieve self-actualisation. Yes this sounds weird but it also sounds magnifcently wonderful and fun and very different!

An embittered dog walker obsessed with a social media influencer inadvertently puts a curse on a young man—and must adventure into mysterious dimension in order to save him—in this wildly inventive, delightfully subversive, genre-nonconforming debut novel about illusion, magic, technology, kinship, and the emergent future.

The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a rut. When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, he’s holed up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity on the Gram. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, Pen enlists his roommates, the Witch and the Stoner-Hacker, to put their respective talents to use in hexing Aiden. Together, they gain access to Aiden’s social media account and post a picture of Pen’s aloe plant, Alice, tied to a curse:

Whosoever beholds the aloe will be pushed into the Shadowlands.

When the hex accidentally bypasses Aiden, sending another young trans man named Blithe to the Shadowlands (the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization), the Rhiz (the quasi-benevolent big brother agency overseeing all trans matters) orders Pen and Aiden to team up and retrieve him. The two trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to coax Blithe to stop speaking only in code and awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess. As the trio makes its way in a world that includes pitless avocados and subway cars that change color based on occupants’ collective moods but still casts judgment on anyone not perfectly straight, Pen starts to learn that sometimes a family isn’t just the people who birthed you.

Magnificently imagined, linguistically dazzling, and riotously fun, Future Feeling presents an alternate future in which advanced technology still can’t replace human connection but may give the trans community new ways to care for its own.

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu

Another excellent novella coming from Tor.com!! And also, what a beautiful cover? That illustration is gorgeous! In the Watchful City is a scifi novella about a city that uses a living security network to watch over the city, with ‘extrasensory humans’. The novella follows one of these extrasensory humans as ae comes into contact with a mysterious visitor who carries a cabinet full of curiosities from around the world.

In the Watchful City explores borders, power, diaspora, and transformation in a mosaic novella that melds the futurism of Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station with the magical wonder of Catherynne M. Valente’s Palimpsest.

The city of Ora uses a complex living network to surveil its inhabitants and maintain order. Anima is one of the cloistered extrasensory humans tasked with watching over the city. Aer knowledge of the world begins and ends with what ae can see and experience through the living network, and ae takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora’s citizens safe from all harm.

All that changes when a mysterious visitor arrives enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around the world, with a story attached to each item. As Anima’s knowledge of aer world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places—and possibilities—ae never before imagined to exist, ae finds aerself asking a question that throws into doubt aer entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor is another icon in the SFF community and she is back with a new novella set in a future time, about the adopted daughter of death who wanders with no one except for a fox companion, searching for the object that fell from the sky and gave her powers.

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

This scifi historical thriller sounds absolutely fascinating. It follows a race of aliens who exist to make sure humans reach space. They will do anything in their power to do so, no matter the cost. A History of What Comes Next follows two of these aliens as they try to lure Wenher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, to ensure the space race continues.

Showing that truth is stranger than fiction, Sylvain Neuvel weaves a scfi thriller reminiscent of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, blending a fast moving, darkly satirical look at 1940s rocketry with an exploration of the amorality of progress and the nature of violence in A History of What Comes Next.

Always run, never fight.
Preserve the knowledge.
Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars.

Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race.

But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes.

A darkly satirical first contact thriller, as seen through the eyes of the women who make progress possible and the men who are determined to stop them…

Dead Space by Kali Wallace

Kali Wallace is the mind behind creepy space horror Salvation Day, and now she’s back with Dead Space, a scifi thriller about a murder on an asteroid mine. Bring on creepy space books!

An investigator must solve a brutal murder on a claustrophobic asteroid mine in this tense science fiction thriller from the author of Salvation Day.

Hester Marley used to have a plan for her life. But when a catastrophic attack left her injured, indebted, and stranded far from home, she was forced to take a dead-end security job with a powerful mining company in the asteroid belt. Now she spends her days investigating petty crimes to help her employer maximize its profits. She’s surprised to hear from an old friend and fellow victim of the terrorist attack that ruined her life–and that surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he claims to have discovered something shocking about their shared history and the tragedy that neither of them can leave behind.

Before Hester can learn more, her friend is violently murdered at a remote asteroid mine. Hester joins the investigation to find the truth, both about her friend’s death and the information he believed he had uncovered. But catching a killer is only the beginning of Hester’s worries, and she soon realizes that everything she learns about her friend, his fellow miners, and the outpost they call home brings her closer to revealing secrets that very powerful and very dangerous people would rather keep hidden in the depths of space.

Unity by Elly Bangs

Unity is the debut novel from queer, trans woman Elly Bang and it sounds like an absolute brilliant piece of work! It’s a philosophical scifi thriller about Danae, a person who was once joined with a collective inside her body. She tries to escape the city, where she is a tech servant, with her lover and an ex-mercenary guide but is hunted by a warlord.

Evoking the gritty cyberpunk of Mad Max and the fluid idealism of Sense8Unity is a spectacular new re-envisioning of humanity. Breakout author Elly Bangs has created an expressive, philosophical, science-fiction thriller that expands upon consciousness itself.

Danae is not only herself. She is concealing a connection to a grieving collective inside of her body. But while she labors as a tech servant in the dangerous underwater enclave of Bloom City, her fractured self cannot mend.

In a desperate escape, Danae and her lover Naoto hire the enigmatic ex-mercenary Alexei to guide them out of the imploding city.

But for Danae to reunify, the three new fugitives will have to flee across the otherworldly beauty of the postapocalyptic Southwest. Meanwhile, Danae’s warlord enemy, the Duke, and a strange new foe, the Borrower, already seek them at any price.

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

This one also featured on my 21 most anticipated books of 2021 because it looks incredible! This trans scifi is about three women trying to escape their pasts, including one who is trying to escape eternal damnation, and has an absolutely stellar review in from scifi legend Charlie Jane Anders, who described it as hopeful and kind which sounds like the exact type of scifi we need in the current world!

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California’s San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-baked donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe is found.

Losing Gravity by Kameron Hurley

We don’t know much about Losing Gravity, but it’s by scifi legend Kameron Hurley and so I don’t really need to know any more than that!

Hugo Award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s LOSING GRAVITY, pitched as Killing Eve meets Die Hard, in space, to Joe Monti at Saga Press, in a very nice deal, for publication in 2021.

And there you have it: a list of the science fiction novels I’m looking forward to reading this year (let’s all just ignore for the moment that there is no way I can read this many books okay?) What science fiction books are you looking forward to reading in 2021? Let me know in the comments!

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!

My favourite books of 2020

Hi everyone,

What a year. All I can really say is thank god for the books that got me through it, that distracted me from the hell outside, that kept me going through the 23-hour-a-day, over 100 days long lockdown here in Melbourne. Thank you to the bookshops and authors who were able to keep supplying us with magical worlds to escape into, during a time where we really needed an escape. So I’m going to jump straight in to this post without saying anything else – here are my favourite books read in 2020!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If I had to choose just one book, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is my book of the year. It’s the book I read as an ARC earlier this year, immediately pre-ordered my own hard copy, and have since gifted to 3 or 4 other people. Because I need as many people as possible to read this. This is the modern gothic novel of my dreams. It is dark and twisted and the atmosphere is utterly captivating. Set in 1950s Mexico, it follows Noemí, a young socialite who goes to visit (and potentially rescue) her cousin after she receives a letter hinting that her cousin is in danger. Up high in the misty mountains of Mexico is a world of dangers, many mushroom related, and all equally terrifying and atmospheric, the tension in this novel is absolutely sublime.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

YA contemporary is a genre I only came to last year, but I have loved exploring the new releases in this genre, years after I myself was a teen, because we just have so many more diverse reads than when I grew up. And it really just makes my heart sing when I see myself in books that never would have been published when I grew up. Felix Ever After is one of these books. It is one of the most personal and heartfelt stories I’ve read, and I connected so closely with Felix. It is a story about a young trans man who decides to catfish his bully and ends up in a quasi-love triangle. But what Felix Ever After does best is really explore the fluidity of gender and sexuality and it is this that made this book connect so personally to me.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Much like Mexican Gothic, The Space Between Worlds was a book I snagged an ARC of and then immediately upon finishing had to buy the hard copy. Because this book is spectacular. It’s probably my favourite science fiction novel of all time. It’s a twist on the parallel universe trope, but in this world, you can only travel between parallel universes if the parallel you is already dead. Otherwise you’ll be gruesomely torn apart in the process of travelling. But this book is so much more than that trope: it’s a catastrophic take down of capitalism, it’s like a glimpse into our future if we carry on down the track we’re heading, set in this world ravaged by climate change and where the divide between poor and rich is so glaringly horrific. From the way Johnson depicts trauma and portrays Cara in the aftermath of this trauma, to the intense, full-of-yearning sapphic relationship, everything about this book is just excellent and Johnson has found a reader for life in me.

The Unspoken Name by A.K Larkwood

This was a book I read fairly early on in the year (April) just as the pandemic started ramping up and anxiety was at its highest. And god, it just blew me away. I was completely immersed in the world created by Larkwood and it was such a perfect distraction. I’ve spent the entire year since April thinking ‘yes, I need to reread this book’. And since we now have confirmation of a sequel coming this year, I’ll definitely be rereading it in advance of that! The Unspoken Name has everything I adore about fantasy: sapphic orcs escaping from gods who want them as a sacrifice, necromancy, slowburn sapphic romance, very powerful women totally losing their shit, wizards, tusks, portal travel, and so much more! The worldbuilding is so brilliant, this world is just absolutely huge and full of so much amazing detail. It really reminded me of the DragonAge games, which I also adore, so really it’s no surprise that this is one of my favourite books of the year! Bring on the sequel!

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

This book holds a particularly special place in my heart for several reasons. Firstly, it is the only book I have ever received a physical ARC of – I won it in the bushfire auctions at the start of 2020. And secondly, the Melbourne book launch for this was the very last event I went to before Covid hit and the entire country went into lockdown. And that’s before I even talk about the actual content of the book. This was just such a perfectly fun, lighthearted queer Grease retelling. The main character, Ollie, has such a funny voice, he was so sarcastic and self-deprecating which is one of my favourite voice styles to read in YA. And Gonzales absolutely nailed it. It also has some really fantastic discussions around queerness, particularly bisexuality. Only Mostly Devastated really reminded me of all my favourite 90s romcom films, like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You, and it was such a brilliant, positive book to read in a time when the world was crashing apart around us.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J Hackwith

One of my first reads of 2020, this one managed to stay on my favourites list for the entirity of 2020! It is quite possibly the most fun fantasy book I’ve ever read, just so full of joy and laughter. It’s set in Hell’s library, a place where all the unwritten manuscripts are housed. When a character escapes from one of the books, the librarian must hunt them down, but somehow ends up in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell. The writing style is so funny and snarky, I absolutely loved it. And the casual queerness in the world is perfect – even more so because the word pansexual is actually used on the page to describe the main character!! Which is the first time I think I’d read that in a fantasy book! The worldbuilding also felt very hopeful – there are no guns in the library because humans stopped imaginning them – small inserts like that really gave this book the happy and joyful atmosphere that had me so in love with it.

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

One of my goals for 2020 was to actually read some nonfiction/memoirs for the first time, and it makes me so happy that one of them actually made my favourite books of the year list! How We Fight For Our Lives is a memoir from award-winning poet Saeed Jones, and you can definitely tell Jones’ background is in poetry. The prose in this memoir is absolutely stunning. It felt like someone had punched me in the chest the whole through, like there was this gaping hole inside me, the way that only the most special of books can make you feel. Stunning and heartbreaking and a book I am longing to reread.

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

Mostly Dead Things is the book that most surprised me in 2020. It was a book I randomly saw on a library shelf and picked up with absolutely no expectations (especially given the Goodreads rating is also fairly low – so let me preface this by saying, GOODREADS PEOPLE WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!). But I was absolutely blown away by this adult contemporary. It is one of the most visceral, sensual books I’ve ever read, which created such an intense reading experience. It is definitely a strange book: it follows a taxidermist whose father commited suicide and whose mother now makes erotic art out of the taxidermy animals. It is dark and follows a lot of selfish, unlikeable characters making really shitty decisions. But I was just completely enthralled by Arnett’s writing, it is such a raw, agonising portrayal of grief that I felt like someone clawed me open the whole way through. Absolutely stunning!

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro & The Ikessar Falcon by K.S Villoso

I read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro back in January, and The Ikessar Falcon when it released in September, and this series immediately moved to my all time favourite fantasy series. I am so excited for the finale to this trilogy (coming in May!) Villoso is one of my favourite fantasy authors for a very particular reason: I like pain. I read this series, I think my favourite characters are at absolute rock bottom, that things can only go up! And then Villoso just smashes me and the characters with a rock and we tumble even further. There is such power in knowing that anything could happen to these characters, that they actually might not win. They all fill me with such passion, both fury and fierce loyalty. Villoso embeds her writing with such excellent character development, alongside so much action in a way that not many fantasies do (usually we see a focus on either one or the other). This series in an absolute masterpiece of fantasy and I need more people to read this so we can scream about it together.

The City We Became by N.K Jemisin

N.K Jemisin is one of my all time favourite authors and writer of one of my favourite fantasy series The Broken Earth trilogy, so of course I had very high hopes for the start of a new trilogy, The City We Became. And of course, this is N.K Jemisin, so all my hopes were met! What a start to a new trilogy! This is extremely different to the Broken Earth trilogy. In The City We Became, we are in modern day New York, in a world where cities can become alive when they reach a certain size and develop a unique enough culture. New York is waking up, and six individuals suddenly find themselves with the soul of the city inside them. They have to fight back against The Enemy, who wants to destroy the city so New York doesn’t destroy other worlds when it wakes up. This was such a unique and creative concept but my favourite thing about Jemisin’s writing is the way she blends science fiction and fantasy elements with the insidiousness of racism and otherness to create this spectacular commentary on our current world. It’s just absolutely incredible. Jemisin really has a way of combining these huge creative powerhouse concepts with vicious take downs of societal structures and the racism they uphold. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

T.J Klune is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, I haven’t read a single book of his that I didn’t love. The House in the Cerulean Sea is probably the most comforting book I read all year. It felt like a hug. It’s that simple. It follows a caseworker from the Department in Charge of Magical Youth as he goes to check on some very special children at a very special orphanage. There, he finds even more than he ever dreamed himself worthy of: family. This book was just the sweetest, happiest, most joyful book I read all year. It is full of Klune’s trademark emotional wringing, from laughter on one page, to tears on the next, but it is so full of hope and joy that I want everyone to have the most magical of times reading it.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies was my first Kiran Millwood Hargrave book, and Hargrave’s first adult book. And what a fucking book it is. I haven’t traditionally been the biggest reader of historical fiction – there’s a reason this list is mostly SFF after all! But I am so glad I decided to give this book a try, because it was absolutely beautiful. This book almost felt gothic in its atmosphere, set in this far-away, cold, and lonely village in Norway. It follows a group of women after the menfolk of their village are all killed in a violent storm, and suddenly they have to fend for themselves. But then a new commissioner, a witch hunter, is sent to the village, and as he tries to take back control from the women, friendship is weaponised and the women are manipulated into throwing about rumours of witchcraft that result in the most horrific of acts. This was such a beautifully destructive book, really showing the way power, and the desire for power, can warp and destroy everything you hold dear.

Jade City & Jade War by Fonda Lee

Jade City and Jade War were my first two reads of 2020 and they stayed at the top of my favourites list ALL YEAR! These two chonky books follow the Kaul family crime syndicate as they try to wrest control of their city from their rival clan. I am so phenomenally in awe of Fonda Lee’s ability to write battle scenes. The intensity, the fear, the panic that claws through me when I read these fight scenes is absolutely unparalleled, I absolutely race through them, desperate to know if my favourite characters will still be alive at the end. The worldbuilding is also exceptionally well done, the world is so huge and yet I feel like I know the city of Kekon so well through Lee’s writing. The magic system is so cool – using jade to grant almost superhero like abilities, but ones that require huge amounts of training to achieve? Perfection! So in summary, I love everything about this series and I am shaking with excitment (and perhaps fear) to read the finale which is publishing in September!

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian

This really was the year I learned that happy books can be good too….I am such a sucker for a SFF novel that brutally tears me apart, but this year I really learned the benefit and necessity of a pure comfort read. And adding to my other new comfort reads on this list Only Mostly Devastated, The Library of the Unwritten, and The House in the Cerulean Sea, is It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake! Not only is the cover absolutely beautiful in real life (the pink is so bright, my heart just sings looking at it), but this book is such a beautiful and positive outlook on life. It made me think about the way I view the world and how I think and how I can be a more positive person. It’s a book all about making yourself find pleasure in life, about doing the things you’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s sex-positive, the representation of bisexuality is phenomenal, and Christian has such humourous writing that I laughed my way through this book from start to end.

The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang

Queer novellas are really in a golden age right now, and it makes me so happy that one of the ones I read this year made it into my favourites! Neon Yang’s novella series is incredible. Currently, there are 4 parts, the first being The Black Tides of Heaven. I am so impressed at the detail and standard of worldbuilding Yang was able to incorporate into such a small book. It is by far some of the most impressive novella writing I’ve ever read. The casualised queerness is exceptional, and I was overjoyed to see the way gender is explored in this world, with children growing up gender neutral until a time when they are ready to make a decision. Can we do that in real life please? I have also read (and loved!) the fourth novella in this series, The Ascent to Godhood, and plan to read the middle two asap because I long for more time spent in this beautifully created world.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Yes, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has such power that TWO of her books are on my favourite books of 2020 list!! I will literally buy everything she writes from now until eternity. This fantasy was one of my last reads of the year, and it was such a beautiful way to finish it. Gods of Jade and Shadow is set in 1920s Mexico, and follows Casiopea, a young woman who accidentally awakens the Mayan God of Death. Oops. It follows them on an adventure across Mexico as the two try to restore his power before he sucks her energy dry, killing her in the process and turning himself mortal. This book was just so full of adventure and curiosity and hope. Moreno-Garcia’s writing is absolutely picturesque, I felt like I could see each of the places they visited so clearly, from the bustling heart of Mexico City, to the desert of El Paso. The romance is spectacular – accidentally falling in love with the Mayan God of Death is exactly the type of fantasy romance I love. You know how it must end, and yet your heart is just torn apart watching them fall more and more in love. The yearning in this book is just out of this world. I never cry at books, and there were so many tender, beautiful moments between the two of them near the end, that I was tearing up so much!! Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most exciting authors writing right now, and I cannot wait to read her THREE, yes THREE, releases coming in 2021.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Last on my list, but very much not least, is my final read of 2020! Winter’s Orbit is a 2021 release (coming February!) that I had an ARC for, and I really cannot express how much I need everyone to pre-order this book. It is the exact style of SFF that I have been longing for. Winter’s Orbit follows two men, Kiem and Jainan, after they are made to marry shortly after the death of Jainan’s first husband, in order to sign a treaty that keeps their empire safe from invasion. This book is just so full of joy: it is full of some of your favourite tropes including a variation of a personal favourite of mine, there’s only one tent… The romance and pining is so beautiful, the way their relationship develops is just perfect – from the uncommunicative, forced marriage start, to the foolhardy resuces to save the other! I also thought the writing about domestic abuse and the trauma from Jainan’s first marriage was really well handled, and written really beautifully. Please no one ever hurt sweet Jainain again!!! This book is the tropey fun I have been longing to see in SFF and I can’t wait to get a hard copy and reread it when it releases in Feb!

And another year is now passed, along with 17 new favourites to add to my bookshelves! What were your favourite books of 2020? Do we have any of the same ones? Let me know in the comments! I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and let’s make 2021 less shit, yes!

My 21 most anticipated books of 2021!

Hi everyone,

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!

My favourite horror (and favourites of the future)

Hi everyone,

A few weeks ago I made about a post about some of my favourite gothic novels, and also featured some of the gothic novels releasing in the future. I really liked doing it so I’m thinking I might make a regular feature of it? 5 favourites and 5 future? I need to think of a better name… But since it’s Halloween this week, I thought I’d do one on horror! So here are five of my favourite horror books, and five I’m excited to read in the next few years!

Five favourites

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

I read Into the Drowning Deep during spooky month last year. It was my first adult horror and I absolutely fell in love. This book was just so terrifying?! It’s about a company who send a bunch of scienctists to investigate the existence of mermaids after a ship and all its crew members are mysteriously (and gruesomely) killed. Of course when they find the mermaids, they aren’t like the fairytales: these mermaids will literally tear off your face and eat it. This is a very sciencey heavy book, but I loved that about it as it really added a layer of reality to it which I think really helps make books scarier.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

The Luminous Dead is very much a psychological horror/thriller novel. It’s set inside a caving system, where a woman, Gyre, gets trapped. The entire novel takes place inside this caving system as Gyre tries to escape; the only other character is her handler, Em, who is looking after her suit and body from the outside. But Gyre keeps discovering more and more lies from Em, and then she finds bodies….and soon she doesn’t know whether what’s happening is real or not. It’s such a brilliant book, and the use of the unreliable narrator here is excellent, as see Gyre descend further and further into madness, the longer she is trapped alone, underground. It’s such a phenomenally creepy novel, and I finall picked up a hard copy of it last month so I can’t wait to reread it!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Okay yes, I had Mexican Gothic on my gothic list as well, but it is also very much a horror novel and it is so thrillingly creepy that I had to mention it again this week in case anyone was still unaware that I adore it. It’s about a woman who goes to rescue her cousin from an old manor house in Mexico and gets trapped there herself in a very fucked up mushroom world.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

Definitely on the lighter side of horror, The Scapegracers is a witchy sapphic delight with one of the best portrayals of female friendship I’ve ever read in YA. It follows Sideways, an outcast lesbian teen who is paid to perform some magic at a party thrown by three popular girls. But instead of being the usual bitchy girl trope, Sideways is welcomed into their group and they form their own coven as they try to fight off attacks from witch hunters.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it certainly lived up to everything I dreamed of it! It’s so dark and full of evil, set in a puritannical, cult like society called Bethel. A young woman, the daughter of a witch, finds herself being called to the dangerous woods, where the witches live. She tries to hold them off but as she discovers move about the church and the history of Bethel, she’s unsure she even wants to hold the witches back… It’s dark and bloody and gorey and so so witchy, I love it!!

Five future releases

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

A book about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history? Yes please. Pub date: 19 January 2021

Synopsis: An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte. The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

If I had to choose only one single book that has been announced that I want to read immediately, it would be this one. The level of excitement I have for this knows no bounds. Pub date: 2022

Synopsis: Gretchen Felker-Martin’s MANHUNT, about trans women scavenging for estrogen in a post-apocalyptic world where a viral plague has transformed all cis men into feral monstrosities, fighting tooth and nail against a menace they’ll join if they miss a dose, and on the run from an authoritarian faction of cis women who see them as a dangerous liability, pitched as a trans woman’s response to Y: THE LAST MAN, plus another standalone horror novel, to Kelly Lonesome at Nightfire, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world).

Jake in the Box by Ryan Douglass

This is a horror written by a queer Black man about a queer Black kid who is being haunted by the ghost of a school shooter! And it sounds so phenomenal. Pub date: 13 July 2021

Synopsis: It’s hard being the one of the few Black kids at St. Clair Prep, especially when you’re routinely harassed by the dead. This year, sixteen-year-old loner Jake Livingston plans to make real friends, which means paying less attention to dead world and more to reality.

But when a series of murders breaks out in Jake’s neighborhood, he discovers they may be linked to Sawyer Doon—a vengeful spirit who carried out a school shooting a year prior and then killed himself. Sawyer is back, determined to wreak havoc on new targets from beyond the grave.

Now, Jake’s home isn’t safe. School isn’t safe. The more he tries to ignore Sawyer, the more he feels the ghost boy’s impact on his psyche. And the closer he comes to understanding who Sawyer was, the more he realizes how similar he may be to the boy once bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, now hell-bent on taking power back from a world that took it from him.

To protect himself from possession, Jake will have to master his power over both dead world and reality and discover his own reason to live.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

So obviously since my favourite book of the year was Mexican Gothic, I am extremely excited for the release of Moreno-Garcia’s vampire horror duology by Tor next year! Pub date: 11 May 2021

Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

Dead Silence by S.A Barnes

I was mega excited for a horror spaceship book this year and it really did not live up to what I hoped so I am crossing all my fingers that this one gives me the terrifying spaceship horror of my dreams! Pub date: February 2022

Synopsis: At the edge of the solar system, no one can hear you scream.

The Aurora, a luxury space-liner destined for a cruise of the solar system, has been missing for twenty years. Among the hundreds of presumed dead were passengers from society’s finest – celebrities, tech giants, influencers. Every last one… vanished.

So when Claire’s crew picks up an emergency signal in deep space, the long-lost Aurora is the last ship they expect to find. The salvage claim could be their best chance at extraordinary wealth, but it might mean missing their transport back home, and nobody can stand another minute out in the darkest corner of the universe – nobody, except Claire.

Once onboard the ship, the crew realizes something is terribly wrong. Unspeakable horrors lurk in every shadow of the massive ship, and soon they each start experiencing violent hallucinations.

Claire must fight to keep her sanity and get her crew back to safety – before they all meet the same ghastly fate as the Aurora passengers.

Blessed we are by the new Tor Nightfire horror imprint that is bringing us diverse horror!! I can’t wait for all their books (Manhunt, Certain Dark Things and Dead Silence are all being released under this imprint). What horror books are you looking forward to reading soon? Let me know in the comments!

My favourite gothic fiction

Hi everyone,

Since I’m in the middle of participating in Gothtober, the readathon all about gothic fiction, I thought it the perfect time to talk about some of my favourite gothic fiction! I’ve loved gothic fiction since I was a teen. I always gravitated to the gothic classics both in and out of school, my favourites being Dracula and Wuthering Heights. The combination of creepy, mysterious settings with powerful romance, the supernatural, the constant sense of fear, foreboding and suspense just combines all my favourite things to read about. So I’ve picked out five of my favourite recent(ish) gothic releases alongside twelve I’m highly anticipating that will be released in the next year! It was supposed to be five as well, but 2021 is so full of gothic books and I’m incapable of narrowing down options. I don’t know what is driving this trend but I wholeheartedly approve.

Favourites

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

How could I start with anything other than my favourite book of the year, Mexican Gothic? This book is just the best, most fucked up gothic book I’ve read in years. It has all the most terrifying features of gothic fiction: the damp, mouldy house with walls that seem to move if you stare at them too long; the dark and dangerous fog covered cemetery with figures in the distance; the constant feeling that you’re being watched; mushrooms…. It is such a twisty, dark ride, and one that cemented Moreno-Garcia on my list of must-buy authors! The atmosphere is so full of suspense that reading this book is just an absolutely terrifying experience, do not read it at night as I did! Get ready to have your mind just scream WHAT THE FUCK.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Not only is The Animals at Lockwood Manor one of the most gorgeous physical books ever (especially as I got a special edition with stunning endpapers and sprayed edges), but it’s also just an amazing book, especially because at the centre of this gothic book is a brilliant sapphic relationship! It really is full of all my favourite gothic romance tropes: women fainting at the slightest thing, lounging indecently on chaise lounges, ruffled satin gowns and delicate touching of fingers on wrists. It’s BEAUTIFUL. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is of course a complete piece of gothic fiction with the creepy manor house, the ghostly figure in white who keeps appearing around the house, and a special ingrediant to make the environment even more creepy: taxidermied animals!

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is definitely not a traditional gothic book. It has no creepy manor house for one. But I really feel like this has the emotional intensity, the romance, the gloomy atmosphere, and the dark fear and suspense that is inherent in all gothic fiction. So whilst at first glance this might not seem to fit the mould of a traditional gothic classic, I do think it deserves to be on this list! Instead of an English manor house, The Mercies is set in a small fishing village in Norway, in a rough and unforgiving landscape that becomes even more unforgiving when a witchhunter is brought in to bring a group of women back under control.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

One of my favourite elements of gothic fiction is the beautiful and haunting romances. There’s just something about the writing style in gothic books that allows for such beautiful expression of desire. Blood Countess does this so extremely well, it has one of my favourite sapphic relationship developments of any book. The language is just absolutely stunning and the yearning is incredible. Not only that, it’s also inspired by Countess Elizabeth Báthory who is considered to be the most prolific female serial killer ever.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Yes, this is the reason for the “recent(ish)” at the start of the post. White is for Witching released in 2009, but I only just read it recently (I literally finished it this morning) but I enjoyed it so much I added it to this post on my lunch break! I cannot express how absolutely incredible the atmosphere in this book is, oh my god. It’s sinfully dark and delightful, very strange at times but so foreboding and filled with such thrilling suspense. There is such a sense of malevolency throughout, as it’s all about a house that is haunting four generations of women in a family. It never wants to let them go, so keeps them in the walls of the house. And if creepiness isn’t enough, to make it even more perfect, it has a sapphic relationship too!

Anticipated gothic releases

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Synopsis: A gorgeously gothic, deeply romantic YA debut fantasy about two enemies trapped inside a crumbling mansion, with no escape from the monsters within.

Honor your oath, destroy your country.

Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.

When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.

As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.

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

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Synopsis: Light a fire they can’t put out…

For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…

A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

Synopsis: Julia Fine, author of the “surreally feministic tale” (Family Circle) What Should Be Wild, returns with a provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Synopsis: As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Synopsis: A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending? 

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Synopsis: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Synopsis: 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.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Synopsis: A genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables.

Vern, a Black woman with albinism, is hunted after escaping a religious compound, then she discovers that her body is changing and that she is developing extra-sensory powers.

Alone in the woods, she gives birth to twins and raises them away from the influence of the outside world. But something is wrong – not with them, but with her own body. It’s itching, it’s stronger, it’s… not normal.

To understand her body’s metamorphosis, Vern must investigate not just the secluded religious compound she fled but the violent history of dehumanization, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it. In the course of reclaiming her own darkness, Vern learns that monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire histories, systems, and nations.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Synopsis: *THE MUST-READ GOTHIC THRILLER OF 2021 FROM THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AND AUGUST DERLETH AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF LITTLE EVE AND RAWBLOOD *

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Synopsis: Author of THE LUMINOUS DEAD Caitlin Starling’s THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE, pitched as a Crimson Peak-inspired gothic horror about a young woman who makes a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself trapped in her new husband’s decrepit and possibly haunted mansion, and spirals down a dangerous path of ritual magic in an effort to save them both, to Sylvan Creekmore at St. Martin’s Press, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, this queer Jewish gothic fantasy follows a young immigrant, Alter, who is possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered best friend and is thrust into a deadly hunt for a serial killer.

Wuthering Heights by Tasha Suri

Synopsis: Tasha Suri suggested she revamp Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights after Settle approached her to reclaim a different classic. “Tasha didn’t feel she was the right author for that book, but she did have an exciting idea for Wuthering Heights,” the editor said. “She proposed focusing on how, when the British colonized India and white men traveled there and had children with Indian women, if the children passed as white, they were then sent back to England to be integrated into ‘proper’ white society. Tasha had a brilliant plan for weaving that little-known part of history into Wuthering Heights.”

Suri called the classic novel a favorite of hers, “a strange and polarizing book: dark and gothic, passionately romantic and pointedly cruel. It’s also the story of the destructive influence of a boy who doesn’t belong: a boy who looks ‘foreign’ without having any particular history of cultural identity; a monstrous boy who has no place, no family, no right to want things, and wants them anyway. I want to write a reclamation that says: everyone comes from somewhere, and colonialism may try to make us its monsters, but we don’t have to let it. I hope my re-imagining will also help make readers a little more aware of the long, long history of South Asians in Britain. There’s so much history that we’re not taught that young readers deserve to know about.”

I hope you enjoyed this list of gothic books, and are as excited as I am about 2021! It is the year of the gothic book and I don’t know why we’re having such a big push for gothic novels, but I am so happy we are! Do you have any favourite gothic books? Let me know in the comments!

46 young adult science fiction books you can read instead of books by old, white racists!

Hi everyone,

Happy September! With the start of this month comes the last of my SFF extravaganza posts! I have loved bringing you all these new books each week and it has really reminded me of how amazing a genre we have – and you don’t have to read a single book by a cishet white man to enjoy it! For the last week, we’ve got a genre which I feel doesn’t get as much hype as other areas of SFF: YA science fiction! It’s definitely a smaller sector than YA fantasy but there are some absolutely amazing gems in this list and I hope you can find some books you’d like to read!

Why I’m doing this

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the recent Hugo Awards, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

If you’re interested, do check out the other posts in this series!

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

This is one of my favourite YA scifis. It’s definitely more of a quiet, slice of life scifi, following three teens at the end of the world who just want to find their families. It’s just such a peaceful and hopeful book, which sounds odd given it’s a book about the world ending in 7 days, but it works so well and it just made me really happy!

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

I’m definitely starting this list off very hopefully, because here is another very hopeful, totally cheesy alien invasion scifi! Aliens invaded earth and have outlawed creative expression. When a music-loving alien catches Ellie with her secret library, he blackmails her to help find him music (and then save the world)! This is a cute and hopeful scifi as an alien and a human work together to save humanity.

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both. 

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

MY FAVOURITE BOOK EVER EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I cannot express how much I adore this book. It’s set in a world ravaged by a virus where if you survive, you wake up with strange powers. This book is just so tremendously powerful. It wrecks me every time I read it. Very heavy content warnings though, which you can read in full on Lee’s website here.

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

This scifi has such an amazing setting – well, amazing in that the author describes it incredibly well, not amazing in knowing that the earth flooded and London is now underwater because humanity sucks. But this starts with a subversible race and then takes you on an adventure underwater across the UK on the hunt for the main character’s father, who was arrested several years ago for a crime he didn’t commit.

In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope–fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface.

When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the prestigious annual marathon, she sees an opportunity to save her father, who has been arrested on false charges. The Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. But the race takes an unexpected turn, forcing Leyla to make an impossible choice.

Now she must brave unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a guarded, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If Leyla fails to discover the truths at the heart of her world, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–or worse. And her father will be lost to her forever.

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

I can’t believe I let this book languish on my shelf for 8 months before reading it, because it’s so fantastic!! This is a scifi inspired by the Mahabharata and set in space! There’s just so much excellent betrayal in this book, which causes so much pain and heartbreak but I loved every second!

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Another series from Mandanna, this one involving clones who are created to replace someone if they ever die which just sounds so fucked up and wonderful.

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment is more dystopian than scifi, but it’s just such a brilliant book I wanted to include it on this list. It’s set in a near future US where Muslim Americans are put into internment camps. This book is tense and gripping novel, and a really difficult but powerful read. It’s about rebellions and finding hope to fight back even in the darkest of places.

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

This is another more hopeful scifi, set at the end of the world with the last two teenagers on earth as they spend their days exploring the ruins of London. And oh my god, THAT TWIST.

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice…

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

How cool does this sound: a ship that can sail across time!! To any place, any time, real or imagined, as long as there is a map for it. HOW COOL?!?

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, anby place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

Stay in an evil cult where medicine is outlawed with a diabetic brother who will die without insulin or risk the viral pandemic wiping out the population on the outside? What would you do?

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?

Malice by Pintip Dunn

I never really noticed how many virus outbreak books there were until we were in the middle of one… This one has a bit of twist though, because it hasn’t actually happened yet because a voice from the future is warning them.

What I know: a boy in my school will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

What I don’t know: who he is.

In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

The Last 8 follows, you guessed it, EIGHT teens who survive an alien attack and are now holed up in the former Area 51.

A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

This has one of my favourite covers on this list, it’s GORGEOUS! This dystopian scifi tackles issues around capitalism and class through the eyes of a matriarchal society.

At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

Rebelwing by Andrea Tang

It sounds terrifying but increasingly more likely in our world let’s be honest: BLACK-MARKET-MEDIA SMUGGLING! And then combine that with sentient cybernetic dragons and you have something amazing.

Business is booming for Prudence Wu.

A black-market-media smuggler and scholarship student at the prestigious New Columbia Preparatory Academy, Pru is lucky to live in the Barricade Coalition where she is free to study, read, watch, and listen to whatever she wants. But between essays and exams, she chooses to spend her breaks sweet-talking border patrol with her best friend, Anabel, in order to sell banned media to the less fortunate citizens of the United Continental Confederacy, Inc.

When a drop-off goes awry, Pru narrowly escapes UCC enforcers to find that her rescuer is, of all things, a sentient cybernetic dragon. On the one hand, Pru is lucky not to be in prison, or worse. On the other, the dragon seems to have imprinted on her permanently, which means she has no choice but to be its pilot.

Drawn into a revolution she has no real interest in leading, Pru, Anabel, and friends Alex and Cat become key players in a brewing conflict with the UCC as the corporate government develops advanced weaponry more terrifying and grotesque than Pru could have ever imagined.

Spellhacker by M.K England

Another plague?!? Seriously who knew how many virus novels there were. In this one, we combine science fantasy with a heist and an earthquake that releases a magical plague.

From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

Rebel Soul by Axie Oh

This is military science fiction is set in Neo Seoul in the aftermath of a massive war, and follows a soldier trying to prove himself to the state working on the supersoldier program, but then falls in love with the partner he’s supposed to be reporting on.

After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

Want by Cindy Pon

Another book I can see definitely happening in the very near future, where rich people can afford to buy suits that protect them from viruses and pollution and help them live longer. Apparently every scifi novel is officially terrifying to me WHY DOES THE WORLD FUCKING SUCK. Want follows Jason who tries to take down the company who create the special suits by infilitrating the company.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

The criminal mastermind wrecking havoc on the Olympus Commonwealth is actually a 17 year old girl who they’ve captured and are now forcing her to work for them to prove their might to their empire.

Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cōcha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

This university is the best in the galaxy but to go there, Binti must give up her family and live in a place with strangers who do not respect her culture. And, the deadly race at war with the university might kill her before she even gets there.

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

An encounter with homeland security which ends in hospital with no memory of what happened, and suddenly there’s a deadly virus sweeping the country. And if Bird remembers what happened that night, it might unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B Lee

Superhero scifi time! And in this one, the daughter of two superheros gets an internship with the town’s supervillain, what could possibly go wrong when her parents find out?

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

On the Edge of Gone follows an autistic heroine preparing for a comet blast to hit Earth, who fears she won’t be allowed to stay on a ship leaving Earth. And even if she does get a spot, what about her family?

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee is the author of one of my favourite adult fantasy series and I can’t wait to read her YA scifi! It’s about a famous sportsperson who plays a weightless combat sport called zeroboxing!

A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

This future novel is set is 2172 where climate change and nuclear disasters have destroyed most of the world. In Nigeria, a civil war rages with supersoldiers with bionic limbs and artifical organs to protect from the climate but a pair of sisters dream of peace.

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Compass Rose by Anna Burke

Pirates! Ships! Set in the 26th century! With a person who has a compass inside her!

Rose was born facing due north, with an inherent perception of cardinal points flowing through her veins. Her uncanny sense of direction earns her a coveted place among the Archipelago Fleet elite, but it also attracts the attention of Admiral Comita, who sends her on a secret mission deep into pirate territory. Accompanied by a ragtag crew of mercenaries and under the command of Miranda, a captain as bloodthirsty as she is alluring, Rose discovers the hard way that even the best sense of direction won’t be enough to keep her alive if she can’t learn to navigate something far more dangerous than the turbulent seas. Aboard the mercenary ship, Man o’ War, Rose learns quickly that trusting the wrong person can get you killed—and Miranda’s crew have no intention of making things easy for her—especially the Captain’s trusted first mate, Orca, who is as stubborn as she is brutal.

This swashbuckling 26th century adventure novel is smart, colorful and quirky, yet it manages to deliver a healthy dose of heart, humor, and humility on every single page.

The Weight of the Stars by K.Ancrum

This is a little on the light side of scifi, more contemporary with a side of scifi but I love it so much I had to put it on this list! K.Ancrum is one of my autobuy authors, she has a way of writing the most beautiful and heartbreaking novels. The Weight of the Stars is about a teen who’s mother went to space and she stays up late listening to a radio trying to hear a message; and the girl who broke her arm and now helps her listen. It has queer found family at its best!!

Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more…

In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

This science fantasy is set in a star system dominated by a brutal empire and the woman who is kidnapped by the regime and taken to the royal palace to act as a body double for the princess.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Convergence by Marita Smith

Marita Smith is a local Aussie author who just so happens to be very cool: her day job is as a mycologist!!! (A mushroom grower). Convergence is about a scientist searching for the gene that will allow humans to communicate with animals. And when she stumbles onto it, she has to find the individuals with the genetic mutation before a corporation turns them into lab rats.

For scientist Robyn Greene, her laboratory is a second home. Here she searches for the ancient gene that is supposed to enable humans to communicate with animals. After years of failure, she’s beginning to wonder if the gene is a myth. But when she stumbles across a strange genetic mutation, Robyn’s world turns upside down. The man posing as her boss is, in fact, an operative of the mysterious international organisation, the MRI. Worse, they have dark plans to exploit her discovery.

In a race against time, Robyn must track down the individuals with this rare gene before the MRI turns them into lab rats. But when she meets the three teenagers, she realises that protecting them from the MRI is not only about saving their lives. Fletcher, Ariana and Eli are capable of more than anyone realises; they are part of an ancient cycle designed to keep the Earth in balance. A terrible future awaits the planet if the MRI gains control of Robyn and her research before she’s figured out the kindred ties that bind these teenagers.

Dreadnought by April Daniels

OWNVOICES TRANS SUPERHERO STORY *pterodactyl screech*

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

This YA space opera follows the crew of a small cargo ship across the galaxy, when the sister of the captain is kidnapped by a crime syndicate that holds people hostage is cryostasis. BUT there is also something to do with PSYCHIC CATS yes you read that right, PSYCHIC CATS. Please take my money.

A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds

This contemporary scifi is an extraodinarily fun time travel novel, which follows Jack who keeps reliving the same months over and over again from when he first meets a girl called Kate at a party to when she dies months later from a chronic illness.

Debut author Justin A. Reynolds delivers a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving.

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

This is a wonderfully soft contemporary YA about two boys who become friends through letters as they can never meet: one who has an electronic pacemaker, and the other is allergic to electricity and has seizures if in contact with it.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

This book is a mesh of all the best parts of science fiction, fantasy and contemporary, following a Mexican American teen who finds her mother when an alien spacecraft crashes in front of her carrying her mother on board (after she disappeared in an ICE raid three years earlier).

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.

It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Arthurian legend but in SPACE!!!

I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.


When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

I love a good video game book and this one is all about virtual reality and the coder who wants to win a competition to meet the foudner of the world’s biggest VR platform so she can find out if he killed her father.

For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.

But she can’t code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.

Until now. Because WAVE, the world’s biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal’s dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.

What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers–or is it the attention–she’s wanted for years?

Future releases

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

This book has a pansexual main character and if that alone doesn’t make you want to read this, it also has a princess who needs to compete in a race to win the throne she doesn’t want! (Release date: 29 September)

A deadly competition for the throne will determine more than just the fate of the empire in this riveting duology opener, perfect for fans of The Hunger GamesAurora Rising, and Three Dark Crowns.

Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?

But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.

Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

This military scifi is set in the last free nation in the world and follows a soldier ready to fight against the mutant beast army of the Federation with the possible spy (or alternatively savior) for her country. (Release date: 29 September)

A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.

#1 New York Times-bestselling author Marie Lu is back with an adrenaline-laced novel about the lengths one warrior will go to fight for freedom and those she loves.

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left…with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

Loyalty is life.

White Fox by Sara Faring

I only want to read spooky, creepy books right now (apparently I’m in the Halloween mindset a little early this year), but this book is one of those and I can’t wait to read it! It’s comped to Black Mirror and I’ll read pretty much anything compared to that show. (Release date: 22 September)

After their world-famous actor mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Manon and Thaïs left their remote Mediterranean island home—sent away by their pharma-tech tycoon father. Opposites in every way, the sisters drifted apart in their grief. Yet their mother’s unfinished story still haunts them both, and they can’t put to rest the possibility that she is still alive.

Lured home a decade later, Manon and Thaïs discover their mother’s legendary last work, long thought lost: White Fox, a screenplay filled with enigmatic metaphors. The clues in this dark fairytale draw them deep into the island’s surreal society, into the twisted secrets hidden by their glittering family, to reveal the truth about their mother—and themselves.

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021!! It’s a look at the future of climate change in South Asia with a streetrat revolutionary and a hacker son of a politician, black-market robotics, cyborgs living in poverty, literally everything about this sounds amazing. (Release date: 19 January)

A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction. 

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

STAR WARS MEETS DOCTOR WHO I REPEAT STAR WARS MEETS DOCTOR WHO. This is the YA debut of Hugo-award winning author Charlie Jane Anders and I am so excited to read it!!

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

From internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky) comes a thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war—Anders’s long-awaited YA debut.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

This scifi is all about a boy in need of a liver transplant, but his new liver comes with a side effect: time travel! And then he falls for the brother of his dead donor who doesn’t really want anything to do with him as he is still getting over the death of his brother. But he’s also falling for the boy he visits in 1969… (Release date: 2 February)

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I adore Akemi Dawn Bowman so I am SO EXCITED for this scifi!! It’s about a girl who gets murdered on her way to a graduation party and wakes up in the Infinity, where human conciousness goes when their body’s die. But in the afterlife, the virtual assistant on Earth, Ophelia, is now queen and foreces humans to serve her as she served them in real life. (Release date: 6 April)

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity. 

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Joan He wrote one of the most incredible debut novels I’ve ever read (Descendant of the Crane) thus I am unbelievably excited for her second novel! This time she’s delving into the world of scifi with a sister trapped on an island with no memory except that she needs to find her sister; and the STEM prodigy in the last unpolluted place on Earth who doesn’t know if she wants to help the last of humanity. (Release date: 4 May)

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The Metropolis—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

There’s not much info on Goodreads it, but the author’s website says this is “A queer, female-led Firefly crew meets the bass-pumping cyberpunk atmosphere of Altered Carbon.” HOW EPIC?! DOES THAT SOUND?! (Release date: October 2021)

Mari Kesselring and Kelsy Thompson at Flux have bought Claire Winn’s YA sci-fi debut, City of Shattered Light, a high-stakes adventure pitched as a queer, female-led Guardians of the Galaxy meets Escape from New York. Heiress Asa flees her controlling father to prevent her sister’s mind from being wiped—but must ally with Riven, a gunslinging smuggler bent on clawing her way up the criminal hierarchy, to outwit a monstrous AI and save Asa’s sister and their city.

No Frills by Erin Elizabeth Grammar

Fashion and blood infections and fantasy and science! WITH A BI, SOCIALLY ANXIOUS GIRL!! (Release date: 13 October)

Inspired by comic books and magical girls, debut author Erin Elizabeth Grammar’s NO FRILLS blends fantasy and science fiction with pop culture.

When eighteen-year-old bi, socially anxious Harajuku fashionista Holly Roads is infected by blood that bestows destructive strength, she strikes a deal with a trigger-happy, demoted CIA prodigy: Capture the mutant his mad scientists accidentally unleashed upon San Francisco in exchange for the cure for her powers.

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hanu Mikuta

Colossal mechas and two girls on opposite sides of a war WHO FALL FOR EACH OTHER? This sounds like the sapphic enemies to lovers of my dreams.

Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Gearbreakers is an electric YA debut novel about colossal mechas, a tyrannical regime, and two girls on opposite sides of a war who discover they’re fighting for a common purpose—and falling for each other…

WOW and that’s the series complete! There’s a mammoth 287 books across this series which is like enough books to last me for the next 3 years. I hope you have loved these lists and been able to expand your TBR!

49 adult science fiction books you can read instead of books by old, white racists!

Hi everyone,

It’s week 4, the penultimate week of my SFF extravaganza and we’re talking all about adult science fiction! I have been having such a good year for scifi and I’m so excited to share some of my favourite books of the year as well as ones I’m looking forward to reading!

As always, if you’d like to find out more about this blog series, please see below! And do check out the other weeks of this series, where I’ve covered adult fantasy, YA fantasy and horror!

Why I’m doing this

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the recent Hugo Awards, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

If you’re interested, do check out the other posts in this series!

Published books

Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

We’re starting with one of my favourite science fiction novels of all time! Do You Dream of Terra-Two is set in a world where the passion and enthusiasm in the 1960s space race continued. Now, a group of teens are getting ready to travel to a new planet, Terra-Two, to set the planet up for colonisation. The teens have been training all their lives for this voyage, but obviously, things don’t go exactly to plan…

When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.

Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind?
Have you ever dreamt of a better world?
Can a dream sustain a lifetime?


A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race.

And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives.

It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.

And something always goes wrong.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

The one and only Gideon the Ninth has been one of the most talked about scifi debuts of the past year. These lesbian necromancers in space are full of humour, science and a side of murder mystery.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

A pansexual, female, sorceress Homes and a trans Watsom, set in space? Say no more, take my money!

In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters.

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark.

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas’ stock-in-trade.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I have heard SO MUCH about Kameron Hurley but finally picked up a copy of one of her novels very recently (my cat gave it to me for mother’s day, what a lovely kitten he is). This one is all about a sapce war where soldiers are broken down into light to get them to Mars but shit goes wrong.

From the Hugo Award­­–winning author of The Stars Are Legion comes a brand-new science fiction thriller about a futuristic war during which soldiers are broken down into light in order to get them to the front lines on Mars.

They said the war would turn us into light.
I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world.

The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief—no matter what actually happens during combat.

Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on.

Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero—or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference.

A worthy successor to classic stories like Downbelow StationStarship Troopers, and The Forever War, The Light Brigade is award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s gritty time-bending take on the future of war. 

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

If there’s any book you read on this list, READ THIS ONE!!! This is one of my favourite books of the year so far, it absolutely blew me away! It’s a new take on the parallel universe trope, but in The Space Between Worlds, you can only travel to parallel Earths if the parallel you is dead. Cara is dead on a lot of Earths so makes for the perfect traveller. This book is just so full of plot twists (oh my god, literally 9% in and this book just completely surprises you). It’s amazing. Please read it.

An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that’s both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

The First Sister by Linden A Lewis

We’re in the midst of an amazing month for queer scifi, with The Space Between Worlds, The First Sister and Seven Devils (which I mention next) all releasing this month! The First Sister follows three different characters on opposite sides of a space war. I really liked this one, it’s very character driven and First Sister is just amazing. She can’t talk so her POV is very introspective and it’s all about her coming to realise the power she has and owning and using it which is pretty much the best thing ever.

First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.

Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

And the third of the queer August adult scifi releases! What a month! This one follows a whopping 7 POVs, and is all about a group of resistance fighters rebelling against a corrupt empire.

This first book in a feminist space opera duology follows seven resistance fighters who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire — or die trying.

When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.

When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.

Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman is one of the most exciting writers in Australia right now. This indigenous writer’s debut novel Terra Nullius was longlisted for the Stella Award and offers an exploration of the brutality of Australia’s colonial history through the eyes of a future colonisation.

Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running.

The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.

This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history.

The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman’s second novel is set during an intergalatic war, with lots of piloting spacecraft! I haven’t read this one yet (I reserved it at the library and then the libraries closed again before I could pick it up, DEVASTATED) but I’ve read reviews and apparently it’s best to go into this one knowing as little as possible because Coleman is a writer of excellent twists…

Shane Daniels and Romany Zetz have been drawn into a war that is not their own. Lives will be destroyed, families will be torn apart. Trust will be broken.

When the war is over, some will return to a changed world. Will they discover that glory is a lie?

Claire G. Coleman’s new novel takes us to a familiar world to ask what we have learned from the past. The Old Lie might not be quite what you expect.

The Outside by Ada Hoffmann

The Outside brings a very interesting twist to speculative ‘god’ fiction. Instead of the more fantasy style gods, in this book we have AI Gods who rule the galaxy. So when a scientist accidentally destoys a space station, killing everyone on board, the AI gods aren’t exactly pleased. Also this book has ownvoices autism rep which is amazing!!

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

The Seep by Chana Porter

Queer novellas are killing it this year and The Seep was one of my first reads of the year! (And also, I think it was actually my first ever novella read too??) The Seep is all about an untraditional alien invasion. The Seep got into the waterways of humanity and from there into their minds. Humanity now lives in this kind of utopian society where The Seep grants them whatever they can wish for. Including wishing to be turned back into a baby, which is what Trina’s partner does.

A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.

Finna by Nino Cipri

Another novella, this one set in parallel universe IKEAs! When a customer falls through a portal to another dimension, two employees need to go hunt them down through parallel IKEAs. This book was honestly SO. MUCH. FUN.

When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible. 

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon is the author of fantasy novella The Deep, which was absolutely amazing and so I’m sure their novel will be just as good. An Unkindness of Ghosts is set of a spacecraft travelling to the “promised land”. The autopsy of the sovereign reveals a link between hid death and the suicide of Aster’s mother years ago, so now she must find out more about her mother’s past to find a way off the ship.

Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.

Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.

When the autopsy of Matilda‘s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

This is one of the most unique science fiction novels I’ve ever read (and it also very recently won a Hugo for Best Novel!) It’s this weird mesh of murder mystery, science fiction and a love letter to poetry. It sounds odd, but Martine wove such an intricate and introspective beauty of a novel.

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation. 

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Another novella, another Hugo award winning book! This is How You Lose the Time War is probably one of the most wellknown sapphic scifis right now. It tells the story of two agents on opposite sides of a time war who begin writing letters to each other across time.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

This book just sounds heartbreaking in all the best ways. A woman who is out of place and outside time? Just imagine how lonely that would be? And then she finds a child who falls from the sky who doesn’t speak, and they find a home in each other. Ohmygod I can just feel the tears already.

A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

“This is when your life begins.”

Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A boy, broken by his past.

The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.

For both of them, a family.

But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Here they be dragons! Scifi dragons! Phoenix Extravagant combines art and science in this book about automaton dragons that are powered through mystical sigils!

Dragons. Art. Revolution.

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Another epic scifi from Yoon Ha Lee, this one about a captain who must redeem herself from disgrace by recapturing a fortress that has been captured by heretics by working with an undead tactician who has never lost a battle but who has massacred his own army before.

The first installment of the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit, centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate.

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.

Planetfall by Emma Newman

This scifi series is amazing but I feel like I never hear anyone talk about it?! Emma Newman writes some really excellent mental health rep across the series. Planetfall is the first of a four part series (though you do not need to read the books chonologically). In this one, we follow a new colony when they receive a visitor who looks strangely like their missing leader.

From the award-nominated author Emma Newman, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

Before Mars by Emma Newman

Before Mars is the third book in the Planetfall series, and my personal favourite! This is more like a psychological thriller and is set on Mars where an artist has been paid a lot to create art by a very wealthy capitalist. But when she gets there, she finds a note in her own handwriting warning her off the psychologist at the colony. Before Mars also has some excellent postpartum depression rep which I don’t think I’ve ever read before in scifi.

After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team.

But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake.

Finding a footprint in a place the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind? Regardless of what horrors she might discover, or what they might do to her sanity, Anna has find the truth before her own mind destroys her. 

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

If romance is more your thing, then definitely check out this scifi romance! Two clashing civilisations must find a way to work together to save a vanishing race.

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam

This scifi follow a group of women who steal a spaceship on its way to a explore a new planet fit for human habitation. But when they take control of the ship, they start to realise that maybe Earth is more doomed than they thought.

The Earth is in environmental collapse. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. But a team of women are preparing to save it. Even if they’ll need to steal a spaceship to do it.

Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.

The team is humanity’s last hope for survival, and Valerie has gathered the best women for the mission: an ace pilot who is one of the only astronauts ever to have gone to Mars; a brilliant engineer tasked with keeping the ship fully operational; and an experienced doctor to keep the crew alive. And then there’s Naomi Lovelace, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, who has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity to step out of Valerie’s shadow and make a difference.

The problem is that they’re not the authorized crew, even if Valerie was the one to fully plan the voyage. When their mission is stolen from them, they steal the ship bound for the new planet.

But when things start going wrong on board, Naomi begins to suspect that someone is concealing a terrible secret — and realizes time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…

Goldilocks is a bold and thought-provoking new thriller for readers of The Martian and The Handmaid’s Tale.

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

A Beginning at the End is set six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the world population so perhaps not the best book to read if you’re very anxious about the current situation… It’s set in post-apocalyptic San Francisco, and follows four people in the wake of another outbreak.

How do you start over after the end of the world?

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.

Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.

Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.

Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis

This is a take on the first contact trope! Set in 2007, a leak reveals the US government has engaged in first contact with an alien species. And turns out they’ve been on Earth for decades…

Truth is a human right.

It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

A Pale Light in the Black by K.B Wagers

This military science fiction follows a team looking forward to redeeming themselves at the annual Boarding Games but a new personnel change messes everything up.

The rollicking first entry in a unique science fiction series that introduces the Near-Earth Orbital Guard—NeoG—a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard.

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback—until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own—away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option—and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core . . . a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

This book is absolutely incredible and has one of the best endings I’ve ever read. PREPARE YOUR HEART. In The Book of M, people start losing their shadows, and with it, their memories. But when they lose them, they gain a strange new power.

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

This is definitely one of the coolest premises on this list: it’s set on a city sized starship which which has been carved up in the inside of a spacefaring beast!! So fucked up.

Escaping Exodus is a story of a young woman named Seske Kaleigh, heir to the command of a biological, city-size starship carved up from the insides of a spacefaring beast. Her clan has just now culled their latest ship and the workers are busy stripping down the bonework for building materials, rerouting the circulatory system for mass transit, and preparing the cavernous creature for the onslaught of the general populous still in stasis. It’s all a part of the cycle her clan had instituted centuries ago—excavate the new beast, expand into its barely-living carcass, extinguish its resources over the course of a decade, then escape in a highly coordinated exodus back into stasis until they cull the next beast from the diminishing herd.

And of course there wouldn’t be much of a story if things didn’t go terribly, terribly wrong.

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

Time travel! Murder! Do I need to say more?

From Annalee Newitz, founding editor of io9, comes a story of time travel, murder, and the lengths we’ll go to protect the ones we love.

1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend’s abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting too.

2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But rewriting the timeline isn’t as simple as editing one person or event. And just when Tess believes she’s found a way to make an edit that actually sticks, she encounters a group of dangerous travelers bent on stopping her at any cost.

Tess and Beth’s lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline–a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future. Against the vast and intricate forces of history and humanity, is it possible for a single person’s actions to echo throughout the timeline?

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

I had never heard of decopunk until I heard of this book and I so intrigued! This decopunk spaceopera follows the daughter of a Gothic romance film director who starts making documentaries and travelling through space to film them.

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Aesthetically recalling A Trip to the Moon and House of Leaves, and told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

This slowburn scifi follows a group of Martian kids sent to Earth as delegates and are now caught between their two worlds.

A century after the Martian war of independence, a group of kids are sent to Earth as delegates from Mars, but when they return home, they are caught between the two worlds, unable to reconcile the beauty and culture of Mars with their experiences on Earth in this spellbinding novel from Hugo Award–winning author Hao Jingfang.

In 2096, the war of independence erupts when a colony of people living on Mars rebel against Earth’s rule. The war results in two different and mutually incompatible worlds. In 2196, one hundred years later, Earth and Mars attempt to initiate a dialogue, hoping a reconciliation is on the horizon. Representing Mars, a group of young delegates are sent to Earth to study the history and culture of the rival planet, all while teaching others about life on Mars.

Narrated from two perspectives: Luo Ying, an eighteen-year-old girl from Mars who has spent the past five years on Earth, and Ignacio, a filmmaker in his late twenties from Earth on a job to document the delegates from Mars. Both Luo and Ignacio are trapped between worlds, with critics all around, and always under suspicion, searching for where they truly belong.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Onto a novella, Riot Baby is a story of the Black American experience in a global dystopia and follows two siblings with extraordinary power and what happens when one is arrested for being Black in America.

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down.

Zero Sum Game by S.L Huang

First of all, did you know that S.L Huang is the first professional female armorer in Hollywood? How fucking cool is that?! I’m very excited for her fantasy novella, Burning Roses, releasing soon, but she also has a scifi thriller series baout a mathematical genius mercenary.

A blockbuster, near-future science fiction thriller, S.L. Huang’s Zero Sum Game introduces a math-genius mercenary who finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power…..

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…

She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimbolli and Alicia Zaloga

This steampunk science fantasy is set in a Victorian styled book, has blood magic (my favourite type of magic!), a murder mystery and a gravedigger who’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers.

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

Another plague novel (who knew how many plague novels there were until we were like…in a plague?!) In this one, a fever decimated the population and made childbirth deadly for mother and infant. Now a midwife walks the world trying to find a new place, hiding from the clans of men who seek to control.

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Another plague novel, but this one comes with a very interesting twist: it’s set in a world with parthenogenic women (that is, can reproduce asexually – i.e. without sexual reproduction). Kirilow is a doctor whose partner is a starfish who can regenerate limbs and organs to give to her sisters. But a flu infects the community, killing the starfish and putting the whole community at risk.

In this visionary novel by Larissa Lai–her first in sixteen years–a community of parthenogenic women, sent into exile by the male-dominated Salt Water City, goes to war against disease, technology, and powerful men that threaten them with extinction.

Kirilow is a doctor apprentice whose lover Peristrophe is a “starfish,” a woman who can regenerate her own limbs and organs, which she uses to help her clone sisters whose organs are failing. When a denizen from Salt Water City suffering from a mysterious flu comes into their midst, Peristrophe becomes infected and dies, prompting Kirilow to travel to Salt Water City, where the flu is now a pandemic, to find a new starfish who will help save her sisters. There, Kirilow meets Kora, a girl-woman desperate to save her family from the epidemic. Kora has everything Kirilow is looking for, except the will to abandon her own family. But before Kirilow can convince her, both are kidnapped by a group of powerful men to serve as test subjects for a new technology that can cure the mind of the body.

Bold, beautiful, and wildly imaginative, The Tiger Flu is at once a female hero’s saga, a cyberpunk thriller, and a convention-breaking cautionary tale–a striking metaphor for our complicated times.

The Lesson by Cadwell Turner

The Lesson is apparently one of the first scifi novels set in the Virgin Islands which is very cool. What’s even cooler is that the people of the Virgin Islands have been living with an alien race for five years!

THE LESSON explores the nature of belief, the impact of colonialism, and asks how far are we willing to go for progress? Breaking ground as one of the first science fiction novels set in the Virgin Islands, THE LESSON is not only a thought-provoking literary work, delving deeply into allegorical themes of colonialism, but also vividly draws the community of Charlotte Amalie, wherefrom the author hails.

An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super-advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

This just sounds so so cool. Humanity is holding on to life by the skin of its teeth: the last vestiges are living on a colonised planet called January where half the planet is frozen in darkness and the other half wrecked with endless sun. The last of humanity lives in two cities in the temperate zone in the middle of the planet. When a student is exiled into the frozen darkness, she survives with the help of a creature from beneath the ice. How cool?!

Would you give up everything to change the world?

Humanity clings to life on January–a colonized planet divided between permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other.

Two cities, built long ago in the meager temperate zone, serve as the last bastions of civilization–but life inside them is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.

Sophie, a young student from the wrong side of Xiosphant city, is exiled into the dark after being part of a failed revolution. But she survives–with the help of a mysterious savior from beneath the ice.

Burdened with a dangerous, painful secret, Sophie and her ragtag group of exiles face the ultimate challenge–and they are running out of time.

Welcome to the City in the Middle of the Night.

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

The author describes this as “Queerness with a chance of explosions” which sounds amazing and also there’s a cat!!!

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

This scifi has a treasure hunter who fakes salvage legends to sell them on, but now has managed to find a mega powerful destructive warship.

Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she’s washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she might have stumbled on something real–the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.

Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world–until she witnesses the murder of a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah only has one lead: the killer also hunts a woman named Boots.

On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler’s ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinkser

This Hugo-award winning scifi is set in a near future dystopia where public gatherings are illegal and so concerts are now impossible, except for those willing to break the law. After many terror attacks and virus oubreaks, public gatherings are now illegal and a former musiciam performs illegal concerts to fans.

In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.

Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.

Future releases

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Red, White & Royal Blue in SPACE?! Yes please. (Release date: 21 February 2021)

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.

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

A spaceship romance. Yes a romance with a literal sentient spaceship! This sounds so amazing. (Release date: October 2021)

Vân is a scholar from a poor background, eking out a living in the orbitals of the Scattered Pearls Belt as a tutor to a rich family, while hiding the illegal artificial mem-implant she manufactured as a student.
Sunless Woods is a mindship—and not just any mindship, but a notorious thief and a master of disguise. She’s come to the Belt to retire, but is drawn to Vân’s resolute integrity.

When a mysterious corpse is found in the quarters of Vân’s student, Vân and Sunless Woods find themselves following a trail of greed and murder that will lead them from teahouses and ascetic havens to the wreck of a mindship–and to the devastating secrets they’ve kept from each other.

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

I am so incredibly excited for this book about a group of queer performers fighting back against a fascist regime. (Release date: 8 December 2020).

The author of the acclaimed novel Scarborough weaves an unforgettable and timely dystopian account of a near-future when a queer Black performer and his allies join forces against an oppressive regime that is rounding up those deemed “Other” in concentration camps.

In a terrifyingly familiar near-future, with massive floods that lead to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called the Boots seizes the opportunity to force communities of colour, the disabled and the LGBTQ2S into labour camps in the city of Toronto.

In the shadows, a new hero emerges. After his livelihood and the love of his life are taken away, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker. Guiding them in the use of weapons and close-quarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer who helps them plan an uprising at a major internationally televised event.

With her signature prose, described by Booklist as “raw yet beautiful, disturbing yet hopeful,” Catherine Hernandez creates a vision of the future that is all the more terrifying because it is very possible. A cautionary tale filled with fierce and vibrant characters, Crosshairs explores the universal desire to thrive, to love and to be loved as your true self.

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

This book was very recently announced and it sounds AMAZING. One of my most antipated books of 2021? I THINK SO! It has a pansexual supervillain and a superhero teaming up and being friends! And they’ve lost all their memories! (Release date: 26 January 2021)

An emotional adventure about two misfits who have extraordinary powers, but have forgotten who they were before. The vigilante and the villain must team up to stop a mad scientist who threatens the city, while trying to figure out who they really are.

Jamie woke up two years ago in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to who he might be, and also with the power to read other people’s memories. In the meantime, he’s become the Mind Robber, holding up banks for quick cash. Similarly, Zoe is searching for her past, and using her new extraordinary abilities of speed and strength…to deliver fast food. And occasionally beat up bad guys, if she feels like it.

When the two meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize they are each other’s best chance at discovering what happened to them. The quest will take them deep into a medical conspiracy that is threatening to spill out and wreak havoc on their city, and maybe the country. As the two get past their respective barriers, they’ll realize that their friendship is the thing that gives them the greatest power.

Dark Lullaby by Holly Ho-Yen

Anything that has comps to Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale is going to be so fucked up and amazing. Dark Lullaby is all about a mother trying to keep her family together in a world where parenting is strictly monitored. (Release date: 9 February 2021)

For fans of Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale, in Dark Lullaby a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored.

When Kit decides to have a child, she thinks she’s prepared. She knows how demanding Induction is. She’s seen children Extracted. But in a society where parenting is strictly monitored under the watchful gaze of OSIP (The Office of Standards in Parenting), she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together.

Machinehood by S.B Divya

This near future has sentient artifical intelligence and humanity who are dependent on pills to keep them alive but also allow them to compete with AI in the competitive gig economy. But now several terrorist attacks have targeted pill funders and demand pill production stop. (Release date: 2 March 2021)

From the Hugo Award nominee S.B. Divya, Zero Dark Thirty meets The Social Network in this science fiction thriller about artificial intelligence, sentience, and labor rights in a near future dominated by the gig economy.

Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It’s 2095 and people don’t usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive, but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.

All that changes when Welga’s client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.

Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.

Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood and what do they really want?

A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

The amazing Sarah Gailey has a new novel coming that is comped to Killing Eve!! It has a gentic clone who has an affair with their human replica’s husband. (Release date: 16 February 2021)

The Echo Wife is a non-stop thrill ride, perfect for readers of Big Little Lies and enthusiasts of Killing Eve and Westworld­

Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be.

And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.

Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up.
Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty

When they said all happy families are alike, this can’t be what they meant…

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

YESSSSS Rivers Solomon has another book coming!! And it’s gothic!! And it tackles the history of racism in America!! (Release date: 2021)

A genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables, about a Black woman with albinism, the mother of infant twins, who is hunted after escaping a religious compound, then discovers that her body is metamorphosing and that she is developing extra-sensory powers. 

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

I for one am very intrigued as to what a “Hell-danmed” violin legend means. (Release date: 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).

And that’s it for another week! Have you read any of these books? What’s your favourite scifi novel? Let me know in the comments! And join me next week for the final week, where I’ll be looking at all the diverse young adult science fiction we have!

48 diverse horror books you can read instead of books by old, white racists!

Hi everyone,

We’re onto week 3 of my SFF extravaganza and I’m here today to tell you that there are horror books you can read that aren’t by Stephen King. This week I’m talking all about horror and bringing you a list of 48 diverse horror books you can read instead of books by old, white racists! Horror is a genre I’m very new to: until last year, I was a total and complete wimp when it came to horror. But I took a chance on one book and absolutely fell in love. And I fell in love with the genre through the wonderful and diverse horror books on this list, not the authors so often held up as idols in the genre. There are books for everyone here, from absolutely terrifying monster horror to more psychological thrillers, from books with ghost romances to those with lots of gore, from literary fiction to scifi so I hope you can fall in love with this genre too!

If you’d like to find out more about why I’m doing this series, here’s the explanation from my first post!

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the Hugo Awards last weekend, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

If you’re interested, do check out the other posts in this series!

Published books

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Killer mermaids. That is all. Yes we’re starting this list with my two favourite horror novels, and first up is Into the Drowning Deep, which I’m pretty sure is going to remain the scariest book I have ever read until the day I die. These mermaids are just so fucking scary. There is so much tension and fear and stalking and gore and I just adore everything about this book.

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

And here is my second favourite horror novel!! Mexican Gothic is the amazing gothic horror from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the author who can literally write in every single genre possible. And, we’re getting a fucking TV show!!!! This book is just so incredibly creepy and fucked up and I love everything about it.

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. “It’s Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird” (The Guardian).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Oh my god, this book!!! It is fucking terrifying. This book is a work of absolute genius: it’s set entirely in a caving system where a caver gets trapped, and there’s only two characters, the caver and her handler. Just the sheer ability to create such an engrossing, terrrifying work in such a close setting and with so few characters is genius.

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Rory Power’s debut Wilder Girls rocked the world last year. And whilst it might not quite be the book to read in the current climate (given it’s about a deadly plague…), it’s definitely a great read once in a better headspace!! The body horror in this book is just exceptional (and also so so fucking gross).

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

This is the dark sapphic retelling you’ve always wanted! Blood Countess retells the story of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who’s credited as being the most prolific female serial killer of all time (and also the inspiration for Countess Dracula).

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula.

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

If you’re looking to dip your toes into horror for the first time, definitely check out this one because as a novella, you will be able to try out horror in miniature to check if you’ll enjoy the genre! This is a retelling of Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook which I have not a single iota of a clue about because Lovecraft was a racist fuck and I haven’t read a single thing by him. But LaValle’s version reimagines Lovecraft from the perspective of a mixed race horror nerd who grew up reading Lovecraft and is inspired by his now very conflicted feelings for the author.

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

This YA horror takes place on a creepy island where female friendships are pitted against each other and a mysterious evil keeps stealing away girls.

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.


Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Burn the Dark by S.A Hunt

This new series from Tor is everything we love about this publisher: super gay, and scary. This series follows a witchhunter who has a YouTube show about her hunting down and killing witches. But her followers don’t realise the series is REAL!

Supernatural meets Stranger Things in award-winning author S. A. Hunt’s Burn the Dark, first in the Malus Domestica horror action-adventure series about a punk YouTuber on a mission to bring down witches, one vid at a time.

Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don’t know the truth: her series isn’t fiction.

Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Returning home to the rural town of Blackfield, Robin meets friends new and old on her quest for justice. But then, a mysterious threat known as the Red Lord interferes with her plans….

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

I have had such a run of amazing gothic horror novels this year, it has completely rejuvenated my love for this genre! As a teen, I really loved gothic lit, it was the genre I always chose to study in my dissertations across school (hi hello yes I did write my final year English dissertation on sex in Dracula and Carmilla). Catherine House is set at a mysterious liberal arts college where students get free tuition and board but have to give up three years of their life, completely away from the outside world.

A seductive, gothic-infused tale of literary suspense — the debut of a spectacular new voice — about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you . . .


Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.

For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

Another novella, this one about a queer punk rocker trying to find out hwy her best friend committed suicide and the spirit who has started to turn on a squatter community in Iowa.

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit—a blood-red, three-antlered deer—begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town—or get out alive.

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

This is a horror novel all about the monsters! Beneath the Rising follows two kids who are stuck in the middle of a war after they accidentally awaken ancient monsters.

A coming-of-age story about two kids in the middle of a war of eldritch horrors from outside spacetime…

Nick Prasad and Joanna “Johnny” Chambers have been friends since childhood. She’s rich, white, and a genius; he’s poor, brown, and secretly in love with her.

But when Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens the primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity.

From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they need to trust each other completely to survive…

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

I just finished this beauty and it was AMAZING (you can check out the full review I posted for it Tuesday here!) It is such a dark and witchy book full of horrors and gore and blood and four plagues that have come to punish the town of Bethel.

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

This novella has one of the most exciting and interesting pitches on this list. Every time Molly bleeds, a murderer is born!!! And that murderer happens to be another Molly hellbent on killing her.

Every time she bleeds a murderer is born. Experience the horror of Tade Thompson’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne.

The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Haunted Titanic anyone?!? Yes please.

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

This sounds just as amazing as that incredibly striking cover. It’s about a father trying to save his son in a world full of racism by considering a new medical procedure that would turn his son white.

A bold, provocative debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout , about a father who will do anything to protect his son–even if it means turning him white.

How far would you go to protect your child?

Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larger by the day. In this near-future society plagued by resurgent racism, segregation, and expanding private prisons, our narrator knows Nigel might not survive. Having watched the world take away his own father, he is determined to stop history from repeating itself.

There is one potential solution: a new experimental medical procedure that promises to save lives by turning people white. But in order to afford Nigel’s whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few Black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly surreal hoops–from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups–in an urgent quest to protect his son.

This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. Writing in the tradition of Ralph Ellison and Franz Kafka, Maurice Carlos Ruffin fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love. 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

This YA sounds so terrifying, I’ve always been just so scared of paranormal horror. It’s about a ghost hunter who is tracking down a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood who kills everyone who enters the house she called home.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist

And here’s to the first zombie horror on this list, by the author who wrote one of my favourite YA fantasies, Missing, Presumed Dead.

Life out here is hard.
So you have to be harder.

Willie has always survived. No matter what life in Glory, Texas, has thrown at her. The sickness that swept through the state and turned most living creatures into terrifying shakes. Her own mother succumbing to the disease. Her father disappearing into saloons and gambling and liquor. Willie survives. And she’ll make sure her younger brothers and sister do, too.

Then her good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most merciless shake hunters in town, and Willie is on the hook for his debt. With two young hunters as guide, Willie sets out across the desert to find him, and make him pay up.

But the desert holds many dangers—and the shakes are only a few of them. This is no place for the weak.

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

A book about the daughters of a serial killer who now get a taste for murder?!? This sounds like a book for anyone who ordered the Hanniball TV series!

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire – the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities.

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Pretty much one of the creepiest YA books ever, this one follows three different timelines and one creepy house.

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil’s Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations…

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember–so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward–one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever.

1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it.

Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching…

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

This witchy dark horror tackles sexual assault and the power and strength women can wield in the most horrific of circumstances to save those they love.

Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.


Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.

One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.

She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Anything comped to Dexter is going to excite me, even more so it’s when by the absolutely amazing Rin Chupeco, author of The Bone Witch and The Never-Tilting World! The Girl From the Well follows a dead girl who hunts murderers.

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Yessss time for more creepy forests, which I think is probably my favourite horror setting. In these woods, there is a beast. And in the town on the edge of the woods, there are five teens who can wreak havoc and destruction.

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

This ghosty novel is inspired by ancient Chinese mythology and customs, and follows Li Lan, a woman who becomes a ghost bride for a wealthy family and who is drawn into the world of the Chinese afterlife.

“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeymi

And we’re back to my second favourite horror setting, creepy houses! This gothic novel is about who can sense spirits and one day dissappears to join them.

In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly –

Slipping away from them –

And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.

“Miri I conjure you “

This is a spine-tingling tale that has Gothic roots but an utterly modern sensibility. Told by a quartet of crystalline voices, it is electrifying in its expression of myth and memory, loss and magic, fear and love. 

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Robin Talley is known for her amazing queer historical fiction but she also has a horror novel! This is a queer, sapphic horror Macbeth retelling!

“Something wicked this way comes.”

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

This horror is on the literary fiction side, and was recently longlisted for the International Man Booker! This translated fic tion is about the murder of a witch in Mexico.

The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse—by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals—propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

Like Roberto Bolano’s 2666 or Faulkner’s greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence—real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it.

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

A Frankenstein retelling sit in Baghdad with a scavenger who collects human body parts? Holy shit this sounds good.

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by “Baghdad’s new literary star” (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq. 

Affinity by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is the queen of lesbian fiction and I am have so many of her books on my TBR right now! This gothic horror/mystery is about a woman recovering from suicide who visits a women prison as part of her charity work and is fascinated by an innocent spiritualist who killed a woman during a séance.

An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women’s ward of Millbank prison, Victorian London’s grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank’s murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by an apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. Selina was imprisoned after a séance she was conducting went horribly awry, leaving an elderly matron dead and a young woman deeply disturbed. Although initially skeptical of Selina’s gifts, Margaret is soon drawn into a twilight world of ghosts and shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions, until she is at last driven to concoct a desperate plot to secure Selina’s freedom, and her own.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things, from the author of one of my favourite books (and one that started this list) Mexican Gothic, is bringing back vampries! This book was out of print but has been picked by Tor and will be rereleasing with its sequel next year!

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all? 

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

This ownvoices Native American horror novel follows four men who fucked up in their youth and now have an entity from the culture they left behind hellbent on killing them.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This collection of stories comes from the author of the incredibly powerful memoir In the Dream House. This collection bends and rewrites the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres to explore the violence inflicted on the female body.

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction. 

The Merry Spinster by Daniel M Lavery

Another collection of short stories, The Merry Spinister takles classic fairytales and adds a horror twist to them.

From Daniel M. Lavery comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from his beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, The Merry Spinster takes up the trademark wit that endeared Lavery to readers of both The Toast and his best-selling debut Texts from Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Lavery’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Lavery’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Lavery’s oeuvre will delight in his unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bedtime will never be the same.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

In a dystopian world, the rich are need bodies to harvest and do so from the helpless and poor so one woman bargains with gods to fight back.

The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

The Red Tree by Caitlín R Kiernan

In this book we combine creepy houses and forests with an old house in Rhode Island that has an ancient oak in the garden that has links to legends of magic and murders.

Sarah Crowe left Atlanta–and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship–to live in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house’s former tenant–an anthropologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property.

Tied to local legends of supernatural magic, as well as documented accidents and murders, the gnarled tree takes root in Sarah’s imagination, prompting her to write her own account of its unsavory history.

And as the oak continues to possess her dreams and nearly almost all her waking thoughts, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago…

Exquisite Corpse by Bobby Martin

This book is almost as old as me! But it sounds so horrifically gorey as fuck. Exquisite Corpse follows a serial killer who moves to the US to improve his “art” (yes the art of killing people…) Please note the author transitioned since the book was published and now goes by Bobby Martin and not the name on the cover.

To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.

Swiftly moving from the grimy streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the decadence of the New Orleans French Quarter, and punctuated by rants from radio talk show host Lush Rimbaud, a.k.a. Luke Ransom, Tran’s ex-lover, who is dying of AIDS and who intends to wreak ultimate havoc before leaving this world, Exquisite Corpse unfolds into a labyrinth of murder and love. Ultimately all four characters converge on a singular bloody night after which their lives will be irrevocably changed — or terminated.

Poppy Z. Brite dissects the landscape of torture and invites us into the mind of a killer. Exquisite Corpse confirms Brite as a writer who defies categorization. It is a novel for those who dare trespass where the sacred and profane become one.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

This translated novel will probably be one of the literary fictions of the year. It sounds so messed up but also so incredibly interesting. Tender is the Flesh is set in a world where a virus made animal meat poisonous to humans and so now other (human) meat is sold instead.

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

Dahlia Adler is the queen of anthologies and in His Hideous Heart, she brought together some of YA’s best authors to reimagine Edgar Allan Poe stories.

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

Future releases

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins is a new novells from the author of The Only Good Indians (which you may have noticed earlier on the list!) This book, unsuprisingly, has a mall mannequin which some teens use to prank a theatre manager as revenge for punishing them for sneaking into the theatre without tickets. The prank, obviously, goes very wrong. (Release date: September 1)

Stephen Graham Jones returns with Night of the Mannequins, a contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth

This is one of my most anticipated books still to release this year! It’s from the author behind of the biggest sapphic YA books ever, The Miseducation of Cameron Post. This time, Danforth is making her adult debut with a gothic horror about a film crew filming at a school where several murders took place years ago. (Release date: October 20)

The award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult debut with this highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls—a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit.

Our story begins in 1902, at The Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, The Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer, Merritt Emmons, publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded-Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Well this is definitely going to be one of my favourite covers of 2021. This YA horror is about a family of monsters and the girl who needs to join forces with her grandmothers ghost to keep the family alive. (Release date: February 2021)

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

This translated novel is a dark fairytale exploration of abuse and power in families and follows Natsuki, a girl who might be a witch or an alien and who is separated from her best friend and cousin. (Release date: October 1)

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

Jake in the Box by Ryan Douglass

This is going to be one of my most anticipated books of 2021, it sounds AMAZING! This YA horror is about the ghost of a school shooter who has come back to wreck havoc. (Release date: 2021)

It’s hard being the one of the few Black kids at St. Clair Prep, especially when you’re routinely harassed by the dead. This year, sixteen-year-old loner Jake Livingston plans to make real friends, which means paying less attention to dead world and more to reality.

But when a series of murders breaks out in Jake’s neighborhood, he discovers they may be linked to Sawyer Doon—a vengeful spirit who carried out a school shooting a year prior and then killed himself. Sawyer is back, determined to wreak havoc on new targets from beyond the grave.

Now, Jake’s home isn’t safe. School isn’t safe. The more he tries to ignore Sawyer, the more he feels the ghost boy’s impact on his psyche. And the closer he comes to understanding who Sawyer was, the more he realizes how similar he may be to the boy once bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, now hell-bent on taking power back from a world that took it from him.

To protect himself from possession, Jake will have to master his power over both dead world and reality and discover his own reason to live.

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

Queer horror is the best horror, we all know it. To Break a Covenant is set in an old mining town where people start sleepwalking and hearing voices. (Release date: 2021)

Alison Ames’s THE HAUNTING OF MOON BASIN, a queer horror pitched with shades of SAWKILL GIRLS, in which the people of an old mining town begin experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices only they can hear—prompting four teen girls to investigate, to Ashley Hearn at Page Street, for publication in spring 2021.

Children of the River Ghost by Alexandra Aceves

One of my favourite YA fantasies, and one of my favourite books of 2019, Missing, Presumed Dead, had an f/f ghost romance and now there’s another f/f ghost romance coming, we are BLESSED. (Release date: 2021)

A YA horror novel in which 16-year-old Katie, reeling from bullying after her last relationship, moves to New Mexico and falls for a mysterious, beautiful girl who may be the ghost La Llorona.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Caitlin Starling is the the author of one of my favourite horror novels, The Luminous Dead, which I spoke about near the start of this post. In 2021, we have a new Crimson-Peak inspired gothic horror filled with haunted mansions and ritual magic. (Release date: 2021)

Author of THE LUMINOUS DEAD Caitlin Starling’s THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE, pitched as a Crimson Peak-inspired gothic horror about a young woman who makes a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself trapped in her new husband’s decrepit and possibly haunted mansion, and spirals down a dangerous path of ritual magic in an effort to save them both, to Sylvan Creekmore at St. Martin’s Press, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world). 

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gold

More queer horror for 2021! This one with a demonic presence terrorising a small town… On Twitter, the author described this as “the daughter of TV ghosthunters moves to a small town where a dark entity wreaks havoc and must (reluctantly) help the town golden girl save the day”.

A debut supernatural thriller about two girls who fall in love when they team up to stop an evil demonic presence from terrorizing their small town.

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

I have very much left the best to last. If I had to pick just one book from every single book I currently know of that’s been announced that I was most excited to read, it would be this one. Because it sounds fucking amazing. (Release date: 2022)

Gretchen Felker-Martin’s MANHUNT, about trans women scavenging for estrogen in a post-apocalyptic world where a viral plague has transformed all cis men into feral monstrosities, fighting tooth and nail against a menace they’ll join if they miss a dose, and on the run from an authoritarian faction of cis women who see them as a dangerous liability, pitched as a trans woman’s response to Y: THE LAST MAN, plus another standalone horror novel, to Kelly Lonesome at Nightfire, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world).

Pheeew, for a list that was shorter than both my fantasy lists, I expected this to take much less time but it did not. I hope you found some great books to read! Do you read horror already? Let me know your favourites in the comments!

81 diverse young adult fantasy books to read instead of books by old white racists!

Hi everyone,

We’re back for Week 2 of my SFF extravaganza! Throughout August, I’m going on a tour of the genre every Thursday on my blog and every day on Instagram to celebrate the amazing, diverse books and authors we have in SFF! If you’d like to find out more about why I’m doing this, do check out my explanation below (which I copied over from last week, I’m sorry but oh my was I exhausted after finishing this list). BECAUSE! Today, I have a whopping 81 diverse YA fantasy books for you to read instead of books by old white racists!

Why I’m doing this

You may have heard of the mass abuse and harassment revelations in the SFF community over the past few months, from very well-known and very well protected cishet male authors. I’ve already pretty much given up reading books by cishet men, particularly in SFF where there is such a history of misogyny, racism, homophobia and abuse. So I decided now would be a great time to celebrate the lesser-heard voices in the community, namely from marginalised authors of colour, authors in the LGBTIQA+ community, or from disabled or neurodivergent authors. So for the next 5 weeks, I will be posting a list every Thursday celebrating 5 different segments of the SFF community: adult fantasy, adult sci-fi, horror (combined adult + YA), YA fantasy, and YA sci-fi.

This series also seems rather timely (completely a coincidence) after the absolute disaster of the Hugo Awards last weekend, where some old white men decided to be horrifically rude and racist, spending the whole evening praising racist old white dudes from years ago instead of pronouncing the names of the winners and nominees (aka their fucking job) correctly.

You can check out the first post of this series, where I brought you 63 diverse adult fantasy books, here!

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

A Count of Monte Cristo retelling with a female lead! Hell yes.

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo. 

Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is so far the only Anna-Marie McLemore book I’ve read (I know, I’m the actual worst). But it’s such a lovely fairytale retelling! It combines a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale The Red Shoes along with the 1518 dancing plague.

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Two wives of one man fall in love with each other instead of him? All while tearing down a corrupt government? With an exploration of immigration dynamics reminiscent of the American/Mexico border?

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

The Afterward by E.K Johnston

This is a very quiet fantasy that deals with what happens after the quest, specifically what happens when you fall in love with your fellow quest knight but now have to go back to normal society and marry a man to pay for the debts you acrued at knight school.

It has been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought the gem home are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity do not come easily.

Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn’t meant for heroism this early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she has earned, her reputation does not pay her bills. With time running out, Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.

Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar, pick pocket, thief, she lived hand to mouth on the city streets until fortune–or fate–pulled her into Kalanthe’s orbit. And now she’s quite reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her recognizable, which makes her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn’t much of a choice at all.

Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn’t quite done with them and that new golden age isn’t a sure thing yet.

In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.

Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist

Dark f/f fantasy with a ghost romance?!? This is one of my favourite YA fantasies! It also has some really great depression rep, and looks at how magic isn’t always a good thing to have.

With a touch, Lexi can sense how and when someone will die. Some say it’s a gift. But to Lexi it’s a curse—one that keeps her friendless and alone. All that changes when Lexi foresees the violent death of a young woman, Jane, outside a club. But Jane doesn’t go to the afterlife quietly. Her ghost remains behind, determined to hunt down her murderer, and she needs Lexi’s help. In life, Jane was everything Lexi is not—outgoing, happy, popular. But in death, all Jane wants is revenge. Lexi will do anything to help Jane, to make up for the fact that she didn’t—couldn’t—save Jane’s life, and to keep this beautiful ghost of a girl by her side for as long as possible.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

Following an f/f ghost romance is this f/f witch romance! This book is so much fun, it’s about a girl who offers herself up to be the yearly sacrifice to the Witch Queen after she accidentally caused him to be chosen, but then she falls in love with the witch herself! How perfect does that sound?~

The Wicked Deep meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely in this gripping, dark fairy-tale fantasy about two girls who must choose between saving themselves, each other, or their sinking island city.

Every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen’s attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice.

Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.

When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas’s freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

The Wicker King by K.Ancrum

K.Ancrum is one of my autobuy authors. I love The Wicker King which is about a teen with degenerative hallucinatory disorder who has visions that take the form of a fantasy world. I also highly recommend buying hard copies of Ancrum’s work because they always have very cool page designs!

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

EEEEEEE one of the most wellknown f/f YA fantasies ever is Varela’s Crier’s War, with the sequel Iron Heart (which I’m on the blog tour for, I’M SO EXCITED!!) coming very soon.

Impossible love between two girls —one human, one Made.
A love that could birth a revolution.


After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, Designed to be the playthings of royals, took over the estates of their owners and bent the human race to their will.

Now, Ayla, a human servant rising the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging the death of her family… by killing the Sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier, who was Made to be beautiful, to be flawless. And to take over the work of her father.

Crier had been preparing to do just that—to inherit her father’s rule over the land. But that was before she was betrothed to Scyre Kinok, who seems to have a thousand secrets. That was before she discovered her father isn’t as benevolent as she thought. That was before she met Ayla.

Set in a richly-imagined fantasy world, Nina Varela’s debut novel is a sweepingly romantic tale of love, loss and revenge, that challenges what it really means to be human.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

This is one of my favourite YA fantasies, He is one of the authors I am most excited to see grow because they have the biggest twists and turns in any YA, EVER. Yes I said ever. This book is so fucking good, it’s about a princess who has to turn to magic in a kingdom where it’s outlawed to try find out who murdered her father.

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Not only does this have one of my favourite book covers of 2020, it also has a genderfluid pirate!!! That’s all you need to know right?

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

When I first read this book, I started it to read a little before bed and one page in had to stop because I knew I wouldn’t stop reading until I reached the end, no matter the fact I desperately needed sleep. That’s how good this is!!

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isobel Sterling

More f/f witchy goodness?! We have been blessed with queer witches recently and this one is so much fun and has my two absolute favourite magics: blood magic and elemental magic.

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

This is an incredible Silk Road inspired fantasy world with lots of women being badass and independent!

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences. 

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

Mermaids are sapphic okay? In Ice Massacre, each year male warriors are sent to battle the mermaids who would lure sailors to their death. But they keep getting killed. So this year, the island decides to send female warriors instead cause women get shit done, and also appear to be resistant to the lure of mermaid’s voice.

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.

For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

This fantasy is all about witchdoctors, or rather the girl who was bormn into a family of very powerful witchdoctors but who doesn’t seem to have magic and so trades away years of her life to get some.

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

This book is just a few week’s away from release, and it is sure to get a lot of interest. It’s comped to Moulin Rouge and The Phantom of the Opera, and follows a female magician as she tries to win a magic competition in the very male dominated field of performance magic.

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

This is such a fun fantasy, it’s so fast paced and action filled that I absolutely sped through. There’s such an interesting magic system, with the main character being a soulguide! There’s also a really great friendship which is the centre of this book which made. areally lovely change from all the romance heavy YA I’ve been reading.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

From the author who coined the ownvoices term comes this science fantasy about a girl who protects a princess and the boy who lives inside her head.

Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive–and discover the truth about their connection.