For the past few years, there have been so many speculative fiction books that sound wonderful that it has been difficult to narrow down a list of anticipated releases to a somewhat reasonable number. Like the last couple of years, I scoured the web for book descriptions and interviews with their authors, early reviews, and excerpts to learn more about some of the books coming out this year. (And of course, there were some books that were already on my list because I loved the previous book in the series or other books by the same author.) In the end, I came up with 24 science fiction and fantasy books I wanted to highlight for 2023.

As always, this is not a comprehensive list of all the speculative fiction books being published this year: these are just the books I came across that sound most captivating to me. This includes fantasy inspired by various mythologies and histories, space opera, foes having to work together, a couple of books featuring animals (including a giant bird of prey), stories with dark magics, dark academia and a dragon academy, a couple of creepy houses, and more. I hope those of you with similar tastes and interests discover some books here that appeal to you, too.

These books are ordered by scheduled publication date, if they have one, and these are US release dates unless otherwise stated.

Due to the length of this blog post, I’m only showing the first 6 books on the main page. You can click the title of the post or the ‘more…’ link after the sixth book to read the entire article.

Cover images link to Bookshop if available, and the rest link to Amazon or other pages for the book. As a Bookshop affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cover of The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai
The Daughters of Izdihar (The Alamaxa Duology #1) by Hadeer Elsbai
Read or Listen to an Excerpt
Scheduled Release Date: Out Now (Released January 10)

This debut novel is the beginning of a fantasy duology inspired in part by the women’s suffrage movement in Egypt during the 1950s and its leader, Doria Shafik. Hadeer Elsbai discussed her new novel in an interview on The Nerd Daily, which includes this overview:

Readers can expect a somewhat slice-of-life fantasy that tackles patriarchy and examines the intersections of injustice and privilege. There’s sapphic romance, hidden easter eggs for Egyptian readers, trope subversions, female friendships, a vast array of female characters, a magic school, and elemental magic.

This sounds wonderful, especially its themes and magic… and female friendships… and subverting tropes… Ok, it just sounds all-around fantastic!


From debut author Hadeer Elsbai comes the first book in an incredibly powerful new duology, set wholly in a new world, but inspired by modern Egyptian history, about two young women—Nehal, a spoiled aristocrat used to getting what she wants and Giorgina, a poor bookshop worker used to having nothing—who find they have far more in common, particularly in their struggle for the rights of women and their ability to fight for it with forbidden elemental magic

As a waterweaver, Nehal can move and shape any water to her will, but she’s limited by her lack of formal education. She desires nothing more than to attend the newly opened Weaving Academy, take complete control of her powers, and pursue a glorious future on the battlefield with the first all-female military regiment. But her family cannot afford to let her go—crushed under her father’s gambling debt, Nehal is forcibly married into a wealthy merchant family. Her new spouse, Nico, is indifferent and distant and in love with another woman, a bookseller named Giorgina.

Giorgina has her own secret, however: she is an earthweaver with dangerously uncontrollable powers. She has no money and no prospects. Her only solace comes from her activities with the Daughters of Izdihar, a radical women’s rights group at the forefront of a movement with a simple goal: to attain recognition for women to have a say in their own lives. They live very different lives and come from very different means, yet Nehal and Giorgina have more in common than they think. The cause—and Nico—brings them into each other’s orbit, drawn in by the group’s enigmatic leader, Malak Mamdouh, and the urge to do what is right.

But their problems may seem small in the broader context of their world, as tensions are rising with a neighboring nation that desires an end to weaving and weavers. As Nehal and Giorgina fight for their rights, the threat of war looms in the background, and the two women find themselves struggling to earn—and keep—a lasting freedom.

Cover of Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim
Spice Road (Spice Road #1) by Maiya Ibrahim
Read an Excerpt
Scheduled Release Date: Out Now (Released January 24)

Maiya Ibrahim’s debut novel, the beginning of a YA epic fantasy series, has tea magic inspired by reading about Arab spice traders and how they tried to keep others away from desirable spices: by making up stories about monsters guarding the places they grew. I was especially intrigued by what she had to say about her law background being helpful when worldbuilding in this interview at The Quiet Pond:

Law is a surprisingly useful background to have when it comes to worldbuilding. Knowing how real-world governments and legal systems work has helped enormously in building functioning fantasy societies. Thematically, I’ve always been interested in the concepts of justice and the rule of law. What happens when not everyone has equal access to justice? Or when some members of a society aren’t subject to the same laws as everyone else? I think these questions boil down to issues of privilege, corruption, and inequality, and these are all themes I explore both in Spice Road and other works.

The whole Q&A is great, and the author’s discussion of her book, protagonist, and influences made me want to pick up her novel.


The first book in an epic fantasy series for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal and Elizabeth Lim, set in an Arabian-inspired land. Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, seventeen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother whose betrayal is now their greatest threat.

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic awakens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With her affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani can wield a dagger like no other – and for that she has gained a reputation as the next greatest Shield, battling djinn, ghouls, and the other monsters spreading across the sands.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother, who tarnished the family name after it was revealed that he was stealing their nation’s coveted spice—a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. Soon after that, he disappeared, believed to have perished beyond the Forbidden Wastes. Despite her brother’s betrayal, there isn’t a day that goes by when Imani doesn’t grieve him.

Then Imani discovers signs her brother may be alive, and spreading their nation’s magic to outsiders. Desperate to find him – and to protect him – she joins the mission sent to hunt him down.

Accompanied by Taha, a powerful beastseer who enthrals and enrages her in equal measure, Imani soon discovers that many secrets lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes – and in her own heart.

Caught between her duty to her nation, and her love for her brother, she must decide where her loyalties lie… before it is too late.

Cover of Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo
Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo
Scheduled Release Date: March 14

This science fiction novella by Summer Suns author Lee Mandelo sounds like it explores some fascinating subjects. In the book announcement on, the author said:

The novella emerged from the earliest months of the COVID-19 lockdowns, which for me were spent in full isolation pouring research reading from a social theory seminar on animals into my eyeballs… then stewing in the resultant swamp of ethical discomfort, grim awareness of the world around me caught fire, and gnawing disillusionment with the procedures of academia. At its core Feed Them Silence is digging at the underbelly of neoliberalism, scientific research, and the unavoidable sticky web of power—whether that appears in the marital arena, like Sean’s complicated relationship to her wife, or between human and non-human beings, like the researchers and their wolf.

Lee Mandelo and editor Carl Engle-Laird both contributed some thoughts on the book, and the questions surrounding human/animal relationships they discuss sound especially interesting to me. (Plus I like wolves.)


Lee Mandelo dives into the minds of wolves in Feed Them Silence, a novella of the near future.

What does it mean to “be-in-kind” with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.

Sean’s tireless research gives her a chance to fulfill that dream, but pursuing it has a terrible cost. Her obsession with work endangers her fraying relationship with her wife. Her research methods threaten her mind and body. And the attention of her VC funders could destroy her subject, the beautiful wild wolf whose mental world she’s invading.

Cover of Lone Women by Victor LaValle
Lone Women by Victor LaValle
Scheduled Release Date: March 21

Though I don’t read a lot of horror, I was curious about this novel, both because I’d heard good things about Victor LaValle’s writing and because I found the historical inspiration intriguing. A Columbia University article on the author discusses this aspect of Lone Women (and the upcoming TV adaptation of The Changeling):

Of Lone Women, LaValle says, “It’s about women homesteaders in Montana in 1915. I stumbled across a book that said the US government was so desperate to have this land homesteaded after taking it from the Native Americans who lived there, that they essentially relaxed what would have been the usual legal prejudices at the time.”

Lone Women is the only book mentioned in this post that I’ve already read. I added it to this list after reading the first chapter, and I finished the book before this post. It’s an excellently written page-turner, and I especially enjoyed the theme of letting go of toxic ideas engrained into one throughout childhood, no matter one’s age.


Blue skies, empty land—and enough wide-open space to hide a horrifying secret. A woman with a past, a mysterious trunk, a town on the edge of nowhere, and a bracing new vision of the American West, from the award-winning author of The Changeling.

”If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison, the result would be Victor LaValle.”—Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See

Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk opens, people around Adelaide start to disappear.

The year is 1915, and Adelaide is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, forcing her to flee California in a hellfire rush and make her way to Montana as a homesteader. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will become one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can tame it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing that will help her survive the harsh territory.

Crafted by a modern master of magical suspense, Lone Women blends shimmering prose, an unforgettable cast of adventurers who find horror and sisterhood in a brutal landscape, and a portrait of early-twentieth-century America like you’ve never seen. And at its heart is the gripping story of a woman desperate to bury her past—or redeem it.

Cover of Rose House by Arkady Martine
Rose/House by Arkady Martine
Scheduled Release Date: March 30

Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire was one of my favorite books read in 2021, and I’m curious to see what she does with this novella coming from Subterranean Press. From reading the early reviews on Goodreads, it sounds like it raises some interesting questions related to the science fictional scenario of having AI houses.


Arkady Martine, the acclaimed author of the Teixcalaan Series, returns with an astonishing new novella.

Basit Deniau’s houses were haunted to begin with.

A house embedded with an artificial intelligence is a common thing: a house that is an artificial intelligence, infused in every load-bearing beam and fine marble tile with a thinking creature that is not human? That is something else altogether. But now Deniau’s been dead a year, and Rose House is locked up tight, as commanded by the architect’s will: all his possessions and files and sketches are confined in its archives, and their only keeper is Rose House itself. Rose House, and one other.

Dr. Selene Gisil, one of Deniau’s former protégé, is permitted to come into Rose House once a year. She alone may open Rose House’s vaults, look at drawings and art, talk with Rose House’s animating intelligence all she likes. Until this week, Dr. Gisil was the only person whom Rose House spoke to.

But even an animate intelligence that haunts a house has some failsafes common to all AIs. For instance: all AIs must report the presence of a dead body to the nearest law enforcement agency.

There is a dead person in Rose House. The house says so. It is not Basit Deniau, and it is not Dr. Gisil. It is someone else. Rose House, having completed its duty of care and informed Detective Maritza Smith of the China Lake police precinct that there is in fact a dead person inside it, dead of unnatural causes—has shut up.

No one can get inside Rose House, except Dr. Gisil. Dr. Gisil was not in North America when Rose House called the China Lake precinct. But someone did. And someone died there. And someone may be there still.

Cover of Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh
Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh
Read an Excerpt
Scheduled Release Date: April 11

I’ve been looking forward to this space opera novel since reading what the author and editor said about the protagonist in the announcement on In particular, I took notice when Emily Tesh said, “The villain of Kyr’s journey is Kyr herself.” And then I saw Ruoxi Chen said, “Kyr is a protagonist who is the absolute worst. I’d die for her of course.” Kyr sounds like just the type of messy, complex sort of character I enjoy reading about.


A thrillingly told queer space opera about the wreckage of war, the family you find, and who you must become when every choice is stripped from you, Some Desperate Glory is Astounding Award Winner and Crawford Award Finalist Emily Tesh’s highly anticipated debut novel.

“Masterful, audacious storytelling. Relentless, unsentimental, a completely wild ride.”—Tamsyn Muir

While we live, the enemy shall fear us.

Since she was born, Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the majoda their victory over humanity.

They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. When Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to Nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows she must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands.

Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, Kyr escapes from everything she’s known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.

Cover of Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee
Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee
Scheduled Release Date: April 11

I’m rather fond of stories with bonds between humans and terrifying animals, and I am especially excited for this one since it has a giant bird of prey.


From World Fantasy Award-winning author Fonda Lee comes Untethered Sky, an epic fantasy fable about the pursuit of obsession at all costs.

Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.

Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated ruhkers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.

Cover of The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart
The Bone Shard War (The Drowning Empire #3) by Andrea Stewart
Scheduled Release Date: April 18 (US); April 20 (UK)

The first two books in this series—The Bone Shard Daughter and The Bone Shard Emperor—were among my favorite books of 2020 and 2021, respectively. These books follow five characters living in an archipelagic empire with some creepy magic: the Emperor’s bone shard magic, which involves sewing parts of creatures together and animating them with commands written on bones. I really enjoyed reading about Lin wandering the palace and uncovering the secrets of her father’s magic and the smuggler and his mysterious (and adorable) animal companion in the first book. The next book expanded on the world and its history and made me more invested in all the point-of-view characters stories, and I’m excited to see how everything comes together in The Bone Shard War.

If you’re interested in learning more about some of these characters, Andrea Stewart shared about writing an established relationship between two of them in her guest post for Women in SF&F Month 2020:

By the time the story starts, the meet-cute has already happened, hearts have already been won, class differences and caution tossed to the four winds. Ranami is a commoner who started life as a gutter orphan, scraping a living from the streets. Phalue is the daughter of their island’s governor, set to inherit both a palace and rule of the island.

Phalue wants Ranami to marry her. Ranami wants to start a revolution.

“Happily Ever Aftermath,” her essay, is about the conflict they face due to their different perspectives (and fairy tales and why she wanted to explore this).


The Bone Shard Daughter was hailed as “one of the best debut fantasy novels of the year” (BuzzFeed News). Now, Andrea Stewart brings us the final book in this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced epic fantasy trilogy, The Bone Shard War.

Lin Sukai has won her first victory as Emperor, but the future of the Phoenix Empire hangs in the balance – and Lin is dangerously short of allies.

As her own governors plot treason, the Shardless Few renew hostilities. Worse still, Lin discovers her old nemesis Nisong has joined forces with the rogue Alanga, Ragan. Both seek her death.

Yet hopes lies in history. Legend tells of seven mythic swords, forged in centuries past. If Lin can find them before her enemies, she may yet be able to turn the tide.

If she fails, the Sukai dynasty – and the entire empire – will fall.

Cover of To Shape a Dragon's Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose
To Shape a Dragon’s Breath (The First Book of Nampeshiweisit) by Moniquill Blackgoose
Read an Excerpt
Scheduled Release Date: May 9

I just love this title, and this sounds amazing: a girl determined to stay true to herself despite social pressures at a dragon academy, and someone who wants to change the world along with her dragon.


A young Indigenous woman enters a colonizer-run dragon academy—and quickly finds herself at odds with the “approved” way of doing things—in the first book of this brilliant new fantasy series.

The remote island of Masquapaug has not seen a dragon in many generations—until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Her people are delighted, for all remember the tales of the days when dragons lived among them and danced away the storms of autumn, enabling the people to thrive. To them, Anequs is revered as Nampeshiweisit—a person in a unique relationship with a dragon.

Unfortunately for Anequs, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions. They have a very specific idea of how a dragon should be raised, and who should be doing the raising—and Anequs does not meet any of their requirements. Only with great reluctance do they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school on the mainland. If she cannot succeed there, her dragon will be killed.

For a girl with no formal schooling, a non-Anglish upbringing, and a very different understanding of the history of her land, challenges abound—both socially and academically. But Anequs is smart, determined, and resolved to learn what she needs to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. The one thing she refuses to do, however, is become the meek Anglish miss that everyone expects.

Anequs and her dragon may be coming of age, but they’re also coming to power, and that brings an important realization: the world needs changing—and they might just be the ones to do it.

Cover of The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi
The Battle Drum (The Ending Fire Trilogy #2) by Saara El-Arifi
Scheduled Release Date: May 23 (US); May 25 (UK)

The Final Strife, the first book in this epic fantasy trilogy, was my 2022 Book of the Year. Simultaneously thoughtful and fun with amazing worldbuilding and storytelling, it explores injustice amidst storylines about unravelling mysteries of the world and its history, a partnership between two women that could cause a shift in power, and a woman who uses the fact that she’s underestimated and overlooked to hide clandestine activities. The wonderful oral stories and epigraphs enrich the fantasy setting, and it’s so well paced that I could hardly put it down.

Saara El-Arifi touched on the world of her novel in her Women in SF&F Month 2022 essay on Phillis Wheatley and being a writer of the diaspora:

My battle with my conflicting identities led me to creating a world that is wholly me. The Final Strife is set in a land that is both beautiful and broken. Plagued by issues of empire, while also celebrating arab and afro culture, queerness and gender non-conformity, it is the product of my lived experience. To truly know me is to walk a day in the Wardens’ Empire—the ruling country in The Final Strife.

Given the awesomeness of the world and story she created, The Battle Drum is one of THE books I’m most looking forward to this year.


Murder. Secrets. Sacrifice: Three women seek the truth of the empire’s past. And the truth they find will have the power to ignite a war, in the sequel to The Final Strife, the continuation of a visionary fantasy trilogy inspired by the myths of Africa and Arabia.

Anoor is the first blue-blooded ruler of the Wardens’ Empire. But when she is accused of a murder she didn’t commit, her reign is thrown into turmoil. She must solve the mystery and clear her name without the support of her beloved, Sylah.

Sylah braves new lands to find a solution for the hurricane that threatens to destroy her home. But in finding answers, she must make a decision: Should she sacrifice her old life in order to raise up her sword once more?

Hassa’s web of secrets grows ever thicker as she finds herself on the trail of crimes in the city. Her search uncovers the extent of the atrocities of the empire’s past and present. Now she must guard both her heart and her land.

The three women find their answers, but not the answers they wanted. The drumbeat of change thrums throughout the world.

And it sings a song of war.

Ready we will be, when the Ending Fire comes,
When the Child of Fire brings the Battle Drum,
The Battle Drum,
The Battle Drum.
Ready we will be, for war will come.

Cover of Witch King by Martha Wells
Witch King by Martha Wells
Scheduled Release Date: May 30

I’m a fan of Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura, a creative fantasy series populated by a plethora of non-human characters. As such, I’m excited for her first fantasy book in years, The Witch King—and to meet the demon and discover why he was imprisoned, of course!


From the breakout SFF superstar author of Murderbot comes a remarkable story of power and friendship, of trust and betrayal, and of the families we choose.

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”
Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

WITCH KING is Martha Wells’s first new fantasy in over a decade, drawing together her signature ability to create characters we adore and identify with, alongside breathtaking action and adventure, and the wit and charm we’ve come to expect from one of the leading writers of her generation.

Cover of The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao
The Surviving Sky (The Rages Trilogy #1) by Kritika H. Rao
Scheduled Release Date: June 13

Kritika H. Rao’s Hindu-influenced science fantasy debut novel is another one of THE books I’m most excited for this year. The world of plant-made civilizations sounds fascinating, and I also love the idea of experiencing this story through the eyes of a husband and wife with different perspectives.

The author discussed the themes and trying to summarize the heart of what her book is about in her Women in SF&F Month 2022 guest post, “In Defense of Questions”:

I always knew I was writing science fantasy, but in the early days of writing The Surviving Sky, when people asked me what my book was about, I—like many writers—fumbled the answer magnificently. After all, I was spending an entire book’s worth of words to answer that very question. If I could tell you what it was about in a few pat lines, I wouldn’t need to write that book.

Of course, since then, I’ve learned my loglines and my tropes, my tweet-length synopses and my clever metaphors. It’s a story about a husband-wife duo who are trying to save their marriage while they try to save their flying plant city from crashing into jungle storms. It’s a meditation on power and privilege, who we love, why we love, and the cost of love. It’s a critique of capitalism, a story about duty and shared human society, a reflection on our relationship to survival and our damaged environment, and an exploration into the way all of our actions impact our very consciousness. It’s very epic, very awesome, and it has EVERYTHING AAAA!

This piece also delves more into the dynamic between the two main characters. She discusses the challenges presented by their differing worldviews:

I think this, in the end, was my favorite part of writing this book; the fact that I could pose questions, often from two very opposing perspectives with Iravan and Ahilya who are on opposite sides of the spectrum, without making a judgement call on the answer. While all the plot questions are answered, deeper questions like this are explored with many possible answers; and that answer, dear reader, is up to you.

My job as a writer is merely to incite curiosity—whether it is on theories of power or of consciousness. The way I see it—questions are far more interesting than answers. We forget the role of dialectics in knowledge-building when we engage in competitive debate—and my hope with The Surviving Sky is that readers are caught in the passions of the two characters and their opposing viewpoints so much that it makes them question their own point of view when it comes to the above themes amongst others.

This is exactly what I want to do when reading books with multiple viewpoints, and everything I’ve read about this book and its themes and influences just makes me want to read it more (like this interview with Kritika H. Rao at The Fantasy Hive).


High above a jungle-planet float the last refuges of humanity—plant-made civilizations held together by tradition, technology, and arcane science. In these living cities, architects are revered above anyone else. If not for their ability to psychically manipulate the architecture, the cities would plunge into the devastating earthrage storms below.

Charismatic, powerful, mystical, Iravan is one such architect. In his city, his word is nearly law. His abilities are his identity, but to Ahilya, his wife, they are a way for survival to be reliant on the privileged few. Like most others, she cannot manipulate the plants. And she desperately seeks change.

Their marriage is already thorny—then Iravan is accused of pushing his abilities to forbidden limits. He needs Ahilya to help clear his name; she needs him to tip the balance of rule in their society. As their paths become increasingly intertwined, deadly truths emerge, challenging everything each of them believes. And as the earthrages become longer, and their floating city begins to plummet, Iravan and Ahilya’s discoveries might destroy their marriage, their culture, and their entire civilization.

Cover of Sing Me to Sleep by Gabi Burton
Sing Me to Sleep (Sing Me to Sleep #1) by Gabi Burton
Scheduled Release Date: June 27

Gabi Burton’s YA fantasy debut novel sounds fantastic. A siren who has to hide what she is ends up working with a prince to find a killer: the problem is, she’s the killer he’s trying to stop. This sounds like it has the sort of conflict and complicated situations that are right up my alley with the protagonist fighting her darker impulses and her entanglement with the prince.


In this dark and seductive YA fantasy debut, a siren must choose between protecting her family and following her heart in a prejudiced kingdom where her existence is illegal.

Saoirse Sorkova survives on lies. As a soldier-in-training at the most prestigious barracks in the kingdom, she lies about being a siren to avoid execution. At night, working as an assassin for a dangerous group of mercenaries, Saoirse lies about her true identity. And to her family, Saoirse tells the biggest lie of all: that she can control her siren powers and doesn’t struggle constantly against an impulse to kill.

As the top trainee in her class, Saoirse would be headed for a bright future if it weren’t for the need to keep her secrets out of the spotlight. But when a mysterious blackmailer threatens her sister, Saoirse takes a dangerous job that will help her investigate: she becomes personal bodyguard to the crown prince.

Saoirse should hate Prince Hayes. After all, his father is the one who enforces the kingdom’s brutal creature segregation laws. But when Hayes turns out to be kind, thoughtful, and charming, Saoirse finds herself increasingly drawn to him-especially when they’re forced to work together to stop a deadly killer who’s plaguing the city. There’s only one problem: Saoirse is that deadly killer.

Featuring an all Black and Brown cast, a forbidden romance, and a compulsively dark plot full of twists, this thrilling YA fantasy is perfect for fans of A Song Below Water and To Kill a Kingdom.

Cover of The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa
The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa
Scheduled Release Date: July 11

Kemi Ashing-Giwa’s space opera debut novel features “a young tea expert who is brought to her new nation’s capital as a political prisoner and recruited by rebel forces to spy on high-ranking officials,” as stated in the publication announcement. It sounds like it’s filled with just the kind of intrigue I love to read.


The dust may have settled in the war of conquest between the Holy Vaalbaran Empire and the Ominirish Republic, but the Empire’s surrender means little. Especially to a lowly scribe like Enitan, given her country’s continuing status as a Vaalbaran province. All she wants is to quit her day job and expand her fledgling tea business. But when imperial agents assassinate her lover and abduct her sibling, Enitan abandons her idyllic plans and embarks on a rescue mission, weaving her tea tray up through the heart of the Vaalbaran capital.

Her enemies are countless, clever, and powerful beyond measure. There’s a new God-Emperor on the throne, and her reign promises to change the continent forever. And as Enitan sinks deeper into the Empire’s bloody conspiracies, she discovers just how far she’s willing to go to exact vengeance, save her sibling, and perhaps even restore her homeland’s freedom.

Cover of The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei
The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei
Scheduled Release Date: July 18

Yume Kitasei’s science fiction debut novel has characters in a tense situation, trapped together on a spaceship knowing that someone on board can’t be trusted after an explosion killed three members of the crew. Though the description sounded intriguing, it was the early reviews of The Deep Sky on Goodreads that convinced me it had to be on this list: namely, those praising the characterization and how real these people seemed.


Yume Kitasei’s The Deep Sky is an enthralling sci fi thriller debut about a mission into deep space that begins with a lethal explosion that leaves the survivors questioning the loyalty of the crew.

To save humanity, they left everything behind—except their differences.

It is the eve of Earth’s environmental collapse. A single ship carries humanity’s last hope: eighty elite graduates of a competitive program, who will give birth to a generation of children in deep space. But halfway to a distant but livable planet, a lethal bomb kills three of the crew and knocks The Phoenix off course. Asuka, the only surviving witness, is an immediate suspect.

Asuka already felt like an impostor before the explosion. She was the last picked for the mission, she struggled during training back on Earth, and she was chosen to represent Japan, a country she only partly knows as a half-Japanese girl raised in America. But estranged from her mother back home, The Phoenix is all she has left.

With the crew turning on each other, Asuka is determined to find the culprit before they all lose faith in the mission—or worse, the bomber strikes again. Now, in order to survive, she must burn brighter than the stars that surround her.

Cover of The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem
The Jasad Heir (The Scorched Throne #1) by Sara Hashem
Read an Excerpt
Scheduled Release Date: July 18

Sara Hashem’s Egyptian-inspired political fantasy debut piqued my interest from the moment I read the acquisition announcement at Orbit Books, which says:

The Jasad Heir is an epic tale of scorched kingdoms, forbidden magic, and cunning royals. Sylvia is the heir of the shattered kingdom, Jasad. Forced into hiding after her family is massacred, she knows to keep her head down, remain alone, and never use her magic. But one act of kindness changes everything and Sylvia is thrust into a game with her fallen kingdom’s greatest enemy—a game that could resurrect her kingdom or leave it in ashes forever.

A character trying to hide her identity while engaging in a game with her enemy—and becoming closer to him at the same time—sounds like a winning combination for this reader. (And forbidden magic tends to be a plus!)


In this Egyptian-inspired debut fantasy, a fugitive queen strikes a deadly bargain with her greatest enemy and finds herself embroiled in a complex game that could resurrect her scorched kingdom or leave it in ashes forever.

At ten years old, the Heir of Jasad fled a massacre that takes her entire family. At fifteen, she buried her first body. At twenty, the clock is ticking on Sylvia’s third attempt at home. Nizahl’s armies have laid waste to Jasad and banned magic across the four remaining kingdoms. Fortunately, Sylvia’s magic is as good at playing dead as she is.

When the Nizahl Heir tracks a group of Jasadis to Sylvia’s village, the quiet life she’s crafted unravels. Calculating and cold, Arin’s tactical brilliance is surpassed only by his hatred for magic. When a mistake exposes Sylvia’s magic, Arin offers her an escape: compete as Nizahl’s Champion in the Alcalah tournament and win immunity from persecution.

To win the deadly Alcalah, Sylvia must work with Arin to free her trapped magic, all while staying a step ahead of his efforts to uncover her identity. But as the two grow closer, Sylvia realizes winning her freedom means destroying any chance of reuniting Jasad under her banner. The scorched kingdom is rising again, and Sylvia will have to choose between the life she’s earned and the one she left behind.

The Sun and the Void (The Warring Gods #1) by Gabriela Romero Lacruz
Scheduled Release Date: July 25

The Orbit acquisition announcement says the following about Gabriela Romero Lacruz’s fantasy debut novel:

Full of twisted family politics, dark magic, and fantastical beings, THE SUN AND THE VOID transports readers into a lush world inspired by the history and mythology of 1800s South America.

I just love the sound of this with its folkloric inspirations, family politics, and dark god with tempting magic, and the character artwork on the author’s website makes me want to meet these characters!


In a lush world inspired by the history and folklore of South America, a sweeping epic fantasy of colonialism, ancient magic, and two young women’s quest for belonging unfolds.

Reina is desperate.

Stuck living on the edges of society, her only salvation lies in an invitation from a grandmother she’s never known. But the journey is dangerous, and prayer can’t always avert disaster.

Attacked by creatures that stalk the region, Reina is on the verge of death until her grandmother, a dark sorceress, intervenes. Now dependent on the Doña’s magic for her life, Reina will do anything to earn—and keep—her favor. Even the bidding of an ancient god who whispers to her at night.

Eva Kesare is unwanted.

Illegitimate and of mixed heritage, Eva is her family’s shame. She tries her best to be perfect and to hide her oddities. But Eva is hiding a secret: magic calls to her.

Eva knows she should fight the temptation. Magic is the sign of the dark god, and using it is punishable by death. Yet, it’s hard to deny power when it has always been denied to you. Eva is walking a dangerous path, one that gets stranger every day. And, in the end, she’ll become something she never imagined.

The Warring Gods
The Sun and the Void

Cover of Outlaw Mage by K. S. Villoso
Outlaw Mage (The Dageian Puppetmaster #1) by K. S. Villoso
Scheduled Release Date: August 1

I absolutely loved K. S. Villoso’s Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy (The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, The Ikessar Falcon, The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng). It’s one of the best epic fantasy series I’ve read with amazing characterization and worldbuilding, and I appreciated the way each book was more complex than the last.

The author has also written other books set in the same world, and last year, she did a Kickstarter for one of these novels: Outlaw Mage, the beginning of The Dageian Puppetmaster series. I’ve been excited for this since backing the Kickstarter, but I’ve been desperate to read it since seeing K. S. Villoso’s blog post discussing it in relation to the aforementioned series:

I loved writing Talyien, and I loved people’s responses to her. She still remains the badass my heart wants to be. But Rosha is going to hit a little closer to home for me, and maybe for a few others out there who aren’t particularly athletic or at the very least, smart enough to know when NOT to go running into a battle, swords swinging. (I’m sorry, Tali). Sometimes the quiet ones want to set the world on fire, too. And that’s just as badass in my opinion.

One of my favorite character types is “quiet ones [who] want to set the world on fire,” and I can’t wait to meet Rosha—especially given K. S. Villoso’s stunning character work with Talyien.


Despite Rosha’s best efforts, she will never fit in. To her classmates, she is forever an outsider, a girl from the fringes of the empire just lucky enough to have well-off parents. To her teachers, she is either a charity case or an exception to the rule that Gorenten just aren’t capable of performing complex magic. Worse, still, she is nothing but a status symbol to her father—a child gifted with magic to show his powerful friends that even people like them could belong in the empire. As if she doesn’t have enough problems already.

Haunted by the invisible rules that pull her dreams just out of grasp, she walks out on the eve of her final exams, throwing away her one chance at becoming an official mage of the empire. She practices magic outside the mage council’s grasp, one of the worst crimes anyone could commit. A dropout. A failure. An outlaw.

Years later, her father’s shoddy business deals have finally landed him in trouble and he disappears without a trace. Rosha reluctantly enters the services of a rich sorcerer, his last known connection. The sorcerer’s sudden death leaves her stranded in a sea of enemies—and the knowledge that the man is the voice behind the ageless, faceless emperor. To protect herself and her family, Rosha must impersonate the most powerful man in the empire. As she becomes everything she has ever hated, she stumbles upon conspiracies that seek to break the empire from within…

Cover of Forged By Blood by Ehigbor Okosun
Forged by Blood (The Tainted Blood Duology #1) by Ehigbor Okosun
Scheduled Release Date: August 8

Ehigbor Okosun’s epic fantasy debut novel is the first part of a duology inspired by Nigerian mythology. The author mentioned that one reason she wrote this book was wanting to see “fierce yet soft girls thrive despite the odds” on Twitter, and this sounds excellent with blood magic and high stakes.


A brilliant new voice brings a brilliant new novel: debut author Ehigbor Okosun’s first book in an action-packed, poignant duology inspired by Nigerian mythology—full of magic and emotion and set in a highly atmospheric, complex world in which a young woman fights to survive a tyrannical society, having everything stripped away from her, and seeks vengeance for her mother’s murder and the spilled blood of her people.

In the midst of a tyrannical regime and political invasion, Dèmi just wants to survive: to avoid the suspicion of the nonmagical Ajes who occupy her ancestral homeland of Ife; to escape the King’s brutal genocide of her people—the darker skinned, magic wielding Oluso; and to live peacefully with her secretive mother while learning to control the terrifying blood magic that is her birthright.

But when Dèmi’s misplaced trust costs her mother’s life, survival gives way to vengeance. She bides her time until the devious Lord Ekwensi grants her the perfect opportunity—kidnap the Aje prince, Jonas, and bargain with his life to save the remaining Oluso. With the help of her reckless childhood friend Colin, Dèmi succeeds, but discovers that she and Jonas share more than deadly secrets; every moment tangles them further into a forbidden, unmistakable attraction, much to Colin’s—and Dèmi’s—distress.

The kidnapping is now a joint mission: to return to the King, help get Lord Ekwensi on the council, and bolster the voice of the Oluso in a system designed to silence them. But the way is dangerous, Dèmi’s magic is growing yet uncertain, and it’s not clear if she can trust the two men at her side.

A tale of rebellion and redemption, race and class, love and trust and betrayal, Forged by Blood is epic fantasy at its finest, from an enthusiastic, emerging voice.

He Who Drowned the World (The Radiant Emperor Duology #2) by Shelley Parker-Chan
Scheduled Release Date: August 22

She Who Became the Sun, Shelley Parker-Chan’s debut novel reimagining the life of the first emperor of the Ming dynasty, devastated me in the very best of ways—making it one of my favorite books of 2021. I loved the two characters who could see some of themselves in each other despite being on opposing sides, the exploration of gender, the gorgeous writing, and the hard-hitting betrayal, and I’m incredibly excited for the sequel.


How much would you give to win the world?

Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after her victory that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor.

But Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial ambitions. Her neighbor in the south, the courtesan Madam Zhang, wants the throne for her husband—and she’s strong enough to wipe Zhu off the map. To stay in the game, Zhu will have to gamble everything on a risky alliance with an old enemy: the talented but unstable eunuch general Ouyang, who has already sacrificed everything for a chance at revenge on his father’s killer, the Great Khan.

Unbeknownst to the southerners, a new contender is even closer to the throne. The scorned scholar Wang Baoxiang has maneuvered his way into the capital, and his lethal court games threaten to bring the empire to its knees. For Baoxiang also desires revenge: to become the most degenerate Great Khan in history—and in so doing, make a mockery of every value his Mongol warrior family loved more than him.

All the contenders are determined to do whatever it takes to win. But when desire is the size of the world, the price could be too much for even the most ruthless heart to bear…

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid
Scheduled Release Date: September 19

Ava Reid’s first YA novel sounds rather intriguing from her description of it on Instagram. Basically, it’s a dark academia/romance story about a first-year college student and her rival that is set in a secondary fantasy world inspired by Welsh mythology, and the author’s own experiences with academia were influential.


Effy Sayre has always believed in fairy tales. She’s had no choice. Since childhood, she’s been haunted by visions of the Fairy King. She’s found solace only in the pages of Angharad – author Emrys Myrddin’s beloved epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, and then destroys him.

Effy’s tattered, dog-eared copy is all that’s keeping her afloat through her stifling first term at Llyr’s prestigious architecture college. So when Myrddin’s family announces a contest to design the late author’s house, Effy fells certain this is her destiny.

But Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task: a musty, decrepit estate on the brink of crumbling into a hungry sea. And when Effy arrives, she finds she isn’t the only one who’s made a temporary home there. Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar, is studying Myrddin’s papers and is determined to prove her favorite author is a fraud.

As the two rival students investigate the reclusive author’s legacy, piecing together clues through his letters, books, and diaries, they discover that the house’s foundation isn’t the only thing that can’t be trusted. There are dark forces, both mortal and magical, conspiring against them – and the truth may bring them both to ruin.

Cover of Two Twisted Crowns by Rachel Gillig
Two Twisted Crowns (The Shepherd King #2) by Rachel Gillig
Scheduled Release Date: October 17

One Dark Window, Rachel Gillig’s dark fantasy debut novel, was one of my favorite books of 2022. Set in a kingdom where those with innate magic are hunted, the protagonist must hide her own powers, which come from the monster whose voice she hears in her head. I really enjoyed the lore around the Shepherd King and his creation of the Providence Cards (which are rare, and the only lawful form of magic), as well as the dynamic between the the maiden and the monster. Rachel Gillig discussed some influences and how she wanted to explore this dynamic in her Women in SF&F Month 2022 guest post, which begins:

The monster/maiden dynamic is a familiar one. It wears many faces. It lives in all genres, particularly fantasy, dispersing itself throughout the subgenres. It’s been a favorite trope of mine since I watched Beauty and the Beast at the ripe age of five. But this blog won’t be about romance or tension between the monster and maiden. Rather, I’d like to reflect on, in writing my own monster/maiden book, the built-in constraints of the maiden, and how the foil of the monster can help undo them.

Part of why the monster/maiden dynamic is so successful is because it comes with integrated conflict—light against dark. The maiden and the monster are natural foils. Her virtue and beauty stand in contrast to the monster’s atrocities—physical or moral. Over the span of the story, it is often the maiden’s virtue that wins the day. Her goodness erodes the monster’s darkness.

Don’t get me wrong—I love these stories to my core. But in the world of fantasy, where a reader can escape so thoroughly into a book, I wanted to experience a different kind of maiden. One whose contribution is not merely to redeem others. A maiden who does not deliver the monster, but becomes one herself.

I’m really interested to see what she does with this in Two Twisted Crowns—especially given the ending of the previous book.


In the luscious, dark sequel to One Dark Window, Elspeth must face the consequences of what she’s wrought – perfect for readers of Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf and Alexis Henderson’s The Year of the Witching

Elspeth and Ravyn have gathered most of the twelve Providence Cards, but the last, and most important one remains to be found: The Twin Alders.

If they are going to find it before the Solstice and cure the kingdom of the dark magic infecting it, they will need to journey beyond the dangerous mist-cloaked forest that surrounds their kingdom.

And the only one who can lead them there is the monster that shares Elspeth’s head. The Nightmare. And he’s not eager to share any longer.

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow
Scheduled Release Date: October 31

The announcement for Alix E. Harrow’s next novel (formerly titled The Underland) caught my eye with phrases like “gothic fairy tale” and “something beneath Starling House, clamoring to escape”:

The Underland reads like a modern-day gothic fairy tale, surrounding a sinister old house and its last heir. Opal Gravely has spent her life collecting stories about Starling House, which have been passed down the generations like good china. Then one evening, she accidentally encounters Arthur Starling, its reclusive owner. He offers her a job as a cleaner and, needing the money, she accepts. But there is something beneath Starling House, clamoring to escape and wreak havoc upon the town. Even as the house tries to claim her, she learns of a greater danger ahead. But if Arthur and Opal can join forces, they might break the ties that bind them.

I LOVED Alix E. Harrow’s gorgeously written debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and Starling House sounds fantastic.


A new novel from New York Times Bestselling author Alix Harrow, Starling House is a contemporary Kentucky Gothic about a small town haunted by the history it can’t quite seem to bury, and the canny, mean, clever young woman who finds herself drawn to the house that sits at the crossroads of it all.

No one in Eden remembers when Starling House was built. But everyone agrees that it’s best to let the house—and its last lonely heir—go to rot.

Starling House is uncanny and ugly and fully of secrets, just like its heir. Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses or brooding men, but it might be a chance to get her brother out of Eden.

It feels dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

But Opal isn’t the only one interested in the house, or the horrors and wonders that lie beneath it. If Opal wants a home, she’ll have to fight for it. She’ll have to dig up her family’s ugly history and let herself dream of a better future. She’ll have to go down, down into Underland, and claw her way back to the light.

The Hurricane Wars (The Hurricane Wars #1) by Thea Guanzon
Scheduled Release Date: Fall 2023

The announcement for the Hurricane Wars trilogy by debut author Thea Guanzon states it is “set in a Southeast Asian-inspired world and features a wartime enemies-to-lovers romance with plenty of magic, airships, strange beasts, and a marriage of political convenience between sworn foes.” It also mentions it “will follow an orphan rebel as she finds out she can summon light and create weapons and then must defeat or align with a prince who can summon shadows.”

I love stories about enemies who have to come together and all the complications that ensue (and strange beasts are always a plus!).


A land ravaged by storms and conquerors…

A refuge across the sea that comes at a price…

A volatile alliance between two bitter enemies…

A growing attraction as dangerous as it is irresistible…

On opposite sides of a vicious war, a soldier who can channel light magic and a prince who summons shadows find themselves locked in a deadly dance that neither can seem to truly win. As the Continent falls to howling winds and violent lightning brought on by a ruthless emperor’s fleet of stormships, the only way for Talasyn to save countless lives is to reclaim her birthright in a mysterious archipelago over the Eversea—and to enter into a fraught political marriage with Prince Alaric, the very man she had sworn to destroy.

Like Talasyn, Alaric makes no secret of his displeasure with such an arrangement. But, when a new threat emerges to shatter a fragile peace, necessity forces the reluctant couple to work together while wrestling with the inconvenient but undeniable bloom of desire amidst a backdrop of secrets and cutthroat political intrigue.

What would you do to win a war? What would you do to save all that you hold dear? And what do you do when the person you hate finds their way into your heart, beneath the rising tempests?