Gwen & Art Are Not in Love
Circe Weaver and the Witch Queen
Samantha Shannon delivers the best of epic fantasy once again, in a standalone novel worth all eight hundred and eighty pages. I was hooked on this glorious, sprawling tale from the start. The lives of four main characters - one each from the North, South, East, and West - are about to change: a long-slumbering evil wakes, bringing fire, plague, and a draconic army raised against humanity. Set 500 years after The Nameless One rose from a mountain of fire and was vanquished, and 500 years before the events of The Priory of the Orange Tree, A Day of Fallen Night is rich in history, legend, and depth to both the world and its characters. I'm obsessed, and you should be, too!
How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures is a brilliantly executed work of science writing and memoir that highlights the interconnectedness and complexity of ocean life and human experience. In each chapter, journalist Sabrina Imbler relates their own identities, relationships, and experiences to the world of a different fascinating sea creature, with tremendous vulnerability and stunning prose.
A father helps his child regain confidence in this beautiful story about the joy of self-expression.
Misery Nomaki is a perfect mess of an anti-chosen-one! This story is hard to put into words, but I'll try: think space opera remix of the journey of Joan of Arc, with a nonbinary and possibly mad protagonist. A tale of divine messages, faith, war, void-madness, and gemstone battle mechs will keep you on your toes.
Are you looking for an earth-shaking, mind-shattering, incredible (and incredibly beautiful) series? The Dreamer Trilogy is full of unexpected twists, joys, terrors, startling depth to each character, and Stiefvater's rare skill in capturing big emotions and unnamable strangeness on the page. Each book gets better, wilder, more incredible, and more human - right to the very end. I recommend reading The Raven Cycle first, but these books also work well on their own.
Fangirl is so true to the experience of being a fan - to having a story you hold so close to your heart, it's sacred. The story follows Cath, a college freshman who writes a popular fanfic (she's a fan with fans of her own!) and is still devoted to the books she and her twin sister grew up loving. Cath faces roommate strangeness, new and familiar anxieties, family issues, and potential romance, all while trying to hold on to the characters who've become sacred to her, the stories she writes, and the sister she used to share these things with. Rowell's story
Welcome to Arden High! Remember those 2000s high school movie adaptations of Shakespeare plays, like She's the Man and Ten Things I Hate About You? Think that, but with the fairies and magic of Midsummer Night's Dream. A spin on Twelfth Night sees Viola struggle with the loss of her father and her twin brother Sebastian's departure to an all-boys boarding school, leaving her to start at Arden High on her own. This graphic novel is full of new friends, first crushes, self-expression, and school dance antics - all following the structure of the Shakespeare’s classic comedy, with a heartfelt sibling story at its core. I love Twelfth Grade Night!
Best friends Jess and Olivia have played Dungeons and Dragons together for ages, creating stories together as Jess plays a character and Olivia conjures dungeons to explore and monsters to fight. When a new school year begins and Olivia wants to invite more people into their campaign, Jess doesn't understand why it can't just be the two of them, like always. This is a fun and meaningful graphic novel about friendship, inclusion, and (of course) battling monsters. I especially liked the D&D stats showing up next to people they encounter at middle school, showing bullying potential and humor in the same way that moral alignment and special attacks are displayed for monsters in their campaign. D&D fans and newcomers alike can dive into this tale of middle school social worlds and high fantasy adventures.
Legends and Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes is the perfect comfort read, with a story as sweet as Thimble's cinnamon rolls, as warm as a fresh cup of coffee, with a subtle dash of queer romance. In a Dungeons and Dragons-type world, Viv the battle-weary orc hangs up her sword for good, intending to settle down and open a coffee shop. What follows is a cozy adventure about creating a home and building a new life, one of found family and formed community. Rarely do I find myself exclaiming aloud while reading, but I couldn't contain an "aww" here and there - and some scenes were so cute that I nearly cried. I want to join the regulars at Viv's coffee shop, with its promise of coffee, conversation, and the sense of things falling into place. This book is so cozy!
This third installment in The Locked Tomb series feels like the beginning of the end, with a story that had me under its thrall from beginning to end. Muir's humor and incredibly distinct character voices shine through as usual, but Nona is decidedly brighter than the previous two books' narrative styles. Even through Nona's sunny eyes, readers will see signs of a coming apocalypse around every turn: chaos and uncertainty surrounding her as she goes to school, pets a very good dog named Noodle, and plans a party. And just as pressing as the chaotic present is the unraveling of the past, chapters which I had to hold myself back from skipping to in order to find out how the path of humanity veered toward a future of Necromancers in space 10,000 years from now. Where many dystopian and sci-fi books fail when it comes to a “how we got here” storyline, Muir handles it as expertly as the character dynamics and truly, perfectly unhinged humor. Now is the perfect time to dive into The Locked Tomb series!
In this thrilling sequel to The Jasmine Throne, three main characters must reckon with the high cost of power. Dark secrets wait at the root of a strange and powerful magic; brutal war and waning faith surround the figure of a prophesied rule; new threats arise to challenge a newly freed country. With mysteries that draw readers further into the story and twists that keep them on their toes, The Oleander Sword takes the series in exciting directions. I'm rooting so hard for Priya, Malini, and Bhumika, even as their motives differ and their paths diverge, and I'm so exciting to see where Tasha Suri takes them next.
In this strange, lovely, and beautifully told novel, a bi and biracial woman confronts difficult choices and a complicated family history. Giddings seamlessly weaves social commentary into the narrative as she contends with the history of persecution for witchcraft - with power and otherness - and brings it into a contemporary speculative-fictional world. The Upper Midwest setting is part of an America that mirrors our own in its patterns of oppression. The existence of witches and the fictional state's regulation of women for fear of witchcraft offer a fascinating way to examine how fear drives marginalization in our reality. A novel of learning to exist in (and apart from) the world in which you find yourself.
Brilliant, timely, magical, thoughtful, and fun: Her Majesty's Royal Coven kicks off a new urban fantasy series that you won't want to miss. Book 1 follows a once tight-knit childhood friend group of young witches whose adult lives have been shaped by the Coven establishment and a recent magical war, and whose different paths and pasts have complicated their relationships to each other in adulthood. When one sees an ideological threat to the Coven and all magic where another sees a teenager in need of support, a fight for survival and inclusion ensues, forcing the characters to confront what's worth taking a stand on. HMRC is full of magic, chosen family, and fierce, protective love. I adored so many of the characters; split-perspective between these different witches brought so much to the story, especially to the ending - what a twist! This book is for anyone who's had someone they admire go too far over the wrong things, for those who understand otherness, and for those who want moments of coziness and friendship alongside a story of demonic entities and awesome witches.
Part outer-space mystery thriller (à la 2001: A Space Odyssey), part queer romance between two complicated characters, and all a story that's entirely earnest and essentially human. This book had me hooked and was too good to put down. With a speculative sci-fi story that is at turns spooky and heart-wrenching, though always thoughtful, this book may push you to consider personhood and love alongside humanity's place in the universe. Not sure you can handle space horror? Never fear, there are plenty of sweet moments between the characters, and Schrefer's writing often reads like a hug from light years away.
Chen's take on the life of Joan of Arc richly imagines a complicated young woman behind the legendary historical figure; not the martyr or the saint, but the girl who lived. Reading this felt like being at Joan's side, let in on her perspective and motives as she makes her way from a childhood of survival-mode to the height of French military leadership, growing into the formidable warrior we remember. I especially appreciated Joan's voice and inner thoughts, delivered in such a way that she read like a real person. This may be my favorite retelling of Joan of Arc's story!
Mamo offers a story of magic, different people's relationships to home and family, and the importance of asking for - and accepting - help from those who care. A witchy, small-town adventure packed into a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel (seriously, turn to any page!) makes for a perfect weekend read.
In addition to serving as a fantastic resource on embroidery techniques, this book will also teach you to stitch meaning into your clothes, create talisman patches with intentional symbolism, and add threadcrafting rituals to your art/magic/self-care practice. Mystical Stitches thoroughly appeals to my craft-witch sensibilities!
This queer summer romance draws on Selkie (human-seal shapeshifter) mythology in a modern setting, on an island off the shore of a coastal Canadian tourist town. Keltie may be the magical sea creature, but island-dweller Morgan also hides parts of herself. This graphic novel tackles issues of family, friendships, identity, and sacrifice, all with compassion and splendid illustrations.
Rowell has written a Young Adult fantasy series that expertly transitions into a very real adult story in its final volume. Book three is a beautiful exploration of what it takes to stay in love, to fight for relationships, and to accept love and care from those close to you in the aftermath of trauma. Cute and funny moments and stellar character writing abound! This is a story I needed.
The strange desert town of the Welcome to Night Vale Podcast is brought to the shelves in this smart, funny, and wonderfully weird mystery. Follow Jackie and Diane as they search for truths in a connected past, a stranger no one can remember, and themselves- all for an uncertain future in a town we may never understand (but love to death). You can read this new original story without ever having listened to the podcast!
Tiffany Aching has a frying pan and is not afraid to use it. This young aspiring witch stares down nightmares and knocks out the monsters leaking onto her family's farm through a doorway to fairyland. When her little brother is taken by the fairy queen, she must use her first sight, second thoughts, and some help from the wee free men- an army of blue-tattooed, red-haired, sword-wielding 6-inch-tall pictsies- to get him back. If you like smart heroines and hilarious writing, you will love the Wee Free Men.
"This isn't a story. It's a road trip." Keisha's search for her long-lost (missing, not dead) wife, Alice, propels her to the center of a conspiracy of mysterious organizations and inhuman things that stalk the long roads of America. Fink's writing will transport you to Keisha's passenger seat, experiencing her encounters, feeling her anxiety, witnessing her determination and fierce love in every chapter. Well-paced and engrossing, this book speaks truths on anxiety, love, America, and the space between places. There are oracles on these roads. Enjoy the journey.
The soul of New York City awakens in six individuals, who take on incredible threats to their home, each embodying the character and coming into the power of their borough. The way each character manifests powers related to their past and their borough is fascinating, and the book combines several different experiences of New York City in one story, including the range of attitudes New Yorkers have to the city itself. Jemisin weaves an epic, thoughtful, next-level urban fantasy that really GETS New York.
Cather Avery is huge in the Simon Snow fandom- her fanfiction gets thousands of hits every day, and she has a regular following of fans. To Cath and her twin sister Wren, Simon Snow is their childhood- but will she be able to hang on to the story she loves after her first year of college, where she struggles to balance school, family issues, and her sanity? Find out in this fantastic novel. I love Rainbow Rowell's books, and her honest, thoughtful writing really struck a chord with me the first time I read this. For anyone who has been a fan (of anything, really) or found themselves staying in to read instead of going out.
The Night Circus pairs lovely prose with deep, human stories This beautiful story will immerse you in the wonder-filled world of Le Cirque des Reves and the secret, magical competition taking place within as it travels around the world, picking up a devoted and thoughtful following of people who are touched by the magic of the circus. A pair of young magicians compete with tents of new marvels, each more magnificent than the last, as they work out the mystery behind the competition they have been selected for and the inevitable outcome that one of them must face. Read this book- your heart will thank you for it.
I LOVE Nimona! Noelle Stevenson is probably my favorite comics writer, and this funny and epic graphic novel (originally an online webcomic) is my favorite of her work. Nimona is shape-shifting sidekick to Lord Ballister Blackheart, the villain of the kingdom who works to take down the revered Institute and his nemesis, Sir Goldenloin. But the Institute isn't as pristine as it seems, and neither is Nimona. What are their secret? Find out in this fantastic story, full of magic, science, and evil plans.
The magic of the Raven Cycle series truly carries from page to reader as you follow Blue Sargent and the tight friendship of the Raven Boys on their quest to find an ancient Welsh king near the small town of Henrietta, Virginia, where magic lurks in unexpected and wonderful places. Start the series with the Raven boys, where Blue finds out that a Raven Boy will die within the year, and is drawn into the mystery and magic of the strange group of private school boys. Maggie Stiefvater is a fantastic writer, and this series- perfect for fans of realistic fantasy, beautiful prose, and tightly-bound friendships- will definitely leave you wishing for something more.
This epic, Sapphic fantasy truly has it all. Secret pasts! Conflicting motives! A vengeful princess imprisoned in exile, a ruined temple that once housed ancient, magical waters, a priestess, one of only a few survivors of the temple's destruction, hiding in plain sight, and oh so much more! Alongside the exciting world and complicated characters, this first installment in The Burning Kingdoms trilogy has a story that confronts imperialism, religion, resistance, morality, and reclaiming what has been taken - whether that be one's power, past, family, or an entire kingdom. (And did I mention the queer romance?) One of the best books I've read this year, and definitely a series worth starting.
You Feel It Just Below the Ribs brings you immersive speculative fiction set in an alternate history where World Wars I and II became one continuous horror - "The Great Reckoning" - out of which a New Society of global government was formed. The Society aims to prevent such horrors from happening ever again, to keep peace and harmony, and prevent major conflict. To do this they abolish clan ties, concluding that nationalistic loyalties (and even blood ties to family and ancestry) were the root cause of large-scale violence; borders, nations, and families are dissolved. In this novel, Cranor and Matthewson write the memoir of a survivor of The Great Reckoning who played a role in the development of the Society and is horrified by what her work became. It reads like a found journal, with historical footnotes added by its discoverers (sometimes contradicting what the original author presents as fact), in the same genre as The Handmaid's Tale and other speculative fiction written as a first-person account. I was captured by the mystery of it all, the unfolding of events and relationships that created a different future.
For Her Consideration
A gripping, layered fantasy with worldbuilding inspired by history, The Unbroken is a postcolonial reckoning with power and belonging, set against resistance to empire and its backlash. Touraine struggles with loyalty between the empire who raised her as its soldier, the motherland she was stolen from as a child, and the princess she's spying for; Luca works to uphold the throne's rule in the face of rebellion while searching for the divine magic her own empire has forbidden. The future of nations will be shaped by the actions - and mistakes - of these two complicated women. CL Clark delivers an emotionally resonant debut, imbued with commentary on the deep impact of colonialism, in this first installment of the Magic of the Lost trilogy.