Hello, everyone! September is here, which means it’s time to talk new book releases! This is coming in a tad bit late since I was at Dragon*Con all weekend and am now suffering from post-con depression (it’s a tragically real thing). Here’s hoping your Labor Day weekend was just as fun and amazing as mine was.
From a Mulan retelling to a love letter dedicated to stories and storytelling, September is offering a slew of new books to look forward to. What’s my most anticipated read this month?
Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton.
The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.
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.
Why I Want to Read This: Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth sounds like an utterly unique story, full of as many gripping moments as hilarious ones (a reanimated corpse with dirty magazines, incredible). There’s promises of lesbian necromancers, cutthroat politics, stylized swordplay, and possibly even power plays? Gideon also sounds like my kind of protagonist: done with the BS, eager to set out on her own, but still beholden to someone else. What is going to play out between her and her childhood nemesis, Harrowhark? I want to find out immediately.
In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.
But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.
Why I Want to Read This: The basis behind Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan is so intriguing. It’s based on the short story “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton. Within, a commoner and princess fall in love, and the king, enraged, sentences the commoner to choose between two doors. The princess knows which one holds the tiger and death and which the beautiful maiden and her rival in love the commoner would marry. Though she tells her beloved which door to choose, the story ends before we can see who emerges. It’s interesting because our own guess about what she told him explores our individual understandings of human nature and love, and I would love to see Annie Sullivan delve into that deeper here. I’m also a big fan of arena fighting and shattered worldviews, so here’s hoping I get what I want.
CHINA, 484 A.D.
A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.
Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.
A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.
Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore–a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine.
Why I Want to Read This: We all know the Mulan story is a great one, and I personally love the original Chinese tale as much as the Disney version for various reasons. Sherry Thomas is a Chinese-American author, so I feel like I’m going to get a wonderful re-imagining that’s closer to the original with The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan. Plus, I love the thought that the story is inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas and look forward to seeing that translated on paper. Not wild about the repeated use of “princeling,” but I can make peace if the rest is on point.
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead. The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it about Ellis that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.
Why I Want to Read This: Emily Lloyd-Jones is offering a spooky, imaginative plot with The Bone Houses. Gravedigging and risen corpses resulting from a decades-old curse sounds interesting enough, but apparently fae also once resided where our story takes place. (Gee, I wonder where the curse came from.) You couldn’t have sold me faster on getting my hands on this book. I hope I’m just as engaged with our main characters, Ellis and Ryn, as I am with this overall setup.
After decades in hiding, a group of outcasts with extraordinary abilities clashes with a world that is threatened by their power.
Avi Hirsch has always known his daughter was different. But when others with incredible, otherworldly gifts reveal themselves to the world, Avi realizes that her oddness is something more—that she is something more. With this, he has a terrifying revelation: Emmeline is now entering a society where her unique abilities unfairly mark her as a potential threat. And even though he is her father, Avi cannot keep her safe forever.
Emmeline soon meets others just like her: Carrie Norris, a teenage girl who can turn invisible . . . but just wants to be seen. Fahima Deeb, a woman with an uncanny knack for machinery . . . but it’s her Muslim faith that makes the U.S. government suspicious of her.
They are the nobody people—ordinary individuals with extraordinary gifts who want one only thing: to live as equals in an America that is gripped by fear and hatred. But the government is passing discriminatory laws. Violent mobs are taking to the streets. And one of their own—an angry young man seething with self-loathing—has used his power in an act of mass violence that has put a new target on the community. The nobody people must now stand together and fight for their future, or risk falling apart.
The first book of a timely two-part series, The Nobody People is a powerful novel of love and hope in the face of bigotry that uses a world touched by the fantastic to explore our current reality. It is a story of family and community. It is a story of continuing to fight for one another, no matter the odds. It is the story of us.
Why I Want to Read This: Seanan McGuire recommended The Nobody People by Bob Proehl, so, like, I have to read it now, y’know? Fortunately, it sounds awesome. Though I haven’t read it yet, I’m getting Vicious meets X-Men vibes, both of which I adore, and the cast themselves are as diverse as their powers. Talking to machines happens to be a personal favorite of mine, so I’m excited to see how Proehl translates the ability. The best superhero stories are the ones that ask hard questions and tackle tough issues while making you love and root for the characters, and Proehl might have given me exactly that.
Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?
There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question—How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.
Why I Want to Read This: I will hopefully be starting my ARC of Pet by Akwaeke Emezi by the time this posts, but wow, doesn’t this sound full of symbols and metaphors? The exploration of what makes a monster, of what redemption means, of children being seekers of truth while adults lose their way. I salivate over stuff like this. Plus, this marks another YA debut with a black protagonist written by a black author, something the genre definitely need more of.
In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
“A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers and the doors they lead us through…absolutely enchanting.” — Christina Henry, national bestselling author of Lost Boys and Alice
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Why I Want to Read This: Hi, there, I’m one of those (probably pretentious) people who loves stories about stories. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the touch of romanticism that I enjoy? Regardless, there’s just something so enchanting and celebratory about crafting odes to stories, and I really need The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow to be as gorgeous as I’m projecting for it to be.
Four destinies collide in a unique fantasy world of war and wonders, where empire is won with enchanted steel and magical animal companions fight alongside their masters in battle.
A soldier with a curse
Tala lost her family to the empress’s army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress’s crimes don’t haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic… and her own flesh and blood.
A prince with a debt
Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption—or his downfall.
A detective with a grudge
Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery—but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She’s a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world’s most wanted prince.
A thief with a broken heart
Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime—and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward—she can’t say no, and soon finds she doesn’t want to leave the princess behind.
This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives—and begin to change the world.
Why I Want to Read This: Let’s see. First, Fonda Lee endorses Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger, and I trust her for some reason. “Pokemon meets Avatar: The Last Airbender,” check and mate, my friend! The characters themselves also just sound incredible, First, three female main characters as opposed to an even split or just one, like, this shouldn’t be so revolutionary, and yet. Each of them also has a compelling background: one’s a soldier with a murdered family and a crime she’s hiding; one’s an eccentric detective and a princess in disguise (you’re already my favorite, I know this); and one is a small-time, heartbroken thief. And all of them are about to circle like sharks over this prince who’s about to have a huge target on his back. Sign me up for these disaster kids.
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.
Inspired by tales of folk magic in her own community, Rena Barron spins a darkly magical tale perfect for fans of Three Dark Crowns or Shadow and Bone, about a girl caught between gods, monsters, and her own mother’s schemes.
Why I Want to Read This: With witchdoctors, folk magic, and a black protagonist, Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron seems so refreshing. Our main character Arrah is equal parts ambitious and desperate, and I have such a soft spot for characters that do whatever it takes, including self-destructive measures, to achieve their goals, especially if those goals are for the sake of good. I’m really looking forward to meeting her. Now for a bit of selfishness on my part. Please let the Demon King be hot. Or any of these gods and monsters Arrah will be caught between. I’m not picky.
This is the first of three young adult novels from New York Times best-selling author Mackenzi Lee that explores the untapped potential and duality of heroism of popular characters in the Marvel Universe.
Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity . . . except for Amora. Asgard’s resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him.
But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard’s most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor.
When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he’s meant to be.
Why I Want to Read This: I still am a sucker for Loki, and I’ll read anything about him. With Mackenzi Lee’s Loki: Where Mischief Lies, I am as intrigued as I am approaching this book with caution. I’m very excited for Loki’s sexuality to be explored because my boy is not straight, but I also hope it’s not a tool the author uses to sanitize him. I truly want Loki’s duality to be front and center, that even if he intends to do good, it tends to backfire or war with his trickster nature. Basically, if I get Good Guy Loki, Imma be bored and also pissed lol, but hopefully I will actually get a very complicated narrative for him that adds building blocks to the character he ultimately becomes.
Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
And love makes fools of us all.
Why I Want to Read This: With witches, I’m already winning with Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin, but there’s also conflicts with the Church? Witch burnings? A marriage between a Church member/witchhunter and a witch pretending to be normal? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Hi, I am so basic, and so, so ready for this. I cannot wait for all this sinful pining for the enemy.
Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.
They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.
On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…
Why I Want to Read This: I really will do anything for any kind of Dracula content, but Dracula’s brides have always been an interesting topic for me, too, especially when they’re nuts. However, it’s about time for a feminist look at them, and The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (that has to be a pen name, right? It’s too badass) looks beautiful and gothic. Finally. I’m excited to meet our brides before they become such and vampires on top of it, and please, please, let the Dragon actually be 100% Dracula, please let him have decent page time, and please let him be as extra and hot as he’s supposed to be. (Hi, I have been let down so much by Dracula-promised books before.)
The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.
Why I Want to Read This: Darkness as the ultimate antagonist and an overwhelming force is so enjoyable for me; it’s the one time I let vague villainhood slide, but Katy Rose Pool’s There Will Come a Darkness seems to cast darkness as the inspiration for someone’s great heroism or their catalyst for world-ending destruction. That someone could be any of our main five characters, and can I get a hell yes for an ensemble cast? I don’t know who will be my favorite character, but I can tell you I want it to be either the ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand or the reckless gambler with the power to find anyone or anything. I just think they’re neat! And honestly, I’m really hoping this book is nothing like its comparables because I didn’t much like any of those.
Wow, thirteen books this month! A shame it’s not October, but I digress. Normally, I would trim the list a bit, but I love the mix I have this month. A bit of adult fantasy and sci-fi, my normal YA affairs, a novella, and moments of feminist and LGBTQA+ goodness. Not bad at all. Let’s hope they’re all as amazing as they sound!
What book releases are you looking forward to this September? Have you read any ARCs, and what did you think of them? What are you currently reading now?
Photo Credit: Liana Mikah