October is here, and that means creepy decorations, sugar-induced comas, and new books—all in time for Halloween! From a vampire murder mystery set in 1800s New Orleans to a creepy black door that lurks in every soul, this batch of books seems to be leaning into deliciously macabre and ghoulish themes.
Let’s get spoopy!
The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
Why I Want to Read This: Leigh Bardugo is one of my few auto-buy authors at this point, and I have been intrigued by Ninth House, Bardugo’s first foray into adult fantasy since she first announced it. Not just because it sounds dark and gritty, but also because of this mysterious occult element it’s touting, too. Secret societies have also been a weird fascination of mine, and Alex herself sounds like a protagonist I very much want to get to know. Ultimately, though, I love coming into this book, having absolutely no clue what’s going to happen and where it’s going to go, and from a new series standpoint, that is so exciting.
In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
Why I Want to Read This: If you’ve paid any attention to my blog, you know I love stories about stories. I also have a weird fascinating with books set-in or featuring hell, angel/demon politics, and quirky characters, and A.J. Hackwith’s The Library of the Unwritten fits the bill! I’m currently reading an ARC of this, and so far I’m having a good time with it. I’m getting a tinge of Good Omens vibes from it, which is nothing but a compliment.
Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.
A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.
Why I Want to Read This: YES! Amanda Joy’s A River of Royal Blood is exactly the kind of story I want more POC characters and OwnVoices authors to have the opportunity to tell. This book sounds raw and vicious, its world-building vivid and imaginative, and its characters fascinating and inspiring. I love this brutal rivalry between sisters for a throne and a kingdom. I love the dark magic and hidden depths to the plot. And I definitely love the sound of a fey magic instructor and a handsome khimaer prince being in our protagonist Eva’s sphere of influence. Put this book in my hands immediately!
The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.
Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.
Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.
Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.
And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.
Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.
Why I Want to Read This: I would be more than happy if this sub-genre called gangster fantasy never dies out. It fuels me. I wasn’t overly impressed with the plot and character direction of Alexandra Christo’s To Kill a Kingdom, but I loved her writing style enough that I really want to give her criminal-esque fantasy duology, Into the Crooked Place, a shot. All the characters and the setting sounds interesting, and I’m intrigued to see a mostly female main cast, though I am also hoping to find a problematic fav in the bunch. Cheers!
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.
When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.
At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.
Why I Want to Read This: Everyone might have gotten tired of vampires after the Twilight era, but I have not because I didn’t like any of those books that came out during that time. So I’m still looking for my vampire fix, which is why The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh is on my radar. That and it’s set in 1800s New Orleans, is full of French influences, and features a serial killer. Please be good, and please let me care about this romance, please.
Survive the year.
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
Why I Want to Read This: If I have to read a dystopian society based on sexism and misogyny, then Kim Liggett’s The Grace Year is what I’m looking for. Not only does it sound deeply feminist, but also it dives into the complicated relationships between women: the friendships, the rivalries, the jealousy, the shared experiences. Whether encouraged by society or driven by one’s own urges, these convoluted relationships exist, but I rarely see it tackled in fictional stories like this, especially when the main character does want a fairer society and better relationships between girls. Too often, these nuances are watered down to make room for each other, so I’m looking forward to how Liggett’s “sharp prose and gritty realism” will expound on these subjects.
Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.
Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.
But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.
With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.
From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.
Why I Want to Read This: Is this it? Is Fireborne the book that will finally get me into childhood friends turned rivals turned lovers turned enemies? God, I hope so, because I’ve never really seen it done in a way that interests me, but Rosaria Munda seems to have given a perfect setup. Our two leads have pasts that are mirror inverses of each other; there’s regimes, revolutionaries, and war; and most importantly, there’s dragons. This has to be good, right? I have an ARC, and I’m hoping to find out very soon.
Dark, thrilling, and hilarious, The Black Hawks is an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.
Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.
When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.
All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.
With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.
Prepare to join the Black Hawks.
Why I Want to Read This: A down-and-out knight being forced to escort a bratty prince to safety is already a dynamic I love. Making the success of this mission the only way the knight can finally go home? Excellent. But David Wragg’s The Black Hawks is going a step further by including a group of ruthless, squabbling mercenaries and rogues to watch the knight and prince’s backs. I am dying to meet every single one of them and hoping this book is as wild as it sounds.
First in a duology that reimagines fairy tale tropes within a space opera—The Princess Bride meets Princess Leia.
Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen fairy blessings, the most important of which is to see through flattery and platitudes. As the eldest daughter, she always imagined she’d inherit her father’s throne and govern the interplanetary Thorne Consortium.
Then her father is assassinated, her mother gives birth to a son, and Rory is betrothed to the prince of a distant world.
When Rory arrives in her new home, she uncovers a treacherous plot to unseat her newly betrothed and usurp his throne. An unscrupulous minister has conspired to name himself Regent to the minor (and somewhat foolish) prince. With only her wits and a small team of allies, Rory must outmaneuver the Regent and rescue the prince.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is a feminist reimagining of familiar fairytale tropes and a story of resistance and self-determination—how small acts of rebellion can lead a princess to not just save herself, but change the course of history.
Why I Want to Read This: K. Eason is delivering a space opera mixed with fairytale elements with How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, and if that weren’t enough, it’s also bringing the feminism. This book just sounds like it’s going to be an incredibly fun space adventure with a well-written protagonist who takes charge of her own narrative unapologetically, and I love that. I’m ready to see where the plot of this one goes.
Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Why I Want to Read This: Rin Chupeco’s The Never Tilting World boasts such imaginative world-building along with a strong plot. I really feel it’s something original and daring, especially with having two of the main characters be rival, twin goddesses, with each having a daughter that seems equally important to the story. Not only that, but there is going to be a healer character and a mouthy desert scavenger, each of them wanting to fix what’s happened to their world, and the whole thing just sounds really cool. I cannot wait to see this one hit the shelves.
Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom…
Why I Want to Read This: So first of all, Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland focuses on a main character realizing their asexuality, and this is the first YA fantasy book I’ve heard of that has addressed this so openly, especially since the genre is so romance heavy. So I’m super excited to see this take. Plus, the plot appears to be so interesting with soulwalking and mysterious because of this black door. Plus, there’s no telling where this court intrigue and mystery are going to come into play, so there’s definitely a lot here to look forward to.
Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther–inspired Nigeria.
The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.
Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.
And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.
Acclaimed author Tochi Onyebuchi has written an immersive, action-packed, deeply personal novel perfect for fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Marie Lu, and Paolo Bacigalupi.
Why I Want to Read This: A futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria? Yes, go on. Flying mech battles and soldiers with bionic enhancements? Yes, I’m listening. Two sisters who are fighting a war together for a better future? Oh, hell yes! And look at that cover! War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi has got me all kinds of excited for this post-apocalyptic story, and I love that it hasn’t been over-summarized. I feel like I’m going to be discovering a lot of this story as a complete surprise, and that’s somewhat rare these days.
The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron.
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
Why I Want to Read This: Hooray for more queer, OwnVoices novels, and this one in the sci-fi category of YA. We definitely need more of that. Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor has a lot going for it. A tyrannical government. A girl with an illegal clockwork heart called the Technician supplying black market tech to the sick and injured. A son of the Commissioner eager to gain his father’s approval by catching the Technician. A spy and assassin arriving to throw a wrench into everything. I’m interested to see how Thor paints these shaky alliances and how she’ll differentiate her story from others of its kind.
Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
Why I Want to Read This: I love Greek mythology so much, and there’s not much I won’t read of it. For once, this sounds like a modern take that I will go nuts over. A retelling of the Ariadne myth, but the labyrinth and the minotaur are all a part of a deadly, reality television show—and Ariadne has led fourteen teens to their deaths for ten seasons now. This is that twisted stuff that I like. Enter Theseus, stage left. I’m hoping their attraction to each other isn’t that brand of insta-love that I hate and is so uninteresting, but if there’s enough conflict being thrown in—between Ariadne having to uphold her family’s media empire and her love for the monster—then we should have a good, juicy story here.
We’ve made it, fourteen books later! Whoo!
What book releases are you looking forward to this October? What does your Halloween reading list look like? Feel free to comment or link below!