War, Betrayal, and Dark Secrets in This Summer’s Upcoming Young Adult Speculative Fiction

With the MASSIVE amount of amazing YA science fiction, fantasy, and horror dropping in July, August, and September, I might as well give up on trying to get my TBR queue under control. We’ve got sequels and anthologies, epic journeys and small town horrors, and all kinds of goodies to while away the hot summer nights and long sunny days.

 

July

Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

In this fantasy-adjacent novel, two sixteen year olds deal can’t remember what caused one of them to fall out of a treehouse a few years before but both deal with the aftermath of that trauma in very different ways. Ash is battered by depression while Solomon spends more and more time lost in a fantasy land in his mind where monsters and humans are at war. In the real world, Ash investigates some acts of vandalism she believes are instigated by the football team, but the key to solving that mystery – as well as what happened that day in the treehouse – relies on decoding Solomon’s paranoid delusions.

July 2, 2019, HarperTeen


 

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

Going from traveling around the world with her journalist parents to stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere isn’t how Araceli Flores Harper planned to spend her senior year of high school. But things aren’t as charming and quaint as she expects. Her great aunt Ottilie leaves out food for her husband who’s been missing for two decades, people have been mysteriously disappearing for years, there’s a creepy government research facility just outside of town, mysterious lights flicker in the woods=, and a boy from the past is sending her letters in the present, not to mention the racism she has to deal with. When one of her new friends goes missing, Araceli decides to expose the town’s secrets.

July 9, 2019, Tor Teen


 

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (The Blood of Stars #1)

All Maia Tamarin wants is to be a tailor, but in her world of A’landi that career is reserved for boys. When her father is offered the chance to compete for the favor of the Summer Palace, Maia dresses as a boy and takes his place by pretending to be her brother. At court she must compete against other tailors, hold her own against a demanding bride, and deal with the scheming court magician Lord Edan, all while trying to keep anyone from learning she’s really a girl. A final challenge sends her and the Lord Enchanter on a quest that will change her life and push her to the brink.

July 9, 2019, Knopf Books for Young Readers


 

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

The Raxter School for Girls has been under quarantine for the last 18 months. The Tox killed off most of the adults and left the students altered in bizarre ways. Trapped and isolated, the surviving girls have to fend for themselves. The promised cure has never arrived and more and more are succumbing to the Tox. To save her best friend, Hetty will take on her school and the government, who she’s certain are keeping deadly secrets from the girls.

July 9, 2019, Delacorte


 

August

Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst (Of Fire and Stars #2)

Having overcome numerous obstacles in the first book in this series, Mare and Denna are finally together. But politics and Denna’s untamed fire magic stand in the way of their happily ever after. They head to the neighboring kingdom of Zumorda seeking someone to train Denna and instead end up under the thumb of a dangerous queen. Mare settles into her role as ambassador, but the court intrigue may prove too much for her to handle. Can love conquer all?

August 13, 2019, Balzer + Bray


 

Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier (Tower of Winds #2)

Set in the same world as Isle of Blood and Stone, the second book in the series features the now seventeen year old explorer and cartographer Reyna. On her way back to the isle of St. John del Mar, her ship is attacked by pirates. She barely escapes with her life but her crew isn’t so lucky – they all vanish without a trace. Forced to team up with a prince from another kingdom, the two head to the kingdom of Miramar seeking answers. What they find there will change them forever. Lucier blends swashbuckling adventure, seafaring fantasy, and high-stakes romance into a compelling novel.

August 27, 2019, HMH Books


 

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez (Sweet Black Waves #2)

At the end of Sweet Black Waves, Branwen made a terrible choice that had consequences she couldn’t predict. Now she’s in a foreign court trying to keep the romance between her best friend Eseult and her first love Tristan a secret from Essy’s fiance King Marc. If this marriage fails, the kingdom of Kernyv will likely not survive the fallout. In other words, Branwen will do anything and everything – including using her newly discovered and increasingly volatile magical powers – to keep things on track.

August 27, 2019, Imprint


 

September

Eclipse the Skies by Maura Milan (Ignite the Stars #2)

When her trusted confidante tried to destroy the universe, the Blood Wolf of the Skies – aka seventeen year old Ia Cōcha – makes a choice she never thought she’d make: side with the Olympus Commonwealth. Up until recently she’d spent most of her life fighting the Commonwealth after their imperialist actions took everything from her. Now she teams up with the Royal Star Force to capture the boy who betrayed her. Her Commonwealth friends Brinn and Knives are feeling conflicted over the new roles and identities that were thrust upon them. The three of them find themselves in the tricky position of trying to stop one kind of evil by using another, and it works out about as well as you’d expect.

September 3, 2019, Albert Whitman


 

A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna (The Celestial Trilogy #2)

In A Spark of White Fire, Mandanna took the ancient Indian epic Mahābhārata and ran it through the YA space opera wringer, with thrilling results. Esmae’s story continues in this sequel. Betrayed and devastated by someone she trusted, Esmae is alone but not on her own. Filling in the ranks behind her are several gods and her sentient ship Titania. With their help she will launch a war against the House of Rey and her family. There can be no peace now, not after what they did to her. “Maybe it’s time the great House of Rey came to an end. After all, what are we now? Just a house of rage and sorrow.”

September 3, 2019, Sky Pony Press


 

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron (Untitled Trilogy #1)

Arrah comes from a long line of powerful magicians, but at sixteen her own magic has yet to appear, much to her mother’s disappointment. She has finally come to terms with her failings, but when children start going missing she’s desperate to help. In order to gain the magic needed to find the kids she trades off years of her life. But when she figures out who’s behind it all she immediately wishes she hadn’t. Throughout all this, the Demon King, imprisoned by the orisha, is rattling the bars of his cage. It’s up to Arrah and her friends to stop him from breaking free and destroying the world. If you’re looking for a new West Africa-inspired YA epic fantasy, Kingdom of Souls is it.

September 3, 2019, HarperTeen


 

Red Skies Falling by Alex London (Skybound #2)

Uztar is on the brink of war against the Kartami, and twins Brysen and Kylee are leading the charge. The Six Villages are on the frontlines, but are also home to waves of refugees fleeing the plains. Conflict between the villagers and the emigrants rouses everyone’s worst behavior. Up in the Sky Castle, Kylee is trying to learn how to speak to the Ghost Eagle as court politics scheme all around her. Each teen has different goals for the war, but the endgame is the same. A lot of people have compared this series to Game of Thrones but with more positive queer rep and I’m inclined to agree. And if that’s not a selling point then I don’t know what is.

September 3, 2019, Farrar, Straus and Giroux


 

His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler

YA retellings of Edgar Allan Poe stories. Need I say more? Fine. It features short fiction by thirteen of some of the biggest names in diverse YA spec fic: Kendare Blake, Rin Chupeco, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Stephanie Kuehn, Amanda Lovelace, Marieke Nijkamp, Emily Lloyd-Jones, Hillary Monahan, Caleb Roehrig, Fran Wilde. What better way to say farewell to summer than with a bunch of bone chilling shorts?

September 10, 2019, Flatiron Books


 

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas beautifully updates and expands on the centuries-old Chinese story known as the Ballad of Mulan (as opposed to the Disney version). Here, Mulan has spent most of her life training for a duel that will determine which family will oversee protection of two swords, the Sky Blade and the Heart Sea. Shortly before the duel, word comes from the emperor that every family must send one man to join the fight in driving back the Rouran invaders. Mulan, pretending to be her dead brother, enlists and her skills get her assigned under the handsome and daring princeling Kai. Secrets, political machinations, and warfare threaten their blossoming romance.

September 10, 2019, Tu Books


 

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

In the perfect town of Lucille, angels destroyed all the monsters years ago. Jam, a transgender and selectively nonverbal Black girl, believes them until one day a horned creature calling itself “Pet” crawls out of one of her mother’s paintings. Pet is hunting a monster living in her best friend Redemption’s house. But how can you find a monster that isn’t supposed to exist? With the adults in denial, Jam, Redemption, and Pet will have to find the truth on their own. Emezi’s YA debut sounds just as intense and powerful as her adult novel Freshwater and I am so here for it.

September 10, 2019, Make Me a World


 

A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney (A Blade So Black #2)

Alice fought tooth and nail to stop the evil from Wonderland from seeping into her world, but the real fight has only just begun. Risking her mother’s wrath if she ever finds out she broke curfew, Alice heads back into Wonderland to take on the Black Knight once more. There she meets the Poet who can control Nightmares in frightening ways. To save Wonderland, her friends, and herself, Alice must prevent the Poet from gaining the Black Queen’s power. Easier said than done. This series may be Buffy meets Alice in Wonderland, but it’s also full of depth and insight, especially on the intersectionality of Black womanhood.

September 24, 2019, Imprint


The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen (The Bright Sessions #1)

This podcast-turned-YA novel asks “What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?” Caleb Michaels is a football player sent to therapy with Dr. Bright where he discovers he’s an empath. Not exactly the best superpower for a high school student. It also makes things complicated between him and Adam a Jewish boy who has a major crush on Caleb. Shippen had me at “queer teen mutants” and won me over with the super cute romance and earnest conversations about sexuality and mental illness.

September 24, 2019, Tor Teen

Alex Brown is a high school librarian by day, local historian by night, author and writer by passion, and an ace/aro Black woman all the time. Keep up with her on Twitter and Insta, or follow along with her reading adventures on her blog.

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