Queer Witches and Doomed Princesses: New Young Adult SFF for April & May 2020

Things are terrible. It feels like the desolate abyss of shelter-in-place is closing in, and not even feverishly checking social media for updates can sate the endless, gasping void. Sometimes it’s the little joys that help beat back the overwhelming dread, and for me that usually means adding new books onto my TBR pile. Times are uncertain, but at least we have these upcoming young adult science fiction and fantasy books to look forward to. And if you can help these authors out by pre-ordering from your library or local bookstore, even better.


Court Intrigue

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova (Hollow Crown #1)—April 28, 2020; Disney-Hyperion

When she was only a child, King Fernando of Puerto Leones used Renata Convida’s powers as a Roberi to steal the memories of his enemies and conquer a kingdom. Her guilt at causing the deaths of thousands drives her into the clutches of the Whisperers, secret spies working to free their people. Years later, a terrible mistake leads to the capture of her unit’s commander, Dez, whom she loves. The only way she can see to save the day is by infiltrating the court she once fled, but when her loyalties are tested and secrets revealed, will she be strong enough to survive?


Empress of Flames by Mimi Yu (The Girl King #2)—May 12, 2020; Bloomsbury YA

Before, Lu and Min found themselves leading opposing factions after their late father gave the throne to a male cousin instead of firstborn Lu. Now, Min holds the throne while wielding a deadly and ancient power. For Lu to take what she believes is her rightful place as the empress of the Hu dynasty, she will have to lead an army to her sister’s door. Power is their prize, but it may also be their curse.



High School Is Hell

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos—May 12, 2020; HarperTeen

In their small Georgia town, those who can use magic are looked down on with something between disgust and pity. Sam, James, and Delia form a magic club at their high school, but by their senior year their seemingly unbreakable friendship is straining. Delia wants more from their small-time club while Sam and James circle each other, both unwilling or unable to share their true feelings. Things go from bad to worse when James steals a dark magic spellbook and drags his friends into major trouble.


This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling (These Witches Don’t Burn #2)—May 19, 2020; Razorbill

After barely making it out alive after clashing with a Witch Hunter, all Hannah wants to do is get through her senior year of high school. She and her new girlfriend Morgan are exploring their relationship (and Morgan’s magic), and things seem like they might just be ok—save for the fact that every time Hannah taps into her own powers she suffers agonizing pain. That becomes a problem when a gang of Witch Hunters start targeting covens across the states by using a serum to permanently strip them of their magic. When they set their sights on the witches of Salem, Hannah will put everything on the line to stop them.


Outcasts, Outlaws, and Rebels

The Loop by Ben Oliver—April 7, 2020; Chicken House

For the last two years, Luka Kane has been an inmate on death row inside The Loop, a prison where kids can delay their execution date by allowing themselves to be experimented on. Alts, bioenhanced elites, rule over Regulars and reap the rewards of a dystopian economy formed around prison labor. When war breaks out beyond the prison, the inmates are left to fend for themselves. Luka decides to take his freedom by force, but in order to escape he’ll have to face the worst The Loop has to offer.


The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala (Tiger at Midnight #2)—May 26, 2020; Katherine Tegen

There is peace between the kingdoms of Jansa and Dharka, but it may not last. Kunal and Esha, now fighting on the same side, make their way into King Vardaan’s court to spy from the inside. They must also find a way to save Princess Reha, the daughter of the dead queen Jansa. The upcoming summit could secure permanent peace…or set the stage for an epic battle.


Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke—May 26, 2020; Flux

King Mattheus Lyandor is a brutal tyrant ruling over the kingdom of Erdis with an iron fist. Backing up his power are his team of elite soldiers known as the King’s Children. Adley Farre and the rest of the Children will stop at nothing to uncover and execute the rebels threatening the king’s power. So when a rebel discovers that petty thief and occasional pit fighter Ren Kolins is one of the last remaining silver wielders, magic users who were slaughtered en masse years before, she suddenly finds herself at the center of the revolution…whether she wants to be or not.


Monsters Lurk

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons—April 14, 2020; Philomel Books

It’s the end of the world as June, Imani, and Siggy know it. What starts off as a fun-filled trip to ZombieCon!, a fandom convention for the tv show Human Wasteland soon collapses into undead cannibal anarchy. Trapped in the convention center, the three high school girls band together to fight their way out, rescue survivors, and, well, save the world.


The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall—May 5, 2020; Candlewick Press

Two teens long to escape the lives they’re chained to. Flora—disguised as a sailor named Florian—is bound to a slave ship but yearns for a life far away with their brother while Lady Evelyn Hasegawa would give anything to be free of the arranged marriage she’s sailing toward. They meet on the slave ship Dove and hatch a daring escape, one that will alter the course of their lives forever.


Queer Delights

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (Once & Future #2)—April 7, 2020; jimmy patterson

In the first book Ari, with the help of her friends and the wizard Merlin, took on the sinister Mercer corporation, but her work is far from over. To put an end to the cycles of violence and reincarnation, the gang must travel back in time to pre-Norman invasion Brittania and undertake an epic quest. The past, present, and future are at stake, and one little mistake could throw everything out of whack. If you lamented the lack of queer, race, and gender rep in Star Wars, then this is the series for you.


Out Now: Queer We Go Again! edited by Saundra Mitchell—May 26, 2020; Inkyard Press

With the success of last year’s anthology All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages, editor Saundra Mitchell returns with another round of great queer YA. Featuring seventeen stories across the genre spectrum written by authors including Eliot Schrefer, C.B. Lee, Mark Oshiro, and Hilary Monahan.


Alex Brown is a teen services 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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