It’s hard to tell it’s nearly fall with this heatwave I’m currently boiling alive in, but at least I have a bunch of cool new books to cluttering up my preorders list. I hope you like scary stories, fabulous anthologies, and monstrous mayhem. These are some of the young adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels I’m looking forward to in September and October.
The Gathering Dark: An Anthology of Folk Horror edited by Tori Bovalino — Page Street Kids; September 6
A collection of unsettling horror stories set in isolated locales and abandoned homes that sounds like it could give Supernatural a run for its money. Authors: Erica Waters, Chloe Gong, Hannah Whitten, Alison Saft, Olivia Chadha, Courtney Gould, Aden Polydoros, Alex Brown (no, not me), and Shakira Toussaint.
Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories edited by Yamile Saied Méndez, Amparo Ortiz — Algonquin Young Readers; September 6
Inspired by creatures from folk stories across Latin America, this collection is the perfect way to launch both Latinx Heritage Month and Halloween season. Authors: Chantel Acevedo, Courtney Alameda, David Bowles, Ann Dávila Cardinal, Mia Garcia, Gabriela Martins, Racquel Marie, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite, Claribel A. Ortega, Lilliam Rivera, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Alexandra Villasante, and Ari Tison.
Eternally Yours edited by Patrice Caldwell — Viking Books for Young Readers; September 20
Paranormal romance is back, baby! Patrice Caldwell swings big with another great YA fantasy anthology, this time with stories about making heart eyes at creatures that would just as soon as rip your heart out. Authors: Kalynn Bayron, Kendare Blake, Kat Cho, Melissa de la Cruz, Hafsah Faizal, Sarah Gailey, Chloe Gong, Alexis Henderson, Adib Khorram, Casey McQuiston, Sandhya Menon, Akshaya Raman, Marie Rutkoski, and Julian Winters.
Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions edited by A. R. Capetta, Wade Roush — MITeen Press; October 4
It’s been a while since we had a full YA collection of only science fiction, but who better to bring it back than Capetta and Roush. They’ve put together a fine array of stories blending queerness and technology. Authors: William Alexander, K. Ancrum, Elizabeth Bear, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, A.S. King, E.C. Myers, Junauda Petrus-Nasah, and Wendy Xu.
Thrills & Chills
Book of Dreams by Kevin Craig — Duet Books; September 13
A seemingly random encounter lands Gaige in a frightening ordeal involving a haunted book and an ancient serial killer. As Gaige tries to resist the enticing dreams the book offers him, he and his friends do whatever they can to escape the pages.
The Restless Dark by Erica Waters — HarperTeen; October 4
Three young women work together to find the remains of a serial killer. Psychology student Maggie, true crime fanatic Carolina, and Cloudkiss Killer survivor Lucy set out to win the $20,000 reward for finding his bones as well as to finally put to rest their personal demons. But when other contestants turn up dead, all bets are off.
Monarch Rising by Harper Glenn — Scholastic Press; October 4
Set in a near-future version of the US. Jo Monarch Will do whatever it takes to get out of Ashes, her miserable hometown. When she’s selected for the highly coveted Line Up, she finally has a chance to move from squalor to luxury. The only thing standing in her way is Cove Wells, a rich New Georgia playboy. Oh, and the revolution bubbling in the background.
The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera (Death-Cast #0) — Quill Tree Books; October 4
Adam Silvera makes his long awaited return to the world of They Both Die in the End with two new teens discovering they’re both destined to die. With his ongoing heart condition, Orion has been preparing for his death for most of his life. Valentino, on the other hand, is ready for a fresh start after his sister was nearly killed. The boys meet when they gather in Times Square for the launch of Death-Cast, the new service that calls you on your final day.
The Sevenfold Hunters by Rose Egal — Page Street Kids; October 25
Abyan, a Somali hijabi, is the leader of Carlisle Academy’s elite team of alien hunters. When one of her teammates is killed by the Nosaru, she’s forced to take on Artemis, the worst cadet in the school. Soon enough, Abyan and Artemis learn there’s something sinister going on at Carlisle.
Past Is Present
Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland — Balzer + Bray; September 20
Laura, a teenage mage, trades her small Pennsylvania town for bustling New York City in 1937, a few years after the Great Rust nearly destroyed the well of magic. Broke and tired of watching her dreams go down the drain, Laura joins the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps and is sent to Ohio to deal with a particularly virulent concentration of magical blight.
Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong (Foul Lady Fortune #1) — Margaret K. McElderry Books; September 27
Shanghai, 1931. After betraying her crew and nearly dying from scarlet fever, Rosalind was made immortal and forever stuck in a 19-year-old’s body. Four years later she searches for penance by working as an assassin. As the Japanese Imperial Army marches on the city and corpses pile up, Rosalind and her fake husband/spy partner Orion Hong get sucked into a dangerous conspiracy.
Strike the Zither by Joan He (Strike the Zither #1) — Roaring Brook Press; October 25
Zephyr, an orphan and brilliant strategist, teams up with Xin Ren, a warlordess hellbent on saving the child empress of the Xin Dynasty from her cruel regent. Zephyr cozies up to Miasma, hoping to insinuate herself into the regent’s ranks and betray her from the inside. Inspired by Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the four classics of Chinese literature.
How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy — G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers; September 27
For years, Shay and Ana have been neck and neck in competition for the top spot at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School. Now, with a full-ride scholarship on the line, the two join the school play put on by the teacher whose family funds the scholarship. As one of the few BIPOC at their predominantly white school, the girls wade through microaggression after microaggression, as well as the unwanted and kinda creepy attentions of their drama teacher. At least they have each other and their new spark of a romance.
The Scratch Daughters by H.A. Clarke (Scapegracers #2) — Erewhon; October 25
A year after the events of the first book, we find Sideways Pike unable to do magic while Madeline uses her stolen specter to go after the wicked Chantry family. Her former coven is unwilling to help her take down Madeline and the Chantrys, so she turns to Mr. Scratch, the enigmatic book demon she set free last year. What could go wrong?
Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim (Talon #1) — Entangled: Teen; September 27
After her crew, called the Talons, are murdered, Shin Lina is forced to become an assassin for crime boss Konrarnd Kalmin. After an ill-fated theft gone awry, the pair wind up in the world of Dokkaebi. Their captor offers them a bet: freedom in exchange for killing the emperor of the realm.
Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra — Wednesday Books; October 18
When she was little, Katyani’s life was saved by Queen Hemlata, who bound the girl’s soul to her own, giving her the power to control Katyani’s actions. Katyani becomes one of the top guards in the kingdom of Chandela. She’s sent to a monastery to protect the young royal sons as they train in combat, but a tragic incident reveals a long-held secret that shatters Katyani’s world.
Gods & Monsters
The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas (The Sunbearer Duology #1) — Feiwel & Friends; September 6
Every decade, Sol chooses ten teenage semidioses to compete in a series of trials to win the honor of being sacrificed to the Sun. Surprising everyone, this year Sol breaks from tradition by choosing two teens: Teo, the trans son of the goddess of birds, and Xio, the child of the god of bad luck. To win, they’ll have to work together.
Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah — Sourcebooks Fire; September 6
Most people in Sollonia are either in the upper class of Landers or lower class of Renters. As Hunters, Koral’s family is somewhere in the middle, providing deadly sea monsters known as maristags for a Lander chariot game. With financial ruin looming over them, Koral sneaks into the Glory Race as a competitor, but she learns the hard way that the rich are more dangerous than sea monsters.
Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen (Of Mermaids and Orisa #2) — Random House Books for Young Readers; September 27
In the first book, Simi made a choice that now threatens the entire world. The ajogun demons are tearing their way into the human world, and Simi’s Mami Wata sisters are forced to leave the sea to aid in the fight. Once again, she must face Esu the trickster god and make a choice.
Road of the Lost by Nafiza Azad — Margaret K. McElderry Books; October 18
For most of her life, Croi has believed she is a brownie, a magical creature invisible to humans. After a strange spell turns her visible, her only companion, a being known only as the Hag, reveals she is not truly a brownie but something else entirely. The next day, a spell pulls her in the direction of a great adventure and a new life.
Alex Brown is a Hugo-nominated and Ignyte award-winning critic who writes about speculative fiction, librarianship, and Black history. Find them on twitter (@QueenOfRats), instagram (@bookjockeyalex), and their blog (bookjockeyalex.com).