Publisher: HarperTeen Release Date: October 1, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.
Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.
Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.
Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
Okay, one of my favorite tropes is (slow burn) enemies to lovers, and let me tell you: this book delivered. Plus, these enemies to lovers are queer, I love my lesbian and bi rep, and the book is own voices. 🖤🖤🖤
Please, please read this book. If not for anything else, read it for the romance.
🖤 “You couldn’t depend on much in this world, but you could depend on this: love brought nothing but death.”
🖤 “It was never really a choice, was it? Wanting her. Killing her.”
🖤”Were there certain words or ideas that made Ayla’s frown smooth out, that made her eyes brighten? Crier wanted to study her like a map. Draw an easy path between all the specific yet scattered points of her.”
🖤“A thought came to her: a story of its own, one that only just began writing itself in her mind: a story of two women, one human, one Made.”
🖤 “If longing is madness then none of us are sane.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays and short fiction. She was born in New Orleans and raised on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood playing in the Eno River, building faerie houses from moss and bark, and running barefoot through the woods. These days, Nina lives in Los Angeles with her writing partner and their tiny, ill-behaved dog. She tends to write stories about hard-won love and young people toppling the monarchy/patriarchy/whatever-archy. On a related note, she’s queer. On a less related note, she has strong feelings about hushpuppies and loves a good jambalaya. Crier’s War is her first novel.
Publisher: 47North ReleaseDate: October 1, 2019 Genre: Fantasy
A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
As you all may know, my favorite animal is frogs, so I knew I would enjoy this book when it opened from the viewpoint of a toad. Wine is also my drink of choice, and I consider myself to be a baby witch.
Basically, I’m sure Luanne wrote this book for me.
The character development and romance are the only aspects of this book keeping it from being 5 stars. But I definitely recommend it. 🖤
🖤 “What the eye couldn’t see, the imagination filled in. We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”
🖤 “She gave the wine a swirl, and Jean-Paul knew if there was ever magic in the world it was in that glass of perfectly blended seven-year-old pinot noir.”
🖤 “The art of poison might run in your blood, but never doubt you were meant to be a vine witch.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Luanne G. Smith is the author of THE VINE WITCH, a fantasy novel about witches, wine, and revenge set in early 20th century France, and the forthcoming second book in the series, The Glamourist. She’s lucky enough to live in Colorado at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, a glass of wine at the end of the day, and finding the magic in everyday life.
You won’t want to miss the giveaway and preorder campaign at the end of this post! ✨
Shadow Frost by Coco Ma
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Release Date: October 1, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.
Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes. Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm. Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.
Not one has ever returned.
When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.
To kill it.
But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.
That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.
From young author Coco Ma comes a dazzling new tale of adventure, power, and betrayal, weaving together a stunning world of magic with a killer cast in an explosive, unforgettable debut.
This book took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.
Then again, I have a soft spot for retellings and books involving princesses—especially badass princesses—magic, romance, a touch of mystery, queer characters, demons, and friendship. Now that I’m thinking about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.
I should only be surprised that Coco Ma wrote this book when she was just 15 years old. What have I been doing with my life?
Anyway, this book was a 5 star read for me because, no spoilers, I enjoyed the slow but steady character and plot development. There were a few “plot twists” that I saw coming a mile away, but it didn’t matter. I loved them all the same.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coco Ma is a Canadian-Chinese author and pianist. She wrote her first novel, Shadow Frost, at the age of 15. Since she began playing the piano at the age of five and a half, she has also performed on some of the world’s greatest concert stages and graduated with a pre-college diploma in piano performance from The Juilliard School in New York City. Currently, she studies at Yale University. When she isn’t practicing piano, writing, or studying, you might find her bingeing Netflix or eating cake. Lots of cake.
Publisher: HarperTeen Release Date: September 10, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.
Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.
When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.
Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.
I recently read Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, and after reading A Treason of Throns, I can now confirm that I have a reading soft spot for inanimate objects turned magical.
The sentient, magical Burleigh House in this book remained at the heart of the story—it drove the plot, it influenced our protagonist’s Vi actions, and it painted the atmosphere. Vi, her childhood friend and love interest Wyn, and the House are the main characters in this book. I never thought I would read a book where a house is a main character, but my gosh, I’m so glad I did.
There is one, and only one, reason why this book was not a 5 star read for me: the not-so-believable, lacking romance. I wanted to believe that Vi and Wyn had a romantic connection. It made sense. But it didn’t translate onto the page. I almost wish their relationship would have remained platonic because then this book would have been perfect.
All in all, though, I highly recommend this book, as it delivered in so many other ways. Especially if you’re not picky about romance. And especially if you love the concept of a magical house. 🖤
“I need to know that no matter what I’ve lost, I’ve lost it for the greater good.”
“In the labyrinth of my own mind, I count fears instead of stars.”
“…folk recognize a devil in fine clothes when they see one.”
“The world is full of men who want things, and never question their right to go after them.” Esperanza’s eyes spark, and she leans forward in her chair. “Why should we feel any less worthy than they do, so long as what we want does no harm?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, we belong to ourselves.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Weymouth is a Canadian living in exile in America, and the sixth consecutive generation of her family to immigrate from one country to another. Born and raised in the Niagara region of Ontario, she now lives at the edge of the woods in western New York, along with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, a spoiled cat, an old soul of a dog, and an indeterminate number of chickens. She is represented by the inimitable Lauren Spieller of TriadaUS.
Publisher: Inkyard Press Release Date: August 27, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…
Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.
Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.
In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.
sisterly love + royalty + sacrifice + mermaid-inspired + strong women + inner beauty + romance
This book checked all my boxes. Sisterhood? Check. Fantasy with a dash of romance? Check. The characters (Nor is one of my new favorites). The world building (oh my gosh, the kingdoms and cultures were complex and believable). Check, check. And I’m here for all the mermaid-inspired fantasy books. 🖤🖤🖤
🖤 ”I’m the perfect seashell you pick up from the ocean floor, only to turn it over in your hand and see the crack.”
🖤 “You have the power to do anything and everything you dream of, more than any person I’ve ever known.”
🖤 “What lies beneath the surface of shallow waters? Nothing. It’s only when you go deeper that the ocean comes alive. The deeper you go, the more mysteries and surprises await.”
🖤 “Nor and Zadie. Coral and Pearl. Powerful and beautiful because of each other, not in spite of each other.”
🖤 “I had sacrificed all of that to come here, and I would be damned if it had all been for nothing.”
About the Author
Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world, from Russia to Peru, along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband and two sons. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London and would rather study the folklore of her next post than the language (which she has found is a lot more fun but not nearly as useful). She is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor.
Don’t miss the giveaway—and the sneak peak prologue—at the end of this post!
The Storm Crowby Kalyn Josephson
Publisher: SourcebooksFire Release Date: July 9, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.
That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.
But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.
I was a storm.
Adrenaline ripped through my veins like lightning as I leaned close to the body of my Crow, preparing to execute a dive. Iyla’s warm, steady heat kept me grounded, even hundreds of feet in the air. Cold wind whipped tendrils of hair free from my braid, nipping at the skin around my goggles and stealing my breath.
The thin, well-worn saddle beneath me was nothing more than a strip of leather to bind stirrups to, the reins trailing from my hands to Iyla’s beak, an illusion of control—this ride depended on trust and mutual respect. Anything less, and no amount of leather would keep me seated on Iyla’s back.
Years of Estrel’s instructions raced through my mind: Keep your body low and tight in a dive. Give the reins slack. Keep your knees back so you don’t put pressure on the Crow’s wing joints. I knew it all like my own heartbeat.
I tucked close to Iyla’s body, and we dove.
Water misted my skin as Iyla’s Storm Crow magic split apart a cloud a second before we shot through it and plummeted toward the earth. My heart screamed into my throat, pure, unadulterated joy erupting through me with every passing moment. I held my breath as we fell, counting the seconds—we could only gain so much speed before Iyla’s wings wouldn’t be able to handle the strain of opening.
Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…
We burst through the clouds, Aris spread out below us. The city was a blur as we dove, a sea of light and color fast approaching.
Twenty. I squeezed my knees, and Iyla’s wings snapped open like the slice of a blade, catching an updraft to send us sailing in a gentle arc. Lightning buzzed at the tips of Iyla’s wings as she let out a piercing call.
I sucked in a lungful of cold air and let it out in a laugh, the thrill of the dive resounding through me like a thunderclap. I craved that feeling like starved lungs craved air, letting it fill me until I felt impossibly alive.
We circled wide and low, descending the rest of the way until Iyla’s shadow blanketed the city streets.
Aris unfurled beneath us like a colorful map, dense with thick green foliage and spotted with wildflowers. People called up to us, waving from crowded streets as revelers prepared for the festival leading up to Negnoch, the city’s yearly hatch night. In a few hours, every single Crow from across the kingdom of Rhodaire would put on a masterful display of riding and magic, and the year’s Crows would be hatched.
One of them would be mine. Tonight, I would choose my own Crow and become a rider.
We dipped lower, children chasing Iyla’s shadow in the hopes of catching a stray feather to wish upon. This was my favorite part of flying. Even more than the thrill of diving or the magic of soaring through endless skies, I loved gliding peacefully above Aris, the wind brushing along my skin as the city passed below.
Even on the back of a stolen Crow. Well, not quite stolen. Iyla belonged to Estrel, my teacher and mother’s best friend, and while Estrel had let me ride Iyla alone before, she technically hadn’t given me permission to tonight.
Probably because I didn’t ask.
A gentle tug on the reins sent Iyla a little higher, and we fell in line over the crystal waters of the canal in the Rynthene Wing. To my left, Earth Crows helped work the fields, tilling land in huge swaths with the pulse of their magic. To my right, the fading sunlight glinted off an armored Battle Crow.
All over Aris, the Crows and riders integrated into the city’s inner workings would be finishing up the day’s tasks. Later, they’d join the military pouring in from Rhodaire’s outer reaches in preparation for the Sky Dance.
We followed the canal to the castle at the city’s heart. The giant, gray stone structure stretched into the sky, Delladon vines sprawling across its pale face like laugh lines. From each of the four sides of the central tower, a crescent-shaped landing platform jutted out, and I used the nearest one as a marker to veer Iyla right toward the royal rookery. It was a tall, circular tower with wide windows on the third floor for easy landing.
My nerves jittered. Landing was the hardest part, even with Estrel’s lessons branded into my mind.
Let the Crow do the work; it knows what it’s doing. Keep your weight back. Never dismount while a Crow’s folding its wings, or you risk straining the joints.
We glided easily through one of the rookery’s large, open windows, Iyla as practiced in this maneuver as breathing. Her wings flared back, sending straw swirling across the stone floor as her massive black claws reached out, taking hold of the nearest T-shaped perch. We fell to a standstill, her wings tucking in tight to her muscled form. She was almost reptilian with a lean, muscular body, the proportions a little longer, a little more limber than a normal bird.
I let out a whoop, grinning as I tugged down my goggles and swung off her back, throwing my arms around her. Her long neck straightened as she stiffened, but I’d learned long ago that she’d not only tolerate hugs but secretly liked them.
My excitement went cold at my mother’s sharp voice. A flurry of black wings filled the opposite window as her Battle Crow, Tyros, landed effortlessly on the perch across from Iyla, sending a gust of straw-filled wind into my face.
My mother swung down, stalking toward me with the smooth litheness of a jungle cat. With the setting sun at her back, she looked every inch the queen she was, the light making her brown skin and polished flying leathers gleam with an inner fire.
“What in Saint’s name do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“Um, talking to Iyla?” I offered. Lying had never been my strong suit. To her credit, the Crow let out a low caw, as if she were indeed part of the conversation.
My mother didn’t smile. I didn’t expect her to.
“Relax, Alandra.” Estrel emerged from the nearby staircase at my side, her long, dark curls bound in a thick braid like mine. “I gave her permission.”
The only person who could tell my mother to relax without getting eviscerated was Estrel, my aunt in every way but blood. They even looked like sisters, though my mother was taller and leaner. She and Estrel had grown up together, and I’d even heard a rumor Estrel’s sister and my mother had courted as teenagers.
My mother frowned, and I straightened beneath the sharpness of her steel-colored gaze. Her eyes always reminded me of knives, forever sculpting me in an endless quest for perfection.
“I executed a perfect dive,” I offered, as if my ability to perform riding techniques far more advanced than my seventeen years might soften her gaze.
It only made her eyes narrow. “Taking another rider’s Crow out for a joyride to perform dangerous maneuvers is not only foolish, it’s insulting.” I flinched. “If you want to prove yourself capable of being a leader among the riders, you can start by not disrespecting every rule and custom we live by.”
I refused to wilt beneath the heat of her words. “Well, maybe if you spent more than a waking second in my presence, I’d know the rules better.”
Estrel drew a sharp breath, but my mother went stiller than a Shadow Crow concealed in darkness. For a fraction of a second, I swore something pained flashed through her iron gaze, but it vanished quickly.
The circlet of silver feathers on her brow gleamed like molten starlight. “I expect you back here before the hatching.” She turned to Tyros, who leapt from his perch to the wide window ledge, a perfect tableau of strength against a backdrop of approaching night. With a grace I hadn’t yet mastered, she swung up into the saddle. Wings tucked in tight, Tyros leapt. They plummeted from view, gone for barely a breath before they soared up past the window, climbing into the darkening sky.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kalyn Josephson is a Technical Writer in Silicon Valley, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. She grew up in San Luis Obispo, CA, but now lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an even tinier owl). When not writing YA Fantasy, she loves baking, reading, playing sports, and watching too many movies.
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Release Date: August 6, 2019 Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love.
Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.
Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?
Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.