In this perfectly crafted, fully immersive, and fiercely romantic historical fantasy debut, star-crossed enchanters must duel to the death in an alternate Tsarist Russia. It’s a great choice for fans of The Night Circus, Red Queen, An Ember in the Ashes, and Shadow and Bone.
I also highly recommend these forthcoming releases in YA fantasy, the first books in new series. (Some of these mini-recommendations will be followed by full recommendations closer to their release dates.)
A cursed princess, prophesied to marry Death and Destruction, becomes an empowered queen of the Otherworld, in Roshani Chokshi’s darkly romantic The Star-Touched Queen (May).
Inspired by Indian and Greek mythology, and exquisitely written, sensuous, and lush, this debut’s spellbinding tale of love, betrayal, and redemption is perfect for fans of Laini Taylor, Rosamund Hodge, and Bree Despain.
Ruined (May), by Amy Tintera, has everything YA fantasy fans crave: a fierce heroine, perilous adventure, unlikely romance, intrigue, deception, and magic.
After her parents, the king and queen of Ruina (magic wielders), are murdered and her sister kidnapped, Emelina Flores embarks on a clever, yet dangerous, plan to infiltrate the enemy kingdom of Lera (non-magic wielders) and get her revenge. She kills Crown Prince Casimir’s fiancee and assumes her identity with the intention of murdering him and his family. But what if Em and Cas fall in love?
If you’re looking for YA fantasy that’s unlike anything you’ve ever read, pick up Julie Eshbaugh’s Ivory and Bone (June). You’ll venture to a prehistoric world with mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and clan rivalries.
Along with life-or-death adventure, there’s love/hate romance. Kol’s and Mya’s clans are trying to make amends after they nearly went to war five years earlier, and their contentious relationship, as well as their clans’ concerns about courtship and marriage, will remind you of Pride and Prejudice …with mammoths.
What if Vlad the Impaler (Count Dracula) had been a girl? This question inspired Kiersten White’s And I Darken (June), a fully immersive, vividly imagined historical fantasy, set in the Ottoman Empire, starring a feisty, brutal heroine.
Abandoned by their father, the deposed prince of Wallachia (Romania), and held hostage in the Ottoman court, Lada Dragwlya (female Vlad) and her younger brother, Radu, befriend Mehmet, the Ottoman heir. But Lada wants revenge against the Ottomans and to reclaim her homeland. Will her love for her brother and Mehmet overcome conflicting loyalties, political and religious strife, prejudice, and hate? This book is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and Red Queen.
I just finished The Reader (Sept), by Traci Chee, for the second time since late January. If I lived in a world where reading was rare and books were literally magic–and, like Sefia and Archer, my life was in danger because of the one book I possessed–I’d better be holding The Reader. Chee’s debut, celebrating literacy and storytelling, unlikely friendship and slow-burn romance, is a breathtaking adventure you’ll treasure. (Especially if you have to fight off pirates and assassins!)
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
Alyssa recommends new and forthcoming releases in (mostly) young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and Spellbinding Books. She thanks the publishers, Edelweiss, NetGalley, and the Boulder Book Store for providing her with DRCs and ARCs for review purposes. Find her on Twitter.