There’s nothing quite like a debut! After all, first impressions are everything, and these fresh-faced 2018 authors offer so much promise and potential. By next year, they might just be among your faves and instabuys, right? Earlier this year, we introduced you to 21 awesome 2018 debuts releasing from January to June. Here are the rest of our most anticipated debuts this year, from sprawling sci-fi space operas to delicious fairytale retellings to frenemy fallouts.
Scream All Night, by Derek Milman (July 24)
The son of a film director with some major issues, 17-year-old Dario is happy to leave the past—and Moldavia Studios—far behind him. But when he returns to his B-horror movie set home for a one-time, very-special-tribute event (an,d yeah, to see Hayley, his first love), boom, the past comes back to haunt him. Big time. Campy, funny, and delicious, this debut also touches on some meaty and dark issues, including mental illness and child abuse. But in the end, it’s about family, legacy, trauma, and closure, all with a hearty dose of filmy fun.
Sanctuary, by Caryn Lix (July 24)
Pitched as Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, Sanctuary centers on Kenzie, an Omnistellar apprentice guard, who’s taken hostage by the superpowered teen prisoners on the Sanctuary space station during a riot. When they’re attacked by mysterious creatures, Kenzie has to join forces with her captors, or let them all face the consequences of something sinister looming in deep, dark space.
I Am Still Alive, by Kate Marshall (July 24)
Who doesn’t love a great survival story in the thick of a sticky summer? Marshall’s will have you shivering—with fear, delight, and the chill of a destroyed Canadian cabin in the mountains, where Jess, alone and helpless, is about to freeze to death. She was sent to live with her off-the-grid dad, a virtual stranger, after a car crash killed her mom. But when a fire destroys the cabin and kills her father, Jess is left stranded—and on her own. Will she be able to fend for herself until she’s discovered? Or will she die alone in the mountains?
Sea Witch, Sarah Henning (July 31)
Witches and a vast sea? Yes, please. If you loved Shea Ernshaw’s moody debut, The Wicked Deep, then Sea Witch is an ideal companion. This seductive spin on The Little Mermaid centers on Evie, a fisherman’s daughter mourning the loss of her best friend, Anna, who drowned at sea. Then a girl who’s the spitting image of Anna saves Prince Nik, Evie can’t help but be drawn to her. But when she must use her own magic to set things right, will Evie become the villain in this story? Yes, bring on the Ursula!
Heart of Thorns, by Bree Barton (July 31)
What happens when the Hunter becomes the hunted? Mia Rose is about to find out. For years, she’s been training to kill the Gwyrach, demons in female form who can manipulate and steal breath and bone. Her plans for a future avenging her mother’s killers is foiled when her father instead decides to wed her off to the Prince. But an assignation attempt on their wedding night sends Mia and the Prince on the run, and she discovers that she is the very thing she’s meant to kill. Can she come to terms with the past and her truth?
See All the Stars, by Kit Frick (August 14)
Once there were four, and Ellory was so happy to be part of that quartet. Now she’s alone, and must face the consequences of her actions. Can she grapple with her grief long enough to understand what really happened? Can she learn to forgive herself? Told in a dual narrative of Then and Now, this beautiful, suspenseful debut is earning comparisons to E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, and with good reason. Friendship, fallouts, fear, and self-loathing sit at the center of this tale, and once you enter Ellory’s world, you’ll have to follow her right to the end.
A Touch of Gold, by Annie Sullivan (August 14)
A spin on the old Midas tale, this fantasy debut follows Kora, the daughter of King Midas, who cursed his child with skin of gold. Now a teen, Kora’s burgeoning powers are becoming more difficult to hide, and so she’s locked in the palace, hidden behind veils. Adventure beckons, though, when a thief steals from the kingdom’s coffers, and Kora, with her special powers, is the only one who can track him down. But all that glitters? You know how the saying goes.
Mirage, by Somaiya Daud (August 28)
Empire, colonialism, stars, and space? Yes, please! Daud’s stunning debut is a space opera with a decidedly brown bent—sumptuous world-building with Moroccan-inspired details. Amani lives on an isolated moon, but she dreams of a world much bigger than the one she has known, one filled with adventures. But then she’s kidnapped by the regime and dragged to the royal palace, where she learns she’s a clone to the cruel Princess Maram, and that she’ll serve as a stand-in for the princess in public, in case there’s an assassination attempt. Fun. Still, Amani is drawn into her sparkling new world. Will she mistake the glitter for gold?
Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram (August 28)
All he wants to be is all-American. But geeky, depressed Darius Kellner is about to take his first trip to his mother’s native Iran, and it’s a lot. His grandfather is dying, he’s meeting much of his mom’s Persian family for the first time ever, and it is intense (and entertaining, well, for us at least). Then he meets boy next door Sohrab, and everything changes. A touching, funny, and insightful look at the clash of cultures, the spaces between, and the way friendship can profoundly change our understanding of ourselves.
Not Even Bones, Rebecca Schaeffer (September 4)
Pitched as Dexter meets This Savage Song, Bones centers on Nita, a supernatural girl who dissects the bodies her mom brings home to sell in parts on the black market. Well, she did anyway, until her mom brings home a live specimen, and, you know, you gotta draw the line somewhere. But Nita pays dearly for her one good deed, ending up behind bars as a specimen for sale herself. There’s a lot going on here—this urban fantasy delves into issues of body sovereignty and trafficking, colonialism and empire, and definitely systemically built layers of oppression.
Ignite the Stars, by Maura Milan (September 4)
Ia Cocha is notorious. An outlaw, a criminal mastermind, an unrivaled pilot. And—unbeknownst to the universe—a 17-year-old girl. She has spent her life on a mission to destroy the Olympus Commonwealth, the empire that destroyed her kingdom. And she nearly gets there, too. But when her true identity is discovered, she’s forced to enroll in the military academy, and forges new alliances that might just upend everything she thought she knew—about the Commonwealth, about her enemies, and about herself. This sci-fi drama will have you at the edge of your seat.
Rule, by Erin Goodlett (September 11)
Three will fight, but only one will rule. Zofi is a Traveler, and all she knows is roaming the outer Reaches with her clan. Akeylah of the East will escape her abusive father, but the choices she makes ripple outward. Ren, a handmaiden, works to scheme her way out of the toil. But she’s putting everything (and everyone) at risk with her plot to climb. As a rebellion threatens to topple Kolonya, to save it from falling, three illegitimate princesses will lay claim to the throne. But who will win?
The Deepest Roots, Miranda Asebedo (September 18)
Every town has its quirks. Cottonwood Hollow’s are just a bit more, uh, special. For one hundred years and counting, every girl born there has held a special talent, including friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy. But will the secrets they keep tear them apart? Or will they learn to trust each other—and themselves—enough to realize that together, they can win any battle? Ghosts, everyday magic, friendships, and forgiveness are at the center of this lovely, genre-bending debut.
A Blade So Black, by L.L. McKinney (September 25)
This hotly anticipated debut fantasy melds Buffy and Alice (yes, that Alice!) in a fierce protagonist who wields her blade to tackle the Nightmares, sinister creatures who lurk in the dark realm of Wonderland. But in the daytime, she’s also in a battle of the wills with her overprotective mama, managing a BFF who’s a bit, uh, extra, and trying to keep her grades up. This Alice is a smart, Sailor Moon–cosplaying black girl with real life problems to manage when she’s not taking down monsters. Sign us up!
The Sisters of The Winter Wood, Rena Rossner (September 25)
Sisters Liba and Laya have always stuck close to their home, nestled in a small village surrounded by woods. And there they would stay, if a sinister secret hadn’t begun to wedge its way into the bond between them. Because Liba knows now that the old fairytales are true—that those who came before them could transform—and it’s a truth she must hide even from Laya. So when strangers infiltrate their small world, the small cracks might just be the thing that leads it to shatter. Love, magic, Jewish folklore, and sisterly bonds come together in a darkly forested fairytale.
500 Words or Less, by Juleah del Rosario (September 25)
Alright, so she made a mistake. But Nic Chen refuses to let herself become that girl who cheated on her boyfriend. Nope. She’s got to claim a new identity, fast. So she starts writing college essays for her friends. And what she learns in the process changes the way she looks at everyone and everything—especially herself. A messy, flawed protagonist in a fun, searing novel-in-verse that tackles identity, questioning, and finding your footing as things shift in those critical last few moments of high school.
My Whole Truth, by Mischa Thrace (October 2)
Murder? That’s what they’re claiming. The mallet. Shane’s head. Was it self-defense? But Seelie Stanton can’t quite bring herself to explain what happened that night. Not even if it will save her from those charges. Not even if it’s the only thing she can do to save everything, especially herself. Lots of trigger warnings here: sexual assault, rape, victim blaming, bullying. But this is an important story, rivetingly told.
Home And Away, by Candice Montgomery (October 16)
For those still mourning Pitch (and let’s face it, who’s not?), this is the YA debut that will make your year. It’s senior year, and Tasia Quirk—young, Black, and fabulous—is a rising star as the only girl on her private high school’s football team. She knows she has it good, so of course it’s about time for everything to unravel, right? Taze thinks she’s got it all figured out, but an unexpected discovery sends her spinning. Montgomery beautifully explores identity, race, friendship, and first love in this charming and important debut.
The Light Between Worlds, by Laura E. Weymouth (October 23)
Air strikes in London send sisters Evelyn and Philippa, along with their brother, into hiding in a bomb shelter—but then the siblings find themselves in another realm, the Woodlands, a forest kingdom filled with mythical creatures. There, they create a home. But then, years later, they’re returned to a London where nothing has changed, except them. In this fantasy, Evelyn will do anything to get back to the Woodlands, while Philippa is focused on the here and now, making friends and forging a reality. When her sister goes missing, though, she’ll have to face the truth of what they shared. A bittersweet and poetic read from a wonderful new voice.