35 of Our Most Anticipated Fantasy Novels of the Second Half of 2017

In December I shared 26 January–June fantasy books I couldn’t wait to read, and now I’m back with a double-decker stack of glorious YA fantasy hitting shelves from July to December. Here there be dragons, of course, but also feminist fairy tales, genre-hopping big-house mysteries, vividly transporting tales of the fey, coming-of-age stories infused with African myth, and city-set books in which art is power. Add them to your pre-order list now, and don’t miss a single one.

See all 2017 previews here.

Now I Rise, by Kiersten White (June 27)
The sequel to And I Darken, one of our favorite books of 2016, is “fantasy” by way of alt history, telling the second chapter in the story of fierce Lada, a genderbent Vlad the Impaler; her brother, Radu, who excels at more insidious forms of statesmanship; and Mehmed, the young, conquest-hungry sultan they both love. Mehmed has his sights set on taking Constantinople, Lada longs to reclaim her homeland of Wallachia, and Radu is caught between loyalty to the man who may never love him back and the sister whose love always felt double-edged

The Disappearances, by Emily Bain Murphy (July 4)
In World War II–era England, following the death of their mother, Juliet, Aila and her prickly younger brother are sent to live with Juliet’s childhood friend, in a clannish small town called Sterling. It’s a place that still holds a mysterious grudge against their mother, who may have something to do with the string of supernatural disappearances that plague it: every seven years, something is lost, from scents to reflections. The only way to reclaim them, if just for a little while, is through the use of spells called variants, which allow Sterling’s residents to enjoy the scent of cooking food, or see their face in a mirror. As the time for the next disappearance draws near, Aila burrows deeper into the town’s mysteries, and her mother’s secrets.

The Savage Dawn, by Melissa Grey (July 11)
In Grey’s 2015 debut, The Girl at Midnight, an orphaned girl named Echo is drawn into an ancient battle between two supernatural races—the avian Avicen, whose leader, the Ala, made Echo an ally when she was small, and the dragonish Drakharin. Echo uses borrowed Avicen magic to travel between doors around the world, running errands for the Ala. Then she’s sent on a quest to track down the Firebird, a possibly mythical power source prophesied to end the Avicen-Drakharin war. In sequel The Shadow Hour, she deals with an unexpected magical legacy and fights the darkness she unwittingly unleashed. Now the series concludes with The Savage Dawn, in which Echo may be the Avicens’ only hope of defeating the Drakaharin, if only she can channel the power to do so.

The Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana (July 18)
Princess Amrita lives an idyllic life in her kingdom of Shalingar, until the arrival of the ruthless Emperor Sikander. His unexpected visit throws her world into disarray, and in an effort to keep the peace, Amrita offers herself up as his bride. She is rejected, and the palace placed under siege by Sikander’s forces. When Amrita escapes, it’s with oracle Thala, a former slave of the emperor, in tow. Thala convinces Amrita to seek out the mythical Library of Fates, where she can choose to rewrite the past—or seize a different future.

The Last Magician, by Lisa Maxwell (July 18)
Magic is nearly but not entirely extinct in Maxwell’s alt contemporary New York, possessed only by a handful of remaining Mageus. These wielders of magic live hidden lives, held by a barrier known as the Brink that traps them within the island of Manhattan. Esta has the ability to travel through time, stealing magical objects from the creators of the Brink, and she’s about to embark on her most dangerous journey yet: a trip to 1902 Manhattan, to retrieve a magical book before its destruction. The book is the key to brighter future for the Mageus, but Esta must navigate more than just time and magic to get her hands on it.

Witchtown, by Cory Putnam Oakes (July 18)
Macie and mom Aubra are seasoned grifters with an unusual target: Havens, designated communities where witches can practice their craft freely. Now they’ve arrived at Witchtown—which, Aubra promises, will be their last grift—and Macie couldn’t be readier to change their morally questionable lifestyle. The unmagical teen, or “Void,” insinuates herself into this latest Haven, but soon learns Witchtown has secrets that run even deeper than her own.

Daughter of the Burning City, by Amanda Foody (July 25)
As a member of the traveling Gomorrah Festival, Sarina has spent her life creating illusions so real they take on a life of their own. Her creations are as good as family to her—so when one of them is murdered, she’s desperate to discover the killer before more are lost. She joins forces with gossip-worker Luca, descending into a web of treachery and through the darkest pockets of the Festival, as her illusions are picked off by an unseen assassin.

The Wood, by Chelsea Bobulski (August 1)
Winter was young when her father vanished, leaving her the sole guardian of the wood, a stretch of trees behind their house that are more than they appear. The wood is full of portals to other places, and when visitors slip through, Winter must guide them back to where they belong—but she must never outstay her welcome in the trees. Lately the woods have been changing, growing darker and more dangerous. Without her father to turn to, Winter puts her trust in a secretive visitor from 18th-century England, whose mysterious knowledge of the wood could change everything.

Sparks of Light, by Janet B. Taylor (August 1)
In last year’s Into the Dim, recently bereaved Hope headed to Scotland, where she learned her mother wasn’t dead, but trapped in time: part of a band of time travelers, she’s lost somewhere in 11th-century England. Hope joins the mission to save her, washing up in a dangerous ancient time in the days just before Eleanor of Aquitaine is crowned queen of England. In follow-up Sparks of Light, she and her fellow time travelers, or Viators, head to Gilded Age New York, where they’ll embed among the city’s society elite in an effort to circumvent the theft of a device from Nikola Tesla that could endanger the world’s timeline.

The Hearts We Sold, by Emily Lloyd-Jones (August 8)
Dee has a desperate need, and she lives in a world where demons exist to exploit just that. She was young when the demons made themselves known to the world, with their bloody bargains that win humans fame, talent, success…all they have to give up is a body part in exchange. When Dee’s scholarship comes under threat and she faces a possible return to a horrible home life, she makes a less permanent trade, or so she thinks: her heart, on a two-year lease, in exchange for all the money she needs. But as she learns the true parameters of her deal, and grows closer with a fellow “heartless,” also in thrall to their demon’s strange demands, she learns the cost of her bargain may be more lasting than she once believed.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F.C. Yee (August 8)
Holy elevator pitch: A student striving for entrance to a top university must revise her plans when she discovers she’s a spirit so powerful she can punch her way into Heaven. A cute Chinese transfer student helps Genie along in her transition from college-bound teen to boundary-smashing heroine, just in time to counteract a hellish invasion. The epic mix of elements of Chinese folklore and a high-school heroine sounds impossible to resist.

Shimmer and Burn, by Mary Taranta (August 8)
Faris and her sister, Cadence, grew up in the slums of the magical kingdom of Brindaigel, always a half-step ahead of destitution or disaster. But it finally catches up with them when Cadence, attempting to escape Brindaigel’s borders, is captured and enslaved. In her desperation to retrieve her sister, Faris is caught up in a dangerous rescue plot. She joins forces with the cruel Princess Bryn, whose sights are set on overthrowing her father. On the road to a neighboring, unmagical kingdom, where Bryn is hoping to use the enchantments running through Faris’s veins to hook the prince into allying with her, Faris gets closer to a traveling magician and plots to get out from under the princess’s brutal control.

Wicked Like a Wildfire, by Lana Popović (August 15)
Raised in a secluded Montenegrin town, sisters Iris and Malina have spent their lives guarding a family secret from their neighbors’ prying eyes: like their mother, the girls have the gift of manipulating beauty. Flowers explode into fractals for Iris, who uses what she sees to power her glasswork, while Malina can use music to shape people’s moods. Their strict, seemingly uncaring mother bakes magically delicious desserts—until a brutal attack leaves her in a supernatural state of pre-death suspension, shortly after a mysterious figure from her past returns to town. The sisters set off to untangle the dark legacy behind the assault, and their own dangerous magic.

Wonder Woman, by Leigh Bardugo (August 29)
Short pitch: Leigh Bardugo takes on Wonder Woman! Long pitch: Before she was Wonder Woman, Diana was an Amazonian princess with something to prove, who committed one selfless, foolish act that put not just herself but her people at risk. During a race in which she’s determined to prove her strength, Diana instead saves a castaway from a marine explosion: Alia Keralis, who has a bloody destiny of her own. She’s a Warbringer, descended from Helen of Troy, fated to usher in as much chaos as her forebear. The two girls, from vastly different worlds, must band together against the forces set to destroy them both.

Mask of Shadows, by Linsey Miller (August 29)
Genderfluid Sal is an excellent thief, but has sights set far higher than a lifetime of robbery—Sal also has a taste for revenge against the upper-crust nobles who destroyed their past, so it’s more than just social-climbing when they set out to become a member of the Queen’s personal band of assassins. But auditions for the Left Hand may prove to be deadly, sweeping Sal up into bloody intrigue, even as they discover there’s far more to live for than revenge.

Even the Darkest Stars, by Heather Fawcett (September 5)
Though she’s stuck in her older sister’s shadow, Kamzin still harbors dreams of her own: to become a royal explorer, half cartographer, half spy. When legendary explorer River Shara comes to her village, Kamzin is shocked to learn he wants not her sister, Lusha, but Kamzin herself to join him on his next expedition. His mission, to retrieve a magical object from a treacherous peak, may prove deadly, and is soon complicated by the mission of a rival explorer…whose forces include Lusha.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass, by Melissa Bashardoust (September 5)
This lovely feminist retelling of Snow White humanizes the two women at its heart, adding context to the tropes of the evil stepmother and the fairy-tale innocent. The true evil in this story is the stepmother, Mina’s, cruel sorcerer father, who gave his own daughter, Mina, a heart of glass and created for the grieving king Lynet, a daughter made of snow, in the image of his dead queen. Longing for her first taste of real love, despite her cold glass heart, Mina captures the king, but finds that, even after marriage, she can’t keep his heart, which is saved for his buried wife and stifled daughter. Mina and Lynet are set up to hate each other, set up by the rules of the oldest storytelling for a showdown that will end in somebody’s death—but together, they may have the power to rewrite that tale.

Shadowhouse Fall, by Daniel José Older (September 12)
In this follow-up to 2015’s Shadowshaper, Sierra has embraced her Shadowshaper destiny, creating street art animated by Brooklyn’s spirit population. But the arrival of a strange gift changes her path: a playing card from the mystical Deck of Worlds, featuring an image of a creature known as the Hound of Light. When the hound starts prowling the streets of Brooklyn in pursuit of Sierra, it heralds a coming supernatural battle, unfolding against the backdrop of a community under siege by forces of real-world oppression.

When I Cast Your Shadow, by Sarah Porter (September 12)
Ruby’s troubled brother, Dash, has died of an overdose, and now he’s shadowing her dreams instead of her waking life. She’s dangerously drawn in by the return of her charismatic, beloved sibling in any form—but Dash has become entangled with terrifying forces on the other side of death, and his return could spell her doom. It’s up to her twin, Emmett, to save her from a supernatural threat wearing the face of the manipulative brother she nevertheless loved.

Jane, Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore (September 19)
Graceling author Cashore’s first standalone novel is a genre mashup with an intriguing setup: Jane is a grieving 18-year-old whose Aunt Magnolia, her de facto mother, has recently died while working in Antarctica. Just before the trip, her aunt delivered an odd final request: that Jane accept any invitation she receives to the grand estate Tu Reviens. And soon a chance encounter leads Jane to the massive, Frankensteinish house, where she finds herself amid a cast of variously shady characters on the eve of a gala. At the end of the book’s first section, Jane is at a crossroads: she can follow one of five paths, each of which may help her answer a burning question, from determining what’s behind other guests’ strange behavior to untangling her aunt’s connection to Tu Reviens. Across the five ensuing segments, Jane’s story skates among genres, including mystery, horror, and portal fantasy, each building in some way on the last. It’s an epic performance from one of YA’s best fantasy authors.

One Dark Throne, by Kendare Blake (September 19)
Last year’s Three Dark Crowns introduced the island kingdom of Fennbirn and the ruthless tradition that rules it. To each generation a set of royal triplets is born, each daughter possessing one of three kinds of magic: control of the elements, the ability to withstand any poison, and power over flora and fauna. On the princesses’ 16th birthday, their battle for the crown begins, and it won’t end until just one remains to take the crown. The balance of power has shifted in sequel One Dark Throne, which pits princesses Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella against each other as they try to survive their dark and deadly Ascension Year.

The Language of Thorns, by Leigh Bardugo (September 26)
Bardugo’s latest missive from the Grishaverse, first explored in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology, is a collection of dark supernatural tales, the kind Grisha might’ve told each other by a campfire. They promise magic and mermaids, haunted places and deadly bargains. We can’t wait to take another trip through one of YA fantasy’s richest worlds with Bardugo as our guide.

An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson (September 26)
One of the best fantasies you’ll read this year, Rogerson’s debut follows a young portrait artist specializing in painting the dangerous Fair Folk deep into the fairy-tale woods. Isobel lives in the enchanted town of Whimsy, at the edge of fairyland. There, she practices her Craft alongside other artisans, all of whom trade their creations for fey enchantments, ranging from the foolish (bright eyes at the cost of an early death) to the practical (in Isobel’s case, inexhaustible eggs and firewood). When she makes the mistake of painting human sorrow into the eyes of Rook, the Autumn Prince, he drags her away to stand trial for the crime. But on the way to his court they encounter even more deadly threats, from faerie beasts to the threat of immortality promised by the Green Well, where the fey’s most favored craftspeople drink. The most dangerous threat of all? The risk of falling in love, which will put both Rook and Isobel’s lives at risk. This book is gorgeously written and bracingly smart, and feels like a newly discovered classic.

Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (October 3)
In 2011’s beloved Akata Witch, novice magic worker Sunny, a 12-year-old American-born Nigerian whose albinism makes her even more of an outsider, learns she’s a magical Leopard person in a world of lambs. Okorafor leads her into the magical otherworld of Leopard Knocks, where acts of magic call down showers of currency and figures both wholly original and inspired by African folklore run wild. In long-awaited follow-up Akata Warrior, Sunny continues her training, walks among worlds, and moves closer to a foretold battle of apocalyptic proportions.

Wild Beauty, by Anna-Marie McLemore (October 3)
Into an enchanted garden tended by cursed women comes a boy who remembers nothing but his own first name, kicking off McLemore’s third work of mesmeric magical realism. Estrella is one among generations of Nomeolvides women who work the earth at La Pradera, and who are doomed to lose their lovers if they hold them too dear. But with the arrival of Fel, a boy without a past, she’s at risk of being drawn into love’s dangerous orbit.

The Last Namsara, by Kristen Ciccarelli (October 3)
Asha, princess of Firgaard, is fascinated by the stories of the Namsara and the Iskari, opposing forces of light and dark that animate the mythology of her people. And when she ascends to the role of her land’s fiercest dragonslayer, she takes on the lonely mantle of the destructive Iskari. But no matter the freedom she commands on the field of battle, she’s still tied to an unwanted betrothal to a cruel man. It’s a bond she has no hope of breaking, until she’s given one unexpected chance: her freedom for the life of her world’s most powerful dragon.

A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (October 10)
Hardinge’s latest deliciously strange historical fantasy (following 2016’s The Lie Tree) centers on Kate, a Civil War–era blueblood set to inherit a haunting legacy: as part of the Fellmotte family, she’s expected to turn her body over to possession by her ghostly ancestors. She chooses flight over submission, taking off across the war-scarred country with her family on her heels, accruing friends and foes along the way.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie C. Dao (October 10)
Who can resist a villainous origin story, especially one laced with elements of East Asian myth? Xifeng is the abused niece of the monstrous Guma, a village woman with enough magic at her disposal to read a glittering future for herself and Xifeng: the girl is meant to become empress, and to rise into her power by any means necessary. But claiming her destiny would mean spurning the boy she loves, and giving into the quicksand pull of dark magic that runs in her blood. When Xifeng attempts to claim a different fate for herself, she may instead be moving closer to the dark destiny she both fears and can’t ignore.

All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater (October 10)
Stiefvater’s new standalone fantasy has elements of a YA One Hundred Years of Solitude, a magical realistic spin on a desert-bound family’s long, strange history. The Sorias live on the dusty estate of Bicho Raro, where they take in a steady parade of pilgrims looking to expunge their inner darkness. But often the cure is harder to bear than the disease, and the compound is already overrun with hidden seekers when a cascade of events threatens to throw off the ranch’s delicate balance, including the resident saint’s impossible love for a pilgrim and the arrival of a young man who comes in search of work and finds destiny instead.

Gray Wolf Island, by Tracy Neithercott (October 10)
Ruby’s twin sister dies under haunting circumstances, leaving Ruby with endless guilt and a vow she doesn’t want to keep: she has sworn to seek out Gray Wolf Island, a myth-haunted place where, it’s rumored, a treasure is hidden. Alongside four other locals, each of them touched by some kind of magic or darkness, Ruby sets off in search of the treasure. With nothing but a poem found in a book as her guide, she’ll face both the island’s dangerous enchantments and the contents of her own dark past.

The Glass Spare, by Lauren DeStefano (October 24)
In this opening volume of a new duology, Wilhelmina is the fierce, hidden fourth child of an empire-obsessed king, who has groomed her as a spy more than a daughter. She longs to see the wider world, until the terrifying discovery of her own abilities changes her life: she’s able to turn people into gemstones with a touch. Determined to escape her familial servitude and seek out a cure, she leaves home…only to find herself in danger at the hands of a prince with a curse of his own, who wants to use her for his own devices.

Beasts Made of Night, by Tochi Onyebuchi (October 31)
In this Nigerian-influenced debut fantasy Taj is a gifted young aki, or sin-eater, who serves a crucial function in the walled city of Kos: he can destroy the sin-beasts drawn forth by dark mages from the minds of those weighted with guilt. The wages of his work are imprinted on both his skin, in the shape of tattoos of each beast, and his mind, as he takes on the guilt himself. But this dangerous livelihood is Taj’s best chance at supporting his family, and he’s sure he can handle it—until a job eating the sin-beast of a royal draws him to the heart of a deadly conspiracy.

The Speaker, by Traci Chee (November 7)
With last year’s The Reader, Chee penned a gorgeous metaphysical fairy tale in the guise of a straight-up fantasy novel, set in a massive web of an invented world in which literacy is nearly nonexistent. Sefia was raised in isolation by parents always bracing for the arrival of a danger from their past. Once it struck, leaving Sefia an orphan, she became a fugitive in possession of a mysterious rectangular object: a Book, possibly the only one in existence. In book one she searched for her abducted aunt, picked up mysterious travel companion Archer, and taught herself to read, finding the words in the Book overlapped with her reality in mind-bending ways. In sequel The Speaker, Sefia and Archer are once again on the run, trying to evade oncoming war and Archer’s own dark fate.

Renegades, by Marissa Meyer (November 7)
Superpowered humans the Renegades once overthrew a cadre of villains in order to remake their disintegrating world anew, ushering in a new age of civil order. The Renegades are considered heroes by just about everyone. But Nova, working for one of the villains overthrown by the rise of the Renegades and harboring her own reasons for wanting to see them deposed, is determined to bring them down. Until she meets Renegade Adrian, who just might change her mind…or break her heart.

The November Girl, by Lydia Kang (November 7)
This magical realistic love story centers on a dangerous girl and the boy who seeks refuge on her island, in the middle of Lake Superior with winter fast approaching. Anda is a half-supernatural, half-human figure who keeps her island alive through the deaths of those who perish in wintry storms. Hector is fleeing a terrible home life, looking for somewhere to hide out until he comes of legal age. He brings out the human in her, but can she protect him from encroaching dangers?

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