Our Most Anticipated YA Fantasy Novels of 2018

 Anticipating new fantasy novels is one of my favorite activities, right behind reading them. The first half of 2018 offers up a dragon’s hoard’s worth of tantalizing new fantasy landscapes, set in epic otherworlds, reimagined Earths, and a few familiar places we can’t wait to revisit. Holly Black returns to Faerie; Tomi Ayedemi delves into West African–inspired worldbuilding; authors including Stephanie Garber, Sabaa Tahir, S. Jae-Jones, and Renée Ahdieh follow up on beloved bestsellers; and exciting debut novels abound in this intimidating stack of fantastical must-reads, all releasing between January and June. For more fantasies to add to your stack, check out our new and forthcoming 2018 previews, including sequels, anthologies, and more!

See all 2018 previews here.

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (January 2)
Holly Black’s return to the dangerous world of the fey is just as dark, deadly, and gritty-magical as you’re hoping it will be. In the book’s opening pages, Jude, her twin Taryn, and their odd half-sister, Vivi are made orphans by a vengeful faerie lord who descends on their family home in the human world. Years later, Jude is seventeen, living as the ward of her parents’ murderer, and occupying a reviled place in the faerie world: that of a mortal under her foster father’s unshakeable protection. She both despises the fey and longs to be accepted by them, and sees becoming a warrior as her only path forward. But her father’s disapproval, machinations in the faerie court, and the violent attentions of an obsessed faerie prince change her path, as she falls in with fellow malcontents and finds herself moving closer to the heart of power than she imagined possible. A plot summary doesn’t do justice to the world, a mix of gorgeous magic and moral rot, or to Black’s seamless ability to move between fey and human realms and concerns, painting a treacherously beautiful portrait of a place whose beauty is matched only by its ugliness. And that ending! Be prepared for serious withdrawal.

Everless, by Sara Holland (January 2)
Holland’s debut imagines a world where time can be extracted and taken, used as a currency and another way for the rich to exploit the poor. The aristocracy bleeds the years from those below them in the form of brutal taxation, courting immortality—and the most powerful among them is the wealthy Gerling family. Jules was once a servant at the Gerling estate, Everless, before her exile following a long-ago accident. Now, despite the dangers inherent if she’s recognized and against her father’s wishes, she returns in an effort to earn him more time. Soon she finds herself wrapped up in intrigues with roots more ancient roots and stakes more personal than she ever imagined.

The True Queen, by Sarah Fine (January 2)
This trilogy ender closes out the story Fine began with The Impostor Queen and The Cursed Queen. Ansa, leading her band of Kriegere warriors, knows she’s destined to be the true queen of Kupari. Meanwhile, Elli plays the role of queen within the castle walls, despite knowing she has none of the magic required to hold it. The kingdom is threatened by forces within and without, and only by working together might Elli and Ansa find a way to preserve it.

Between the Blade and the Heart, by Amanda Hocking (January 2)
Malin is a mortal with superpowers allowing her to serve as one of Odin’s Valkyries, tasked with killing escaped immortals and taking them back to the underworld. But when she’s attacked in her home by a strange boy with a serious grudge, she’s sucked into a conspiracy that makes her look at her world, her immortal slaying, and everything she knows in a new light.

Beneath the Haunting Sea, by Joanna Meyer (January 9)
Talia is an empress-to-be in exile, whose mother died just after their banishment, sacrificing herself to the sea she believes is hunting them in order to save Talia. Orphaned and adrift, she finds herself in the care of a baron whose son, Wen, she’s expected to marry. Soon Talia and Wen are searching for answers about the deaths of both her mother and his, which leads to a dark revelation: a death goddess is keeping the dead captive beneath the sea, and it’s up to Talia to rescue them.

Markswoman, by Rati Mehrotra (January 23)
If “magical knife-wielding female assassins” doesn’t pique your interest, I’m not sure what will. Mehrotra’s debut duology starter centers on Markswoman Kyra, who turns her back on a painful past to join the elite sisterhood protecting her home country of Asiana—but who can’t let go of her hunger to avenge her lost family. After a dangerous shift in the order’s leadership, Kyra finds herself a fugitive, pairing up with a Marksman in her efforts to prove there’s deadly corruption at the top of the sisterhood she left behind.

Reign of the Fallen, by Sarah Glenn Marsh (January 23)
In Karthia, the ruling class are saved from permanent death by necromancers like Odessa, a  master among her kind who retrieves deceased nobles from the dark Deadlands. But there’s a catch: the flesh of the risen dead must remain eternally covered, or they risk transformation into zombielike Shades. When Shade attacks increase, Odessa suspects the worst: another necromancer is purposefully exploiting the dead’s susceptibility to create a dangerous army. Marsh’s sophomore dark fantasy is tipped as centering on a rich LGBTQ romance as well.

The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert (January 30)
Alice has never met her grandmother Althea, the cult author of an out of print collection of dark fairy tales, but the woman and her book cast a long shadow. Alice’s itinerant life with her mother, Ella, is marked by the sinister bad luck that chases them from place to place—and when Ella is taken by a shadowy figure of impossible origins, she leaves her daughter with a desperate warning: stay away from Althea’s isolated estate, the Hazel Wood. To retrieve her mother, Alice pairs with a classmate and fairy-tale superfan to travel to the Hazel Wood and beyond, into the ruthless magical world where her grandmother’s stories began. (Full disclosure: I’m the author of this book.)

Reign the Earth, by A.C. Gaughen (January 30)
To end the war between their kingdoms, desert girl Shalia enters into a political marriage with the magic-despising ruler of the Bone Lands. But she hasn’t even been coronated when she realizes she herself is one of the hated Elementae, capable of manipulating the elements—in her case, earth. Hiding her secret from her husband, facing insurrection from her brother, and fearing for the future of the magic wielders she’s now a part of, Shalia must decide how to proceed in a world of impossible choices.

By a Charm and a Curse, by Jamie Questell (February 6)
The Carnival Fantastic is both a dream and a nightmare, a traveling circus whose members are immune to aging or injury…but at a dark cost. Small-town girl Emmaline is drawn to its dark enchantments, and to the icy-cold boy who transfers his own curse to her through a kiss. Now she’s part of the Carnival, in the role of Girl in the Box, until she kisses the role away to the next hapless soul. Instead she falls for another circus traveler longing for escape, which can only come at a price that threatens to be too high to pay.

Shadowsong, by S. Jae-Jones (February 6)
In fantasy debut Wintersong, Jae-Jones crafted a Bavarian-set period fantasy with roots set in dark myth, Labyrinth, and the poetry of Christina Rossetti. Liesl, daughter of a struggling innkeeper and a gifted but overlooked composer, becomes the thrall of the legendary Goblin King after offering to take her abducted sister’s place as his bride. She enters and ultimately escapes an enchanted underground kingdom animated by art and obsession. In sequel Shadowsong, she’s trying pick up the pieces of both her and her withdrawn brother’s musical careers, but soon finds herself returning to the realm below, in pursuit of answers and in an effort to save those she cares about most.

The Queen’s Rising, by Rebecca Ross (February 6)
In Valenia, passions come in five kinds: art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge. Brienna lands on knowledge as her passion, but faces humiliation and defeat when she ends up without the patron she needs to progress. And when she finally does get an offer, it comes from an unlikely quarter: a disgraced lord. And accepting his shady patronage comes with a price that may prove too high: involvement in a plot to depose the king, a net that stretches further than Brienna could guess.

The Wren Hunt, by Mary Watson (February 8)
This debut set against the backdrop of an altered contemporary world follows Wren, a member of the formerly powerful Augurs, a magical people being hunted to extinction by the Judges. In a bid to save her family and her kind, Wren infiltrates the Judges’ ranks, embedding as an intern to the influential Cassa Harkness. At the center of Wren’s mission is Cassa’s hunt for a spell that could turn the tide of the war between the two factions, depending on whose hands it falls into first.

The Traitor Prince, by C.J. Redwine (February 13)
In this companion book to the Ravenspire series, Redwine takes inspiration from Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper,” as well as classic fairy tale “The False Prince.” Crown prince Javan returns to his kingdom of Akram after a ten-year absence, only to find an impostor has taken his place. Jailed and friendless, Javan has one chance at freeing himself and reaching the ear of the king: fight in a brutal yearly tournament, and win. But he’ll have to survive prison first.

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton (February 20)
Clayton’s solo debut takes place in a glamorous dystopia: the city of Orleans, where the Belles control beauty, and therefore control everything. Supernaturally gifted and trained from childhood, they use their abilities to alter the appearance of the Orleans elites, in a world where those without access to a Belle’s power quickly go colorless. Camellia longs to be the favored Belle, serving the queen and royal family, but her path to the top is rocky, and life inside the palace walls is far from the dream she hoped it would be. Soon she finds herself facing a sadistic royal, dark discoveries about what it means to be a Belle, and the impossible longings of her heart.

Heart of Ash, by Kim Liggett (February 20)
In 2015’s Blood and Salt, Ash heads to her mother’s cultish hometown, lost in the middle of a cornfield, after the woman goes missing. There she learns the twisted secrets behind her mom’s escape and the truth of her own dark destiny, including immortal possession and the kind of love she might never recover from. In follow-up Heart of Ash, she must help her beloved overcome the ancient spirit that possesses him, even if it means risking everything.

The Tombs, by Deborah Schaumberg (February 20)
Avery Kohl’s mother was locked away for seeing too much—for seeing things that aren’t there—so when Avery starts showing signs of the same madness, she does her best to hide it. But after her burgeoning abilities lead to an explosion at the factory where she works, she has no choice but to go on the run. Soon she faces a choice: learn to harness what she can do, or risk being imprisoned in the dark, secret-filled asylum that holds her mother.

Ink, Iron, and Glass, by Gwendolyn Clare (February 20)
Science meets magic in Clare’s debut, centering on the practice of scriptology, which allows for the creation of new worlds through the use of pen and paper. Elsa, daughter of a celebrated scriptologist, is from one of these invented worlds, but must travel into the real one when her mother is taken. There, in a steampunk-tinged alt Italy, she falls in with a scientists’ secret society and uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that goes far deeper than her mother’s disappearance.

Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman (February 27)
In a return to the world of Serephina and Shadow Scale, Hartman introduces willful new heroine Tess, Seraphina’s headstrong younger half-sister. Following a disgrace that threatens her entire future, she flees her family’s plans to exile her to a nunnery, impulsively taking to the road disguised as a boy. Early in her aimless travels she reunites with a dear childhood friend: a kind of dragon called a quigutl, who becomes her companion and protector, and gives her journey a purpose. But the secrets the carries and past she’s hiding from may find a way of catching up with her.

Daughter of the Siren Queen, by Tricia Levenseller (February 27)
Levenseller’s debut, Daughter of the Pirate King, introduced tough-as-nails pirate king’s daughter Alosa, who allows herself to be taken by a rival gang of pirates in order to case their ship for a treasure map. As she attempts to locate her quarry without giving up the game, she reckons with a growing attraction to irritatingly appealing first mate Riden. In sequel Siren Queen, Alosa has her map in hand and has made prisoners of her former captors—Riden included. But they’re not the only ones out for treasure, and their foe is a deadly one.

The Traitor’s Game, by Jennifer A. Nielsen (February 27)
Kestra is the daughter-in-exile of the Antoran ruler’s most valued confidante, but even after three years away, her father isn’t above retrieving her for his own devices. On her way back home, she’s taken hostage by a rebel band who see her as a pawn in their battle to destroy the king. But Kestra is sick of being used. Released into her former life with a mission in hand—retrieve the magical blade that is the only means of killing the evil Lord Endrick—and two embedded rebels by her side, who may yet win her over to their cause.

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Ayedemi (March 6)
Zélie Abedola lives in a world where magic is punished and suppressed, but it wasn’t always this way. When she was small, Orïsha hummed with magic, including that of her mother, a Reaper with the ability to command souls. The ascendance of a ruthless king pushed magic underground and left Zélie orphaned. But now, by the side of a runaway princess in revolt against a brutal crown prince, she may have a chance at restoring magic—if she can ignore the wishes of her own renegade heart. This West African–inspired epic fantasy is tipped as being one of the biggest debuts of the year.

The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw (March 6)
The seaside town of Sparrow lies under a centuries-old curse, following the drowning deaths of a trio of accused witches. Now, every summer brings in Swan Season, when the witch sisters possess the body of three girls and exact their revenge yet again on the local boys. At the start of the latest dangerous season, Penny, a Sparrow girl grieving a loss of her own, meets Bo Carter. He’s a mysterious new arrival who’s dangerously ignorant of the town’s lore, and saving him may cost Penny more than she can afford to lose.

To Kill a Kingdom, by Alexandra Christo (March 6)
A bloodthirsty siren royal who collects human hearts and a siren-hunting prince make an unlikely pair in this atmospheric debut. Lira has collected the hearts of seventeen princes and is revered for her ruthlessness, until she commits a crime so great her mother banishes her and, far worse, turns her into a human. When Prince Elian rescues her from drowning, it’s the beginning of a dangerous deal that could turn deadly on either side.

The Queens of Innis Lear, by Tessa Gratton (March 27)
In this fantasy riff on King Lear, the three daughters of a faltering king vie for his crown. Their father’s willful reliance on prophecies has destroyed their once-powerful magical kingdom, and whomever he names as heir—warlike Gaela, manipulative Regan, or goodhearted Cordelia stand-in Elia—will have to fix it. As the king awaits the prophecy night that will allow him to select Innis Lear’s next ruler, the women ready themselves for a brutal interfamily battle.

Lost Crow Conspiracy, by Rosalyn Eves (March 27)
In series starter Blood Rose Rebellion, Anna believed herself to be a “Barren,” nonmagical daughter of a powerful magical family, until inadvertently breaking her sister’s spellwork leads to Anna’s exile from the family home. Once outside the bubble of the magical elite, she starts seeing how the real world works, and realizes the power she displayed is its own kind of magic. In this sequel, the cost of Anna’s magic-breaking abilities are laid bare: the powerful Luminates have lost their magic, while commoners are able to access it, and the creatures once held in check by the spell known as the Binding are free to roam. But the peace Anna hoped for hasn’t come, and she must turn to an unexpected ally to avert war.

Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland (April 3)
Jane is the daughter of a rich white mother and a slave father, but it’s her father’s blood that determines her future—that and the new world order that was imposed two days after her birth, when the dead rose on the Gettsyburg battlefields. A now-teenaged Jane is studying to become an Attendant, fluent in both combat and the ways of the genteel southerners she’s meant to protect against the undead. But she’s not sure that path is the future she wants—and when the disappearance of entire families points at a threat even bigger that zombies, it’s unclear whether Jane will have any kind of future at all.

The Diminished, by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson (April 10)
In a world where nearly everyone is born with a twin, those who move through life alone are either royalty or outcasts. Those born twinless are considered anointed, including Bo, destined to rule the Alskad Empire. Then there are those, like Vi, who lose the twin they’re born with, and are therefore “Diminished,” doomed to die of grief. As the two come of age, speeding toward radically different destinies, they’re also heading toward an unlikely collision that will change their lives.

Beyond a Darkened Shore, by Jessica Leake (April 10)
Ciara is a princess of an ancient northern land who protects her people by way of her ability to control the bodies and minds of their enemies. But she’s being chased by a dark omen that portends an evil even her powers can’t vanquish: a crow bearing dangerous tidings. When the crow unites her with an enemy leader who shares her visions of a coming darkness, the two must unite in the hopes of saving their world.

Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian (April 24)
The murder of her Fire Queen mother and the loss of her ancestral lands made Theodosia into a powerless prisoner of the cruel Kaiser, known mockingly as the Ash Princess. She suppresses herself in the interest of surviving, until the Kaiser pushes her too far. Armed only with her own intelligence and rage, she sets out, at last, to reclaim her power and salvage her kingdom.

Ace of Shades, by Amanda Foody (April 24)
Enne Salta follows her missing mother to the sinful city of New Reynes, hoping to find her and get out with her reputation intact. But her only clue to her mother’s whereabouts—a name, Levi Glaisyer—ends up attached to a street-level con. She needs his expertise and he needs her money, so the two join forces on a hunt through the city’s seedy, glittering underbelly, where Enne will learn the rules of a game she never wanted to play.

The Smoke Thieves, by Sally Green (May 1)
Five disparate characters—a princess, a soldier, a hunter, a servant, a thief—come together in the Half Bad author’s new series starter, set in an epic fantasy world marked by the presence and underground trading of an illegal supernatural substance. Each has their own secrets and motivations in a kingdom where war looms and magic abides.

Dark of the West, by Joanna Hathaway (May 8)
A sheltered princess and a general’s son make for unlikely allies—and more—in this star-crossed fantasy love story. When Athan’s mother is killed, her military husband suspects the Queen of Atania is behind it, and sends his son to embed in the palace in pursuit of proof and vengeance. Instead he finds himself falling for Aurelia, the princess he’s spying on. The two fall in love against a backdrop of impending war and the struggle to stay true to families whose motives aren’t as pure as their children would wish.

Onyx and Ivory, by Mindee Arnett (May 15)
Stripped of her noble title following her father’s attempted assassination of the king, “Traitor Kate” now works as a courier, a job that’s more dangerous than it sounds. A brutal breed of landbound dragon known as drakes hunt her world by night, but Kate is protected by a hidden magical ability that allows her to influence animals. When she comes across the sole survivor of a drake massacre—the king’s son, her beloved turned enemy—it marks the start of an unexpected collaboration to investigate a frightening new threat.

Furyborn, by Claire LeGrand (May 22)
Rielle and Eliana are separated by centuries, but soon their fates will connect and combust. Rielle has dangerous powers that leave her subject to suspicion and force her to prove, through seven magical trials, that she’s the legendary Sun Queen, not the foretold queen of blood. One thousand years later, Eliana is a bounty hunter whose life and beliefs are upended after her mother’s disappearance changes her course for good. The two are bonded across time by elemental magic and by the part they play in an epic conflict.

A Reaper at the Gates, by Sabaa Tahir (May 22)
Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes is a lush, bloody fantasy set in the Martial Empire, narrated in turns by Laia, a Scholar girl whose people were brutally vanquished by the Martial Empire, and Elias, an aspirant in the series of deadly Trials that will determine the empire’s next leader. In sequel A Torch Against the Night, they were united and on the run, fighting their way toward Laia’s incarcerated brother, while Marcus’s former best friend, Helene, was bound to serve a dangerously sociopathic new emperor. In Reaper, Helene grows her own power in the shadow of the emperor’s spiraling madness, Laia faces a threat far greater than the Martial Empire, and Elias is trapped in purgatory, in thrall to a supernatural power that may destroy his humanity.

Legendary, by Stephanie Garber (May 29)
At the end of Garber’s lush fantasy debut, Caraval (one of our favorite books of 2017), the headstrong younger sister of that book’s heroine takes center stage. In a handful of dizzying pages, the perspective flips, the book’s world expands, and a host of tantalizing questions unfold. Follow-up Legendary promises to answer those questions, taking readers to new corners of the fantasy landscape that hosts mysterious traveling game Caraval.

Sweet Black Waves, by Kristina Pérez (June 5)
In this debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Branwen is the beloved lady-in-waiting to a princess whose kingdom is at bloody odds with the kingdom across the sea. Branwen’s steadfast service to her homeland is tested when she unwittingly saves an enemy’s life—and in doing so not only opens her mind to love, but unlocks her own healing magic. She’s inspired to dream of a detente between her people and those of the man she saved, even though the cost of pursuing peace might be both her best friend and her first love.

Smoke in the Sun, by Renée Ahdieh (June 5)
Flame in the Mist introduced Mariko, a gifted inventor living in Feudal Japan, whose samurai father pushes her into an advantageous match with the Emperor’s illegitimate son. On the way to meet her betrothed, Mariko’s party is set on by forces masquerading as the vicious Black Clan, who were contracted to kill her. Disguised as a boy, she embeds in the Black Clan’s ranks, where she learns they were framed for the attack. At the end of Flame in the Mist, her unlikely ally and love interest, the leader of the Black Clan, was captured, leaving Mariko to pretend she was his hostage in order to save both herself and, she hopes, him. Reunited with her honor-bound brother and living alongside a royal fiancé with secrets of his own, she must use her position to uncover the conspiracy that almost cost her life.

Bruja Born, by Zoraida Cordova (June 5)
In last year’s Labyrinth Lost, powerful bruja Alex’s attempt to shed her powers and live a nonmagical life goes horribly awry, resulting in the banishment of her entire family to bruja hell, where she travels to retrieve them. Companion novel Bruja Born centers on Alex’s gentle sister Lula, a gifted healer, who takes refuge from her complicated family in loving boyfriend Maks. And when Maks dies in a bus crash, she stretches her abilities to the breaking point to bring him back. But Death was not made to be defied, and saving allowed other, darker things to slip in alongside him…

The Bird and the Blade, by Megan Bannen (June 5)
A captive turns conspirator when she helps the royals who enslaved her escape their kingdom’s conquerors. Now on the run with Prince Khalaf and his father, Jinghua sees their flight as a cover for her return home—a plan that’s complicated by her growing feelings for the prince. But when Khalaf enters into a marriage contract with the Great Khan’s deadly daughter, who requires her suitors to complete a trio of fairy-tale tasks for her hand, Jinghua must push her feelings aside and fight to save his life, even if winning the battle means losing the man.

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