New Releases: Murderous Djinn, a Cursed Girl, and Magic Among the Redwoods

This is nothing short of an iconic release day, featuring diverse debuts from authors sure to become household names, fantasy novels from those who already are, and the newest rom-com from an author who’s writing some of the best in YA. It’s also worth a mention that today marks the publication of the tenth anniversary edition of Ash, by Malinda Lo, one of the most formative books in the queer YA canon. With no shortage of great new books to fill your shelves, it’s time to get reading!

We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal
Zafira and Nasir are two of the most notorious residents of the kingdom of Arawiya, whether they want to be or not. As the Prince of Death, son of an autocratic sultan, Nasir is forced to be a brutal assassin, no matter how much compassion lies in his heart. As the Hunter, Zafira is forced to disguise herself as a man in order to brave a cursed forest to feed her people. If anyone knew she was in fact a girl, no one would take her seriously or accept all she has done to save them. Meanwhile, war is on the horizon, Arawiya is being claimed by shadow, and only Zafira and Nasir can find the lost artifact that will save everyone. But while Zafira is out to save her people, Nasir has another job: kill the Hunter.

Tomb of Ancients, by Madeleine Roux
The final book in the House of Furies series reunites us with Louisa and her friends, ostensibly safe in their posh new house in London. But religious zealots from the shepherd’s army are headed her direction…and then the warnings begin. War is coming, and it’s time for Louisa to pick a side, and to save herself and those she holds dear. But what will she have to sacrifice to do it? With a journey to a gateway between the worlds imminent, there’s no telling what the future holds.

We Contain Multitudes, by Sarah Henstra
Partnership for an English project turns into a meet-cute when Kurl and Jonathan are paired up for an assignment that turns them into pen pals. As the two exchange letters, a friendship and then a tentative romance begin to blossom from their correspondence. It should be a sweet, happy time, but between homophobia, trouble at home, bullying, and secrets, holding onto the magic they’ve found may be too big a challenge, even if they face it together.

The Candle and the Flame, by Nafiza Azad
Fatima is one of only three people to survive her Silk Road city of Noor’s slaughter by the tribe of Shayateen djinn, and she should be safe now that Noor is protected by the Ifrit and their commander, Zulfikar. Then one of the most powerful of the Iftir dies, and it changes Fatima in confusing and terrifying ways that pull her into the political landscape and a world of magic beyond imagination.

The Lost Coast, by Amy Rose Capetta
When Danny gets in a little over her head at home, her single mom moves the two of them to Tempest, California, right in the heart of the Lost Coast. It’s there that Danny meets fellow new kid Sebastian…and soon after finds him dead. But she also meets the Grays, a circle of witch best friends, all as queer as she is (identities within the group include nonbinary, queer, gray ace, and bisexual “with a pretty strong lean toward masculine folks”), and all missing Imogen, a fellow Gray more powerful than the rest of them who has disappeared. The Grays become convinced Danny possesses the magic they need to find Imogen, but as she begins to fall for Imogen’s ex, she has to wonder not only whether she’s capable of doing what they ask, but whether she really wants to. Dreamy atmosphere, sweet romance, ironclad friendship, and the very premise of queer teen witches make this yet another winner from the wildly prolific Capetta.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos, by Nina Moreno
So many things are hard for Rosa Santos, a girl who’s constantly straddling cultures, allegiances, and options. And it doesn’t help that she’s rumored to be cursed, supposedly dangerous to boys connected to the sea. As she looks toward the future and the choices that come with it, an unexpected connection with a boy whose entire life is the water threatens to throw everything into upheaval. Can Rosa handle one more wrench in her plans and overcome her curse?

Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard, by Alex Bertie
One of the few nonfiction titles in the YA lineup this year, British social media star Bertie’s memoir-slash-guide is a welcome addition to the trans YA canon. Having documented his transition for hundreds of thousand of YouTube subscribers, including discussion of mental health issues, surgery, and getting into the dating game, now he’s putting it in writing. Readers will learn all about his battle with the healthcare system, changing his name, starting on testosterone, getting top surgery, and how realizing he was transgender wasn’t a lone “lightbulb” moment. This is a guide that’s actually for trans teens, and one every library and high school should keep handy.

Stepsister, by Jennifer Donnelly
Cinderella takes one of its darkest turns yet in this feminist reimagining starring Isabelle, stepsister to the infamous girl who lost her slipper and won Prince Charming’s heart. Isabelle sacrificed everything to be the girl of the prince’s dreams, even cutting off her toes to make the shoe fit. At her mother’s behest, she has long pushed down her true self in order to be more like Cinderella, and now she has nothing to show for it but being cast as one of the cruel, jealous girls of legend. With a little help from Chance and in defiance of Fate, Isabelle must rewrite her story to find happiness.

There’s Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon
Menon’s rom-coms are absolute instabuys for me; her smart, funny characters full of charm and personality are just impossible to ignore, and the covers make sure I know exactly how good a time I’m in for. Her newest guaranteed-to-make-you-smile tale stars the titular Sweetie, a fat Indian American track athlete determined to show the world her size isn’t a negative, and Ashish, who’s so miserable in breakup recovery that he lets his parents set him up, dating contract and all. It’s a recipe for unexpected, uninvited, but oh so charming love, and not only did I completely adore it, but truly, Sweetie brought the fat rep of my heart.

I Wish You All the Best, by Mason Deaver
When Ben de Backer’s parents throw them out for coming out as nonbinary, they’re forced to move in with their older sister, Hannah, also a refugee from their parents’ draconian rules. After the disaster of that first coming out, Ben isn’t going to repeat their mistake; determined to lie low at their new school, they only come out to Hannah, her husband, and the therapist they’re now seeing for their anxiety. But then there’s Nathan, who notices Ben no matter how much they try to stay unnoticed. And there are feelings, feelings that seem to be edging beyond the bounds of friendship. And little by little, Ben has to acknowledge there’s a whole wide world out there beyond the cruelty their parents have shown them, and so much happiness awaiting them, if only they can embrace it. To the best of my knowledge, this sweet, affirming, romantic, and charming contemporary is the first with a nonbinary lead by a nonbinary author to be released by a major publisher, immediately establishing Deaver as an author to watch.

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