Well, this is an exciting week, and I’m not just saying that because yours truly happens to have a book out! One of YA’s best historical series ends today, just as one of YA’s biggest debuts releases, and some of the most important queer reads to hit literature in a while land on shelves today, too. Not to mention a book that shares a crucial part of Zimbabwean history, an insider look at a fictional cult, followups from some excellent debuts, and a collaboration that highlights some of the issues with reproductive rights in this country in the funniest way possible.
His Hideous Heart: Thirteen of Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Unsettling Stories Reimagined, ed. by Dahlia Adler
Am I biased? Yes. Do I think this collection of Poe retellings done by rock stars of sci-fi, dark fantasy, and thrillers both psychological and action is incredible and would make a perfect addition to any library, classroom, or personal collection? Also yes! Whether you’re most interested in a heartbreaking, queer take on “Annabel Lee,” a (literally) torturous modern version of “The Pit and The Pendulum,” watching a team of hacking twins throw all their firepower into a sci-fi “The Fall of the House of Usher,” seeing just what kind of magic Death herself brings to a party in a Bostonian “Masque of the Red Death,” or something else entirely, this lineup has got you covered for the perfect spooky read for fall.
Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi
The author of the massively critically acclaimed adult novel Freshwater brings their talents to YA with this brilliant, power-packed story of a Black trans girl named Jam, who’s selectively nonverbal and growing up in the town of Lucille, where children are raised to believe that monsters no longer exist. But then how to explain Pet, a colorful horned creature that comes right out of a painting in Jam’s house, lured by a drop of her blood? When Pet proclaims it has arrived to help get a rid of a human monster in Jam’s best friend Redemption’s home, the three set forth on a quest to get destroy whoever inspired Pet’s arrival. But who is the lurking monster, what have they done, and how can they get anyone else to help them if all of Lucille keeps insisting its monsters are gone? In a major note of relevance, I believe this is the first mainstream-published YA starring a trans girl of color, so let’s hope we start seeing more to follow.
Hardcover $16.99 | $18.99
Capturing the Devil, by Kerri Maniscalco
I’m so sad to be seeing this historical mystery series meet its end, but what better way to cap it off than by capturing the infamous White City Devil? Audrey Rose and Thomas may have left London behind, but plenty of blood fills Chicago, too, with the notorious serial killer on the loose at the World’s Fair. It isn’t uncovering his identity that stymies the detective pair, but how to catch him. They’ll have to contend with his torture chamber and his twisted, wily mind to bring him down, or else they’ll brutally die trying.
How to Be Remy Cameron, by Julian Winters
You already know how delightfully Winters delivers cuteness from his debut, Running With Lions. Now you can watch him up his game with his sophomore novel, a rom com that explores the labels people put on us and how it affects the way we understand who we are. Remy is popular, out as gay, one of five Black kids in school, and adopted into a wonderful family. But when an AP Lit assignment forces him to describe who he is, he draws a blank. He knows what labels others put on him, but how does he see himself? The unexpected return of a very cute classmate and an even more unexpected message from his past just may be the first steps on his journey to finding out.
The Tiger Queen, by Annie Sullivan
This fantasy adventure retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” centers on a princess named Kateri who lives in the desert kingdom of Achra and is mandated by law to fight in order to prove her right to rule. With so much riding on her victory, losing isn’t an option. But when she learns who her opponent will be, it seems winning won’t be an option either. She only has one choice left, deep in the desert, and it isn’t one she ever thought she’d make. But it may be the only one she can, even if she lives to regret it.
Hope is Our Only Wing, by Rutendo Tavengerwei
In a Zimbabwe torn apart by conflict, Shamiso is the new girl, trying to adjust to her new home now that her mother’s moved them from London after her father’s fatal car accident. It’s not quite working, but there is one girl who takes a chance on offering friendship at their boarding school: Tanyaradzwa, who happens to be dying of cancer. Shamiso knows that by befriending a dying girl, she’s opening herself up to heartbreak all over again, but her new friend gives her strength and courage, which is exactly what she needs if she’s going to embark on discovering the truth behind her journalist father’s death.
Hardcover $16.99 | $17.99
The Prom, by Saundra Mitchell, Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin, and Matthew Sklar
Based on the Tony-nominated musical, this romance stars seventeen-year-old Emma, a lesbian who wants nothing more than to bring her secret girlfriend to prom. But said secret girlfriend, Alyssa, is firmly in the closet, as she has to be to maintain her seriously A-list status in their homophobic Indiana town. When the news spreads that Emma wants to bring a girl, the PTA (led by its president, who happens to be Alyssa’s mom) starts a crusade to cancel prom in order to cut her off at the pass. But then a couple of Broadway stars intervene and set everything awry, creating a huge publicity mess that isn’t good for anyone, except maybe themselves. They’ll all have to learn to work together to bring happiness to the couple and to the town, to make it safe for Alyssa to come out if she so chooses, and to make it a prom to remember.
Frankly in Love, by David Yoon
Get ready for one of this year’s biggest debuts to bust out onto the scene and completely steal your heart. As you may have gathered from the title, it stars a guy named Frank Li, although that’s his American name; Sung-Min Li is his Korean name, which no one on the planet uses. But while his parents may not care if he speaks Korean or what name he uses, they will definitely care that he’s fallen for a white girl. Brit is everything to Frank…except someone he can bring home. The solution? Find a friend who’s in the same spot and get to plotting so you can both keep your relationships happy and your parents in the dark. It should be a great option for both Frank and Joy, but life and matters of the heart so rarely go as planned.
A Treason of Thorns, by Laura E. Weymouth
This historical fantasy set during the 19th century stars Violet, a girl who’s spent the last seven years in exile. Violet dreams of returning to Burleigh House, one of England’s great houses, whose magic kept the countryside happy until her father committed treason. When she finally gets the opportunity to return home, nothing is as she remembers, and Burleigh’s power is now a dangerous one borne of anguish. Can Violet save it? Or is it doomed to destruction, taking Violet with it?
Unpregnant, by Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan
Everything is going smoothly for Ivy-bound Veronica, until she aces the exact wrong test for her life. Now, desperate to get an abortion so she can keep her life on track, she’ll have to travel nearly a thousand miles to reach a place that will give her one. It’s far too long a trip to manage alone, especially considering she doesn’t have a car, but there’s only one person Veronica trusts to make the trek with her: Bailey, her school’s rebel without a cause, who just happens to be Veronica’s former best friend. Now they’re on one hell of a ride, one that forces Veronica to reassess the relationships in her life and who really matters.
Are You Listening?, by Tillie Walden
Award-winning graphic novelist Walden is back with a beautifully illustrated fabulist adventure about two girls on the run in West Texas, escaping a group of threatening men through a strangely shifting landscape. Though they’ve only just met, they have to put their faith in each other and share the stories that brought them here in order to find their peace and salvation.
The Liar’s Daughter, by Megan Cooley Peterson
I’m one of those readers with an inexplicable affinity for cult fiction, so of course I snatched this one right up. It stars Piper, who believes wholly and completely that her father is the chosen Prophet of their people. She believes in his doomsday preaching, she takes care of the family, and she never asks questions, even when his decisions break her heart. But when the government raids their compound, Piper is separated from everyone she knows and loves…and reunited with a woman they say is her real mother. But Piper knows who her real family is, and she’ll do anything to get back to them.
A Match Made in Mehendi, by Nandini Bajpai
For generations, the members of Simi Sangha’s family have been matchmakers, blessed with a gift for finding perfect pairings, but artist Simi isn’t looking to dip her toe into that life; she’s got other plans. But then she accidentally makes an excellent match, and realizes that the key to making a name for herself just might be using her gift…via a social media app she runs with her best friend, Noah. It’s a brilliant plan, until she makes a match no one sees coming, and her gift turns into a curse that turns her entire school upside-down.
Minor Prophets, by Jimmy Cajoleas
This creepy mystery stars Lee, a teen boy who’s always seen visions, and whose mother and sister are forever tasked with keeping him grounded in reality. Then Lee’s mother dies, leaving him and his sister, Murphy, alone with the stepfather they hate. Refusing to allow him to adopt them, the siblings flee to their grandmother’s ranch, despite never having been there before. They quickly realize there might be a reason they’ve never been there before, a reason that also explains Lee’s horrific visions. Does that sound like perfect spooky fall reading or what?