The first release date of true autumn contains some of the darkest and most action-packed titles of the year, and some of the most inspirational and uplifting. One way or another, these are books to read with the lights on, a pillow close by (for hugging purposes), and social media at hand (so you can absolutely freak out in non-spoilery fashion as you read). Go forth and be chilled to the bone!
The Bone Houses, by Emily Lloyd-Jones
One of my favorite YA SFF authors, whose work has already appeared once this month in His Hideous Heart, is back with a historical horror about a girl named Ryn who works with her fellow orphaned siblings as gravediggers in a remote village. It’s a pretty big job, and it isn’t so cut-and-dried, either, considering Colbren has a tendency to see their dead reappear. When they do, those risen corpses are called “bone houses,” and they seem to be extra drawn to Ellis, a new visitor to Colbren who works as an apprentice mapmaker. To uncover the fae curse behind the bone houses and stop it for good, Ryn and Ellis will have to team up to journey deep into the mountains, even if it means facing some uncomfortable truths.
A Dream So Dark, by L.L. McKinney
In A Blade So Black, McKinney asked what if a bi, Black Buffy the Vampire Slayer had fallen down the rabbit hole instead of Alice? Now she’s learning the answer something fierce in her quest to stop the Black Knight, heading deeper and deeper into Wonderland on her journey. What’s more is there’s a new enemy in play, a poet who uses nightmares to both influence the living and raise the dead. A poet who wants Alice’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.
The Infinite Noise, by Lauren Shippen
The host of the award-winning The Bright Sessions podcast is debuting in YA with a series by the same name, about three teenagers with supernatural abilities who all see the mysterious Dr. Bright, a therapist who specifically works with “atypicals.” One of those atypicals is Caleb, a champion running back dealing with extreme mood swings as the result of being an empath. Complicating things is Adam, one of Caleb’s classmates, who feels things hugely and somehow seems like a perfect fit for Caleb himself. What is there behind their connection, and why is Dr. Bright so in favor of it? Just one of the many mysteries running through this series that explores what would happen if the X-Men explored therapy instead of superheroism.
Bid My Soul Farewell, by Beth Revis
The closer to the dark and deathly duology that began with Give the Dark My Love has Nedra in a considerably more dangerous place, embracing her necromantic powers even thought Emperor Auguste is determined to eradicate them from Lunar Island. Caught in between is Grey, who loves Nedra but knows her dark magic and army of revenants, who are currently at the quarantine hospital, are a danger to his people. Meanwhile, Nedra hopes to find a way to free the dead and their souls, as long as it won’t mean losing her sister. But what happens when her mission takes her too far, and how long can Grey stand by her side?
Hardcover $17.99 | $19.99
Wayward Son, by Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow has returned in this sequel to Carry On, and he’s feeling at a loss for what to do next. After all, when you’ve already hit the climax of your life in your teen years, where does one go from here? And so he embarks on a great road trip with Penny and Baz to figure it out against the backdrop of the American West, during which they encounter all manner of scary creatures, wrong turns, and a glimpse into the rest of their lives.
Rules for Vanishing, by Kate Alice Marshall
How can you not love books where even the little description makes you shiver down to your bones? Told in the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project, this creeptastic tale follows a girl named Sara who must face down a ghost in order to find her missing sister. It’s been a year since Becca vanished while searching for the ghost of Lucy Gallows, in an ill-advised game the bravest locals dare to play on the lone day a year a certain road appears in the forest. It’s supposed to be nothing more than a story, but Sara knows it’s real, and knows she has no choice but to follow the path to search for Becca. With her friends joining her, Sara begins the journey, but it’s far more terrifying and treacherous than any of them expected, and even if Sara does find Becca, there’s no guarantee that she herself will ever be able to return.
Six Goodbyes We Never Said, by Candace Ganger
Anyone familiar with Ganger’s debut, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash, knows she’s no stranger to finding love through pain, and she starts the hurt early in her sophomore about a boy named Dew and a girl named Naima, whose lives and grief intersect in unexpected ways. They find themselves thrown together when Naima’s marine father is killed and she moves in with her grandmother in Indiana, only to find herself living next door to the Brickmans, the family Dew’s been adopted into following the sudden death of both of his parents. As they both struggle to navigate grief, their respective mental illnesses, and their unexpected new lives, they find themselves drawn together in a way that helps them both begin to heal.
SLAY, by Brittney Morris
As if Kiera weren’t enough of a standout, being one of Jefferson Academy’s only Black students (and an honors student at that), by night, she’s one of thousands of Black gamers in an online RPG called SLAY…and its developer. No one knows that last part, especially not her boyfriend, who hates video games. And when a teen is murdered due to a fight that took place in-game, SLAY gets even more unwanted attention than ever, of the “reverse racism” outcry variety. Kiera knows the incredible world she created for her fellow Black gamers is something worth saving, no matter what the haters and trolls think. But how far will she go to protect it, and to protect herself?
High School, by Tegan & Sara
Why yes, that is a memoir from queer pop icons Tegan & Sara about their high school years. It goes back to their years as teens in Calgary, Alberta, growing up during the grunge era of the nineties and emerging as the icons they are now through a journey of identity and sexuality exploration, dealing with their parents’ divorce, academic pressures, questions about the future, struggles with drugs and alcohol, celebrations of love and friendship, and so much more.
The (Other) F Word: a Celebration of the Fat & Fierce ed. by Angie Manfredi
This non-fiction collection of fat-positive essays and art promises to give space to a host of experiences that are so rarely represented in YA, and even less frequently represented well. It also has one of the more unique contributor pools I’ve ever seen for a YA anthology, combining established and new authors in both young adult and middle grade (like Dumplin’ author Julie Murphy, Undead Girl Gang author Lily Anderson, Belly Up author Hillary Monahan, George author Alex Gino, I Wish You All the Best author Mason Deaver, and up-and-comers Sarah Hollowell and Adrianne Russell) with well-known fat activists and celebrities like Fat Girl Flow blogger Corissa Enneking and comedian and essayist Samantha Irby.
The Tenth Girl, by Sara Faring
If you’re one of those readers who likes to stock up on spooky books for fall, you can’t not check out this Gothic psychological thriller based in Patagonian mythology and set at a finishing school set at the very tip of South America. Oh, and did I mention that Vaccaro School is cursed? That’s what they say, anyway—settle there and be cursed by the land. But it can’t be any worse than the life Mavi’s leaving behind in 1978 Buenos Aires, and the military regime that killed her mother. She’s happy to find somewhere to escape and teach young girls instead, no matter how many warnings come with it. But then one of her ten students disappears, and a sort of possessions seems to take over the school, and soon no warnings—or spirits—can be ignored, especially when one of them holds a secret that will change Mavi’s life forever.