This week’s theme is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019. I suspect we’re supposed to stick to ten, but… I make no promises. (Do you have any idea how many incredible books are coming out in the rest of this year??? DO YOU???)
…Okay, look, I started drafting this post, and opening up Goodreads tabs so I would have the links ready when I started listing books, and I almost broke my browser. So I’m going to take a very deep breath, resist the urge to drown you in every book I’m excited about, and instead focus on books that you might not have heard of – ones that I have not seen mentioned often enough on other blogs, that are not getting the amount of hype I feel they deserve.
Which is the only reason books like Spin the Dawn, Gideon the Ninth, The Babysitters Coven, The Burning White, and Call Down the Hawk aren’t being featured here today. I’m dying to get to read all of them, but I think it’s safe to assume that they’re getting enough coverage elsewhere. If you’re following this blog you probably have similar tastes to me and know about Gideon & co already.
So let’s get into the books you might not have heard about!The Black Veins (Dead Magic #1) by Ashia Monet
Representation: Queer Protagonists, PoC
Published on: July 17th 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the "no-love-interest", found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
This one far too few people have heard of, which is just not on. Queer witches of colour, magical anarchists, found-families, road-trips, and bonus coffee art???
AND no romance?!Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea, Yana Bogatch
Published on: 23rd July 2019
Published by First Second Genres: Fantasy
Bucky Orson is a bit gloomy, but who isn’t at fifteen?
His best friend left him to hang out with way cooler friends, his dad is the town sheriff, and wait for it―he lives in Blackwell, a town where all the girls are witches. But when his little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary power, Bucky has to get out of his own head and go on a strange journey to investigate the small town that gives him so much grief. And in the process he uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.
Beautiful, spooky, and utterly enchanting, Grimoire Noir is a charming graphic novel about coming to terms with your own flaws and working past them to protect those dear to you.
I have been waiting for this book for four years, ever since it was first revealed/teased on Tor.com back in 2016. (It was originally slated for a 2018 release, but things happen. I don’t know why the publication was pushed back, only that it was.) I generally avoid comics and graphic novels simply because I’m too fast a reader – when one issue of a comic costs as much as a full novel, and I’m done with a comic within 10 minutes, it’s just not cost-efficient for me. But occasionally I make exceptions – Monstress and The Wicked and the Divine among the most noteworthy – and both the beautiful art of Grimoire Noir and the premise hooked me instantly. I adore fictional matriarchies and actually can’t think of one off the top of my head that was based on one gender having magic and one not. I really hope there’s a place for genderqueer folks in the worldbuilding – are transwomen witches too? What about agender or genderfluid people? – but Tor has been publishing a lot of queer or queer-inclusive content in the last few years, so I’m crossing my fingers that the creators remembered that the world has a whole bunch more than just cis people in it.Shatter the Sky (Shatter the Sky, #1) by Rebecca Kim Wells
Published on: 30th July 2019
A determined young woman sets out to rescue her kidnapped girlfriend by stealing a dragon from the corrupt emperor in this stunning fantasy debut that’s perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.
If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…
With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?
To quote Anna of Reading Peaches; you had me at girlfriends and then you added dragons!The Princess Who Flew With Dragons by Stephanie Burgis
Published on: 8th August 2019
Sofia isn’t the crown princess – that’s her perfect big sister, Katrin. Sofia is the other one. The disappointing one. So when disaster strikes, Sofia is certain she’s not a good enough princess to fix things. But she has to try. And maybe when you’re a failed princess with only a young dragon and a pack of rowdy goblins on your side, it’s time to try something wildly different...
From the author of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes a magical third adventure about acceptance, family and friendship, perfect for fans of Cressida Cowell and Cornelia Funke.
This is the third instalment in Burgis’ Chocolate Heart series, Middle-Grade books about dragons, fierce and brilliant girls, and chocolate. The first book, Dragon With a Chocolate Heart, remains one of my favourite books of all time, and I’m actually in the process of reading book two now. It is not disappointing me, and I can’t wait to get to book three!The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman
Representation: Queer Protagonists, PoC
Published on: 13th August 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.
Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?
File Under: Fantasy [ Love Squared | Stuck in the Margins | Emotional Injection | Fight the Power ]
This Israeli novel is FINALLY being translated into English – I’ve been pining after it ever since I first heard about it! – and, I mean. Queer sorcerers in Israel, with persecution of magic as a stand-in for LGBTQ+ persecution? (Or possibly alongside – I’ve not heard that the characters don’t have to deal with homophobia etc too, only that the plot’s focus is on the magic.) There’s no way you could spin that so I didn’t have to have it.Bright Steel by Miles Cameron
Published by Orbit Pages: 640
A young mage-in-training is unwittingly pulled into a violent political upheaval, in the third book of this epic fantasy trilogy by Miles Cameron, author of the Traitor Son Cycle.
Masters & MagesCold IronDark ForgeBright Steel
For more from Miles Cameron, check out:The Traitor Son CycleThe Red KnightThe Fell SwordThe Dread WyrmThe Plague of SwordsThe Fall of Dragons
I hesitated to include Bright Steel – the final book in Miles Cameron’s Masters & Mages trilogy – because Cameron seems to be reasonably well-known in certain corners of the fantasy world. Every now and then I come across a list of recommendations that include his Traitor Son cycle. But I honestly don’t know personally anyone who’s read any of his books, and I don’t see them mentioned on major book blogs very often. Cameron writes ‘hard’ fantasy – not as hard as Kameron Hurley, but Cameron is a Medieval reenactor, and it shows in his fighting scenes, which are some of the best I’ve ever read. The M&M trilogy is about Aranthur, the son of a widely-despised and mistrusted people (I couldn’t help but draw a lot of comparisons to how Rroma in our world are treated, and I think Cameron intended that) who nonetheless is studying at the greatest university in the world, learning magic, among other things. Possibly by accident and possibly not, he’s drawn into a secret struggle between those who want to take magic away from the common people, and those who oppose them – a struggle that won’t remain secret for much longer. The sides aren’t anywhere near as simple as good vs evil, and the characters pretty much jump off the page, grab you by the throat, and drag you into the story with them. Cameron’s books are always huge tomes, but I’m never able to put them down once they’re in my hands.
Bright Steel releases in the UK in August, but those in the USA will have to wait until December. I’m not sure it’s a bad idea to wait – Cameron’s UK publishers have been pretty awful at proofreading typos and things (although the M&M trilogy has been much better than the Traitor Son cycle was) and the US editions tend to be much cleaner – but you bet I’ll be curled up on August 22nd around the UK version anyway!The Seared Lands (The Dragon’s Legacy, #3) by Deborah A. Wolf
Published on: 10th September 2019
This book, while following the previous stories, focuses a great deal on the Illindrist, Aasah, and his apprentice Yaela, strange people with stranger powers who come from a land of salt and fire.
In the days of the Sundering, Quarabala--the Seared Lands--were cursed by Akari Sun Dragon and scorched beyond all recognition. Now a cruel place inhabited by nightmare beasts, the Seared Lands are home to a desperate few; and as fears of a second Sundering grow, these people look to greener lands. If no place is found for them, they will seize new lands from the soft hands of Those Who Dwell Above.
They have nowhere else to go, they have nothing to lose...
And this time, they are not alone.
I have to admit, sometimes I want to scream about the fact that no one seems to know this series??? I cried when book one ended; not because it was unbearably tragic, but because it was over, and I didn’t want it to be over. This series is wildly original, beautiful, raw, twisty, and very much ‘hard’ fantasy – Wolf expects you to hit the ground running as you enter the world she’s created, and I’ll admit it’s not easy; while her worldbuilding is phenomenal, it can be a bit dizzying until you adjust. But once you do – gods. It’s so worth it.
I have no idea if Seared Lands is supposed to be the last book or not. I haven’t been able to find out whether this series is going to be a trilogy, or if it will keep going. Wolf promised us ‘at least three’ books, but will it be only three? I don’t know how all the plotlines could be wrapped up in just one more book, but to be fair, if anyone could do it, Wolf could. So we’ll see – but I for one will be praying for more!The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes
Published on: 10th September 2019
A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends.
Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they're too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas - until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there's nothing left but imaginary corpses.
File Unders: Fantasy [ Fuzzy Fiends - Death to Imagination - Hardboiled but Sweet - Not Barney ]
Look, I don’t have to actually say anything, right? You read the same premise I did? Then you should understand why I literally shrieked when I got approved for an ARC of it!
Expect a great deal more shrieking when I get to review it.The Hanged Man (The Tarot Sequence, #2) by K.D. Edwards
Published on: 17th September 2019
The last member of a murdered House tries to protect his ward from forced marriage to a monster while uncovering clues to his own past.
The Tarot Sequence imagines a modern-day Atlantis off the coast of Massachusetts, governed by powerful Courts based on the traditional Tarot deck.
Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Throne, is backed into a fight of high court magic and political appetites in a desperate bid to protect his ward, Max, from a forced marital alliance with the Hanged Man.
Rune's resistance will take him to the island's dankest corners, including a red light district made of moored ghost ships; a surreal skyscraper farm; and the floor of the ruling Convocation, where a gathering of Arcana will change Rune's life forever.
The Last Sun, book one of the Tarot sequence, instantly became one of my joint-favourite books of all time when I read it last year. In the months since it’s gone from being ‘just’ a favourite to actually being incredibly important to me; not just because it’s an incredible book, but because its existence and execution are impossibly meaningful. The more I think about it, the more implications and revelations hit me; about the story and the characters, but about life and the world, too. Kushiel’s Dart will always be my formative queer novel, but The Last Sun feels like a book from the future – one where queerness has been completely normalised, and only dusty old historians might vaguely recognise the word ‘homophobia’. It’s an amazing story with characters I adore and worldbuilding that makes me swoon, but it’s more than that: it’s the promise that we’ll get to the future, bound up in paper and a gorgeous cover.
So you can bet your butt that Hanged Man is one of my most-anticipated releases of the decade.Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner
Published on: 8th October 2019
A “brilliant and terrifically fun”* debut novel brings an enchanting new voice to fantasy.
Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village school. But despite her incredible abilities, she’s denied a place at the nation’s premier arcane academy. Undaunted, she sails to the bustling city-state of Hexos, hoping to find a place at a university where they don’t think there’s anything untoward about providing a woman with a magical education. But as soon as Onna arrives, she’s drawn into the mysterious murder of four trolls.
Tsira is a troll who never quite fit into her clan, despite being the leader’s daughter. She decides to strike out on her own and look for work in a human city, but on her way she stumbles upon the body of a half-dead human soldier in the snow. As she slowly nurses him back to health, an unlikely bond forms between them, one that is tested when an unknown mage makes an attempt on Tsira’s life. Soon, unbeknownst to each other, Onna and Tsira both begin devoting their considerable talents to finding out who is targeting trolls, before their homeland is torn apart…
*Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians
Aka the Trolls-Not-Gender-Roles book!
I don’t remember where I discovered this one, but it must be somewhere secret indeed, because no one else seems to know about it either! But it’s being compared to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, and we have been promised the tackling of sexuality and gender politics alongside found-families, troll gender roles, Sherlock Holmes-esque shenanigans, a lot of laughs and a lot of magic. Sign me the hell up!The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons #2) by Jenn Lyons
Published on: 29th October 2019
*I have elected to replace the blurb for this book with the official AO3-style tags the author assigned to book one of the series*
fantasy homophobia & misogyny, criticisms of fantasy homophobia & misogyny, fantasy nobody-gives-a-shit-about-whether-you’re-queer, my fantasy country is NOT set in Europe, unreliable narration, everyone has a dark secret, FOOTNOTES, secret cults, DRAGONS, demons, kraken, shapechangers, dinosaurs, my race is different (various), past lives, magic rocks, quantum magic, Bards Are Good Actually 2k19, chatty gods, sweet prophecies, ultimate disaster bisexual, telepathy, legendary objects, oh no my romantic rival is also quite hot, stabby boys, powerful women have no time for your shit, Xanatos Chess Master (yes, also a Magnificent Bastard), Training Montage, Tested on Humans, & EVUL undead necromancer.
And lastly, It’s the End of the World As We Know It & I Don’t Feel That Fine Actually
What you read above is not, in fact, the blurb for Name of All Things; that is because I’m still reading book one, and I don’t want to spoil myself OR anyone else who hasn’t read or finished it yet. What I present to you instead are the AO3 (archiveofourown.org)-style tags the author assigned to book one. (Trigger warnings for the book are also listed at the link). I have seen literally no one talking about this series and I have no idea why?! I mean, yes, it’s big epic fantasy, and it’s definitely not light reading. But it is amazing! I’m not sure I’ve come up against epic fantasy – the big kind, where each book is 500+ pages – that caught me this completely since Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Universe. I was starting to think that kind of epic fantasy was dead.
IT’S NOT. IT’S REALLY REALLY NOT. IT’S JUST BEING REBORN THROUGH JENN LYONS’ PEN.
Look, if you want Lord of the Rings remade for the modern age? You’ve got it. Here it is. THIS SERIES RIGHT HERE.
Okay I’m going to stop there, but only because it’s technically no longer Tuesday where I am!
BUT YOU STILL NEED TO ADD ALL OF THESE TO YOUR PRE-ORDER LISTS, PLEASE AND THANK YOU.