I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in January 2020. Up first is a short list of the books I highly recommend, followed by a long list of basically every book being published.
Get your library cards and indie bookstore pre-orders ready, y’all.
Shadowshaper Legacy by Daniel José Older (January 7)
Shadowshaper Cypher #3 – YA Fantasy, Scholastic Press
“Sierra and the shadowshapers have been split apart. Juan, Anthony, and Izzy are in jail, anxiously waiting to find out what will become of them. Back in Brooklyn, the other shadowshapers have been getting threatening messages from whisper wraiths, catching strangely shaped figures stalking them, and fending off random spirits. A war is brewing among the houses, and the very magic of the shadowshapers is at stake.
Sierra is determined to protect her own in the coming conflict. Even if that means keeping secrets from them. But a deal with Death by one of Sierra’s ancestors has far-reaching consequences in the battles of the present, and as old fates tangle with new powers, Sierra will have to harness the Deck of Worlds and confront her family’s past if she has any hope of saving the future and everyone she loves. Only doing so will mean following the magic to places the shadowshapers have never gone before…and may never return from.”
Storm of Life by Amy Rose Capetta (January 7)
The Brilliant Death #2 – YA Fantasy, Viking Books for Young Readers
“Teodora diSangro and Cielo, the strega she loves, are on a mission to save their country of Vinalia from its manipulative leader, who wants to exploit streghe and use them as his weapons. But will marshaling a small but powerful band of streghe be enough to wrest power from a cunning dictator? And what if Teo’s been setting her sights on the wrong enemy all along? This epic sequel to The Brilliant Death completes the Italian-inspired fantasy duology with shocking twists, steamy romance, and magic that will dazzle your imagination and make you wish Vinalia were a real place.”
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez (January 7)
YA Fantasy, Page Street Books
“Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.
When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.
She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa”
Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore (January 14)
YA Fantasy, Feiwel & Friends
“Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.
Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.”
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera (January 14)
Infinity Cycle #1 – YA Fantasy, HarperTeen
“Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.
Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.
Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.
Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.”
The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (January 21)
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo #2 – YA Fantasy, Amulet
“Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.
The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.”
Spellhacker by M.K. England (January 21)
YA Fantasy, HarperTeen
“In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
Diamond City by Francesca Flores (January 28)
Diamond City #1 – YA Fantasy, Wednesday Books
“Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.
Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.
DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.
To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.”
Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda, Valynne E. Maetani (January 28)
YA Fantasy, HarperTeen
“Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.
But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.
Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.
With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.”
All YA Spec Fic
Chosen by Kiersten White (January 7)
Slayer #2 – YA Fantasy, Simon Pulse
“The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.”
City of Stone and Silence by Django Wexler (January 7)
The Wells of Sorcery #2 – YA Fantasy, Tor Teen
“…featuring a fierce young woman skilled in the art of combat magic on an epic mission to steal a ghost ship…”
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (January 7)
Cursebreakers #2 – YA Fantasy, Bloomsbury YA
“Find the heir, win the crown.”
Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin (January 7)
YA Fantasy – Crown Books for Young Readers
“I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?”
The Night Country by Melissa Albert (January 7)
The Hazel Wood #2 – YA Fantasy, Flatiron Books
“…Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors.”
Oasis by Katya de Becerra (January 7)
YA Science Fiction, Imprint
“The oasis saved them. But who will save them from the oasis?”
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim (January 7)
Scavenge the Stars #1 – YA Fantasy, Disney-Hyperion
“But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception-and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down-the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one?”
When Stars Are Bright by Amber R. Duell (January 7)
YA Fantasy – Crescent Sea Publishing
“If Lina ever wants to return home, she must learn who to trust before she’s forced to remain a prisoner on stage forever.”
Beyond the Shadowed Earth by Joanna Ruth Meyer (January 14)
Beneath the Haunting Sea #2 – YA Fantasy, Page Street Books
“Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.”
The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs (January 14)
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #5 – YA Fantasy, Dutton Books for Young Readers
“Do you trust me?”
The King’s Questioner by Nikki Katz (January 14)
YA Fantasy, Swoon Reads
“With the help of Cirrus and a silver-haired thief named Luna, Kalen must find the princess and bring her home. Or risk death at the hands of his king.”
Ashlords by Scott Reintgen (January 21)
Untitled Duology #1 – YA Fantasy, Crown Books for Young Readers
“In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?”
Layoverland by Gabby Noone (January 21)
YA Fantasy, Razorbill
“Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell.”
Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers (January 21)
YA Fantasy, Swoon Reads
“Sparks fly as this headstrong princess and clever thief battle wits, but everything changes when they inadvertently uncover a rebel conspiracy that could destroy their planet forever.”
This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada (January 21)
This Mortal Coil #3 – YA Science Fiction, Simon Pulse
“Facing her smartest, most devastating enemy yet, Cat must race against the clock to protect her friends and save the lives of millions on the planet’s surface. No matter the outcome, humanity will never be the same.”
Wardens of Eternity by Courtney Allison Moulton (January 21)
YA Fantasy, Blink
“As Ziva navigates her newfound abilities and makes a connection with Anubis and other Egyptian gods, the Nazis are hunting for the ultimate weapon, and Ziva has caught their interest.”
Blood Countess by Lana Popović (January 28)
YA Horror, Amulet Books
“Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.”
The Frost Eater by Carol Beth Anderson (January 28)
YA Fantasy, Eliana Press
“A lonely princess. A flying teen. A kidnapped girl who only remembers what happens at night.”