I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in March 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.
Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age–her tyrannical father has made that much clear.
And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.” – G. P. Putnam’s Sons
So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.
Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem…” – Sourcebooks Fire
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski (The Midnight Lie #1)
“Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.
Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest.
But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away, who whispers rumors that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.” – Farrar, Straus and Giroux
When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
“Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.
That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.
When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.” – Simon Pulse
Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco (A Hundred Names for Magic #1)
“Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind–she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.” – Sourcebooks Fire
The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett
“All Ekata wants is to stay alive–and the chance to prove herself as a scholar. Once Ekata’s brother is finally named heir to the dukedom of Kylma Above, there will be nothing to keep her at home with her murderous family. Not her books or her experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness, and no one can find a cure.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s captivating warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without–and within–her ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s magic and power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield them both.” – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell
“With stories by: Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Patrice Caldwell, Dhonielle Clayton, J. Marcelle Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, L. L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.
Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.” – Viking Books for Young Readers
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee (Feverwake #2 )
“Six months after Noam lvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget–that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.
Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control–and that Noam is plotting against him–Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s prot g until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.
Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.” – Skyscape
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
“Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.
Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.”
Now that Ella knows who Juliette is and what she was created for, things have only become more complicated. As she struggles to understand the past that haunts her and looks to a future more uncertain than ever, the lines between right and wrong—between Ella and Juliette—blur. And with old enemies looming, her destiny may not be her own to control.
The day of reckoning for the Reestablishment is coming. But she may not get to choose what side she fights on.” – HarperCollins
Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa (Shadow of the Fox #3)
“To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.
Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil–the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.
But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.” – Inkyard Press
All YA Spec Fic
The Alcazar by Amy Ewing (The Cerulean Duology #2)
“With the help of friends, family, and Cerulean magic, Leela and Sera could soon return to their normal lives. But when that time comes, will Leela be able to serve her City as blindly as she once did? And will Sera be able to leave everything and everyone she’s grown to love on the planet behind?” – HarperTeen
Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie (Bone Grace #1)
“Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Now his vengeance must wait, as Ailesse’s ritual has begun and their fates are entwined—in life and in death.” – Katherine Tegen Books
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (The Last Hours #1 )
“Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.” – Margaret K. McElderry
Greythorne by Crystal Smith (The Bloodleaf Trilogy #2)
“With enemies closing in on all sides, Aurelia is caught in a mad fight to protect the only people she has left—her family. In her darkest moments, when all seems grim, will Aurelia find a spark of hope from a love she thought long lost?” – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Havenfall by Sara Holland (Havenfall #1)
“A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost.” – Bloomsbury YA
If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley
“Balancing school, dating, and survival under the shadow of sixty thousand feathered wings starts to feel almost comfortable, but Leighton knows that this fragile equilibrium can only last so long before it shatters.” – Katherine Tegen Books
The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
“Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond.” – G. P. Putnam’s Sons
The Warrior’s Curse by Jennifer A. Nielsen (The Traitor’s Game #3)
“Simon and Kestra are hurtling down paths ever farther from each other as the battle for control of Antora rages.” – Scholastic Press
Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
“And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.” – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
We Are Blood and Thunder by Kesia Lupo (We Are Blood and Thunder #1)
“A dark revelation lies at the heart of their connection–the truth behind who cast the storm cloud’s spell. Only the girls can expose this secret and dispel the storm for good. . . but unveiling the truth could cost them everything.” – Bloomsbury YA
The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis (The Raven and the Dove #1)
“Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey.” – Kaitlyn Davis Mosca
Defy the Sun by Jessika Fleck (The Offering #2)
“The island will burn unless Veda and Nico can come together to rip everything apart. But Nico and Dorian will never trust each other, and Veda’s heart might be the biggest casualty.” – Swoon Reads
The Survivor by Bridget Tyler (The Pioneer #2)
“With that terrifying message, Jo and her family learned the truth: They are trapped forever on Tau Ceti e.” – HarperTeen
Girls with Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young (Girls with Sharp Sticks #2)
“And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.” – Simon Pulse
Super Adjacent by Crystal Cestari
“Now that she’s landed a coveted internship with the Chicago branch of Warrior Nation, Claire is ready to prove she belongs, super or not. But complicating plans is the newest WarNat hero, Girl Power (aka Joy), who happens to be egotistical and self-important . . . and pretty adorable.” – Disney-Hyperion
Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell (System Divine #2)
“But when Laterre is threatened by the emergence of a deadly new weapon, these three renegades must risk everything, traveling to the far reaches of the System Divine and into the white hot center of a planet ready to ignite.” – Simon Pulse
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
“But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.” – Algonquin Young Readers
Beast Heart by Kyle Richardson (Steambound Trilogy #1)
“They are strangers in a city where carriages rattle, airships rumble, and their own dark pasts continue to haunt them. Soon their paths will collide, and the girl who slays monsters will come face to face with the boy who is becoming a beast.” – Meerkat Press