I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in October 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.
October 6, 2020
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
“Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner–the only player without a dragon steed–is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire–a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form–the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.” – Page Street Kids
Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao (The Mirror #1)
“Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide. She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She’s heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow.
But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner-none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it’s too late.” – Disney Hyperion
Girl of Hawthorn and Glass by Adan Jerreat-Poole (Metamorphosis #1)
“Eli isn’t just a teenage girl — she’s a made-thing the witches created to hunt down ghosts in the human world. Trained to kill with her seven living blades, Eli is a flawless machine, a deadly assassin. But when an assignment goes wrong, Eli starts to question everything she was taught about both worlds, the Coven, and her tyrannical witch-mother.
Terrified that she’ll be unmade for her mistake, Eli seeks refuge with a group of human and witch renegades. To earn her place, she must prove herself by capturing the Heart of the Coven. With the help of two humans and a girl who smells like the sea, Eli is going to get answers — and earn her freedom.” – Dundurn Group
Into the Real by Z Brewer
“The first Brume is a waking nightmare, overrun by literal monsters and cutthroat survivors. For Quinn, who is openly genderqueer, the silver lining is their friendship with Lia–and that there might still be hope for salvation.
The second Brume is a prison with no bars. Forced to “sort out” their sexuality with other teens at Camp Redemption, Quinn must also figure out why presenting as female has never felt quite right.
The third Brume is a war zone. For Quinn, who presents as male, leading the Resistance against an authoritarian government is difficult, since even the Resistance might not accept them if they knew Quinn’s truth.
As Quinn starts to realize that they might be one person alternating among these three worlds and identities, they wonder: Which world is the real one? Or do they all contain some deeper truth?” – Quill Tree Books
Spell Starter by Elsie Chapman (Caster #2)
“Yes, Aza Wu now has magic back. But like all things in her life, it has come at a great cost. After the tournament, Aza is able to pay off her parents’ debt to Saint Willow. Unfortunately, the cost of the gathering spell she used to strip Finch of his magic has put her permanently in the employ of the gang leader. Aza has been doing little errands using real magic — collecting debts, putting the squeeze on new businesses in the district. But that had never been the plan. Saint Willow is nothing if not ambitious and having Aza as a fighter is much more lucrative than as a fixer. Especially if she can control the outcome. Aza is going to have to put it all on the line again to get out of this situation!” – Scholastic Press
We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu
“Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles away from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a strange accident, and in the months since, his friends and family have struggled to make sense of it. But Link’s close friend Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find. And what’s more, someone claiming to be Link has been contacting her, warning Noemi to stay out of the forest.
As these secrets become too heavy for Noemi to shoulder on her own, she turns to Jonas, her new housemate, and Amberlyn, Link’s younger sister. All three are trying to find their place–and together, they start to unravel the truth: about themselves, about the world, and about what happened to Link.” – Sourcebooks Fire
October 13, 2020
Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald (Beyond the Ruby Veil #1)
“When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people — no matter what it takes” – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron
“In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move.
On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation–a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie’s talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface…
And when the demons of Evvie’s past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.” – Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith
“World War II is raging, and five teens are looking to make a mark. Daniel and Rebeka seek revenge against the Nazis who slaughtered their family; Simone is determined to fight back against the oppressors who ruined her life and corrupted her girlfriend; Phillip aims to prove that he’s better than his worst mistakes; and Liam is searching for a way to control the portal to the shadow world he’s uncovered, and the monsters that live within it–before the Nazi regime can do the same. When the five meet, and begrudgingly team up, in the forests of Germany, none of them knows what their future might hold.
As they race against time, war, and enemies from both this world and another, Liam, Daniel, Rebeka, Phillip, and Simone know that all they can count on is their own determination and will to survive. With their world turned upside down, and the shadow realm looming ominously large–and threateningly close–the course of history and the very fate of humanity rest in their hands. Still, the most important question remains: Will they be able to save it?” – Philomel Books
Storm the Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter the Sky #2)
“Maren’s world was shattered when her girlfriend, Kaia, was abducted by the Aurati. After a daring rescue, they’ve finally been reunited, but Maren’s life is still in pieces: Kaia seems more like a stranger than the lover Maren knew back home; Naava, the mother of all dragons, has retreated into seclusion to recover from her wounds, leaving Maren at a loss on how to set the rest of the dragons free; and worst of all, her friend Sev has been captured by the emperor’s Talons.
As a prisoner of Zefed, Sev finds himself entangled in a treacherous game of court politics. With more people joining the rebellion, whispers of a rogue dragon mistress spreading, and escape seeming less likely with each passing day, Sev knows that it won’t be long before the emperor decides to make an example of him. If he’s to survive, he’ll have to strike first–or hope Maren reaches him in time.
With the final battle for Zefed looming, Maren must set aside her fears, draw upon all she’s learned about her dragon-touched abilities, and face her destiny once and for all. But when the fighting is over and the smoke clears, who will be left standing?” – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
October 20, 2020
Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
“Cerys is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya.
Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden. Cerys knows this all too well: when she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.
As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home. But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.” – Balzer + Bray
Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA by Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma
“Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.
Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.
What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.
This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.” – Algonquin Young Readers
God Storm by Coco Ma (Shadow Frost #2)
“Everything has a price.
In the kingdom of Axaria, a darkness has fallen. After defeating the evil mother who summoned an immortal demon to kill her, newly coronated Queen Asterin Faelenhart should have every reason to celebrate. Her kingdom is safe, forbidden magic eradicated, and her friends are alive. Except Asterin’s triumph has come at a devastating cost–forced to choose between a lifelong friend and true love, she’s lost both. But the shadows in Axaria have begun to stir once again, and no one is more starved for vengeance than Asterin …
Yet it soon becomes clear that the shadows plaguing her kingdom are just the beginning. Another realm coexists with the mortal world–the beautiful, nightmarish Immortal Realm ruled by the wicked God of Shadow, King Eoin. When their paths entwine, Asterin realizes that Eoin possesses exactly what–and who–she seeks most. And the fates of all those that she holds dear–Orion, her missing Guardian; Luna, the friend she could not save; Harry, the demon who saved them all; and Quinlan, her beloved broken prince–ultimately rest in the god’s hands.
But in a world of magic, not everyone is always as they seem. When shocking discoveries threaten everything and everyone that Asterin has sworn her life to protect, she won’t be the only person forced to make a choice … a choice that will change the mortal world forever.
And maybe even destroy it.” – Blackstone Publishing
October 6, 2020
Eventide by Sarah Goodman
“When their father descends into madness after the death of their mother, Verity Pruitt and her little sister Lilah find themselves on an orphan train to rural Arkansas.” – Tor Teen
Hush by Dylan Farrow
“Seventeen-year-old Shae has lived her entire life in awe of the Bards–and afraid of the Blot, a deadly disease spread by ink, which took the life of her younger brother five years ago. Ever since, Shae fears she’s cursed. But when tragedy strikes again, and her mother is found murdered with a golden dagger–a weapon used only by the Bards–Shae is forced to act..” – Wednesday Books
Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford (Crown of Coral and Pearl #2)
“As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed–and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…” – Inkyard
The Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (The Queen’s Thief #6)
“Neither accepted nor beloved, Eugenides is the uneasy linchpin of a truce on the Lesser Peninsula, where he has risen to be high king of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis. As the treacherous Baron Erondites schemes anew and a prophecy appears to foretell the death of the king, the ruthless Mede empire prepares to strike.” – Greenwillow Books
The Rule of All by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders (The Rule of One #3)
“With the help of a savvy programmer turned rebel warrior, Ava and Mira brave a journey more uncertain than they’ve ever attempted before. As they forge southward into foreign territory—against a ruthless cartel, Roth’s aggressive Texas Guard, and a formidable new foe—courage, alliances, and trust will be tested.” – Skyscape
October 8, 2020
Night by Alexandria Warwick (North #2)
“After months in captivity, Apaay managed to escape Yuki’s labyrinth with her life. But her freedom did not come without a steep cost. When the Face Stealer, the North’s most notorious demon, calls in her blood oath, Apaay must heed his demand. Debts, after all, must be repaid.” – Wolf Publishing
October 13, 2020
Dread the Harvest Moon by Sarah Glenn Marsh
“Her sister. Her town. Her dreams. If she can’t own who she is and make some new rules, Liss will lose it all. ” – Ivy Press
A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe
“But there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse–instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.” – Wednesday Books
Lightbringer by Claire Legrand (Empirium #3)
“In the future, Eliana arrives in the Empire’s capital as a broken shell of herself. Betrayed and abandoned, she fights to keep her power at bay–and away from Corien, who will stop at nothing to travel back in time to Rielle, even if that means destroying her daughter. But when the mysterious Prophet reveals themselves at last, everything changes, giving Rielle and Eliana a second chance for salvation–or the destruction their world has been dreading.” – Sourcebooks Fire
The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice by Lisa DeSelm
“Impressed by the work of the puppetmaster and his apprentice, Tavia’s ruler, The Margrave, has ordered dozens of life-size marionette soldiers to be sent to Wolfspire Hall. When the orders for more soldiers come in with increasingly urgent deadlines, the puppetmaster’s health suffers and Pirouette, his daughter and protégé, is left to build in his stead. But there is something far more twisted brewing at Wolfspire–the Margrave’s son wants Pirouette to create an assassin. And he wants her to give it life.” – Page Street Kids
Storm the Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter the Sky #2)
“Impressed by the work of the puppetmaster and his apprentice, Tavia’s ruler, The Margrave, has ordered dozens of life-size marionette soldiers to be sent to Wolfspire Hall. When the orders for more soldiers come in with increasingly urgent deadlines, the puppetmaster’s health suffers and Pirouette, his daughter and protégé, is left to build in his stead. But there is something far more twisted brewing at Wolfspire–the Margrave’s son wants Pirouette to create an assassin. And he wants her to give it life.” – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Winter, White and Wicked by Shannon Dittemore
“Sylvi likes the road, where no one asks who her parents were or what she thinks of the rebels in the north. But when her best friend, Lenore, runs off with the rebels, Sylvi must make a haul too late in the season for a smuggler she wouldn’t normally work with, the infamous Mars Dresden. Alongside his team–Hyla, a giant warrior woman and Kyn, a boy with skin like stone–Sylvi will do whatever it takes to save her friend.” – Amulet Books
October 20, 2020
The Brightest Night by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Origin #3)
“He is the darkest star. She is the burning shadow. And together, they will bring about the brightest night.” – Tor Teen
Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
“Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife…and took Sophie’s heart.” – Scholastic Press
You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock
“Cat hasn’t been to Montgomery Falls, the town her family founded, since she was twelve years old. Since the summer she discovered she could do things that no normal twelve-year-old could do. Since she had her first kiss with Riley Fraser. Since she destroyed their friendship. Now, five years later, she’s back and Riley has disappeared.” – HarperTeen
October 27, 2020
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (Kingdom of the Wicked #1)
“Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden. Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is at is seems..” – jimmy patterson
Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell
“This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death–for all of them.” – Margaret K. McElderry Books
The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney
“Rose believes if the prophecy comes true then it will confirm her worst fear–the PTSD she was diagnosed with after Gaby’s death has changed her in ways she can’t face. So with help from new friends, Rose sets out to stop the flood, but her connection to it, and to this strange little town, runs deeper than she could’ve imagined.” – Razorbill
Warriors of Wing and Flame by Sara B. Larson (Sisters of Shadow and Light #2)
“The doorway between the magical Visempirum and the human world has been reopened. Paladin are once more living in the citadel where Zuhra and Inara grew up completely isolated by the magical hedge that trapped them there. Amidst the brewing conflict between the Paladin and humans looms the threat of Barloc, who has stolen Inara’s immense power and continues to elude the Paladin who are desperately searching for him.” – Tor Teen