I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in July 2021. 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.
July 6, 2021
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim (Six Crimson Cranes #1), Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.
All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr.
Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism–and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever.
What We Devour by Linsey Miller, Sourcebooks Fire
Lorena Adler has a secret–she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. But she has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. Lorena’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.
But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So, she makes a deal–a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.
The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.
July 13, 2021
All These Warriors by Amy Tintera (Monsters #2), HMH Books for Young Readers
When the world was crumbling, seventeen-year-old Clara fought back. She escaped her abusive home and joined Team Seven, a monster fighting squad of runaways and misfits formed to combat the scrabs terrorizing the planet. And after nearly dying in Paris, Clara and Team Seven discovered the sinister truth behind the scrab invasion. Scrabs aren’t just mindless monsters set on destruction. They’re being trained and weaponized by MDG, a private security firm hired by the government.
Now Clara and the rest of Team Seven have made it their mission to expose MDG. But no one said fighting for the truth would be easy. And as Clara and Team Seven find themselves at the center of a global conspiracy, they must face their biggest threat yet: their own demons.
Flash Fire by T.J. Klune (The Extraordinaries #2), Tor Teen
Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student–the handsome Allister–and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.
Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game–one Jake is not sure he can win.
Wings of Shadow by Nicki Pau Preto (Crown of Feathers #3), Margaret K. McElderry Books
Now that the secret is out, everyone at the Eyrie treats Veronyka differently, and with Tristan still a hostage of the scheming Lord Rolan–and Sev with him as a spy–Veronyka feels very much alone. Except for her beloved phoenix, Xephyra, of course, and her new friend, Kade, who has his own reasons for wanting to save Tristan.
Was it always going to come down to this? Sister against sister? Darkness against light?
Veronyka is determined to do whatever it takes to get Tristan back, even if that means revealing her identity to the world and inheriting a throne she’s not sure she wants. But when she discovers that Avalkyra has bonded with a strix–a legendary creature of darkness that feeds off the life force of others–Veronyka realizes she has more to deal with than an encroaching war with the empire. Val is willing to destroy everything to get her revenge on a world that rejected her, and if Veronyka wants to bring peace to the empire and Pyra alike, she must face down her sister once and for all.
The world began with Ashfire queens…perhaps they will also be its destruction.
July 20, 2021
The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi (Marghazar Trials #1), CamCat Books
As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar’s gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. His family has three months to prove their innocence, or they will all have war.
As Durkhanai races to solve who really orchestrated the attack, ambassadors from the neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each with their own intentions for negotiations, each with their own plans for advantage. When a mysterious illness spreads through the villages and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must dig deep to become more than just a beloved princess-she must become a queen.
To distract Durkhanai from it all is Asfandyar Afridi, the wry ambassador who tells her outright he is a spy, yet acts as though he is her friend-or maybe even something more.
July 27, 2021
The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters, HarperTeen
When Natasha’s sister disappears, Natasha desperately turns to Della, a local girl rumored to be a witch, in the hopes that magic will bring her sister home.
But Della has her own secrets to hide. She thinks the beast who’s responsible for the disappearances is her own mother–who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.
Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose. Both are each other’s only hope.
July 6, 2021
Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell (Simon Snow #3), Wednesday Books
…takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.
Cold Hearted by Serena Valentino (Villains #8), Disney-Hyperion
But stepmothers in the Many Kingdoms never tend to fare well…and Lady Tremaine may be destined for a not-so-happily ever after.
It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts, Jimmy Patterson
Alka Chelrazi is on a mission: 1. Infiltrate Blackwater Academy; 2. Win the Great Game; 3. Burn Wizard society to the ground.
The Queen Will Betray You by Sarah Henning (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #2), Tor Teen
After a thousand years of political stability, the realm of The Sand and Sky is up for grabs.
July 20, 2021
Cast in Secrets and Shadow by Andrea Robertson (Loresmith #2), Philomel Books
Only Ara can forge a way forward, take up her powers, and fight to change the world–no matter what it costs.
Curses by Lish McBride, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother’s debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself?
Foretold by Violet Lumani (The Scryers #1), Uproar Books
Cassandra sees death and devastation all around her. In vivid detail.
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan (These Hollow Vows #1), HMH Books for Young Readers
Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.
Untethered by KayLynn Flanders (Shielded #2), Delacorte Press
As Ren’s and Chiara’s paths cross, they find the depth of the mages’ hold on the Plateau is more powerful than anyone suspected, and that they must learn to trust themselves, and each other, before the mages retrieve their artifacts and become too powerful to ever defeat.
You and Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne, Scholastic Press
But while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.
July 27, 2021
Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin (Serpent & Dove #3), HarperTeen
Lou has spent her whole life running. Now, after a crushing blow from Morgane, the time has come to go home–and claim what is rightfully hers.
Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent, HarperTeen
Adele is one of a long line of guardians: women who secretly take on the form of a wolf, in order to protect their village.
Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, Delacorte Press
Early town settlers fought off monstrous creatures in the woods, and whispers that the creatures still exist keep the Downings and their neighbors from venturing too far.
Swallow by Sam Schill, Wattpad Books
Stumbling upon the Crossroads Magicks shop, Mildred decides she will no longer simply endure the bullying and skeptically buys a revenge curse. But when she begins to lose control and Roanoke students are found brutally murdered, Mildred realizes that she may have bought more than she bargained for.
(all links affiliate)