I come bearing gifts of great reading! Here’s a comprehensive guide to young adult speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) being published in Augutst 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.
August 3, 2021
A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee, Delacorte Press
Felicity Morrow is back at the Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill Mountains the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to finish high school. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students–girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.
Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s past. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; but it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.
It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she has already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her past, Felicity is the perfect resource.
And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.
Mercury Boys by Chandra Prasad, Soho Teen
After her life is upended by divorce and a cross-country move, 16-year-old Saskia Brown feels like an outsider at her new school–not only is she a transplant, but she’s also biracial in a population of mostly white students. One day while visiting her only friend at her part-time library job, Saskia encounters a vial of liquid mercury, then touches an old daguerreotype–the precursor of the modern-day photograph–and makes a startling discovery. She is somehow able to visit the man in the portrait: Robert Cornelius, a brilliant young inventor from the nineteenth century. The hitch: she can see him only in her dreams.
Saskia shares her revelation with some classmates, hoping to find connection and friendship among strangers. Under her guidance, the other girls steal portraits of young men from a local college’s daguerreotype collection and try the dangerous experiment for themselves. Soon, they each form a bond with their own “Mercury Boy,” from an injured Union soldier to a charming pickpocket in New York City.
At night, the girls visit the boys in their dreams. During the day, they hold clandestine meetings of their new secret society. At first, the Mercury Boys Club is a thrilling diversion from their troubled everyday lives, but it’s not long before jealousy, violence and secrets threaten everything the girls hold dear.
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould, Wednesday Books
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just come to town.
Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before. But the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more than ghosts plaguing this small town. Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his ghost following her ever since. Although everyone shuns the Ortiz-Woodleys, the mysterious Logan may be the only person who can help Ashley get some answers.
When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who–or what–is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.
The Great Destroyers by Caroline Tung Richmond, Scholastic Press
Jo Linden was born into a world where wars are won with giant mechanical soldiers and the nuclear bomb was never invented. Yet the Cold War still rages, and international rivalries between democracy and communism are now fought at the Pax Games, an Olympic-style competition that pits young pilots of mechas against each other. The USSR has beaten the US in nearly every game since its inception, and in the 1963 Games, the US is desperate for a win. Because it’s more than just the Games at stake. Premier Khrushchev will be attending, and after, he and President Kennedy are slated to sign a peace accord stabilizing the war in Vietnam-and their volatile relationship.
Raised in her father’s mecha repair shop, Jo knows more than anyone about piloting. She’s also the most unlikely pick for Team USA since she’s a virtually unknown fighter. So when she’s invited at the last minute to compete, she jumps at it. This could be the only chance to save her family’s home from debt collectors. All eyes are on Jo from the moment she arrives. But as fighters start dying in the arena, it’s suddenly clear that it’s more than the usual Pax Games, and Jo finds herself drawn into a deadly political plot. And if she can’t figure out the truth, it might mean the annihilation of everything.
In a global arms race between superpowers, playing out in violent games that only humanity could create, comes a chilling story of clashing titans, ruthless competition, freedom, and the girl caught in the middle of it all.
The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad, Margaret K. McElderry Books
We are the Wild Ones, and we will not be silenced.
We are girls who have tasted the worst this world can offer. Our story begins with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother, sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escaped, she ran headlong into Taraana–a boy with stars in his eyes, a boy as battered as she was. He tossed Paheli a box of stars before disappearing. With the stars, Paheli gained access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like us, and we use our magic to travel the world, helping to save other girls from our pain, our scars.
When Taraana reappears, he asks for our help. Dangerous magical forces are chasing him, and they will destroy him to get his powers. We will do everything to save him–if we can. For if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate that we refuse to accept. Ever again.
August 10, 2021
The Champion by Taran Matharu (Contender #3), Feiwel & Friends
Cade has managed to survive the duel with the Hydra Alpha–barely. But the Games are far from over.
By order of their cruel and mysterious overlord, Abaddon, Cade and his friends are sent off to war against the Greys, a humanoid race who have far surpassed humans in technology on their home planet. This attempt to move up the leaderboard, however, leads Cade to a game-changing revelation: The Pantheon–the millennia-old alien masterminds behind the Games–have a weakness.
With the right artifacts scavenged from the land of Acies and a heavy dose of courage and luck, Cade has exactly one chance to end their tyranny forever. But if he fails, the lives of his friends–and the survival of Earth itself–will be forfeit.
The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis (The Good Luck Girls #2), Tor Teen
The Good Luck Girls are free. Aster’s sister and friends have new lives across the border in Ferron, while Aster remains in Arketta, helping more girls escape. But news of a new welcome house opening fills Aster with a need to do more than just help individual girls. And an unexpected reunion gives her an idea of how to do it. From there, grows a wildly ambitious plan to free all dustbloods, who live as prisoners to Arketta’s landmasters and debt slavery.
When Clementine and the others return from Ferron, they become the heart of a vibrant group of fearless fighters, working to unite the various underclasses and convince them to join in the fight. Along the way, friendships will be forged, lives will be lost, and love will take root even in the harshest of circumstances, between the most unexpected of lovers.
But will Arketta’s dustbloods finally come into power and freedom, or will the resistance just open them up to a new sort of danger?
August 17, 2021
Me (Moth) by Amber McBride, Feiwel & Friends
Moth has lost her family in an accident. Though she lives with her aunt, she feels alone and uprooted.
Until she meets Sani, a boy who is also searching for his roots. If he knows more about where he comes from, maybe he’ll be able to understand his ongoing depression. And if Moth can help him feel grounded, then perhaps she too will discover the history she carries in her bones.
Moth and Sani take a road trip that has them chasing ghosts and searching for ancestors. The way each moves forward is surprising, powerful, and unforgettable.
Here is an exquisite and uplifting novel about identity, first love, and the ways that our memories and our roots steer us through the universe.
Cazadora by Romina Garber (Wolves of No World #2), Wednesday Books
Enter a world straight out of Argentine folklore…
Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana–a cursed realm in Argentina–searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven–a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist–the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.
Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.
But is she the right one to lead them? After all, hybrids aren’t just outlawed. They’re feared and reviled. What happens when the Coven learns of Manu’s dual heritage? Will they still protect her? Or will they betray her?
And after running this far, for this long–how much farther can Manu go before her feet get tired, and she stops to take a stand?
Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko (Raybearer #2), Amulet Books
For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.
Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.
With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.
August 24, 2021
Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis, Delacorte Press
Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She’s been able to support her unemployed mother–and Mom’s deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week–so far, but it isn’t enough. Money’s still tight, and to complicate things, Katrell has started to draw attention. Not from this world–from beyond. And it comes with a warning: STOP or there will be consequences.
Katrell is willing to call the ghosts on their bluff; she has no choice. What do ghosts know of having sleep for dinner? But when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.
Only magic isn’t free, and dark forces are coming to collect. Now Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.
Devil in the Device by Lora Beth Johnson (Goddess in the Machine #2), Razorbill
Newly on the throne, he’s still getting used to wearing Maret’s face, but he can’t deny that the influence it affords him has its perks. So when the magic of Eerensed starts to turn deadly, Zhade must master the Crown if he’s going to save his people, and Tsurina’s destructive plans for Eerensed aren’t going to make that easy. Worse, he’s starting to see her point.
Andra is underground.
Assumed dead by the people of Eerensed, she must stay hidden in the city’s depths if she’s going to live long enough to build the rocket that will finally save the colonists from this dying planet. But when Andra hears voices urging her to destroy everything, she starts to dig deeper into her subconcious. What she finds leads her to question whether she’s destined to be a savior after all.
Battling the dangerous forces buried within their minds, Andra and Zhade will have to find a way to work together before two power-hungry leaders and a deadly swarm of rogue technology destroy humanity for good.
Edie in Between by Laura Sibson, Viking Books for Young Readers
It’s been one year since Edie’s mother died. But her ghost has never left.
According to her GG, it’s tradition that the dead of the Mitchell family linger with the living. It’s just as much a part of a Mitchell’s life as brewing healing remedies or talking to plants. But Edie, whose pain over losing her mother is still fresh, has no interest in her family’s legacy as local witches.
When her mother’s teenage journal tumbles into her life, her family’s mystical inheritance becomes once and for all too hard to ignore. It takes Edie on a scavenger hunt to find objects that once belonged to her mother, each one imbued with a different memory. Every time she touches one of these talismans, it whisks her to another entry inside the journal–where she watches her teenage mom mourn, love, and hope just as Edie herself is now doing.
But as Edie discovers, there’s a dark secret behind her family’s practice that she’s unwittingly released. She’ll have to embrace–and master–the magic she’s always rejected…before it consumes her.
August 3, 2021
To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.
Bonded Fate by Beck Michaels (Guardians of the Maiden #2), Pluma Press
The journey to get the answers they each need will test them all. But what Dyna doesn’t know is that it comes with a price, and it may cost more than she bargained for.
Suns Will Rise by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell (System Divine #3), Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
An heir. A renegade. A convict. A cyborg. A défecteur. Five rebels. One revolution.
August 10, 2021
The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino, Page Street Kids
When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath the school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free.
Mark of the Wicked by Georgia Bowers, Swoon Reads
Magic always leaves its mark.
Rainbow in the Dark by Sean McGinty, Clarion Books
High school senior Rainbow is trapped with three other teens in a game-like world that may or may not be real.
Rise Up from the Embers by Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons (Set Fire to the Gods #2), Balzer + Bray
To defeat an immortal, Ash and Madoc must fight like gods–even if it means sacrificing their humanity.
August 17, 2021
Ashfall Legacy by Pittacus Lore, HarperCollins
Syd Chambers knows that there’s life on other planets because he’s descended from it. His father was from a distant world called Denza and has been missing–presumed dead–for years.
Dagger Hill by Devon Taylor, Swoon Reads
In the catastrophic aftermath of the incident, Gabe, Sonya and Charlie are plagued by eerie visions and messages from an unknown watcher.
The Endless Skies by Shannon Price, Tor Teen
Whatever Rowan decides, she has to do it fast, because time is running out, and peace can only last so long…
Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh (Phantom Heart #1), Viking Books for Young Readers
Seventeen-year-old Stephanie Armand doesn’t believe in ghosts or spirits.
August 24, 2021
Burden Falls by Kat Ellis, Dial Books
Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns.
Eyes of the Forest by April Henry, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s cryptic clues and save him before it’s too late?
Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston, Margaret K. McElderry Books
Victoria and her dad have shared a love of the undead since the first vampire revealed his existence on live TV.
August 31, 2021
Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain, Razorbill
La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.
Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker (Forestborn #1), Tor Teen
Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared.
The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet–her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.
The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins, Dutton Books for Young Readers
Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.
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