So today’s top 10 is actually going to be a top 12 because I just couldn’t decide which two to cut from this list! There are so many books I’m excited for in the second half of 2021!
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Shiori, 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.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning 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, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.
I really enjoyed the Spin the Dawn duology so I’m really looking forward to Elizabeth Lim’s next book!
Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
The spellbinding conclusion to the New York Times and IndieBound bestselling trilogy Serpent & Dove. This stunning fantasy take on French witches and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.
Evil always seeks a foothold. We must not give it one.
After a heartbreaking loss, Lou, Reid, Beau, and Coco are bent on vengeance more than ever before—and none more so than Lou.
But this is no longer the Lou they thought they knew. No longer the Lou that captured a chasseur’s heart. A darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out.
Honestly I didn’t expect to enjoy this series as much as I did! But I ended up loving both the first and second books, and I need to know what happens in the last book!
Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer
The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.
King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.
Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.
As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely was a surprise favourite to me, so I’m excited to see what Brigid Kemmerer writes next.
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.
I haven’t read any of Margaret Rogerson’s books yet but Sorcery of Thorns is on my shelf waiting to be read!
The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider
Channeling the modern humor of A Knight’s Tale , bestselling author Robyn Schneider creates a Camelot that becomes the ultimate teen rom-com hotspot in this ultra-fresh take on the Arthurian legend.
Welcome to the great kingdom of Camelot. Prince Arthur’s a depressed botanist who would rather marry a library than a princess, Lancelot’s been demoted to castle guard after a terrible misunderstanding, and nothing is going according to plan. Then Arthur accidentally pulls the sword from the stone (in his defense, he was drunk and mostly kidding), and now everyone’s convinced he’s some prophesied hero.
Emry Merlin is stuck in her small town. Her father, the legendary court wizard, disappeared years ago, and Emry’s been peddling theater tricks to make ends meet. When a royal messenger arrives summoning her far less talented twin brother to serve as Prince Arthur’s right-hand wizard, Emry is understandably upset. But after Emmett becomes indisposed thanks to a bad spell, Emry disguises herself as her brother and travels to the royal court to impersonate him until they can switch.
Studying magic at the castle is everything Emry hoped for. But life in King Uther’s court is full of scandals, lies, and backstabbing courtiers. What’s a casually bisexual teen wizard masquerading as her twin brother to do? Other than fall for the handsome prince, stir trouble with the foppish Lord Gawain, offend Princess Guinevere, and make herself indispensable to the future of Camelot?
When the truth comes out with disastrous consequences, Emry has to decide whether she’ll risk everything for the boy she loves, or give up her potential to become the greatest wizard Camelot has ever known.
If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I’m obsessed with Arthurian retellings and this one sounds really fun!
Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan
Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, inspired by Chinese mythology, with rich magic and an epic slow-burn romance.
In an empire on the brink of war . . .
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.
Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.
When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.
But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tan’s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.
Everything about this book sounds so good! Action, intrigue and romance? I’m in!
Thronebreakers by Rebecca Coffindaffer
Perfect for fans of Aurora Rising, The Hunger Games, and Three Dark Crowns, this electrifying duology closer is jam-packed with tension and thrills that will hook readers from its first page.
Alyssa Farshot never wanted to rule the empire. But to honor her uncle’s dying wish, she participated in the crownchase, a race across the empire’s 1,001 planets to find the royal seal and win the throne. Alyssa tried to help her friend, Coy, win the crownchase, but just as victory was within their grasp, Edgar Voles claimed the seal for himself.
Broken-hearted, Alyssa is hell-bent on revenge. But Edgar is well protected in the kingship. Alyssa will have to rally rivals, friends, and foes from across the empire to take him down and change the course of the galaxy.
Crownchasers was such a fun, fast-paced read so I’m excited for the sequel! I’m glad I don’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.
That cover is absolutely stunning and the description for this book has me hooked for sure.
City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn
As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.
As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.
Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.
Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.
I need more cyberpunk books in my life and this one sounds amazing! Also did I mention heists?
Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.
There are monsters in the world.
When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.
There are monsters in the woods.
As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…
There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.
Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.
I need to read more Gothic fantasy and this one sounds very intriguing indeed!
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
An unforgettable fantasy debut inspired by West African mythology, this is Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid, in which a mermaid takes on the gods themselves.
A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.
But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.
To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .
Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
I haven’t really read many books with mermaids but this one sounds really interesting so I definitely want to read this one!
The Righteous by Renée Ahdieh
The third book in the instant New York Times bestselling series that began with The Beautiful.
Pippa Montrose is tired of losing everything she loves. When her best friend Celine disappears under mysterious circumstances, Pippa resolves to find her, even if the journey takes her into the dangerous world of the fae, where she might find more than she bargained for in the charismatic Arjun Desai.
Renée is back with her rich, atmospheric fantasy world that will continue to enthrall readers, new romance and mystery, and lush, pacey writing.
I loved The Beautiful so much but I haven’t read The Damned yet! I think I will have to reread The Beautiful and then read The Damned in time for The Righteous to come out.
What are your most anticipated upcoming releases? There are so many coming out this year! Share in the comments!