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Anyone else love disappearing into a fantasy read when the leaves start to change? Yep, us too.
Luckily, fall means books on books — it’s the time of year when publishers bless us with an abundant harvest of stories perfect for reading under the covers. From moody and creepy to downright magical, we’ve rounded up 12 new titles that will whisk you away this season.
These picks have stellar ratings on Goodreads and our stamp of bookish approval. So light your favorite fall candles, fluff that blanket (before your cat claims it), and crack open one of these worlds that are like recess for your brain.
Fable by Adrienne Young
We’re huge fans of this bestselling author’s previous books, especially Sky in the Deep. In her latest young adult novel, which has already garnered 4.5 stars since its September release, she welcomes readers into a world made dangerous by the sea and those who profit from it.
Seventeen-year-old Fable, daughter of a powerful trader in the Narrows, has spent her life on the ocean and now must find her place, and her family, while trying to survive a world built for men. It’s packed with adventure, the darkest corners of a treacherous sea, a bit of romance, and Adrienne Young’s masterfully crafted atmospheric settings and characters. We’re ready to dive in.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut has already received an impressive 4.5 stars via thousands of ratings on Goodreads. The main character, Yadriel, is a trans teen determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family.
When his family has problems accepting him, he tries to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin in order to prove himself and set his cousin’s ghost free. But instead, he accidentally summons the school’s resident bad boy and can’t get rid of him… but maybe he doesn’t want to?
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
When fantasy queen Sarah J. Maas blurbs a book, you take notice. This is a book of revolution, mystery, barred doors pried open in the storm of change, and a strong female lead who must learn the forbidden art of bone shard magic in order to reclaim her power. It’s a creepy form of magic within a suspenseful plotline that’s ideal for reading with Halloween around the corner.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
From the author of the popular Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell comes a new novel (with a page count not nearly as intimidating as her previous work) set in a “dreamlike alternative reality.”
Piranesi’s house contains infinite rooms, endless corridors, and thousands of statues (I’m getting House of Leaves vibes). Word is you’ll also love this one if you’re a fan of Madeline Miller’s Circe (heck yes) or Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
We give this one extra points for having a striking jacket featuring a glimmering copper foiled design (peek underneath it at the naked hardcover and you’ll also find a foil-embossed surprise).
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
This one falls into the sci-fi/space opera genre, and you might recognize the author from his fantasy novels. Remember Eragon, the first book in a series about dragons that took the world by storm in the early 2000s? Fun fact: Christopher Paolini was 19 when Eragon was published. After years of research and honing his craft, he’s back with his first adult novel.
This story of a young woman on a mission to an uncolonized planet has chapters broken into bite-size subsections, making it much easier to log a bit of reading time if you’re busy or in a reading slump — even if it’s just for a few minutes before your head hits the pillow.
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
In this new young adult fantasy stand-alone (great if you want to enjoy a book without getting sucked into a long series), we enter an alternate London in 1983.
It’s a sort of British urban fantasy with mythical bookshops, mystery, humor, and loads of action. One reviewer says, “This is my favorite kind of fantasy — a secret society operating behind an everyday city […] My only complaint is that I wanted a longer book.”
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
If this book were a recipe, we’d be inclined to say it has a dash of “Ghostbusters,” a pinch of “Stranger Things,” a smidgen of Hogwarts for older teens, but darker… and maybe a tiny drop of Mortal Instruments? But in truth, this story really is something entirely its own.
It takes place at a school that has infinite kinds of monsters hiding in the shadows and waiting to strike, certain walls that simply go out into “the void,” no teachers, and floors that rotate down as students get closer to their graduation battle with monsters on the bottom level. (Spoiler: Most kids don’t live long enough to take this gruesome final exam.)
The narrator is extremely cynical and sarcastic, and from page one you’re on a ride with her take-no-shit personality. There are also some really fascinating aspects to the magic system. We’re already looking forward to the second installment.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Imagine a world in which no one remembers who you are, but you get to live forever. These are the terms of a deal that Addie LaRue strikes in France in 1714.
Until one day, after 300 years, she walks into a bookshop and a young man remembers her name. Ohhh, the premise, the cover, the sweeping tale across centuries and continents. You’ve caught us in your web, V.E. Schwab.
This spellbinding story is destined to be a classic, and one we bet will be optioned for film (like many of her other bestsellers).
Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
Do you believe there’s a little bit of witch in all of us? Cue the midnight margaritas!
Alice Hoffman, spinner extraordinaire of magical words, wrote Practical Magic in 1995 (it was adapted for film in 1998) and gifted us a prequel called Rules of Magic in 2017 — it follows “the aunts” in the 1960s.
This October, she released Magic Lessons, a prequel that traces back even further, to where the matriarchal line of Owens first began — the 1600s. Its pages are scattered with sentence-jewels that are worth pausing and admiring.
If you haven’t read the other books yet, not to worry. Each of the three can stand on its own, but your experience will certainly be enriched by reading them all.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
While the jacket blurbs are enough to draw you in, this book will have you under its spell after the first few pages. This story radiates with well-drawn characters, wonderful witchy spells, and a tale of three fierce sisters as they fight for equality in 1893.
Their quest for the right to vote hits a thread that is disquietingly relevant to our current times. Once we cracked the cover, we didn’t want to stop.
The Last Druid by Terry Brooks
This book is kind of a big deal. It’s the conclusion to the recent Fall of Shannara subseries — but it’s also the last book in the *entire* Shannara series, which has been 29 books and 43 years in the making.
Whether you want to go back and begin with the first book in the original trilogy that started it all in 1977 (The Sword of Shannara) or you just want to read this most recent four-book series, The Last Druid is a legendary release for many fans. Dive in for a dose of classic epic fantasy.
Why stop at fall when you can also prep for winter? Keep an eye out for these awesome winter reads hitting shelves soon!
King of the Rising by Kacen Callender
This December, the second novel in the Islands of Blood and Storm series will be released — prepare by reading Queen of the Conquered while you’re waiting.
This series is set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world in which a revolution has swept through the islands. If you’re looking for light and fluffy, it might not be your thing, but it’s a powerful story of colonialism, conquest, and revenge — one that fans of R.F. Kuang and Tasha Suri will want to get their hands on.
One reviewer writes, “This series is NOT like your other fantasy series. This series is graphic, brutal, sweeping, pointed, emotional, and a reflection of racism […] It has been a LONG, LONG time since I have read a fantasy tale that has subverted my mind and left me speechless.”
Release date: December 1, 2020
Order through Bookshop.
The High Republic series (January and February 2021)
Yet another reason to look forward to 2021: There will be a whole lot more Star Wars coming your way!
The High Republic will be a subseries of young adult novels set during the “High Republic” sub-era of the Age of Republic. That means they’ll be set 200 years before the events of the Skywalker saga and 800 years after the fall of the “Old Republic.”
With seasoned Star Wars authors such as Charles Soule and Claudia Gray penning these new tales, you can be sure they’re worth clicking that preorder button.
Release date: January 5 and February 2, 2021
Order through Bookshop.
Naomi is the books editor and a copy editor at Greatist. She loves focusing on all things books, beauty, wellness, and mental health. She’s also a YA fantasy writer and bookstagrammer. You can find her (and her cat) @avioletlife.