Summer is here, and with it comes the release of what feels like hundreds of exciting new fantasy books. Maybe it’s the escapist vibes of the season or the universal need for doorstopper size novels to get lost in on the beach or by the pool, but when I tell you were are spoiled for choice this month, I am not kidding. (Pity me, your poor books editor, who struggled to get this list down to just ten titles, is what I’m saying.)
From multiple highly anticipated sequels from popular authors to stunning new series debuts and standalone titles, June 2022 is not messing around. Here are our picks for the new fantasy books you should make sure you’re reading this month.
Release Date: June 7 from Bloomsbury YA
Why You’ll Love It: A popular secondary character from Kemmerer’s original Cursebreakers trilogy returns for this second series set in the same magical world. But this sequel centers primarily not on the lives of kings and queens, but on ordinary people in the kingdom of Syhl Shallow, whose day-to-day lives are consumed with the simple needs of survival and whose families have paid the price for the nobles’ obsession with magic. Fast-paced and full of complex moral questions about who, if anyone, should wield magical power, it also features brief returns of several favorites from the original trilogy, including Rhen, Harper, and Grey.
Publisher’s Description: Magic has been banished in the land of Syhl Shallow for as long as best friends Jax and Callyn can remember. They once loved the stories of the powerful magesmiths and mythical scravers who could conjure fire or control ice, but now they’ve learned that magic only leads to danger: magic is what killed Callyn’s parents, leaving her alone to raise her younger sister. Magic never helped Jax, whose leg was crushed in an accident that his father has been punishing him for ever since. Magic won’t save either of them when the tax collector comes calling, threatening to take their homes if they can’t pay what they owe.
Meanwhile, Jax and Callyn are astonished to learn magic has returned to Syhl Shallow — in the form of a magesmith who’s now married to their queen. Now, the people of Syhl Shallow are expected to allow dangerous magic in their midst, and no one is happy about it.
When a stranger rides into town offering Jax and Callyn silver in exchange for holding secret messages for an anti-magic faction, the choice is obvious — even if it means they may be aiding in a plot to destroy their new king. It’s a risk they’re both willing to take. That is, until another visitor arrives: handsome Lord Tycho, the King’s Courier, the man who’s been tasked with discovering who’s conspiring against the throne.
Suddenly, Jax and Callyn find themselves embroiled in a world of shifting alliances, dangerous flirtations, and ancient magic . . . where even the deepest loyalties will be tested
Release Date: June 7 from Flatiron Books
Why You’ll Love It: A sweeping historical fantasy of a bleak Victorian London in which children with gifts known as Talents are being hunted by a monstrous man made of smoke. A complex, layered, and often uncomfortably bleak tale with a length that can occasionally feel daunting, but its rich, intriguing array of characters and consistently expanding scope make Ordinary Monsters anything but.
Publisher’s Description: England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness —a man made of smoke.
Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a lifetime of brutality, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When two grizzled detectives are recruited to escort them north to safety, they are forced to confront the nature of difference and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.
What follows is a journey from the gaslit streets of London, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh, where other children with gifts—the Talents—have been gathered. Here, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of the force that is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.
Release Date: June 7 from Orbit
Why You’ll Love It: Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf was hands down one of the best fantasy debuts of 2021, a sort-of retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that mixes fairytale, folklore, and horror elements to create something wonderfully unlike almost everything else in this space right now. For the Throne is Whitten’s highly anticipated sequel, which turns the focus of her tale from Redarys, the Second Daughter promised to the Wolf of the Wood, to her twin sister Nevereh, promised to the Throne of the kingdom. Trapped in an inverted shadow kingdom where vicious gods of legend slumber, Neve will have to fight her way back to her real world—even if it means destroying the Shadowlands themselves with the help of a rogue enemy.
Publisher’s Description: Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Old Kings but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister Neve, the First Daughter is lost in the Shadowlands, an inverted kingdom where the vicious gods of legend have been trapped for centuries and the Old Kings have slowly been gaining control. But Neve has an ally—though it’s one she’d rather never have to speak to again—the rogue king Solmir.
Solmir wants to bring an end to the Shadowlands and he believes helping Neve may be the key to its destruction. But to do that, they will both have to journey across a dangerous landscape in order to find a mysterious Heart Tree, and finally to claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.
Release Date: June 14 from Page Street Kids
Why You’ll Love It: Honestly, y’all, this had me at “dark fantasy retelling of Christina Rosetti’s “Goblin Market” and that’s before I saw the hauntingly gorgeous cover that came with it Mixing rich worldbuilding, with complex lore and horror themes, Not Good for Maidens is a violent and magical coming of age tale.
Publisher’s Description: Lou never believed in superstitions or magic—until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.
The market is a place Lou has only read about—twisted streets, offerings of sweet fruits and incredible jewels. Everything—from the food and wares, to the goblins themselves—is a haunting temptation for any human who manages to find their way in.
Determined to save Neela, Lou learns songs and spells and tricks that will help her navigate this dangerous world and slip past a goblin’s defenses—but she only has three days to find Neela before the market disappears and her aunt becomes one of them forever.
If she isn’t careful, the market might just end up claiming her too.
Release Date: June 14 from Tordotcom
Why You’ll Love It: The second installment in the Fractured Fables series of novellas from Alix E. Harrow, author of The Once and Future WItches, continues the story of Zinnia Gray, former Sleeping Beauty turned hero who has rescued dozens of similar sleeping princesses from different worlds, destroying countless would-be deadly spindles along the way. But where A Spindle Splintered was very clearly a feminist reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, A Mirror Mended tackles Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and aims to reinvent the story of its Evil Queen, who, after all, is also just a woman trapped in a story she didn’t choose.
Publisher’s Description: Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path.
Release Date: June 21 from Redhook
Why You’ll Love It: Music and magic intertwine in this sprawling debut about a fantastical alternate version of New Orleans where songs literally keep the city alive. When Perilous “Perry” Graves encounters the city’s most famous undead pianist and learns that nine of the songs that keep Nola humming have been stolen, he’ll have to join forces with his sister Brendy and a colorful cast of locals to save the day. Jennings’ novel is a love letter to the real-life New Orleans, the power of music, and the bonds of community that hold us all together.
Publisher’s Description: Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters.
Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.
Release Date: June 21 from Del Ray Books
Why You’ll Love It: A epic fantasy inspired by Ghanian and Arabian folklore in which a violent empire maintains a strict social hierarchy based on the color of your blood, The Final Strife follows the story of Sylah, who lives among the scrappy blue-blooded Dusters and struggles with addiction. A fast pace, intricate worldbuilding, and multiple generally surprising twists help this one stands out.
Publisher’s Description: Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.
Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.
Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm.
Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.
As the Empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.
Release Date: June 21 from Harper Voyager
Why You’ll Love It: If you read Ava Reid’s magical fantasy debut The Wolf and the Woodsman last year then you already know how lush and gorgeous her prose is, and how skilled she is at taking the familiar bones of a fairytale world and the tropes that normally reside within it, and spinning both into something brand new. And while her follow-up Juniper and Thorn isn’t a direct sequel, it is set in the same universe and tells a similar evocative, dark, and complicated story.
A Gothic-themed retelling of “The Juniper Tree,” one of the Grimm Brothers’ most gruesome tales, Reid’s version doesn’t bear much direct resemblance to the original story, but keeps its grim spirit intact, deftly exploring the trauma and oppression that seem too often be the lot of women trying to live in a world that doesn’t respect their agency or autonomy. Haunting and great.
Publisher’s Description: A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.
Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.
As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.
Release Date: June 28 from HarperTeen
Why You’ll Love It: The highly anticipated sequel to Victoria Aveyard’s sprawling, multi-POV fantasy doorstopper Realm Breaker, Blade Breaker promises an even more intense and emotional story as our ragtag group of damaged heroes and multifaceted villains face off for the future of the Allward—and all the worlds it touches. This sequel expands the scope of Aveyard’s original novel in multiple key ways, from the relationships between the characters to the size of the world their stories take place in, adding new layers and dangers to each. Another doorstopper of an adventure, but one that’s worth your time.
Publisher’s Description: In the sequel to Realm Breaker, a divided world must rally, an unstoppable enemy must be defeated, and the fate of the world rests on a blade’s edge.
Andry, a former squire, continues to fight for hope amid blood and chaos.
Dom, a grieving immortal, strives to fulfill a broken oath.
Sorasa, an outcast assassin, faces her past when it returns with sharpened teeth.
Valtik, an old sorceress, summons a mighty power.
And Corayne, a pirate’s daughter with an ancient magic in her blood, steps closer to becoming the hero she’s destined to be.
Together they must assemble an army to face Queen Erida and Taristan’s wicked forces. But something deadly waits in the shadows, something that might consume the world before there’s any hope for victory.
Release Date: June 28 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Why You’ll Love It: Thanks to this incredible cover, I probably would have read this book whatever it was about, but the entire concept of “YA medieval fantasy thriller” was basically assembled in a lab for me, so here I am. Blood and Moonlight follows the story of a young girl working for the architect of the Holy Sanctum, who becomes enmeshed in a mystery when she finds a dead body while checking the scaffolding—and then more sex workers start turning up dead.
Publisher’s Description: Rising above the city of Collis is the holy Sanctum. And watching over its spires is Catrin, an orphan girl with unique skills—for she alone can spot the building’s flaws in construction before they turn deadly.
But when Catrin witnesses a murderer escaping the scene of his crime, she’s pulled into the web of a dangerous man who will definitely strike again. Assigned to capture the culprit is the mysterious, brilliant, and enigmatic Simon, whose insights into the mind of a killer are frighteningly accurate.
As the grisly crimes continue, Catrin finds herself caught between murderer and detective while hiding her own secret—a supernatural sight granted by the moon, destined to make her an outcast, and the only thing that might save her and those she loves from becoming the next victims…
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.