The Best New Fantasy Books of March 2022Books Lists Fantasy Books
This March is truly an embarrassment of riches for fantasy fiction fans, with everything from the highly anticipated rerelease of a bonafide TikTok sensation, the conclusion of a popular—and occasionally controversial—YA trilogy, several exciting new debuts, and a haunting new story from a longtime favorite author hitting shelves in the coming weeks.
Narrowing down this list to an even remotely manageable size was the definition of difficult, but the final product should offer some fantastic options to fit the needs every sort of fantasy reader, Here are our picks for the best fantasy titles hitting shelves this March.
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
Release Date: March 1 from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: After becoming a BookTok sensation in the summer of 2021, The Atlas Six is getting a newly revised hardcover rerelease to hype everyone up for the arrival of its sequel The Atlas Paradox later this year. And if you missed the memo on this story the first time now is your chance to catch up. Blake’s novel has a little bit of everything: dark academia vibes, hot magicians, secret societies, a twisty plot, and an array of diverse, intriguing characters at its center. Get in on it now before the already commissioned Amazon series arrives.
Publisher’s Description: The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…
– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.
Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Release Date: March 1 from Greenwillow Books
Why You’ll Love It: V.E. Schwab’s haunting new young adult fantasy about a young girl’s search for the home she’s always wanted is a lush, diamond-sharp bit of horror writing, with beautiful visuals, incredible worldbuilding, and a charmingly offbeat found family at its core. The incorporation of different forms of communication—Olivia speaks to others in sign language and the writings and drawings left behind in a journal are all she has left of either of her parents—is incredibly creative, and the spooky, shadow-filled setting is impeccably rendered throughout.
Publisher’s Description: Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.
Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.
All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie
Release Date: March 1 from TorDotCom
Why You’ll Love It: This story of a Norse trader who finds an extraordinary horse—and a powerful ghost on his travels through Central Asia is written in the style of an ancient Icelandic saga and definitely has serious literary vibes. Short, yet deeply atmospheric, this fantastical piece of historical fiction is like nothing else you’ll read this month.
Publisher’s Description: Filled with the magic and darkened whispers of a people on the cusp of major cultural change, All the Horses of Iceland tells the tale of a Norse trader, his travels through Central Asia, and the ghostly magic that followed him home to the land of fire, stone, and ice. His search for riches will take him from Helmgard, through Khazaria, to the steppes of Mongolia, where he will barter for horses and return with much, much more.
A Thousand Steps into Night by Tracy Chee
Release Date: March 1 from Clarion Books
Why You’ll Love It: An atmospheric fantasy inspired by Japanese mythology, A Thousand Steps into Night takes place in a world where mortal humans exist alongside spirits and demons and an innkeeper’s daughter can find herself the victim of a terrible curse.
As young Miuko struggles to control the bloodthirsty urges slowly taking over her body, Chee eventually turns the whole story on its head, inverting much of what we thought we knew. Footnotes throughout the book providing needed punctuation guides, as well as folkloric context for the world of Awara, are a particular delight.
Publisher’s Description: In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.
Crimson Reign by Amelie Wen Zhao
Release Date: March 1 from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: The thrilling and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to author Amelie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir trilogy, Crimson Reign technically follows the traditional fantasy story of deposed princess Ana Mikhailo ‘s return to Cyrilla but gives equal weight to the secondary plots surrounding her friends, who are following their own quests in far-flung places like Bregnon and the Kemeiran Empire. But this finale also asks plenty of precisely the sort of difficult and thoughtful questions this genre could use more of along the way. To whit: If Ana and her friends are willing to end the monarchy, what should take its place? What systems of can government best serve its people? What sort of leaders should it have? And what does a truly equitable future for Affinites and non-Affinites look like? A surprisingly deeper tale than you might initially expect.
Publisher’s Description: The Red Tigress, Ana Mikhailov, has returned to Cyrilia, but the country she once called home has fallen under a dark rule. Across the land, the Empress Morganya is tightening her grip on Affinites and non-Affinites alike. Ana dealt a blow to the Empress when she and her allies turned back Morganya’s troops in Bregon, but she couldn’t stop Morganya from gaining possession of the last remaining Bregonian siphon: a dangerous new weapon with the power to steal Affinities.
Ana’s forces are scattered, and her tenuous alliance with the Cyrilian rebel group, the Red Cloaks, is becoming more frayed by the day. What’s worse, she’s lost her Affinity to blood and without it, Ana barely knows who she is anymore—or if she has the strength to defeat Morganya.
Morganya’s reign of terror is close to crushing the nation Ana was born to rule. And now Ana will finally face the sinister empress, but will she survive? Will anyone? And will her Empire welcome her back to the throne, or turn her out to survive on her own?
A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
Release Date: March 8 from Wednesday Books
Why You’ll Love It: As those who read her 2021 debut Down Comes the Night already know, Saft has a talent for writing lush, lyrical fantasy love stories in which opposites most definitely attract. Her A Far Wilder Magic follows the story of an alchemist and a sharpshooter who must join forces to hunt an ancient beast, and the slow burn romance that develops between the two is one of the best you’ll read this year.
Publisher’s Description: When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.
Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist—yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her. Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.
The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: March 15 from Blue Box Press
Why You’ll Love It: Since this is the fourth installment in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s mega-popular From Blood and Ash series, you probably already know going into this whether The War of Two Queens is for you. Everyone’s favorite sexy fantasy romance full of Game of Thrones-style political intrigue but also with vampires continues.
Publisher’s Description: Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.
Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace. Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.
The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
Release Date: March 22 from Orbit
Why You’ll Love It: A dark, epic fantasy from the author of Scavenge the Stars, The City of Dusk is a dense, complex story involving everything from religious belief and political intrigue to bone and shadow magic. Following the stories of four very different heirs to the powers of four very different gods who must all eventually manage to come together to save their dying city means that Tara Sim’s novel can occasionally get bogged down in necessity of explaining how the rules of her fantasy world and its magic work. But if you’re a fan of deeply immersive worldbuilding, the descriptive tangents probably won’t bother you too much.
Publisher’s Description: The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir. But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.
Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.
The Bone Orchard by Sarah A. Mueller
Release Date: March 22 from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: A dark Gothic whodunnit set in a lush fantasy world where a necromancer tends trees made of bone and must solve a murder to save an empire (if it’s even a thing worth saving) and free herself, The Bone Orchard is unlike anything else on this list this month. An intriguing mix of genres, with a fascinating heroine whose personality is split between multiple bodies.
Publisher’s Description: Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow. Charm is a prisoner and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.
Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real. Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. But now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—-by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder. If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil — her freedom. But if she does, she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.
Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May
Release date: March 29 from Redhook
Why You’ll Love It: A lush historical fantasy set in an alternate post-World War II Europe where the existence of magic is acknowledged but not accepted, Wild and Wicked Things is full of complex character dynamics and queer romance. Lots of Gatsby-esque vibes and a bevy of great supporting characters that are every bit as interesting as heroine Annie, drawn back to mysterious Crow Island to settle her dead father’s estate.
Publisher’s Description: On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one. Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbor.
Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island’s extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.
A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin
Release Date: March 29 from Feiwel and Friends
Why You’ll Love It: A strangely soft fantasy tale about a girl who will do anything to save her sister’s life, including competing in a brutal competition to become her kingdom’s next magical tea-master. But the most interesting thing about A Magic Steeped in Poison is the deft way it blends traditional tea-making with familiar tropes about magic and medicine to create something that feels wonderfully new.
Publisher’s Description: For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.
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.