The Best New Fantasy Books of May 2024

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The Best New Fantasy Books of May 2024

It’s May, which means spring has officially sprung, and many (most?) of us are already looking to the official kick-off of summer at the end of the month. But fantasy fans have a lot to get excited about this month that doesn’t have anything to do with the slowly warming weather or growing sunshine: More great books! 

From epic adventures (Five Broken Blades) and buzzy romantasies (The North Wind) to new stories from an icon of the genre (I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons), there are plenty of exciting new worlds to explore, and characters to fall in love with. 

Here are our picks for the must-read fantasy books of May.

Five Broken Blades May Fantasy 2024

Five Broken Blades by Mai Corland

Release Date: May 7 from Red Tower Books

Why You’ll Love It: An unlikely group of strangers are forced to join forces in an attempt to kill an immortal king in this wildly addictive series opener that mixes elements of high fantasy with political intrigue, romance, mystery, and more. Corland’s sprawling cast of characters is appealing and thoughtfully drawn, and each has secrets and hidden agendas of their own. You’ll fly through the pages.

Publisher’s Description:  The five most dangerous liars in the land have been mysteriously summoned to work together for a single objective: to kill the God King Joon.

He has it coming. Under his merciless immortal hand, the nobles flourish, while the poor and innocent are imprisoned, ruined…or sold.

And now each of the five blades will come for him. Each has tasted bitterness―from the hired hitman seeking atonement, a lovely assassin who seeks freedom, or even the prince banished for his cruel crimes. None can resist the sweet, icy lure of vengeance.

They can agree on murder.

They can agree on treachery.

But for these five killers―each versed in deception, lies, and betrayal―it’s not enough to forge an alliance. To survive, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other…but only one can take the crown.

The Sins on Their Bones May Fantasy 2024

The Sins on Their Bones by Laura R. Samotin

Release Date: May 7 from Random House Canada 

Why You’ll Love It: A queer dark fantasy inspired by Jewish folklore and set in a queer normative reimagining of 19th-century Eastern Europe,  The Sins are Their Bones follows two tsars—one ruling, one deposed, both estranged husbands now on opposite sides of the conflict that followed—and is probably the bleakest thing you’ll read this month. This is one where you absolutely need to heed the content warnings—the book wrestles with abuse, trauma, unhealthy power dynamics, toxic love, and lots more—but its story is difficult to look away from. 

Publisher’s Description: Dimitri Alexeyev used to be the Tzar of Novo-Svitsevo. Now, he is merely a broken man, languishing in exile after losing a devastating civil war instigated by his estranged husband, Alexey Balakin. In hiding with what remains of his court, Dimitri and his spymaster, Vasily Sokolov, engineer a dangerous ruse. Vasily will sneak into Alexey’s court under a false identity to gather information, paving the way for the usurper’s downfall, while Dimitri finds a way to kill him for good.

But stopping Alexey is not so easy as plotting to kill an ordinary man. Through a perversion of the Ludayzim religion that he terms the Holy Science, Alexey has died and resurrected himself in an immortal, indestructible body—and now claims he is guided by the voice of God Himself. Able to summon forth creatures from the realm of demons, he seeks to build an army, turning Novo-Svitsevo into the greatest empire that history has ever seen.

Dimitri is determined not to let Alexey corrupt his country, but saving Novo-Svitsevo and its people will mean forfeiting the soul of the husband he can’t bring himself to forsake—or the spymaster he’s come to love.

Spin of Fate May Fantasy 2024

Spin of Fate by A.A. Vora

Release Date: May 7 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Why You’ll Love It: A YA fantasy with some of the most original worldbuilding we’ve seen in a minute, Spin of Fate’s premise is loosely based on ideas of karma, wherein three teens question their literal place in the universe, and which of the four “realms” —-two upper, two lower, access to all of which is mean to depend on one’s morality. Is a fascinating concept, as those deemed “good” struggle to help those in the lower realms, those condemned to suffer work to “ascend”, and various factions fight to keep power over it all. 

Publisher’s Description: The world is governed by Toranic Law, an ancient magical force that segregates people into upper and lower realms based on their morality. It’s said that if the sinful lowers commit themselves to kindness, their souls will lighten, allowing them into the blissful upper realms.

But Aina, one of the few lowers to ever ascend, just wants to go back. Desperate to reunite with her mother, who remains stuck in their horror-infested homeland, Aina joins the Balancers—a group that defies Toranic Law by bringing aid to those condemned to a life of suffering in the lower realms.

Alongside Aina are two new recruits: Aranel, a spoiled noble spying for the upper authorities; and Meizan, a ruthless fighter trying to save his clan from extinction.

Before long, Aina, Aranel, and Meizan find themselves in the midst of a brewing war. On one side, a violent lower king is bent on destroying Toranic Law; on the other, the upper authorities will do anything to stay on top.

The trio must face both sides head-on if they want to stop a conflict that could break not only Toranic Law… but the universe itself.

I'm Afraid You've Got Dragons fantasy 2024

I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons by Peter S. Beagle 

Release Date: May 14 from S&S/Saga Press

Why You’ll Love It: Peter Beagle is an icon in the world of fantasy fiction, author of such classics as The Last Unicorn, The Innkeeper’s Song, and A Fine and Private Place. His latest novel, I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons, was originally announced in 2007, but has been repeatedly delayed due to various business and personal issues. But it’s finally here, at long last, and it seems safe to say that its charming characters and cozy high fantasy vibes are worth the wait.

Publisher’s Description: Dragons are common in the backwater kingdom of Bellemontagne, coming in sizes from mouse-like vermin all the way up to castle-smashing monsters. Gaius Aurelius Constantine Heliogabalus Thrax (who would much rather people call him Robert) has recently inherited his deceased dad’s job as a dragon catcher/exterminator, a career he detests with all his heart in part because he likes dragons, feeling a kinship with them, but mainly because his dream has always been the impossible one of transcending his humble origin to someday become a prince’s valet. Needless to say, fate has something rather different in mind…

The Honey Witch May Fantasy 2024

The Honey Witch by Sydney J. Shields

Release Date: May 14 from Redhook

Why You’ll Love It: A lush and deliberately slow-moving fantasy set in early nineteenth-century England, The Honey Witch follows the story of a young woman who gains newfound magic and independence as the caretaker of a tiny island, only to learn that she’ll lose her abilities (and possibly her home) if she falls in love. No one is allowed to fall in love with the Honey Witch, after all, at least according to the local curse. Featuring a grumpy/sunshine queer romance, lovely imagery, and a distinctly cozy aesthetic, this one is a charmer.

Publisher’s Description: Twenty-one-year-old Marigold Claude has always preferred the company of the spirits of the meadow to any of the suitors who’ve tried to woo her. So when her grandmother whisks her away to the family cottage on the tiny Isle of Innisfree with an offer to train her as the next Honey Witch, she accepts immediately. But her newfound magic and independence come with a No one can fall in love with the Honey Witch.

When Lottie Burke, a notoriously grumpy skeptic who doesn’t believe in magic, shows up on her doorstep, Marigold can’t resist the challenge to prove to her that magic is real. But soon, Marigold begins to care for Lottie in ways she never expected. And when darker magic awakens and threatens to destroy her home, she must fight for much more than her new home—at the risk of losing her magic and her heart.

When Among Crows Fantasy 2024

When Among Crows by Veronica Roth

Release Date: May 14 from Tor Books

Why We’re Excited: A dense little novella with a wildly original premise, When Among Crows is a an urban fantasy story of monsters who feed on emotions and the knights who slay them, who must rend their own body to pieces to make weapons. One part road-trip and one part redemption quest, this story packs a punch.

Publisher’s Description: Pain is Dymitr’s calling. To slay the monsters he’s been raised to kill, he had to split his soul in half to make a sword from his own spine. Every time he draws it, he gets blood on his hands.

Pain is Ala’s inheritance. When her mother died, a family curse to witness horrors committed by the Holy Order was passed onto her. The curse will claim her life, as it did her mother’s, unless she can find a cure.

One fateful night in Chicago, Dymitr comes to Ala with a bargain: her help in finding the legendary witch Baba Jaga in exchange for an enchanted flower that just might cure her. Desperate, and unaware of what Dymitr really is, Ala agrees.

But they only have one day before the flower dies . . . and Ala’s hopes of breaking the curse along with it.

The North Wind Fantasy May 2024

The North Wind by Alexandria Warwick

Release Date: May 21 from S&S/Saga Press

Why You’ll Love It: A swoony enemies-to-lovers fantasy romance that’s inspired by both Beauty & the Beast and the myth of Hades and Persephone could not be more directly targeted at me and my interests, generally. But Warwick’s refreshing mix of themes and tropes—not to mention her chaotic, vaguely alcoholic, and occasionally difficult heroine—makes this one an utter delight. A must-read for romantasy lovers. 

Publisher’s Description: Wren of Edgewood is no stranger to suffering. With her parents gone, it’s Wren’s responsibility to ensure she and her sister survive the harsh and endless winter, but if the legends are to be believed, their home may not be safe for much longer.

For three hundred years, the land surrounding Edgewood has been encased in ice as the Shade, a magical barrier that protects the townsfolk from the Deadlands beyond, weakens. Only one thing can stop the Shade’s fall: the blood of a mortal woman bound in wedlock to the North Wind, a dangerous immortal whose heart is said to be as frigid as the land he rules. And the time has come to choose his bride.

When the North Wind sets his eyes on Wren’s sister, Wren will do anything to save her—even if it means sacrificing herself in the process. But mortal or not, Wren won’t go down without a fight…

Evocation Fantasy May 2024

Evocation by S.T Gibson

Release Date: May 28 from Angry Robot Books

Why You’ll Love It: The first installment in a new four-part fantasy series from the author of A Dowry of Blood, Evocation is almost certainly nothing like else you’ll read this summer. One part paranormal horror story and one part polyamorous queer rom-com with a dash of demons, witches, and the occult on top, it’s a thoroughly unexpected delight.

Publisher’s Description: As a teen, David Aristarkhov was a psychic prodigy, operating under the shadow of his oppressive occultist father. Now, years after his father’s death and rapidly approaching his thirtieth birthday, he is content with the high-powered life he’s curated as a Boston attorney, moonlighting as a powerful medium for his secret society.

But with power comes a price, and the Devil has come to collect on an ancestral deal. David’s days are numbered, and death looms at his door.

Reluctantly, he reaches out to the only person he’s ever trusted, his ex-boyfriend and secret Society rival Rhys, for help. However, the only way to get to Rhys is through his wife, Moira. Thrust into each other’s care, emotions once buried deep resurface, and the trio race to figure out their feelings for one another before the Devil steals David away for good…

The Fireborne Blade May Fantasy 2024

The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond

Release Date: May 28 from Tordotcom

Why You’ll Love It: A feminist novella about a rare female knight who must reclaim her status by retrieving a legendary sword for the king from a powerful dragon known as the White Lady, this slim tale is full of betrayals, unreliable narrators, and bait-and-switch twists. 

Publisher’s Description: Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor.

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor.

\Maddileh is a knight. There aren’t many women in her line of work, and it often feels like the sneering and contempt from her peers is harder to stomach than the actual dragon slaying. But she’s a knight, and made of sterner stuff.

A minor infraction forces her to redeem her honor in the most dramatic way possible, she must retrieve the fabled Fireborne Blade from its keeper, legendary dragon the White Lady, or die trying. If history tells us anything, it’s that “die trying” is where to wager your coin.

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

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