It’s time once more for me to share some of the upcoming young adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror I’m most excited about. May and June are bringing in a lot of fantasy, as per usual, but with some really interesting twists. We’re also getting an unexpected yet eagerly anticipated crop of horror novels. And the queer books, my heavens, the wonderful, delightful, fabulous queer books! I don’t think my bookshelves can handle all these preorders.
Gods & Monsters
Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older (Outlaw Saints #1)–Rick Riordan Presents, May 3, 2022
Daniel José Older returns to YA fantasy with this brand new, action-packed fantasy series, the first young adult book from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. Mateo Matisse may live in Brooklyn, but his people are from the island of San Madrigal. Descended from the Sephardic Jews, Cuban Santeros, and swashbuckling pirates who settled there centuries before, his family fled the island when it mysteriously sank years ago. On the night of the Grand Fete, his whole life changes in an instant. With his new connections to the gods, Mateo holds the fate of his people and their island in his hands.
Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez–Wednesday Books, May 31, 2022
Zarela Zalvidar lives in Hispalia, a fantasy land inspired by medieval Spain, but with more dragons. She is a talented flamenco dancer, but after her father is gravely injured in a Dragonador gig—think matador but with dragons—Zarela trades dancing for derring-do. To save her family’s fortune, she seeks the help of a dragon hunter, Arturo, and a fiery romance soon flickers.
This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron (This Poison Heart #2)–Bloomsbury YA, June 21, 2022
Bri’s future is dependent upon her uncovering the mysteries of her past. Her mother’s life hangs in the balance, and to bring her back, Bri, her long-lost relatives, and her new love must work together to complete an impossible task. And they must do it before the wicked Redmond relations do. Bri goes on a quest straight out of Greek mythology, complete with ancient gods and fantastical creatures.
See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon–Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, May 17, 2022
Ah, the classic time loop romance. College freshman Barrett Bloom is stuck in September 21st. But she’s not the only one. Miles Kasher-Okamoto, her classmate-slash-nemesis, has been trapped in that date for ages. Taking a page from Palm Springs (love that movie!), the two have grand adventures and emotional heart-to-hearts as they attempt to break free of their loop…and maybe, just maybe, they’ll fall in love along the way.
The Fae Keeper by H.E. Edgmon (The Witch King #2)–Inkyard Press, May 31, 2022
The end of The Witch King saw the door to Fae slamming shut with Wyatt stuck on the Asalin side. Prince Emyr and his betrothed Wyatt are chasing after Derek and Clarke, but the inequities in Faery are systemic, not just individual. The truth about the witches is bigger than any of them realize, and when revealed will shake the realm of Faery to its core.
Out of the Blue by Jason June–HarperTeen, May 31, 2022
Merperson Crest should be excited about going on their Journey, a quest all merfolk do where they spend a month on solid ground helping a human so they can return to Pacifica and become an Elder. But Crest isn’t too keen on hanging out with the two-legs who are doing their damndest to pollute the planet. One fake dating trope later, they are well on their way to helping cute lifeguard Sean make his ex-boyfriend jealous…and maybe falling a little in love themself.
Out There: Into the Queer New Yonder edited by Saundra Mitchell–Inkyard Press, June 7, 2022
The first two “Out” anthologies, All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages and Out Now: Queer We Go Again! are staples of any good young adult/teen book collection. So of course I as a high school librarian am very excited for this third installment. The stories cover a variety of genres written by a collection of talented authors, including Leah Johnson, Naomi Kanakia, Claire Kann, Alex London, Jim McCarthy, Abdi Nazemian, Emma K. Ohland, Adam Sass, Mato J. Steger, Nita Tyndall, U. Agoawike, K. Ancrum, Kalynn Bayron, Z Brewer, Mason Daver, Alechia Dow, and Z.R. Ellor.
The Loophole by Naz Kutub–Bloomsbury YA, June 21, 2022
Sy, an Indian Muslim boy in Los Angeles, is just trying to cruise through his seventeenth year and avoid his abusive, homophobic father as much as possible. He’s working at a coffee shop and saving money while pining over his ex boyfriend Farouk. When Sy meets the enigmatic and chaotic Reggie, she offers him three wishes like a djinn from a story. About the same time, Farouk goes missing while on his European trip. After Sy’s father throws him out for being queer, Sy decides to get the love his life back no matter what.
Deep in Providence by Riss M. Neilson–Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), May 31, 2022
After their best friend Jasmine is tragically killed by a drunk driver, Miliani, Inez, and Natalie decide to put their witchy powers to good use by resurrecting her. Using magic inspired by Miliani’s Filipino grandfather, the trio’s foray into necromancy takes them down dark paths of deep grief and intense desperation.
Empress Crowned in Red by Ciannon Smart (Witches Steeped in Gold #2)–HarperTeen, June 7, 2022
In Witches Steeped in Gold, Jazmyne and Iraya forged a tenuous alliance to save their kingdom. Now, Jazmyne sits on the throne while Iraya has claimed the title of Lost Empress. Jazmyne will do anything to keep her power, just as Iraya will fight tooth and nail to save her people. Danger looms in the distance, and the two young women must once again unite or face certain destruction.
Thrills & Chills
Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado–Sourcebooks Fire, May 3, 2022
What if an urban legend turned out to be real? People in the Bronx have been vanishing without a trace for more than a year, but no one in power seems to care. It all hits home for sixteen-year-old Raquel when her mom is attacked and comes down with a mysterious illness and the cousin of the girl she has a crush on goes missing.
Go Hunt Me by Kelly deVos–Razorbill, June 14, 2022
A group of teens get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shoot a short film in Vlad Dracul’s Romanian castle. Castle Prahova is even more isolated and frightening than they imagined. Something is haunting the castle and picking the teens off one by one. Seven aspiring filmmakers enter, only one will make it out alive.
Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White–Peachtree Teen, June 7, 2022
Benji grew up in a cult that brought about the end of the world. They want to use him to cause even more havoc, but they’ll have to find him first. While on the lam, he’s rescued by a group of queer teens surviving in the ruins of Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ center. As Benji mutates into a monster destined to destroy humanity, his desire to live what’s left of his life to the fullest only grows. If nothing else, that stunning cover should be enough to make you want to pick this up.
Magic with a Twist
The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R.M. Romero–Peachtree Teen, May 10, 2022
This novel in verse is set in Prague where a biracial Jewish violinist falls for a ghost boy bound to the city. Ilana dreams of being a professional musician, but her parents want her to pursue a more practical career. She’s sent to live with her aunt to reevaluate her life choices, but instead she meets Benjamin, a dead boy haunting an abandoned cemetery. As their relationship deepens, the ominous Rudolf Wassermann inserts himself into their lives. He isn’t what he seems, and what he promises Ilana comes with hidden strings.
The Dream Runners by Shveta Thakrar–HarperTeen, June 28, 2022
Tanvi is a dream runner. Taken from the human world, called Prithvi, to Nagalok, the land of the serpent-like creatures called the naga, Tanvi’s only job is to steal dreams from humans in Prithvi that will then be sold to the naga nobility. When a harvest goes awry, Tanvi’s memories come rushing back to her. With the help of Venkat, her only human friend—and potential love interest—she will have to decide how much of her secrets she wants to uncover. Oh, and stop the nagas’ enemies, the garuda, from declaring war.
Alex Brown is a Hugo-nominated and Ignyte award-winning critic who writes about speculative fiction, librarianship, and Black history. Find them on twitter (@QueenOfRats), instagram (@bookjockeyalex), and their blog (bookjockeyalex.com).