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One of my favorite parts of the new year is watching all the authors I follow on Twitter and Instagram talk about the upcoming releases for the year. I love how excited everyone is, both for their own stories to be released to the world but also for their friends’ stories to come out. Last year, I had two “most anticipated releases” of the year: MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and BURN OUR BODIES DOWN by Rory Power. Both I learned about through social media—I’ve followed Rory for a while now, ever since her first book WILDER GIRLS came out, but I didn’t follow Silvia Moreno-Garcia until I heard about MEXICAN GOTHIC. Both are perhaps tied as my absolute favorite books of 2020. I know I’ve already screamed into the void about these books before, but seriously. If you haven’t read them yet, go do it—you won’t regret it.
In years past, I’ve been pretty lackadaisical about my anticipated new releases. I just sort of watched out for these posts, and the ones I saw the most of—or the ones that grabbed my attention right from the start, like the two previously mentioned—would get added to my TBR on Goodreads. Or, in some cases, I would recognize a title while at the store and grab it because I remembered people getting excited about it online. Truly, I am the poster child for why people should scream about their favorite books (and the books they’ve written themselves!) regardless of whether they think people are listening—chances are, I probably am and I will buy your book, because I have a book buying problem and I want to both support authors with debuts and new releases, and be surrounded by towering piles of books. It’s my only dream, really.
This year, though, I decided to be a little more methodical about 2021 new releases. I have a handful that I’m looking forward to, but I opened my socials up for my followers to share the books they’re excited about this year, too. I compiled a list from these responses, and I hope to get to every book on this list eventually!
If any of these titles sound interesting to you, I strongly encourage you to support the authors—and indie bookstores!—by purchasing from Bookshop!
Listed in order of anticipated release date, here are 15 2021 releases that I’m particularly excited about:
- MONSTERS AMONG US: Monica Rodden
Synopsis: When Catherine Ellers returns home after her first semester at college, she is seeking refuge from a night she can barely piece together, dreads remembering, and refuses to talk about. She tries to get back to normal, but just days later the murder of someone close to her tears away any illusion of safety.
Catherine feels driven to face both violent events head on in hopes of finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice with the help of her childhood friend, Henry. Then a stranger from college arrives with her lost coat, missing driver’s license–and details to help fill in the gaps in her memory that could be the key to solving both mysteries. But who is Andrew Worthington and why is he offering to help her? And what other dangerous obsessions is her sleepy town hiding?
Surrounded by secrets and lies, Catherine must unravel the truth–before this wolf in sheep’s clothing strikes again.
Anticipated release date: January 5, 2021
2. LORE: Alexandra Bracken
Synopsis: From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
Anticipated release date: January 5, 2021
3. WE FREE THE STARS: Hafsah Faizal
Synopsis: The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.
As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.
Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.
Anticipated release date: January 19, 2021
4. GIRL A: Abigail Dean
Synopsis: ‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’
Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.
Anticipated release date: January 21, 2021
5. THE GILDED ONES: Namina Forna
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.
Anticipated release date: February 9, 2021
6. DARK HORSES: Susan Mihalic
Synopsis: A darkly gripping debut novel about a teenage girl’s fierce struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father.
Fifteen-year-old equestrian prodigy Roan Montgomery has only ever known two worlds: inside the riding arena, and outside of it. Both, for as long as she can remember, have been ruled by her father, who demands strict obedience in all areas of her life. The warped power dynamic of coach and rider extends far beyond the stables, and Roan’s relationship with her father has long been inappropriate. She has been able to compartmentalize that dark aspect of her life, ruthlessly focusing on her ambitions as a rider heading for the Olympics, just as her father had done. However, her developing relationship with Will Howard, a boy her own age, broadens the scope of her vision.
At the intersection of a commercial page-turner and urgent survivor story, Dark Horses takes the searing themes of abuse and resilience in Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling and applies the compelling exploration of female strength in Room by Emma Donoghue. In much the same way that V.C. Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic transfixed a generation of readers, Susan Mihalic’s debut is set to a steady beat that will keep you turning the pages.
Anticipated release date: February 16, 2021
7. DOWN COMES THE NIGHT: Allison Saft
Synopsis: He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.
Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.
Love makes monsters of us all.
Anticipated release date: March 2, 2021
8. THE DARK HEART OF FLORENCE: Tasha Alexander
Synopsis: In the next Lady Emily Mystery The Dark Heart of Florence, critically acclaimed author Tasha Alexander transports readers to the legendary city of Florence, where Lady Emily and Colin must solve a murder with clues leading back to the time of the Medici.
In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence—burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emily travel to Tuscany where, soon after their arrival, a stranger is thrown to his death from the roof onto the marble palazzo floor.
Colin’s trusted colleague and fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, arrives to assist Colin, who insists their mission must remain top secret. Finding herself excluded from the investigation, Emily secretly launches her own clandestine inquiry into the murder, aided by her spirited and witty friend, Cécile. They soon discover that the palazzo may contain a hidden treasure dating back to the days of the Medici and the violent reign of the fanatic monk, Savonarola—days that resonate in the troubled early twentieth century, an uneasy time full of intrigue, duplicity, and warring ideologies.
Emily and Cécile race to untangle the cryptic clues leading them through the Renaissance city, but an unimagined danger follows closely behind. And when another violent death puts Emily directly in the path of a killer, there’s much more than treasure at stake…
Anticipated release date: March 9, 2021
9. RED ISLAND HOUSE: Andrea Lee
Synopsis: Shay is surprised when her husband Senna declares his intention to build her a spectacular dream house on an idyllic beach in the tropical island nation of Madagascar.
But the Red Island House casts a spell from the moment she sees it, and before she knows it Shay has become the somewhat reluctant mistress of a sprawling household, caught between her privileged American upbringing and education, and her connection to the continent of her ancestors.
At first, she’s content to be an observer of the passionate affairs and fierce ambitions and rivalries around her. But as she and her husband raise children and establish their own rituals on the island, Shay finds herself drawn ever deeper into an extraordinary place with its own laws and logic, a provocative paradise full of magic and myth whose fraught colonial legacy continues to reverberate. Soon the collision of cultures comes right to Shay’s door, forcing her to make a life-altering decision.
A sweeping novel about marriage and loyalty, identity and heritage, fate and freedom, Red Island House reintroduces readers to a powerhouse literary voice and an extravagantly lush, enchanted world.
Anticipated release date: March 23, 2021
10. RULES OF WOLVES: Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.
Anticipated release date: March 30, 2021
11. A PSALM OF STORMS AND SILENCE: Roseanne A. Brown
Synopsis: The highly anticipated second—and final—book in the immersive fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore that began with the New York Times bestselling A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, from author Roseanne A. Brown. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Renée Ahdieh, and Sabaa Tahir.
Karina lost everything after a violent coup left her without her kingdom or her throne. Now the most wanted person in Sonande, her only hope of reclaiming what is rightfully hers lies in a divine power hidden in the long-lost city of her ancestors.
Meanwhile, the resurrection of Karina’s sister has spiraled the world into chaos, with disaster after disaster threatening the hard-won peace Malik has found as Farid’s apprentice. When they discover that Karina herself is the key to restoring balance, Malik must use his magic to lure her back to their side. But how do you regain the trust of someone you once tried to kill?
As the fabric holding Sonande together begins to tear, Malik and Karina once again find themselves torn between their duties and their desires. And when the fate of everything hangs on a single, horrifying choice, they each must decide what they value most—a power that could transform the world, or a love that could transform their lives.
Anticipated release date: June 1, 2021
12. BLOOD LIKE MAGIC: Lissell Sambury
Synopsis: A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
Anticipated release date: June 15, 2021
13. NEVER SAW YOU COMING: Erin Hahn
Synopsis: Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find yourself…
Anticipated release date: September 2021
14. THE WORLD ENDS HERE: Rory Power
Synopsis: Synopsis to come!
Anticipated release date: Fall 2021
15. YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME: Karen M. McManus
Synopsis: YA murder mystery meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, about three estranged friends who skip school and get caught up in a crime they can’t solve without exposing their secrets.
Anticipated release date: Fall 2021
Again, you can purchase and preorder nearly all of these books right now on Bookshop, which works with independent bookstores (read: Not Amazon) to raise money for these small businesses. I love this site and the resources it provides, and I strongly recommend checking them out–for these books, and anything else on your TBR!