Technically, these are just my picks for the first half of 2023. There are too many good books, what can I say? Well, I can say: clear your calendars and get your favorite cozy chair ready, because here are 15 of the most awesome books coming out between January and July.
The Saint of Bright Doors (Vajra Chandrasekera) – Fetter was raised to violence in a world of dizzying and dire changeability, with gods and saints readily available – and just as readily killed, as Fetter knows all too well from his time as an assassin. Managing his past will determine his future, but with Bright Doors opening all across the city, dozens of magic destinies opening and closing all the time, knowing the right path is not going to be easy. My #1 pick for this year; I’m counting the minutes until I get my hands on it.
Our Share of Night (Mariana Enriquez; trans. Megan McDowell) – Grief is terrible enough; a shadowy family legacy of cruelty and pain is more than anyone should have to bear. But Gaspar and his father will have to confront it – in the midst of political upheaval in Argentina and the UK, no less – if they want to survive the heritage Gaspar’s mother bestowed on him. Cosmic and earthly, this one is tied for my #1, and I know it’s going to be brilliant.
A Sleight of Shadows (Kat Howard) – The long-awaited follow-up to An Unkindness of Magicians will no doubt be a complex and considerate meditation on trauma and resilience, as well as the limits of human endurance, since Howard always seems to push her characters to fascinating extremes.
The God of Endings (Jacqueline Holland) – Vampires are back, baby. They’ve migrated from YA into highly literary SFF, and I’m dying (hah) with curiosity to see where this quietly elegant tale of building suspense ends up.
Painted Devils (Margaret Owen) – “I accidentally started a cult” sounds like a TLC show – and exactly what Vanja, anti-heroine of the magnificent Little Thieves, would do in her follow-up novel. I can’t wait to see how she gets into and out of this new mess.
The Deep Sky (Yume Kitase) – Space as an isolating force has always been a good driver of both mystery and tension (see also: our collective obsession with Among Us), and I’m particularly excited to see how Kitase weaves together climate anxiety, murder mystery, and intimate questions of identity into this epic whodunit.
Bitter Medicine (Mia Tsai) – A romance fantasy between a Chinese demigoddess and a French elf runs into family complications as well as magical issues.
The Lies of the Ajungo (Moses Ose Utomi) – Part dark fable, part adventure fantasy, this coming-of-age tale is not what you’re expecting, no matter what you think going in. A remarkable debut even in a year stuffed full of them. And the sequel will be out this year, too!
Some Desperate Glory (Emily Tesh) – We’re big fans of the Greenhollow duo (or maybe trio? Please?), which I’ve read through twice now. Tesh’s debut novel is in a very different setting, but I can’t wait for even more queer characters and complex storytelling.
Flux (Jinwoo Chong) – A neo-noir tech thriller that’s taking on the whiteness of silicon valley and American at large? Yes, please, bend my mind ASAP.
The Liquid Land (Raphaela Edelbauer; trans Jen Calleja) – I’m getting notes of Junji Ito from the description of this novel, which is about a town that might not exist, on top of a cave system that definitely shouldn’t exist.
Linghun (Ai Jiang) – Jiang has been relentlessly prolific in the short story space, and now we have her first novel, which promises to be an eerie take on outsized grief. I’m eager to see how her career develops in the novel and novella space.
A House with Good Bones (T. Kingfisher) – Kingfisher never disappoints, and this third horror novel in the vein of Hollow Places and The Twisted Ones continues what we might call New Southern Gothic or perhaps Southern Cosmic. There are some down—very down—to earth scares here.
Others of Edenwell (Verity Holloway) – I loved Holloway’s Pseudotooth, and I’m eager to see what else she’s imagined up. This story of a friendship—and a horror—struck up in the isolation of a WWI hydropathic retreat is sure to unsettle.
Chlorine (Jade Song) – Gory mermaids? Yeah, I’m in. I’m not sure whether this will be more The Seas by Samantha Hunt or The Deep by Rivers Solomon (i.e., about wanting to be a mermaid or about actually being a mermaid) but I know I’m excited to find out.