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The worlds of fantasy are always new—and in all the best ways.
Every new fantasy book and series released introduces us to fascinating new characters, new planets, new magic and tech systems, new societies, and new monsters and demons and enemies of all shapes and sizes.
Each new fantasy story delves into some theme, either one previously unexplored or a fresh take on a familiar concept.
And in doing so, they keep us enchanted and entertained for hours on end, tantalizing our imagination and dazzling our minds in a way that only truly creative fiction can.
I know this first-hand: I’ve been a die-hard fantasy reader since the age of eight (no, don’t ask me how long that’s been), and I’ve become a best-selling and award-winning fantasy author in my own right.
The one thing I’ve found is that no matter how many fantasy books I read, there are always more new books that will keep me hooked. It’s a wonderful addiction I’m proud to feed!
In this post, I want to share with you some of the best new fantasy books already released in 2022 or releasing in 2023. These are books I’ve personally loved or have been dying to get my hands on (I’m talking about you, Light Bringer!), and which I believe you, too, will enjoy.
Join me on this journey through some of the best fantasy books and series to add to your ever-growing TBR (“To-Be-Read”) pile.
The Red Rising series is easily one of the most addictive series I’ve ever read. The grim, gritty adventures of Darrow O’Lykos/au Andromedus take place on a sprawling, immensely complex stage that, though it feels like sci-fi, easily classifies as fantasy, too.
No books have shocked me quite like the Red Rising books, and I have never been caught so off-guard by some of the truly breathtaking, gut-wrenching plot twists and story developments the author throws at us time after time.
Light Bringer is the 6th book (of 7) in the Red Rising series, and die-hard fans of Darrow (along with others, like Mustang, Sevro, and Cassius) have been eagerly awaiting this one’s arrival for almost four years, since Dark Age ended in classic torturous Pierce Brown fashion.
Imagine waking up on a rainy weekend morning, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but curl up in your softest, coziest, warmest chair with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee made to perfection and your favorite pastry or treat at hand. This book is the literary version of that exact feeling.
Legends and Lattes follows Viv, an orc barbarian who gives up a life of monster-hunting and adventure to open up a coffee shop in a bustling fantasy city. It’s called “cozy fantasy” because there’s no grand stakes, no epic adventures, just Viv’s attempts to do what every single one of us are doing and carve ourselves out our own little slice of life.
It’s the most heart-warming, delightful fantasy story I read all year, a bit of happy I didn’t know I desperately needed during a dark time in the world. Though Legends and Lattes was Travis Baldree’s debut novel, those of us who read it are already dying to get our hands on the upcoming sequel, Bookshops and Bonedust, coming November 2023.
Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria series is one of the best-loved modern fantasy series, thanks to its amazing characters: Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater. But Farilane and the rest of The Rise and Fall series takes place in the same world centuries before these characters show up, building out the history that we learned through the pages of Riyria to add depth and complexity to an already epic world.
The author has a fascinating way of taking the most unusual and unique characters and developing them, making them incredibly relatable, human, and genuine. The titular character, Farilane, is one of the only two half-elf, half-human people in existence (the other is Nolyn, the titular character from the series Book 1), and it shows her struggle to rescue her kidnapped daughter and foil the machinations of an evil as ancient as the world itself.
Truly an amazing read—and you’ll be glad to know the final book in the trilogy, Esrahaddon, will be released later in 2023 following an immensely successful Kickstarter.
I’ll admit: The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is not my usual fantasy fare. I like my books to be a bit darker and grittier (mostly).
But this one caught me totally by surprise and hooked me hard. The author takes us on a marvelous pirate adventure across the Indian Ocean, bringing in fantastical elements like sorcery, ancient mysteries and wonders, and artifacts with terrifying and wondrous magical powers.
What truly makes it an amazing story, though, is the character Amina herself. Older, more mature, and experienced, she is living proof that adventures don’t end just because we grow older. Plus, there’s a lovely “swashbuckling” feel to it that fans of stories like The Three Musketeers and Greatcoats (both high on my list of favorites) will love.
Fevered Star is the much-anticipated sequel to Rebecca Roanhorse’s hugely popular Black Sun, and the second installment in the Between Earth and Sky series (which will be at least a trilogy when all is said and done).
Set in a pre-Columbian Meso-American world, it’s a fascinating look into a culture that few fantasy series explore, but which I found absolutely riveting during the years that I lived in Mexico. But the world is just the vehicle in which to bring you gripping characters, characters that become more complex and intriguing the more you get to know them.
Though it’s heavy on the political intrigue, it never stops pulling you along at a blistering pace and keeping you immensely entertained.
Andrea Stewart’s The Bone Shard Daughter took the fantasy world by storm when it was released in 2020, and each book in The Drowning Empire series has gotten better, culminating in The Bone Shard War—coming April 18!
The flavor of ancient China is utterly spellbinding, drawing the reader deeper into a world of color, glamour, hardships, danger, love, war, loyalty, and treason. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed the romance aspect of the story thus far, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages and reading “just one more chapter” because of how compelling and engaging it was. Dying to get my hands on the final book and find out how it all ends.
I’ve been a fan of Naomi Novik since Her Majesty’s Dragon, and the Scholomance series lives up to the very high bar she has set with her stories.
Scholomance takes place in a magic school, but one a bit darker than Hogwarts. The characters are all compelling and complex, but what really hooked me were the social themes (collective action problem/environmentalism) woven subtly throughout the series, but especially this final book. And I’ll say this series absolutely “sticks the landing” and wraps up the trilogy satisfyingly.
Gideon the Ninth introduced us to a world of necromancy and bone magic unlike any other. Harrow the Ninth expanded the story and introduced us to “God”, the character who brought magic into the world. But Nona the Ninth shrinks the story back down and shows us the world through Nona, a character who is the very definition of “tabula rasa”.
Nona is a blank slate, a grown woman on the outside but who is just months old and experiencing the world for the first time. There’s a wonderful joyousness and light-heartedness to her that contrasts sharply with the characters around her, as well as those from the previous books.
I will admit a bit of frustration at the sparseness of detail. But by the end of the book, I was dying to find out what will happen in the next and final book in The Locked Tomb series, Alecto the Ninth, releasing sometime in 2023 (or 2024).
There’s a good reason The Book Eaters is such an award-winning and best-selling novel: it’s absolutely riveting from cover to cover.
The story follows The Family, a group of people who literally eat books, with each book flavored differently (romance = sweet, thrillers = peppery, etc.). All of the knowledge consumed through each page is retained by those who eat it, giving a truly unique definition to “devouring words”.
But its true central conflict is less “magical” and more human: the protagonist, Devon, is struggling to know what to do with her son, who is born with a rare condition that twists his hunger to darker ends.
I won’t spoil the story, but not only is it highly original, but the magical realism and core characters make it an utterly compelling read.
JA Andrews’ The Keeper Origins series does something few other series can: it straddles the line between a grand, world-shaping epic and a cozy, slice of life story to perfection.
The Keeper Origins (beginning with Dragon’s Reach), follows Sable, a thief who is stealing to keep her sister out of the clutches of a greedy mob boss who rules the underworld where she lives. What begins as a small theft-gone-awry sends Sable fleeing the city on an adventure that will not only change her life, but change the realm forever.
Alternately light-hearted and profound, action-packed and filled with quiet human moments, it’s all wrapped up in a truly satisfying conclusion in the final book in the trilogy, Phoenix Rising.
MMA, jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing fans (like me), this one’s for you!
Set in a futuristic fantasy world, it follows the adventures of brawlers who fight not for sport, but to settle political disputes, end territory wars, and assign resources to the fractious realms. It follows Cego, hand-picked by one of the greatest Grievar Knights of all time to join a battle school and train to fight.
I was fortunate enough to read a copy of the series when it was originally (self) published. Now, however, it being re-released by Orbit Books, coming in June 2023. I can promise you the entire trilogy is one heck of a gripping, battle-packed feast for any martial arts fans.
R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War was a truly amazing read, firmly establishing her as one of the finest modern fantasy authors. Babel proves that even when she isn’t writing grand, sprawling epics and bloody battles, she can still tell a heck of a story.
In Babel, the protagonist joins Oxford University’s Royal Institute of Translation, where the oldest—and most magical—books are translated and protected.
This alternate-history story looks at what happens when following one’s passion conflicts with loyalty to one’s family and country. It’s a gripping look at “dark academia” (school settings or the pursuit of knowledge gone wrong) that dives into deep themes like revolution and the true power and magic of language.
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