Maybe it’s the summer heat, maybe it’s new books from our favorite authors, but we have no chill when it comes to the next three months. Not only is this season bringing a new Harry Potter book to our shelves, it’s also delivering a fascinating tale about monsters from the talented Victoria Schwab. There’s a retelling of Vlad the Impaler with the infamous ruler recast as a teenage girl, and a novel inspired by a Grimm Brothers fairy tale you’ve probably never read before. Whether you’re spending your summer on the beach, curled up next to the AC, or relaxing in the park, the time is sure to fly by while you’re reading these phenomenal titles.
For the first time ever, we’ve split our young adult preview in two: contemporary and sci-fi & fantasy. So once you’ve put these 10 books on your summer TBR, head on over to the YA contemporary preview for even more great reads.
Now you see me, now you don’t
Julia lives in a world where witches are drowned for showing their powers. Thankfully, her gift is the ability to be unseen, lingering on the periphery of other people’s senses. It also makes her the perfect spy and thief, a trade she learned under the guidance of Esme, the leader of Spira City’s largest network of con artists. Julia’s latest assignment takes her to an elegant home where she’s posing as a maid. The home is filled with eccentric characters: a guest who spends nights locked in the basement, an odd professor who sends Julia on strange errands, and the mysterious woman who owns the house. The more Julia learns about the guests, the more she begins to believe that one of them may be the serial killer terrorizing her city. Kick your summer off with some magic and pick up Catherine Egan’s witchy tale.
On shelves: June 7
Why the caged bird sings
Even hardcore fans of fairy tale retellings may not be familiar with the inspiration behind Sara Wilson Etienne’s novel. Etienne took the violence, darkness, and strength from “Fitcher’s Bird” by the Brothers Grimm and turned it into this adventurous summer read. Leica lives on Gabriel, a desert planet ravaged by a plague known as the Red Death. The affluent and controlling Curadores wear biosuits and live under the safety of the Dome, while others like Leica are left to scavenge and fight for survival in the harsh desert. Born with six fingers on each hand, Leica had long been regarded as a sinner, but when she’s caught stealing she’s exiled and left to die. That’s when she meets Edison, a Curador willing to let her into the Dome if she poses as his concubine. Beneath the Dome, Leica learns more about the origins of the Red Death and the reason why Earth abandoned their planet years before when Gabriel needed a savior. Leica’s world is dark, filled with secrets and danger, but if anyone can survive, it’s her.
On shelves: June 7
Come down from your tower
Anglet “Ang” Sutonga works as a steeplejack repairing the towers and spires of Bar-Selehm, the industrial capital of her country. Reminiscent of Victorian-era South Africa, her world is diverse in terms of both race and class, though far from egalitarian. When Ang’s apprentice is murdered, few can be bothered to care about the death of a Lani boy. The people of the city are more concerned about the missing Beacon, an invaluable piece of luxorite (a glowing mineral that Bar-Selehm is famous for). Josiah Willinghouse, a local politician, is willing to help Ang though. He offers her a job searching for the boy’s killer. Ang is seeking justice, but along the way finds more than she bargained for, including a conspiracy that could tear the capital apart. Starred by both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, the first book in A.J. Hartley’s new series is not to be missed.
On shelves: June 14
Finger on the trigger
The fate of the world rests in the hands of James Salley. Not because he’s the Chosen One or a hero of any kind; it’s because he’s the Antichrist. His destiny is to start the War, a crusade that will destroy Earth. James can’t deny that it’s tempting. His parents ignore him completely and he’s tormented by a bully every single day at school. But Earth is also the home planet of Dorian Delaney, the girl of his dreams. Jesse Jordan crafts a funny tale about fate and the choices we make.
On shelves: June 14
Off with their heads
What was that? You’re looking for a ruthless female villain? Enter Lada. Kiersten White’s latest takes inspiration from the infamous Vlad the Impaler, but recasts him as a girl and takes readers back to her humble beginnings. Lada Dragwlya was born wearing a frown. She grew up fierce and wild; her heart only big enough for the love of her best friend Bogdan, her brother Radu, and her country, Wallachia. When her father allows the Ottoman sultan to keep her and Radu as hostages, Lada realizes that she must look out for herself because no one else will. The first in a trilogy, this alternate-history novel sets up Lada’s story and will leave readers eager for the gruesome days to come.
On shelves: June 28
Human monsters and monsters who play at being human
Victoria Schwab gets better with every book, making this one of the hottest and most eagerly anticipated releases of the summer. It’s set a world where committing a violent act turns you into a monster (a Sunai, a Malchai, or a Corsai). August is a Sunai and survives by killing people who have already killed another. When he’s tasked with spying on Kate Harker, the daughter of a vicious man who uses the fear the monsters create to profit, he jumps at the chance to do something good and prove he’s more than the monster others think he is. Kate longs to show to her father that she can be as cold-hearted as he is, but she’s harboring a few secrets of her own. With rebellion on the horizon, Kate and August must decide what side they want to be on in the war to come. Schwab crafts a violent, engrossing novel about what it means to truly be a monster.
On shelves: July 5
The waves of change
Kirkus describes Martin Stewart’s debut as “Huck Finn meets Moby-Dick,” and if that doesn’t sell you on this title then nothing will. Wulliam Fobisher’s family has watched over the Danék river for generations, keeping the water clear of debris so boats could pass through and pulling bloated corpses from its murky and dangerous depths. When Wulliam comes of age, he’s expected to take up his father’s position as Riverkeep. What no one knows is that Wulliam is planning on running away. His plans change when his father is pulled under the waves by a dark spirit. He survives the attack, but has been possessed by a creature called a bohdan. To save his father, Wulliam has to search out the mormorach, an undersea creature, and must literally go into the belly of the beast for the cure he seeks. Rollicking adventure and memorable characters await the reader who picks up this book.
On shelves: July 26
All was not well
After all this time, Harry Potter still manages to transform us into over-excited fangirls. J.K. Rowling collaborated with Jack Thorn and John Tiffany on this new story. Set years after the events in the final Harry Potter book, this tale focuses on Harry’s relationship with his son Albus (who we assume to be the titular cursed child). To be clear, this is not a novel and is not the eighth Harry Potter book. This is the script to a play, which is being performed in London this summer. Lucky fans will be able to see the live performances, but everyone can own a piece of the magic with this book. Expect it on shelves in late July, on Harry’s birthday, of course.
On shelves: July 31
On the run
Princess, captive, and runaway—Lia’s life went from predictable to perilous after she decided to flee from an arranged marriage. Now, she finds herself with the very prince she rejected, Rafe, as they escape from walled city of Venda, and Kaden. Lia and Rafe haven’t heard news from the outside world in a long time, and for all they know there’s a war awaiting them on the other side of the wall. They don’t know what to expect, but they do know they’ll take it on together. This is the final book in Mary E. Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles series, and readers have a lot of questions they want answered: Will Lia’s magical powers help her to survive? What do Kaden’s visions mean, and will they come to pass? What will become of the kingdoms? Readers will have to wait until August to find out.
On shelves: August 2
Light my way
Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes was a breakout hit of 2015. Young adult readers around the globe fell in love with this dynamic tale of two teenagers fighting against their oppressive Empire. In the sequel, Laia and Elias are on the run and the Empire’s soldiers are hot on their trail. They’re fighting to reach Kauf Prison, where they hope to free Laia’s brother, but there are endless obstacles in their way. Meanwhile, Helene has sworn fealty to the Empire’s new leader, Marcus. But when her loyalty is called into question, she must find a way to prove herself or face a deadly punishment.
On shelves: August 30