The end of the year is fairly quiet in young adult speculative fiction, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth checking out. Here’s a little list of my eight most anticipated science fiction and fantasy books for November and December 2023.
Outcasts, Outlaws, & Rebels
Wish of the Wicked by Danielle Paige (Wish of the Wicked #1)
Bloomsbury YA; November 7, 2023
Sixteen-year-old Farrow is the only Entente left after Queen Magrit had them and the Three Fates eliminated in a desperate bid to live forever. When luck lands Farrow with a job in the palace, she decides revenge is worth risking everything for. Cinderella’s fairy godmother is no jolly old white lady but a badass Black girl with a chip on her shoulder the size of Mount Everest.
Kingdom of Without by Andrea Tang
Simon & Schuster BYR; November 28, 2023
In this Beijing-set cyberpunk novel, Zhong Ning’er is a thief who steals more than she can handle. Ning’er works for the Red Yaksha, a Robin Hood figure, when she gets pulled into a conspiracy to launch a revolution. With cyborgs and climate crises plaguing her country, hope is not something Ning’er is used to, but maybe it’s time that changes.
Gods & Monsters
Vengeance of the Pirate Queen by Tricia Levenseller
Feiwel & Friends; November 7, 2023
Set in the world of Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King duology, this standalone features Sorinda, a teenage assassin working for said daughter, Alosa. Sorinda is sent out to captain a ship on a rescue mission. Her journey doesn’t go as expected, what with being saddled with an annoying yet handsome helmsman, attracting the unwanted attention of the King of the Undersea, and dealing with shipwrecks and sea monsters.
Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon (The Ouroboros #1)
Wednesday Books; November 28, 2023
Gem, a nonbinary Seminole teenager, longs to escape their boring, restrictive life and be with Enzo, their trans Indigenous bestie in Brooklyn. With the arrival of Willa Mae, a trans girl and Alaska Native, Gem discovers they’re actually a reincarnated god. When the Goddess of Death tries to kill them, Gem must remember their old life or die trying.
Magic With a Twist
Our Cursed Love by Julie Abe
Wednesday Books; December 12, 2023
Remy is convinced she and Cam are destined to be together…if only he knew it too. During a trip to Japan, the two teens visit a mysterious apothecary where they buy magical potions to reveal their soulmates. But when Cam suddenly forgets who Remy is, Remy may lose him forever. She has until the clock strikes twelve on New Years’ Eve to help him remember her or they’ll both forget who each other are.
Lucero by Maya Motayne (A Forgery of Magic #3)
Balzer & Bray; December 26, 2023
The god Sombra has returned and in his wake chaos has spread across Castallan. Even at only partially powered up, Sombra is a terrifying force. Finn and Alfie must work together to stop the god from acquiring the stone relics of his body, which will grant him his full powers, and destroy them. But their magic is just as chaotic now as everything else. Nothing is as it should be, and if Sombra gets his way, it never will be again.
The Crimson Fortress by Akshaya Raman (The Ivory Key Duology #2)
Clarion Books; November 14, 2023
Royal siblings Vira, Ronak, Kaleb, and Riya were forced to unite to find the Ivory Key, but now that they have it things have gone from bad to worse. To untangle the key’s cypher, the siblings must split up once more. Everything each of them wants seems farther away than ever, and the fate of the country of Ashoka is at stake.
The Ruined by Renée Ahdieh (The Beautiful #4)
G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR; December 5, 2023
The Summer Court of the Sylvan Vale and the Winter Court of the Sylvan Wyld are on the brink of war. Celine may be under her mother’s protection in the Vale, but she doesn’t know who to trust or what path to take. Bastien, while working to reclaim his family’s Wyld throne, discovers some painful truths Celine may not be willing to hear. The intense conclusion to Renée Ahdieh’s quartet.
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), bluesky (@bookjockeyalex), instagram (@bookjockeyalex), and their blog (bookjockeyalex.com).