★ Ninth House
In Leigh Bardugo’s instantly gripping new fantasy, Ninth House, Alex Stern can see ghosts. This ability makes her perfectly suited to monitor Yale’s underground societies, which perform occult rituals under cover of darkness. When a ritual goes wrong and Alex senses the ghosts of Yale becoming restless, she must race to find out the sinister reasons why. The world of this book is so consistent and enveloping that pages seem to rush by. Bardugo, a veteran of the fantasy space with her Grishaverse series, never lets the narrative become overtaken by the lore, and she includes plenty of winking callouts to the horrors of modern collegiate experiences. Creepy and thrilling, this one deserves a place on your fall reading list.
Steel Crow Saga
Expansive yet personal, Paul Krueger’s Steel Crow Saga starts with a bang and never slows down. A soldier seeking vengeance, a prince looking for home, a detective with a secret and a thief wanting redemption unite to face an abominable evil. Saga’s magic system centers on animal familiars that can be summoned to fight alongside characters—think Pokémon meets The Golden Compass, with plenty of original and frightening twists along the way. While the influence of colonial Asian history is clear, it adds to the world building rather than taking the reader out of the action. Krueger deftly gives each character their own point of view without losing sight of the novel’s central theme: We’re stronger together than we are alone.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse
Sometimes a book just flat-out charms you—How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason is one such book. Rory is a singular woman, anointed with blessings from 13 fairies and destined to rule the interplanetary government. In a clever twist, one of the blessings gives Rory the ability to hear the truth when someone is lying. These lies and truths offer funny contrasts on the page, and lead to some wonderfully surprising moments. When Rory discovers a sinister conspiracy at the same time she is engaged to a prince from another planet, she must rely on all of her blessings to save the day. Eason’s heroine is a whirlwind, a one-woman battering ram whose tenacity is exciting and funny. This is the first in a series, and I anticipate many more pages of Rory confounding expectations (and anyone she meets).