Whether you want to sink in to a contemplative, magical fantasy world or be blown away by an action-packed sci-fi extravaganza, an entire galaxy of wonderful SFF books awaits you in 2021.
The visionary author behind Who Fears Death and the Binti series returns to the novella format (for which she’s previously won both a Nebula and a Hugo award) in this tale of a young girl who gains terrifying powers after encountering a mysterious object that fell from the sky.
Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen
Dutton | February 2
Johansen wrapped up her acclaimed Tearling trilogy in 2016, but it turns out there were more stories to tell. Her prequel novel, Beneath the Keep, will reveal the backstories of some of Johansen’s most beloved characters and explore the origins of the prophecy that kick-started the events of the original series.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Tor | February 2
SFF’s embrace of romance tropes in the last couple of years has been an absolute delight, and comparisons to Red, White & Royal Blue have many readers eagerly awaiting Maxwell’s debut, in which an imperial prince enters into an arranged marriage with the ruler of one of the empire’s vassal planets. Cue conspiracies, intrigue and maybe true love?
Circe but make it Norse? This evocative debut centers on a minor character from Norse mythology: Angrboda, a witch who bore three powerful children with the trickster god, Loki. In Gornichec’s hands, Angrboda’s story becomes a meditation on fate, love and defiance.
The ever-inventive Gailey switches gears yet again, going from the magic-school-meets-murder-investigation fun of Magic for Liars to The Echo Wife, which by all accounts reads like someone spliced “Orphan Black” with Gone Girl. It sounds too good to be true, but Gailey hasn’t written a bad book yet.
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury | February 16
YA megastar Maas already moved into adult SFF with last year’s House of Earth and Blood, and the second arc of her insanely popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series will be categorized as adult as well. A Court of Silver Flames will also change protagonists, shifting the story’s focus from Feyre Archeron to her cold, frighteningly powerful sister, Nesta.
The Councillor by E.J. Beaton
DAW | March 2
The word that keeps coming up to describe this book is “Machiavellian,” which is really all we need to hear. This debut will follow Lysande, a scholar appointed Councillor after the queen of Elira dies mysteriously. She’s tasked with choosing the new ruler, but Lysande also suspects that the previous queen was murdered.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
Tor | March 2
Martine’s A Memory Called Empire was that wonderful, rare thing: a highly ambitious, very complicated sci-fi novel that fulfilled reader expectations and then some. The next installment in the saga has a killer hook: an alien armada is hovering on the edge of the empire, but no one can communicate with it and no one knows why it’s there.
The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
Harper Voyager | March 9
SFF is a world of sprawling, multibook sagas more often than not, which makes Durst’s recent run of standalone novels all the more refreshing. The Bone Maker looks like it’s going to fit right in with the current wave of gothic genre novels; it’s set in a world where human bones can be used, illegally, for magic.
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Ace | May 11
The author of the beloved Regency-era fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown will now lend her magical touch to this Malaysian-set saga of Jess, a woman drawn into her grandmother’s vendetta against a gang boss. Oh, and Jess' grandmother is dead, her ghost speaks to Jess, and she was a medium for a powerful deity that might take control of Jess’ body for good.
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
Tor.com | May 11
Clark has previously published a short story and a novella set in an otherworldly, alternate-reality Cairo and will return there for his fantasy novel debut. A Master of Djinn will introduce a whole new audience to Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi, whose department solves crimes that affect both the magical and mortal populations of the city.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Tor.com | June 1
The best character in The Great Gatsby is Daisy’s friend Jordan Baker, full stop—we will not be taking questions at this time. So we truly cannot wait for Vo’s first novel, a magical take on the Jazz Age classic that reimagines Jordan as an Asian American immigrant and magic user.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Orbit | June 10
Suri’s lovely Books of Ambha duology won rave reviews, and this start to an epic fantasy series about an imprisoned princess and a maid who’s secretly a powerful priestess might be her breakout.
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
Del Rey | June 29
After two acclaimed, luminous standalone fantasies inspired by classic fairy tales, Novik went in the completely opposite direction and wrote A Deadly Education, a wildly dark take on the magical school trope in which the students are pretty much in mortal danger the entire time. In The Last Graduate, series protagonist El and her classmates will face the Scholomance’s deadly final ritual.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Tor | July 20
This historical fantasy debut will reimagine the founding of China’s Ming dynasty, creating an alternate timeline in which the founder of the dynasty, Zhu Chongba, died while still a child and his sister stole his identity.
The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
Del Rey | July 20
Wendig’s follow-up to 2019’s highly acclaimed Wanderers is another doorstop of a book, but this time it's set in the realm of supernatural horror rather than sci-fi. Think haunted houses, creepy sculptures and even creepier little children.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
Tor | September 21
It is incredibly hard to write whimsy without tipping over into saccharine, but Klune makes it look effortless. His next book, after last year’s wonderful The House in the Cerulean Sea, will follow Wallace, a man who dies, refuses to cross over into the afterlife and falls in love with Hugo, who runs a tea shop when he’s not ferrying souls to the great beyond.
Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
Orbit | November 30
Lee’s absolutely awesome series following the clans of the island nation of Kekon, who use magical jade to enhance their bodies and fight wars among one another, will come to an end this September. So you have plenty of time to go back and read the first two books in the series, Jade City and Jade War.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Discover all of BookPage’s most anticipated books of 2021.