One of the best things about fantasy is its ability to help us, as readers, dive into different worlds and experience things beyond ourselves. Open a book and suddenly we’re surrounded by everything from powerful magic and capricious fairy folk, to vengeful gods and political schemers at the heart of great foreign courts. And given, well, everything happening in the world around us, there’s rarely been a better time for some deep, intentional escapism.
Thankfully, this month’s batch of new fantasy titles has something for everyone, from magical islands to murderous princesses and rebels pushing back against political oppressors. Here are our picks for the best fantasy titles hitting shelves this February.
This Woven Kingdom by Taherah Mafi
Release Date: February 1 from HarperCollins
Why You’ll Love It: Fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Sabaa Tahir, and S. A. Chakraborty will particularly enjoy this first installment in a rich and romantic trilogy inspired by the Persian epic poem the Shahnameh. Full of rich worldbuilding, lush prose, lots of surprising twists, and a gut-wrenching central romance, you’ll be counting the days until the sequel.
Publisher’s Description: To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight. The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.
Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian
Release Date: February 1 from Delacorte Press
Why You’ll Love It: The latest novel from Laura Sebastian, author of the bestselling Ash Princess trilogy, Castles in Their Bones kicks off a new series focused on three princesses who have trained all their lives to bring down the very monarchies they’ve been sent to marry into. Full of political intrigue and divided loyalties, the book’s split POV structure allows us to delve into the distinct personalities of each princess and the worlds of their distinct courts, which are full of problems and dangers of their own. Fast-paced and easy to get lost in.
Publisher’s Description: Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, at age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes. Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.
Crescent City: House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: February 15 from Bloomsbury Publishing
Why You’ll Love It: No one does dense, female-focused fantasy like Sarah J. Maas. And the second installment of her adult urban contemporary Crescent City series, House of Sky and Breath, aims to turn everything you loved about the first novel up to eleven, with more worldbuilding, more romance, and more complex Midgardian politics. Light it up, Bryce.
Publisher’s Description: Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal?they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.
The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.
Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham
Release Date: February 15 from Orbit Books
Why You’ll Love It: The latest novel from Daniel Abraham, one-half of the authorial team behind the space opera The Expanse, Age of Ash is the first installment in his new “Kithamar” epic fantasy trilogy. Set in the city of Kithamar over the course of a single year, the novel follows the stories of multiple characters across class and social lines whose lives and stories will all eventually intersect. A broad, wide-ranging narrative that may meander at times but is clearly building toward something grand.
Publisher’s Description: Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold. This is Alys’s. When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why. But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.
A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross
Release Date: February 15 from Harper Voyager
Why You’ll Love It: The debut adult fantasy from author Rebecca Ross, A River Enchanted capitalizes on what made Ross’s YA novels so appealing: Her unique ability to take a story whose bones you’ve heard before and make it feel brand new. Here, a prodigal son returns home to a magical island to help find a series of missing girls, a search that will reunite him with his former childhood enemy. A richly imagined, Scottish-inspired setting takes center stage in this tale full of political intrigue, betrayal, and thriller-esque twists.
Publisher’s Description: Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, the heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.
As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.
The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood
Release date: February 15 from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: The exciting sequel to A.K. Larkwood’s fantasy debut The Unspoken Name, The Thousand Eyes is a story of magic and gods and betrayal and romance. Marked as perfect for fans of Ursula K. LeGuin and Jenn Lyons, this fast-paced adventure has time jumps and twists galore as the fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken once more – and reignite a long-ago war.
Publisher’s Description: Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they’re beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.
Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal’s old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
Release Date: February 22 from Fiewel & Friends
Why You’ll Love It: Gorgeous prose and a rich historical setting are the big draws of this Studio Ghibli-esque fantasy that blends a familiar mythical framework with enticing original characters. (Sidebar: This is one of the hands-down most gorgeous covers you’ll see this month, too.)
Publisher’s Description: Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.
Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.
Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.
The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan
Release Date: February 22 from Orbit Books
Why You’ll Love It: Part dark fantasy, part political thriller, and part crime novel, The Justice of Kings kicks off the latest trilogy from author Richard Swan. A grimdark and slightly depressing exploration of corruption and how the realities of war can strain even the most well-meaning ethical and political systems, it’s a very different sort of fantasy tale than we’re used to seeing nowadays. (And all with a murder mystery thrown on top!)
Publisher’s Description: As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get almost any job done.
When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire.