As we bask in the first days of spring, a pleasantly eclectic array of new fantasy titles are busily arriving at bookshops around the country. From yet another anticipated adult debut by a popular YA author to several long-awaited sequels, there’s a surprising number of intriguing titles to be had across many different sub-genres. (And all before the summer reading rush that is May descends upon us!)
Whether you’re looking to escape into a world of dragons, chase magical vigilante justice, or take a fresh look at longstanding myths by centering new voices, this month’s fantasy list has something for you. Here are our picks for the best fantasy books hitting shelves in April.
The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish
Release Date: April 5 from Orbit Books
Why You’ll Love It: The epic story of one man’s transformation from deposed monarch to terrifying vigilante, The Bladed Faith is an action-packed start to David Dalglish’s new Vagrant Gods series. Full of sorcery, bloodshed, and a surprisingly charming found family, the story’s twisty final chapters set up an ending that promises much more excitement to come.
Publisher’s Description Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader’s court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary “Vagrant”—an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill.
But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance.
In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
Release Date: April 5 from Del Ray Books
Why You’ll Love It: In a Garden Burning Gold marks the adult fantasy debut from author Rory Power, best known for her popular YA novels Wilder Girls and Burn Their Bodies Down, thematically, it’s an intriguingly hard swerve. Set in a Byzantine-esque federation of neighboring kingdoms, it follows the story of a pair of near-immortal twins who are devoted to their powerful magical family, despite the trauma they’ve both suffered at the hands of their abusive father. Power’s story features intricate worldbuilding and complex relationships and is absolutely nothing that we expected from this author.
Publisher’s Description: Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.
Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.
The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
Release Date: April 12 from Orbit
Why You’ll Love It: The second installment in John Gwynne’s Norse-inspired Bloodsworn Saga series, it’s as full of myth, magic, and vengeance as its predecessor and puts all the pieces in place for a truly epic finale.
Publisher’s Description: Lik-Rifa, the dragon god of legend, has been freed from her eternal prison. Now she plots a new age of blood and conquest.
As Orka continues the hunt for her missing son, the Bloodsworn sweep south in a desperate race to save one of their own – and Varg takes the first steps on the path of vengeance.
Elvar has sworn to fulfil her blood oath and rescue a prisoner from the clutches of Lik-Rifa and her dragonborn followers, but first she must persuade the Battle-Grim to follow her.
Yet even the might of the Bloodsworn and Battle-Grim cannot stand alone against a dragon god.
Their hope lies within the mad writings of a chained god. A book of forbidden magic with the power to raise the wolf god Ulfrir from the dead . . . and bring about a battle that will shake the foundations of the earth.
Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley
Release Date: April 19 from Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Why You’ll Love It: Adrienne Tooley’s Sweet & Bitter Magic was a stealth delight last year, and one of the best standalone LGBTQ fantasies that hit shelves in 2021. But Sofi and the Bone Song may just top it. The story of a young woman who dreams of becoming one of the handful of people in her kingdom granted the right to perform and compose music who sets out to prove the girl who beat her out for the role cheated by using magic, it’s a surprisingly rich tale of talent, the dangers of assumptions, and the price of suffering for one’s art. (With a delicious slow burn romance at its center.)
Publisher’s Description: Music runs in Sofi’s blood.
Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.
Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.
Almost like magic.
The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.
As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.
Spear by Nicola Griffith
Release Date: April 19 from Tordotcom
Why You’ll Love It: A queer Arthurian retelling from the author of Hild, Spear follows the story of a girl named Peretur, whose tale is loosely based on the legend of the knight Parcival. Upon arriving at Caer Leon, she is presumed to be a man, and her subsequent adventures will ask thoughtful and thorny questions about gender roles and perceptions and whether there is really any difference between a hero and a heroine at all.
Publisher’s Description: The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.
And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armor, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures, she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.
Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
Release Date: April 10 from Saga Press
Why You’ll Love It: The highly anticipated sequel to 2020’s award-winningBlack Sun, Fevered Star takes Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky trilogy to the next level, adding more intricate worldbuilding, even messier politics, and a few big twists by the end as we barrel toward the third and final book in the series.
Publisher’s Description: The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.
The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?
As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.
And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
Release Date: April 26 from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: A darkly funny weirdo fantasy romp, Nettle & Bone is perhaps the most bizarre entry on this month’s list. A mix of truly peculiar characters, this story is part fairytale and part ethical manifesto. It follows the story of a third-born daughter who is determined to kill a prince and save her family, but who first must complete three seemingly impossible tasks. This is the most basic and boring explanation of a book that largely defies easy description, but I promise you’ll be happier if you go in blind.
Publisher’s Description: After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.
Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.
On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.
Release Date: April 26 from Redhook
Why You’ll Love It: One of the most welcome publishing trends in recent years has been the rise of mythological retellings that focus on often ignored or unfairly villainized women. But although books like Madeline Miller’s Circe, Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, and Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne are all fantastic stories that give sidelined women their voices back, they’re also very focused on Western myths. Well, Vaishnavi Patel’s debut Kaikeyi is here to change that, with its thoughtful, feminist reclaiming of one of the most despised queens of Indian mythology from the epic poem the Ramayana.
Publisher’s Description: “I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”
So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.
Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.
But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.