There’s something about this time of year that feels magical. The autumnal (and possibly literal) bite of Halloween is still lingering in the air (and it’s likely that all the candy is still in bowls around our houses.) The chill of winter is lurking. And the sparkling promise of the holidays is just a few weeks away. Perhaps it’s the combination of all these things that makes November such a perfect spot for fantasy releases. (Well, that, and the fact that you’ve still got around eight weeks to get these titles on your Christmas list for Santa.)
But no joke, this month is a virtual embarrassment of riches for regular readers of this genre. Just look at all the big names and buzzy titles hitting shelves. Susan Dennard! Kristen Cashore! N.K. Jemisin! There are highly anticipated sequels, official big publisher releases of buzzy indie favorites, and new releases a-plenty. What I’m saying is get cozy, because you’ll be reading awhile.
Here are our picks for the best fantasy books hitting shelves this November.
The Luminaries by Susan Dennard
Release Date: November 1 from Tor Teen
Why You’ll Love It: If you need me to say something more than “The author of the Witchlands books is kicking off a new fantasy series,” I know what to tell you. (That it’s a richly realized tale about monster hunters that explores family, community, and a whole lot of female rage is just the icing on the cake.)
Publisher’s Description: Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.
Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.
Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.
But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.
Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.
The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix
Release Date: November 1 from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Why You’ll Love It: A young blood-witch is sent to the kingdom of Isodal as part of an arranged marriage to keep the peace between her coven and the human world with a secret mission: to use the magic that compels her to kill to assassinate her betrothed. But when Ranka arrives in the south, she discovers a dangerous plague that will force her to work with those she’s been taught to consider her enemies, and reevaluate everything she thought she knew about her power and her people along the way. Though there are plenty of familiar YA tropes at work in this story, the moral complexity of all sides of the conflict at its center is surprisingly rich and the kingdom’s intricate factional politics are both thorny and compelling.
Publisher’s Description: Ranka is tired of death. All she wants now is to be left alone, living out her days in Witchik’s wild north with the coven that raised her, attempting to forget the horrors of her past. But when she is named Bloodwinn, the next treaty bride to the human kingdom of Isodal, her coven sends her south with a single directive: kill him. Easy enough, for a blood-witch whose magic compels her to kill.
Except the prince is gentle, kind, and terrified of her. He doesn’t want to marry Ranka; he doesn’t want to be king at all. And it’s his sister—the wickedly smart, infuriatingly beautiful Princess Aramis—who seems to be the real threat.
But when witches start turning up dead, murdered by a mysterious, magical plague, Aramis makes Ranka an offer: help her develop a cure, and in return, she’ll help Ranka learn to contain her deadly magic. As the coup draws nearer and the plague spreads, Ranka is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her power, her past, and who she’s meant to fight for. Soon, she will have to decide between the coven that raised her and the princess who sees beyond the monster they shaped her to be.
But as the bodies pile up, a monster may be exactly what they need.
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
Release Date: November 1 from Tordotcom
Why You’ll Love It: The charming follow up to Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, A Restless Truth follows the story of Robin Blyth’s sister Maud on a transatlantic journey to New York. But when the elderly magician to whom she’s serving as a companion is murdered, she’ll have to figure out whether the killer also stole a potentially world-altering magical artifact. She’ll have a little help on that score from a beautiful stranger named Violet, and a cozy crime-solving romp ensues.
Publisher’s Description: The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.
What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.
The Vermillion Emporium by Jamie Pacton
Release Date: November 1 from Peachtree Teen
Why You’ll Love It: The fact that this YA fantasy is based in part on the real-life story of the infamous Radium Girls? Sign me up right now. A mysterious curiosity shop, a boy who can literally catch starlight, a girl who can weave it into spectacular lace, and the heartbreaking price attached to both means The Vermillion Emporium is like nothing you’ve read in a good long while.
Publisher’s Description: On the morning Twain, a lonely boy with a knack for danger, discovers a strand of starlight on the cliffs outside Severon, a mysterious curiosity shop appears in town. Meanwhile, Quinta, the ordinary daughter of an extraordinary circus performer, chases rumors of the shop, The Vermilion Emporium, desperate for a way to live up to her mother’s magical legacy.
When Quinta meets Twain outside the Emporium, two things happen: One, Quinta starts to fall for this starlight boy, who uses his charm to hide his scars. Two, they enter the store and discover a book that teaches them how to weave starlight into lace.
Soon, their lace catches the eye of the Casorina, the ruler of Severon. She commissions Quinta and Twain to make her a starlight dress and will reward them handsomely enough to make their dreams come true. However, they can’t sew a dress without more material, and the secret to starlight’s origins has been lost for centuries. As Quinta and Twain search the Emporium for answers, though, they discover the secret might not have been lost—but destroyed. And likely, for good reason.
The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin
Release Date: November 1 from Orbit
Why You’ll Love It: The World We Make is the anticipated follow-up and conclusion to N.K. Jemisin’s groundbreaking novel The Cities We Became, which introduced the high fantasy concept of sentient cities and is incredibly hard to explain or even talk about with those who aren’t super familiar with its story. A fantasy inspired by the very real modern-day conflict between those who seek to embrace difference versus those who long for a nostalgic and moral past that likely never existed, this is a series that focuses on the human avatars that represent various aspects of New York and other cities like it while using their stories to wrestle with larger questions of race, identity, and belonging.
Publisher’s Description: Every great city has a soul. A human avatar that embodies their city’s heart and wields its magic. New York? She’s got six.
But all is not well in the city that never sleeps. Though Brooklyn, Manny, Bronca, Venezia, Padmini, and Neek have temporarily managed to stop the Woman in White from invading—and destroying the entire universe in the process—the mysterious capital “E” Enemy has more subtle powers at her disposal. A new candidate for mayor wielding the populist rhetoric of gentrification, xenophobia, and “law and order” may have what it takes to change the very nature of New York itself and take it down from the inside. In order to defeat him, and the Enemy who holds his purse strings, the avatars will have to join together with the other Great Cities of the world in order to bring her down for good and protect their world from complete destruction.
Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell
Release Date: November 1 from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: A standalone adventure set in the same universe as author Everina Maxwell’s fantastic arranged marriage space opera Winter’s Orbit, Winter’s Echo features new characters, a new setting and a new trope at its center. (Fake dating versus marriage of convenience, but let’s be real both options are A+ great.) This story follows the story of Tennalhin, a neuromodified “reader” who can see into people’s minds, who is ordered to “sync” or mentally bond with the dutiful soldier Surit, an “architect” whose special ability allows him to influence the mind of others. Their forced union is meant to control Tennal, a messy, often publicly embarrassing relative of the “legislator” who controls their planet, while simultaneously keeping Sunit, whose father was a traitor in line. But when they decide to lie and fake the soul bond that’s meant to exist between them after syncing rather than go through with the procedure, they suddenly discover that much more than their lives and freedoms are at stake.
Publisher’s Description: Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.
Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.
Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.
Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.
Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.
Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
Release Date: November 8 from Tor Books
Why You’ll Love It: Initially author Travis Baldree self-published his debut novel in February 2022, but the cozy, low stakes story became such a viral hit (thanks, BookTok!) that Tor Books has stepped in to release a new edition this year, complete with a length never before seen bonus story attached. The story, set against the backdrop of a traditional epic adventure, is essentially a fantasy coffee shop AU, in which a retired orc swordswoman opens a cafe with her two best friends, and has to deal with the everyday concerns of business and commerce. Utterly charming.
Publisher’s Description: Come take a load off at Viv’s cafe, the first & only coffee shop in Thune. Grand opening!
Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.
However, her dreams of a fresh start filling mugs instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners, and a different kind of resolve.
Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk
Release Date: November 8 from Tordotcom
Why You’ll Love It: A sapphic period romance about a magical detective who has to dig into the supernatural underbelly of 1940s Chicago in order to secure a future with the love of her life is basically an insta-buy for me, is what I’m saying. What more do you even need to know?
Publisher’s Description: An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist?the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.
To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
Seasparrow by Kristin Cashore
Release Date: November 1 from Dutton Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: The fifth installment in Kristin Cashore’s sprawling Graceling saga follows the harrowing story of Bitterblue’s journey back to Monsea in the wake of the events of Winterkeep. Though much of the story focuses on Bitterblue’s struggle to decide what to do with the power she has acquired, her spy half-sister Hava is the narrator, and both are forced to reckon with the way trauma can have lasting effects on both people and kingdoms and what that their experiences mean for the realm Bitterblue will rule.
Publisher’s Description: In the immediate aftermath of the events of Winterkeep, Bitterblue and her entourage begin the journey back to Monsea with the only copies of the formulas for the zilphium weapon. Bitterblue must decide what she will do with her world-shaping power. But before they’ve even made it halfway home, storms drive their ship off course and then wrecking them in the ice far north of the Royal Continent. The survivors must make a harrowing trek across the ice in order to make it back to Monsea.
Seasparrow is told entirely from the point of view of Hava, Bitterblue’s personal spy and secret half-sister. And while Bitterblue grapples with how to carry the responsibility of a weapon of mass destruction, Hava must decide what she will do with herself in the new world Bitterblue will make.
Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria
Release Date: November 1 from Inkyard Press
Why You’ll Love It: The story of an asexual spy sent to a rival kingdom to infiltrate its court and kidnap their most powerful magic caster, Silver in the Mist is a fantasy tale that’s unafraid to explore realistic everyday issues, from the inequality and resource disparities between the two countries to the shared social trauma their residents experience from nearly a decade of conflict. Asexual heroine Devlin is a refreshing lead whose unique experience makes familiar YA themes of self-discovery, self-doubt, and accepting your own worth feel brand new.
Publisher’s Description: Eight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Whisperer of Aris, the head of the spies, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter.
Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.
Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.
Bloodmarked by Tracey Deonn
Release Date: November 8 from Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It Tracey Deonn’s delightful debut Legendborn puts a fresh, exciting spin on the legend of King Arthur, relocating the story to America and recentering it on a young Black girl desperate to figure out who she is. Its sequel, Bloodmarked takes things to the next level as Bree must learn to control the complicated ancestral powers she’s awakened and determine her place as the de facto leader of an ancient society that has historically been hostile toward Black people and is struggling to acknowledge the fact that her abilities only exist because one of her Bloodcraft ancestors was raped by a member of Arthur’s Scion. Bree’s journey isn’t always easy to watch, but it certainly feels important to witness, and she remains as layered and compelling a heroine as ever.
Publisher’s Description: All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new: A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion. But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.
Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected. When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.
If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.
Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan
Release Date: November 15 from Harpre Voyager
Why You’ll Love It: The ambitious sequel to Sue Lynn Tan’s Daughter of the Moon Goddes is a fast-paced, reckless ride that’s not afraid to take big narrative and emotional swings.
Publisher’s Description: After winning her mother’s freedom from the Celestial Emperor, Xingyin thrives in the enchanting tranquility of her home. But her fragile peace is threatened by the discovery of a strange magic on the moon and the unsettling changes in the Celestial Kingdom as the emperor tightens his grip on power. While Xingyin is determined to keep clear of the rising danger, the discovery of a shocking truth spurs her into a perilous confrontation.
Forced to flee her home once more, Xingyin and her companions venture to unexplored lands of the Immortal Realm, encountering legendary creatures and shrewd monarchs, beloved friends and bitter adversaries. With alliances shifting quicker than the tides, Xingyin has to overcome past grudges and enmities to forge a new path forward, seeking aid where she never imagined she would. As an unspeakable terror sweeps across the realm, Xingyin must uncover the truth of her heart and claw her way through devastation—to rise against this evil before it destroys everything she holds dear, and the worlds she has grown to love… even if doing so demands the greatest price of all.
Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse
Release Date: November 15 from Saga Press
Why You’ll Love It: A dark fantasy from the author of the critically acclaimed Black Sun, Tread of Angels that mixes biblical mythology and Western genre tropes into a noir mystery set in a world where society is divided into The Elect and the Fallen. Card dealer Celeste and her sister Mariel are half Fallen and half Elect, so when one is accused of murdering a Virtue, the highest of all Elect humans, the other is determined to prove her innocence. Rich, original world-building and a unique blend of genres make this one a winner.
Publisher’s Description: High in the remote mountains, the town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity. Divinity is the remains of the body of the rebel Abaddon, who fell to earth during Heaven’s War, and it powers the world’s most inventive and innovative technologies, ushering in a new age of progress. However, only the descendants of those that rebelled, called Fallen, possess the ability to see the rich lodes of the precious element. That makes them a necessary evil among the good and righteous people called the Elect, and Goetia a town segregated by ancestry and class.
Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, bound by blood but raised in separate worlds. Celeste grew up with her father, passing in privileged Elect society, while Mariel stayed with their mother in the Fallen slums of Goetia. Upon her father’s death, Celeste returns to Goetia and reunites with Mariel. Mariel is a great beauty with an angelic voice, and Celeste, wracked by guilt for leaving her sister behind, becomes her fiercest protector.
When Mariel is accused of murdering a Virtue, the powerful Order of the Archangels that rule Goetia, Celeste must take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) and defend her sister in the secretive courts of the Virtue. Celeste, aided by her ex-lover, Abraxas, who was once one of the rebels great generals, sets out to prove Mariel innocent. But powerful forces among the Virtues and the Elect mining barons don’t want Celeste prying into their business, and Mariel has secrets of her own. As Celeste is drawn deeper into the dark side of Goetia, she unravel a layer of lies and manipulation that may doom Mariel and puts her own immortal soul at risk.
A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Earnshaw
Release Date: November 29 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Why You’ll Love It: A slow-burning magical romance from the author of The Wicked Deep and Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, A Wilderness of Stars follows the story of Vega, an Astronomer—a custodian of celestial knowledge whose powers are passed matrilineally through the generations—who must leave the isolated valley she’s spent her life in and find the Architect, the only person who can help save the world from the consumption, a mysterious and lethal plague. (That the Architect turns out be a charming teenage boy named Noah, well. That’s the surprising bit.) An unexpected Western vibe help keeps the slow pace from plodding.
Publisher’s Description: Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in the sky, it’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.
What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.
Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.
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.