I’ve made a resolution to read and review more books by Black authors, and 2021 is looking to be a year of fantastic releases. Here are 16 that I am most looking forward to. The titles link to the GoodReads synopsis, so you can add the book if it interests you.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book for almost two years now, so I’m worried I’ve hyped myself too much. Firstly, the cover is gorgeous. So let’s just bask in its glory for a moment. This had me hooked because there’s forbidden magic, an army of near-immortal girls kicking ass (magically), an enemy threat to the empire, and secrets in a walled city.
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
Fatima forgot her name, and Death gave her a new one. Her touch is death, and she can destroy a town with a glance. Now she walks the world searching for an object that fell from the sky with only a fox for company.
I’m not sure about where this book is going to go, but I’m willing to follow.
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
YA Contemporary Fantasy
The synopsis for this one has a lot going on, so I’m just going to say that it involves a half-god Black girl being taken to a magical island after her mom dies, being separated from her little sister in the process. And obviously there’s a great and terrible evil our main girl, Rue, is going to have to face down. Go read the GoodReads entry. It’s going to be a ride.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
This is marketed as a Jamaican-inspired fantasy filled with dangerous magic and betrayal. The two main leads are as different as night and day; Iraya has spent her life in a cell, waiting for her freedom and planning her revenge while Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, who has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. These two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down their mutual enemy.
Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Son of the Storm is going to be a ride. Our main character, Danso, is a scholar (yay!), who finds a skin-changing warrior, Lilong, bleeding in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands – which apparently don’t exist, and has magic that also doesn’t exist – at least according to his knowledge. It’s about violent conquest, buried histories, forbidden magic, and a vast empire-wide conspiracy to suppress the truth.
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
Blood Like Magic is about a Voya, a teen witch who fails her Calling- the trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers. Her ancestor gives her a second chance, but after she agrees, she learns that her new task is to kill her first love to save her whole family’s magic. The problem is – she’s never been in love. Fortunately a new genetic matchmaking program has hit the market, so no she just has to find the perfect guy, and kill him.
Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis
YA Urban Fantasy
Bad Witch Burning seems like a book written for me. Ghosts. Necromancy. Witches.
Katrell has the ability to talk to the dead, helping her clients communicate with their loved ones. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay much. When a ghost warns her to stop her summonings, she doesn’t listen, and accidentally raises someone from the dead. Seeing an opportunity, she’s got no intention of stopping. But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon, dark forces are closing in on Katrell.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
YA Contemporary Fantasy
Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch. When her aunt dies and leaves a sprawling estate, her family moves there. There, they find an old-school apothecary and a walled garden filled with deadly botanicals. Then strangers begin to arrive asking for tinctures and elixirs, which Bri has a talent for creating. But there are dark secrets swirling around the estate and the surrounding community, as well as a nefarious group looking for an immortality elixir, and a centuries-old curse.
The Unbroken by C. L. Clark
I’m just going to leave the synopsis here, because I’m not sure I can condense it much more. But this sounds like it is going to be absolutely epic – both in terms of scope, and awesomeness.
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu
Missing children. Zimbabwean magic. A girl who can talk to ghosts. Hidden magic. And an occult library. In Edinburgh. Take my money now. Please.
The Marvelous by Claire Kann
YA Mystery Thriller
Okay, so The Marvelous is not my usual kind of book, but it sounds kind of fascinating. Six teens are locked together in a mansion owned by a reclusive heiress, competing for a life changing cash prize. But money isn’t the only thing at stake.
So Many Beginnings by Bethany Morrow
YA Historical Retelling
I’m trying not to hyperventilate, but this is a YA remix of Little Women featuring four young Black sisters coming of age during the American Civil War. Set in 1863, the March family have settled in the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island, among other Black families who have been recently emancipated. I am actually so excited I’m shaking while writing this. Some things remain the same, but Morrow seems like she’s fleshed out the characters so much:
Meg, a teacher who longs to find love and start a family of her own.
Jo, a writer whose words are too powerful to be contained.
Beth, a talented seamstress searching for a higher purpose.
Amy, a dancer eager to explore life outside her family’s home.
I honestly cannot wait to meet them. Hopefully there will also be less moralising than the original.
The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughly
YA Historical Fantasy
“Set in Victorian England, the book follows Iris, an African tightrope walker with a secret: she cannot die. But when Iris gets involved with a mysterious society that’s convinced the world is ending, she’s drafted in the fight-to-the-death Tournament of Freaks where she learns the terrible truth of who and what she really is.”
Does this sound amazing, or what?
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
YA Fantasy Retelling
So this is an Ethiopian inspired Jane Eyre retelling. I don’t talk much about it on this blog, but Jane Eyre is my favourite ‘classic.’ I’ve only tried reading one other retelling (and I DNFd it), so I’m really excited to see what Blackwood does with this. Already there are twists – Andromeda is an unlicensed debtera who is hired to rid a castle of its dangerous curses, only to fall in love with a boy whose life hangs in the balance.
For All Time by Shanna Miles
YA Fantasy Romance
I am a bit of a sucker for reincarnation romances, so this book sounds right up my alley. Tamar and Fayard have fallen in love across hundreds of lifetimes, seeing the world change, and humanity reach for the stars. But in every life, they lose each other. In this life they hope to break the cycle of tragedy once and for all.
Beasts of Prey by Ayana Grey
There’s not much to go on with this one, so I’ll just provide the GoodReads synopsis. I think it was the magical jungle and nightmare-weaving spiders that really caught my interest.
“Steeped in rich, Pan-African influence, Ayana Gray’s Beasts of Prey follows two Black teens as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the creature that has ravaged their home for nearly a century. But in a magical jungle where spiders weave nightmares and the trees hoard secrets, they soon find that even the hunters can become the hunted.”