This year has been a great one for fantasy, and early 2020 is shaping up to be quite promising as well. There are so many excellent novels being published that it’s hard for the avid reader to keep on top of it all. While some books are being released amid great fanfare and more than a bit of hype, other new offerings may surprise book lovers with fantastic stories, complex characters, unique perspectives, and unusual inspirations. Whether you’re looking for a story to escape into or one that will keep you up late thinking and dreaming, the books on our list have you covered. Read on for some of our top picks.
The Starless Sea
By Erin Mogenstern
Doubleday, $28.95, 512 pages
Deep in the library stacks, graduate student Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a mysterious book full of fascinating stories–including, inexplicably, a story straight from his own childhood. As he delves deeper into this fascinating book, Zachary unearths clues that ultimately lead him to a secret, ancient library hidden deep underground. This library is a repository for more than just books, and its guardians protect it fiercely. But there are others who would see it destroyed. As Zachary travels through the mysterious places opened to him by the hidden library, he will find more meaning and purpose than he ever expected.
The Priory of the Orange Tree
By Samantha Shannon
Bloomsbury Publishing, $32.00, 848 pages
Inys has been ruled by the queens of the House of Berethnet for a thousand years, and its current ruler, Queen Sabran the Ninth, is feeling the pressure to produce a daughter. The existence of an heir would do much to protect the realm, but assassins hiding in the shadows are determined to bring about the queendom’s downfall. Sabran’s lady-in-waiting, Ead Duryan, is loyal to her queen–and also to a secret order of mages. Ead uses her forbidden magic to protect Sabran from the many dangers she faces. And on the other side of the dark sea, Tané trains to be a dragon rider. But life is not that simple, and a choice that she makes could change the course of her future forever.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January: A Novel
By Alix E. Harrow
Redhook, $27.00, 384 pages
January Scaller has lived most of her life under the care of Cornelius Locke, her father Julian’s employer. While Julian is sent off on trips around the world, collecting various treasures and artifacts, January, a girl of mixed race, remains in the home of Mr. Locke. January is pampered and treated well, but also confined and lonely. At the age of 7, January discovers a secret Door to a new world, but she quickly backs out and goes back to living her prescribed life. However, when 17-year-old January discovers a book describing thousands of these Doors, she realizes that her life could be much bigger and more daring than she’d ever dreamed.
By Kira Jane Buxton
Grand Central Publishing, $27.00, 320 pages
As a pampered pet crow, S.T. lives a life that should surely be enviable to his wild cousins. But when his human companion dies, S.T. must leave his nest and venture out into the wider world. Together with Dennis, his former owner’s loyal dog, S.T. soon learns that all of the animals of Seattle are all talking about humanity’s newest problem. It would seem that the zombie apocalypse has come, and the animals are the only ones left. As S.T. and Dennis traverse the city, they soon find purpose in rescuing the various pet animals left stranded by their humans’ demise.
The Throne of the Five Winds (Hostage of Empire)
By S. C. Emmett
Orbit, $15.99, 704 pages
After the kingdom of Khir falls to the Empire of Zhaon, Mahara is sent to the Imperial Palace essentially as a hostage: forced to marry the Crown Prince, her livelihood has brought peace and hopefully ensured the good behavior of her people. Accompanying her is Komor Yala, lady-in-waiting, who both serves the new princess and protects her against the many threats to her life. Book 1 of the Hostage of Empire series delves deep into an intricate new world filled with intrigue and danger, with an array of complex characters all working against one another.
The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons)
By Jenn Lyons
Tor Books, $17.99, 576 pages
Kihrin is a lot of things: a minstrel’s son, a thief, and… a long-lost prince? When his supposed family claims him as the son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin is whisked away to a new world of politics and power, and Kihrin quickly discovers that life as royalty is nothing like the stories his adopted father used to tell him. Indeed, the wider world is much bigger than he ever imagined, with gods and goddesses, demons, dragons, and more. Those stories would have Kihrin turn into a hero, but perhaps saving the world is not his destiny.
Whether you are looking for the beginning of a new epic series or a one-shot, all-inclusive novel; whether you want seriously complex worldbuilding or dark humor, high fantasy or magical realism, there are books here that will appeal. The authors represented here showcase a wide variety of personal and professional experiences, and their books let their unique writing and storytelling talent shine in ways that will draw readers deeply in. We can’t wait to see what some of these authors bring us next. Have you read any of these books? Leave your own reviews in the comments below!