Most Anticipated Young Adult SFF/H for September & October 2023

Wow! Publishing is going all out this fall with its slate of new young adult speculative fiction. I capped this at 25 of my most anticipated titles, but I could’ve easily doubled it and still not even come close to exhaustive coverage. I hope you still have some vacation days left, because you’re going to need them to keep up with your soon-to-be massive TBR.



Mermaids Never Drown: Tales to Dive For edited by Zoraida Córdova & Natalie C. Parker
Feiwel & Friends; September 26, 2023

Exactly what it says on the tin: an anthology of stories about mermaids. You get mermaids from different folkloric and cultural traditions and spanning a variety of speculative genres and subgenres. Authors include: Darcie Little Badger, Kalynn Bayron, Preeti Chhibber, Rebecca Coffindaffer, Zoraida Córdova, Julie C. Dao, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Adriana Herrera, June Hur, Katherine Locke, Kerri Maniscalco, Julie Murphy, Natalie C. Parker, Gretchen Schreiber, and Julian Winters.


All These Sunken Souls: A Black Horror Anthology edited by Circe Moskowitz
Amberjack Publishing; October 17, 2023

Get your scare on with this horror anthology. No matter what scares you, whether Bloody Mary or the undead, ghosts or evil twins, monsters or mayhem, there’s a little something for everyone in these ten stories. Authors include: Kalynn Bayron, Donyae Coles, Ryan Douglass, Sami Ellis, Brent Lambert, Ashia Monet, Circe Moskowitz, Joel Rochester, Liselle Sambury, and Joelle Wellington.


Past Is Present

Before the Devil Knows You’re Here by Autumn Krause
Peachtree Teen; October 3, 2023

It’s 1836 and Catalina and her brother are orphans living alone in their cabin in the Wisconsin frontier. Jose Luis is kidnapped by a tree monster straight out of folklore, the Man of Sap. With the help of a young Paul Bunyan, who has his own dark secrets about the Man of Sap, the teens follow a strange bird toward their destiny.


Wrath Becomes Her by Aden Polydoros
Inkyard Press; October 10, 2023

Lithuania, 1943. After Chaya was killed by Nazis, her father creates a golem using kishuf to replace her and mete out revenge on her murderers. Vera may have some of Chaya’s memories, but she is her own person, as much as a creature made of clay and magic and other people’s body parts can be. Vera and Akiva, Chaya’s former lover, work together to stop the enemy from attaining the secret to using kishuf for their own nefarious purposes.


Fairytales and Retellings

A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney (The Nightmare-Verse #3)
Feiwel & Friends; September 19, 2023

Alice and her friends are plagued by a terrible dream and the discovery that a new kind of virtually unkillable Nightmare is walking the real world. To stop them for good, Alice must return to Wonderland and uncover the secrets her ancestors buried there. She and the other Dreamwalkers could finally save Wonderland and the real world for good, or lose everything.


A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid
Harperteen; September 19, 2023

The only thing to quell Effy’s visions of the Fairy King that have followed her since childhood is a book of stories by an enigmatic author. When the author’s family tap her to design a new manor house, Effy throws herself into the work. There, she must decide who to trust: another student who may only want to use her skills to further himself, the author’s son who has more secrets than he does money, or the Fairy King himself.


Thrills & Chills

Monstrous by Jessica Lewis
Delacorte Press; September 12, 2023

Latavia is reluctantly visiting her aunt in Nowheresville, Alabama, before going off to college. The suspicious locals drag her into the forbidden woods one night to sacrifice her to a monster, But Latavia isn’t having any of it. She and the monster make a deal: it wants free of its magical chains and she wants to punish those who tried to kill her. Who’s the real monster: the townsfolk who send people to their deaths, the people-eating snake, or the girl who strikes back?


What Stalks Among Us by Sarah Hollowell
Clarion Books; September 12, 2023

Two queer teens get lost in a corn maze, over and over and over again. Sadie and Logan skip one of the final days of senior year to wander the countryside and sneak into an abandoned corn maze. But this isn’t the first time they stepped into this trap, not if all the corpses that look exactly like them are any indication. They must escape before becoming the next set of dead Sadies and Logans.


Beholder by Ryan La Sala
PUSH; October 3, 2023

Athan has the inexplicable power to turn back any reflection in the mirror and see its past. He’s avoided mirrors most of his life, but at a party one night the temptation is too great. He looks, but finds only death and destruction. Dom, a mysterious teen, convinces Athan to help him investigate a series of gruesome murders that may have something to do with Athan’s past.


Ghost Stories

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White
Peachtree Teen; September 5, 2023

London, 1883. Silas is a violet-eyed medium who has disappointed his family in every way. They send him off to Braxton’s Finishing School and Sanitorium where tormented girls learn to pass as proper young ladies. Well, except for those who fail and die and whose spirits now haunt the halls and Silas. Exposing the school and helping the spirits rest might be the last thing he ever does.


If I Have to Be Haunted by Miranda Sun
Harperteen; September 26, 2023

Cara may not want to be able to see ghosts, but when her nemesis, Zach, turns up dead in the woods, she can’t hide anymore. If she can find the Signet Snake who poisoned him, she might be able to bring Zach back. In the meantime, she’s stuck trying to help him while also not letting her mom know what she’s up to.


School Daze

A Hundred Vicious Turns by Lee Paige O’Brien (The Broken Tower #1)
Amulet Books; September 12, 2023

Rat has the ability to see doors no one else can. A trip through one of those doors brings Rat to a strange land with a broken tower, and something terrible follows them home. Later, when they set off for the prestigious Bellamy Arts university, someone from their past makes it impossible for Rat to forget what happened. The being from the tower is still hunting Rat, and only their friends can save them.


Your Lonely Nights Are Over by Adam Sass
Viking BYR; September 12, 2023

Decades ago, the serial killer known as Mr. Sandman terrorized Dearie and Cole’s hometown. Now he’s back and taking out members of their high school’s queer club. Soon, everyone starts pointing the finger at Dearie and Cole. Can they unmask the real murderer before he comes after them?


The Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson
Quill Tree Books; October 3, 2023

At the elite Regent Academy, Douglas tries to start over after being accused of a terrible crime. A new incident with the school bully threatens his second chance, but when the bully vanishes so completely that no one even remembers him, Douglas gets worried. With the help of Everett, a boy with his unexplained connections to the forest around the school, Douglas searches for answers.


Magic with a Twist

The Siren, the Song, and the Spy by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea #2)
Candlewick Press; September 26, 2023

The Nipran empire comes for Wariuta. Genevieve, a failed Nipran spy, washes up on the shores of the Wariuta territory. She’s offered a second chance, the opportunity to make up for her actions from the first book…will she take it? The Sea is losing more of her daughters, mermaids, to bloodthirsty sailors. And while Alfie’s sibling is living their best life under the sea, he is put into a tenuous position back at the capital.


Catfish Rolling by Clara Kumagai
Amulet Books; October 17, 2023

Under the islands of Japan lives a giant catfish. Every time it rolls, the earth shakes. Sora’s mother died in a catfish-triggered earthquake, and now her father relies on her sensitivity to the catfish’s movements to study it. His curiosity leads him into danger, and Sora must venture down below to rescue him.


Flower and Thorn by Rati Mehrotra
Wednesday Books; October 17, 2023

Magical flower hunter Irinya finds a silver spider lily, and with it the key to pulling her nomadic Indian community out of debt. But when she’s tricked into giving it away, the price is death. To save her people and potentially even the entire country, she journeys to Ahmedabad.


In It to Win It

Nightbreaker by Coco Ma (Nightbreaker #1)
Viking BYR; September 19, 2023

Fifteen years ago, a strange fog descended on New York City, taking thousands and leaving behind man-eating monsters. Those who win the Tournament join the Syndicate, a privileged class whose job is to kill those monsters. Rei wants to win the Tournament, but her biggest competition is her ex, Kieran.


This Dark Descent by Kalyn Josephson (This Dark Descent #1)
Roaring Brook Press; September 26, 2023

The Illinir is a horse racing competition where you either win or die. It’s Mikira’s only chance to pull her family out of debt. She joins up with Ari, who can create golems, and Damien, a rich boy who wants even more than he already has.


The Spells We Cast by Jason June
Melissa de la Cruz Studio; October 3, 2023

The Culling is a competition to select the best magicians in the country. Nigel, with his elf magic and enchanted lasso, is head-to-head against sharp-tongued Ori, and sparks fly. If they win, they’ll join the Guild and battle evil magical creatures, but if they lose, they’ll lose their magic forever. The stakes are high, and love is in the air.


No Escape

Midnight at the Houdini by Delilah S. Dawson
Delacorte Press; September 5, 2023

Sixteen-year-old Anna has everything planned out…and then everything falls apart. A loss and a frightening accident send her running through the doors of Houdini Hotel. Oddly, the place is deserted, no guests or staff except for a boy called Max. He’s the only one who can help her get out of the magical hotel, but can she trust him?


Sinner’s Isle by Angela Montoya
Joy Revolution; October 31, 2023

Banished to Sinner’s Isle, Majestics like Rosalinda have few options. When she turns 18, she and the other witches will be forced to participate in a bacchanal where the wealthiest denizens of the kingdom select a Majestic to form a magical bond with. Because of her fearsome power to control spirits, everyone assumes Rosalinda will be given to the king. Desperate to escape, she seeks the aid of a marooned pirate prince, Mariano.


Court Intrigue

Goddess Crown by Shade Lapite
Walker Books US; September 12, 2023

After her parents were exiled for backing a rebellious queen, Kalothia was raised in the forest by kindly guardians. But an attack on her home drives her out into the wide world. She heads to the royal court seeking answers about what really happened to her parents, and finds a little love along the way.


The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee Baker (The Scarlet Alchemist #1)
Inkyard Press; October 3, 2023

Orphaned Zilan practices an illegal form of alchemy to raise the dead as a way of providing for the elders who took her in. When a chance at the imperial exams opens up, Zilan heads to the capital to try and win her fortune. Her abilities draw the attention of the Crown Prince, and soon she’s tangled up in dangerous court politics.


A Bright Heart by Kate Chenli
Union Square & Co.; October 17, 2023

Mingshin risks everything to get the man she loves on the throne, only for him to kill her. A gift from the gods sends Mingshin back in time for a do-over, but this version of events isn’t quite the same. To get her revenge, she teams up with another prince vying for the crown, but a dark magician from a strange land stands in their way.


Alex Brown is a Hugo-nominated and Ignyte award-winning critic who writes about speculative fiction, librarianship, and Black history. Find them on twitter (@QueenOfRats), bluesky (@bookjockeyalex), instagram (@bookjockeyalex), and their blog (

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