Summer is made for reading and gardening. So in the spirit of sticking our hands in the dirt, we’ve put together a list of 11 books for plant lovers from the 2022 debut class, including adult, YA and middle grade stories across multiple genres. There’s something for every plant lover here.
In the Shadow Garden by Liz Parker, on September 13, 2022 from Forever / Grand Central Publishing
A book with green witches, tea-leaf readings, and a magical garden, meaning it’s perfect for plant lovers! The richly atmospheric and luminous debut about three generations of women whose magic is as much a part of life as love, death, and the rich, dark earth beneath their feet–perfect for fans of Practical Magic and Midnight at the Blackbird Café. The Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes imbued with the flavors of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear. But the Haywoods will never forget the Bonners’ bitter betrayal.
The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne, on July 26, 2022 from Hachette / Orbit / Redhook
We love a fairy tale retelling, and we love it even better when its magic system pulls from an ancient herbal text like Hildegard’s Physica. Put this one on your list! In the vein of Wicked, Spinning Silver, and Hild, The Book of Gothel is a dark, lush, and beautiful reimagining of Rapunzel told from the witch’s perspective, a story of motherhood, magic, and the stories we pass down to our children. Everyone knows the tale of Rapunzel in her tower, but do you know the story of the witch who put her there?
A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin, on March 29, 2022 from Macmillan, Feiwel & Friends
If we were to draw a Venn diagram of plant lovers and tea lovers, it would be a circle. So Lin’s magic system that’s based on different types of tea is an obvious must-read. Judy I. Lin's sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo. For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it's her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom's greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning's only chance to save her sister's life. But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.
The Surviving Sky by Kritika H Rao, coming Fall 2022 from DAW/ Penguin Random House
A plant-made civilization and architects who manipulate the plants to keep everything running. Need we say more? High above a jungle-planet float the last refuges of humanity—plant-made civilizations held together by tradition, technology, and arcane science. In these living cities, architects are revered above anyone else. If not for their ability to psychically manipulate the architecture, the cities would plunge into the devastating earthrage storms below. Charismatic, powerful, mystical, Iravan is one such architect. In his city, his word is nearly law. His abilities are his identity, but to Ahilya, his wife, they are a way for survival to be reliant on the privileged few. Like most others, she cannot manipulate the plants. And she desperately seeks change.
Catastrophe Theory by Rebecca Lowry Warchut, on October 4, 2022 from Woodhall Press
If you love Banyan trees, then be sure to check out this debut. The tree is both a central setting and symbol to the story. Due to a rare brain tumor, Vera Garcia’s soccer career is suddenly sidelined at the start of her senior year. When her single mother— terrified at the thought of losing her only daughter— clings too tightly, both Vera’s identity and her freedom are in jeopardy. They make it to St. Petersburg, Florida for surgery just as Hurricane Phoenix’s trajectory turns directly toward them. As the cyclops churns closer and closer, their paths collide with a tech guru recently expelled from college, a mysterious Catalonian street magician, holograms of Salvador Dali himself, and the ambitious museum curator connecting them all in a whirlwind of love, betrayal, and illusion.
The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia, on August 9, 2022 from Tachyon Publications
This fantasy includes environmental magic that makes use of plants. So if you like plant magic, pre-order it! In this intricately layered debut fantasy, a nonbinary refugee practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange disease causing political rifts in their new homeland. Persian-American author Naseem Jamnia has crafted a gripping narrative with a moving, nuanced exploration of immigration, gender, healing, and family. Powerful and fascinating, The Bruising of Qilwa is the newest arrival in the era of fantasy classics such as the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Four Profound Weaves, and Who Fears Death.
To Get to the Other Side by Kelly Ohlert, on December 6, 2022 from Alcove
The love interest, Bear, has a dream of taking over his family floral shop, but when his mother makes the decision to retire, that dream suddenly has an expiration date. He must face down the bullies of his past and embrace his floral design passion before developers step in. In the vein of Lyssa Kay Adams and Abby Jimenez, Kelly Ohlert’s charming debut is a one-of-a-kind rom-com that explores the power of overcoming the past and fighting for the things you love. Perfect for readers of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, and fans of The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, readers will find themselves rooting for every one of the relatable, but tenderly flawed, characters in this book as they follow the heartwarming antics of a rescue chicken and her human companions.
Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon, on August 9, 2022 from St. Martin’s / Griffin
A botanist protagonist and a vineyard! Need we say more? Guarded, self-reliant botanist Rowan McKinnon undertakes the restoration of a long-abandoned vineyard in Pennsylvania wine country, where she meets Harrison Brady, a doctor struggling after the loss of a patient. Rowan's stay is temporary, and Harry is only there to recover, but they develop an extraordinary connection despite deeply different views on love. A vivid, powerful novel about the ways love can irrevocably change your life, BEND TOWARD THE SUN is a cinematic, unforgettable romance.
Iveliz Explains it All by Andrea Arango, on September 13, 2022 from Random House Children’s Books
Looking for a Middle Grade book for plant lovers? Iveliz loves her gardening elective at school and helps her grandma garden at home! Pitched as The Poet X for middle graders, the novel follows Iveliz as she tries to manage her mental health, all while her new friend calls her crazy and her abuela dismisses the pills and therapy that Iveliz needs to feel like herself.
In My Hands by Sathya Achia, out August 2022 from Ravens & Roses Publishing
A book in the jungles of India, complete with lush vegetation and flowers. A plant-perfect setting. IN MY HANDS is a YA contemporary fantasy/adventure pitched as Tomb Raider meets Wonder Woman meets Indian myth. After the death of her mother, 16-year-old Chandra S. Chengappa reluctantly leaves small-town Virginia for the jungles of India to find the weapon of a Hindu Goddess to destroy the demon hell-bent on obliterating her ancestral home.
Florida Woman by Deb Rogers, on July 5, 2022 from Hanover Square Press / HarperCollins
This debut is set in the palmetto woods, and if palm fronds and humidity don’t scream the perfect setting for a plant lover, I don’t know what does. A gleefully dark and entertaining debut for fans of Kevin Wilson and Karen Russell about a young woman’s summer spent working at a Floridian wildlife center for exotic monkeys. Jamie is a Florida Woman. She wears cutoffs, thrives in humidity, has been slapped by palm frond more times than she can count and now, after going viral for an outrageous crime she never meant to commit in the first place, she has the requisite headline to her name. But when the chance comes for her to escape viral infamy and imminent jail time through a community service placement at Atlas, a wildlife refuge for rescued monkeys, it seems like just the fresh start Jamie needs to finally get her life back on track—until it’s not. Something sinister stirs in the palmetto woods, and secrets lurk among the three beguiling women who run the refuge and affectionately take Jamie under their wing for the summer.
A Botanists’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari, on June 7, 2022 from Penguin Randomhouse
We love plants as poison and a botanist detective! If you’re looking for a historical fiction plant read, this one’s for you. The Lost Apothecary meets Dead Dead Girls in this fast-paced, STEMinist adventure. Kate Khavari deftly entwines a pulse-pounding mystery with the struggles of a woman in a male-dominated field in 1923 London.