It's Pride Month, and we're halfway through 2022, which means halfway through our debut season! This is exciting and also terrifying for everyone one of us. Many of us are still left FANTASizing about the rest of the year... so we're doing a list of 2022 debut queer fantasies! Whether these include queer love or center queer characters, dive into some good ol' gay goodness. Plus magic. Magic is good.
Wild & Wicked Things by Francesca May, March 29, 2022, from Hachette/Orbit
On Crow Island, people whispered, real magic lurked just below the surface. But Annie Mason never expected her enigmatic new neighbour to be a witch.When she witnesses a confrontation between her best friend Bea and the infamous Emmeline Delacroix at one of Emmeline's extravagantly illicit parties, Annie is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where magic can buy what money cannot; a world where the consequence of a forbidden blood bargain might be death.
(Gay. Magical. Gatsby. Like, there is literally nothing more that needs to be said to sell me on this book. I mean, didn’t most gays read Gatsby and scream SO WHEN IS NICK GONNA KISS HIM?? Now imagine that, but with lesbians. Incredible.)
Let The Mountains Be My Grave by Francesca Tacchi, May 17, 2022, from Neon Hemlock Press
Let the Mountains Be My Grave unfolds at breakneck pace in 1944 Italy, where partisan Veleno thinks of nothing but killing as many Nazis as he can before leaving this world. Beloved by the ancient Italic goddess Angitia, Veleno is the perfect person to recover a strange weapon the Nazis are planning to use against the Allies in the battle of Montecassino, but doing so may force him to confront his death differently than he expects.
(Neon Hemlock is one of the most radical presses in spec fic, publishing authors whom large houses won’t take a chance on because of being too queer or too experimental or what have you. A Nazi-punching, goddess-bonded, queer Italian hero sounds like exactly what we all need right now.)
Uncommon Charm by Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver, May 17, 2022, from Neon Hemlock Press
In the 1920s gothic comedy Uncommon Charm, bright young socialite Julia and shy Jewish magician Simon decide they aren’t beholden to their families’ unhappy history. Together they confront such horrors as murdered ghosts, alive children, magic philosophy, a milieu that slides far too easily into surrealist metaphor, and, worst of all, serious adult conversation.
(So like, everything I said above? Let’s add Jewish ghost stories to that mix, because damn!! On fire!!!)
Deep in Providence by Riss M. Neilson, May 31, 2022, from Holt
For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks to The Hill that watches over the city, every part of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing sèances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her. But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they’ve always known is left haunted by grief…and Jasmine’s lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death and each other.
(Found family is strong with queer folks, and a found family starring BIPOC is basically all I want in life. But throw in a ghost, and I’m so sold I’ve got a price tag on me. (Too much?))
Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane, June 7, 2022, from William Morrow
Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.
(A trans retelling by a trans author who is also a myth scholar? A trans FEMME retelling of a beloved figure who is often cast as the epitome of masculinity? There’s a reason these myths have so much resonance. Also, that COVER!)
A Song of Silver and Gold by Melissa Karibian, June 15, 2022, from Hansen House
A princess disguises herself as a pirate captain to avenge the death of her brother and eradicate the sirens that plague their waters. A siren warrior, banished for the death of her princess, becomes human with the help of a sea witch so she can bring the princess back to life. The main ingredient for the resurrection spell? The heart of the pirate captain. But the two never expect to fall for each other.
(I’ve always been a fan of the “girl disguising her gender to do the thing” trope, but let’s stop and admire the rest of this pitch. Sirens. Gay sirens. Pirates. Gay pirates. I just started watching Our Flag Means Death like all the other gays and now all I want is this book.)
Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne, July 12, 2022, from Wednesday Books
The sleepy little farm that Laurel Early grew up on has awakened. The woods are shifting, the soil is dead under her hands, and her bone pile just stood up and walked away. After dropping out of college, all she wanted was to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can’t help but love. Instead, a devil from her past has returned to court her, as he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel must unravel her mother’s terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is doomed.
(Queer horror is *chef’s kiss* and tbh, I need more of it in my life. But we’ve got some repeating trauma, family issues, and taxidermy, and idk, I was sold five years ago.)
Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin, July 19, 2022, from Dauntless
Seri's world is defined by very clear rules. The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. Warriors kill the beasts and gain strength from the armor they make from them. And they explore the unknown world, to find new homes for the People. That was how it had always been, and how it would always be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana. Tsana is a stranger, someone who is – impossibly – not of the People. She comes from the unknown world, from a strange group that speaks a different language, wears metal, and, strangest of all, communicates with beasts. And Tsana's People find Seri's barbaric. Somehow, with the world at the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.
(Queer monstrosity is a thing. Queer monstrosity where the protagonist has to confront the monster within themself (or their society) is just waiting for emotions to happen. A lot of emotions. Too many emotions.)
The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, August 2, 2022, from Tor Books
Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book's content after eating it. Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories. But real life doesn't always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.
(Okay. Okay. Who hasn’t said they’ve “devoured” books before? Because a story where that’s a literal premise, but then there’s brains involved, sounds incredible. TBH, this is one of my most anticipated reads this year. Now I’m hungry.)
The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia, August 9, 2022, from Tachyon Publications
Firuz-e Jafari is fortunate enough to have immigrated to the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, fleeing the slaughter of other traditional Sassanian blood magic practitioners in their homeland. Despite the status of refugees in their new home, Firuz has a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa, working with Kofi, a kindly new employer, and mentoring Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee with powerful magic. But Firuz and Kofi have discovered a terrible new disease which leaves mysterious bruises on its victims. The illness is spreading quickly through Qilwa, and there are dangerous accusations of ineptly performed blood magic. In order to survive, Firuz must break a deadly cycle of prejudice, untangle sociopolitical constraints, and find a fresh start for their both their blood and found family.
(One thing this summary neglects to mention: the crux of this powerful, incredible, phenomenal, absolutely you-should-preorder-this-and-get-that-dope-pin novella, is that there’s a grumpy (nonbinary aroace) caregiver who is forced into adopting a powerful, traumatized orphan. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if that doesn’t sell you on this genius—what do you mean I can’t talk about my own book like this??)
Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans, September 13, 2022, from Orbit
Since the city of Bezim was shaken half into the sea by a magical earthquake, the Inquisitors have policed alchemy with brutal efficiency. Nothing too powerful, too complicated, too much like real magic is allowed–and the careful science that’s left is kept too expensive for any but the rich and indolent to tinker with. Siyon Velo, a glorified errand boy scraping together lesson money from a little inter-planar fetch and carry, doesn’t qualify. But when Siyon accidentally commits a public act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight. Except the limelight is a bad place to be when the planes themselves start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send the rest of the city into the sea. Now Siyon, a dockside brat who clawed his way up and proved himself on rooftops with saber in hand, might be Bezim’s only hope. Because if they don’t fix the cascading failures of magic in their plane, the Powers and their armies in the other three will do it for them.
(OMG. Science and magic and regulation—I love this song. Misfits trying to figure out WTF to do next? I love that song, too. Please and thank you!!)
How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy, September 27, 2022, from Putnam
Pitched as Booksmart meets The Craft. A biracial witch is cast as the lead in her school play and must decide between exposing her predatory drama teacher or getting the magical scholarship she desperately needs.
(PREDATORY TEACHERS GET WHAT’S DUE!!!! This sounds like some peak excellence. Also, have you SEEN that cover??)
The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz, Fall 2022, from Orbit
When Reina arrives at Aguila Manor, her heart stolen from her chest, she’s on the verge of death—until her estranged grandmother, a dark sorceress in the Don’s employ, intervenes. Indebted to a woman she never knew—and smitten with the upper-caste daughter of the house, Celeste—Reina will do to earn – and keep – the family’s favor. Even the bidding of the ancient god who speaks to her from the Manor’s foundations.
(Venezuelan mythos?? Estranged magical grandmas?? ANCIENT GODS?? Reina isn’t the only one with her heart stolen out of her chest. Someone get me an arepa STAT.)
The Marble Queen by Anna Kopp, June 2023, from Dark Horse
Princess Amelia’s kingdom, Marion, is in shambles after months of their trade routes being ravaged by pirates, and now the only seemingly option left is for her to save it through a marriage alliance. When she gets an exorbitant offer from the royalty of Iliad—a country shrouded in mystery—Amelia accepts without question and leaves her home to begin a new life.But she lands on Iliad’s shores to find that her betrothed isn't the country’s prince, but the recently coronated Queen Salira. Shocked, Amelia tries to make sense of her situation and her confused heart: Salira has awakened strange new feelings inside her, but something dark hides behind the Queen's sorrowful eyes. Amelia must fight the demons of her own anxiety disorder before she can tackle her wife's, all while war looms on the horizon.
(Although this book has been pushed back to 2023, we're keeping it as an honorary 22 debut! I love graphic novels, and the promise of this sapphic book sounds about ready to tear my heart out. And, as a person with anxiety, I see that rep!!)