Some stories are timeless for a reason. Here are some fresh takes on ancient stories, fascinating magic systems, and fantasy worlds inspired by the greatest legends of all time.
DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan
Now Available from Harper Voyager
An enthralling fantasy novel inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother sets her on a dangerous path and pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm. Check this book out for some magic and treachery in a vivid, Chinese mythology-inspired world!
A COMB OF WISHES by Lisa Stringfellow
Now Available from HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books
Ever since her mother’s death, Kela feels every bit as broken as the shards of glass, known as “mermaid’s tears,” that sparkle on the beaches of St. Rita. But when she discovers a different kind of treasure, she accidentally summons an actual mermaid—the wrathful Ophidia. Ophidia makes Kela a bargain: her ancient comb, in exchange for a wish. And though Kela knows that what she wants most is her mother back, a wish that big will exact a dangerous price…
Lisa Stringfellow’s mesmerizing MG novel is set against the backdrop of Caribbean culture and folklore, telling a story of impossible wishes and magic based in the deepest love.
A MAGIC STEEPED IN POISON by Judy I. Lin
Now Available from Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends
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. Not only does this book feature Chinese folklore, it also has a unique tea-based magic system!
BLOOD SCION by Deborah Falaye
3/8/2022 from HarperCollins/HarperTeen
Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within. Deborah Falaye’s emotionally charged YA fantasy is inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, and has been described as a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
KAIKEYI by Vaishnavi Patel
4/26/2022 from Hachette/Redhook
In the spirit of Circe, Ariadne, and The Witch's Heart, this stunning fantasy novel reimagines the life of Kaikeyi, the vilified queen from the Indian epic the Ramayana. It is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come. If you like retellings of iconic narratives through a feminist lens, this may be your next favorite read.
FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE by Tracy Badua
5/3/2022 from Clarion
In this thrilling and hilarious middle grade adventure, a young Filipino-American boy must team up with his ancestor to break the curse that’s haunted their family for generations… or be trapped in an amulet forever. This heartfelt adventure story features Filipino folklore, mystical spirits, and complex family histories.
LIA PARK AND THE MISSING JEWEL by Jenna Yoon
5/3/2022 from Aladdin/S&S
When twelve-year-old Lia’s secret agent parents are kidnapped by an ancient diviner spirit, Lia and her friend Joon must follow a series mysterious clues to rescue them. Their journey takes them to Lia’s grandmother’s home in Korea, and eventually to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King. This fast-paced adventure features Korean folklore, magic, and Silla Dynasty art. Check out that awesome cover!
THE LOST RYŪ by Emi Watanabe Cohen
6/7/2022 from Levine Querido
In an alternate, dragon-filled version of post-war Japan, ten-year-old Kohei and his new Japanese/Jewish neighbor, Isolde, must embark on an journey to the mythical undersea palace of Ryūgū-jō. This book features Japanese ryū, Western dragons, and a couple of hatchlings that are a brand-new mix of both.
(Note from the curator: Yes, we have two #22debuts exploring East Asian dragon palace legends! I recommend checking out LIA PARK and THE LOST RYŪ to explore both the Korean and Japanese variations on this mythology.)
THE IMMORTAL PALACE by M.T. Khan
7/5/2022 from Little, Brown Books
Pakistani twelve-year-old Nura works as a mica miner to help her sweatshop worker mother. But when the mines collapse and her best friend is ruled dead, Nura digs deeper to find a portal world of jinn, and that the kids aren’t dead—they’ve been stolen. This beautiful MG fantasy novel is set in a rural Pakistani town and explores Pakistani culture, the cycle of child labor, and a glance into Islam.
RAVENFALL by Kalyn Josephson
8/30/2022 from Delacorte PRH
Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay has never been normal, even by her psychic family’s standards. Every generation uses their abilities to help run the Ravenfall Inn, a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. But it’s hard to contribute when your only power is foreseeing death. When fourteen-year-old Colin Pierce arrives at Ravenfall searching for his missing older brother and the supernatural creature who killed their parents, Anna jumps at the chance to help. But the mysteries tied to Colin go much deeper than either of them expects… This book features both Celtic and Jewish folklore, and is the equivalent of a cozy wool sweater on a chilly Halloween evening! A perfect spooky read for MG mystery lovers.
MARIKIT AND THE OCEAN OF STARS by Caris Avendaño Cruz
10/18/2022 from Farrar, Straus and Girroux
Inspired by Filipino folklore, the middle grade fantasy follows 11-year-old Marikit and her firefly companion as she sets off on her Diwata's Journey through the world of nature spirits, or Engkantos.
BITTER MEDICINE by Mia Tsai
Forthcoming 2023 from Tachyon Publications
Magical calligrapher Elle put her dreams on hold to hide her brother from their murderous family. But when her crush commissions her for a career-defining project, she must choose: risk her brother's life for a brush with fame, or walk away from the art— and the man— she loves.
This book's release date has been pushed to 2023, but I need it ASAP!! It's a xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy with a calligraphy-based magic system. ICONIC.