10 of the Best Fantasy Books of Summer 2023

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Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Does your everyday life have magic, dragons, talking animals, and/or faeries? *Sigh.* Mine doesn’t either. But wouldn’t that be fun? Imagine having the ability to learn spells that can give you the power to talk to animals, help the world, or simply do your chores for you. I wonder if we would get tired of having magic abilities or talking cats. It’s fun to imagine what it would be like to live in a fantastical world. And it’s even more fun to read about fantastical worlds! That’s why we have this list of 10 of the best fantasy books of summer 2023.

These exciting upcoming best new fantasy books will take you to all kinds of different places — all from the comfort of your own brain. In this list you’ll find a dark Sleeping Beauty retelling, an adult fantasy debut from a bestselling YA author, a vampire real estate agent, and lots and lots of monsters and magic. There are stories inspired by the history and myths of China, Korea, Egypt, South America, and more. If you were to just read the books on this list this summer, you would have a great reading season. So have your talking cat fetch your TBR list and get ready to mark down these fantastic fantasy new releases!

cover of The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson; illustration of an hourglass with a circus tent in it

The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson (Tor Books, June 13)

Fantasy books involving magic and circuses must be its own sub-genre by now, yes? In this debut set after World War I, the Circus of the Fantasticals wows the midwest with their show night after night. But its ringmaster Rin is being pursued by a dark, shadow circus that hunts her wherever they go — and it’s getting closer.

cover of Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong; illustration in black and gold of a crescent moon with a person standing on the top and the bottom

Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong (Gallery / Saga Press, July 18)

Gong is a bestselling author of YA fantasy books inspired by Romeo and Juliet. For her adult debut, she’s taking another page (book pun!) from Shakespeare’s book. In this Antony and Cleopatra-inspired tale, the citizens of the kingdom of Talin gather to watch the palace games. Competitors win big in a fight to the death, but the losers, well, die. Three strangers with scores to settle enter the games for different reasons, but find they can advance by relying on each other…to a point.

cover of The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem; gold metal design of a sphinx with its wings extended

The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem (Orbit, July 18)

In this Egyptian-inspired debut fantasy, the last heir of the ruined kingdom of Jasad is seeking vengeance. Having been in hiding for ten years, Sylvia is ready to get her revenge. No one even knows she’s still alive after all the destruction. But to carry out her plan, she may have to rely on the help of her greatest enemy, the heir to the kingdom responsible for destroying everything she loved.

cover of The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz; illustration of jungle foliage, antlers, and cheetahs

The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz (Orbit, July 25)

Two young women, both very different. One is kept alive by the magic of a dark sorceress, and the other is trying to fight the tempting lure of magic’s call. Both very different, but both on a quest. They will have to fight monsters, curses, magic, and temptation, to survive in this colonial South American-inspired debut fantasy.

cover of Masters of Death by Olivie Blake; mint green with illustration of skeleton standing on a tight rope held by hands

Masters of Death by Olivie Blake (Tor Books, August 8)

What do you do if you’re a vampire real estate agent who can’t get a ghost to stop haunting a house you want to sell? If you’re Viola, you call a medium. Enter Fox D’Mora, ghost remover — and godson of Death. Okay, so he’s a liar and a fraud, but as he and Viola work together to get rid of the pesty poltergeist, the magic they feel is real. This paranormal fantasy romance is penned by the author of the runaway hit The Atlas Six!

cover of Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher; close-up illustration of a thorn with blood on it with a castle in the background

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher (Tor Books, August 15)

Fairy tales are filled with curses, but what if a curse was actually cast for a good reason? That’s the set-up behind this exciting “Sleeping Beauty” retelling by Kingfisher, a bestselling, award-winning storyteller. Toadling is tasked by faeries with protecting a new child. But things don’t quite work out that way. Now she spends her life hanging around the tower where the princess sleeps a forever slumber in an empty kingdom. Prince after prince has attempted to enter the tower, to no avail. But not one has ever thought to ask if she should be woken up…

cover of The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang; illustration of ancient Chinese soldier on a black horse

The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang (Tordotcom, August 22)

In one of the most anticipated fantasy books of the year, Huang has delivered an exciting martial arts adventure! For years, Lin Chong has trained the Emperor’s soldier in the art of war and battle. But all that is taken away from her by a jealous man. Now branded a criminal, Lin joins up with an order of bandits with a thirst for justice against the empire and those who harm the vulnerable. And together, they just might be able to get it.

Young Adult Fantasy Releases

cover of And Break the Pretty Kings by Lena Jeong; illustration of a Korean sorceress with a hand of flame

And Break the Pretty Kings by Lena Jeong (HarperTeen, June 20)

Mirae’s coronation ceremony was supposed to be a wonderful event, but turns out to be more like the Red Wedding. It ends with her receiving a strange new power, the kidnapping of her brother, and the predicted return of the most fearsome monster the land has known. To get her brother back, Mirae and a motley crew will have to face down the big bad, assuming she can control her new powers. This YA fantasy debut is based in Korean myths and history!

cover of Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim; illustration of Asian princess, Asian swordswoman, and a tiger

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim (Knopf Books for Young Readers, August 29)

From the bestselling author of the Six Crimson Cranes series comes an exciting new YA fantasy about two sisters. Channa was cursed with the visage of a monster to appease the Demon Witch. Only her beautiful sister Vanna has never treated her like a monster. When Vanna is to be married off in a horrible contest for the village’s profit, Channa takes on the worst suitor in a battle to save her sister that will consume their lives.

cover of Guardians of Dawn: Zhara S. Jae-Jones; illustration of young Asian woman in a cheong-sam, surrounded by flowers, butterflies, and colorful smoke

Guardians of Dawn: Zhara by S. Jae-Jones (Wednesday Books, August 29)

After a plague of creatures wreaked havoc on the Morning Realms two decades before, magic was banished from the lands. Its practitioners now must keep to the shadows, keep their gifts a secret. Zhara hides her talents from her wicked stepmother, but when the rumors of a new plague turning magicians to monsters reach her ears, she knows she must do something to protect herself and her younger sister. It’s a magical Cinderella monster mash (up)!

Get ready to also be excited about the upcoming sequels He Who Drowned the World (The Radiant Emperor Duology) by Shelley Parker-Chan and The Shadow Cabinet (The HMRC Trilogy Book 2) by Juno Dawson, both out this summer. And for more great fantasy reads, check out The 22 Best Fantasy Books of All Time and The Bestselling Fantasy Books of All Time.

As always, you can find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.