From sequels to debut novels, 2019 brought a wealth of new book releases in the literary world. With murder mysteries, thrilling fantasy adventures, and stories that hit close to home in today’s political landscape, there were novels for even the most reluctant readers. Check out some of my personal favorites:
- Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus (January 2019)
Genre: YA mystery
When Ellery and her twin brother move to Echo Ridge, a small town where her aunt went missing years ago, she finds herself entangled in another murder mystery—one where the murderer seems determined to repeat the past.
Two Can Keep a Secret delivers everything you could ever want from a teen murder mystery–and more.
McManus is the queen of suspense and tension, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat for the book’s duration.
Better yet, with the way the plot is structured, there’s no telling who the murderer is until the big reveal—and after, you’re left wondering how you didn’t see it before.
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (February 2019)
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Bri, an aspiring rapper, finds her pursuit of stardom to be about more than fame when her family faces potential homelessness.
Thomas entered the literary sphere with 2017’s The Hate You Give, which has been on the New York Times’ Best Sellers List for nearly three years.
Even with a lot to live up to, Thomas delivers another compelling story that celebrates rap music and everything that comes with it. Plus, the book comes with an official playlist that will liven up your reading time.
- Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard (February 2019)
In this sequel to Truthwitch and Windwitch, Dennard returns to the Witchlands, a world in which magic flows freely, war looms close, and alliances shift or turn deadly.
This book is for anyone who enjoyed Game of Thrones or the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
My personal favorite part of this book, and the Witchlands series overall, is the focus on female characters.
With a female cast that outnumbers the male cast, women get to be witches, fighters, queens and generals.
- An Anatomy of Beasts by Olivia A. Cole (April 2019)
Genre: Science fiction
In the sequel to A Conspiracy of Stars, sixteen-year-old Octavia grapples with the consequences of the truths she uncovered about Faloiv, the planet to which humans evacuated after life became unlivable on Earth.
With this series, Cole considers the implications of humans one day leaving Earth.
The topic is tough, and the story is hard-hitting, but Cole supplements it with beautiful writing that hooks you instantly.
This is a must-read not only for science fiction fans, but anyone who wants to consider how humanity may function on another world.
- With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (May 2019)
Genre: YA contemporary
Teen mom Emoni lives for the time she spends in the kitchen—the one place she can set aside her responsibilities and dream of working in the culinary industry.
When the opportunity arises to go to Spain as a part of her culinary arts class, Emoni must find a way to balance her responsibilities and desire to pursue her dreams.
This book is for anyone who ever watched a Food Network show and dreamed (even briefly) of conquering a cooking competition.
With the Fire on High shows how hard it is for many women to balance family duties and dream-chasing, and as you read, you can’t help but root for Emoni to achieve everything she wants.
- House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (August 2019)
Genre: YA fantasy/horror
House of Salt and Sorrows is a dark retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”
As her sisters die one by one, Annaleigh becomes convinced that their deaths were no accident, and that the balls the other sisters sneak out to attend may have something to do with them.
Craig’s first novel is atmospheric and captivating, especially for fans of horror.
The setting and plot are haunting, with a protagonist to cheer for and a swoon-worthy love interest. For readers wanting a darker Once Upon a Time story, this is the perfect choice.
- Slay by Brittney Morris (September 2019)
Genre: YA science fiction
Seventeen-year-old Kiera lives a double life.
At school, she’s an honors student and one of the only black students at her school.
Online, she’s the secret developer of SLAY, the online role-playing phenomenon that’s loved by millions of black gamers.
But when a teen is murdered and SLAY is blamed, Kiera must maintain her secret identity and protect her game.
Slay immerses you in the virtual world while also being grounded in present-day issues.
Morris doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, bringing issues like colorism and abusive relationships to the forefront.
Despite these themes, Slay is still a love letter to immersive gaming and a shout-out to women in STEM.
- Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater (November 2019)
Family secrets, dreams made reality and apocalyptic futures intertwine Call Down the Hawk, the first book in Stiefvater’s newest trilogy.
Ronan Lynch, who can pull tangible objects from his dreams, seeks the origin of his abilities, but his search unearths deadlier consequences than he could have imagined.
Call Down the Hawk celebrates the strange and magical. There’s something for everyone: car chases, art theft, romance and more.
Even as a spin-off from Stiefvater’s previous series, The Raven Cycle, there was never a risk of the storytelling feeling repetitive.
- The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (November 2019)
Zachary Ezra Rawlins, a graduate student studying video games narratives, finds himself perplexed when he encounters a mysterious book with a story from his own childhood—a book written before he was born.
His search for the novel’s origins lead him on an adventure through a labyrinth filled with tunnels, stories and intrigue.
This is a book for anyone who has ever dreamed of living out their Alice in Wonderland dreams by falling down the rabbit hole.
Or better yet– those who feel like they might have missed their opportunity to do so.
Morgenstern is an exceedingly clever writer, one who makes you want to immediately turn back to the first page as soon as you finish.
- Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyami (December 2019)
Genre: YA fantasy
Adeyami returns to her African-inspired kingdown, Orïsha, in the sequel to 2018’s Children of Blood and Bone.
Protagonists Zélie and Amari have returned magic to Orïsha, but doing so brought unexpected consequences.
As war brews, Zélie and Amari must find a way to unite the kingdom—or watch it destroy itself from within.
Adeyami’s Children of Blood and Bone has dominated the YA fantasy world since its release, and Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a worthy successor.
With two female protagonists at the forefront, Adeyami weaves a complicated and thrilling story that will leave you ready for the trilogy’s final book.
Of course, 2019 had more incredible releases that weren’t mentioned here. Goodreads is a great place to find more 2019 releases, as well more books from these authors. Happy reading!