Below are my top picks for the best YA books coming out in October 2021, with their corresponding synopses.
Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan (October 12)
In an empire on the brink of war . . .
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.
Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.
When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.
But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker (October 12)
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.
When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.
City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn (October 19)
As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.
Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.
As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.
Thronebreakers by Rebecca Coffindaffer (October 12)
Alyssa Farshot never wanted to rule the empire. But to honor her uncle’s dying wish, she participated in the crownchase, a race across the empire’s 1,001 planets to find the royal seal and win the throne. Alyssa tried to help her friend, Coy, win the crownchase, but just as victory was within their grasp, Edgar Voles killed Coy—and claimed the seal for himself.
Broken-hearted over her friend’s death, Alyssa is hell-bent on revenge. But Edgar is well protected in the kingship. Alyssa will have to rally rivals, friends, and foes from across the empire to take him down and change the course of the galaxy.
When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles (October 5)
The competition has come to a disastrous end, and Daron Demarco’s fall from grace is now front page news. But little matters to him beyond Kallia, the contestant he fell for who is now lost to this world and in the hands of a dangerous magician. Daron is willing to do whatever it takes to find her. Even if it means embarking on a dark and treacherous journey, risking more than just his life, with no promise of return.
After awaking in darkness, Kallia has never felt more lost. Especially with Jack by her side, the magician with who has the answers but cannot be trusted. Together, they must navigate a dazzling world where mirrors show memories and illusions shadow every corner, one ruled by a powerful game master who could all too easily destroy the world she left behind — and the boy she can’t seem to forget. With time running out, Kallia must embrace her role in a darker destiny, or lose everyone she loves, forever.
Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco (October 26)
After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.
She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria…even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.
The first rule in the court of the Wicked? Trust no one. With back-stabbing princes, luxurious palaces, mysterious party invitations, and conflicting clues about who really killed her twin, Emilia finds herself more alone than ever before. Can she even trust Wrath, her one-time ally in the mortal world…or is he keeping dangerous secrets about his true nature?
Emilia will be tested in every way as she seeks a series of magical objects that will unlock the clues of her past and the answers she craves.
That Dark Infinity by Kate Pentecost (October 19)
By night, the Ankou is a legendary, permanently young mercenary. By day, a witch’s curse leaves him no more than bones. Caught in an unending cycle of death and resurrection, the Ankou wants only to find the death that has been prophesied for him, especially once he begins to rot while he’s still alive….
After the kingdom of Kaer-Ise is sacked, Flora, loyal handmaiden to the princess, is assaulted and left for dead. As the sole survivor of the massacre, Flora wants desperately to find the princess she served. When the Ankou agrees to help her find the princess, and to train her in exchange for her help in breaking his curse, she accepts. But how can she kill an immortal? Especially one whom she is slowly growing to understand—and maybe even to love?
The Color of Dragons by R.A. Salvatore, Erika Lewis (October 19)
Magic needs a spark.
And Maggie’s powers are especially fickle. With no one to help her learn to control her magic, the life debt that she owes stretches eternally over her head, with no way to repay it.
Until she meets Griffin, the king’s champion infamous for hunting down the draignochs that plague their kingdom.
Neither has any idea of the destiny that they both carry, or that their meeting will set off a chain of events that will alter every aspect of the life they know—and all of history thereafter.
Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno (October 12)
Luisa (Lou) Patterson grew up across the street from Sam Alvarez in the small, quirky town of Port Coral. They used to be inseparable–spending every holiday together, shooting silly YouTube videos, and rescuing stray cats. But then middle school happened, including the most disastrous (and embarrassing) serenade ever, and Lou and Sam haven’t talked in the four years since. Sam is now the golden boy with plenty of friends, while Lou is an introverted romantic who’s happy playing video games and writing fan fiction. But it’s also the summer before their senior year, and life is knocking on Lou’s door.
With her older sister having given up a scholarship to Princeton to have a baby and work at the local botanica, all of their mother’s expectations are now riding on Lou’s shoulders. She’s retaking her SAT’s, signed up for way too many AP classes, and her sights set on colleges with fancy names like Duke and Vanderbilt. But when she finds the bucket list she and Sam wrote together as kids, before Sam’s father was diagnosed with cancer, she’s shocked to see that she hasn’t accomplished any of the goals she’d set for herself, so she decides to go for those goals.
Crown of Cinders by Emily R. King (October 5)
lthea’s head is still spinning from her discovery that she’s Hera, daughter of Cronus, the terrible Titan king. After Althea failed to cast Cronus down into the deepest pit of Tartarus, the king calls upon his powerful allies, the elder Titans who reign supreme over the heavens, earth, and seas. To force Althea to surrender, the elder Titans rain down wrath upon the mortal world with earthquakes, famine, pestilence, hurricanes, and all manner of destruction. Lukas, Althea’s friend and confidant, hides her and her godly siblings, but they can’t run forever. She must recruit allies from the younger Titans before the afflicted mortals turn them into Cronus in exchange for peace.
Poseidon and Hades are also in hiding. Althea sets out to find her brothers, but hunting them down without getting caught and persuading them to stand against their all-powerful father will be next to impossible. Althea has a lot to learn about her newly restored crown and Titaness powers. She must divide heaven and earth to protect her mortal home and friends and unite her brothers and sisters in the war to end all wars.