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A Roundup Of New Genre Books For Your Self-Isolation Reading Lists

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BY March 30, 2020
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In the days of the pandemic, it feels like everything is grinding to a halt. Television and movie productions have halted. But writers are still writing, and books are still publishing. Here are some new genre books for March 2020, for your self-isolating reading. This list is a mix of new releases, as well as some upcoming titles. We also wanted to give space to both well-known authors, along with emerging voices in the genre.

Now is a great time to support your favorite writers, and discover new authors. Many independent bookstores are still selling titles that for pick-up and delivery. So be sure to consult with them to purchase physical copies of these books. Alternatively, check your local library for ebook copies if you don’t have the means to buy new books right now.

In an effort to bring light to new authors, I crowd-sourced many of these titles from recommendations on Twitter. Many thanks to author Charlie Jane Anders for her recent Twitter thread asking for new titles to promote during the pandemic. That thread was an invaluable resource in finding some new authors for this list.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Image via Tor.

Gailey is the award-winning author of Magic For Liars. Her new book is a pulpy fantasy western about fighting fascists, and figuring out queer identity. Upright Women Wanted came out on February 4, 2020 from Tor Books.

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Mazes of Power by Juliet Wade

Mazes of Power Image via Penguin Random House.

The first novel in a new series The Broken Trust, this book builds a complex world rife with political intrigue. Described as ‘sociological science fiction’ this book is all about cultural clashes, family drama, and forbidden love. This book came out last month, in time to be join this roundup of new genre books for March 2020.

Published February 4, 2020

The Wolf of Oren Yaro by K.S. Villoso

The Wolf of Oren Yaro Image via Hachette.

The first book of an epic fantasy trilogy, driven by complex characters and tangled relationships. This rich Asian-inspired world grew out of Villoso’s previous series The Agartes Epilogue and developed into this high fantasy epic. This book came out last month, in time to be join this roundup of new genre books for March 2020.

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.

Published February 18, 2020

Docile by K.M. Szpara

Docile Image via Hachette.

A timely novel about abuses of power, and the generational wealth gaps that keep the poor and oppressed under the thumb of the rich and powerful. The tagline for this novel is chilling: “There is no consent under capitalism.”

The book centers around the idea of becoming ‘Docile.’ The Docile are the servants of the future, unable to own their own body or soul. They struggle to rise above the caste system keeping them in poverty.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile. So when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Published March 3, 2020

Beneath The Rising by Premee Mohamed

Beneath The Rising Image via Hachette.

A hybrid science-fiction/fantasy/horror novel that is also a character-driven coming of age story. Utilizing classic cosmic horror tropes in an exciting adventure story. This genre-bending novel subverts expectations and surprises with every turn of the page.

Nick Prasad and Joanna “Johnny” Chambers have been friends since childhood. She’s rich, white, and a genius; he’s poor, brown, and secretly in love with her.

But when Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens the primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity.

From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they need to trust each other completely to survive…

Published March 3, 2020

The Winter Duke by Claire Elizabeth Bartlett

The Winter Duke Image via Hachette.

Described as a ‘lesbian political fantasy on ice’ about the daughter of a duke who survives a magical curse. This one draws inspiration from fairy tales in an escapist fantasy with a strong female lead. A beautiful queer fairy tale that is perfect for all ages.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Published March 3, 2020

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Chain of Gold Image via Simon & Schuster.

An new fantasy novel from the acclaimed author of the Mortal Instruments series. This is the beginning of a new series about the Shadowhunters, set in Edwardian London. This novel deals with themes familiar to Clare’s books, those of love, family, friendship in a mysterious world oh so close to our own.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love. 

Published March 3, 2020

The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

The Electric Heir Image via Skyscape.

The second book of the Feverwake duology set in a dystopian near-future America. The first book The Fever King came out in 2019. These books are about technomancy and a magical virus, so they certainly feel timely right now. A compelling meditation on the nature of magic, and the healing process. These young adult novels deal with heavy adult themes, and complex relationships. Out now as of March 17, these new genre books are perfect reading for self-isolation in 2020.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. 

Published March 17, 2020

The Poet King by Ilana C. Myer

The Poet King Image via Tor.

The conclusion to Myer’s lyrical Harp and Ring sequence that began with Last Song Before Night in 2015. Myer continues the story in Fire Dance, and the saga reaches comes to an end in this third novel. These intricately detailed books have rich histories and deep mythologies that build many layers to a complex world. Full of music and magic, love and tragedy this is one not to miss.

After a surprising upheaval, the nation of Tamryllin has a new ruler: Elissan Diar, who proclaims himself the first Poet King. Not all in court is happy with this regime change, as Rianna secretly schemes against him while she investigates a mysterious weapon he hides in the bowels of the palace.

Meanwhile, a civil war rages in a distant land, and former Court Poet Lin Amaristoth gathers allies old and new to return to Tamryllin in time to stop the coronation. For the Poet King’s ascension is connected with to a darker, more sinister prophecy which threatens to unleash a battle out of legend unless Lin and her friends can stop it.

Publication Date: March 24, 2020

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became Image via Hachette.

We previewed this book back in September (that feels like a lifetime ago honestly). And now it is finally out. The City We Became is an expansion on Jemisin’s short story The City Born Great. It is the first book in a new genre-bending series from the multi-Hugo award winning author. One of the most anticipated new genre books for March 2020, check it out today.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Publication Date: March 24, 2020

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

The Empress of Salt and Fortune Image via Tor.

A novella might be the perfect thing to read right now, if you don’t quite have the focus for a full length novel. This richly imagined story about the rise and fall of an Empire is one not to miss. Although not one of our standard genre books, this new novella is out now to read in March, 2020.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy. 

Publication Date: March 24, 2020

Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Seven Endless Forests Image via Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

A companion novel to the highly acclaimed Boneless Mercies. This retelling of Arthurian legend is a new spin on a familiar story. This dark YA fantasy is rife with folklore and strange magics. A compelling read for all ages. Seven Endless Forests is due out at the end of March 2020, and is one of our top genre books to read during isolation.

On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister, Morgunn, is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving Fremish wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls. Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known, and joins a shaven-skulled druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword.

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

Radio by J. Rushing

Radio by J. Rushing Image via the Author

A noir novel about possession, ancient gods, and the age of jazz comes together in Rushing’s self-published debut. The first chapter is available to read for free on the author’s website.

Amid the music, lights and energy of 1928’s Paris, something sinister pulses through the æther. The Radio of the Gods manipulates minds across the continent and its creator, the arrogant god Marduk, will sacrifice everything to keep his kind from perverting his masterpiece. Attempted treason and bitter betrayal force Marduk to escape into a new, unknown body. Worse still, the previous owner, an opium-addicted jazz guitarist, is still inside.

Desperate, drug-addled and fighting for control, Marduk must rely on the few friends he has left – and one terrifying enemy — to see his mission to fruition. If Marduk and company fail, the gods’ vain machinations will destroy everything they’ve built, including civilization itself, all made possible by his RADIO.

Publication Date: April 4, 2020

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Chosen Ones Image via Houghton Mifflin.

Roth is the author of the bestselling dystopian YA Divergent series. Here she takes a leap into adult fantasy with this novel. A compelling exploration of what happens after a group of chosen ones save the world. A unique modern fantasy novel that goes beyond standard genre tropes. This book breaks convention to explore character identity amidst the chains of prophecy.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesied to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

What new genre books are you reading during self-isolation? Let us know and join the conversation with Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter.

BooksApril Genevieve TucholkeBookBook NewsBooksCassandra ClareClaire Elizabeth BartlettGenre FictionIlana C. MyerJuliet WadeK.M. SzparaK.S. VillosoN.K. JemisinNew BooksNghi VoPremee MohamedSarah GaileyVeronica RothVictoria Lee

Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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