My bookish soft spot is Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. My intent with this post is to highlight them because they’re my favorites. I first came into this genre via Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart. Think bisexual villains and French politics in a historical fantasy. Dangerous plots and politics boiled in magic is where I feel at home. I’ve been waiting to see SFF thrive and the publishers, popular imprints and indies, are coming out with the treats in 2021. The writing, themes, and imaginations are unmatched and underappreciated.
Here are all the Adult SFF books I’m anticipating the most. As always, keep your anticipated lists diverse all the time.
Epic Fantasy books with decayed ruins and body horror, fencing and masquerades, islands of lore, magical romance, magical mysteries, chaotic vampire brides, monsterous nations, Scottish ghostwalkers, werewolf rebellions and gothic Camelot. I’m for all things Adult SFF.
The descriptions are compiled of research done on how the publisher is marketing these books as well as how the authors are pitching their books to future readers. I’ve double checked to make sure these are all sold as Adult SFF books.
May 11th 2021 by Orbit
Short: West African inspirations featuring lore, rainforests, wine and lightning bats.
This is a West African inspired Fantasy of violent conquests, hidden history, forbidden magic, lightning bats, a breathing rainforest, and wine. In the city of Bassa, a young scholar longs for outside the city’s elite. A skin changing warrior is found wounded. She hails from the Nameless Islands, mysterous islands of lore and mythical magic. A heroic journey, suppressed magic, and lore mix in this Fantasy debut.
January 21st 2021 by Orbit
Short: Fantastic adventures involving a con artist in a city of dreams with fencing and nonbinary world building.
Fantatic adventures involving 1. a con artist 2. a vigilante 3. a crime lord. The goal? Save their city. Renata Viraudax, the con artist of the group, arrives in the city of Nedezra, city of dreams, to trick her way into a noble house and secure herself a fortune. Masquerades. An elite house. Corrupt magic. Poisonous feuds with aristocrats. There’s fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, chases and escapes, true love and miracles. It is a world that imagines the nonbinary instead of the typical binary in Adult Fantasy.
March 23rd 2021 by Orbit
Short: A sapphic political fantasy with cranky soldiers and a cranky princess.
A political fantasy set in an inspired North Africa, The Unbroken combines political fantasy, rebellion, and espionage. A soldier is raised to kill and die for the empire, assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms. A Sapphic SFF with a cranky soldier and a cranky princess.
June 10th 2021 by Orbit
Short: Indian epics, ancient temples, morally grey lesbians, and floral body horror.
Inspired by the history of India and its epics, Tasha Suri spells an epic fantasy with morally grey lesbians up against an empire, lots of yearning, much wrist touching, and complicated family. A world of forbidden magic, an ancient temple, magical deathless waters, and decaying ruins.
July 20th 2021 by Tor Books.
Short: Mulan but Sapphic and featuring genderqueer protagonists and a pure prince.
Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and all Sapphic. A historical fantasy debut of war and destiny in an epic alternate China. In 1345, China is crushed under the harshness of Mongolian rule. Using her brother’s identity, Zhu enters a monastery as a young novice. A reimagining of the rise of the Ming Dynasty, She Who Became The Sun is features genderqueer protagonists. A villain pine after a pure prince. Billowing sleeves, romances with yearning, knives and generals kneeling very sexily.
February 9th 2021 by Tordotcom.
Short: A queer love triangle but magical.
A romantic fantasy compared to The Goblin Emperor via Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese inspired world. A quiet and thoughtful princess is sent to a faraway land. She returns to her mother’s imperial court, where she’s haunted by memories of her first love. A sapphic novella with a queer love triangle and magical politics.
. July 6th 2021 by Tor Books.
Short: A monk/con-artist of epic proportions, includes blowing things up.
An epic fantasy set in the same world of the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, The Annurian Empire is falling apart. The Kettral have decimated within and in order to save the empire, the surviving Kettral must travel the lands through one of poison to the nesting place of giant war hawks. A monk and current con-artist holds a secret. Features a priest of the goddess of love with a bloody past and a red haired soldier with a bit of a tendency for blowing things up.
May 27th 2021 by Tor
Short: A humorous story of a lady knight and a thief.
A thief on the roadside chooses the wrong mark. A partron of the goddess of death, Galva is a knight searching for her missing queen. A knight and a thief join forces traveling through lands full of goblins, krakens, and laughing gods. An indebted thief, a witch in training, polymorphing assassins, a giant war raven, and goblin wars in a humorous epic fantasy debut, raved by authors Robin Hobb and Nicholas Eames.
February 9th 2021 by Ace Books
Short: An entire book full of Loki and cuddly apocalypse danger babies.
A banished witch fell in love with the legendery tricker, Loki. She risks the wrath of the gods. Angrboda’s story starts with a burning, then with woods and a mysterious god. With the help of a huntress, she grows tight bonds and friendship. In this Norse mythology inspired fantasy debut, Gornichec reimagines a Norse myth from the perspective of a giantess and featuring cuddly apocalypse danger babies. Also, there’s a lot of Loki.
June 15th 2021 by Orbit Books
Short: Red Riding Hood with gothics and monsterous boyfriends.
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.
A young woman is sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. The second daughter born in centures, Red’s fate belongs to the Wolf in the Wood. Her sacrifice is hoped to return the gods of her world. But the wolf turns out to be a man and her magic a calling instead of a curse. Gothics and monsterous boyfriends. Weird woods, romance, carnivorous forests, marriage of magical convenience, wound tending, and the piéce de resistance ‘oh no he’s hot”.
January 19th 2021 by Titan Books
Short: A warrior priestess with the power to turn enemies bones to dust with but a scream.
Warrior priestesses and fickle gods are at war in this epic fantasy for readers of Brian Staveley’s Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne. A warrior priestess has the power to turn enemies bones to dust with but a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s comands to kill a traveller, she prays on a mountainside for her forgiveness. Deceitful gods, awakened demons, revenge, dying gods, high halls of the afterlife, old powers slumbering in the surface of the world, and blood soaked quests for redemption.
April 15th 2021 by Macmillan
Short: Ancient Britain with pagan magic, gender identity and invasions.
In Ancient Britain, the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Ador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans. One scarred in a terrible fire. Another battles to be seen as the king’s son. The last and the youngest yearns for romance. When the Saxons invade, ash falls from the sky bringing forth Myrddhin, a meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior with secrets. This historical fantasy from Lucy Holland explores gender identity, sibling bonds, and pagan magic.
April 13th 2021 by Redhook
Short: Jewish folklore and Hungarian woods.
Jewish folklore, history, and fantasy shaken up in a fairytale, The Light of the Midnight Stars starts in the Hungarian woods. Magic lives through King Solomon’s descendants. The great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters get their talent from him, each blessed with a talent: plants to grow or predicting the future by reading the path of stars.
April 13th 2021 by Del Rey.
Short: Gay fairytale princesses falling for the villain.
A princess and an evil sorceress star in a dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty where fairy tales are twisted. Alyce, the Dark Grace, is feared for her dark magic. Aurora is the beautiful princess in this tale and Alyce is the villain. A gay fairytale princess falls for the villain.
Note that this book is tagged as Young Adult incorrectly by many people. The author has confirmed it is intended as an adult novel, but this does not mean that it is not appealing to readers of Young Adult fiction.
January 31st 2021 by Nyx Publishing
Short: Dracula’s brides but bisexual, masochistic, and bad tempers.
Pitched as a lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides but bisexual. On the brink of death, Constanta is a medieval peasant from the 13th century. A bride for an undying king, Dracula. His oldest bride, she falls in love too easily and eats abusive men for fun. Magdalena: spoiled Renaissance noblewoman, loves wine, bipolar, libra. Alexi: nude model from 20th century Russia, a bad temper, himbo, and mascochist. Dracula: terrible boyfriend, rotten attitude, science nerd, doesn’t understand boundaries, and charismatic. A sapphic yearning featuring tours of Europe, bisexuality, poly relationships galore, kissing in cathedrals, gothic chateaus, and crumbling empires.
January 12th 2021 by CamCat Books
Short: Gaslamp fantasy with the daughter of a portal-tripping mad scientist and a cowboy from Kansas.
A British aristocrat and a US spy look for a stolent serum that could start a global war. The Brass Queen is a rogue inventor but when a U.S. spy saves her from assassins, she’s drawn into a plot to search for a scientist. Victorian Gaslamp fantasty with airships, flamethrowers, beasts, brass blunderbusses, the daughter of a portal-tripping mad scientist and a cowboy from Kansas.
March 2nd 2021 by John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books.
Short: Magical who-dunnits in post-Civil War Philadelphia.
Hetty Rhodes is a magic user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad. Now: a crime solver/who-dunnit living in post-Civil War Philadelphia. She and her husband solve murders and mysteries the white authorities don’t want to touch. Historical fantasy with female friendships, celestial magic, marriage/mystery solving duo couple, and secrets.
August 2021 by Redhook.
Short: Magical cottagecore with tangled wildwood gardens, blackberry jam and folk magic.
A young woman travels to a sleepy southern town in the Appalachian Mountains to lay to rest her friend in the Ross wildwood garden. Morgan’s Gap, a small town nestled in the mountains reveals itself to be more than a land of morning mists and deep shadows. Folk magic, female relationships, found family, magical creatures, a tangled wildwood garden, dangerous flowers, bread and blackberry jam. And bonus: Cottagecore delights!
June 22nd 2021 by Tordotcom
Short: Matriachal cannibalism and awkward parties.
A woman swallows a star, giving her the title the Eater. Horrified by the idea of preserving the Order’s magical bloodline, she will avoid preganancy at all costs. As a spy, she enters a glittering world of opulent parties, deceptions and bloodshed. Powerful women are forced to choose sacrifices. A book of matriarchal cannibalism where a woman must push against a world built on hereditary power. Goats, romance, murder, large cats, introverts, and awkward parties.
June 22nd 2021 by Erewhon
Short: A crew of gay lady criminals in spaceships.
A diverse crew of queer lady criminals go on treasure hunts in sentient spaceships. These former criminals come together to solve their last mystery to rescue a comrade. A band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine battle their traumas in a universe of sapient ageships that want them dead. Sapphic romances, yearning, and knives.
March 18th 2021 by Tor Books
Short: Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism.
A contemporary fantasy following a cynical and precocious teen exploring shadowy magic underneath modern Edinburgh. Zimbabwean magic, Scottish pragmatism, and clues swirling in a fantasy novel, a ghostwalker speaks to Edinburgh’s dead and carries messages to the living. Investigations galore but Scottish.
September 7th 2021 by Blackstone Publishing
Short: Werewolf rebellions and police violence in Boston.
Laina wakes up one October morning to the news that her brother has been shot and killed by Boston cops. Something stranger reveals itself. The monsters are real and they want everyone to know it. Myths and legends come out, seeking visibility and safety. A fantasy novel of werewolf rebellions and police violence, No Gods, No Monsters is a modern retelling of the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s, all rolled up into a urban fantasy.
January 12th 2021 by NYLA.
Short: An apocalypse of monsters.
Set in the world of Kate Daniels, Blood Heir centers Julie Lennard-Olsen, Kate and Curran’s ward. Magic and technology compete for supremacy and are now caught in an apocalypse of monsters and supernatural struggles for power. With a new face and new magic, as well as a new name, Aurelia Ryder is drawn to protect her family. An ancient power is following her mother, Kate Daniels.
May 13th 2021 by Jo Fletcher Books
Short: Camelot but Gotham with knights on motorbikes, sexy queers, and Arthurian things.
Camlot but Gotham. Knights riding around motorbikes, in leather and with swords. Electrical trains, television, urban wastelands and dive bars in a sexy, violent and queer world. An Arthurian retelling with a modern twist, the Black heart Knights releases from Jo Fletcher Books.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
September 7th 2021 by Atria Books
Short: an adult sff novel about stardust and the consequences of generational silence.
The story of a woman that grew up on air, a woman that made her own way in the world. When Orquídea Divina invites the Montoyas to her funeral to collec their inheritance, they hope to learn her secrets. But Orquídea is transformed and seven years later her gifts have manifested. Marimar, Rey, Rhiannon have been granted blessings. One by one a hidden figure tears through their tree, destroying Orquídea’s line. The Montoyas travel back to Ecuador, to Orquídea’s burial place. Between Oruídea’s past and her descendants’ present, Cordova writes an enchanting novel of the ties that bind.
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
May 4th 2021 by Orbit
Short: A finale involving dragons, corruption, and a cat loving thief.
If you haven’t picked up this series, it’s full of rage, politics, regionalism, and corruption. There’s lots of stabbing, unreliable narrators, yummy food, dragons, assassins, hand touching, a cat loving thief, and generational trauma. This will be the last in the trilogy.
September 28th 2021 from Tor Books
Short: Transgender runaways and violin legends on a spaceship.
Three woman escaping their pasts. A Hell-damned violin legend. A young transgender runaway. A spaceship captain fleeing a war. They find each other and unexpected magic in California’s San Gabriel Valley.
May 4th 2021 by MCD
Short: A gothic novel of monstrous nations, Black mothers, and extra-sensory powers.
Seven months pregnant and desperate to escape her home, Vern flees to the woods, where she gives birth to twins. She raises them from the outside world. Uncovering the secrets of the compound that she grew up in, she learns a violent history of the America that produced it. In Rivers Solmon’s Sorrowland, they write a genre-bending Gothic novel of monsters and monstrous nations, twins and Black mothers, albinism and extra-sensory powers.
September 7th 2021 by Gallery/Saga Press
Short: A woman with a deadly reputation joins a crew of queer criminals (and also some hets thrown in).
A callous and brazen mercenary works for a criminal in the slums of Carrowwick. With a reputation as the quickest and dealiest blade in the city, Ryia Cautella, not her real name, is forced to team up with a crew of miscreants, smugglers and thieves. The goal? Her freedom. New allies turn out to be just as selfish, though, and she has to tread carefully. Criminals, scheming, betrayals, magical heists, take-no-shits heroines, and f/f slow burn romances.
2021 by Saga Press
Short: A murder on a train with Indigenous imaginations and government threats.
From Rebecca Roanhorse comes a mystery inspired by the state of Sequoyah, the 46th state of America, whicch unified five tribes of Oklahoma. A murder on a train filled with gold threatens its government.
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
May 11th 2021 by Tor Nightfire
A neo-noir of vampire lore in Mexico City. Beautiful, old societies, dangerous and mesmerizing vampires slither in every corner. A plot of crime and corpses build up in the streets of Mexico City.
June 8th 2021 by Harper Voyager
Short: Jewish folklore, tyrants, abandoned gods, and a disgraced prince in disguise.
Hungarian history and Jewish folklore mixed into a story of a young pagan woman with hidden magic and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen. They form an unlikely alliance and thwart a tyrant together. A forest veiled village. A woman outcast and abandoned by the gods. Soldiers arrive to claim a pagan girl for the king’s sacrifice. They take Évike. Monsters attack the Woodsmen and slaughter everyone but her and a one-eyed captain. A disgraced prince in disguise. From the cold northern tundra to the smoke filled capital, their simmering hatred turns to warm affection.
2021 by Tor.com publishing
Short: A hidden magical society but gay
A hidden magical society. A an contends beautiful and dangerous magic, excruciatingly deadly curses, and visions of the future. A spiteful librarian, unresolved sexual tension, bad manners, sexy magical restraints, library porn, sleeves, and gays.
2021 by Saga Press
Losing Gravity is pitched as Killing Eve meets Die Hard in space.
- What do you love about Adult SFF?
- What books are you looking forward to?