52 New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books for Your May Reading List

A gold medallion with a magic lamp and other One Thousand and One Nights-inspired imagery in front of a white background with orange, smoky swirls across it.

The Stardust Thief
Image: Orbit

May is typically a huge month for book releases, and this year’s no exception—we’ve got a towering pile of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror releases to share, with royal rebels, deep-space weirdness, time-travelers, supernatural adventures, game-show terrors, and so much more.


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Image: Baen

Abbott in Darkness by D.J. Butler

A man and his family move far from Earth so he can take a lucrative investigative job and start paying back his mountains of debt. But when the new gig uncovers corruption, he and his family soon find themselves in grave danger light-years from home. (May 3)

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Image: Rick Riordan Presents

Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older

The Outlaw Saints duology begins with this YA urban fantasy following a Brooklyn teen whose magical powers awaken when he’s drawn into a murder mystery tied to his lost island homeland. (May 3)

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Image: Harper Voyager

The Blind King’s Wrath by Ashok K. Banker

The Burnt Empire Saga concludes as the reincarnated Krushni and her Demonlord father battle for ultimate control of the Burning Throne. (May 3)

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Image: Tor Books

Book of Night by Holly Black

The author makes her adult debut with this modern fantasy; it follows a bartender who’s trying to put her past career—working as a skilled thief on behalf of magicians who want to rob other magicians—behind her, but it’s proving more dangerously difficult than she realized. (May 3)

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Image: Dutton

Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan by Liz Michalski

This spin on the classic fairytale focuses on Wendy Darling’s granddaughter, Holly, and her hunt for Peter Pan—in this telling, he’s a dangerous villain—when her comatose daughter is kidnapped. (May 3)

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Image: Flatiron Books

Elektra by Jennifer Saint

This tale inspired by Greek mythology offers a new spin on the story of Elektra and her family’s curse, fleshing out the stories of Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra; his daughter, Elektra; and the prophetic Trojan princess, Cassandra. (May 3)

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Image: Orbit

Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The follow-up to Shards of Earth finds the Architects back to their planet-consuming ways, and this time they’re not deterred by any protective artifacts. The Human Colonies must decide whether to stand together or fight individually to save their worlds, with one hero revisiting his dark past in search of a way to defeat the enemy. (May 3)

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Image: Interstellar Flight Press

The Future Second by Second by Meridel Newton

In this dystopian novella, the first in a series, a woman fights for her people and their cooperative way of life in post-apocalyptic America. (May 3)

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Image: Berkley

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Soon after the Mexican War of Independence, a grieving young woman seeking security agrees to marry a rich, handsome suitor—only to discover the dark forces lurking at his country estate mean tranquility is the last thing she’ll find there. (May 3)

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Image: Flatiron Books

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

In this supernatural thriller, a nanny begins to suspect there’s something dangerously wrong with the five-year-old boy in her care. (May 3)

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Image: Tordotcom

Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire

The companion book to Middlegame finds Melanie, the dying queen of summer, and Harry, the king of winter, forging a dangerous new path they hope will enable them to be together. (May 3)

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Image: Harper Voyager

Tear Down the Throne by Jennifer Estep

The Gargoyle Queen fantasy series continues as princess, spy, and powerful magician Gemma tries her best to forge an alliance between kingdoms to help protect them from their shared enemy. (May 3)

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Image: Doubleday

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

After the “Mass Dragoning of 1955”—in which thousands of wives and mothers suddenly transformed into fire-breathing dragons—a young girl living amid the fallout mourns the loss of her aunt (who’s now a dragon) while dealing with her overprotective mother (who’s still human). (May 3)

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Image: Thomas & Mercer

Decimate by Christopher Rice

Fourteen years after she and her brother had a devastating (and probably alien) encounter during a night hike, a woman tries to heal her family after another tragedy strikes. But the reverberations of her freaky experience might mean healing may never happen; they also suggest her ordeal’s not over yet. (May 10)

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Image: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Friend of the Devil by Stephen Lloyd

A jaded detective teams up with a high-school journalist to hunt for a stolen rare book—only to uncover some seriously supernatural goings-on at an isolated, elite New England boarding school. (May 10)

The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R.M. Romero

While visiting her aunt in Prague, a talented teenage violinist struggling to decide her future plans discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery. Before long, she’s fallen for one of its ghostly inhabitants—but has also attracted the interest of a far more sinister admirer. (May 10)

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Image: Laura Racero/Del Rey and Lucasfilm

Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen

Just after the beginning of the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are tasked with investigating a deadly attack on the Trade Federation world of Cato Neimoidia—and navigating their evolving relationship from Master and Padawan to brothers in arms on the frontline of the war. Read an excerpt here. (May 10)

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Image: St. Martin’s Griffin

Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry

A new dark fantasy series begins, focusing on Kagen Vale—formerly captain of the palace guard, but forced to become a wanderer in exile when the royal family is murdered on his watch. Revenge becomes his driving force as he roams a newly magical land searching for allies. (May 10)

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Image: Angry Robot

Mercury Rising by RWW Greene

In this alt-history story set in a 1975 where Earth has managed to fight off alien invaders, a young man must make a quick decision about his future when he’s framed for murder. His choice? Joining the Earth Orbital Forces, where strange adventures soon follow. (May 10)

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Image: Del Rey

Misrule by Heather Walter

The Malice Duology continues as a vicious, vengeful Alyce searches for a way to awaken Princess Aurora. But if she succeeds, will Aurora still love her back, or will she see her as a monster? (May 10)

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Image: Tordotcom

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

In Pre-Code Hollywood, Luli Wei pursues her dream career—until she realizes the studios secretly prey on aspiring actors, using ancient magic and ritual sacrifices to power their productions. Will she still risk everything to become a star? (May 10)

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Image: Solaris

Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance edited by Jonathan Strahan

Romance meets time travel in this story collection, featuring contributions from Alix E. Harrow, Zen Cho, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, Jeffrey Ford, Nina Allan, Elizabeth Hand, and more. (May 10)

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Image: Solaris

Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings

Two ships, a freighter and a research vessel that hails from 152 years in the future, have a strange encounter while passing through a deep-space anomaly. Read an excerpt here. (May 10)

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Image: Berkley

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay

In this historical fantasy, an escaped slave and an exiled merchant are hired for an assassination job that—if successful—could alter the balance of power across the globe. (May 17)

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Image: Berkley

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

A witchy fashion designer must join forces with a longtime family foe—someone she loathes but is also oddly attracted to—in order to figure out who’s using dangerous magic to sabotage the upcoming Beltane festival. (May 17)

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Image: Titan Books

Glitterati by Oliver K. Landmead

Described as “A Clockwork Orange and RuPaul’s Drag Race meet Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” this fable delves into the bitter rivalries among the most glamorous residents of a fashionable utopia. (May 17)

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Image: Pyr

The Hourglass Throne by K.D. Edwards

The Tarot Sequence urban fantasy series continues with this third volume, which sees Rune Saint John dealing with the challenges that come with ruling—including confronting a strange magical threat to the local immortality clinic. (May 17)

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Image: DAW

The Ice Ghost by Kathleen O’Neal Gear

The author and anthropologist’s Rewilding Reports “cli-fi” series returns to the Ice Age of the future, where archaic human species struggle to survive what seems like certain extinction, and a holy man hopes to resurrect a godlike leader who’s been slumbering in stasis for a thousand years. (May 17)

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Image: Tor Nightfire

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel

In this horror novel, a woman reunites with her wealthy cousin, a leader in the fertility industry, 20 years after escaping the cult they were raised in—and their rekindled bond soon turns dangerous. (May 17)

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Image: Tor.com

The Legacy of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Molly’s story ends with this final entry in the author’s horror trilogy about a woman able to create deadly copies of herself—remnants who eventually formed a makeshift family. Now, there’s military interest in the very peculiar blood Molly left behind. (May 17)

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Image: William Morrow

Razzmatazz by Christopher Moore

The author returns to the magical, satirical version of 1940s San Francisco last seen in Noir to revisit its misfit characters. Their adventures this time around include hunting a murderer and trying to prevent an ancient statue from unleashing a vengeful monster. (May 17)

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Image: Orbit

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

This fantasy tale inspired by One Thousand and One Nights follows “the Midniht Merchant,” who’s famed for dealing in illegal magic with the help of her jinn bodyguard. When she attracts the unwanted attention of the sultan, she’s forced to hunt down an ancient relic that could alter reality. (May 17)

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Image: Riverhead Books

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

When a 40-year-old woman wakes up one morning and realizes it’s her 16th birthday all over again, she must decide if she’ll make changes in the past to change a future she’s generally happy with. (May 17)

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Image: Balzer + Bray

Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber

Meet royal twins Rose and Wren—one raised to rule, the other spirited away at birth and trained by witches to avenge her parents’ murder and take back the crown. As the queen-to-be’s marriage looms, a family reunion becomes inevitable. (May 17)

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Image: Angry Robot

Afterglow by Tim Jordan

In this sequel to Glow, the dangerous, brain-altering nanotech drug has now spread around the world. Recovering addict Rex must decide whether he has it in him to step up and try and save the world—but at what cost? (May 24)

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Image: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

City of Orange by David Yoon

A man wakes up in a strange place with no memory of who he is—or even what his own face looks like. He’ll have to puzzle together as much as he can if he wants to find his way home again. (May 24)

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Image: Blackstone Publishing

Cold As Hell by Rhett C. Bruno and Jaime Castle

In this weird Western, a “Black Badge” charged with hunting down demons and other monsters (otherwise he’ll be sent to hell) uncovers way more than he expected while pursing a supernaturally enhanced bank robber. (May 24)

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Image: Harper Voyager

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

In 1768, Marie Antoinette and her sister Charlotte are separated by arranged royal marriages—but forever united by the spell book they found as children, and continue to use to shape their lives for better and worse. (May 24)

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Image: Simon & Schuster

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood by James Lee Burke

Novelist Aaron Holland Broussard struggles to recover from the loss of his daughter by helping two troubled young men in his community—something that only brings more darkness into his life, at least until his daughter’s ghost shows up to lend some assistance. (May 24)

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Image: Del Rey

Hide by Kiersten White

A young competitor in a hide-and-seek game staged at an abandoned amusement park draws on every resource she can to survive—and win the lucrative, life-changing prize. Read an excerpt here. (May 24)

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Image: Tor Nightfire

Black Tide by KC Jones

Described as “Cujo meets A Quiet Place,” this tale follows a couple stranded on an Oregon beach after a meteor shower unleashes an apocalyptic event. (May 31)

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Image: Bloom Books

A Game of Retribution by Scarlett St. Clair

The Hades Saga continues as Hades refuses to help Hera overthrow Zeus—and is punished by being sent on a series of monster hunts and artifact quests. Meanwhile, Persephone is left to question whether being Queen of the Underworld is really what she wants. (May 31)

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Image: Penguin Books

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson

As children, four best friends became witches as part of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I. As adults, one of the women is now leader of HMRC, but the others have drifted away from the group. They’ll need to reunite, however, when the HMRC finds itself in serious trouble. (May 31)

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Image: Independently Published

Hobson’s Void by Simon Jones

Through a series of incredible events, a pious but curious young woman is whisked from her small-town life and suddenly tasked with deciding the fate of humanity. (May 31)

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Image: Seven Stories Press

Kraken Calling by Aric McBay

Environmental activists in 2028 pull back from launching a full-scale revolution, only to see the natural world suffer a rapid decline in the next 20 years. In 2051, they’re forced to take a stand against an authoritarian government that couldn’t care less about the Earth or its most vulnerable people. (May 31)

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Image: Delacorte Press

The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna

The sequel to The Gilded Ones finds Deka and her army facing a new, powerfully dark force—a dangerous mission that will prove even more challenging now that her powers are changing. (May 31)

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Image: Holiday House

Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendall Kulper

A teenage psychic in 1920s Chicago uses her powers to avenge women who’ve been preyed on by men who seem to be above the law. When she rather inconveniently falls for a morgue worker, will her secret life be exposed? (May 31)

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Image: Plume

Phasers on Stun!: How the Making (and Remaking) of Star Trek Changed the World by Ryan Britt

Over 100 interviews with Star Trek actors, directors, writers, and more from the franchise’s various eras highlight this book, touted as “an approachable and entertaining course through Star Trek history, from its groundbreaking origins amid the tumultuous 1960s, to its influence on diversifying the space program, to its contemporary history-making turns with LGBTQ+ representation.” (May 31)

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Image: CAEZIK SF & Fantasy

The Reinvented Heart edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek

Female and nonbinary authors contribute to this collection of sci-fi stories focusing on the evolution of relationships, partnerships, and love in worlds complicated by future tech: clones, artificial intelligence, body augmentation, and beyond. (May 31)

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Image: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Six Crystal Princesses by Piers Anthony

The long-running Xanth series continues with a new adventure about magical royal twins who embark on a quest with their partners to free a group of princesses from their frozen-in-time prison. (May 31)

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Image: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele

A year after a fire claimed the life of a young woman, her friends reunite at her perfectly rebuilt lake house to honor her memory. But was her death really an accident? Is her killer still lurking around? And… could that be her ghost that’s haunting them? (May 31)

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Image: Tordotcom

These Prisoning Hills by Christopher Rowe

In this novella, the American Southeast was once ruled by an AI that transformed the entire landscape into a bio-mechanical war zone. In the aftermath, the AI’s most dangerous hidden weapons are still causing trouble. (May 31)

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Image: Viking

Walk the Vanished Earth by Erin Swan

People across various time periods—a bison hunter in 1973 Kansas, a pregnant teen in 1975, an engineer in climate-change-ravaged New Orleans in 2027, a girl dwelling on Mars in 2073—play into this family epic about “ ancestry, legacy, motherhood, the trauma we inherit, and the power of connection in the face of our planet’s imminent collapse.” (May 31)


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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