The Frozen Crown by Greta KellyWhat it's about: Princess Askia Poritskaya e-Nimri, heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh, seeks an alliance with Emperor Amaan of Vishir against their common enemy, the Roven Empire.
Why you might like it: This opening volume of the Warrior Witch duology features a strong female lead with a dangerous secret, plentiful palace intrigue, an inventive magic system, and forbidden love.
For fans of: Erika Johansen's Queen of the Tearling novels, Jennifer Estep's Crown of Shards series, or Callie Bates' Waking Land trilogy.
Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuireIntroducing: Regan Lewis, a horse-loving intersex girl who travels through a magical portal to the Hooflands, where, to her delight, she is adopted by a herd of centaurs.
The problem: In this realm, humans are rare and exotic creatures who only show up in times of trouble to save the day. However, Regan doesn't believe in destiny.
Can you start here? Although Across the Green Grass Fields is the 6th book in the award-winning Wayward Children series, it stands on its own.
Remote Control by Nnedi OkoraforMeet: fourteen-year-old "Sankofa," also known as the "Adopted Daughter of Death," who has been traveling on foot across near-future Ghana ever since she acquired lethal powers from a strange artifact.
Why you might like it: Told mostly in flashbacks, this character-driven novella slowly reveals its central mystery in folkloric style.
Want a taste? "I am Sankofa, I belong wherever I want to belong, she thought to herself, walking with her chin up and back straight."
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi VoWhat it's about: Trapped in a barn by a trio of tigers, cleric Chih and their traveling companions, Si-yu and Piluk, buy themselves time by telling their captors the tale of Ho Thi Tao, the tiger who loved a human.
Everyone's a critic: The tigers, who prefer their version of the folktale, don't hesitate to set the record straight in this witty meditation on the power of storytelling.
Can you start here? This 2nd book in the Singing Hills series, after The Empress of Salt and Fortune, stands on its own.
A Queen in Hiding by Sarah KozloffIntroducing: Queen Cressa of Weirandale, and her daughter, Princess Cérulia, who are forced into exile following a coup.
Why you might like it: Parallel narratives follow Cressa, who entrusts her daughter to a peasant family before fleeing abroad to gather allies, and Cérulia, who comes of age believing she is a girl named Wren.
Series alert: A Queen in Hiding kicks off the Nine Realms quartet, which continues with The Queen of Raiders, A Broken Queen, and The Cerulean Queen.
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha LeeWhat happens: After the Empire of Razan annexes Hwaguk, nonbinary artist Gyen Jebi agrees to work under the supervision of prime duelist Dzuge Vei to restore mechanical dragon Arazi, a powerful weapon that doesn't want to be one.
Read it for: well-developed characters, light romance, an exciting story of resistance against imperialism, and a Steampunk-tinged setting inspired by Japanese-occupied Korea.
Rosewater by Tade ThompsonWelcome to: Rosewater, a doughnut-shaped Nigerian city that rings the mysterious alien biodome that has become an object of veneration since it first appeared back in 2055.
Meet: government agent Kaaro, who owes his psychic abilities to the biodome. When his fellow "sensitives" start dying, Kaaro investigates and makes some unsettling discoveries about his past -- and his future.
Book buzz: Rosewater, the 1st installment of the Wormwood trilogy, made the 2019 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist.
Mazes of Power by Juliette WadeThe setting: Pelismara, one of the Eight Cavern Cites of Varin, a patriarchal, eugenics-obsessed society divided into seven castes and ruled by 12 aristocratic Families.
The plot: a high-stakes battle for succession pits teenage brothers Tagaret and Nekantor, sons of a politician, against each other.
Is it for you? While this 1st book in the Broken Trust series features in-depth world-building and abundant political intrigue, its racial caste-system and mistreatment of women, LGBTQIA individuals, and people with disabilities make it an unsettling read.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan WinterStarring: Tau Tafari, a reluctant warrior-in-training who fights his way to the top of a socially stratified society to exact revenge on his enemies.
Why you might like it: This series opener (followed by The Fires of Vengeance) boasts a sympathetic protagonist and a vividly depicted, African-inspired setting.
For fans of: the inventive system of magic in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn novels, the gritty battles of Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, and the world-building of Pierce Brown's Red Rising trilogy.
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