14 of the most anticipated debut fantasy novels from May 2021


Tessa Markham, Contributor

Given the challenges of the past year, people have been left with a lot of extra time. Just one of the things people have used that time for is reading, and authors certainly haven’t been slowing down with their writing. May is almost over, and summer is right around the corner, meaning more extra time for many students. Though it was difficult to narrow down, here is a list of highly anticipated fantasy novels for the month of May. 


  1. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard 

Overview: This is the first in a new series. Corayne an-Amarat begins to feel a strange darkness growing in Allward. She is joined by a squire, an immortal, an assassin, an ancient sorceress, a forger, and a bounty hunter. Together they will stand against this opponent. It is a brandnew world that is guaranteed to draw readers into the plot full of secrets, riddles, and danger.  

2.  Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller 

Overview: An 18-year-old girl named Ziva has a magical gift that allows her to create unique weapons imbued with power. But when a warlord asks her to create a sword that can steal secrets and she learns just what the warlord will do with this sword, she takes the sword and flees along with her sister. This book, full of intrigue and magic is sure to keep you turning the pages. Especially with the authentic, relatable main character.  

3. Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon 

Overview: In this fantastical and astoundingly ambitious novel, the main character named Vern, after fleeing her strict religious compound and giving birth to twins, finds herself changing. This change unleashes an incredible brutality that goes far beyond anything that should be possible. In order to understand this shift, she must face the past of where she came from as well as the future, which will mean uncovering secrets of the violent history in America that produced the world she now lives in.  

4. The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He 

Overview: In one of the most twisting, surprising, and engaging page-turner, Cee makes preparations to leave her abandoned island and find her sister Kay, the only fact about her past life that she remembers. Meanwhile, Kasey Mizuhara lives in her own isolation, in a levitating eco-city. She has given up hope that her sister, Celia, will never return after taking a boat out to sea and never returning. Kasey embarks on a journey to find her sister, while guarding a secret of her own. 

5. The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne 

Overview: A new world is rising after the gods drove themselves to extinction, destroying the land. In this new place, monsters stalk the woods and mountains. Three people decide the fate of the world as it once again falls beneath the shadow of the gods that destroyed it: a huntress, a noblewoman, and a thrall. This is set in a Norse-inspired world and packed with myth, magic, and vengeance that won’t let you set it down for even a moment. 

6. Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee 

Overview: In this groundbreaking debut novel, Harley wants to escape her alcoholic father and take her sister far away. But a boy she’s quickly falling for, Draven, tells her she is the key to stopping a war between two worlds. She has no desire to stay, but her anger at Draven’s insistence rises and she seems to warn that weeds can grow powerful enough to shatter a whole foundation. 

7. Black Water Sister by Zen Cho 

Overview: This widely anticipated book centers on Jessamyn Teoh as she fights for the retribution of her grandmother, Ah Ma, who was a spirit medium, an avatar for the mysterious deity named the Black Water Sister. Jess must succeed, or else the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good within this world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets that are bound to draw readers in and keep them there. 

8. A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark 

Overview: The universe throughout this debut is an alternate Cairo where Fatma el-Sha’arawi returns after preventing the destruction of the universe the summer before. She is called into a case where a murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, who opened the veil between magical and mundane realms fifty years ago, then mysteriously disappeared. She must unravel this mystery to restore peace to the city or face the prospect that this man may be exactly who he says.  

9. Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa 

Overview: Inspired by pre-colonial empires in West Africa, this is set in the ancient city of Bassa. Danso, a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness who prefers forbidden stories, stumbles across a warrior with magic that shouldn’t exist. He is set upon a path where he will discover Bassa’s darkest secrets, which threaten to destroy the empire. This is a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic and the author of The Ruin of Kings dubbed it, “Everything I love in a fantasy novel.” 

10. In the Ravenous Dark by A. M. Strickland 

Overview: This exciting debut instilled with intrigue follows Rovan, a girl with magic who is suddenly thrusted into a world of palace intrigue and deception. She finds herself falling for the undead spirit she watches over (Ivrilos) and the beguiling, rebellious princess named Lydea. But when they discover a secret that could destroy the world, Rovan must start a rebellion in both the living and underworlds while finding a way to trust the princess and spirit without betraying them first. 

11. The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis 

Overview: Science and magic clash in the quiet streets of Prague where otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. The only hope for the citizens of the city is an elite of monster hunters called the lamplighters. Domek Myska leads a life fraught with encounters with these kinds of evil and only finds solace in the company of his friend. But then he finds himself stalked by a ghost who haunts the halls of a Prague castle called the White Lady. He soon finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain, adding to a novel filled with twisting terrors and dark magic. 

12. The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman 

Overview: Kinch Na Shannack is a thief, his skills including lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, and a few small magics. He owes his training to the Takers Guild and he plans to repay that debt by robbing the next traveler that crosses his path. But instead, he finds his fate entangled with Galva’s, a handmaiden of death searching for her queen. This twisting plot is full of goblins hungry for human flesh, krakens hunting in dark waters, and where honor is a luxury few can afford. This epic journey will keep you turning the pages. 

13. The Immortal Game by A. C. Harvey and Talia Rothschild 

Overview: In this action-packed novel, an exiled goddess and daughter of Poseidon, Galene, ventures on a quest to clear her name and save Mount Olympus after a violent attack that left everything in ruins. Galene is accused of the crime and she finds allies who will join her in exile: a lifelong friend, a defiant warrior, a fire-wielder, and a mastermind. Together, they could be the ones to save Olympus, or the ones to destroy it once and for all. 

14. The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley 

Overview: Within this wildly original novel, Joe Tournier who has severe amnesia, attempts to follow the clues of a letter signed with an to discover who he truly is. This journey of self takes him from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland and eventually onto the battle ships of a lost empire’s Royal Navy. This book is set up to be a creative journey that takes the reader away to a different time. 

Expected publish date: May 27, 2021 


Each one of these are excellent novels that people are excitedly awaiting. But that doesn’t mean this is all there is. Feel free to look for more. These were narrowed down to just fifteen, and there are definitely plenty more where they came from!