Hi, friends! So, you might have noticed that I’ve been struggling to get into a groove with blogging lately. You might have already seen my coblogger search announcement, but in the meantime, my incredible best friend Joce (who you might know from her BookTube channel, squibblesreads) volunteered to write a couple guest posts for me. This is the first of those! Without further ado, I’d like to give Joce a warm Novel Ink welcome! <3
Over the past couple years, there has been a surge of amazing new #OwnVoices Asian inspired YA fantasy books. These include Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, The Reader by Traci Chee, and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. We were introduced to villainous narrators, mythology-inspired stories, and wild adventures.
I am so happy to see that in 2019, there seems to be no slowing down (and thank goodness). It makes me so happy that Asian and Asian-American teens get to see themselves be the heroes on perilous journeys in rich, imaginative worlds. Here are a few titles that I have my eye on, in order of publication!
(Covers link to Goodreads.)
The Girl King by Mimi Yu: January 8, 2019
This book is fresh off the press, and we are starting the new year strong. The synopsis says that we are in for a story about Lu, the oldest girl in her family, with her future set in stone. She is supposed to become the dynasty’s first female ruler. She has a younger sister named Min. However, their father suddenly claims that their cousin Set is to rule the dynasty instead. And off we go! Political intrigue, a complex relationship between two sisters, filial piety, shapeshifters, arranged marriage – what’s not to like?
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He: April 2, 2019
2019 is apparently the year of Game of Thrones-inspired titles, because we also have Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James coming out on February 5th, pitched as an African-inspired Game of Thrones. Descendant of the Crane is its Chinese-inspired YA counterpart. When Princess Hesina’s father is murdered, she suddenly becomes queen of Yan, a nation where magic has been outlawed. She seeks justice for her father, but not without enlisting helpers who perform magic (of course!). This is a standalone novel with the potential to pack a big punch.
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala: April 23, 2019
An assassin book inspired by ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology! Not only do we have Esha, an assassin seeking revenge, but we also have Kunal, a soldier who is not entirely sold on the rigid path he is on to defend King Vardaan. They get caught in a cat and mouse game and the author, in her answer to a question on Goodreads, says that she intended to explore the moral greys of war, duty, and honor, and I love me some morally grey characters.
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad: May 14, 2019
The Candle and the Flame is another standalone novel with historical undertones set along the Silk Road in the city of Noor. The entire population was slaughtered by djinn, besides our protagonist Fatima and two other humans. This story features love, lyricism, paranormal beings, Middle Eastern mythology, and within-city turmoil. The author is also Canadian (like me!), so that definitely gets a +1.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim: July 30, 2019
This is a mashup of Project Runway and Mulan… um, excuse me?! Yes, please! Maia Tamarin has dreams of becoming a famous tailor, but she has to pose as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor. The last book I read that had a skilled designer and tailor was The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, which I also loved. I hope we get to see as much lush, intricate fashion badassery as we did there.
BONUS: A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna: September 11, 2018
All right, all right – technically, this has come out already, but I am SHOCKED no one has been talking about it! This seems like the perfect mashup of sci-fi and fantasy: a space opera (!!!) with a huge scope and a basis in mythology. A Spark of White Fire is inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories. We have luscious world-building full of gods, moons, kingdoms, spaceships, warships, a cursed queen, a jealous uncle, and an exiled prince. Oh my!
What are some ownvoices Asian-inspired YA fantasy books on your TBR? Have you read any of the titles on this list?
xoxo, joce (squibblesreads)
Thank you so much to Joce for this post, and for adding even more books to our ever-growing tbr piles! 😉