Welcome to the inaugural year for a new feature here on the blog dedicated to debut authors! This year I wanted to do something to help boost new author voices and stories, and this project evolved from a few interview requests that came from Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads initiative to connect authors interested in working with book bloggers.
This originally was going to be a few author interview features on the blog, but me being as Extra as I am of course it grew into something bigger: the Novel19 Class, six amazing novels by female debut authors that I am going to scream about throughout the year! This post is announcing the Novel19 Class and sharing the book synopses with you all, and as we get closer to publication there will also be interviews with the authors as well as honest reviews (pending ARC availability). I am so excited to introduce you to the Novel19 Class, so without further adieu…
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
Published: March 12, 2019
The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.
To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.
The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?
Why I chose this book: I feel personally attacked by how beautiful this cover is and how magical this sounds?! I cannot wait to experience this forest and the secrets within.
From the author: The Waking Forest is perfect for readers who love fairy tales! It’s a twisty mix of nightmares, wishes, stories within stories, sisterhood, and magic.
We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Published: April 2, 2019
Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.
Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.
Why I chose this book: I was drawn in by the amazing cover artwork and stayed because of the blurb. Strong women pulling a Mulan to join the army? Sacrifice and survival are themes I adore and this book sounds incredible.
From the author: I wrote this for the girls who keep being told they can’t, when they know they can. I wrote this for the girls who love their country, even though they know their country is a bastard. If you want to read about complicated friendships and loyalties – and see things go boom at the same time – consider WE RULE THE NIGHT.
The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin
Publication date: July 16, 2019
Every tree in the sacred Forest of Laida houses a soul. Though each of those souls will return to the mortal world for many future lives, not all of them deserve to.
Seicha’s father told her this story as a child — a story of the most holy place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seicha’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back.
After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seicha is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed, to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave. In this story of love, survival, and what it means to be human, Seicha and Haben discover that the Underworld is riddled with secrets that can only be unlocked through complete trust and devotion, not only to their mission, but also to one another.
Why I chose this book: I love exploring concepts of reincarnation and what it means to be human, and this debut fantasy sounds so incredibly interesting!
From the author: I wrote this book for young adults who have an open mind as well as an open heart. This story offers mythological answers for the tougher things in life we can’t quite explain, and explores all sorts of dark philosophies. Set in a fantastical world that’s been compared to Neil Gaiman and the movie PAN’S LABYRINTH, we’ve got enemies who become friends (and maybe something more!), a strong brother/sister relationship, and terrifying creatures I’m 100% sure you’ve never heard of before
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle #1) by Rosaria Munda
Publication date: October 15, 2019
Seraphina meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.
The brutal revolution that overthrew the Dragonlords may have orphaned Annie and Lee, but it’s brought new hope to their city. Now anyone–including the lowborn–can have wealth, an education, and even test into the governing class of dragonriders.
Aristocratic by birth and with his identity concealed, Lee’s confidence and air of power have made him a rising star in the very regime that slaughtered his family. Annie, a former serf, is as bold a rider as they come–in the air. On the ground, she struggles with self-doubt.
Now, after seven years of friendship, Annie and Lee are rivals for the top position in the city’s fleet. All the riders have been preparing to lead their people into the future, yet no one is ready when survivors from the Dragonlord families resurface with dragons of their own, bent on reclaiming the city.
With war looming and their relationship growing, Annie and Lee will both have to confront wavering loyalties. Lee will be forced to choose between killing the only family he has left, or betraying everything he’s come to believe in, while Annie will have to decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.
Why I chose this book: You had me at “Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons, set in the aftermath of a bloody revolution.” I absolutely love Plato’s Republic and am so intrigued for this story!
From the author: I think FIREBORNE would be perfect for people who liked the high-stakes military training of Ender’s Game, the dragons of How to Train Your Dragon, and the romance of Ember in the Ashes. Also, if you’ve ever rooted for an orphaned aristocrat rising from the bottom on sheer charisma–or, alternatively, struggled to compete with someone who had that kind of charisma, while you doubted yourself–you might find something to like in my two main characters, Lee and Annie. Lee’s the boy I grew up reading about; Annie’s the student I tended to be.
Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor
Publication date: October 15, 2019
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: An illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
Why I chose this book: Excuse me, was this book written with my interests in mind?! Science fiction, outlaws, infections spreading, and queer? Sign me the heck up!
From the author: TARNISHED ARE THE STARS is a genre-bending science fantasy perfect for readers who love thrilling political mysteries, heart-stopping queer romance, and really big hats.
Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon
Publication date: October 29, 2019
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be…before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There, she discovers more danger lurking in the sandstone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
Why I chose this book: This sounds like an interesting tale of love and sacrifice inspired by practices of Ancient Sumer, which I am here for. Excited to dive into this world!
From the author: Growing up, I had a sister whom I felt like I needed to protect from time to time. Sometimes, I was able to manage it, other times, what she wanted prevailed. It’s the same with Kammani and Nanaea, two sisters with very different goals. Kammani, a healer, wants to save the ruler of her city-state so she isn’t forced to watch Nanaea be put to death for a dark tradition. But the lovely Nanaea wants nothing more than to join the ruler of their city in the tomb so she can have the honor that was stripped away from their family.
Sisterhood can be difficult, filled with trials and pettiness and jealousies, and in this story, that prickly relationship exists. But more than that is the overwhelming sense of love that seeks to triumph over the danger in which they’ve found themselves.
What about you… are you excited about any of these books? What other debut novels are you excited about in 2019? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments – make my TBR grow!
This new series would not be here if not for the work that Vicky put in collecting author information and working with the group of bloggers. Thank you so much for all that you do Vicky, and I am so thankful to have this opportunity!