Ah, October. It’s my birthday month, so I may not have the most objective opinion here, but I believe with absolute certainty that October is the best season for reading. Spooky books, atmospheric books, dark academia, thrillers, cozy romances–every sub-genre and genre is the perfect fit for reading this season. And our list of the best new books of October has something for every reader this month. So settle in with your Fall beverage of choice and get ready to enjoy what this season has to offer.
Starling House by Alix E. Harrow
Alix E. Harrow earned a spot on my must-read list with her debut fantasy The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Since then, I’ve gotten a copy of everything else including her latest, Starling House. If that isn’t a reason to make the best new books of October list, then just look at the genre. Modern gothic fantasy always deserves a spot on any October book list.
Synopsis: I dream sometimes about a house I’ve never seen….Opal is a lot of things–orphan, high school dropout, full-time cynic and part-time cashier–but above all, she’s determined to find a better life for her younger brother Jasper. One that gets them out of Eden, Kentucky, a town remarkable for only two things: bad luck and E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth century author of The Underland, who disappeared over a hundred years ago. All she left behind were dark rumors–and her home. Everyone agrees that it’s best to ignore the uncanny mansion and its misanthropic heir, Arthur. Almost everyone, anyway.
I should be scared, but in the dream I don’t hesitate. Opal has been obsessed with The Underland since she was a child. When she gets the chance to step inside Starling House–and make some extra cash for her brother’s escape fund–she can’t resist. But sinister forces are digging deeper into the buried secrets of Starling House, and Arthur’s own nightmares have become far too real. As Eden itself seems to be drowning in its own ghosts, Opal realizes that she might finally have found a reason to stick around. In my dream, I’m home. And now she’ll have to fight. Welcome to Starling House: enter, if you dare.
Release Date: October 3, 2023, via Tor Books. Order here.
Forever Twelve by Stacy McAnulty
Stacy McAnulty’s latest fantasy adventure is one of those books that is a good recommendation for every reader. Like many of her other novels, Forever Twelve is a fast-paced and easy read. New and established Stacy McAnulty fans will soon find out why this is one of the best new books of October in this fun series starter.
Synopsis: At the elite West Archer Academy, all the students are gifted, but four are exceptional. Though the Evers look twelve, they’re actually centuries old, possessing knowledge and talents that make them extraordinary. And boarding school is the perfect cover for their brilliance — and their secret. It’s supposed to be a typical year in the anything-but-typical lives of these “kids” . . . until Ivy Stewart shows up. She resembles an Ever who went missing more than seventy years ago. And Ivy could be the key to unlocking their curse. But ambitious Ivy is at West Archer to achieve her own extraordinary goals, and nothing will distract her. Or so she thinks!
With the desperate Evers determined to find answers, and her former classmate — and laid-back cool guy — Ronan determined to protect her, Ivy soon finds herself swept up in a mystery only she can solve. Will her life be changed forever . . . and ever?
Silence and Shadow by Erin Beaty
Romantasy fans not yet introduced to Catrin and Simon should pick up Blood And Moonlight. It is a magical and unique murder mystery set in a French inspired fantasy world. The sequel, Silence and Shadow, makes the best new books of October list because I’m eager to read more of the irresistible couple at the heart of the series.
Synopsis: Forced to flee for their lives after an explosive confrontation with a depraved killer, Selenae novice Catrin and brilliant criminal profiler Simon arrive in the sprawling city of Londunium, hoping for a fresh start and an opportunity for Catrin to hone her newfound magic. To avoid raising suspicion, they pretend to be a married couple, but don’t expect to keep up the ruse for long. Until a ruthless council of magical leaders at the local Selenae university discover Catrin’s forbidden “marriage” to an outsider and threaten to erase Simon’s memories to protect their secrets.
Terrified to lose each other, Catrin and Simon take desperate steps to keep him safe, like playing the parts of husband and wife for longer than they had anticipated. But when a string of mutilated bodies turns up in the woods outside the city, and Simon is recruited to profile the killer, Catrin is pulled back into a world of murder, mayhem, and magic . . .
Brooms by Jasmine Walls and Illustrated by Teo DuVall
A queer witchy graphic novel about broom racing that mixes historical fiction and fantasy with fabulous illustrations in an inclusive volume. I can’t think of another perfect novel to grace the best new books of October list.
Synopsis: It’s 1930s Mississippi. Magic is permitted only in certain circumstances, and by certain people. Unsanctioned broom racing is banned. But for those who need the money, or the thrills…it’s there to be found.
Meet Billie Mae, captain of the Night Storms racing team, and Loretta, her best friend and second-in-command. They’re determined to make enough money to move out west to a state that allows Black folks to legally use magic and take part in national races.
Cheng-Kwan – doing her best to handle the delicate and dangerous double act of being the perfect “son” to her parents, and being true to herself while racing.
Mattie and Emma — Choctaw and Black — the youngest of the group and trying to dodge government officials who want to send them and their newly-surfaced powers away to boarding school.
And Luella, in love with Billie Mae. Her powers were sealed away years ago after she fought back against the government. She’ll do anything to prevent the same fate for her cousins.
Brooms is a queer, witchy Fast and the Furious that shines light on history not often told. It’s everything you’d ever want to read in a graphic novel.
Release Date: October 10, 2023, via Levine Querido. Order here.
I Loved You In Another Life by David Arnold
David Arnold’s timeless love story spanning continents and generations carries the best elements of an epic soul-mate tale. Anything soul-mate related thrills the fanfiction reader in me. Therefore, this book easily makes the best new books of October list. Paired with a real musical element from the author, this unique novel should be making it on top of your TBR this month.
Synopsis: Evan Taft has plans. Take a gap year in Alaska, make sure his little brother and single mother are taken care of, and continue therapy to process his father’s departure. But after his mom’s unexpected diagnosis, as Evan’s plans begin to fade, he hears something: a song no one else can hear, the voice of a mysterious singer . . .
Shosh Bell has dreams. A high school theater legend, she’s headed to performing arts college in LA, a star on the rise. But when a drunk driver takes her sister’s life, that star fades to black. All that remains is a void—and a soft voice singing in her ear . . .
Over it all, transcending time and space, a celestial bird brings strangers together: from an escaped murderer in 19th century Paris, to a Norwegian kosmonaut in low-earth orbit, something is happening that began long ago, and will long outlast Evan and Shosh. With lyrical prose and original songs (written and recorded by the author), I Love You In Another Live explores the history of love, and how some souls are meant for each other—yesterday, today, forever.
Release Date: October 10, 2023, via Viking Books For Young Readers. Order here.
Coyote Queen by Jessica Vitalis
This big-hearted powerful middle-grade novel by Jessica Vitalis is about a young girl desperate to get her mother and her out of a bad situation. Fans of Dan Gemeinhart and Kimberly Brubaker Bradley will love Coyote Queen, one of the best new books of October.
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Fud feels trapped. She lives a precarious life in a cramped trailer with her mom and her mom’s alcoholic ex-boxer boyfriend, Larry. Fud can see it’s only a matter of time until Larry explodes again, even if her mom keeps on making excuses for his behavior. If only Fud could find a way to be as free as the coyotes roaming the Wyoming countryside: strong, smart, independent, and always willing to protect their own.
When Larry comes home with a rusted-out houseboat, Fud is horrified to hear that he wants to fix it up for them to live on permanently. All she sees is a floating prison. Then new-neighbor Leigh tells Fud about Miss Black Gold, a beauty pageant sponsored by the local coal mine. While Fud doesn’t care much about gowns or talents or prancing around on stage, she cares very much about getting herself and her mom away from Larry before the boat is finished. And to do that, she needs money, in particular that Miss Black Gold prize money.
One problem: the more Fud fantasizes about escape, the more her connection to the coyotes lurking outside her window grows. And strange things have started happening–is Fud really going color-blind? Are her eyebrows really getting bushier? And why does it suddenly seem like she can smell everything?
Jessica Vitalis crafts a moving and voice-driven novel about family and resilience, with a fantastical twist. Coyote Queen is perfect for readers of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise and The Elephant in the Room.
The Last To Leave The Room by Caitlin Starling
Caitlin Starling’s new novel makes the best new books of October list because its a genre-bending horror novel perfect for getting thrills and chills this spooky season.
Synopsis: The city of San Siroco is sinking. The basement of Dr. Tamsin Rivers, the arrogant, selfish head of the research team assigned to find the source of the subsidence, is sinking faster. As Tamsin becomes obsessed with the distorting dimensions of the room at the bottom of the stairs, she finds a door that didn’t exist before – and one night, it opens to reveal an exact physical copy of her.
This doppelgänger is sweet and biddable where Tamsin is calculating and cruel. It appears fully, terribly human, passing every test Tamsin can devise. But the longer the double exists, the more Tamsin begins to forget pieces of her life, to lose track of time, to grow terrified of the outside world. With her employer growing increasingly suspicious, Tamsin must try to hold herself together long enough to figure out what her double wants from her, and just where the mysterious door leads…
The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
This powerful indigenous novel about trauma and the devastation of family secrets after a young girl is taking from her family makes the best new books of October list but it will also likely be a book readers will be discussing for a long time.
Synopsis: July 1962. A Mi’kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family’s youngest child, vanishes. She is last seen by her six-year-old brother, Joe, sitting on a favorite rock at the edge of a berry field. Joe will remain distraught by his sister’s disappearance for years to come. In Maine, a young girl named Norma grows up as the only child of an affluent family. Her father is emotionally distant, her mother frustratingly overprotective. Norma is often troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem more like memories than imagination. As she grows older, Norma slowly comes to realize there is something her parents aren’t telling her. Unwilling to abandon her intuition, she will spend decades trying to uncover this family secret.
Release Date: October 31, 2023, via Catapult. Order here.
The Rosewood Hunt by Mackenzie Reed
Anything compared to The Inheritance Games will make my best new books of October list. It’s one of my all-time favorite novels for the deep character study and thrilling twists. The Rosewood Hunt promises all that and more.
Synopsis: Lily Rosewood has lived with her grandmother since her dad’s death a year ago. She and Gram have always been close–Gram’s role as chair of their family’s luxury coat business has inspired Lily’s love of fashion, and Lily hopes to follow in Gram’s footsteps one day.
Then Gram dies suddenly, and Lily’s world is upended. Gram’s quarter of a billion dollar fortune is missing, and Lily has been banned from the manor she and Gram shared.
But Gram has always loved games, and even in death, she still has a few tricks up her couture sleeve. When Lily and three other seemingly random teens get letters from Gram sending them on a treasure hunt around Rosetown, they hope the fortune will be the reward. But they’re not the only ones hunting for Gram’s treasure. Soon the hunt becomes more dangerous than they ever could have imagined.
Release Date: October 31, 2023, via HarperTeen. Order here.
Sinner’s Isle by Angela Montoya
Sinner’s Isle by Angela Montoya is one of the best new books of October. Why? Because I can’t resist a pirate romance. Also, from the early reviews this book promises to be as exciting and swoon-worthy a tale as you might expect.
Synopsis: Rosalinda is trapped on Sinner’s Isle, an island filled with young women like her–Majestics, beautiful witches loathed by society for their dangerous magic yet revered by powerful men who want to use them. For years, she has been kept under the watchful, calculating eye of Doña Lucia.
Now eighteen, Rosa will be the prized commodity at this year’s Offering, a fiesta for the wealthy to engage in drink, damsels, and debauchery. That is why she must flee–before someone forces the vicious phantoms within her to destroy everything she touches. Handsome, swashbuckling Mariano has long sailed the high seas as the Prince of Pirates. Then the king’s fleet attacks his father’s infamous ship, leaving him marooned on Sinner’s Isle with only an enchanted chain meant to lead him to his heart’s desire. Instead, he falls into the hands of a brazen (although) bewitching headache–Rosa. Together they must outwit each other and their enemies before the Offering ends and it’s too late to escape the perils of Sinner’s Isle.
Release Date: October 31, 2023, via Joy Revolution. Order here.
Featured image courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers/Catapult/Greenwillow Books/Tor/Joy Revolution