As spectacular as 2019 was for novels, 2020 is shaping up to look even better. From a prequel to a culture-making fantasy series, to a gothic tale taking place under the Australian sun, to a rollicking comedy about a Republican congressman who receives a taxidermied aardvark in the mail, there’s likely something to appeal to everyone on this list. That said, my taste becomes very apparent the longer you read — I am drawn to novels with an undercurrent of magic or mystery, and to those that delve heavily into issues related to wealth and class.
I’ll periodically update this if I hear of any new books coming out before July 2020, so if there’s something you’re especially excited to read, tell me! I want to know all about it. You can find me on twitter @lemonsand.
Part two of this will come out probably in May or thereabouts, so stay tuned.
LONG BRIGHT RIVER, Liz Moore. January 7. A cop becomes obsessed with finding her missing drug addicted sister and discovering who is killing sex workers in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. This novel is absolutely incredible — you can read my full review here. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE MAJESTIES, Tiffany Tsao. January 21. As she lies in a coma, a wealthy young woman sifts through her memories, attempting to understand why her sister would poison their powerful family. Indiebound, Amazon.
VERA VIOLET, Melissa Anne Peterson. February 4. A high schooler escapes decrepit, meth-ridden Pacific Northwest for St. Louis, Missouri, only to discover it has much of the same problems. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE LOST BOOK OF ADANA MOREAU, Michael Zapata. February 4. When cleaning out his dead grandfather’s home, a man discovers a long-lost science fiction manuscript and embarks on a journey to Louisiana to find the author’s mysterious son. Indiebound, Amazon.
UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED, Sarah Gailey. February 4. From the author of the acclaimed fantasy novel Magic for Liars. A woman stows away on a book wagon after escaping an arranged marriage to her best friend’s former fiance. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE MERCIES, Kiran Millwood Hargrave. February 11. In 17th century Norway, three years after a shipwreck wipes out the men of a small village, a Scottish man who has spent years burning witches at the stake arrives and becomes enraged by the female villagers’ independence. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE UNWILLING, Kelly Braffet. February 11. In this YA fantasy, a gifted foundling is trapped within the walls of a desperate city. Then a healer arrives, with plans for the city — and they involve the foundling. Indiebound, Amazon.
SAINT X, Alexis Schaitkin. February 18. Years after her older sister goes missing on an island vacation with their family, a woman stumbles upon one of the suspects driving a taxi, setting her on an obsessive quest for the truth of what really happened. Indiebound, Amazon.
WE RIDE UPON STICKS, Quan Barry. March 3. From the author of She Weeps Each Time You’re Born. In 1989 Massachussetts, a high school field hockey team discovers that their forebears, the victims of the Salem Witch Trials, may hold the key to their success. Indiebound, Amazon.
DEACON KING KONG, James McBride. March 3. From the author of National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. After a shooting at a South Brooklyn housing project in 1969, it becomes clear that the lives of the survivors overlap in surprising ways. Indiebound, Amazon.
MY DARK VANESSA, Kate Elizabeth Russell. March 10. A woman comes to terms with the affair she had as a teenager with her high school English teacher. I devoured this book. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in years — powerful, terrifying, moving, thought-provoking. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE PERFECT WORLD OF MIWAKO SUMIDA, Clarissa Goenawan. March 10. A university sophomore hangs herself, an event which compels the people in her life to more closely examine the young woman behind the carefully-constructed facade. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE ANIMALS AT LOCKWOOD MANOR, Jane Healey. March 10. During World War II, a natural history museum is evacuated to Lockwood Manor for its safety. When the animals begin moving on their own, the museum director and a resident of the manor begin to wonder what, exactly, they should be frightened of. Indiebound, Amazon.
CONJURE WOMEN, Afia Atakora. March 17. A family saga taking place in the South in the 19th century, about a family of female healers — and the birth of a child, which sparks superstition and threatens their newfound freedom. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE EIGHTH GIRL, Maxine Mei-Fung Chung. March 17. A woman with multiple personalities is drawn into London’s underbelly by her enigmatic best friend. This novel is written by a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, making me much more interested in the investigation of multiple personalities (which are so often sensationalized in books and movies). Indiebound, Amazon.
ENTER THE AARDVARK, Jessica Anthony. March 24. A Republican congressman receives a taxidermied aardvark in the mail, setting off a chain of events that threatens to ruin his career. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE HERD, Andrea Bartz. March 24. A book researcher moves to New York and joins an elite women-only coworking space. When its glamorous, private founder disappears soon after, everyone becomes a suspect. From the author of The Lost Night. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE CITY WE BECAME, N.K. Jemisin. March 24. From the award-winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. In a world in which every city has a soul, New York — which has five souls, one for each borough — must band together to save itself from an evil emerging from the earth. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE GLASS HOTEL, Emily St. John Mandel. March 24. From the author of Station Eleven, one of my favorite books on the planet, comes a new novel about a Ponzi scheme and a woman who disappears off a massive ship. This book is every bit as beautiful and memorable as Station Eleven. Indiebound, Amazon.
HURRICANE SEASON, Fernanda Melchor, Sophie Hughes (translator). March 31. When a group of children in a small Mexican village discover the body of a witch in a canal, the entire town is launched into an investigation of her brutal death. This book is being compared to my favorite novel ever, 2666, so I am 100% in. Indiebound, Amazon.
CHOSEN ONES, Veronica Roth. April 7. The first adult novel from the author of the sensational Divergent series. Five teens were brought together to save the world, but ten years later, many of them haven’t recovered from the trauma — and then one of them turns up dead. Indiebound, Amazon.
SIN EATER, Megan Campisi. April 7. In 16th century England, an orphan girl — as punishment for stealing a loaf of bread — becomes a Sin Eater, who are forbidden from speaking and must eat the food associated with the dead’s greatest sins. When an older Sin Eater refuses to eat the food of a dead royal governess, she is tortured and killed, and the orphan girl vows to avenge her. Indiebound, Amazon.
GODSHOT, Chelsea Bieker. April 7. In drought-ridden Peaches, California, a teenaged girl and her mother live in a patriarchal cult led by the magnetic Pastor Vern. When the mother is exiled from the cult, her daughter embarks on a quest to find her. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE COYOTES OF CARTHAGE, Stephen Wright. April 14. A successful, but aggressive and controversial, political consultant is sent to South Carolina to introduce a ballot initiative on behalf of a mining company. Indiebound, Amazon.
KEPT ANIMALS, Kate Milliken. April 21. In Topanga Canyon in 1993, a series of events, starting with a car accident and ending with a wildfire, tears apart the lives of three teens forever. 20 years later, one of these teens’ daughter returns to Topanga Canyon to unravel the events that transformed her mother. Indiebound, Amazon.
WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS, Stephanie Scott. April 21. As his marriage is dissolving, a man hires a “wakaresaseya,” whose purpose is to seduce his spouse to gain leverage during divorce proceedings. But when the wakaresaseya and the wife fall in love, it sets in motion a series of violent acts that will change the life of the couple’s daughter forever. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE KNOCKOUT QUEEN, Rufi Thorpe. April 28. From the author of The Girls from Corona Del Mar. Two teenaged outcasts become best friends, until an accidental act of violence leaves them both transformed. Indiebound, Amazon.
INCENDIARY, Zoraida Córdova. April 28. In this YA fantasy set in a world inspired by Inquisition Spain, a spy with the ability to steal memories must complete a secret mission left abandoned by her kidnapped commander. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE ANTHILL, Julianna Pachico. May 12. After being sent away from Colombia to England after her mother’s death, a woman returns two decades later to find her childhood best friend who now runs a daycare called The Anthill. When strange, ghostly occurrences begin to plague The Anthill, the woman begins to wonder if she brought these disturbances with her. Indiebound, Amazon.
MY MOTHER’S HOUSE, Francesca Momplaisir. May 12. A Haitian immigrants flees with his family to New York and purchases a house — a house that’s watching him, and judging him, for his innumerable sins. Indiebound, Amazon.
SHINER, Amy Jo Burns. May 12. When a miracle her roadside pastor performs turns to tragedy, a teenaged girl in rural West Virginia works to uncover her father’s mysterious power and her mother’s history. Indiebound, Amazon.
CATHERINE HOUSE, Elisabeth Thomas. May 12. Catherine House is an elite, experimental, and secretive school in which its students are forbidden from contact with the outside world for three years. When tragedy strikes, a student suspects that the school may be hiding an ulterior agenda. Indiebound, Amazon.
SAVING RUBY KING, Catherine Adel West. June 6. When her best friend’s mother is murdered, a young girl’s pastor father forbids her from seeing her friend, making the girl wonder what her father’s motives really are. Indiebound, Amazon.
THE LIGHTNESS, Emily Temple. June 16. After her father leaves her family, a teenaged girl attends a boot camp for troubled girls, where she meets a group of other young women and becomes dangerously obsessed with attaining enlightenment. Indiebound, Amazon.
MOTHER DAUGHTER WIDOW WIFE, Robin Wasserman. June 23. From the author of the acclaimed Girls on Fire, a novel about an amnesiac woman in a fugue state who checks herself into an experimental research facility. Indiebound, Amazon.
HEAD OVER HEELS, Hannah Orenstein. June 23. After a disastrous performance ends her gymnastics career, a young woman moves home and agrees to help train a promising gymnast with aspirations to compete in the Olympics. But when scandal strikes the gymnastics world, it has repurcussions for the protagonist and the entire sport. Indiebound, Amazon.
FLYAWAY, Kathleen Jennings. July 28. In this gothic novel set in Western Queensland, a woman receives a letter from her vanished brother, sending her on a quest to uncover the truth. Indiebound, Amazon.