The SFF books we can’t wait to read in 2023

Cover for The Traitor by Anthony Ryan

Last Updated on December 5, 2022

I don’t know about you, but it fucking finally feels like the world is starting to tilt back towards normality. And part of that normal is seeing people at Cons again, books being signed by authors in person, live readings, and a genuine excitement at what SFF books are being released in 2023.

As we do each year, I asked around the reviewer team about what SFF books they can’t wait to read next year, and damn, sometimes it takes that discussion to realise just how epic the next twelve months of reading is going to be.

A Woman of the Sword by Anna Smith Spark

Picked by John Mauro

I grovel before our reigning Queen of Grimdark, Anna Smith Spark, in anticipation of her new novel, A Woman of the Sword, which will be released in April 2023. I harbor more than a ounce of envy toward our Editor-in-Chief, Adrian Collins, who already reviewed the ARC for this new grimdark masterpiece, calling it “A book that beats you emotionally senseless…grimdark at its finest…This is Anna Smith Spark at her heart-wrenching, mythic-feeling, storytelling best, and just completely unmissable.” Long live the Queen of Grimdark!

About the book

A Woman of the Sword is an epic fantasy seen through the eyes of an ordinary woman. Lidae is a daughter, a wife, a mother – and a great warrior born to fight. Her sword is hungry for killing, her right hand is red with blood.

War is very much a woman’s business. But war is not kind to women. And war is not kind to mothers and their sons.

Read A Woman of the Sword by Anna Smith Spark

The Book that Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence

Picked by Chris Haught

TBR cover for The Book that Wouldn't BurnBlurb looks fantastic. New world, new series. Lawrence has always fascinated me and this one has a boy trapped for his whole life in a fantasy library.

Book blurb

This place built the city. It built the nation. The empire. All of it. This is power. This is where the histories are. This is where the great philosophers are. This is where the secrets that arm our soldiers are written. This is where the next secrets will be found…

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn is about many things – adventure, discovery, and romance. But at its heart this is a love letter to books and the places where they live. The focus is on one vast and timeless library, but the love expands to encompass smaller, more personal collections, and bookshops of all shades too.

It is novel wrapped around the theme of books, and society, and how they interact. About access to information, the difference between information and truth, the seduction of convenient lies, and the danger of knowledge not tempered by wisdom. It’s also about the almost sacred awe a big library, church-quiet, can inspire.

Read The Book that Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence

Empire of the Vampire book #2 by Jay Kristoff

Picked by Fiona Denton

I still have quite a long wait but it will absolutely be worth it. It will be epically long, gorgeously illustrated, with bloody battles and beautiful writing. Gabriel de Leon is the anti hero i love to love and Kristoff’s pale blood vampires are so deliciously evil. I wanted to know so much more about the world after finishing EOTV and am so impatient for answers. The first book was my hands down favourite of 2021 and my expectations are sky high but I have a feeling that the next installment will exceed them.

At the time of publication of this article, neither a cover nor blurb has been released for this book, but you can find our review of book one, Empire of the Vampire, here.

Blade of Dream by Daniel Abraham

Picked by Angela Gualtieri

Cover for Blade of Dream by Daniel AbrahamAbraham is one of my favorite authors, and the premise for the Kithamar Trilogy is really unique. I enjoyed Age of Ash, particularly for its themes and setting, so I’m eager to see what he does with the second installment.

About the book

Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories endure.

This is Garreth’s.

Garreth Left is heir to one of Kithamar’s most prominent merchant families. The path of his life was paved long before he was born. Learn the family trade, marry to secure wealthy in-laws, and inherit the business when the time is right. But to Garreth, a life chosen for him is no life at all.

In one night, a chance meeting with an enigmatic stranger changes everything. He falls in love with a woman whose name he doesn’t even know, and he will do anything to find her again. His search leads him down corridors and alleys that are best left unexplored, where ancient gods hide in the shadows, and every deal made has a dangerous edge.

The path that Garreth chooses will change the course of not only those he loves, but the entire future of Kithamar’s citizens.

In Kithamar, every story matters — and the fate of the city is woven from them all.

Read Blade of Dream by Daniel Abraham

Alecto the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Picked by Julia Frazer

Originally intended to come out in 2022, Alecto the Ninth is the fourth and final book in the beloved “lesbian necromancers in space” Locked Tomb series. The book is now expected to be released sometime in 2023. Muir released Nona the Ninth this year, which very much felt like a first act to a very epic conclusion. I look forward to seeing the culmination of so much fun world-building, cool foreshadowing, and unique narrative structures.

At the time of publication of this article, neither a cover nor blurb has been released for this book, but you can find our review of the previous books on the site: Gideon the Ninth, Harrow the Ninth, and Nona the Ninth.

The Traitor by Anthony Ryan

Picked by Aaron Jones

Cover for The Traitor by Anthony RyanThe first two books in the Covenant of Steel trilogy have been incredible and this final entry, if it were to stick the landing, would make the trilogy one of the best series of fantasy in the past decade. Ryan really is a masterful storyteller and this trilogy has shown him at his peak. Deadly feuds, an unreliable narrator, and more intrigue than you can stab a bloody sword at – June 2023 can’t come quick enough!

Book blurb

The Traitor is the final novel in The Covenant of Steel trilogy, an epic fantasy series of action, intrigue, and magic from Anthony Ryan, a master storyteller who has taken the fantasy world by storm.

You can read Grimdark Magazine’s reviews for the first two books in the series, here: The PariahThe Martyr.

Read The Traitor by Anthony Ryan

Manifest Delusions #3 by Michael R. Fletcher

Picked by Carrie Chi Lough

The first book in the series Beyond Redemption released in 2015. While seven years has passed since its release date, it still holds the number one spot in Mark Lawrence’s Grimdark. We’re Nailing It Down! list. This series started my obsession for grimdark so words cannot describe how hyped I am for the final book to drop in August 2023.

At the time of publication of this article, neither a cover nor blurb has been released for this book, but you can find our review of the previous books on the site: Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth.

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

Picked by James Tivendale

Cover for Gidkiller by Hannah Kaner“You are not welcome here, Godkiller” is a simple statement that piqued my curiosity when I opened the package that included Hannah Kaner’s upcoming fantasy debut. I was so intrigued that I opted to read Godkiller next. I’m content that I did as this release is a fascinating and engaging dark fantasy adventure reminiscent of Sapkowski’s The Witcher series. It is extremely well-written, features excellent pacing and contains some wonderful twists.

Book blurb

Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.

Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour.

Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it.

Read Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

Picked by Shannon Hellyer

Cover for Hell Bent by Leigh BardugoI’ve been looking forward to the sequel of Ninth House for a while now. The original was a great blend of urban fantasy and horror. Some really messed up stuff happens in it.

Book blurb

Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory?even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.

Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters.

Read Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

Picked by Fabienne Schwizer

Cover for The Adventures of Amina al-SirafiI thoroughly enjoyed Shannon Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy, and she has levelled up again for The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi. Grounded in history and the context of the Crusades, this story is embedded in the real world with a lighter touch on the fantasy. The focus is on the wits and personality of pirate captain Amina, fresh out of retirement. Neither young not beautiful, she is an unusual but brilliant leading character in an exiting adventure full of fun, danger and betrayal. I also love the seamless weaving in of a variety of queer characters.

Book blurb

Amina al-Sirafi has survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.

But when she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse, she jumps at the chance for one final adventure with her old crew that will make her a legend and offers a fortune that will secure her and her family’s future forever.

Yet the deeper Amina dives the higher the stakes. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savour just a bit more power…and the price might be your very soul.

Read The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

Picked by Elizabeth Tabler

Cover for How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady HendrixThe book I am most looking forward to reading comes out in January of 2023, How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix. Hendrix has quickly become one of my favorite authors over the last few years with his remarkable ability to scare and delight in equal measure. Knowing him, a classic Haunted House story that he can twist, manipulate, and leave the audience guessing is right up my alley. Come for the horror; stay for the twisted family dynamics and a probable unreliable narrator that will leave me saying, “What the fuck?” in the best possible way.

Book blurb

Your past and your family can haunt you like nothing else… A hilarious and terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Girl Support Group.

When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world.

Mostly, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. But she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.

Some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…

Read How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan

Picked by Adrian Collins

Cover for The Tyranny of Fair by Richard SwanFor me, it’s The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan. The Justice of Kings was absolutely engrossing, with a brutal medieval world, plenty of intrigue, necromancy for the “good” guys (for the win!) and so much more. This series is going to be a big deal in the dark fantasy world, and I cannot wait to get the ARC.

Book blurb

A Justice’s work is never done.

The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but the war for the Empire’s future has just begun.

Concerned by rumours that the Magistratum’s authority is waning, Sir Konrad Vonvalt returns to Sova to find the capital city gripped by intrigue and whispers of rebellion. In the Senate, patricians speak openly against the Emperor, while fanatics preach holy vengeance on the streets.

Yet facing down these threats to the throne will have to wait, for the Emperor’s grandson has been kidnapped – and Vonvalt is charged with rescuing the missing prince.

His quest will lead Vonvalt – and his allies Helena, Bressinger and Sir Radomir – to the Empire’s southern frontier, where they will once again face the puritanical fury of Bartholomew Claver and his templar knights . . . and a dark power far more terrifying than they could have imagined.

Read The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.