15 fantasy and science fiction books to read in May 2024

It's May! Flowers are blooming and pollen is in the air. It's the perfect time to shore up your library with new books to while away the spring days.
The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond. Image courtesy of Tordotcom.
The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond. Image courtesy of Tordotcom. /

A new month has dawned, and as the prophecy foretold, a glut of new fantasy and science fiction books are about to arrive. As we do every month here at Winter Is Coming, we're rounding up all the hottest book releases of the month in one place, all in the name of feeding your habit so you can spend less time wrangling with Amazon or Goodreads and more time reading!

From dark epic fantasies to tongue-in-cheek romances to stories featuring criminals and assassins, sci-fi thrillers filled with alien conspiracies and interstellar mysteries, there are plenty of books hitting the shelves in May. No matter your interests, there's probably something in this list that'll hit the spot. Come along on a journey of literary discovery!

The Sword Unbound by Gareth Hanrahan
The Sword Unbound by Gareth Hanrahan. Image courtesy of Orbit. /

THE SWORD UNBOUND by Gareth Hanrahan (Lands of the Firstborn #2) — May 7

We start out the month with a dash of dark epic fantasy. The Sword Unbound is the second book in Gareth Hanrahan's Lands of the Firstborn series, and the sequel to The Sword Defiant. The story is epic fantasy to the core, but with a dark twist: A band of grizzled veteran warriors who once saved the world find themselves once more drawn into a conflict for the soul of it, except this time they're not lauded as heroes; they're hunted as rebels. Throw in a cursed sword, wrathful gods and a duplicitous immortal elven king, and you have the makings for a gritty fantasy adventure.


He thought he was saving the world. That was his first mistake.

Twenty years ago, Alf and his companions defeated the Dark Lord and claimed his city. Now, those few of the Nine that remain find themselves unwilling rebels, defying the authority of both the mortal Lords they once served and the immortal king of the elves - the secret architect of everything they've ever known.

Once lauded as a mighty hero, Alf is now labelled a traitor and hunted by the very gods he seeks to bring down. As desperate rebellion blazes across the land, Alf seeks the right path through a maze of conspiracy, wielding a weapon of evil. The black sword Spellbreaker has found its purpose in these dark days. But can Aelfric remain a hero, or is his legend tarnished forever?

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Five Broken Blades by Mai Corland
Five Broken Blades by Mai Corland. Image: Engtangled: Red Tower Books. /

FIVE BROKEN BLADES by Mai Corland — May 7

Five Broken Blades is being pitched as a mix between Game of Thrones and Kill Bill set in a Korean-inspired fantasy world. It features a found family of assassins and killers who have to team up to kill a king who's dipping his hand into divinity, which sounds like a fun set up — especially when those assassins are each so untrustworthy that it's hard to know what's truth and what's a lie meant to further their own individual ends. Can they trust each other long enough to throw down the king's corrupt regime? And if they succeed, can they trust each other enough to build something better from its ashes?


It’s the season
for treason…

The king of Yusan must die.

The five most dangerous liars in the land have been mysteriously summoned to work together for a single objective: to kill the God King Joon.

He has it coming. Under his merciless immortal hand, the nobles flourish, while the poor and innocent are imprisoned, ruined…or sold.

And now each of the five blades will come for him. Each has tasted bitterness—from the hired hitman seeking atonement, a lovely assassin who seeks freedom, or even the prince banished for his cruel crimes. None can resist the sweet, icy lure of vengeance.

They can agree on murder.

They can agree on treachery.

But for these five killers—each versed in deception, lies, and betrayal—it’s not enough to forge an alliance. To survive, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other…but only one can take the crown.

Let the best liar win.

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The Silverblood Promise by James Logan
The Silverblood Promise by James Logan. Image courtesy of Tor Books. /

THE SILVERBLOOD PROMISE by James Logan (The Last Legacy #1) — May 7

Our next book is probably going to be a great fit for any Joe Abercrombie, Nicholas Eames or Scott Lynch fans in the house. The Silverblood Promise follows the disgraced noble Lukan Gardova, who delves into the criminal underworld of the fantastical metropolis of Saphrona after his father is suspiciously murdered.

The Silverblood Promise is the debut novel from James Logan, a veteran fantasy and science fiction editor who has made the leap over to authorhood. Logan knows his way around a well-constructed fantasy book, and from the exceptionally positive early buzz that The Silverblood Promise is generating, it sounds like those skills have paid off in this dark fantasy debut.


Lukan Gardova is a cardsharp, academy dropout, and—thanks to a duel that ended badly—the disgraced heir to an ancient noble house. His days consist of cheap wine, rigged card games, and wondering how he might win back the life he threw away.

When Lukan discovers that his estranged father has been murdered in strange circumstances, he finds fresh purpose. Deprived of his chance to make amends for his mistakes, he vows to unravel the mystery behind his father's death.

His search for answers leads him to Saphrona, fabled city of merchant princes, where anything can be bought if one has the coin. Lukan only seeks the truth, but instead he finds danger and secrets in every shadow.

For in Saphrona, everything has a price—and the price of truth is the deadliest of all.

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The Brides of High Hill by Nghi Vo
The Brides of High Hill by Nghi Vo. Image courtesy of Tordotcom. /

THE BRIDES OF HIGH HILL by Nghi Vho (The Singing Hills Cycle #5) — May 7

The Brides of High Hill is the fifth installment in author Nghi Vho's Singing Hills Cycle. This novella series follows Cleric Chih, a record keeper who travels from place to place recording what bits of history they can. Each Singing Hills Cycle is a standalone story, so you can pick them up in any order. In The Birdes of High Hill, Cleric Chih is heading to a wedding where dark secrets from the kingly husband-to-be's past loom large.


The Cleric Chih accompanies a beautiful young bride to her wedding to the aging ruler of a crumbling estate situated at the crossroads of dead empires. The bride's party is welcomed with elaborate courtesies and extravagant banquets, but between the frightened servants and the cryptic warnings of the lord's mad son, they quickly realize that something is haunting the shadowed halls.

As Chih and the bride-to-be explore empty rooms and desolate courtyards, they are drawn into the mystery of what became of Lord Guo's previous wives and the dark history of Do Cao itself. But as the wedding night draws to its close, Chih will learn at their peril that not all monsters are to be found in the shadows; some monsters hide in plain sight.

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Road to Ruin by Hana Lee
Road to Ruin by Hana Lee. Image courtesy of Saga Press/Simon and Schuster. /

ROAD TO RUIN by Hana Lee (Magebike Courier #1) — May 14

Are you excited for the Mad Max movie Furiosa that's releasing this month? Of course you are, you self-respecting sci-fi nerd! Well, do I have good news for you: Road To Ruin is the first installment in Hana Lee's Magebiker Courier series, and it has a vibe that would make any road warrior grin with manic approval. The book follows Jin-Lu, one of the titular magebike couriers who traverses an unforgiving hellscape on a motorcycle powered by magic, and gets swept up in a polyamorous love triangle along the way. If you can't get enough of motor chases across unforgiving wastelands, you definitely want Road To Ruin on your radar.


Jin-Lu has the most dangerous job in the wasteland. She’s a magebike courier, one of the few who venture outside the domed cities on motorcycles powered by magic. Every day, she braves the wasteland’s dangers—deadly storms, roving marauders, and territorial beasts—to deliver her wares.

Her most valuable cargo? A prince’s love letters addressed to Yi-Nereen, a princess desperate to escape the clutches of her abusive family and soon-to-be husband. Jin, desperately in love with both her and the prince, can’t refuse Yi-Nereen’s plea for help. The two of them flee across the wastes, pursued by Yi-Nereen’s furious father, her scheming betrothed, and a bounty hunter with mysterious powers.

A storm to end all storms is brewing and dark secrets about the heritability of magic are coming to light. Jin’s heart has led her into peril before, but this time she may not find her way back.

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When Among Crows by Veronica Roth
When Among Crows by Veronica Roth. Image courtesy of Tor Books. /

WHEN AMONG CROWS by Veronica Roth — May 14

It's an exciting time for fans of Veronica Roth, the author of the bestselling Divergent YA sci-fi series. This month, Roth is releasing When Among Crows, an adult fantasy novella drawing on Slavic folklore. When Among Crows is the story of a monster slayer who has to join forces with a zmora — a nightmare being from Polish myth — in order to slay an even bigger monster. And maybe, in the process, find a way to ease their own painful burdens that their lives have chained to them.


We bear the sword, and we bear the pain of the sword.

Pain is Dymitr’s calling. His family is one in a long line of hunters who sacrifice their souls to slay monsters. Now he’s tasked with a deadly mission: find the legendary witch Baba Jaga. To reach her, Dymitr must ally with the ones he’s sworn to kill.

Pain is Ala’s inheritance. A fear-eating zmora with little left to lose, Ala awaits death from the curse she carries. When Dymitr offers her a cure in exchange for her help, she has no choice but to agree.

Together they must fight against time and the wrath of the Chicago underworld. But Dymitr’s secrets—and his true motives—may be the thing that actually destroys them.

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The Honey Witch by Sydney J. Shields
The Honey Witch by Sydney J. Shields. Image: Redhook. /

THE HONEY WITCH by Sydney J. Shields — May 14

If you'd like some romance in your fantasy this spring, The Honey Witch may be more your style. The debut novel from Sydney J. Shields, it's a romantic historical fantasy story about a witch and a magical skeptic whose lives become intertwined. It's got cozy, cottagecore vibes and a sapphic romance, and has been drawing comparisons to both Bridgerton and Practical Magic.


The Honey Witch of Innisfree can never find true love. That is her curse to bear. But when a young woman who doesn’t believe in magic arrives on her island, sparks fly in this deliciously sweet debut novel of magic, hope, and love overcoming all.

Twenty-one-year-old Marigold Claude has always preferred the company of the spirits of the meadow to any of the suitors who’ve tried to woo her. So when her grandmother whisks her away to the family cottage on the tiny Isle of Innisfree with an offer to train her as the next Honey Witch, she accepts immediately. But her newfound magic and independence come with a price: No one can fall in love with the Honey Witch.

When Lottie Burke, a notoriously grumpy skeptic who doesn’t believe in magic, shows up on her doorstep, Marigold can’t resist the challenge to prove to her that magic is real. But soon, Marigold begins to care for Lottie in ways she never expected. And when darker magic awakens and threatens to destroy her home, she must fight for much more than her new home—at the risk of losing her magic and her heart.

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Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel
Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel. Image: Redhook. /

GODDESS OF THE RIVER by Vaishnavi Patel — May 21

May will also see the release of Goddess of the River, the hotly anticipated second novel from Kaikeyi author Vaishnavi Patel. Like Kaikeyi, Goddess of the River is a reimagining of a piece of Indian mythology; in this case, the story of the river goddess Ganga from the Mahabarata and her son, Devavrata. Patel's first book was extremely well received, and if she's managed to pull off a similar sort of magic with Goddess of the River, it's going to be a spellbinding read.


A mother and a son. A goddess and a prince. A curse and an oath. A river whose course will change the fate of the world.

Ganga, joyful goddess of the river, serves as caretaker to the mischievous godlings who roam her banks. But when their antics incur the wrath of a powerful sage, Ganga is cursed to become mortal, bound to her human form until she fulfills the obligations of the curse.

Though she knows nothing of mortal life, Ganga weds King Shantanu and becomes a queen, determined to regain her freedom no matter the cost. But in a cruel turn of fate, just as she is freed of her binding, she is forced to leave her infant son behind.

Her son, prince Devavrata, unwittingly carries the legacy of Ganga’s curse. And when he makes an oath that he will never claim his father’s throne, he sets in motion a chain of events that will end in a terrible and tragic war.

As the years unfold, Ganga and Devavrata are drawn together again and again, each confluence another step on a path that has been written in the stars, in this deeply moving and masterful tale of duty, destiny, and the unwavering bond between mother and son.

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Freeset by Sarina Dahlan
Freeset by Sarina Dahlan. Image courtesy of Blackstone Publishing. /

FREESET by Sarina Dahlan (The Four Cities #2) — May 21

Freeset is the latest novel in author Sarina Dahlan's Four Cities series, which takes place in a sci-fi future where the last remnants of humanity have their memories wiped every four years, the better to promote the stability of their post-apocalyptic "utopian" society. But what happens when some of them start to remember? What if there were loved ones they didn't want to leave behind after the mandatory memory wipes?

These questions were posed in the first book in the series, Reset. Freeset is a direct sequel to Reset, picking up with some of the characters after they sat out the second book, last year's prequel novel Preset.


Can true love break you free?

When calamity destroyed most of humanity, the Four Cities survived by carefully predicting and meticulously controlling everything in the survivors’ lives—even love. As part of this new normal, every four years the citizens face down Tabula Rasa, a process that wipes away their memories of each other.

But nothing can be controlled completely, and love will always strive to be free.

A brave handful of Dreamers, aided by Eleanor the Crone, have repeatedly managed to find each other again after Tabula Rasa, proving that the desire to connect is eternal. Scientist Aris and musician Metis, star-crossed lovers, have found each other again … along with a clue to a hidden library that could contain the memories erased by Tabula Rasa.

At long last, there is a chance for a brave, free, new world—if they can escape before the next reset.

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Lost Ark Dreaming by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Lost Ark Dreaming by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. Image courtesy of Tordotcom. /

LOST ARK DREAMING by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — May 21

Lost Ark Dreaming is a new novella from Suyi Davies Okungbowa, the Nigerian author behind The Nameless Republic fantasy series. While Okungbowa's novel series, which began with 2021's Son of the Storm, takes place in a fictional African-inspired fantasy world, Lost Ark Dreaming is set in an alternate version of our own future. It's a story of privilege and social disparity set in a partially submerged tower system, where the wealthy live in opulence while everyone else is forced to subsist in the towers' depths below sea level.


Off the coast of West Africa, decades after the dangerous rise of the Atlantic Ocean, the region’s survivors live inside five partially submerged, kilometers-high towers originally created as a playground for the wealthy. Now the towers’ most affluent rule from their lofty perch at the top while the rest are crammed into the dark, fetid floors below sea level.

There are also those who were left for dead in the Atlantic, only to be reawakened by an ancient power, and who seek vengeance on those who offered them up to the waves.

Three lives within the towers are pulled to the fore of this conflict: Yekini, an earnest, mid-level rookie analyst; Tuoyo, an undersea mechanic mourning a tremendous loss; and Ngozi, an egotistical bureaucrat from the highest levels of governance. They will need to work together if there is to be any hope of a future that is worth living—for everyone.

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In Our Stars by Jack Campbell
In Our Stars by Jack Campbell. Image courtesy of Ace. /

IN OUR STARS by Jack Campbell (Doomed Earth #1) — May 21

In Our Stars is the latest novel from veteran science fiction author Jack Campbell. Campbell has been churning out novels for more than 20 years now, and has published well over 40 books. He's best known for his Lost Fleet military sci-fi series. With his track record, it's a safe bet that his next work is going to be a good one. In Our Stars is a sci-fi thriller where the destruction of Earth in the year 2180 hurls a genetically engineered super soldier back in time — where she's given the chance to avert the planet's explosive fate.


Earth, 2180

Genetically engineered with partly alien DNA, Lieutenant Selene Genji is different from ordinary humans. And they hate her for it. Still, she’s spent her life trying to overcome society’s prejudice by serving in the Unified Fleet while Earth’s international order collapses into war.

Genji is stationed on a ship in orbit when humanity’s factional extremism on the planet reaches a boiling point, and she witnesses the utter annihilation of Earth. When the massive forces unleashed by Earth’s death warp space and time to hurl her forty years into the past, Genji is given a chance to try to change the future and save Earth—starting with the alien first contact only she knows will soon occur.

Earth, 2140

Lieutenant Kayl Owen’s ship is on a routine patrol when a piece of spacecraft wreckage appears out of nowhere. To his shock, there is a survivor on board: Selene Genji. Once her strange heritage is discovered, though, it becomes clear that Genji is a problem Earth Guard command wants to dispose of—quietly. After learning the horrifying truth, Owen helps her escape and joins her mission.

Together, they have a chance to change the fate of an Earth doomed to die in 2180. But altering history could put Genji’s very existence in danger, and Owen wonders if a world without her is one worth saving. . . .

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How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler.
How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler. Image courtesy of Orbit. /

HOW TO BECOME THE DARK LORD AND DIE TRYING by Django Wexler (Dark Lord Davi #1) — May 21

Django Wexler is another author who's been publishing books for quite a while, including the acclaimed flintlock fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns. His latest is a bit different; it's being pitched as a laugh-out-loud story that takes the raucous tone of Deadpool with a set up similar to Groundhog Day. How often does a book get pitched with those kind of comp titles?

How To Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying is the story of Davi, a hero stuck in a time loop where she's killed over and over trying to defeat a dark lord. But you know what they say: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. This time Davi is going to become the dark lord herself! It sounds like a total blast.


Davi has done this all before. She’s tried to be the hero and take down the all-powerful Dark Lord. A hundred times she’s rallied humanity and made the final charge. But the time loop always gets her in the end. Sometimes she’s killed quickly. Sometimes it takes a while. But she’s been defeated every time.

This time? She’s done being the hero and done being stuck in this endless time loop. If the Dark Lord always wins, then maybe that’s who she needs to be. It’s Davi’s turn to play on the winning side.

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Heavenbreaker by Sara Wolf
Heavenbreaker by Sara Wolf. Image: Entangled: Red Tower Books. /

HEAVENBREAKER by Sara Wolf — May 21

Heavenbreaker is a sci-fi revenge story by Lovely Vicious author Sara Wolf, which is drawing some comparisons to both The Hunger Games and Iron Widow. After her duke father tries to murder her and her mother to cover up their existence, Synali goes on a fiery path of retribution against his noble house — even as she starts to develop feelings for one of her targets. In order to succeed in her bloody goals, she becomes the pilot of the giant machine Heavenbreaker, which has some eerie secrets of its own. I didn't know that I needed gundams jousting in space in my life, but once you know that gundam space jousts exist it's hard not to be intrigued.


Bravery isn't what you do. It's what you endure.

The duke of the powerful House Hauteclare is the first to die.

With my dagger in his back.

He didn’t see it coming. Didn’t anticipate the bastard daughter who was supposed to die with her mother—on his order. He should have left us with the rest of the Station’s starving, commoner rubbish.

Now there’s nothing left. Just icy-white rage and a need to make House Hauteclare pay. Every damn one of them.

Even if it means riding Heavenbreaker—one of the few enormous machines left over from the War—and jousting against the fiercest nobles in the system.

Each win means another one of my enemies dies. And here, in the cold terror of space, the machine and I move as one, intent on destroying each adversary—even if it’s someone I care about.

Even if it’s someone I’m falling for.

Only I’m not alone. Not anymore.

Because there’s something in the machine with me. Something horrifying. Something…more.

And it won’t be stopped.

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Evocation by S.T. Gibson.
Evocation by S.T. Gibson. Image courtesy of Angry Robot. Cover illustration: Eleonor Piteria. Cover design: Alice Claire Coleman /

EVOCATION by S.T. Gibson (The Summoner's Circle #1) — May 28

Dowry of Blood author S.T. Gibson has a new book hitting shelves this month: Evocation, the first installment in The Summoner's Circle series. Evocation is a contemporary fantasy about a man named David, a Boston attorney by day and practicing medium by night. When the (literal) demons of his past catch up with him, David has to turn to an ex-boyfriend and his wife in order to keep both feet out of the grave.


The Devil knows your name, David Aristarkhov.

As a teen, David Aristarkhov was a psychic prodigy, operating under the shadow of his oppressive occultist father. Now, years after his father’s death and rapidly approaching his thirtieth birthday, he is content with the high-powered life he’s curated as a Boston attorney, moonlighting as a powerful medium for his secret society.

But with power comes a price, and the Devil has come to collect on an ancestral deal. David’s days are numbered, and death looms at his door.

Reluctantly, he reaches out to the only person he’s ever trusted, his ex-boyfriend and secret Society rival Rhys, for help. However, the only way to get to Rhys is through his wife, Moira. Thrust into each other’s care, emotions once buried deep resurface, and the trio race to figure out their feelings for one another before the Devil steals David away for good…

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The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond
The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond. Image courtesy of Tordotcom. /

THE FIREBORNE BLADE by Charlotte Bond — May 28

We end the month of May with a dragon-slayer fantasy novella, which is almost the fantasy equivalent of comfort food. Except this comfort food is more likely to eat you than you it! Charlotte Bond's The Fireborne Blade is the story of Maddileh, a female knight who is forced to reclaim her honor by retrieving the titular Fireborne Blade from the dragon said to defend it. But the quest is going to be anything but simple, and Maddileh's chances of surviving it sound uncertain at best.


Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor.

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor.

Maddileh is a knight. There aren’t many women in her line of work, and it often feels like the sneering and contempt from her peers is harder to stomach than the actual dragon slaying. But she’s a knight, and made of sterner stuff.

A minor infraction forces her to redeem her honor in the most dramatic way possible, she must retrieve the fabled Fireborne Blade from its keeper, legendary dragon the White Lady, or die trying. If history tells us anything, it's that “die trying” is where to wager your coin.

Maddileh’s tale contains a rich history of dragons, ill-fated knights, scheming squires, and sapphic love, with deceptions and double-crosses that will keep you guessing right up to its dramatic conclusion. Ultimately, The Fireborne Blade is about the roles we refuse to accept, and of the place we make for ourselves in the world.

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And so ends another month's book roundup! What will you be adding to your TBR pile?

dark. Next. The Last Kingdom / Richard Sharpe books. Why The Last Kingdom fans will love the Richard Sharpe series by the same author

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