Scroll down for the best debut sci-fi & fantasy novels.
Since it’s January, we’re all about new beginnings. So, I’m excited to be part of the New Books, New Beginnings January blog hop hosted by the lovely people at YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Addicts!
This also comes with a giveaway! If you scroll down, you’ll find how you can enter the giveaway to win an Amazon Giftcard with the value of $25.
For all your bookish needs, you can find the other articles from the other participating blogs below.
- New Young Adult Books: What’s Coming in 2022?
- Resolutions and Reviews
- New Year’s in the Slytherin Common Room: Celebrating the Most Ruthless & Ambitious Characters in YA
- 2022 LGBT Books We Are Excited For
- New Beginnings No Matter the Season
- New Year, New Reading Goals!
- Non-Resolutions (Unless You Were Born in January)
- Eos: Goddess of New Beginnings
- Spring Cleaning Your TBR Pile
- My 2022 Reading Journal
Best YA SFF Debut Novels
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong
Genre: Dark Historical Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
In Shanghai, 1926, the city is in the grips of chaos, with a blood feud between two gangs turning the streets red. On the one hand, we have the heir of the Scarlet Gang, Juliette Cai. Their rival is the White Flowers, with their heir Roma Montagov. He’s Julliette’s first love and first betrayal. But things turn dark when an incomprehensible madness has gangsters on both sides clawing out their own throats. Whispers of a monster fill the streets. Roma and Juliette are forced to set aside their grudges and guns to work together so that they can stop the madness. If they fail, there won’t be a city for them left to rule.
Violent, bloody, and exciting: that’s these violent delights. Gong keeps us on our feet, trying to figure out what the monster is, how the madness spreads, and who’s behind it all. With every clue uncovered, we get closer, yet things also get more and more complicated.
As for the setting, Gong does such a wonderful job in describing Shanghai. I loved the phrases describing Shanghai more as a person than a city, the troubles it’s in, the invaders all trying to get a piece of a foreign city. Such wonderfully crafted prose. The author is a master in zooming in and out as she tells the story.
So, if you love a good mystery, brooding romance, and dark, complex characters set in a changing city with a lot of history: this is the book for you.
Read my full review here.
Stormdancer (The Lotus Wars #1) by Jay Kristoff
Genre: Dystopian Steampunk Epic Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture a arashitora—who are supposed to be extinct—so they are sure they’re going to fail and that their lives are over. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Yukiko soon finds herself stranded in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled arashitora for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. However, trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected.
Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun only cares for his own dominion. Through a young man named Kin, Yukiko learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun’s crimes. Returning to the city, she’s determined to make the Shõgun pay.
Now, I haven’t read this one myself (yet). But I’m a big fan of Kristoff’s prose and the way he tells stories, so I’m just going to assume his debut was also great.
From what I’ve seen, if you dislike lots of details and descriptions with flowery prose, then this may not be the book for you. As the book does contain it, and seems to be the one reason people are put off by the book.
Moreover, it’s Japanese-inspired, but it is a whole new world, not an alternate Japanese history. It’s likely not the most culturally correct thing.
That said, if you love stories with lots of action, swearing, some smut, beautiful prose, and extensive worldbuilding, than Jay Kristoff does not dissapoint.
Harpy's Flight (Windsingers #1) by Megan Lindholm/Robin Hobb
Genre: Adventure Fantasy
A life must be given in return of blood debts to the Harpies. Neither the Harpies, nor the men who serve them simply give up the debt. However, devastated by the slaughter of her family, Ki rejects the comfort of her husband’s gypsy people to wander in solitude as an outcast. Across the mountains, Ki soon finds herself running for her life, pursued by frenzied Harpies sworn to vengeance, and by one stubborn, dark-haried man who seems intent on being part of her future.
Now, arguably, you could say this isn’t Robin Hobb’s debut novel. But since she and Megan Lindholm are the same person… I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s both their debut novel.
Megan/Robin is known for her character-driven stories, so be prepared for a slow-paced book, with amazing characters that will feel like friends, and wonderfully crafted prose. If this is not your thing, and you want something action-packed & fast-paced, then move on.
Planet Adyn (Theonite #1) by M.L. Wang
Genre: Contemporary Adventure Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Joan has learned her entire life to hide her supernatural abilities from everyone around her. She’s filled with questions about her powers, not knowing why she has them or how she got them. Everything changes when a boy and his father move next door from a parallel dimension on the hunt for a criminal. Joan might finally find her answers.
It’s a light read and an enjoyable one. It’s more of a set up as to what’s to come in the next book, though. So be aware that if you start reading this, there will be no nicely wrapped conclusion. However, to have all your questions answered (and I do mean all of them), you will have to read the next book as well. It’s great if you love stories that feature someone with strange powers and a friendly alien family visiting earth.
Station Alpha (Miles & Breaker #1) by Nicole Adrianne
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi Action Thriller
Jada Breaker’s best friend is dead, but at least she’s in line to become the next headmaster of Station Alpha. A station designed to save Planet Earth. One where each has to earn their citizenship in a competition: two students compete, only one can graduate.
When Rowan Miles shows up from Earth, Jada’s future is thwarted. Even though all he wants is to save his dying planet and his sister. If Jada continues her investigation into her friend’s death, she risks losing the future she’s always wanted. But if she doesn’t find out the truth, a galaxy-wide conspiracy will grow unchecked and destroy everything she’s ever known.
The Countdown (The Deathday Chronicles #0) by Kasia Lasinska
Genre: Dystopian Military Sci-Fi Romance
Publisher: Dreamscape Press
The vivid, poison-green digits on Theo’s left wrist are counting down. Ten days until his deathday. He spends his remaining days with his best friend—still working up the courage to finally kiss her—until he receives a mysterious parting gift from the Government.
Suddenly, Theo is thrown into a wild hunt for a clue that could explain deathdays. Perhaps even stop them. But with time running out, every choice could be his last.
A Falling Starr by Dani Hoots
Genre: Dystopian Mystery Sci-Fi
Publisher: FoxTales Press
A year ago, Angela woke up with no memory of who she was. And no one seemed to know anything about her. The only thing to identify her was a necklace with the name Angela Starr.
She got an ID and was enrolled in a community college. And as she runs into a boy her age she feels like she knew, they’re chased into a portal that leads to the other side of the universe. But if it’s a different planet, why does it seem so familiar?
So, with this one, it’s important to know that it’s a collection of three novellas. Because of this, it’s a short read, perfect if you want to spend the day reading and finish a book on that same day.
Seven Crowns (Bellaton #1) by E.V. Everest
Genre: Action Thriller Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Publisher: Everest Publications
Ana is a waitress, foster kid, and liar. And not to mention the sole heir to a crown on another planet. A crown she doesn’t even want.
One year after her mom’s death, sixteen-year-old Ana discovers her mom’s biggest secret—she was a political refugee from a planet called Bellaton, where her family was one of seven that ruled before they were picked off one by one.
Now, the assassins are after her. With the help of an array of friends and enemies, Ana must discover her magical “gift” or risk being named an imposter.
Best Adult SFF Debut Novels
Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy
The book is all about Jorg Ancrath, a Prince and heir to the throne of Ancrath. In a turn of events that find him trapped in thorns, Jorg becomes the Prince of Thorns from the title.
He escapes his home and becomes an immoral boy leading a band of outlaws in a world of chaos. Despite being hardened by life on the road, going back to his father’s castle and confronting the horrors from his childhood is still worse.
Prince of Thorns is an excellent beginning to the Broken Empire trilogy. There’s lots of violence, it has action, and also moments of rest and reflection. Not to mention Jorg is a great character you’ll just love to hate or hate to love.
The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5)/Sword of Destiny (The Witcher #0.7) by Andrzej Sapkowski, Danusia Stok (Translator)
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy
So, The Last Wish is a collection of short stories featuring no other than Geralt of Rivia: the Witcher. As most of us will know by now, Witchers exist to destroy the monsters that plague the world. They’re chosen by destiny and put through some pretty gruesome trials (that aren’t really explained in the book either) and mutations, which many children don’t survive. But when they do, they become spectacular assassins.
It is the creed of the witcher to only accept coin and kill the monsters. They shouldn’t intervene in the lives of humans. But Geralt finds that not all monsters look like one. And not all who look like monsters are one.
Why did I put both The Last Wish & Sword of Destiny here?
Well, technically, the original collection of short stories was called The Witcher/The Hexer (if you translate it, obviously), and both of these books contain short stories from that collection. As such, some stories in Sword of Destiny actually take place before events in The Last Wish. And some after.
It is an excellent collection of short stories tied together by a story that weaves through the other tales. All stories are different, yet all are exciting and reveal something new about Geralt, his companions, or the world. It’s full of great details, and all the characters are interesting and complex. Even minor character’s become vividly real in your mind. So basically: great stories, great characters, great world-building, and great writing.
However, if you feel a collection of short stories doesn’t count as a debut novel, then you can read Blood of Elves.
The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage #1) by Robert V.S. Redick
Genre: Adventure Epic Fantasy
The Imperial Merchant Ship Cathrand is a massive floating outpost of the Empire of Arqual. Their current mission is vital: deliver a young woman whose marriage will seal the peace between Arqual and its mortal enemy, the Mzithrin Empire. But the woman in question, Thasha, may be bringing her swords to the altar.
Because the true mission is not peace at all, but war—one that threatens to rekindle an ancient power thought long lost. To succeed, Thasha seeks some unlikely allies, including a magic-cursed deckhand, a stowaway tribe of foot-high warriors, and a heroic rat. All to uncover the secret of the legendary Red Wolf.
If epic fantasy is your thing, than this will be right up your ally. You might need to get used to the style of writing, but Redick is—in my opinion—great at weaving words together. Not to mention complicated plots.
Mindstar Rising (Greg Mandel #1) by Peter F. Hamilton
Genre: Cyberpunk Sci-Fi Thriller
Publisher: Tor Books
You gotta love the very ’90s sci-fi book cover here.
Greg Mandel has been many things: commando, freedom fighter, assassin. Now, he’s a freelance operative with a special edge: telepathy.
In the high-tech world, Greg Mandel is the man to call when things get rough. But when an elusive saboteur plagues a powerful organization known as Event Horizon, Mandel must cut his way through a maze of corporate intrigue and startling new scientific discoveries. If he fails… the future is at stake.
What’s not to love? Telepathy, a crime thriller, high-stakes action, and some good old hard sci-fi.
The Crown Conspiracy (The Riyria Revelations #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Genre: Epic Adventure Fantasy
Publisher: Aspirations Media Inc
Sometimes you’re just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a good living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles. Until they become the scapegoats in a plot to murder the king.
Sentenced to death, they have only one way out.
Sullivan is a great example of how a self-published author can find success. Granted, he’s not self-published anymore, but he did start out that way.
Anyway, I stumbled upon his work this year, and I absolutely loved it. I can’t say I’ve read this particular one (yet), but I’m certain it’ll also contain great action-sequences, well-written characters, and some epic worldbuilding.
Seriously, if you love epic fantasy, then start reading Sullivan!
The Gardener of Nahi by D.M. Wozniak
Genre: Time Travel Sci-Fi Mystery
Publisher: David Wozniak
Above the world of Cassidian, a mysterious closed timeline curve appeared. However, nothing has come in or out of it. So, when suddenly an innership emerges from the celestial cloud and crashes on the beaches of the Still, Anon Selfe—a Hunion courier—is sent to investigate. He finds blood and footprints of the only survivor leading away from the wreckage. But inside there awaiting him in the darkness is his own dead body.
What follows is Anon’s desperate chase through the tiers of Cassidian to find the survivor of the crash—a young woman named Myria, who is unyielding in her belief that she knows Anon from her past.
The problem with this is that she claims to be from a world called Nahi. Which doesn’t exist.
Wozniak is a great storyteller, and this is a great book if you love a sci-fi story with mystery and some fantasy elements. The two strands of stories, both from Cassidian and Nahi, slowly weave toward each other as the reader can unravel more and more of the mystery.
Enter the Giveaway Below!
Those were the Best Debut Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels
I hope you’ve found a great pick from this book list to add to your TBR.
Have you read any of these?
Is there a book you would add to this list?
Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below!