2020 releases: asian-authored books | recently added

today’s post will feature 8 asian-authored books to be released in 2020! all of these are fantasy novels. some i’ve recently discovered while others are continuation of a series i’ve started last year, and some i’ve had my eyes on for a while now. in this list, there’s a mixture of books with and without asian representation in its settings, magic systems or characters but all are written by asian authors!

since i haven’t read any books yet, i’m not sure about any trigger warnings. if you know any, please let me know so that i can edit the list!

forest of souls – lori m. lee

hmong (miao) author
series: shamanborn #1
release date: june 23
genre: young adult, fantasy, magic

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

the main character is trained to be the royal spy. how badass is that?! according to the author, forest of souls isn’t an asian fantasy but has asian characters in a fantasy novel. the world is also inspired by hmong shamanism. i don’t think i’ve read any shaman-related books before so i’m really looking forward to it.

order of the pure moon reflected in water
– zen cho

malaysian author
release date: june 23
genre: fantasy, adult, novella, ownvoices

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

look how beautiful the cover for this is. i was definitely gravitated to this book because of the cover. in this novella, there’s found family wuxia fantasy set in ancient china. i’m expecting order of the pure moon reflected in water to have the same wuxia vibe as the past medieval chinese tv shows that i grew up watching.

unravel the dusk – elizabeth lim

chinese author
series: the blood of stars #2
release date: july 7
genre: fantasy, young adult, magic

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

after reading spin the dawn last year, early thanks to @caffeinetours, i desperately wanted to read unravel the dusk immediately. with how the ending was in book one, i kept wondering what will become of the romance, and how would being touched by a demon affect maia. i’ll definitely reread spin the dawn before i dived into book two.

star daughter – shveta thakrar

indian author
release date: august 11
genre: fantasy, young adult, indian mythology

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.

this is another cover love! was definitely attracted to star daughter because of the beautiful cover. apart from it, i was intrigued by the synopsis. the main character has a human father AND a mother who is a star. A STAR?! HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK? do stars become humans? are they humans? are you as curious as i am? i wonder how indian mythology will play into the book as well. it’s going to be amazingggggg~

where dreams descend – janella angeles

filipino author
series: kingdom of cards #1
release date: august 25
genre: fantasy, young adult

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

after reading caraval and daughter of the burning city, books with a circus setting fascinates me, and i wanna read more books like that. that’s why, i was immediately intrigued by where dreams descend when i first discovered it. janella angeles will debut with this book. i’m excited to see where this duology will go and what type of circus this would be.

the silvered serpents – roshani chokshi

filipino-indian author
series: the gilded wolves #2
release date: september 22
genre: fantasy, young adult, historical fiction

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job. 

i remember liking the diverse representation found in the characters in book one. plus, the mythology in the book was fascinating to read about. i’ve rated the gilded wolves 5 stars, but i did read to join the hype train, so i need to reread it before the silvered serpents is released. however, i’m still very pumped to read book two!!

the fallen hero – katie zhao

chinese author
series: the dragon warrior #2
release date: october 13
genre: fantasy, middle grade, chinese mythology

This Chinese mythology-inspired middle-grade fantasy series continues as heroine Faryn Liu embarks on a quest to save her brother and defeat the demons–perfect for fans of the Aru Shah and Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond books.

Faryn Liu thought she was the Heaven Breaker, a warrior destined to wield the all-powerful spear Fenghuang, command dragons, and defeat demons. But a conniving goddess was manipulating her all along . . . and her beloved younger brother, Alex, has betrayed her and taken over as the Heaven Breaker instead. Alex never forgave the people who treated him and Faryn like outcasts, and now he wants to wipe out both the demons and most of humanity.

Determined to prevent a war and bring Alex back to her side, Faryn and her half-dragon friend Ren join the New Order, a group of warriors based out of Manhattan’s Chinatown. She learns that one weapon can stand against Fenghuang–the Ruyi Jingu Bang. Only problem? It belongs to an infamous trickster, the Monkey King.

Faryn sets off on a daring quest to convince the Monkey King to join forces with her, one that will take her to new places–including Diyu, otherwise known as the underworld–where she’ll run into new dangers and more than one familiar face. Can she complete her mission and save the brother she loves, no matter the cost?

This richly woven middle-grade fantasy series, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

let me introduce you to a wonderful MG book filled with chinese mythology! when i read the first book, the dragon warrior, i remembered feeling waves of elation whenever certain parts of the chinese tradition or folklore or myth were included. i’m so happy that young readers now have this series to relate with. i’m loving that the monkey king will be involved in the fallen hero because classic monkey king story has been my childhood. i grew up listening and watching tv shows that depicted these traditional monsters, demons and deities, so this series is a huge throwback into my childhood memories.

these violent delights – chloe gong

chinese author
series: these violent delights #1
release date: november 17
genre: young adult, fantasy, historical fiction, retelling

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

CONTENT WARNINGS: blood, violence, gore, character deaths, explicit description of gouging self (not of their own volition), murder, weapon use, insects, alcohol consumption, parental abuse.

a few things that caught my attention:
1. that gorgeous cover
2. romeo and juliet retelling aka STAR-CROSSED LOVERS
3. 1920s shanghai
4. rival gangs!!!!
how will anyone resist these violent delights? i’m getting the same vibe as i did from jade city by fonda lee which i absolutely fell in love with. the wait will be torturous.

that’s all for today’s list! almost all of these books are quite hyped already but i hope that i had introduced some new 2020 releases that might have flown under your radar. let me know if you are aware of any fantasy novels that are going to be released in 2020 that are written by asian authors. i would love to add more titles to my list. stay safe wherever you are! bye~

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