12 wicked books to keep you warm in October

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Welcome to the Nerdist Reading List. Each month, I select book recommendations that will delight, charm and terrify. Basically, it’s the place to find the best fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and romance books and comics to add to your must-read pile. To make things easier, each month will include a selection of previously published books that you can grab instantly. We also have new books that you will definitely want to pre-order or add to your library reservations. For October Books, we have an epic YA-led trans fantasy, a reimagining of a classic Chinese novel, a handful of spooky horror reads, and even a cheeky holiday romance! Basically, there is something for everyone.

October fantasy books

The Trials of the Sunbringers by Aiden Thomas – Available Now

Feiwell and his friends

One of the best books I’ve read all year, The Trials of the Sunbringers has already become an independent bestseller. This immersive fantasy is filled with dynamic queer characters, jaw-dropping action, and a core set of trials as engaging as The hunger Games. In this Mexican-inspired fantasy, every ten years the semi-teens must complete a series of dangerous challenges to protect their world. Teo is a Jade, one of the “lower” semidioses who lives in the shadow of the Golds. But when Teo is selected for the trials with another Jade, his world is turned upside down as he gets the chance to shape and save the home he loves so much.

forever yours by various authors – Available now

The cover of Eternally Yours shows a ribcage with flowers coming out of it
Viking books for young readers

This superb anthology of paranormal romance edited by the brilliant Patrice Cauldwell is a perfect spooky seasonal treat. Featuring YA stories from many of our favorite writers, this collection features romantic tales about angels, demons, mermaids, vampires and more. And the list of authors is just as exciting as the concept. Kalynn Bayron, Kendare Blake, Kat Cho, Melissa de la Cruz, Sarah Gailey, Hafsah Faizal, Chloe Gong, Alexis Henderson, Adib Khorram, Anna-Marie McLemore, Casey McQuiston, Sandhya Menon, Akshaya Raman, Marie Rutkoski and Julian Winters. What more could you ask for from an anthology this month??

Blood Moon Prophecy (Legend of the Nyx, #1) by Dilani Kahawala – October 11

The cover of the Blood Moon Prophecy shows an intricate hourglass
Cedar Street Press

Tilly Nyx lives in the shadow of her own mistakes. Her mother’s death and exile haunt her every day. Now, after more than a decade of living undercover in New York, she has a burning desire to return home, even though she has no idea where that is. It is here that her incredible quest begins to send Tilly into a strange world of magic, fleets and potions. Will she be able to find her family and the truth about who she is? Or is it too late to go back to what happened so many years ago?

The witch hunt by Sasha Peyton Smith – October 11

The cover of The Witch Hunt shows the title against a starry background.
Simon & Schuster books for young readers

The highly anticipated sequel to witch’s paradise drops this month continuing the story of Frances and her fellow witches. Now living a peaceful life in the cozy halls of Haxahaven Academy, Frances feels like her misfortunes are behind her. But when her magic begins to act strangely and she is suddenly called to France, her adventures begin again. It is on the cobbled streets of Paris that she learns that her actions from the first book had disastrous consequences. So, now she has to right her wrongs in this cute fancy yarn.

Strike the zither by Joan He – October 25

The cover of Strike the Zither shows a young Chinese woman in traditional dress playing the zither
Roaring Stream Press

We love Joan He’s writing here at Nerdist. From its bold and mysterious beginnings Descendant of the Crane to his second sci-fi masterpiece The ones we’re meant to find she never disappoints. His latest book reinvents the classic Chinese novel Three Kingdoms, but replaces its predominantly male cast with a roster of bright, complex women. Our story centers on Zephyr, a surprisingly intelligent strategist to a ruthless warlord. After being forced to infiltrate an enemy camp, Zephyr is drawn into an unexpected adventure and a quest for survival in this essential historical fantasy from one of the most thrilling authors working today.

horror october books

house of hunger by Alexis Henderson – Available Now

The cover of House of Hunger shows a young black woman with a ribbon around her neck in a period dress with blood pouring from her throat
Ace books

by Alexis Henderson The year of witchcraft was one of the standout novels of 2020. She’s back to follow up on that meteoric debut with this superb gothic novel. Marion responds to a strangely worded ad for a senior position in a remote part of the country. Soon, she is embroiled in the strange happenings of the House of Hunger. Wealthy aristocrats who hire “blood girls” to drink at will. It’s a shocking arrangement that becomes even more dangerous when some of her fellow Blood Maidens begin to disappear, pitting Marion against Countess Lisavet, the powerful woman at the center of it all.

A dowry of blood by ST Gibson – October 4

The cover of Dowry of Blood shows a woman with a bloody red mark covering her eyes
Red hook

A bizarre reimagining of Dracula told through the eyes of his first wife? You may register us solely on the basis of this description. And it is before coming to the complex, dreamy and lyrical style that ST Gibson brings the world of Constanta and her new lover to life. Soon she realizes that her husband is capable of terrible things, putting his new life in question. Originally released in 2021 by indie publisher Nyx, Redhook has acquired the title and is re-releasing it in October at the perfect time for the spookiest of seasons. So if you need a polyam/bisexual gothic romance in your life, be sure to add it to your pre-order list.

The Witch of the Well by Camilla Bruce – October 4

The Witch in the Well cover shows a dark forest
Tor Books

Camilla Bruce burst onto the scene with her atmospheric cooler You let me in. And its follow-up The Witch of the Well seems to be equally dark and delicious. Elena and Cathy grew up together but like so many friends grew apart with age. But when they are brought back together, both are inspired to write about a terrible tragedy centuries before their worlds collided. Past and present weave a treacherous riddle as the pair attempt to uncover the truth behind the witch hunts that tore apart the idyllic summer paradise they once visited hundreds of years ago. But soon their story begins to echo that of the women who came before them with deadly consequences.

You can check out a ton of more spooky readings on our Halloween Reading List!

Comics

The best of the year 2000 by Various Creators – Available Now

The cover of 2000AD shows an illustration by Jamie McKelvie of Judge Anderson and Judge Dredd
2000AD

You’ve probably heard of Judge Dredd, but did you know he’s from a brilliant British comic book series called 2000AD? In this new quarterly series of graphic novels, publisher Owen Johnson brings together some of the publisher’s best and most iconic stories and pairs them with thoughtful essays from some of the best minds in comics criticism. The first volume has a gorgeous cover by Jamie McKelvie, stories from icons like Alan Moore, John Wagner and Alan Grant. And it features an incredible essay by comics editor and historian Adam Karenina Sherif.

demon in the woodby Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast – Available Now

The cover of Demon in the Wood shows an illustration of the Darkling as a young man in a strange forest
Roaring Stream Press

The GrishaVerse has already inspired a hit Netflix show and several brilliant books, but now the sprawling fantasy universe has its first comic book. Creator Leigh Bardugo teams up with incredible artist Dani Pendergast to bring the Darkling prequel story to life. Centering on the villain when he was just a boy, this tragic and beautiful story adds layers to the villain we know and the scared child he once was. And Pendergast’s art brings a whole new visual and magical language to the Grisha world. A must read for fantasy lovers everywhere.

Timothy Dinoman saves the cat By Steve Thueson – Available October 4

The cover of Timothy Dinoman shows the titular hero of the iganadon fleeing an explosion
Graphic universe

If you haven’t yet discovered the vibrant and hilarious works of Steve Thueson, you are in for a treat. The Philadelphia-based cartoonist has long delighted readers with his self-published works. But in a new mid-level graphic novel, they introduce us to Timothy Dinoman. Basically, imagine James Bond if he were a cool, kind, anthropomorphic iguanodon. It’s one of the funnest books of the year, as Thueson brings an all-ages friendly spy adventure to life. Filled with gadgets, action and cool costumes, you don’t want to miss Timothy Dinoman’s debut!

Holiday books… early

Happy little meet cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone – Available Now

The cover of Merry Little Meet Cute shows a painted image of two people standing on pink and red snowy hills
Have

It’s a best-selling match made in heaven as authors Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone collaborate on this absolutely lovely holiday love story. Bee Hobbes is already a successful performer when cast in a clean Christmas movie on Hope Channel. The only problem is that his other career is as a beloved plus-size adult movie star. She has to keep it a secret as the movie begins filming and it becomes much more difficult when her childhood crush and co-star Nolan Shaw discovers the truth and the pair begin a steamy romance. Naughty, fun, and deliciously dirty, it’s an adults-only Christmas romance, and that’s good.

Featured Image: Ace Books/Viking Books for Young Readers/Roaring Brook Press

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