What's Up in YA

A Take on Moulin Rouge, Gothy Valentines, and More YA Book Talk: February 13, 2023

February 14 might be Valentine’s Day, but it is also Summer Scares Day. You’ll get to see the nine books selected across three categories that highlight how rad the world of horror books is. I captain the selections for YA, and this year’s picks are so dang good. We had a lengthy conversation about two of them in particular and how to choose one over the other — a conversation that included looking at whose story gets centered in a collaborative effort — and I proposed we choose them both…so we did! You can catch those selections on Book Riot bright and early tomorrow.

Bookish Goods

Image of a royal blue flower vase in the shape of a book. There are orange flowers inside the vase.

Book Shaped Vase by Design130Home

How beautiful is this brilliantly blue vase in the shape of a book? I don’t need a new vase, but if I were in the market, I might go for this one. It’s acrylic, so you can worry less about slippery hands and breaking it. $44.

New Releases

Let’s dive on into this week’s new hardcover releases. I’ve pulled out two that sound fabulous. Want more? You can peep the entire roundup of new YA books out this week here.

and other mistakes book cover

And Other Mistakes by Erika Turner

Aaliyah’s a rockstar cross country runner, and though her home life has never been outstanding, she knows that focusing on her gift for sport and her good friends will help her eke out the end of high school.

It seems to work, until an elder in her church outs her without permission.

Now, senior year, she’s bound and determined to get her life — all of it, including her romantic one — back in order. But can she? How can she learn to trust anyone?

This is a coming-of-age, realistic YA about a queer Black girl wrestling with who she is, who she wants to be, and how she can build a life wholly for herself. Pass this on to readers who love quiet YA.

revelle book cover

Revelle by Lyssa Mia Smith

Going the complete opposite direction of quiet YA is this book, pitched as being inspired by Moulin Rouge and set on an island that is inspired by Prohibition-era New York City.

Luxe is part of her family’s show on the island of Charmant. It’s one of magic and splendor, but with prohibition, the money is getting much tighter and the show’s income dwindling. But the son of on of the island’s wealthiest families makes her family an offer: pose as his girlfriend to help secure mayorhood for his father. She’s in.

Jamison is an orphan and he’s come to Charmant to unravel the secrets of his family’s past. But as he delves in, he starts to discover something which not only hurts him but puts the island itself in danger.

So when Luxe and Jamison accidentally meet…and sparks accidentally fly…things for both of them and their futures are about to get much more complicated.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

In honor of Valentine’s Day and celebrating all things horror, how about a trio of YA books wherein we get a heart on the cover, but it’s not necessarily a book about love? These are more on the horror side of the heart. (“Is that even a thing?” you may ask, and I answer with a decided “It is now!”).

his hideous heart book cover

His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler

Let’s kick this off with the perfect short story anthology for fans of things creepy, eerie, and weird. This collection of tales all riff on the classics of one Edgar Allan Poe. The lineup of contributors is awesome, too — Kendare Blake retells “Metzengerstein,” Tiffany D. Jackson retells “The Cask of Amontillado,” and Fran Wilde takes on “The Fall of the House of Usher” among others.

man made monsters book cover

Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers

Following a family from their ancestral lands in Georgia to World War I, the present, and the future, Rogers delivers a series of horror stories ripe with the classic horror creatures like vampires and zombies, as well as real life horrors like colonization and intimate partner violence. Interspersed are, of course, legends of Cherokee horror, and each story includes a beautiful illustration by Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards.

The author, Rogers, is herself Cherokee.

Cover of This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Baron

Technically, you’re not getting an image of a heart here, but you certainly are getting it in the title.

Bri has a gift, where she can grow plants from nothing into something with a single touch. When her aunt dies and leaves her estate in the hands of Bri and her family, they decide to spend the summer there. She’s hoping to learn to contain her gift, but soon learns through the estate’s old apothecary and walled garden packed with deadly botanicals that her family’s magic is what can help solve the dark secrets of the land. Oh, and there’s a nefarious group coming after Bri, as they discover she has a pretty magical hand for creating elixirs, including one for immortality…

This one is a spin on The Secret Garden and Greek mythology, and it’s also queer, gothic delight.

I hope you have a great week, and we’ll see you back here on Thursday.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading Chaos Theory by Nic Stone