February is finally here, and it’s bringing a truckload of
must-read books with it. From highly-anticipated sequels to some of the year’s most notable debuts, these titles all deserve a spot on your bedside table.
Fans of ongoing series have a lot to look forward too.
Mystery readers are in particular luck, as Elle Cosimano’s bumbling novelist-turned-hitwoman returns in Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead, and Mia P. Manansala’s aspiring restaurateur, Lila, gets another murder mystery to solve in Homicide and Halo-Halo. On the speculative fiction front, Marlon James’ Moon Witch, Spider King revisits the events of Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the villain’s point-of-view. Finally, fans of Jayne Allen’s Black Girls Must Die Exhausted can look forward to Tabitha’s return in Black Girls Must Be Magic.
Of course, there are also plenty of exciting debuts hitting bookstores this month. Gretchen Felker-Martin’s post-apocalyptic work of social horror,
Manhunt, is finally out in February, as are several other new thrillers, including Kiare Ladner’s Nightshift, Aliya Ali-Afzal’s Would I Lie to You?, and Jane Pek’s The Verifiers. And that’s just the beginning.
Below, the most anticipated books of February 2022.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Black Girls Must Be Magic Feb. 1
Not long ago, Tabitha received a devastating diagnosis and thought she’d never be able to have children. Now, she’s pregnant and determined to do what’s best for herself and her child. But when troubles arise with her ex, and her boss receives complaints about her hair, Tabitha must once again turn to the women in her life for help.
2 Count Your Lucky Stars Feb. 1
Alexandria Bellefleur follows up
Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon with Count Your Lucky Stars. The novel follows single-and-loving-it Margot, who agrees to be the Best Woman for her friend’s wedding. All’s going well, until she finds out who’s working as the wedding planner: Olivia, her first love. But that was 10 years ago, and surely their feelings will stay in the past ... right? 3 The Family Chao Feb. 1
For 35 years, Big Leo and Winnie Chao have owned and operated Fine Chao, an American Chinese restaurant in Haven, Wisconsin. They’ve been largely successful, but their good luck runs out when tragedy strikes, shortly after their sons — Dagou, Ming, and James — come home. Now, Big Leo is dead, and all of Haven is looking out for the culprit.
4 Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead Feb. 1
Crime writer Finlay Donovan gets drawn into another murder mystery in Elle Cosimano’s
Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead. When she sees that someone’s accepted a $100,000 bounty on her ex-husband, posted on a secret message board, Finlay springs into action taking the bounty herself — at half the price — in a bid to save his life. But it quickly backfires when the identities of Finlay, her children, and their live-in nanny are exposed to the message board’s operators, as well as its owner: the Russian mobster Finlay helped to put away. 5 Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century Feb. 1 The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore author Kim Fu returns with Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century, a collection of short stories. In these haunting tales, girls grow wings, a home infestation takes a turn for the worse, and a couple indulge in a murderous new technology. 6 Redwood and Wildfire Feb. 1
Andrea Hairston’s lauded 2011 novel is out this month in an all-new edition from Tordotcom. The story here follows hoodoo conjurers Redwood and Aidan — a Black woman and a man of mixed Seminole and Irish heritage — as they travel north to seek their fortunes in Chicago’s booming entertainment market. But even in a place as progressive as the Windy City, Redwood and Aidan will struggle to find a place to belong.
7 Thank You, Mr. Nixon Feb. 1
From the author of
The Resisters comes Thank You, Mr. Nixon, a collection of short stories that examine the often fraught relationship between 20th-century China and the United States. 8 Vladimir Feb. 1
After a series of serious allegations are made against her husband, an English professor finds herself falling in love with a younger man — a visiting novelist, who’s also married.
9 From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy Feb. 1
From the 1980s to the mid-aughts, rom-coms were all the rage with audiences, but they never received the same recognition from critics. In
From Hollywood with Love, Scott Meslow traces the origins of the oft-maligned genre, and explores its unexpected renaissance in the digital age. 10 Black Love Matters: Real Talk on Romance, Being Seen, and Happily Ever Afters Feb. 1
Book Riot’s Jessica P. Pryde edits this collection of essays from Black authors, thinkers, and celebrities, which examines Black love stories on the page, the screen, and in real life.
11 The Books of Jacob Feb. 1
From Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk comes this new novel about real-life religious figure Jacob Frank, an 18th-century Polish Jewish man who claimed to be the messiah.
12 In the Shadow of the Mountain Feb. 1
Peruvian American hiker Silvia Vasquez-Lavado once turned to alcohol for solace, struggling to cope with hiding her sexuality and her traumatic childhood memories. But when she had a vision of mountains while using ayahuasca, she found new purpose in hiking the Seven Summits, and eventually became the first openly gay woman to do so. Her new memoir recounts her story, and the journey she took to the top of Everest with a team of other women in tow.
13 Black Cake Feb. 1
After their mother dies, leaving them only a black cake and a lengthy voice recording, Byron and Benny throw themselves into unraveling a family secret.
14 Not the Witch You Wed Feb. 8
Not the Witch You Wed combines two much-loved romance tropes: fake dating and paranormal romance. Here, a pair of former lovers — one the magic-less daughter of a witchy family, the other a wolf shapeshifter — decide to fake a relationship to get the authorities off their backs. They have no intention of staying together... but Fate has other plans. 15 Dead Silence Feb. 8
Twenty years after a luxury space cruiser disappeared, a repair team responds to its distress signal. Finding the lost ship could mean a big payday for everyone involved, but the crew soon discovers that something unspeakable may have happened aboard. Can they make it out alive?
16 Nobody’s Magic Feb. 8
Destiny O. Birdsong’s
Nobody’s Magic follows three Black women, each living with albinism in Shreveport, Louisiana: Sheltered Suzette, who wants to get out into the real world; Maple, who wants to do right by her late mother, the victim of an unsolved homicide; and Agnes, who must decide if she really wants to settle down. 17 Red Thread of Fate Feb. 8
Just before Tam and Tony’s international adoption is slated to be finalized, Tony dies in an accident that also claims the life of his cousin, Mia. In the aftermath, Tam learns that Mia wanted her and Tony to raise her 5-year-old daughter in the event of her death. Now parenting a child she barely knows, Tam must decide whether or not she’ll also take in the son she and Tony intended to raise together.
18 Other People’s Clothes Feb. 8
Set in the late 2000s,
Other People’s Clothes follows a pair of art students, Zoe and Hailey, who sublet a stunning Berlin apartment from a famous thriller writer. Believing themselves to be the inspiration for the author’s next novel, the two young women attempt to become characters worth writing about... with disastrous results. 19 Yerba Buena Feb. 8
Two young women working at the same swanky restaurant — one a mixologist, the other a florist — fall into a relationship, only to realize that their respective baggage may sink them both.
20 Nightshift Feb. 8
A young woman’s infatuation with her new co-worker becomes increasingly obsessive in Kiare Ladner’s debut novel,
Nightshift. Meggie will do anything to be Sabine’s friend, even following her to the night shift. She dives headfirst into her new nocturnal life, joining the ever-distant Sabine on her adventures through ’90s-era London — but as the pace of her life accelerates, Meggie threatens to spin out of control. 21 Homicide and Halo-Halo Feb. 8
Mia P. Manansala’s follow-up to
Arsenic and Adobo is Homicide and Halo-Halo. When the story picks up with Lila, she’s still shaken by the death of her ex — at her aunt’s restaurant, no less — and has decided to put off opening her own establishment. As an ex-pageant queen, she’s excited for the revival of her hometown’s teen beauty pageant, thinking it will be a welcome distraction. But when a judge turns up dead, and Lila’s cousin — and pageant rival — becomes the prime suspect, she finds herself tackling another small-town murder mystery. 22 Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space Feb. 15
Edited by Zoraida Córdova, the author of
Labyrinth Lost and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, this collection gathers speculative fiction stories from writers from the Latin American diaspora, including Anna-Marie McLemore and Maya Motayne. 23 Black American Refugee: Escaping the Narcissism of the American Dream Feb. 15
After returning to her country of origin, Trinidad and Tobago, Tiffanie Drayton found herself reflecting on her time spent chasing opportunity in the States. In
Black American Refugee, Drayton examines her experiences as a Black woman in both countries, and how her personal story connects to the broader history of white supremacy. 24 Even When Your Voice Shakes Feb. 15
Ruby Yayra Goka’s debut novel centers on Amerley, a young woman from a small village who helps support her family by working for her mother’s friend in Accra. Her income is very much needed to fund her younger sisters’ education, so when Amerley is raped by her boss’ son, she struggles to decide whether to speak out or keep her head down.
25 Pure Colour Feb. 15
From the author of
Motherhood comes Pure Colour, the kaleidoscopic story of one woman living in first draft of the world. Here, in this draft that’s set to be discarded, portals can open in your chest, spirits can fuse with living beings, and people can become leaves on a tree. 26 Moon Witch, Spider King Feb. 15
Marlon James’ sequel to
Black Leopard, Red Wolf lands in stores this month. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon — the eponymous Moon Witch and the enemy of antihero Tracker — offers her own account of the first novel’s events. 27 How to Find Your Way Home Feb. 15
Emily never thought she’d see her beloved brother, Stephen, again. Not after what happened. But when he walks back into her life, 15 years after the tragedy that separated them, each of them must decide if they’re willing to put aside their differences and reconnect.
28 Carolina Built Feb. 22
Based on a true story, Kianna Alexander’s
Carolina Built follows Josephine, a formerly enslaved woman, as she moves with her new husband to a small town in the wake of the Civil War. Josephine is destined for greatness in the real estate market, but her path to success will be more rocky than she first anticipated. 29 Would I Lie to You? Feb. 22
After struggling to befriend the well-to-do white women at her children’s school, Faiza has finally begun to fit in... or so she thinks. When her husband loses his job, Faiza realizes that her biggest — and perhaps most atrocious — lie is about to be exposed. The only way she can fix it is to come up a
lot of money, quick. 30 When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East Feb. 22
From the author of
We Ride Upon Sticks comes When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East. Here, devout monk Chuluun is sent on a quest to find a reincarnated lama, and seeks assistance from his estranged, identical twin brother, Mun. Mun may be the right man for the job — but his rejection of monastic tradition has driven a wedge between the brothers, and it won’t be easy to dislodge. 31 Delilah Green Doesn’t Care Feb. 22
When she reluctantly returns to her hometown to photograph her estranged stepsister’s wedding, Delilah she were
anywhere else. But after she runs into Claire — one of her stepsister’s old friends, now a single mom and bookshop owner — Delilah realizes that Bright Falls might not be all bad. 32 The Harbor Feb. 22
A teenage boy goes missing, leaving behind only a disconcerting Oscar Wilde quote. Local police believe Oscar is just a runaway who will turn up eventually. But detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner suspect there may be something much more troubling afoot, and they’re going to have to race against the clock to bring Oscar home safely.
33 Manhunt Feb. 22
Gretchen Felker-Martin’s debut follows three trans friends — Beth, Fran, and Robbie — forced to fight for their lives in the wake of a societal collapse brought about by a plague.
Manhunt is a grisly, gory, glorious work of splatterpunk social horror — and the perfect introduction to both subgenres. 34 The Paris Apartment Feb. 22
Something is wrong. When they spoke on the phone, Jess could tell that Ben didn’t really want her to come to stay with him in Paris — but she didn’t expect him to be gone by the time she arrived. She also didn’t think her half-brother’s accommodations would be so... lavish. As Jess starts rubbing elbows with Ben’s not-quite-welcoming neighbors, her questions begin to pile up
35 I’m So Not Over You Feb. 22
When Kian gets an urgent text from his ex, he doesn’t hesitate to arrange a meeting. But Hudson isn’t interested in getting back together — at least, not
for real. Kian agrees to be his fake date for a family dinner, but he’s soon roped into much bigger affairs. And as old feelings begin to resurface, Kian and Hudson must decide what they really want from each other. 36 Scorpica Feb. 22
The first installment in a sweeping, matricentric fantasy epic, G.R. Macallister’s new novel weaves its way through the five Queendoms, whose longstanding alliance has been weakened by the Drought of Daughters: In over a decade, no girls have been born. Amid this unstable political climate, a handful of girls, each of whom poses a threat to at least one queen, find themselves living on the lam and searching for a place to call home.
37 Wildcat Feb. 22
Amelia Morris’ domestic comedy centers on Leanne, a writer who finds herself adrift after she becomes a mom. At the same time, she realizes that her former best friend, Regina, may be more like a frenemy — or perhaps a real enemy.
38 The Swimmers Feb. 22
In her latest offering,
The Buddha in the Attic author Julie Otsuka paints a portrait of the regulars at a local swimming pool. When the pool is forced to close, an elderly internment camp survivor is cut off from her fellow swimmers, and her dementia symptoms become increasingly severe. 39 The Verifiers Feb. 22
In Jane Pek’s debut, a book nerd who loves Jane Austen and mystery novels lands a job working for a P.I. service. Claudia has her own problems — not least of which is her parents’ repeated, unwanted attempts to set her up — but she’s doing OK... until one of her clients disappears, leaving her with a real mystery to solve.
40 Full Flight Feb. 22 Amelia Unabridged author Ashley Schumacher’s new YA novel is Full Flight, the story of two teens in a high school marching band — saxophonist Anna and mellophonist Weston — who fall in love, only to have their relationship threatened by a disapproving community. 41 Scoundrel: How a Convicted Murderer Persuaded the Women Who Loved Him, the Conservative Establishment, and the Courts to Set Him Free Feb. 22
In the 1960s, William F. Buckley Jr. began a campaign to free Edgar Smith, a death-row inmate convicted for the brutal murder of a 15-year-old girl. Convinced of Smith’s innocence, Buckley used his celebrity to get him out of prison — with disastrous results. Sarah Weinman revisits Smith’s crimes in
Scoundrel. 42 This Might Hurt Feb. 22
From the author of
Darling Rose Gold comes This Might Hurt. The last time Nat heard from her sister, Kit was getting ready to attend a self-help retreat on a remote island in Maine. When Nat receives a threatening email from the retreat, she begins to suspect that the island’s owners may not have her sister’s best interests at heart.
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