Fall has arrived, and as temperatures starts to drop, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book. This October brings plenty of
new releases to add to your bookshelf, from much-anticipated lit-fic, to must-read memoirs, and — of course — several great horror novels.
On top of new fiction from acclaimed authors like Elizabeth Strout, Miriam Toews, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Tiphanie Yanique — not to mention nonfiction from Sesali Bowen and LaDoris Hazzard Cordell — there’s a wide variety of Halloween-ready books hitting stores this month. First, there are the
witch-themed reads, including C. J. Cooke’s The Lighthouse Witches, Lana Harper’s Payback’s a Witch, Rachel Harrison’s Cackle, Alice Hoffman’s The Book of Magic, and Gregory Maguire’s The Brides of Maracoor. Rather lean into horror? Cherie Priest’s Grave Reservations and Catherynne M. Valente’s Comfort Me with Apples are sure to delight mystery and thriller readers, and the re-release of Tananarive Due’s Bram Stoker Award-nominated debut, The Between, is a must-read for all. That’s not to mention The Death of Jane Lawrence, the new novel from The Luminous Dead author Caitlin Starling, or Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing but Blackened Teeth, which introduces readers to a group of merry-makers about to anger the vengeful ghost of a Heian-era bride.
Below, the most anticipated books of October 2021.
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 A Conspiracy of Mothers Oct. 1
Colleen van Niekerk’s debut novel centers on Yolanda, a Black woman who returns to South Africa during the 1994 election, hoping to reconnect with her biracial daughter, Ingrid. But when Ingrid is nowhere to be found, Yolanda finds herself fighting against her ex-lover’s mother.
2 Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist Oct. 5
From music journalist Sesali Bowen comes
Bad Fat Black Girl. Interweaving memoir and cultural commentary, Bowen argues for a new, inclusive feminism — an anti-capitalist philosophy embedded in contemporary hip-hop. 3 What Storm, What Thunder Oct. 5
When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes the heart of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 10 mostly unconnected people find themselves searching for stability in the wake of trauma, in Myriam J. A. Chancy’s
What Storm, What Thunder. 4 The Lighthouse Witches Oct. 5 The Nesting author C. J. Cooke returns to stores this month with The Lighthouse Witches. More than two decades ago, Luna’s mother moved the family to a Scottish island for work — and not long after, Luna’s two two younger sisters vanished. Only then did Luna and her mother learn the island’s dark secret: that sometimes, missing children are replaced by things that look just like them. Now, Luna’s baby sister, Clover, has just reappeared... looking exactly as she did 22 years earlier. 5 The Between Oct. 5
Tananarive Due’s 1995 debut comes back in an all-new edition this October.
The Between centers on Hilton, a man whose near-drowning as a child comes back to — literally — haunt his family 30 years later, when his wife becomes the target of a racist hate-mail campaign. 6 The Every Oct. 5
The author of
The Circle returns with The Every, a spiritual sequel of sorts to his bestselling novel about a Google-like company; this time, Eggers is taking on Amazon. In keeping with the book’s themes, the hardcover version will only be available for purchase in independent bookstores. 7 Payback’s a Witch Oct. 5
Gareth Blackmoore has made a few enemies in his time, and now he’s about to pay. Talia and Linden, the two witches he recently wined, dined, and two-timed, are out for blood, and they want Emmy — another of Gareth’s exes, and Linden’s best friend — to join them. Emmy can’t get the alluring Talia off her mind, but she still isn’t sure she wants to be part of her and Linden’s revenge scheme.
8 Cackle Oct. 5
From the author of
The Return comes Cackle: a story about Annie, a teacher who moves to upstate New York to start a new life after a bad breakup. There, she meets Sophie, a charming and carefree woman who wants to help Annie reinvent herself. So what if Sophie lives in a secluded manor, and all the townsfolk give her a wide berth? Annie needs all the friends she can get... right? 9 A Spindle Splintered Oct. 5 The Once and Future Witches author Alix E. Harrow takes on the classic “Sleeping Beauty” story in this novella. Zinnia contracted a rare disease in childhood, a disease that kills all who have it by the age of 21. Her best friend has planned a birthday blowout with a Sleeping Beauty theme, but fairytale magic is about to get real for Zinnia and another young woman with the same condition. 10 My Monticello Oct. 5
The title story in Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s debut collection follows Da’Naisha, a young Black woman — and descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings — as she heads up a group of Charlottesville citizens who take refuge in the titular plantation house when white supremacists threaten their lives.
11 Search History Oct. 5
A delightfully strange little book, Eugene Lim’s
Search History centers on a grieving man who learns that his late best friend has been reincarnated... as a dog. 12 Kingdom of the Wicked Oct. 5
The follow-up to last year’s
Kingdom of the Wicked, Kingdom of the Cursed follows Emilia, the Queen of the Wicked, who, because of her vow to avenge her sister, may need to marry an evil prince whom she does not love. 13 We Are Not Like Them Oct. 5
The foundation of a lifelong friendship between two women — one white, one Black — begins to crack when one’s husband shoots and kills a Black teenager while on the job as a policeman.
14 The Death of Jane Lawrence Oct. 5 Luminous Dead author Caitlin Starling’s sophomore novel is The Death of Jane Lawrence: a Gothic thriller about a practical woman who finds herself trapped in a nightmare when she discovers that her new husband may not be the unflappable, charming man he once seemed. 15 Fight Night Oct. 5
Nine-year-old Swiv shares an apartment in Toronto with her heavily pregnant mom and ailing grandmother. When she’s expelled from school, Swiv finds herself doing Grandma-assigned homework: writing a letter to her absent father about her life without him. Of course, precocious Swiv has an assignment of her own. She wants Grandma to write a letter to her mother’s new baby, “Gord.”
16 Squad Oct. 5
A clique of popular teenaged werewolves, taking down the loathsome boys and men who try to hurt them? Yes, please! This YA graphic novel centers on a close-knit pack who find themselves laying low after one member’s abusive boyfriend is killed, leaving the whole group at risk of public exposure.
17 I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness Oct. 5
The line between fact and fiction blurs in this new novel from
Gold Fame Citrus author Claire Vaye Watkins. Starring a protagonist with the same name and family history as the author, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness follows the fictional Claire to Reno, Nevada, where she reminisces about her late parents. 18 The Keeper of the Night Oct. 12
The daughter of a grim reaper and a shinigami, Ren has spent her long life working to collect the London dead. But when her shinigami side poses a threat to the reapers, Ren finds herself living in the court of the Japanese Goddess of Death. Desperate to earn the Goddess’ approval, she soon sets out on a dangerous, near-impossible journey.
19 The Pessimists Oct. 12
Bethany Ball’s literary satire has all the drama of a domestic thriller. Following several messy families in one wealthy Connecticut town,
The Pessimists revolves around parents’ relationships with each other, their children, and the prestigious academy that binds them all together. 20 The Book of Magic Oct. 12
The captivating family saga that began in 1995’s
Practical Magic comes to a close this month with Book of Magic. A direct sequel to that first installment, set at the end of Aunt Jet’s life, Alice Hoffman’s new novel follows the Owens women across the Atlantic in one last-ditch effort to break the curse that’s plagued their family for centuries. 21 The Brides of Maracoor Oct. 12
It’s been 25 years since Gregory Maguire pulled back the curtain on the Wicked Witch of the West, giving readers everywhere the chance to get to know Elphaba in
Wicked. Now, 10 years after he released his last Wicked book, Out of Oz, Maguire is back with The Brides of Maracoor: the first installment in an all-new trilogy focused on Elphaba’s granddaughter, Rain. 22 Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World Oct. 12
Nearly 10 years after
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe landed in stores, fans finally have a sequel to read. In Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, Benjamin Alire Sáenz picks up right where he left off, following his beloved heroes as they head into their senior year. 23 Fan Fiction Oct. 12
Brent Spiner — best known as
Star Trek: The Next Generation’s android, Data — has written a novel inspired by his life in and around the Star Trek fandom. The story follows a fictionalized Brent as he finds himself in the midst of a dangerous plot involving a suspicious package, the FBI, and his Star Trek co-stars. 24 When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky Oct. 12
In 1920s Nashville, Tennessee, two workers at a zoo — a Cherokee horse-diver and her Black best friend — get wrapped in supernatural events when the zoo comes under a ghostly siege.
25 All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told Oct. 12
Marvel Comics has published tens of thousands of stories, and
All of the Marvels author Douglas Wolk has read them all. In this new book, the author of Reading Comics and Comic-Con Strikes Again takes readers through the last 60 years of American history and culture, examining their impact on Marvel Comics... and vice versa. 26 The House of Rust Oct. 19
A surreal novel about one girl’s journey to save her father from the King of Sharks, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s
The House of Rust features a talking cat, and a magical boat made from fish bones — and offers a compelling look at the lives of Hadrami people living in Kenya. 27 Within These Wicked Walls Oct. 19
Jane Eyre retelling centers on Andi, the young woman whom Magnus Rochester has hired to banish the Evil Eye from himself and his estate. But as she tries to protect Magnus from his curse, Andi finds herself pulled into a world of darkness . 28 An Autobiography Oct. 19
Originally published in 1974, Angela Y. Davis’ iconic
An Autobiography is back this month in an all-new edition from Haymarket Books, featuring a new introduction from the author. 29 Well Matched Oct. 19
The third installment in Jen DeLuca’s Well Met series of rom-coms,
Well Matched follows April and Mitch — a pair of best friends who find themselves fake-dating during a Ren Faire when Mitch’s family shows up unannounced. 30 Hunting by Stars
Cherie Dimaline’s sequel to
Marrow Thieves takes place in a world where only Indigenous Americans have retained the ability to dream. Forced once again into residential schools, Dimaline’s young heroes must do whatever they can to survive. 31 Nothing but Blackened Teeth Oct. 19
When they choose to throw a wedding bash at a haunted, Heian-era estate, one group of friends will have to fight to survive the night. A murderous bride — whose remains, along with those of her victims, undergird the house — is on the hunt for a new sacrifice.
32 Little Thieves Oct. 19
Margaret Owen’s new novel kicks off an all-new YA fantasy series. A retelling of “The Goose Girl,”
Little Thieves centers on Vanja, a former servant who used a magic necklace to steal a princess’ identity — only to anger a god and wind up cursed. With two weeks left before she’s gone forever, Vanja must find some way to break the spell and keep her pampered life... or die trying. 33 Flowers for the Sea Oct. 19
Zin E. Rocklyn’s novella centers on Iraxi: a pregnant young woman who has spent years living at sea on a filthy ark, and who may be carrying a child capable of changing her life.
34 LaserWriter II Oct. 19
Set in a Mac repair shop in the 1990s, Tamara Shopsin’s
LaserWriter II is a love letter to New York City and pre-Y2K tech culture. 35 Orwell’s Roses Oct. 19
Rebecca Solnit’s biography of George Orwell focuses on a side of the author we rarely discuss, using the legendary writer’s penchant for gardening as a lens through which to view his literary life and activism.
36 The Days of Afrekete Oct. 19
When her husband’s political campaign crashes, and the FBI begins an inquiry into his bid, Liselle decides to throw a dinner party for his biggest backers. But as she plans out what could be a major misstep, Liselle finds herself thinking more and more of her college roommate, a woman she has barely spoken to in years.
37 Oh, William! Oct. 19
The second sequel to
My Name Is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout’s Oh William! centers on Lucy’s relationship with her first husband and the father of her daughters: the eponymous William. 38 Monster in the Middle Oct. 19
A family saga that explores the events that shaped two young lovers and their families, this new novel from
Land of Love and Drowning author Tiphanie Yanique is a tender exploration of identity. 39 Her Honor: My Life on the Bench... What’s Working, What’s Broken, and How to Fix It Oct. 26
An in-depth examination of the criminal justice system by one of the country’s first African American judges, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell’s
Her Honor is one of the year’s must-read works of nonfiction. 40 All the Feels Oct. 26
In her follow-up to
Spoiler Alert, Olivia Dade takes readers behind the scenes of God of the Gates for a glimpse into another star’s romantic life. Cupid himself gets a shot at love this go-round, as God of the Gates star Alex begins to fall hard for his new therapist. 41 Tink and Wendy Oct. 26
When Tinker Bell shows up to take care of Wendy and Peter’s graves, Hope Darling is drawn into the fairy’s stories of the trio’s adventures in Neverland, and how their eventual choice to grow up came at a dreadful cost.
42 Dreaming of You Oct. 26
When her séance brings Selena — yes,
the Selena — back from the dead, poet Melissa is pulled into the land of the dead, in Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s novella-in-verse. 43 Grave Reservations Oct. 26
When Grady’s travel agent reveals herself as a psychic by predicting that his plane will explode after take-off, Grady enlists her help in solving a cold case. But Leda has a cold case of her own to solve — the murder of her late fiancé — and she desperately wants to know why she sees his face when she speaks with Grady.
44 Comfort Me with Apples Oct. 26
Sophia and her husband have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect life. He travels a lot on business, but their gated community keeps her safe while he’s gone. Sophia makes sure everything stays spotless while her husband is away — except for the basement, the one place in their home she isn’t allowed to go.
45 The Wicked Widow Oct. 26
In the third installment of her Wicked City series, Beatriz Williams follows two women — flapper Gin Kelly and overworked mom-to-be Ella Dommerich — whose lives begin to align, more than 70 years apart, when Ella begins to look into an enemy’s past for evidence damning enough to derail his presidential bid.
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