The 19 Best YA Books Of September Include Haunted Houses, Missing Girls & Blood Magic

by Caitlin White

Even if you're not going back to school, it's the perfect time to get back into your reading goals because there's a wild amount of young adult books coming this month. It was so stacked that it was tough narrowing them down, but you can scroll through to check out the list of the best YA books of September.

Leading the charge are two additions to popular YA series: Marie Lu's Wildcard, the follow-up to Warcross, an eerily prescient sci-fi story about hackers and your identity online; and Two Dark Reigns, Kendare Blake's latest in her Three Dark Crowns series centering on three magical sisters vying for rule over their land.

Meanwhile, Heidi Heilig is launching a brand-new series with For a Muse of Fire, and by all accounts, it's looking even more wonderful than her first, The Girl From Everywhere. And, a series known as the "Harry Potter of France," The Mirror Quartet, is finally (finally!) making its way stateside this month, starting with book one, A Winter's Promise.

It's not all about series this month, though. Everyone is buzzing about Courtney Summers' Sadie and its accompanying podcast, The Girls — and for good reason. Jane Austen stans need to get on board with Ibi Zoboi's modern spin on Pride & Prejudice, Pride, which tackles race, class, gentrification, and more. Deb Caletti is dropping her 16th (!!!) novel, A Heart in a Body in the World, and it's getting rave reviews left and right.

That's just a snippet of the exciting YA you're in for this month; scroll down for our picks for the 19 books of September you need on your radar.

'Sadie' by Courtney Summers (Sept. 4; Wednesday Books)

Part page-turning thriller, part exploration of crimes against women and the cycle of abuse, Courtney Summers' Sadie is unlike many novels you've read before. The titular Sadie is a teenage girl living in a trailer park. Her mother took off years ago and left her with her with a family friend, and her beloved little sister, Mattie, was just found dead in mysterious circumstances. Now, Sadie has vanished, too. Readers hear Sadie's story from two perspectives: Sadie, and a podcast host who has been hired to find out what happened to her.

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'Two Dark Reigns' by Kendare Blake (Sept. 4; HarperTeen)

Desperate to find out what's happening with our favorite triplet-queens, Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella? (I'm raising both my hands.) Kendare Blake is back in Fennbirn (and some other, new locales...) with the highly anticipated third book of her Three Dark Crowns series. Spoilers ahead for the first two books if you aren't caught up! When readers left off, poisoner Katharine ascended to the throne after her sisters Mirabella and Arsinoe were thought dead. They are now in hiding on the mainland, though they're being pulled back to their rightful home. But they aren't the only threat to Katharine's reign. Jules is also on her own journey, learning about her feared gift and her fated role as the leader of a rebellion against the crown.

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'And the Ocean Was Our Sky' by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Rovina Cai (Sept. 4; HarperTeen)

The Moby-Dick gets turned upside down as Patrick Ness explores the story from the whales' point of view. Rather than Captain Ahab and his crew living for the legend of the great white whale, the whales of Bathsheba's pod live by the myth of a monstrous, murderous captain. The unique novel serves as a counterpoint to the classic book, a meditation on prejudices and war, and it's stunningly complemented by Rovina Cai's illustrations.

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'A Room Away from the Wolves' by Nova Ren Suma (Sept. 4; Algonquin Books for Young Readers)

Nova Ren Suma's eerie novel A Room Away from the Wolves has major Shirley Jackson vibes . When Bina's mother kicks her out of the house with her new step-family, she heads to Catherine House, a young women's home in Greenwich Village where her mother once stayed. She dismisses a creepy warning from another girl's mother to not move in when she arrives, and it soon becomes clear why. The residence holds a tragic history and many secrets, as it makes the women swear a vow of confidentiality. Its secrets start to unfold as Bina meets the enigmatic Monet Mathis, but can you believe what you're hearing from Bina, who admits to being a liar?

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'Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree' by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Sept. 4; Katherine Tegen Books)

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's poignant story is fictional, but it's based on interviews conducted with actual young women captured by Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group operating out of Nigeria. Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls on April 14, 2014, and while some managed to escape, many are still considered missing. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree centers on the fictional, unnamed young Nigerian woman with a bright future and a government scholarship who is taken with her best friend when Boko Haram invades her village. She fights to survive, to endure, to escape, even as her friend slips into believing the radical narratives she is fed by her captors. An afterward by journalist Viviana Mazza ties the novel to the true events.

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'Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage' by In This Together Media (Sept. 4; Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Writers are joined by female and male activists, actors, athletes, politicians, musicians, and teenagers in this collection of essays centering on a time in their lives when they felt held back in society because of who they are, who they love, the color of their skin, their gender, or more. The stories are deeply personal, but they feel far more hopeful than focusing on the negative, which is incredibly moving. Some of the names involved: actress Alia Shawkat; former NFL player Wade Davis, who came out as gay in 2012; Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar; and Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr.

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'Rule' by Ellen Goodlett (Sept. 11; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

If you're hooked on the Three Dark Crowns series by author Kendare Blake, your next obsession is Ellen Goodlett's Rule. It's described as Pretty Little Liars meets Three Dark Crowns (you got our attention), and it centers on three scattered, "illegitimate" daughters of the king who each make a play for the crown, but who each harbor the same secret: They all once committed treason. Gossip, blackmail, whispers, forbidden queer romance, and magic — it's all fair game in this court-intrigue fantasy.

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'Dream Country' by Shannon Gibney (Sept. 11; Dutton Books for Young Readers)

Shannon Gibney explores the immigrant experience in Dream Country, a sprawling story that follows five generations of Liberian and Liberian-American teenagers across continents and centuries. The timeline spans a Virginia plantation in 1927, early-20th century Liberia, modern day Minnesota, and so much in between, creating a vast and epic tale that explores racism, slavery, war, refugees, immigration, and what it means to be African-American as a whole.

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'Summer Bird Blue' by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Sept. 11; Simon Pulse)

Readers have been patiently waiting on Akemi Dawn Bowman's sophomore novel after her beautiful, William C. Morris Award Finalist debut Starfish, and she definitely delivers. Rumi Seto and her younger sister Lea want to spend the rest of their lives writing music together. But Rumi feels that she loses everything when Lea dies in a car accident. Amid her grief, Rumi is sent away by her mother to live in Hawaii with her aunt. She's lost her only guiding light to her future, her family, and her passion for music. However, with the help of two newcomers to her life, a surfer named Kai and an elderly man named George Watanabe who copes with his own grief, Rumi tries to find her way back to music to write the song her sister deserved.

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'Pride' by Ibi Zoboi (Sept. 18; Balzer + Bray)

National Book Award finalist for American Street, Ibi Zoboi, gives her sharp and clever spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, trading the Regency-era English countryside for modern-day Bushwick, Brooklyn. (It begins, "“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood ... the first thing they want to do is clean it up.") Zuri Benitez is proud of her Haitian-Dominican heritage, and she loathes the gentrification that's pushing families like hers and her four sisters' out of her neighborhood. Then the wealthy, black Darcy family moves into the flipped house across the street, and though the sons are handsome, she immediately thinks they are snobs. Still, as her sister Janae falls for Ainsley Darcy, Zuri fights her part-annoyance of, part-attraction to Darius Darcy.

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'A Heart in a Body in the World' by Deb Caletti (Sep. 18; Simon Pulse)

Annabelle is doing whatever she can to outrun the guilt and trauma from a tragedy in her past, including embarking on a 2,700-mile cross-country run from her home in Seattle to Washington D.C. Supported by her brother and her friends, and backed up by her Grandpa Ed who follows her in his RV, Annabelle's run gains media attention and also grabs the hearts of people across the country who cheer her on as she passes. Now, as her trauma becomes public, Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist, but it doesn't help her feelings of anxiety, PTSD, and guilt. Iconic YA author Deb Caletti tells a moving, unfortunately timely, and gut-wrenching story that will stick with you.

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'Unclaimed Baggage' by Jen Doll (Sept. 18; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Three teenagers become unlikely friends as they spend their summer working at a store that sells off the contents of unclaimed baggage at the airport. There's Doris, a lone liberal and atheist in her conservative small, Alabama town; Nell, a newcomer who just moved from Chicago; and Grant, a disgraced high school Mr. Popular who suffers from alcoholism. Jen Doll's debut YA novel Unclaimed Baggage is told in each of their three perspectives as they literally unpack lost baggage while unpacking their respective emotional baggage, and it's a testament to the power of friendship.

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'Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens' edited by Marieke Nijkamp (Sept. 18; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Too often under-looked in mainstream media as a whole, disabled teens get the spotlight in this YA collection edited by Marieke Nijkamp. Big names in young adult lit, like Heidi Heilig, Kody Keplinger, Dhonielle Clayton, and Katherine Locke, join together to tell #OwnVoices stories across genres and time periods. Readers who aren't disabled get insight into what it's like to live with all kinds of disabilities, from chronic pain to gastrointestinal disease; and readers who already understand finally get to see their stories represented.

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'The Deepest Roots' by Miranda Asebedo (Sept. 18; HarperTeen)

Every woman born in Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is given a magical talent, but sometimes the gift feels more like a curse. Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents. But Rome's ability to Fix doesn't mean she and her mom can afford rent on their trailer; and Lux's ability doesn't protect her from abuse at home. Soon, the girls find a secret that may lead them to a treasure that they think can solve all their problems. Miranda Asebedo's magical realism debut The Deepest Roots is a celebration of sisterhood, of mothers and daughters, of female friendship that teens definitely need more of in literature.

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'Wildcard' by Marie Lu (Sept. 18; G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)

Are you ready to get back in the game? Marie Lu is back with the sequel to her hit sci-fi YA novel Warcross, and this time the stakes are even higher. After (first book spoiler!) hacker Emika Chen discovered Warcross creator Hideo's ulterior motives, she has to decide if she's going to team up with hacker Zero, who readers now know is Hideo's brother, and the Blackcoats to stop him. The tables have also turned on Emika herself, as the bounty hunter now finds herself on the business end of a high bounty. The sequel is even more action-packed than the original, with unpredictable twists and turns as well as thoughtful meditations on the dangers of giving your identity to corporate technology companies — which, um, feels pretty timely right now.

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'The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein' by Kiersten White (Sept. 25; Delacorte Press)

Everyone knows the classic horror story, Frankenstein, but you've never heard it like this. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein centers instead on the orphan girl who soon became the depraved Dr. Victor Frankenstein's wife. Elizabeth Lavenza was living on the street when the Frankenstein family took her in, hoping she could be a friend and caretaker to the solitary, angry Victor. As the gothic story unfolds, readers learn that Victor's perspective may not be as reliable as it seemed in Mary Shelley's classic. This dark, feminist retelling is so Kiersten White and so thrillingly clever.

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'A Winter's Promise' by Christelle Dabos, translated by Hildegarde Serle (Sept. 25; Europa Editions)

If you haven't yet heard of what many have dubbed the "Harry Potter of France," now's your chance, because the English translation comes out in September. Christelle Dabos' A Winter's Promise is set in a world that, after a cataclysm, has been separated into floating celestial islands known as Arks. Ophelia lives on Anima, an ark where objects have souls, which perfectly suits her family's situation: They are archivists who can communicate with objects' souls. What Ophelia is hiding is she also is a "mirror-traveler," which grants her the ability to (you guessed it!) travel through mirrors. Now, for a reason she can't quite comprehend, she's set up in an arranged marriage to Thorn, the treasurer of an ark called Pole. So, Ophelia travels to the capital of Pole to move in with Thorn's aunt Berenilde, where she's forbidden to leave and only sees the angry Thorn occasionally. Now, Ophelia is dedicated to finding out the motivations behind her betrothal in this dark, magical adventure.

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'A Blade So Black' by L.L. McKinney (Sept. 25; Imprint)

Take Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and mix in some Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you've got a taste of L.L. McKinney's debut A Blade So Black. Once upon a time, Alice was almost killed by a Nightmare, a physical manifestation of humanity's fears. Now, she's trained to kill these creatures from the dark realm known as Wonderland. But back in the "real world" of Atlanta, she has less-magical worries occupying her mind, including her GPA, over-protective mom, and police violence in her community. It's a dark, thrilling fantasy-meets-contemporary story with a kickass heroine that you'll follow even into the depths of Wonderland.

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'For a Muse of Fire' by Heidi Heilig (Sept. 25; Greenwillow Books)

Heidi Heilig took readers on an adventure into the high seas in The Girl from Everywhere. Now, she's exploring a brand new world. Jetta and her family are famous as the most talented troupe of shadow puppeteers in their land, Chakrana, which has been colonized by the blonde Aquitans. But Jetta has a secret: She's not pulling strings; instead, she binds the souls of the recently departed to her puppets using her blood. Her skills get her family a spot on the royal ship heading to Aquitan. Jetta's motive? She hopes there the Mad King can help her find a cure for her mental illness. However, when the ship is overrun by Chakran rebels, the family is plunged into a dangerous adventure across lush, dark landscapes. Thankfully, there's more to come in this series because you'll want to stay there forever.

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