#LoveOzYA Reads We Can’t Wait for in 2023
By Bianca Breen
Do you hear that?
If you think I’m about to say ‘That’s the sound of new #LoveOzYA releases in the air’, you’d be right. But if you keep straining your ears, you’ll also hear a lovely lilting melody.
Music is a big theme in this year’s releases, along with social media, family, friends, and even poetry. We’re also crossing space and time and entering new worlds all together. We’re in for a wild and exciting time with releases this year and we can’t wait to squeal in excitement with you.
So, without further ado, here are some* of the 2023 #LoveOzYA books waiting to be discovered, waiting to make you cry, swoon, scream, and laugh.
*We’ve done the best we can to summarise the releases to the best of our knowledge, but if you’ve got intel on an upcoming release that isn’t listed, please get in touch.
January – March
For the fantasy fans, here’s the magical lowdown:
SPICE ROAD by Maiya Ibrahim is taking us into an Arabian-inspired land, following Imani, a warrior as she searches for her brother and the mystery surrounding his disappearance and the monsters plaguing her world. On what feels like the other end of the spectrum, travel to a magical 1920s America-inspired in NIGHTBIRDS by Kate J Armstrong, a world of whispered secrets and political intrigue.
If you’d rather keep things a little more grounded in the real world, you’re in for a treat. Nerd out with indie game developer Sam Khoo in TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME by Leanne Yong as she navigates family, competitions, and the irritatingly charming Jaysen Chua. Then, cringe with Eliza as her essay goes viral in THIS TIME IT’S REAL by Ann Liang. The only problem is, her personal essay about her romantic and swoon-worthy relationship is entirely fictional.
Set in Melbourne, GRACE NOTES by Karen Comer follows violinist Grace – whose mum forbids her from following her dream music career – and James – whose dad doesn’t want him to paint public art. But when both go against their parents’ wishes, James paints Grace and her violin onto an alley wall, and Grace becomes determined to find him.
Romance not your style? Enter a dark world in THE PLEDGE by Cale Dietrich, where protagonist Sam, the survivor of a killing spree, starts college and just wants to leave the past alone. That seems impossible, however, when a copy-cat killer starts a new spree at the college…
There’s also SALTWATER BOYS by Bradley Christmas to look out for – when Matthew’s dad goes to jail, he and his mum start a new life on the coast, and Matthew finds a father figure in Old Bill, an Indigenous man. But when Matthew’s dad is released on parole, the newfound peace is shattered.
Three #LoveOzYA favourites return with new stories in April. Lili Wilkinson is bringing out her debut fantasy novel, A HUNGER OF THORNS: a tale of friendship, witches, and magical realism.
THE QUIET AND THE LOUD by Helena Fox follows George and her loud life. Her estranged dad reappears, her best friend is about to become a teen mum, and wildfires blaze.
And Allayne Webster is exploring the world of social media for young people in SELFIE; why friendships are important and how to stay authentic in an ever-changing online world.
Speaking of #LoveOzYA alumni, May is bringing us new releases from Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, and David Metzenthen.
THE ISLES OF THE GODS is Amie Kaufman’s first foray into single-author YA after we’ve enjoyed her work with Jay Kristoff and Meagan Spooner. But with pirates, romance, and magic, The Isles of the Gods promises to be the fun adventure we’ve come to expect from Amie’s work.
Will Kostakis’ upcoming novel, WE COULD BE SOMETHING, promises all the things we love in a Kostakis book: ‘part coming-out story, part falling-in-love story, part relationship breakdown story, part extended Greek family story.’ There’s even a seventeen-year-old character who is a published author!
And the upcoming THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE RAINBOW TROUT PRIVATE HOTEL by David Metzenthen is set amongst mountains and wilderness, where Andy Lightfoot spends his gap year working at the weirdly wonderful Rainbow Trout Private Hotel.
Tegan Bennett Daylight is also bringing out a YA novel, ROYALS. What happens when a group of teenagers is stranded indefinitely in a shopping centre, alone? With all the stuff they could possible want… and a baby? We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out!
No such thing as a ‘saggy middle’ when it comes to midyear releases. If you’re after more swashbuckling adventures after The Isles of the Gods, you’ll be pleased to hear of A CURSE OF SALT by Sarah Street, where the Heartless King – pirate, monster, legend – demands a daughter, launching Ria Lucroy into a world of curses and creatures.
Ellie Marney fans, the sequel to None Shall Sleep, SOME SHALL BREAK, is picking up right where we left off and promises to be another eerie, thrilling ride. And travelling even further back from the 1980s to 1909, WILLIAM GOES NORTH by Michael Thomas is also out in June, and follows William as he travels with his father from Fremantle to the Pilbara, and all people and places he experiences on the way.
On the gentler side, literary legend Maxine Beneba Clarke is bringing out a collection of poems for young people – IT’S THE SOUND OF THE THING – that ‘celebrates the joy of language and features evocative, enticing poems about everyday life.’
July – August
As the cold weather continues, so do the opportunities to curl up with a book.
Following his international success with The Boy From the Mish, author Gary Lonesborough is releasing his next coming-of-age small town novel about navigating friendships, family, and racism, WE DIDN’T THINK IT THROUGH.
Write and record a new song in a weekend? What could go wrong? We can’t wait to find out in ONE SONG by AJ Betts and spend a few days with Eva, Ant, Cooper, Mim, and Ruby.
We’re welcoming Text Prize 2022’s winning manuscript to our shelves: LET’S NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN by Megan Williams, a heart-warming story about the strength of friendship through life’s ups and downs. Also from Text is BLIND SPOT by Robyn Dennison, which follows cousins Dale and Maxine as the latter hopes to recover from anorexia.
September – December
Sharon Kernot’s BIRDY is a verse novel exploring the trauma and complexity of non-consensual sex, as well as the dark side of social media, but finding your way through it in small acts of human kindness.
Search for answers with Gus in GUS AND THE WINTER BOY by debut author Troy Hunter – overweight, gay, and stuck at home caring for his mother, Gus longs to become a detective, but when he discovers a photo of a missing boy who looks just like him, nothing will ever the same again.
In time for the spooky season is gothic queen Lyndall Clipstone’s new fantasy horror, UNHOLY TERRORS. Set in a brand new world, get ready for a story of monsters, necromantic warriors, dark pasts, and a bit of enemies to lovers…
Hungerford Award winner Molly Schmidt’s manuscript SALT RIVER ROAD will be hitting the shelves in November. It follows siblings Rose and Frank Tetley after the death of their mother, when they are picked up by Noongar Elders Patsy and Herbert, while their father struggles under the weight of grief and the past.
The year ends with a bang with the release of not one, but two anthologies. AN UNEXPECTED PARTY is an anthology of speculative YA fiction by previously-unpublished LGBTQIA+ authors and edited by Seth Malacari of Get YA Words Out, and WA author Chemutai Glasheen is bringing out a collection of contemporary fiction set in east Africa titled I AM THE MAU AND OTHER STORIES.
And throughout the year, venture in old new worlds with a couple of sequels to your favourite stories: look out for NEVER A HERO by Vanessa Len (Only a Monster), THE SINISTER BOOKSELLERS OF BATH by Garth Nix (The Lefthanded Booksellers of London), and FIREFLIES IN FLIGHT by Mette Jakobsen (The Snow Laundry).
As last year, here’s our breakdown by genre so you can more easily plan your TBR:
TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME by Leanne Yong
THIS TIME IT’S REAL by Ann Liang
GRACE NOTES by Karen Comer
SALTWATER BOYS by Bradley Christmas
SELFIE by Allayne L. Webster
THE QUIET AND THE LOUD by Helena Fox
WE COULD BE SOMETHING by Will Kostakis
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE RAINBOW TROUT HOTEL by David Metzenthen
WE DIDN’T THINK IT THROUGH by Gary Lonesborough
BLIND SPOT by Robyn Dennison
ONE SONG by A.J. Betts
LET’S NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN by Megan Williams
SALT RIVER ROAD by Molly Schmidt
NEVER A HERO by Vanessa Len
SPICE ROAD by Maiya Ibrahim
THE SINISTER BOOKSELLERS OF BATH by Garth Nix
NIGHT BIRDS by Kate J Armstrong
A HUNGER OF THORNS by Lili Wilkinson
THE ISLES OF THE GODS by Amie Kaufman
A CURSE OF SALT by Sarah Street
THE PLEDGE by Cale Dietrich
SOME SHALL BREAK by Ellie Marney
GUS AND THE WINTER BOY by Troy Hunter
UNHOLY TERRORS by Lyndall Clipstone
WILLIAM GOES NORTH by Michael Thomas
ROYALS by Tegan Bennett Daylight
FIREFLIES IN FLIGHT by Mette Jakobsen
BIRDY by Sharon Kernot
IT’S THE SOUND OF THE THING by Maxine Beneba Clarke
I AM THE MAU AND OTHER STORIES by Chemutai Glasheen
AN UNEXPECTED PARTY edited by Seth Malacari