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12 of the Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2020

You'll want to add these books to your TBR today.

best books of 2020

Not even the unforeseen challenges of 2020 could stop readers from filling our shelves with amazing speculative fiction! For many of us, books have been a source of comfort throughout this difficult year.

So, what are the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2020? Well, you’re in luck! I consume SFF titles as voraciously as I eat steaming bowls of rice, and these are my votes for the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2020! Treat yourself with these literary masterpieces before the year ends.

RELATED: 50 of the Best Fantasy Books Ever Written 

best books of 2020 Raybearer


By Jordan Ifueko

What if you've sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy? 

Raybearer follows Tarisai, who is sent to the empire of Aritsar to compete in the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. Binding the council together is the Ray, an irresistible bond deeper than blood. But unfortunately, Tarisai is also bound to a magical wish that requires her to kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust.

Mark my words: Raybearer is the new blueprint for all YA fantasy novels. In less than 400 pages, Jordan Ifueko delivers a rich world, compelling characters, and a thought-provoking exploration of imperialism and historical revisionism. This debut novel is perfect for readers seeking to take found families and chosen ones to the next level!

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These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights

By Chloe Gong

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets of 1920s Shanghai red. At the heart of the city's chaos are estranged heirs, Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov, who are each other's first love and first betrayal. But when a mysterious monster suddenly threatens Shanghai, they must work together to save their city.

These Violent Delights offers an imaginative retelling of a beloved Shakespearean classic set against the historical backdrop of Shanghai. With high stakes and intense yearning, this is a genre-defying debut that is sure to make and break the hearts of its readers. 

RELATED: 5 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Shakespeare Adaptations 

Scavenge the Stars

Scavenge the Stars

By Tara Sim

Suddenly thrust into a game of deception, Amaya seeks vengeance against the man who ruined her life. But as her path intertwines with the son of the man she's plotting to destroy, the more she uncovers the truth of her past, the more she realizes that she must trust no one.

Get swept away in this adventurous and delightfully queer retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo with South Asian characters! If you’re in the mood for revenge plots, disastrous characters, and unraveling mysteries, Scavenge the Stars will leave you breathless. 

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A Wish in the Dark

A Wish in the Dark

By Christina Soontornvat

All light in Chattana is created by the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars.

Drawing inspiration from Thai culture and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Christina Soontornvat’s middle-grade fantasy debut is a heartwarming story about friendship, justice, and freedom. If you’d like to end your year on a hopeful note, then I encourage you to pick up A Wish in the Dark.

RELATED: 9 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels That Celebrate Rebellion 

best books of 2020

Wicked As You Wish

By Rin Chupeco

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. But a new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades.

If you thought 2020 was chaotic, I dare you to give this book a try. But unlike 2020, you’ll never want this whimsical story to end! 

Set in a contemporary fantasy world where fairytales and folklores are part of recorded history, Wicked As You Wish is ambitious, adventure-filled, and utterly spellbinding. 

RELATED: 14 of the Most Underrated Fantasy Books Ever 

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

By Roseanne A. Brown

For Malik, killing the princess means saving his sister from a vengeful spirit. For Karina, killing her soon-to-be husband means bringing her mother back from the dead. In this West African-inspired fantasy, a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

Move over, Hogwarts houses. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin offers a unique astrology system that determines the magic a person can wield. (As a Wind-Aligned person, I have air and weather magic!) Aside from its clever magic system, this phenomenal debut also offers high stakes, fascinating characters, and nail-biting tension. 

Blazewrath Games

Blazewrath Games

By Amparo Ortiz

Set in an alternate contemporary world where dragons and their riders compete in an international sports tournament, Blazewrath Games follows Lana Torres, Puerto Rico's newest Runner. However, when the tournament's safety is jeopardized, Lana gets entangled in an international conspiracy that's deadlier than her beloved sport.

Blazewrath Games is a literary spectacle – and I say this with the highest of praise. Amparo Ortiz’s debut novel is incredibly fun and refreshing. The story’s excitement is infectious, and will certainly have readers jumping out of their seats to cheer for their favorite team.

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 2020 SFF Sequels

The Ikessar Falcon

The Ikessar Falcon

By K.S. Villoso

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien's quest takes a turn for the worst as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined. As she fights her way home, she and her allies unearth the nation's true troubles — creatures from the dark, mad dragons, and men with hearts hungry for power.

If you thought The Wolf of Oren-yaro was hard-hitting, buckle up, because the rollercoaster that The Ikessar Falcon takes its readers on is truly unprecedented. 

I finished this sequel at 1 AM, with my heart pounding, my head spinning, and my palms sweating.

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The Ever Cruel Kingdom

The Ever Cruel Kingdom

By Rin Chupeco

To break the cycle of goddess sacrifices, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyond the seven gates of the underworld, within the Cruel Kingdom itself. The shadows of the underworld hunger to tear them apart, but these two sisters are determined to heal their world—together.

What a powerful, bittersweet conclusion to a thoughtful duology! I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy stories about sisterhood, man-made environmental destruction and greed, sacrifices and prophecies, and budding romances. 

Shadow of Kyoshi

The Shadow of Kyoshi

By F.G. Yee

Kyoshi’s place as the true Avatar has finally been cemented—but at a heavy cost. With her mentors gone, Kyoshi voyages across the Four Nations, struggling to keep the peace. But while her reputation grows, a mysterious threat emerges from the Spirit World.

As satisfying as this sequel is, I am still insatiable! I’d love to devour more stories about this universe. Nonetheless, The Shadow of Kyoshi is an excellent follow-up to Kyoshi’s journey. Watching her grow and take on the burdensome mantle of being the world’s Avatar has been very rewarding.

RELATED: 50 of the Best Science Fiction Books Ever Written 

The Electric Heir

The Electric Heir

By Victoria Lee

Set six months after The Fever King, Noam and Dara reunite and find that their methods for taking down Lehrer, the supposedly progressive humanitarian leader who is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia, are violently misaligned. 

For a story that weaves dystopian elements, magic, science, and government corruption together, I was surprised when The Electric Heir took on a less conventional, more introspective route, with a focus on trauma and abusive relationships. Still, this sequel completely blew me away.

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best books of 2020

Iron Heart

By Nina Varela

Immediately picking up where Crier's War left off, Ayla and Crier are now caught in the middle of a revolution, forging their own paths but unknowingly fighting for the same side. As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

Iron Heart is a beautifully written, tender sequel, and a fitting conclusion to an impactful series. The politics and philosophical thought embedded in its narrative are impressive, but the cautiously hopeful romance between Ayla and Crier shines the brightest. 

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