The Best New Fantasy Books Coming in September 2023


I enjoy reading different genres of literature, but fantasy has become my favorite. It allows me to explore new worlds, discover unique magic systems, and immerse myself in epic stories that can span over a dozen books — or more. Fantasy is a beautiful medium to explore the complex issues of our time while offering variations of the hero’s journey that can inspire everyone. September is no stranger to great fantasy stories, with several excellent books arriving at bookstores.

September features one of my favorite fantasy authors, John Scalzi, who often applies his excellent wit and satire to current events in his work. Joining Scalzi’s newest book are sequels in established series and an incredible new version of a timeless classic fantasy tale. No matter what you like, there’s probably something for you this September.

Starter Villain, John Scalzi, September 19

Cover for Starter Villain, by John Scalzi, as part of The Escapist's best fantasy books releasing in September 2023 article.

If you’ve ever wanted your own underground volcano lair, you’ll want to read Starter Villain. Charlie is at a point where he wants something different, and the change he wants arrives when his long-lost uncle Jake passes away. It turns out Jake owned his own supervillain business — including the volcano lair. And after he dies, Jake leaves all of it to Charlie.

Charlie must now contend with owning an evil corporation with morals and standards. At the same time, the business is under constant threat from multinational corporations that are up to no good. Starter Villain is John Scalzi at his witty best. If you need more convincing, I give you talking spy-cats and an army of unionized dolphins. Read this book!

The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic, Breanna Randall, September 19

Cover for The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic, by Breanne Randall, as part of The Escapist's best fantasy books releasing in September 2023 article.

The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic is a thought-provoking look into the price we pay for the power we have — or want.  Sadie Revelare knows she must suffer four heartbreaks in exchange for the magic she possesses. But when her grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer and her first heartbreak, Jake, comes back into her life, Sadie has a decision to make. Is her power more important to her than the people she loves?

Breanna Randall’s debut novel has depth and emotion, and the weight of our choices is powerful. According to the publisher, fans of Practical Magic and Gilmore Girls will love The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic.

The World Wasn’t Ready For You: Stories, Justin C. Key, September 19

Cover for The World Wasn't Ready For You, by Justin C. Key, as part of The Escapist's best fantasy books releasing in September 2023 article.

Justin C. Key is a gifted storyteller who uses those tools to deliver an impactful collection of stories about race, class, and prejudice in our world. Key loved fantasy and horror as a child but was often struck by how Black and Brown characters were often portrayed as the victims or villains in those genres. He flips the script in The World Wasn’t Ready For You with a collection of stories that empower those characters.

The World Wasn’t Ready For You is a blend of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi, consistent with Justin C. Key’s other work. In this collection, you’ll find stories about a husband who uses technology to download the consciousness of his deceased Black wife into the body of a white woman and another about a father who tries to protect his son by teaching him how to live in a prejudiced world. This collection isn’t easy to read but is thought-provoking and influential.

The Hobbit Illustrated By the Author, J.R.R. Tolkien, September 19

Cover for The Hobbit Illustrated, by J.R.R. Tolkien, as part of The Escapist's best fantasy books releasing in September 2023 article.

Is this cheating? Maybe, since The Hobbit was initially released on September 21, 1937. But I also don’t care because I’m so excited that we’re finally getting this author’s illustrations edition of the book. This premium edition of the classic novel by Tolkien includes over 50 sketches, drawings, paintings, and maps created by the author himself. For huge fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it’s a unique look into Tolkien’s vision for these iconic characters in his timeless world.

A special illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings has already been released. That book alone is a reason to buy this one. The quality is superb, and the artwork is incredible. If you’re a fan of the series, this is a genuinely premium edition you won’t regret adding to your fantasy collection in September 2023.

Devil’s Battle, Taylor Anderson, September 26

Cover for Devil's Battle, by Taylor Anderson, as part of The Escapist's best fantasy books releasing in September 2023 article.

Devil’s Battle features an army fighting for survival on an alternate Earth that is much more dangerous than ours. Colonel Lewis Cayce leads his small army against General Agon and his Dominion forces, complete with Blood Priests. Along the way, Agon turns on the Dominion after seeing the evil they engage in — as if having beings called Blood Priests wasn’t enough — and unites with Cayce against the Dominion forces. Cayce leads the Allies towards the Holy City and a climactic battle.

Think Civil War-era armies and fighting with elements of magic and the supernatural, and that’s Devil’s Battle. Plus, there’s dinosaurs. You’re welcome.

Those are our picks for the best fantasy novels to pick up in September 2023. For our list of horror novels coming out this month, check out our list here.

KEEP READING: The Best Horror Books Coming in August 2023


About the author

Tyler Erickson
Contributor at The Escapist and has been writing about games and entertainment for over 10 years. I love FPS games, action/adventure, and sports games. In entertainment, I write about everything Star Wars, comics, action and horror movies, and fantasy and horror books. I have also written for GameRant, TheXboxHub, and Strangely Awesome Games. Podcaster and streamer, and always happy to talk games or entertainment, so follow me on socials!