12 must-read August YA book releases to close out your summer

The Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House
The Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House /
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The Faithless Hawk – Margaret Owen

As a sequel to Margaret Owen’s (fantastic) fantasy debut The Merciful Crow, follow-up book The Faithless Hawk has a lot to live up to.

Picking up right where the first novel left off, Fie is now Chief of her band of Crows. Prince Jasimir is getting ready to take his rightful place as the King of Sabor, and has promised improved treatment and conditions for Fie’s caste, a group that serves as the sort of undertakers and mercy-killers for the kingdom. (They’re the only ones immune to a particularly nasty illness known as the Sinner’s Plague.)

But when Jasimir’s stepmother, the terrible Queen Rhusana, makes a bid for the thrown in her own right, things get messy – and dark – real quick. You see, Rhusana hates the Crows and has promised a certain group of her gentry (the kind that rides around at night in white hoods) that they’ll be allowed to abuse them at will once she’s in charge.

The official synopsis explains the story of the sequel in more detail.

"As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne. With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever. A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze."

The Faithless Hawk is available on August 18.