10 must-read new YA book releases to make your December merry

Warmaidens by Kelly Coon. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House
Warmaidens by Kelly Coon. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House /
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The Bitterwine Oath – Hannah West

A dark creepy tale about an ancient curse, a cult of wronged women, and the dozens of men who keep getting murdered to ward off dark forces? Sign us up right now.

Truthfully, Hannah West’s The Bitterwine Oath has a standout premise in a what feels like a sea of cult and cult-related novels this year. (This isn’t even the only novel that involves a cult that will appear on this list!)

In it, the town of San Solano, Texas is rapidly becoming notorious in the world of true crime, as it has a dark history full of unsolved murders and urban legends aboutvengeful women. What those people don’t know – is that most of its true.

In 1921, four young women cast a spell  to expose their abusers – and mistakenly poisoned 12 men by mistake. The curse they unleashed claims 12 boys every 50 years. And now, a century later, eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter, a descendent of one of the original witches, has just discovered that the women of San Solano need her help to prevent another similar tragedy.

The official synopsis describes the story in greater detail.

"San Solano, Texas is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copy-cat killer? Or a man-hating murderess? Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real, and magical. And they want her to join. The more Nat learns of the Wardens’ supernatural history, the more she wonders about the real culprits behind the town’s ritualistic murders. Are the Wardens protecting San Solano from even darker forces? As the anniversary of the murders draws near, the town grows restless. Residents start getting “claimed” as this year’s planned victims, including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year. Nat knows that no one is safe. Can she and the sisterhood stop the true evil from claiming their town?"

The Bitterwine Oath is available on December 1.