16 thrilling science fiction and fantasy books to enchant you this June

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson. Image courtesy Penguin Random House
Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson. Image courtesy Penguin Random House /
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The Cruelest Mercy book cover
The Cruelest Mercy by Natalie Mae. Image courtesy Penguin Random House /

June 2021 release: The Cruelest Mercy – Natalie Mae

The highly anticipated sequel to last year’s The Kinder PoisonThe Cruelest Mercy promises to be just as twisty and thrilling. In it, -the magical kingdom of Orkena is on the brink of war, and the only person who can save it is Zahru, the girl they once doomed to death.

The conclusion of The Kinder Poison left many questions unanswered: whether Zahru’s family survived the destruction of Ater, how close the kingdom is to war, and whether Kasta is still alive. (The presumption of his death is what makes Jet crown prince, after all.)

The Cruelest Mercy begins a month later, where we find Zahru having reconnected with her family and readying things for Jet’s coronation. Of course, her happiness is short-lived, as she soon finds out she not only possesses a gods’ mark that means she’s meant to rule Orkena, but discovers that Kasta is both alive and marked to rule beside her.

The official synopsis describes the story as follows.

"After surviving the Crossing, Zahru has sworn off adventures. While crown prince Jet navigates the looming threat of war, she’s content to simply figure out what the future holds for them. But they’re dealt a devastating blow when prince Kasta returns with a shocking claim: he’s the true winner of the Crossing and the rightful heir, and he bears the gods’ mark as proof. Even more surprising–he’s not the only one. Somehow, Zahru possesses the very same mark, giving her equal right to the throne. The last thing she wants is to rule beside her would-be executioner, but she can’t let Orkena fall into his merciless hands. So Zahru, Jet, and their allies must race against the clock to find a way to stop Kasta, because once he’s crowned, there’s no telling what horrors he’ll unleash to win the war. Zahru will do whatever it takes to keep Kasta from taking the throne…but to stop a villain, is she willing to become one herself?"

The Cruelest Mercy is available on June 15.