The AU’s Most Anticipated Books of 2023: Jul – Sep

Somewhat inexplicably we are over half way through the year. This means, for publishers at least, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas, with September often seeing some of the year’s biggest titles drop. 

We in the AU Books Team aren’t thinking about Christmas just yet, but we are here to bring you some more of our most anticipated books of the year; this time for July through to September. 

Once again we have a strong selection of YA and fantasy fiction, alongside the return of some award-winning literary heavyweights. There’s books that will transport you to 1970s Harlem, or to early 20th century rural Australia; and, from the plantations of Jamaica to the streets of suburban Melbourne. 

With so many books published each month it would be impossible to cover them all. So we’re bringing you the briefest snapshot of what is in store over the next few months. Some of which, we hope, may not have ordinarily caught your attention. 


Crook Manifesto – Colson Whitehead

Hachette | Pub Date: 25th July | Pre-Order HERE

Simon: Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead returns this month with Crook Manifesto, the second book in his Harlem saga. The novel continues the story of Ray Carney who readers were first introduced to in 2021’s Harlem Shuffle, and moves from the hope of the 1960s to grim realities of 1970s New York and America – think trash piling up on the street, crime skyrocketing, and crisis after crisis.

A new Colson Whitehead novel is always a welcome sight, and he once again shows his gift for moving across the boundaries of genres – mixing the literary fiction with genre fiction with great skill and poise. Part crime novel, part historical fiction, part social history, I can’t wait to get my hands on Crook Manifesto and return to morally questionable world of Ray Carney and his associates.

Snapshots from Home – Sasha Wasley

Pantera Press | Pub Date: 4th July | Pre-Order HERE

Emily: This is Sasha Wasley’s first historical novel, after a very successful career as a writer of women’s contemporary fiction and romance, YA paranormal adventures, and middle grade novels, the latter under the pen name Ash Harrier.

So, we know that Wasley can write, but what really excites me about this particular book is the premise. The Snapshots from Home League was a real initiative. But, I’ve never come across mention of it in any historical fiction before. I find it fascinating to delve into what people were doing in country towns in Western Australia while the Great War was waging on elsewhere.

Plus, this novel promises a bit of romance to boot, and who doesn’t need more of that in their life right now?

One Song – A.J. Betts

Pan Macmillan | Pub Date: 25th July | Pre-Order HERE

Jemimah: A YA story about five teens who come together for their love of music to help on of them, Eva, enter Triple J Unearthed and break into the music industry.

I absolutely loved Betts’ last two books, Hive and Rogue. Her world-building is fantastic, and she really gets into the hearts and voices of her characters.

Plus I think this will have a Breakfast-Club, bottle-episode feel to it, which I always enjoy in YA.

Threads That Bind – Kita Hatzopoulou

Penguin | Pub Date: 4th July | Pre-Order HERE

Jess: Based in Greek mythology. Tick. Magical law enforcement. Tick. Enemies to lovers romance. Seems like it! Kick arse cover. Absolutely!

The cover, the blurb and the premise of this book have me absolutely hooked and I am down for whatever magical crime shenanigans ensue.

In Alante, the descendants of the Greek gods live among the mortals, although ‘other-born’ are treated with suspicion and prejudice. Io is a descendant of the Fates, able to see the threads that link and bind all lives together. She uses her powers as a private investigator, but things start to spiral when she witnesses an unusual murder – one where the murder’s thread is already severed.

Unquiet – E. Saxey

Titan Books | Pub Date: 18th July | Pre-Order HERE

Jodie: London 1893. Grieving the loss of her brother-in-law, Judith lives a lonely life, retreating to her books and art classes.

But one evening, seeking solace in a strange ritual, Judith discovers Sam – alive and with no memory of the past year…

Gothic horror? Rituals? The terror of grief? A mystery to solve? Described as being perfect for fans of The Haunting of Hill House?

I’m all in!


God Forgets About The Poor – Peter Polites

Ultimo Press | Pub Date: 2nd August | Pre-Order HERE

Simon: God Forgets About The Poor is the third novel from the award-winning novelist Peter Polites. The novel is described as “a beautifully told tale of one woman’s journey from a village in Greece to a working class life in Australia”, and as a “son’s love letter to a migrant mother”. 

I’m a big fan of Polites’ previous novel Down The Hume and The Pillars, and have been keen to get my hands on this one since it was announced. From the little I’ve managed to glean online, the novel is based upon his mother’s experiences in Greece and then Australia. The few snippets of reviews I’ve seen online suggest this is Polites’ best work yet. So roll on August – I’m ready!

Learned By Heart – Emma Donoghue

Pan Macmillan | Pub Date: 29th August | Pre-Order HERE

Emily: Adding to the already moving, richly told and gripping collection of historical fiction from Emma Donoghue, Learned By Heart is the breathtaking story of two young girls on the margins of life, forging a connection that will last a lifetime.

Real-life historical figure Anne Lister (of Gentleman Jack) fame is the protagonist of Donoghue’s new novel, and I for one am very excited to see Donoghue back in historical fiction territory. My favourites of hers are those where she looks at people on the fringes of history, relationships kept secret, and characters that are larger than life.

This one immediately makes me think of Frog Music, which I loved and has stayed with me for a long time. I hope Learned by Heart will have a similar effect.

Ordinary Gods and Monsters – Chris Womersley

Pan Macmillan | Pub Date: 29th August | Pre-Order HERE

Jemimah: Nick has just finished high school, everyone else in his life is going through their own hard times, and he isn’t ready for his life to begin.

Then one hot night his best friend Marion’s father is killed in a hit-and-run, and before they know it, they’re following a tip from a local psychic into the dark underbelly of the suburbs.

A murder-mystery noir set in Melbourne’s suburbs, with a hint of the supernatural, this sounds like a strange and compelling read.

Never A Hero – Vanessa Len

Allen & Unwin | Pub Date: 29th August | Pre-Order HERE

Jess: I devoured the first book in this series, Only a Monster, and absolutely adored Len’s writing and storytelling. I’ve been desperately awaiting the sequel ever since I put down the first, and have been stalking Len’s Instagram for each announcement. I can’t believe it’s nearly here!

Following on from the events of Book 1, Joan has saved her family, Nick is now a normal boy and Aaron is once again her enemy. But when the true threat emerges, a mysterious and powerful member of the Monster Court, Joan must once again regather her allies and make the difficult choices about just how monstrous she’s willing to become.

I need this book in my hands write now!

Riding The Nightmare – Lisa Tuttle

Valancourt Books | Pub Date: 22nd August | Pre-Order HERE

Jodie: When Neil Gaiman writes the intro to a book and describes the writer as ‘the finest practitioner of unsettling fiction writing today’, you’d be forgiven for getting a little bit overexcited.

Riding The Nightmare promises to be another unnerving collection of macabre tales from Bram Stoker Award finalist Lisa Tuttle.

Keep the lights on for this one, just in case.


The Fraud – Zadie Smith

Penguin | Pub Date: 12th September | Pre-Order HERE

Simon: Zadie Smith returns in September with her first historical novel, The Fraud. The novel takes inspiration from a real-life nineteenth century imposture trial, and tells the stories of Eliza Touchet, a Scottish housekeeper, with a novelist cousin, and Andrew Bogle, a formerly enslaved valet and ‘star witness’ in the most talked about legal case in London (and the country) the Tichborne Trial.

Smith, is undoubtedly a talented writer, and I’ve had this one on pre-order since it was announced. It’s been described as “an exceptionally witty and moving portrait of London and Jamaica two hundred years ago”, and looks to explore ideas of truth, fiction, authenticity and the mystery of other people. It sounds 100% like my kind of thing and I can’t wait!

The Vaster Wilds – Lauren Groff

Random House | Pub Date: 19th September | Pre-Order HERE

Emily: Readers saw what Lauren Groff could do with historical fiction when she brought out Matrix a couple of years ago and showed us the power of a hoard of unruly nuns.

This novel, and the trilogy it begins, promises action, strong female characters, rich historical settings and the turmoil of an empire crashing down – i.e. it sounds like a page turner.

We know the world has loved Lauren Groff since Obama told us all to read Fates and Furies (and some readers will have loved her for a long time prior to that), but each book takes her from strength to strength and it’s a joy to read along as that happens.

The Undetectables – Courtney Smyth

Titan Books | Pub Date: 26th September | Pre-Order HERE

Jemimah: In the Occult town of Wrackton, full of witches, faieries, trolls, ghosts and vampires, a serial killer is on the loose.

The killer does strange things to their victims, but leaves no evidence or clues behind. So in comes the Undetectables, a detective agency compiled of three witches and a ghost in a cat costume.

This group of unlikely crime solvers must undergo hijinks and shenanigans to find the killer, before they become victims themselves…

The Pomegranate Gate – Ariel Kaplan

Erewhon Books | Pub Date: 26th September | Pre-Order HERE

Jess: This book was brought to my attention by way of another member of the AU Review team and it looks absolutely incredible!

Set across two worlds linked by a pomegranate gate and bound together by ancient conflict, this epic fantasy follows two unlikely heroes. Toba Peres can speak but she can’t shout; she can walk but she can’t run; and she can write in five languages… with both hands at the same time.

Naftaly Cresques dreams every night of an orange-eyed stranger; when awake, he sees things that aren’t real; and he carries a book he can never lose and never read. When the Queen of Sefarad orders all the nation’s Jews to leave or convert, Toba and Naftaly are forced to flee and in doing so, will discover their fate.

Dark Woods, Deep Water Jelena Dunato

Ghost Orchid Press | Pub Date: 19th September | Pre-Order HERE

Jodie: Lying in wait in an enchanted castle, the followers of the Goddess Morana sacrifice those who cross their threshold.

One night, three travellers become trapped in the castle. But there is only one way out – one of them must die.

For fans of Katherine Arden, Naomi Novik, and just good ol’ gothic horror in general, this Slavic folklore inspired tale has me absolutely SALIVATING.

Can’t wait to get stuck into this one!


Thanks to Emily Paull, Jemimah Brewster, Jess Gately, and Jodie Sloan for their contributions to this article.

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.