Title Trend: Noun of Noun and Noun

Here’s one I know you know: the “Noun of Noun and Noun” title has been a popular trend—especially in YA fantasy—recently. The construction is so prevalent, in fact, that Twitter seems to regularly invite me to find my own title Mad Libs-style: “Your YA fantasy title is “The [last place you went] of [weather outside] and [material of your shirt]” and so forth. (The results? The Emporium of Clouds and Cotton, The School of Sunshine and Leather, or The House of Rain and Satin). I mean . . . you could convince me those were all real lead titles hitting shelves this fall.

But in all seriousness, this rhythmic titling format has graced no shortage of excellent novels in recent memory, so for this trend installment, I’m rounding up some participating YA and adult sf/fantasy hits since Y2K. Let’s begin!

The last year or so has been particularly fruitful for this trend. Recent notables on the scene include Kat Howard’s collection of 16 magical realist stories, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone; Django Wexler’s epic fantasy trilogy starter, Ship of Smoke and Steel; Zeyn Joukhadar’s fantasy-tinged debut, The Map of Salt and Stars; and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican folklore-inspired historical fantasy, Gods of Jade and Shadow. Coming in August are two more—both ocean-themed debuts!—Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows and Mara Rutherford’s Crown of Coral and Pearl. Then in September is Sangu Mandanna’s A House of Rage and Sorrow, the highly anticipated sequel to A Spark of White Fire. The trend shows no signs of slowing; in March of 2020, YA royalty Sarah J. Maas begins a new series with House of Earth and Blood.

This trend has been a steady presence on the YA scene, with plenty of examples from the last decade, starting with Carrie Ryan’s 2009 New York Times best-selling debut, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Since then, we’ve also seen Rae Carson’s Morris Honor Book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns; Jacob Gowan’s A Tale of Light and Shadow; Lori M. Lee’s Gates of Thread and Stone; Natalie Whipple’s House of Ivy and Sorrow; Falling Kingdoms author Morgan Rhodes’s A Book of Spirits and Thieves; Hannah Moskowitz’s A History of Glitter and Blood; Hannah West’s Kingdom of Ash and Briars; Lena Coakley’s Worlds of Ink and Shadow; Melissa Bashardoust’s star-reviewed Girls Made of Snow and Glass; Wendy Laine’s Secrets of Skin and Stone; and Makiia Lucier’s star-reviewed Isle of Blood and Stone (the sequel to which, Song of the Abyss, releases in August).

Mary Robinette Kowal’s novel The Calculating Stars took home the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 2019 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, but Kowal made her novel debut (she was already a known short fiction author) back in 2010 with the opener to the Glamourist Histories series, Shades of Milk and Honey, which is oft succinctly pitched as “Jane Austen with magic.” A Breath of Snow and Ashes, book six in Diana Gabaldon’s blockbuster Outlander series, partakes in the trend, too!

Also north of Y2K: Fred Saberhagen’s Gods of Fire and Thunder, Andrew P. Mayer’s Hearts of Smoke and Steam (the second installment in the Society and Steam trilogy), Sarah Ash’s Lord of Snow and Shadows, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt.

Just since 2015, we’ve also seen M. J. Rose’s The Library of Light and Shadow (the third installment in the Daughters of La Lune series), J. D. Horn’s series opener, The King of Bones and Ashes; Margaret Dilloway’s multigenerational saga, Sisters of Heart and Snow; Hye-Young Pyun’s City of Ash and Red (translated by Sora Kim-Russell); Guy Gavriel Kay’s star-reviewed epic historical fantasy, Children of Earth and Sky; Rachel Neumeier’s Winter of Ice and Iron; Newsflesh trilogy author Mira Grant’s star-reviewed Kingdom of Needle and Bone; and Claire Humphrey’s dark fantasy debut, Spells of Blood and Kin.

The trend really kicks into high gear when it comes to YA series fantasy. On the duology side, we have Jane Nickerson’s Strands of Bronze and Gold, which is followed by A Place of Stone and Shadow; Anne Blankman’s Prisoner of Night and Fog, which is followed by Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke; and Kady Cross’s Sisters of Blood and Spirit, which is followed by Sisters of Salt and Iron.

But the trend is also apparent in hit trilogies. There’s Laini Taylor’s trio, which comprises Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (and also participates in the black-and-white-and-neon cover trend!). Then there’s Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series—A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin—to which three installments will soon be added. While none of the titles have been officially announced, it seems likely the title theme will continue, no?

The future of 2019, too, is bright with more Noun of Noun and Noun installments. Natasha Ngan will follow up Girls of Paper and Fire with Girls of Storm and Shadow in November; and Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the sequel to Tomi Adeyemi’s blockbuster debut, Children of Blood and Bone, will publish in December. And that’s not all! L. Penelope’s Song of Blood and Stone and Whispers of Shadow & Flame, which were independently published in 2015, are being released by St. Martin’s Press this year. (The popular title construction can also be found in the other two entries in Penelope’s Earthsinger Chronicles series, Breath of Dust & Dawn, a novella, and Cry of Metal and Bone, the anticipated third installment). On the adult side of the trend, Curtis Craddock followed up the star-reviewed An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors with A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery in January.

Bonus Title Trend: A Noun Adjective and Adjective

Though grammatically another animal, the following titles offer a similar vibe and cadence to the above books, so I’m including them as honorable mentions: Jessica Cluess’s A Shadow Bright and Burning, A Poison Dark and Drowning, and A Sorrow Fierce and Falling; Jennifer Ellison’s Through Fathoms Dark and Deep; Truthwitch author Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly and A Darkness Strange and Lovely; and Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely and, coming in 2020, A Heart So Fierce and Broken.

How about that for a recap? I expect 2020 will make quick work of outdating this list, but that’s all the more reason to review it now before loading up on a second (third?) helping of these titles. I’ll now leave you with a plug for my forthcoming novel, An Office Max of Noodles and Rainbows. Er, title not final . . .

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About the Author:

A former Booklist intern and current Booklist reviewer, Ellie is a reader and writer based in Chicago. She holds a BA in writing from Wheaton College (IL) and is the assistant to the president at Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

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