The Ultimate List of YA Fantasy Books: 70+ Best Picks
We love YA fantasy books so gathering a list of our favorites was easy! The hard part? determining which category to put these YA fantasy books.
One of the best things about this genre is that books fit into so many different sub-genres. A book can have romance and be historical fantasy or a book can be a series but also a fairy tale re-telling.
But the best thing about these books is that every young adult fantasy will take you away to a different time or place and let you immerse yourself in a new reality for a little while.
**YA Fantasy Book Updated 9/12/2022**
YA Fantasy Book Sections
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Best of 2022 // Best of 2021 // Witch // Vampire // Historical Fantasy // Pirate // Fae // Fairytale Retellings // Magical Realism // Dystopian // Paranormal // Royal // Diverse // YA Fantasy Series // Stand Alone // Angel // Romance // Circus // Magic School // Greek// Dragon
Best Fantasy Books for Teens 2022
Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
Jacks has betrayed Evangaline for the last time and she swears that she will never trust him again. But now, Evangaline finds herself cursed and must rely on Jacks to help her try and break the curse.
Stephanie Garber never fails to write a YA fantasy that is unputdownable. Beware the ending. I cannot believe I have to wait to find out what happens because there is no way this story is over.
In A Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
This is the first book in a YA fantasy duopoly that will leave you ready for the next book. Rhea and Lexos are twins born to a family that has ruled for centuries using magic and paints the stars, changes the seasons, and can cause death by uttering a name.
Their father is a tyrant who has a tedious grip on his power and no willingness to accept it. Rhea and Lexos are trying to keep the family together but magic, lies, and deceit will take their toll.
The writing in this book is so vivid, the plot is fast-paced and the descriptions of magic feel the same as those in The Night Circus. This book was hard to put down.
Best YA Fantasy Books 2021
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
This debut novel is billed as an Ethiopian-inspired YA fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre but I think the Jane Eyre part is the least excited part of this fantastical tale. (Which is saying something!)
I’ve never read any YA Fantasy book like this one. The world building is so unique. Andromeda is an exorcist who cleanses households of the evil eye. Magnus Rochester is desperate to have the evil eye removed from his household but no other exorcist will take the job.
The chemistry between these two is intense and instant, the scenes of terror throughout the book are ideal for the haunting season, and the subtle Jane Eyre references bring the whole thing up a notice.
The Last Graduate (The Scholomonce #2) by Noami Novik
Naomi Novik is a master of YA fantasy and this book os no exception. Every time I read one of her books, I am amazed at the worlds she is able to create.
The second book in the Scholomance series starts on the first day of senior year. El’s mother has warned her to stay away from Orion, the school seems to be out to get El and they have graduation to prepare for. Fair warning, the ending of this book had me scream out loud and practically throwing the book against the wall. Don’t say I didn’t warn you but it was worth every second. When does the third book come out?
All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman
Seven families compete every twenty years over control of high magick. When the Blood Moon rises, the blood veil falls and each family chooses one child to compete to the death. The stakes are high and the prize is epic.
I loved this book and it left me simultaneously freaked out and wanting more. The parents in this book are brutal and willing to sacrifice their children willingly. It is perfect for fans of the Hunger Games.
Witch YA Fantasy Books
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
I absolutely loved this book about Sunny, a twelve-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two brothers in Nigeria. Sunny is albino and teased for her looks.
When Sunny discovers that she is a “free agent”, someone with magical abilities whose parents are not magic, she enters a world she didn’t know existed. Sunny and her three fellow magical students must study and learn their abilities in order to stop the Black Hat Killer before he brings about complete destruction.
Unlike anything that I have read before, the story is woven beautifully and is a must-read YA fantasy book.
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson
I loved this book and read it in only a few days. Once a year, Wren is chased through the forest by a group of boys who deliberately taunt her and terrify her. They are judges- a powerful group of families who control magic. Little do they know that Wren is an Augur- another magical family who has to keep her identity hidden.
The war between the Judges and the Augur is old and deep. In order to save her family, Wren must take an internship within the walls of a Judge’s home and risk everything. The lies and the deceit are spellbinding I cannot wait to read the next book in the series
Spells Trouble by P.C Cast and Kristin Cast
Hunter and Mercy Goode are twins who are about the celebrate their birthdays and learn what it means to be the gatekeepers.
They are witches. When trees start dying, the gates start opening and people start dying, the twins are not prepared for what they must do to save the town and themselves.
This is the first book in a trilogy and although I enjoyed it, there were a few things that disappointed me. I also think that the plot twist could have been less obvious. Also, It was clear that this is the first book because the story ends rather abruptly and leaves you hanging (a huge pet peeve). Now I have to wait until April of 2022 to know what happens next! Ugh!
Thank you Macmillian Audio for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Watchmakers Daughter (Glass and Steel#1 by C.J Archer
I read this book in a day. I then read the next three is as many days. I am not sure what is so addicting in them but they are just that- addicting. There is a little magic, a great story, and a whole lot of chemistry going on in these books.
India Steel does not know what to do when her father dies and her fiancé steals her inheritance- the watch store where she always worked. Members of the watchmaking guild are afraid of her. Left with no other choice, India takes a job with Matthew Glass. A charistmatic, if not mysterious, man from America.
Do you love witch books? Check out this amazing list!
Young Adult Vampire Fantasy Books
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Twilight started a phenomenon and obsession with vampires in the same way that Harry Potter created an obsession with magic. This is obviously my opinion but I am sticking with it. As YA fantasy books go, this is a definite must-read.
This vampire trilogy is definitely lacking the gore and fear factor and makes up for it with an amazing romance. I mean, I think there are people who still have their “team Jacob” and “team Edward” shirts. For the record, I was always team Edward.
If you have not read this series yet, what are you waiting for?
Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith
The popular CW show was a best-selling series first. Brother Stephen and Damon, are both vampires who have come back to their hometown.
Damon wants revenge on Stephen, Stephen wants peace with his brother, and Elena is the girl stuck in between. The books and the show are different, but if you like the show, you should try these books too.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Royal vampires and their bodyguards train at the famed Vampire Academy where this book is set. Lissa is a princess and her best friend, Rose, is training to be her protector.
When a series of crazy events happen that threaten Lissa’s safety, Rose is on a mission to figure out who is behind the threats….. if she doesn’t get distracted while lusting over her teacher first.
For more Vampire fantasy novels, check out our list of best Vampire Fantasy Books.
Historical Fantasy Books for Teens
All that Glitters (Enchanteé #1) by Gita Trelease
Camille is an orphan who must use magic to transform pieces of metal into money in order to buy food for her sister. But when the magic starts to fail, Camille must use dark magic to transform herself into a baroness in the court of Louis the 16th.
Soon, the dark magic takes its toll and Camille must make a choice between reality and magic. When revolution erupts, Camille must determine how to survive.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
This YA historical fantasy takes place in Paris in 1889 where coercion, magic, betrayal, and murder are the norm. At the Exposition Universelle World Fair is an artifact that will give the owner magical Forging abilities.
Severin and his fiercely loyal friends come together to take the artifact in the hope of also obtaining Serverin’s inheritance. Severin finds himself torn between his loyalty to his friends and his desire for revenge. I loved this first book in this YA fantasy series.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
I listened to the audible version of this book and I was hysterical. It is a twist on the historical tale of Lady Jane Grey the 9 days Queen.
Instead of Catholics and Protestants, this book gave us people who could transform into animals and those who could not. It was ridiculous but funny and the authors cleverly wove in historical details and sayings attributing them to the characters.
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Louise Le Blanche is a witch, Reid Diggory is a witch hunter, but when they are forced to be married Lou has to keep her identity a secret and try not to fall for her handsome husband.
Set in the pre-industrial age in Paris, France, this historical fantasy book is perfect for lovers of YA! It’s got funny, fierce heroines, a steamy love story, and a cast that is actually diverse! I devoured all three books in this YA fantasy series.
My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand
The latest book by this writing trio is another historical fantasy with a twist. This time it’s Mary Queen of Scot’s story that gets the magic treatment.
Mary can transform at will to a mouse, but she needs to keep is a secret as shape-shifting is frowned upon. Can she be the Queen the country needs, win Francis’s heart, and keep her secret?
For more books like these, check out our list of Historical Fantasy Books
Pirate Fantasy Books for Teens
Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young
I’m not the resident YA fantasy girl, but HOLY YES BATMAN. This story of a bad-ass female pirate was incredible. Normally, I only like fantasies if they have a strong romantic element. But in Fable, I found myself drawn in by our namesake character and the vivid world description.
I am also a sucker for pirates and there are never enough YA fantasy books about pirates, in my opinion so, this is a double win for me.
Well done, Reese with this pick
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
I loved this unique Peter Pan story that had me thinking about the true meaning of Neverland and the stories of the lost boys. Wendy Darling and her parents have never been able to move on after her brothers disappeared mysteriously five years ago.
Wendy has no memories of the 6 months she was gone and no explanation for why she came home and her brothers didn’t. Now, as children start to go missing again, it feels too similar to be a coincidence. This is a smart, well-written, well thought out twisted Peter Pan story. Thank you to Lobro.fm for my copy of this book.
The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Flora and her brother are pirates on the Dove. In order to protect her identity, she has become Florian and is tasked with protecting Lady Evelyn on the ship until the time she can be sold.
Flora does not intend to fall in love with Evelyn and when the two free a captured mermaid, they change the fate of more than just her.
I am so glad that someone recommended this book to me. YA fantasy books are a huge genre and this is one of those books that really did not get the visibility that it should have. This book is so well written and is filled with magic while also exploring the power of love.
Click to see our Ultimate List of Feel Good Books!
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry
This Peter Pan retelling finds Peter aboard a ship of sailors. He and a bunch of other orphans aboard the ship have to protect a treasure locked in a chest hidden on the ship from pirate captain Black Stache.
Think of this as the origin story of Tinkerbell, her fairy dust, and how Peter gained his ability to fly.
YA Fantasy Books about Fae
Zodiac Academy: The Awakening by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
Whew. I have found my newest YA Fantasy series addiction. Orphan twins Tory and Darcy find out they are actually Fae after their 18th birthday. And not just any Fae, they are the heirs to the throne and they only need to graduate from Zodiac Academy to claim their throne.
The problem comes in the form of the 4 Heirs – The boys in each elemental order who have been raised to share the throne and rule Solaria together in the Twins’ absence.
They aren’t planning to give up their claim anytime soon and they use their considerable magic in the air, fire, earth, and water elements to put these girls to the test.
This series is on fire hot, with lots of steam, bullying romance, and deadly situations. Don’t read this one if you are under 18, but if you are looking for books like ACOTAR, you’ll devour this one too!
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
A stand-alone YA fantasy romance? These are few and far between, but this one is perfect for fans of ACOTAR.
This story of a human falling in love with a Fae prince has tons of elements for Sarah J. Maas fans to love. From Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn Fae courts, to enchantments and a forbidden love story, this is one of the fae books you will want to add to your TBR.
I fell hard for Rook and Isobel. I think you all will too!
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
This book has a cult-like following for a reason. The first book in the series is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in the world of Prythian. Magical creatures, humans, and fae are all prominent in the book.
This is a fast-paced, addicting, romance fantasy series. As YA fantasy books go, this series is definitely steamy. A love triangle develops by the end of the story and book 2 is jaw-dropping! You will want to binge-read this series in one week.
If you loved ACOTAR, check out this list of books just like it.
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of Air #1) by Holly Black
When Jude was seven years old, her parents were murdered and she was taken to live in the high court of the Faeries with her two sisters. Now, ten years later, Jude is living as a human among faeries and trying to find her place in Court.
This YA fantasy if filled with angst, treachery, and drama that makes it completely addicting. As a matter of fact, I ordered the sequel the minute that I was done with this book, which is the first in a trilogy.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
This epic book series from Sarah J. Maas was started when Sarah was still a teenager! It’s all about Celaena, an imprisoned assassin offered freedom by acting as the champion for Prince Dorain.
As she prepared to earn her freedom in the competition, she begins training sessions with the captain of the guard. As she tried to acclimate to court life, the prince is drawn to her and a love-triangle forms.
The series gets better and better with each book! A total must-read for ACOTAR fans.
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
This was a fun quick YA read about Dana Hathaway: a half-human, half-Faerie 16-year-old. She leaves her alcoholic mother to go to Avalon and meet her father for the first time.
Avalon is the gateway to the fairy realm and she will soon question who she should trust when she discovers she is a Faeriewalker, someone who can travel between the human and faerie world. Now, that she is caught between two worlds, she does not know who to trust and everyone seems to want something from her.
Fairy Tale Retellings
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
I adored this book by Novik. I loved the strong female characters, the story, and the writing. This book is an adaptation of Rumplestiltskin that is complex and wonderful and the ending had me in tears.
Miryem’s family are moneylenders but her family is in poverty because her father does not collect his debts. In an effort to save her family, Miryem begins collecting the debts herself and soon a rumor begins that she can turn silver into gold. Soon, these rumors spread to the king of Staryk and Miryem’s life changes forever when he comes to see if the rumors are true.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
If you love A Court of Thorns and Roses, this is the perfect book for you. It is another YA fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I read it for a buddy read with some bookstagram friends.
I really enjoyed this book although it is definitely a lot tamer than the other books in the series. It is not a typical retelling because it has more of a love triangle but, I don’t want to reveal more. It’s the first in the series.
A Spindle Splinter by Alex E. Harrow
This is the story of sleeping beauty like you have never read it before. Zinnia is turning 21 and it is the last birthday that she will have. She has a rare medical condition in which nobody has ever lived past twenty-one. Zinnia has always thought that she is a modern sleeping beauty.
Charm, Zinnia’s best friend, wants to make the last birthday special but, when Zinnia pricks her finger on the spinning wheel, she finds herself in another dimension with another sleeping beauty.
This modern Sleeping Beauty gives the power back to the women whose lives are stolen. It is a quick read that I absolutely loved because the women are no longer helpless.
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
I read this as research for our Books to Read if you Love A Court of Thorns and Roses post. It’s another beauty and the beast retelling, except this Beauty is more like Katniss Everdeen. No ballgowns or talking tea-pots, just a female huntress out to avenge her father’s death and free the beast from his prison.
Light on the romance, heavy on the hunting descriptions. Yet there was a charm in this tale set in the wilds of Russia that I found as captivating as the magical firebird in the story.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
“There was and there was not.” This fairy tale adaptation is about a girl cursed with being poisonous to anyone that touches her and her quest to free herself from her curse.
What could have been another princess in distress story became a story about finding your own power and using it.
Cinder by Melissa Meyer
This 4 book series is set in the future in a time of disease and war. This series is part twisted fairy tale, part dystopia, and part sci-fi fantasy.
Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel are re-imagined as you have never seen them before. All of them are smart and strong women far from the helpless damsels in distress we know them to be.
The first book introduces us to Cinder. She is a cyborg (part human, part machine) who lives with her……..you guessed it….. two step-sisters and step-mother. Some might say that Cinder is synonymous with YA fantasy books. The series has it all.
If you’ve read and loved Cinder, check out this list of books just like it!
YA Magic Realism Books
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is a book that is narrated by Death. He tells the story of Liesel, a young girl in Nazi Germany in 1939. Liesel is living with her foster parents an learning to read from stolen books.
She also shares these books with the Jewish man who is hiding in her basement. This book is brilliant, powerful, poignant and unforgettable. while technically a YA book, this book is literary fiction at its finest.
If you love historical fiction check out our Ultimate List of Historical Fiction Books
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
I listened to this feel-good book and it was unreal. I want my son to read this so badly but, I also want him to listen to it as well. The full-cast audiobook plays music so it is a full sensory experience.
The story is three tales woven together in one with a magical harmonica at the center. The story follows a harmonica as it lands in the hands of Freidrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California set during WWII.
Part fairy tale and part historical fiction, this is one of the novels about music that is amazing for middle-grade and adults alike. We even included it on our list of Book Lists for 13-Year-Olds
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
This is a perfect YA Fantasy read with just the right amount of romance, conflict, mystery, and magic. In a small town of Five Fingers, Michigan, live the O‘Donnells and the Angerts, two families feuding for generations. Jack “June” O’Donnell has always stayed away from the Angert family with no real explanation for the cause of the feud.
When June meets Saul Angert, everything changes. She can’t seem to stay away from him and strange things begin to happen. June decides she needs answers and embarks on a journey that will take her to places she never thought were possible.
This is an abbreviated list of magical realism books, for more check out our complete magical realism books post.
Dystopian YA Fantasy Books
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
The Hunger Games meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this haunting and disturbing tale. At the age of sixteen, all women must go into the wild for a year to release their magic. The people of Garner County call this the Grace Year and speaking of it is forbidden.
As Tierney James Grace YEar approaches, she dreams of a world in which women aren’t pitted against each other in a battle to survive. This dystopian YA fantasy book is eery and completely creepy. I could not put it down
Divergent by Veronica Roth
In this trilogy, Chicago society is divided into factions that are each dedicated to a certain virtue. Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. On a selected day, all 16-year-olds gather to choose their faction.
Beatrice must make the choice between staying with her family and becoming who she was meant to be. This first book in the trilogy is unlike anything that I had read before. It drew me in and kept me turning the pages until the end. Of course, nothing is really as it seems in this dystopian YA Fantasy.
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
I had heard so much about this book and was so excited to read it. I have a hard time not comparing this book to the Divergent Series and The Hunger Games which were both amazing.
This book is part YA fantasy and part sci-fi in a world of predator cities. Giant cities chase small towns and devour them in an effort to survive.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is the first book on the Hunger Games series and it is epic! In the aftermath of what was once North America, there are 12 Districts surrounding the capitol.
Each year, each district sending one boy and one girl to fight to the death in a competition called “The Hunger Games”. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as a tribute to save her younger sister from the certain death of the games.
If you love the Hunger Games, check out these 24 books just like it!
Paranormal Fantasy for Young Adults
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
While this is technically a middle-grade book, it was SCARY. For this reason, it is a perfect addition to our YA fantasy books. I absolutely loved it but, it should not be read by anyone who is afraid of ghost stories.
When Cass is rescued from drowning, she is suddenly able to maneuver between the land of the living and the other side of the veil. The boy that rescued her is a ghost and he becomes her best friend.
Her parents are ghost hunters and then they get a job filming a tv show in Scotland, they all pack up and go, including Cass’s ghost. What they find is scary, creepy, and a fabulously fun read.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
When Jacob experiences a family tragedy, he finds himself on a remote island off the coast of Whales. He Discovers a crumbling ruin that was once Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
As Jacob explores the ruins, he finds clues that lead him to believe that these children might be alive even though it seems impossible. This fantastic story is mixed with vintage photographs that bring the characters to life. And while this pick is also a middle-grade book, it is intriguing enough to include it in a list of YA fantasy books.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
This book started so strong for me, I was completely enraptured with this world. As the story continued, I found the story changed tones. What was once a hopeful story, slowly became a story of unreachable love.
200 years ago Weep was cut off from the world so much so that nobody can even remember the city’s real name. When Lazio starts dreaming of a blue-skinned woman, he cannot forget her.
This YA fantasy has paranormal elements, warriors and magic. It is unlike any other.
Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg
Ok, so technically this YA fantasy book is not about ghosts but it is about ancient spirits who use humans as their vessels. Sandis is at the command of a powerful spirit who can change her into a powerful weapon on a whim.
In order to save herself and escape Sandis must run. She finds an ally in Rone, a thief who owns a device that gives him one minute of immortality every 24 hours. Sandis must trust One if she is going to evade capture and probable death.
Royal YA Fantasy Books
Royal Replicas by Michael Pierce
Talk about a guilty pleasure! I devoured this YA Fantasy book in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t stay away and can’t wait to read the next 3 in the series.
Victoria has just learned that she and 6 other girls are clones created to replace the royal heir, Amelia. Now she must compete to win both her title and the hand of a prince.
This is literally the perfect book for people who loved The Selection Series (which is basically everyone.)
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
I read this story in just two days and then passed it on to my son who loved it too. Think Cinderella with a twist. When princess Theodosia’s mother (the Queen) is killed, she is taken to live with the conquering family.
She becomes the princess of ashes, donning a crown made of Ashes as a reminder of who she is. This is a great YA fantasy book and the first in a trilogy series.
Furyborn by Clare Legrand (The Empirium Trilogy)
This book is a true YA fantasy for the fantasy lover. I love the strong female characters that are the center of this book. It is fast-moving and non-stop action.
Rielle and Eliana are separated by 1000 years but, their stories will come together in an amazing way. The plot is intricate and the characters are believable. I cannot wait to read the rest of this trilogy.
American Royals by Katharine McGee
I finally got around to reading this YA royal romance! I’m a huge royal romance fan, and this book has been sitting on my shelf forever! The story set-up is this.
What if George Washington had become America’s monarch instead of its president? How would his descendants be ruling the country today? I mean. What a fun plotline! This book was pure fun and honestly would make for a perfect beach read in addition to a must-read YA fantasy book.
For more royal reads, check out this post.
Diverse YA Fantasy Books for Teens
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
I really enjoyed this YA fantasy book and the original story within the pages. I listened to the amazing audiobook and I loved listening to the story the way that the story was intended to sound.
When magic disappeared from Orisha, Zelie’s world changed forever. When the king ordered all the Maji killed, Zelie was left without a mother or magic. She is on a quest to find revenge and bring magic back to Orisha.
Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Amani is a girl who lives on a moon ruled by a cruel and ruthless empire. When she is abducted and taken to the palace she realizes that she looks almost identical to the Princess. Amani must start life anew as a double for the princess or face possible death.
But, as Amani starts a new life, she discovers more about herself and the royal that she must now become. She must immerse herself in the world of royal courts and politics while convincing everyone, including the princess’s fiance, that she is the princess.
The story is fast-moving and twists and turns throughout. It is part sci-fi, part YA fantasy, and part romance for young adults / new adults. I love the character development and the drama that is so typical of any 18-year-old – especially if you are a spoiled brat, entitled princess.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
I loved the first book. I finished it and immediately rushed into book 2. The people in the world of Orleans are devoid of natural beauty and need The Belles to use their magical treatments to be beautiful. The most powerful of the Belles is known as the favorite and works for the royal family to set trends and perform beauty treatments.
But what happens when a sick queen and a greedy princess have differing views on ruling the people of Orléans and The Belles of the world? The world-building in this YA Fantasy was wonderful and the descriptions of the elaborate beauty treatments painted a vivid picture. The characters were flawed but wonderfully constructed and the teacup pets were adorable.
The Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I don’t know what took me so long to read this amazing YA fantasy book. I heard such great things and I did not want to be disappointed but, I was also afraid that it would be dark. Somehow, despite being about the god of Death, this was not a dark or heavy book.
Casiopea lives in her grandfather’s home with her mother where is forced to clean. She dreams of leaving someday. When she accidentally frees the Mayan god of death, he attaches himself to her and she must go with him to free him from his brother’s curse.
I loved this book and its completely unique story.
YA Fantasy Series
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
This YA fantasy book which is based on Russian folklore was a slow build. I wasn’t sure about it until about halfway through when I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I went out to buy the sequel (The Girl in the Tower) immediately because I needed to find out what happens.
Vasya lives with her family on the edge of a Russian forest where they hear stories of the Blue-eyed winter demon and honor household spirits. When Vasya’s dad brings home a new stepmother who forbids these practices, misfortunes follow. Vasya now must use the gifts that she has kept hidden all these years.
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
I read this book a few years ago when we first started the blog. This book was one of the books that got me back into reading YA fantasy, once of my favorite genres to read.
This historical fantasy takes place in 18th century Cairo. When Nahri accidentally summons Dara, a Djinn warrior, she is swept to Daevabad, the City of Brass.
Soon Nahri must learn who to trust in a city when magic cannot shield her from the danger that threatens from all around her.
Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
I was so excited when I learned that Netflix was making this into a series. I think it will be amazing on screen and I am so curious to see if they keep to the book or change things, which is so often the case.
Alina Starkov is an orphan who has never excelled in anything. When her regiment is sent into the fold and her best friend is in danger of being killed, she unleashes a power, unlike anything anyone has seen. It may be the answer to the wars that have ravaged her nation.
If you love this book, be sure to check out our post Books Like Shadow and Bone or Leigh Bardugo Books in Order: Complete Guide to 18 Amazing Books. It’s one of the most popular Netflix book adaptations.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
This is such an original book that is a fairy tale (think original Grimm’s tales as opposed to Disney) that meets the modern day. Alice is 17 when she learns about the existence of magic and that the bad luck that has been following her may not be luck at all.
I kept thinking about what would have happened to Harry Potter if he did not know about magic until he was 17. This YA fantasy book is so original and fun, I knew I had to include it in this list.
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Cyra is known for her deadly ability to inflict pain on others with a touch. Her brother is a dictator who takes joy in using her as a weapon against anyone who opposes him.
When Akos and his brother are kidnapped from the neighboring enemy country, he has to fight to survive. He realizes that Cyra is fighting for her survival too and perhaps they have more in common than they ever thought possible. When war comes, they will have to choose between love and history.
YA Fantasy Stand Alone Books
Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross
I adored this stand-alone YA fantasy novel in which local wardens are responsible for recording dreams and later fighting the same dreams when they appear on the night of the new moon.
Clementine is training to be a warden under her father, but he loses his post, she swears revenge on the challengers. While plotting her revenge, she also seeks to overturn the curse that’s haunting the entire kingdom.
The Extraordinaries by T.J Klune
Nick Bell is the most popular fan-fiction writer of the Extraordinaries. When Nick has an unexpected encounter with Shadow Star, his superhero crush, Nick decides to become a superhero.
With the help of his friends- an eclectic group of teens, Nick will do almost anything to become an Extraordinary if his ADHD doesn’t take him off course. This book was laugh-out-loud hilarious. I loved this YA coming of age story.
Kaleidoscope by Brian Selznick
I think Brian Selznick has an amazing mind to portray such a poignant story through a series of short stories. These come together with common themes and characters as the stories slowly overlap and intertwine. I think this is a beautiful piece of writing that will be completely lost on the younger audience to which it is intended.
This is NOT a middle grade book in my opinion. It is a piece of YA fantasy fiction that becomes increasingly sad as the whole picture becomes clearer. The relationship between two individuals over space, time, and dimensions is explored through love, loss and grief. This is one of the heavier books on this list.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Wow! This book is an absolutely epic adult fairy tale. It is complex and so unlike any traditional American fairy tale retelling. An enchanted wood, magic, and mythical creatures grab you and pull you in. This is not a typical damsel-in-distress tale so do not let it fool you.
Agnieszka lives next to a wood filled with dark powers. The village depends on the Dragon to protect them from these dark powers. In exchange, one woman from the village must go and serve him every ten years. To everyone’s surprise, he chooses Agnieszka.
I don’t want to say more about this book and ruin its magic. But, if you love fairy tale retellings or are looking for books like ACOTAR, this is a perfect pick.
Angel YA Fantasy Books
Fallen by Lauren Kate
I picked up the first two books in this series after turning in a few books and quickly fell in love with the first book and the story of Daniel and Luce’s love.
Luce has been sent to Sword and Cross boarding school, a place for other troubled kids like her. The minute she gets to the school, Daniel catches her eye but he will not give her the time of day. But there is definitely more to Daniel and Luce will discover his secrets no matter what the cost.
This Fae series needed to be included in the best fantasy books for teens
Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I loved the Disney cartoon Gargoyles when I was a little girl, so when I saw a YA Fantasy book about the creatures, I knew I needed it. I read this to help ease me out of my House of Earth and Blood book hangover and it was a perfect read.
It’s actually a spin-off of one of Armentrout’s other series, which I didn’t know until after I read the story. I didn’t feel like I missed anything having read this first. Gargoyles are Wardens out to fight demons and protect humans, and one special human in particular. It’s more romance than fantasy.
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
A friend of mine recommended these YA fantasy books to me a while ago, but I was turned off by the dated cover. This month I finally decided to tackle the series and I’m so glad I did!
Good and Bad Angels roam the earth, here to fulfill their purpose. When Clara starts getting visions of her purpose, she and her family move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming so she can save a boy from a fire. But will it all go to plan? I’ve already started the second book in this trilogy
YA Fantasy Romance Books
Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
Just when I thought that nothing could top the Caraval series, Stephanie Garber writes this book. This YA fantasy will not disappoint her die-hard fans and for those that have never read Caraval, you can fall in love for the first time. I absolutely loved this book.
Evangeline Fox was raised in her father’s curiosity shop where she grew up learning about the legends. When Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry her step sister, she offers the prince of hearts anything in exchange for stopping the wedding. This deal takes Evangeline to the North where the real adventure begins.
Thank you so much to Flatiron for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
I have been on some weird dystopian kick recently – which is funny because I had to be forced to read the Hunger Games. Now I can’t seem to stop! I’m sure I’ll switch gears this summer but right now I’m loving this story.
In this world, those with red blood are common and those with silver blood are elite with superhuman abilities. In the war against Silvers and Reds, Mare Barrow is special and so is this book. The ending was a total shock! I couldn’t put it down.
The Selection by Kiera Cass
We have talked about this series so many times that it has its own blog page of books that are similar. It is so much fun- think hunger games meets the bachelor. But, in this case, the bachelor also happens to be the future king. Can you imagine if William held a contest to see who would be the future princess?
Circus YA Fantasy Books
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
When it comes to YA Fantasy books, this one is a classic. The story begins with letters from Scarlett to Legend, the leader of Caraval- a game played once a year in a far-off destination.
Every year, every time it is played, the game is different. Filled with magic and wonder, this destination-based competition is played by Scarlet as she tries to get this year’s prize – her sister Tella – before anyone else can.
There is a love story and magic as the stakes get higher the longer Scarlet plays. This is the first book in three-part series that gets better and more complicated with each new book.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Every word captivated me from beginning to end and I couldn’t put it down. The story was magical- both literally and figuratively and the descriptions are so vivid.
The stage has been set for a magical competition between the pupils of two very powerful magicians. The stage: the night circus. The pupils, a man and woman, are unsure of the rules, unsure of how to win or when the competition will end. As the competition continues, the opponents fall in love- a situation that only complicates their predicament.
This is magic in a way that I never imagined it before. The story has twists and surprises that left me wondering how I didn’t see what was right there all along. Not only can you find this book in our list of the Best Romance Novels of all Time, but you can also find it on our list of 14 Best Carnival and Circus Books to Read Now, 24 Books Like the Hunger Games to Devour Now. And now, you can find books just like it in our post of Books Like the Night Circus. Can you tell we love this book?
Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwall
Rosie and Ivory have grown up in their mother’s circus and are returning to Port’s End. It is a place closest to any home after years of traveling. As the circus prepares for opening night, fundamentalists seek to stop the show from continuing. But, as the show begins, a massive fire strikes the tent and that is only the beginning.
This YA fantasy book is a queer re-telling of Snow White and Rose Red (not to be confused with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). It has been thoroughly reimagined and transformed in this book. It is a must-read for a list of books like the night circus
YA Fantasy Books with Magic Schools
Most of these magic school books appear on our Dark Academia book list. You can see the full list of dark school-based novels here.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Why did I not read this book before now? In a way, I’m glad I just read this because I only have to wait a few more months for the sequel. If you love YA fantasy, this King Arthur re-imagining is a must-read!
Bree Matthews’s mother died in a tragic accident and she cannot seem to recover. When she has a chance to attend a special program for bright high school students at UNC-Chapel Hill, she jumps at the chance.
When Bree witnesses a magical attack on her first night there, her world is thrown upside down as she enters the world of the Legendborn. It is a secret society of students with powerful magic who are also descendants of King Arthur!
Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
Thank goodness Hogwarts is nothing like this school. There is not a single first year that would survive. This school for magic, The Scholomance, is bursting with magic that is very dark and unforgiving.
Losing a few classmates is nothing surprising. You either graduate or die. If you love the dark side of Harry Potter, you will love this YA fantasy book. The books from this series are some of my favorite fantasy books for teens and you should add them to your TBR if you have not read them yet.
If you love books like this, check out our list of Dark Academia books.
Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey
Did someone say Harry Potter for adults?
This YA fantasy book is about a magic school and a chosen one wrapped up in a murder mystery with a not-so-lovable PI, Ivy Gamble.
Ivy has never had magic unlike her twin sister Tabitha. When Ivy is hired to investigate a murder at the school where Tabitha teaches, two worlds come together and Ivy must confront her past. This book was such a fun read.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth
I started Plain Bad Heroines and I did not know what to think. I was debating giving up on the book for a little while because I just wasn’t sure where the book was going. Fast forward. I loved it and I am glad I stuck with it. This YA fantasy book is unlike any other book I have ever read. It has all the makings of cult horror. It is scary, complex and so well-written.
The lines between reality and fiction are perfectly blurred. It is a book about a book and making a movie about that same book. ( follow that? Lol) The story intertwines the lives of all those that read the book and the mystery and supernatural that follows them 🐝. I don’t usually read horror but I loved this book. If you’ve read this dark academia novel, I have to talk to someone about it!!!
Greek Mythology Fantasy for Teens
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I don’t think there is a boy (or girl) out there who has read this middle-grade fantasy series and not loved it. It is the only series that can compare to Harry Potter in terms of how much my son LOVES it.
This first Percy Jackson book is about our beloved Percy, who discovers he is a demi-god and must recover Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. He travels into the underworld to locate the lightning bolt and, at the same time, try to save his mother.
His amazing adventures with Annabeth and Grover along the way create the foundation for all the books that follow in this amazing and epic series. If you love Percy Jackson, you should check out our 18 Exciting Books like Percy Jackson for Fans to Enjoy or our Epic Guide to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson Books in Order
Lovely War by Julie Berry
This book’s premise had me a little skeptical, Greek Gods telling a love story set in WWI? I didn’t think it was up my alley. I must have had it recommended to me almost a dozen times now, and now I’m the one recommending it.
It was two, sort of three, love stories in one book, but it touched on racism, PTSD, and the sacrifices of war. It was so well handled that I was sad to see it end.
The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan
Greek god Apollo, transformed into a mortal, is sent on a quest to regain his immortality. He sets off with his Demi-god master to free the Oracles from the Triumvirate.
Along the way, they battle roman emperors, make new friends, and get stuck in many deadly situations. The first in a 5-part series, this is one Greek mythology story you won’t have read before.
YA Fantasy Books with Dragons
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J.K Rowling
Although the order changes sometimes, this is my second favorite Harry Potter book in the series. In my opinion, it was the first book that really showed Rowling’s potential for great storytelling.
Harry Potter finds himself participating in the Triwizard Tournament when someone tricked the Goblet of Fire and put in Harry’s name. He finds himself competing against much more experienced wizards in tasks that will bring him glory or death.
Harry faces dragons, dark wizards, and mermaids while performing magic he never thought possible. He faces the Deatheaters for the first time which is how Harry found himself on our list of books about secret societies.
Don’t forget to check out our list of 21 Adult Books Similar to Harry Potter for Fans of Magic.
For all things Harry Potter, be sure to check out our Harry Potter Hub
Eragon Christopher Paolini
Eragon, a 15-year-old boy, believes that he is merely a farm boy until one day, he discovers a polished blue stone in the forest. When the stone hatches and a dragon emerges, Eragon enters a world full of magic and power that he never knew existed.
Eragon discovers that he is a dragon rider, one of few left. This middle-school fantasy series is a world of dragons, magic, and power. Almost a “Dragon Masters” for the more mature reader, this series will take you into a world of fantasy you won’t forget. This is another pick on our list of YA fantasy books that are technically middle-grade but worth the read.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
An introduction to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit was the first YA fantasy book that I ever read. Smaug, a dragon, is the main antagonist in this story. This book opened up a whole new world and genre of book.
Bolbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys his comfortable life close to home. When a wizard named Gandalf shows up on Bibloa’s doorstep with dwarves, they invite him on a quest. There, he will encounter Smaug, a creature named Gollum and find a ring that will change his life.
This YA fantasy is the prelude to the amazing Lord of the Rings trilogy.
There looks to be some great titles here. Thank you for the recommendations.
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