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  • Writer's pictureE. Paige Burks

The Best 10 Books For YA Fantasy Lovers

by Feliza Casano

Speculative fiction has exploded in the young adult category, and the past decade alone has seen some really incredible works. But with so many excellent stories to check out, there’s a chance you might have missed some of the best.

Here are 10 of the best fantasy books for teens or readers of all ages to check out — everything from princesses to dragons to heists and street gangs.

1. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh In Khorasan, each new day’s sun rises on another family in mourning: Khalid, the ruler of Khorasan, takes a new wife each night, only to have her executed at dawn. That is, until Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid with a plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the caliph for the women he’s killed, including Shahrzad’s best friend. 2. Iron Cast by Destiny Soria In an alternate 1919 Boston, Corinne and Ada are best friends and hemopaths who use their blood-based illusion magic to perform at the Cast Iron club as well as swindling some of Boston’s wealthiest. But a job gone wrong gets Ada imprisoned, and soon the girls are on the run from the law. Blending a rich historical setting with a touch of romance and a permeating magic, Iron Cast is a fresh fantasy to explore. 3. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson The first novel in Rae Carson’s alternate history Gold Seer Trilogy introduces Lee Westfall, a girl who can sense gold in the world around her. To flee from her Uncle Hiram, who seeks to control her and exploit her power, Lee disguises herself as a boy and escapes towards California, where the call of the Gold Rush attracts miners hoping to strike it rich. If she plays her cards right, she might just find a safe place to call her own. 4. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood Set in an alternate historical version of America, Born Wicked — the first book in Spotswood’s three-book Cahill Witch Chronicles — brings the witch hunts of early colonial American history into turn-of-the-twentieth-century New England, where networks of witches seek to protect themselves and one another from the anti-witchcraft Brotherhood. Though the plot focuses on the literal sisterhood of Cate, Maura, and Tess Cahill, Cate experiences sisterhood bonds with many of the girls and young women she encounters. Born Wicked uses magic to explore these bonds of sisterhood and all its ups and downs. 5. The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker Elizabeth Grey is one of the best witch hunters in the kingdom — but that doesn’t protect her when she’s accused of being a witch herself, and sentenced to burn at the stake. What does protect her, though, is the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom. But the salvation Nicholas Perevil offers comes with a price, and if he or any of his followers learn that Elizabeth was a witch hunter, the offer may very well be withdrawn. 6. Half Bad by Sally Green Nathan is something of an anomaly: He’s both White witch and Black witch, the illegitimate son of the most dangerous witch in the world, and in possession of a power unlike the magic most of the world knows. Imprisoned in a cage and hunted by all, Nathan knows he must escape before his seventeenth birthday, when he can receive three gifts from his powerful and deadly father. But to receive those gifts, Nathan has to find his father first — and stay out of the hands of those who would see him locked up forever. 7. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman Rachel Hartman’s award-winning debut novel takes teen readers into a world where dragons and humans live side by side, even as tensions between them rise. The titular Seraphina is half human and half dragon, with a dragon mother able to take human form and a human father who can’t stand dragons. Called upon to help investigate a royal family member’s murder alongside a very perceptive prince, Seraphina’s ability to keep her ancestry hidden is called into peril, and failing to do so may mean forfeiting her own life. Seraphina is filled with timely themes and has all the potential to become a teen fantasy classic. 8. Slayers by C.J. Hill Rich senator’s daughter Tori has always had a secret fascination with dragons — and that’s before she ends up at a secret summer camp to teach teens to fight them. Before the dragons were killed off by slayer-knights, they left a clutch of eggs hidden to ensure their species’ survival. But the eggs have fallen into the wrong hands, and now it’s up to Tori and her new friends — descendants from those original slayer-knights — to stop the eggs from hatching. 9. Squire by Tamora Pierce As a major Tamora Pierce fan, I always recommend her books, but the Protector of the Small series is my top recommendation, especially for teenage readers. Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to pursue knighthood after the laws of Tortall have changed to allow it, and in Squire, she’s passed the trials of a probationary year and the final exam for pages. But as she continues her journey to knighthood, she must overcome even greater obstacles: finding a knight to take her on as a squire, facing the grudges and hatred of the people who don’t want her to succeed, and following her calling to become the lady knight she’s always dreamed of becoming. 10. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Kaz Brekker is one of the youngest criminal masterminds in the underworld of Ketterdam, and when he’s hired for the most dangerous and lucrative heist he’s ever heard of, the temptation is too great to pass up. But Kaz and his crew soon discover something even more dangerous along their way… This delightfully dark heist novel is the first in a duology set in the world of Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy.

And don't forget the award-winning Return to Royalty!

There's also plenty more! Find the rest of the list here!

How many of these books have you read? What's on your reading list for the future?

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