Fantasy

These books have an element of magic or the paranormal that is not indicated to have scientific explanation. They are divided into horror, real world, mixed world, and other world and then organized by the author’s last name. For your reference, the asterisks indicate the number of times I’ve reread a book or series and kept it on my favorites list!

Simple art of an open book on a light blue background

Horror

Shutter by Courtney Alameda: An intriguing teen fantasy horror novel that features a technologically gifted female monster hunter.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: This dark, brutal adult fantasy horror series starter feels very personal, very Leigh Bardugo, and I’m honored to have gotten to read it. 

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake: A terse, uneasy teen horror novel set in 1958 that wavers between reality and fantasy in its exploration of death, abuse, and guilt.

Anna by Kendare Blake: A fantastically freaky teen horror duology, especially recommended for Supernatural fans.

What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman: A surreal, stunning, and twisty teen novel with a disfigured main character that examines unhealthy family relationships, the bond between siblings, and the complexities of truth and perspective.

The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas: A wonderful oddity of a teen fantasy horror novel about addiction and the complexity of good and evil, both in religion and relationships.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig: A cold and dark teen fantasy horror retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” that takes place on an atmospheric northern island.

*The Power of Five by Anthony Horowitz: Though Horowitz is better known for his thriller novels, I truly think he was meant for horror, as seen in this diverse teen quintet that takes many horror staples and combines them with original modern pieces to set up an epic mythological conflict.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland: A brilliant, brutal horror series starter set amidst the racist chaos following the American Civil War, with a clear voice, fascinating worldbuilding, and an engaging plot.

Carrie by Stephen King: A brilliant and fascinating adult fantasy horror novel about an abused teen girl with psychic powers–my favorite Stephen King novel.

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall: A fascinating, multiformatted teen horror novel full of the eldritch fantastical and all about grief, guilt, and love.

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer: A gruesome, brutal, and entirely absorbing teen fantasy series starter with morally grey characters involved in a black market for magical body parts.

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud: This children’s fantastical horror series starter reminds me of an even creepier and more youthful Jackaby with its London-based team of ghostly sleuths.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland: This standalone teen fantasy horror novel has an eerie fairytale atmosphere with a strong dose of true crime, all rooted in brutal sisterhood.

Real World

The Complete Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen: I adore Hans Christian Andersen’s beautiful writing, the well-known and the lesser-known classic fairytales both. He explores the spiritual, the fantastical, and the human with such thoughtful devotion.

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden: A well-written, Russia-based adult fantasy trilogy: hard and beautiful and clearly supported by a lot of research.

Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo: This teen Wonder Woman story is my favorite of all the Marvel/DC superhero novels I’ve read so far–but then, I already knew I liked Leigh Bardugo’s writing!

The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta: This teen contemporary fantasy novel is such a soft, beautiful story of queer love, identity, and emotion that I want to cry. ❤

Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco: A wild and vibrant teen fantasy series starter that offers a story lover’s ideal mishmash full of interesting characters and Chupeco’s usual odd creativity. 

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke: The power of fierce, wicked female friendship that’s demonstrated in the Scapegracers coven is awesome–add the bodiless book-demon, and this sapphic teen fantasy series starter has my full attention.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: A powerful, immersive teen fantasy series starter inspired by Arthurian legend that explores corrupt secret societies, the grief of race-related generational trauma, and magic that defies traditional boundaries. 

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves: An enthralling teen fantasy series starter bursting with 1850s historical revolution and Hungarian folklore and featuring a unique heroine.

****Beastly by Alex Flinn: A wonderful teen fantasy “Beauty and the Beast” retelling–clever and relatable, with honest feeling and a great modern perspective.

***The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: This classic set in the 1640s hits that beautiful place for me that balances on the edge of fantasy and reality, where you can never really tell for sure if things are made of magic or are just regular life.

***Savvy by Ingrid Law: A quirky, clever, and inspirational children’s fantasy novel that tells the story of a close-knit family with diverse magical gifts.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger: An awesome teen fantasy novel with a Lipan Apache main character where magic and myth richly reflect the cultures they come from.

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones: This is a thoughtful and interesting teen fantasy novel, with likeable characters and a particularly relatable main character who has anxiety.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore: A loose, original, and heartrending teen magical realism retelling of “The Snow Queen” that focuses on sexual assault and the sharpness of some truths. 

Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams: A thoughtful, eerie teen ghost story set in 1953 that explores the violent horrors of whiteness enacted upon an interracial family.

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain: An eerie, stormy teen fantasy thriller full of magic, secrets, and Louisiana’s cultural interweaving.

We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu: A soft, slow, and strange teen fantasy novel with asexual representation that I appreciated.

The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee: A well-woven, atmospheric children’s fantasy novel with an engaging trio of young characters and a hauntingly broken family reunited.

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic: An unusual teen fantasy series starter set in Montenegro and focused on female family relationships that’s wild and stark in its gorgeousness. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: A fantastical adult journey through art, history, and memory that melds the classic and the modern with a lovely and fascinating timelessness.

*The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater: This well-beloved, imaginative teen contemporary fantasy quartet is both delightfully strange and reader-accessible along its winding journey, which I much appreciate!

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater: This well-written achillean teen contemporary fantasy series starter, which acts as the sequel to The Raven Cycle, has the rough-and-tumble edge and uncanny magic inherent to Stiefvater’s novels.

*The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: I could NOT put this book down, and when I finished, I was so stunned I just sat there going “What?!” A phenomenal, horrifying teen fantasy thriller, wonderfully done.

*17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma: An interesting and somewhat unusual teen fabulist novel with a mentally ill main character and a clear message.

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent: This beautiful and horrifying adult fantasy series starter about magical circuses full of enslaved beings is full of fascinating ideas and emotional heart.

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters: A haunted house, family secrets, a cursed violin, a murder mystery, and plenty of Southern atmosphere. How can you not enjoy this sapphic teen fantasy novel?

Camelot Rising by Kiersten White: A thoughtfully built, female-centered teen fantasy trilogy that breathes new life into Arthurian legend as it explores the complexities of identity and duty in the personal, interpersonal, and societal spheres. 

Odd & True by Cat Winters: Cat Winters is such a great writer, y’all–this teen fabulism novel set in 1909 and featuring a disabled main character is definitely my kind of story.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wrecker: A detailed examination of two different cultures in 1899 given through an adult fantasy story that focuses on their magical beings

Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia: An enjoyable and slightly off-kilter ghost mystery with a fierce teen protagonist.

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok: An interesting teen fantasy murder mystery executed with unique intelligence to create a compelling series starter set in 1887 France.

Mixed World

The Folk of the Air by Holly Black: Holly Black’s Fae-filled stories are full of a wild, sharp-edged cruelty that doesn’t often sit well with a soft, Lawful Good romantic like myself–but I have my edges too, and this teen fantasy trilogy’s passion and intrigue drew me right in.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi: A fun, adventurous children’s series starter inspired by Hindu mythology that follows well in the vein of Rick Riordan’s contemporary fantasy novels.

Dark Caravan Cycle by Heather Demetrios: A darkly fascinating teen fantasy trilogy that addresses important topics like slavery and abusive relationships.

*Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: The worldbuilding for this romantic teen fantasy quartet is culturally lush and full of its own character, with a dark twist and an engaging voice.

**The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster: A delightfully clever children’s fantasy romp published in 1961 that I myself adored as a language-focused kid.

*The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa: This engaging teen fantasy quartet retells Shakespearean fae lore in an accessible modern way.

Cursebreakers by Brigid Kemmerer: This fairytale-edged teen fantasy trilogy featuring a disabled protagonist is beautiful without sacrificing realism or fierceness.

Tristan Strong by Kwame Mbalia: A brilliant, astonishing children’s fantasy trilogy inspired by West African mythology and Black-American folklore and full of the harrowing echoes of history as it portrays the power of stories more perfectly than anything I’ve ever seen before.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia: An engaging and otherworldly children’s fantasy series starter that journeys into Mexican-American folklore, including stories that I heard myself growing up in New Mexico!

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh: This anthology of teen fantasy short stories is magnificent! Anthologies aren’t usually my thing, but I love myths and folklore, especially stories I don’t already know–in this case, ones originating from Asia. 

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera: A fascinating and quiet teen romantic fantasy novel that retells “Orpheus and Eurydice” with themes of mental illness and trauma. 

Other World

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: A phenomenal, deservedly hyped teen epic fantasy series starter inspired by West African mythology that doesn’t shy from the intense and the brutal.

*The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: A magnificent, sumptuously romantic teen fantasy duology that retells A Thousand and One Nights with great emotional power.

Kingdom of Cards by Janella Angeles: A vibrant, diverse, fantastical teen duology spectacle inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and steeped in a beautiful and terrible darkness.

**Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo: A much-hyped, beautifully woven teen romantic fantasy trilogy infused with Russian culture and engaging, complex characterization.

*Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Leigh Bardugo builds on her Shadow and Bone Trilogy with a much grittier duology that features a fiercely well-characterized heist crew and some disability rep, as a treat.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo: Yet another stellar teen fantasy duology set in Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone world, with engaging, diverse characters and continued worldbuilding far beyond what I’m capable of.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust: A well-written and thoughtful sapphic teen fantasy novel about difficult and wrong choices and about redemption–I love how it combines “Sleeping Beauty” with various Persian influences!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust: An original and interesting teen fantasy “Snow White” retelling that’s all about women–especially mothers and daughters–and where neither the stepmother nor the princess is a villain.

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne: A lovely and original teen romantic fantasy duology featuring chronically ill, non-white characters fighting for freedom amidst a complex imperial war.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: A dark, complex teen epic fantasy quartet that manages to be both fascinating and frustrating as it unfolds its powerful narrative.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown: An epic and engaging teen fantasy series starter that follows two Black characters–one with migraines and one with anxiety–on difficult quests driven by a dark history of gods and magic.

Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn: This is a strange and ferocious teen fantasy novel celebrating differences and defying ableism with a vicious nonbinary mermaid main character.

*The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: An exciting teen fantasy trilogy with an honest, relatable heroine whom I adore; a lovely, low-key romance; and a wonderful religious aspect that is also quite realistic.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton: A lavish, glorious teen fantasy series starter full of racial diversity and based on an original premise.

***The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable: The romantic teen fantasy trilogy that first got me into YA literature–beautifully unfolded and a great simple addition to the fantasy world.

The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis: Fierce yet vulnerable characters navigate an excellently built, diverse world in the beginning of a new teen fantasy series.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody: A unique and interesting teen fantasy novel with a blind main character. Tamora Pierce’s review describes it best: “A dark and dangerous tale, a world like no other, and heroism of the weirdest kind!”

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig: Every so often, I read a book that reminds me of all the ways I fall short as a writer, like this teen fantasy series starter, which is creative, vibrant, and brutal in its exploration of colonialism through the eyes of a nonwhite bipolar heroine.

Everless by Sara Holland: An interesting and underrated teen fantasy duology with some “Snow White” vibes that plays around with time.

Stain by A.G. Howard: An incredibly original teen fantasy retelling of “The Princess and the Pea,” interwoven with other fairytales and full of an ethereal, gothic beauty.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez: A richly detailed, high-stakes teen fantasy novel inspired by Bolivia and about politics, war, and oppression.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: A beautifully descriptive and politically intense teen epic fantasy series starter inspired by West Africa and steeped in ancient stories.

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa: A fearsome teen fantasy trilogy inspired by Japanese mythology, full of interesting characters, and easy to slip into, per the usual for Julie Kagawa.

The Blood of Stars by Elizabeth Lim: A beautifully woven and honest teen fantasy duology inspired by Chinese mythology and featuring an engaging hate-love romance.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: A beautifully interwoven, much-hyped adult fantasy romance series starter that retells various old stories with a dark and seductive feel.

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin: A sumptuous, irreverent, French-inspired teen fantasy series starter about religious corruption and prejudice.

*Newsoul by Jodi Meadows: A fascinating teen sci-fi/fantasy trilogy, deep into the fantastical, with some truly lyrical writing, a beautiful plotline, and a thoughtful romance. 

Gilded by Marissa Meyer: A fiercely beautiful teen fantasy series starter that reinvents “Rumpelstiltskin” and “Beauty and the Beast” through a storyteller’s dark interweaving of ghosts, gods, and Fae.

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson: A thoughtful teen fantasy standalone that explores the beauty and horror of The Phantom of the Opera from a new angle. I appreciate the disfigurement representation.

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen: This fairytale of a teen fantasy novel, inspired by “The Goose Girl,” is indeed perfect for “the gremlin girls”–and anyone else who has been abused, unloved, or unheard. Gorgeous. Chaotic. Heartrending.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen: A brutal and wild teen fantasy duology featuring a fierce heroine, a plague-ridden caste system, a gripping pace, and lots of clever little twists.

*The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine: A creative, vivid teen fantasy retelling of “Cinderella” that’s idealistic, yet has a strong foundation.

*The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine: An interesting teen fantasy set in the same world as The Blood Spell that interweaves multiple fairytales, including “Rumpelstiltskin,” with two lovely main characters fiercely facing the world’s cruelties.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margot Rogerson: A lovely teen fantasy romance with fae as unearthly and vicious as they were always meant to be.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margot Rogerson: An orphan girl raised in a library full of demonic books. AN ORPHAN GIRL RAISED IN A LIBRARY FULL OF DEMONIC BOOKS. I thoroughly enjoyed this teen fantasy novel: the magic, the horror, the romance, the characters.

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross: A lovely, understated teen fantasy duology inspired by Scotland that explores politics, family, passion, and feminine power.

Forgotten Gods by Marie Rutkoski: A sapphic teen fantasy duology written in beautiful prose that reveals a land touched by strange gods and full of horrible lies and terrible memories.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson: I’m really starting to see why Brandon Sanderson is considered one of the masters of sci-fi/fantasy–I can only dream of writing something as intelligent and creative as this teen fantasy novel!

Divided Fire by Jennifer San Filippo: A braided teen fantasy narrative about family and the horrors of war and slavery, with a hint of disability representation in the sickly main character who speaks sign language.

Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian: This teen fantasy series starter has a lot of what I enjoy: magic, romance, political intrigue, family drama.

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts: A vibrant, political teen fantasy trilogy featuring a group of misfit heroes thrown face-to-face with the many complexities of war and morality.

Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal: A phenomenal, enrapturing dark teen fantasy series starter with queer representation that addresses oppressive religions, art as rebellion, and the intertwining of love and death.

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland: A lush and beautiful teen fantasy novel that examines sexual/gender orientation, men’s controlling behavior, and the darkness within.

*The Keepers’ Chronicles by Becky Wallace: An engaging, real, and flavorful teen fantasy duology with a hate-love romance.

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber: An atmospheric teen fantasy novel full of wonderful, whip-smart characters fighting for women’s right to choose their paths in life. 

The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins: A wonderful teen fantasy series starter with an engaging romance and believable characters, opening into a dialogue about prejudice and cultural differences.