The 79 Greatest YA Fantasy Books Ever

Among the greatest things about the YA fantasy subgenre is how many distinct subcultures these stories may fall into, and how many mythological beings and stories can fit into one particular plot.

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YA Fantasy Books

Whether you love vampires, mermaids, or fairy tales, there is a story for you!

The power of each YA fantasy book to transport you to a different setting and temporarily submerge you in a different reality may be its greatest strength.

What more could a young adult possibly desire while looking to escape the tiresome normality of daily existence?

Continue reading to discover our top 70+ picks for the greatest YA fantasy books and franchises of all time.

What is a YA Fantasy Book?

Before we jump into which books we chose as our favorite YA fantasy books of all time, let’s take a look at what this subgenre really is, and what makes it so unique and wonderful.

What is a Young Adult Book?

Since the phrase ‘YA’ – which stands for ‘young adult’ – was first used in the late 1960s to describe a specific genre of books, they became very popular among a specific audience.

They were aimed at teenagers and younger adults, in their early twenties, although they were also suitable for older adults too.

One of the first widely read YA books, The Outsiders by SE Hinton was a bestseller with teenagers and young adults in 1967.

It was around this time that the term ‘YA’ was coined, and it was later used to describe other books that would come out within the following years.

These included Go Ask Alice (1971) by Beatrice Sparks, and Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series (1983-2003).

What qualifies as a young adult novel and a children’s book has always been a topic of discussion.

For instance, although many people think of the Harry Potter series (1998-2007) as being for kids, the later novels in the series seem to have been written with an older readership in mind. 

When the first book was published, J.K. Rowling was writing for a younger audience.

However, by the time the series was wrapping up, those children had transitioned into teenagers and young adults.

In summary, a YA book will be written and marketed toward an older audience than a children’s book, aiming towards teenagers and 20-something-year-olds (If you’re looking for a great new YA series to sink your teeth into, check out our favorites right here).

However, they can be enjoyed by anyone of any age, although many are not entirely suitable for children due to the potential inclusion of strong language, alcohol, and/or horror themes.

Mixing The YA And Fantasy Genres

Mixing The YA And Fantasy Genres

The subgenre of fantasy literature geared toward teenagers and young adults is known as ‘YA Fantasy’.

Numerous children’s novels follow these themes since fantasy is a broad genre that covers tales of invented worlds, mythological animals, and magic.

However, YA fantasy novels frequently feature more mature themes, such as those related to terror and death.

A book can be considered fantasy without having all the aforementioned components, but it must feature characters and ideas that are unattainable in reality.

As YA novels frequently feature characters who are coming of age, this is a fascinating concept to work with; emphasizing the drama of adolescence while dealing with magic and monsters.

As a result, YA fantasy books have gained popularity throughout time, particularly among teenagers and young adults who are having a hard time adjusting to adult life.

It serves as a means of escape for many from the mundane monotony of daily existence.

79 Of The Greatest YA Fantasy Books Of All Time

Now that we have an understanding of what a YA fantasy novel should look like, and what kind of themes are followed throughout, it is time to take a look at some of them.

Below, we have listed some of the most successful and entertaining YA fantasy books of all time.

Some of our picks are standalone novels, while others are listed as the entire series. All in all, there are plenty of books listed here for you to take a look at.

So, let’s get started. Here are 80+ of the greatest YA fantasy books of all time.

Akata Witch (2011) By Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (The Nsibidi Scripts)

Akata Witch follows Sunny, an albino Nigerian who was born in America, and discovers that she belongs to a magical society.

She must act to alter the course of events after seeing a vision of the end of the world occurring inside a candle.

Pros

  • An intriguing tale about magic, and the struggles of fitting in.
  • Excellent minority representation, with the protagonist being an albino black girl.

Cons

  • Contains discussion about child abuse, which some people may find upsetting and triggering.

All Of Us Villains (2021) By Amanda Foody And Christine Lynn Herman

All of Us Villains (All of Us Villains, 1)

Every 20 years, seven families battle it out for the reigns of powerful magick.

The blood veil is lifted whenever the Blood Moon emerges, and each household selects one of their children to participate in a death match.

Pros

  • A unique magic system with well-written characters for you to root for.
  • An extremely atmospheric universe.

Cons

  • Some readers believe this book would’ve worked better as an adult book, e.g., more gore and death.

The American Royals Series (2019 – 2022) By Katharine McGee

American Royals

George Washington was given a crown by the American people following their victory in the Revolutionary War.

The American Royals series follows the modern-day House of Washington, the American royal family, as they rule the country today.

Pros

  • A soapy adventure with a unique concept.
  • A modern-day princess story.

Con

  • It is written much like a soap opera, so you would not enjoy this book if you’re not a fan of that kind of thing.

The Ash Princess Trilogy (2018 – 2020) By Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess Trilogy Series 3 Books Collection Set By Laura Sebastian (Ash Princess, Lady Smoke, Ember Queen)

When her nation was overrun and her mother was executed in front of her, Theo was only six years old.

A decade later, as the derided Ash Princess, she has figured out how to endure the Kaiser and his court’s systematic harassment.

Pros

  • The story follows a strong, relatable lead character for young girls to look up to.
  • An investing plot that’ll make you want to keep reading.

Cons

  • This narrative has been done to death, so it is not an entirely new story.

The Belles Series (2018 – 2023) By Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles

The inhabitants of Orleans are born with no inherent beauty, and they require The Belles’ miraculous beauty services in order to help them become attractive.

One of the Belles, Camellia, is not content with being ‘just’ a Belle; she wants to serve the royal family.

Pros

  • A gorgeously detailed world with a fun narrative.
  • A fantasy fairy tale featuring a courageous female protagonist.

Cons

  • Some readers consider the pacing of this series to be quite slow.

The Book Thief (2007) By Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

The Book Thief, which is set in Nazi Germany, follows Liesel, whose destiny drastically alters when she acquires the Gravedigger’s Handbook by accident.

Her mystical adventure officially starts with this first act of book theft.

Pros

  • A truly emotional read that will tug at your heartstrings.
  • A solid plot with twists and turns to keep you intrigued.
  • There has been a movie adaptation of this novel, starring Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, and Emily Watson.

Cons

  • Some readers consider the ending to be underwhelming.

The Caraval Trilogy (2017 – 2019) By Stephanie Garber

Caraval

Scarlett hopes to achieve freedom and escape her controlling father by participating in the magical Caraval, an annual, week-long competition.

When invitations finally arrive for her and her sister, her dream quickly becomes a nightmare.

Pros

Cons

  • The plot is overall lacking in major character development or world-building.

Carve The Mark (2017) By Veronica Roth

Carve the Mark

Cyra and Akos were raised in rival nations engaged in a protracted conflict over control of their planet.

Akos is condemned to serve Cyra, the sister of a despot who rules with terror and apprehension when her family captures him and his brother.

Pros

  • This novel was written by the author of the successful YA fantasy series, the Divergent trilogy.
  • The story follows an interesting relationship that forms between the two main characters.

Cons

  • There have been reports of subtle racism and ableism throughout the plot, according to some readers.

The City Of Ghosts Trilogy (2018 – 2021) By Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts

Since Cassity came dangerously close to drowning, she has been able to lift the veil separating the living from the dead.

She discovers how much she still needs to learn, and how perilous spirits can actually be when she meets a girl who shares her gift.

Pros

  • A light, easy-to-follow story with interesting plot points.
  • While it is considered a YA book, it is also suitable for those who are younger, e.g., middle schoolers.

Cons

  • Some readers consider the plot to be a little predictable.

A Court Of Thorns And Roses Series (2015 – 2021) By Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A frightening entity shows up to demand vengeance after 19-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods.

Feyre learns that her abductor is one of the deadly, immortal faeries who formerly governed her planet, after being hauled to a perilous magical realm.

Pros

  • A fun reimagining of Beauty and the Beast.
  • Well paced with a well-thought-out plot.

Cons

  • Despite the title, thorns/roses are hardly ever mentioned in the plot.
  • Some readers complain that the world-building is weak, and the writing is excessive.

The Elfhame: The Folk Of Air Trilogy (2018 – 2019) By Holly Black

THE FOLK OF THE AIR

Jude and her sisters were kidnapped and taken to live in the perilous High Court of Faerie after their parents were killed.

She tries to fit in over the years that have passed since her abduction, but this proves to be difficult since fey despise humans.

Pros

  • While it starts slow, the excitement builds as the series progresses.
  • An easy-to-follow story with fascinating characters.

Cons

  • A clique plot that we have read many times before.
  • Lacking world-building.

The Cursebreaker Trilogy (2019 – 2021) By Brigid Kemmerer

The Cursebreaker

Prince Rhen was cursed by an evil witch to repeatedly relive the autumn of his 18th year, and the only way to break the spell was to fall in love.

At the conclusion of every fall, he would transform into a ferocious animal intent on wreaking havoc.

Pros

  • A fun reimagining of Beauty and the Beast.
  • Compelling enough to keep you hooked.

Cons

  • Some readers believe the plot was quite flat, unimaginative, and one-dimensional overall. 

The Divergent Series (2014 – 2016) By Veronica Roth

Divergent Series Four-Book Paperback Box Set: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, Four

5 factions make up society in a dismal future. When Tris turns 16, she must choose whether to stay in her childhood faction, where conditions are safer, or venture out into the more dangerous but intriguing world she has been yearning to explore.

Pros

  • An intriguing story of a teenager struggling to find her place in a dystopian world.
  • Plenty of action to keep you hooked.
  • There have been movie adaptations of the three books.

Cons

The Dorothy Must Die Series (2014 – 2017) By Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die

Amy Gumm, a young woman from Kansas, is trained to fight as soon as she enters the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and is given a strategy.

She has been instructed to capture the heart of the Tin Woodman, the brain of the Scarecrow, and the bravery of the Lion.

The operation’s most crucial component is that Dorothy must die.

Pros

  • An intriguing twist on the story of The Wizard of Oz; a tale that most readers will already be familiar with.
  • Amy is a strong, likable character that the readers will root for throughout her journey.

Cons

  • This series contains some strong language and crude writing that may not be suitable for younger readers.

Dreams Lie Beneath (2021) By Rebecca Ross

Dreams Lie Beneath

When two magicians show up to confront Clementine Madigan, who is about to take over as the warden of her small town, she is unintentionally entangled in a fight that dates back a century.

As she approaches one of the magicians, romance begins to build.

Pros

  • A distinct narrative with intriguing world-building.
  • Characters that the reader can identify with.

Cons

  • Some readers consider the plot to be a little confusing and ‘poorly written’.

Echo (2015) By Pam Muñoz Ryan

Echo

When Otto, lost and alone in a restricted forest, encounters three mystifying sisters, he finds himself quickly drawn into a perplexing journey involving a harmonica.

When the exact same harmonica enters three unrelated people’s lives years later, their lives become intertwined.

Pros

  • An enchanting story that will compel you to keep reading until it’s over.
  • Will stick with you long after you have turned the final page.

Cons

  • This is a fairly long book that can become a little weary towards the end.

The An Ember In The Ashes Series (2015 – 2020) By Sabaa Tahir

Ember Quartet

Laia and her family struggle to make ends meet in the destitute back alleys of the Martial Empire.

They don’t oppose the Empire because they have seen what happens to those who do.

Those who don’t swear their hearts and souls to the Emperor run the risk of losing everything they cherish. 

Laia is compelled to make a decision after learning that her brother has been detained for treason.

Pros

  • A thrilling tale of love and grief that will make the reader cry several times.
  • The story will hook the reader with some really unique world-building and well-written characters.

Cons

  • The dialogue and overall writing might occasionally come across as rather dull and formulaic.

The Enchanteé Series (2019 – 2021) By Gita Trelease

Enchantée (Enchantée, 1)

After their parents pass away, Camille is left to take care of her sister and her unpredictable brother.

Camilla, who is in need of food, shelter, and a better life in general, utilizes dark magic to become a baroness and live a life of luxury among the wealthy.

Pros

  • A magical YA fantasy with a dash of sensuality and romance.
  • Both books in the series are as enjoyable as each other.

Cons

  • Many plot points are left unsolved at the end of the series.

An Enchantment Of Ravens (2018) By Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens

Isobel is a talented artist with a dangerous clientele who makes priceless paintings for a living.

When she receives her first royal sponsor, she commits a blunder that could endanger his life, which lands her in court facing charges.

Pros

  • The reader will be impressed by the beautiful prose employed in this novel.
  • A unique interpretation of traditional fairy folklore.

Cons

  • Since it is so short, some readers think this novel has a lot of untapped potential.
  • The plot falls flat at times.

Eragon (2003) By Christopher Paolini

Eragon: Inheritance, Book 1

Until his fate as a Dragon Rider is unveiled, Eragon thinks he is just a simple farm child from an impoverished family.

He quickly finds himself drawn into a perilous web of magic, thanks to an ancient sword, a devoted dragon, and wise counsel from an elderly storyteller.

Pros

  • A successful debut book from a 16-year-old author.
  • The plot has been compared to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
  • There is a movie adaptation of this novel, starring Ed Speleers, Jeremy Irons, and Robert Carlyle.

Cons

  • There is little to no character development in the characters.

The Extraordinaries (2020) By T.J Klune

The Extraordinaries

The Extraordinaries fandom’s most well-known fanfiction author, Nick Bell, is by no means an extraordinary person.

Nick sets out to prove himself deserving of the admiration of Shadow Star, Nova City’s most powerful hero, after a fortuitous interaction.

Pros

  • There is a lot of LGBT, disability, and other minorities representation.
  • A fun, amusing story that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Cons

  • The protagonist can come across as quite unlikable at times, making it difficult to root for him.

Fable (2020) By Adrienne Young

Fable: A Novel (Fable, Book 1)

The sea is all that 17-year-old Fable has ever known as a home.

From the moment she witnessed her mother perish in a merciless storm, and her father left her on an isolated island the following day, she does what she must to survive.

Pros

  • The protagonist is a tough, resilient female character.
  • A very entertaining read, filled with action and twists.

Cons

  • Some readers find the plot to be quite slow-paced throughout.

Fallen In Love (2012) By Lauren Kate

Fallen in Love: A Fallen Novel in Stories

Throughout the course of a beautiful Valentine’s Day in medieval England, four incredible love tales come together.

Miles and Shelby discover love in unexpected places, Roland receives a difficult truth, Arriane incurs the cost of romance, and Daniel and Luce share a special night together.

Pros

Cons

  • This has been viewed as a lesser-quality version of Twilight by some readers.

Furyborn (The Empirium Trilogy) (2018 – 2020) By Clare Legrand 

Furyborn

Rielle sacrifices everything to rescue her friend when assassins attack him, and she has to go through seven tests to demonstrate that she is the Sun Queen.

Unless the trials succeed in killing her first, she will be executed if she fails.

Pros

  • An intriguing premise that will keep you hooked.
  • The writing makes the story really easy to follow.

Cons

  • Lack of character development causes the plot to fall flat at times.

The Gilded Wolves (2019) By Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves: A Novel

Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, a successful hotelier and avid treasure hunter, is the best at keeping information under wraps.

However, when the powerful Order of Babel approaches him for assistance, in return, Séverin is given a gift he never anticipated.

Pros

  • Filled with plenty of puzzles for the reader to solve as they progress.
  • An interesting read with some humor throughout.

Cons

  • Although the story’s pace varies, it generally seems to advance too slowly.
  • The characters can come across as unlikable throughout the entire story.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn (2020) By Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

The time will come when Soraya will have to choose whether she wants to leave the shadows she is now locked in.

A handsome man who truly understands her identity is above her, and under her is a demon who has the key to her release.

Pros

  • The premise itself is unique and intriguing.
  • The story features LGBT+ representation, with the protagonist being bisexual.

Cons

  • The plot is, overall, quite predictable, with little to no twists or turns.
  • Not enough world-building to make sense to someone who is not familiar with Persian mythology.

The Girls Of Paper And Fire Series (2018 – 2021) By Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire

Lei belongs to the Paper caste, which is Ikhara’s weakest and most oppressed social group.

She and her father reside in a rural district, where she continues to struggle with the pain of witnessing her mother being abducted by royal soldiers ten years ago. 

Now that the king’s interest has been aroused by her golden-colored eyes and alleged beauty, the guards return for a second time, and this time, they are pursuing Lei.

Pros

  • While the reader reads, a vivid picture of imperial China is painted in their minds by that of the background of the excellent world-building.
  • A teen-to-adult audience will enjoy this gripping, diverse tale about the enslavement and empowerment of women.

Cons

  • There are many mentions and insinuations of SA, which may trigger some readers.

The Glass And Steele Series (2016 – 2017) By C.J Archer

Glass and Steele

Her fiancé stole her fortune, her father is no longer alive, and no one wants to hire her.

With no other options, India Steele, who is unemployed and in need of work, ends up accepting a position with the sole employer willing to hire her: an intriguing American with an unusual watch.

Pros

  • As it progresses from section to section, it is really simple to read and understand.
  • This series offers a large variety of personalities, incidents, and tension, as well as all the other components one could look for in a top-notch mystery.

Cons

  • There is an insinuation of sexual assault within the first few chapters that may trigger some readers.

Glimmerglass (2010) By Jenna Black

Glimmerglass: A Faeriewalker Novel

Dana learns certain truths she did not anticipate as she flees to locate her enigmatic father in Avalon, the only location on Earth where the Faeries’ magical world is real. For starters, she is no ordinary teenage girl.

Pros

  • The book has an intriguing premise and several innovative concepts.
  • The story is driven by a witty, authentic female protagonist.

Cons

  • The plot is pretty clichéd and predictable as a whole.

The Gods Of Jade And Shadow (2019) By Silvia Moreno–Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Casiopea lives a mundane life until, one day, she discovers a wooden box in her grandfather’s room.

When she unlocks it, she accidentally releases the Mayan deity of death’s spirit, who begs for her assistance in reclaiming his kingdom from his cunning brother.

Pros

  • A magical fairy tale inspired by Mayan mythology.
  • Despite being a slow read, its exciting plot will keep the reader engaged.

Cons

  • It is written primarily in middle-grade prose, which may be a little too childlike for some readers.

The Grace Year (2019) By Kim Liggett

The Grace Year: A Novel

Girls in Garner County are told that the intense elixir of youth exudes from their skin, a tremendous aphrodisiac. 

To harness this power, they are exiled at 16-years-of-age; their Grace year.

After that time, they return cleansed and prepared for matrimony, but not all of them will return home unscathed.

Pros

  • A survival horror that has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games.
  • A very interesting, unique concept. 

Cons

  • Some readers consider the plot to be quite rushed, especially in the later sections of the book.

The Harbinger Series (2019 – 2021) By Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Harbinger Series

Trinity is losing her sight, yet she has the ability to detect and converse with spirits.

She has spent several years hidden in a facility that is manned by Wardens, due to her ability.

Trinity will be devoured by the shape-shifting creatures if they uncover the reality of the situation about her gift.

Pros

  • An engaging narrative filled with action and excitement.
  • There is also a prequel series for further exploration of the narrative.

Cons

  • Some readers believe that, while the story had potential, the plot is too drawn out.

The Harry Potter Series (1997 – 2007) By J.K Rowling

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)

11 years after his parent’s deaths, Harry Potter discovers that he is a wizard.

Upon enrolling at the magical wizarding school of Hogwarts, meeting new friends and foes alike, he quickly discovers that life will never be the same again.

Pros

  • A modern classic series that everyone should read at least once.
  • The books get darker as the children get older, maturing with its characters.
  • There are 8 movies that have been adapted from this series, plus a play, and several spin-off books. The movies star Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, and Maggie Smith, just to name a few.

Cons

  • Some readers believe some aspects of the books to be problematic, e.g., racial stereotyping.

The Hazel Wood (2019) By Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood

The majority of Alice’s life was spent traveling with her mother.

Alice discovers just how dismal her misfortune can be when her grandma, the recluse writer of a genre-defining collection of eerie fairy tales, passes away all by herself on her property, the Hazel Wood.

Pros

  • A dark fairy tale-inspired story.
  • The novel is filled with mysteries and twists.

Cons

  • Some readers believe that, while the story had potential, the plot is too drawn out.

The His Dark Materials Series (2001 – 2019) By Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials Omnibus: The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass

Lyra is hurriedly traveling to the icy far North, home to witch clans and bears with armor.

Her fearsome uncle Asriel is attempting to construct a bridge to an alternate realm, while her companion Roger has been taken by the Gobblers. 

Both Asriel and Roger seek out her assistance, but unbeknownst to Lyra, helping one of them will mean betraying the other.

Pros

  • In each subsequent book in the series, the mysteries become more complex and the marvels ever more lavish.
  • The world-building and great character development give the plot tremendous energy and keep the reader interested the entire time.

Cons

  • This book series is probably not for you if you are seeking a happy ending.

The Hunger Games Trilogy (2010 – 2014) By Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games / Catching Fire / Mockingjay

The annual Hunger Games revolve around 24 children fighting to the death on live television, as a form of entertainment for the elites.

When 17-year-old contestant Katniss makes history, unintentionally starting an uprising, the event is never the same again.

Pros

  • A startling reflection of the harm caused by reality television.
  • Compared to the ‘Mary Sues’ that are usually featured in YA books, Katniss is a refreshing female lead.
  • There is a series of movies that have been created, based on this trilogy.

Cons

  • The story has been considered to be a rip-off of the 2000s Japanese thriller movie, Battle Royale.

Hunted (2017) By Meagan Spooner

Hunted

Yeva is content when her dad loses his riches and is forced to relocate her and her siblings to the back of the village.

But when he vanishes in the forest, Yeva turns her attention to the animal her father had been pursuing shortly before he vanished.

Pros

  • A fascinating fairy tale-inspired drama with elements of Russian folklore.
  • The plot is filled with feminist themes.

Cons

  • As opposed to being a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the plot barely differs from the original story.

In A Garden Burning Gold (2022) By Rory Power

In a Garden Burning Gold: Book One of the Wind-up Garden series

The family of Rhea and Lexos has governed for an age and intends to continue ruling forever, thanks to their power. 

The twins’ closeness has sheltered them as their father’s erratic tyranny and growing fury have threatened the family’s power position over the generations.

Pros

Cons

  • Some readers believe that, while the concept was intriguing, the execution could have been better.

Kaleidoscope (2021) By Brian Selznick

Kaleidoscope

In Kaleidoscope, two individuals are linked to one another by recollection, fantasies, and connections across time and place.

Each reader may experience pain and love differently, yet the enigma at the heart of their connection will be the same for everyone.

Pros

  • Each story relates in a subtle way that paints a bigger picture, like a kaleidoscope.
  • While the plot can get a little confusing, it is a strange yet magical book that will keep the reader intrigued.

Cons

  • On the surface, the plot purports to be a collection of unrelated stories.

The Legacy Of Orisha Series (2018 – 2019) By Tomi Adeyemi

Legacy of Orisha Series 2 Books Collection Set by Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone, Children of Virtue and Vengeance)

The land of Orisha was once alive with enchantment, but all shifted the moment the magic vanished.

Any person with special abilities was hunted and slaughtered on the instructions of a cruel king, rendering Zélie without parents, and her community without faith.

Pros

  • Despite the novel’s size, the pacing was excellent and engaging.
  • The lovely prose complements the colorful universe.

Cons

  • Some readers claim that the plot is excessively clichéd and formulaic.

Legendborn (2020) By Tracy Deonn

Legendborn

After Bree’s mom is killed in a tragedy, a residential program at UNC-Chapel Hill for gifted high school students initially appears like the ideal retreat.

However, things almost instantly go wrong when Bree observes a mysterious incident during her very first night.

Pros

  • A creative retelling of the tale of King Arthur, and an insight into his descendants.
  • The emotional ending shocked and impressed many readers.

Cons

  • The tropes are quite predictable and clichéd. 

Lost In The Never Woods (2021) By Aiden Thomas

Lost in the Never Woods

Five years have passed since Wendy’s brothers vanished in the woods, but as the town’s young people begin to vanish, the mysteries surrounding her siblings’ disappearance are once again brought to the forefront.

Wendy quickly learns she cannot escape her history.

Pros

  • A gripping retelling of the Peter Pan tales.
  • The reader’s feelings change with each page as this book alternates between being comforting and devastating.

Cons

  • Despite the potential of the plot, many readers believe that the story, overall, is quite slow and repetitive.

Lovely War (2019) By Julie Berry

Lovely War

This tale is recounted by the goddess Aphrodite, who must embellish it or suffer judgment on Mount Olympus.

It is a chronicle of love and injustice, as well as both joy and tragedy. It demonstrates that despite being a significant motivator, love has greater authority than conflict.

Pros

  • A tale with mystical undertones set during World War I.
  • There are many amusing sections and fascinating individuals to enjoy reading about.

Cons

  • Some readers believe that Berry’s writing often falls flat throughout the narrative.

Magic For Liars (2019) By Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars

Detective Ivy Gamble is sucked into a world of unimaginable potential when a homicide is uncovered at the Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her disowned twin sister teaches magic. 

Now, she needs to track down a killer and save her sister while retaining her own sanity.

Pros

  • An interesting take on a ‘normal’ person surviving in a magical setting.
  • The complex relationship between the twins is particularly captivating.

Cons

  • The plot is, overall, quite predictable and clichéd. 

The Maze Runner Series (2009 – 2016) By James Dashner

The Maze Runner

Thomas can only recall his name when he awakens in the elevator.

Boys whose identities are likewise lost are all around him, and they are all surrounded by high stone walls, beyond which extends a never-ending labyrinth. 

There is no other way out, and nobody has ever survived while attempting to escape.

Pros

  • The world-building in these books is excellent, which contributes to the plot’s well-rounded execution and helps the reader create a vivid mental picture of the setting.
  • The writing makes the reader feel a connection to the characters since they are endearing and charming.
  • There were movie adaptations made based upon this series, starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

Cons

  • After the first several novels in the series, some readers believe that the writing and plot start to feel a little bit repetitive.

The Mermaid, The Witch, And The Sea (2020) By Maggie Tokuda–Hall

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Flora believes that in order to survive the life of a pirate, one must not put one’s faith in others and must also not show emotion.

During this particular journey across the sea, she finds compelled by Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who has been thrust into an unwanted arranged marriage.

Pros

  • A fun fantasy read about pirates and mermaids.
  • With lesbian and gender-fluid major characters, there is plenty of LGBT+ representation.

Cons

  • Some readers believe that, while it began promising, the plot fell flat towards the end.

A Million Junes (2017) By Emily Henry

A Million Junes

The mystical yet complex history of June’s family has plagued her for her whole life.

June is eager to put her demons behind her as she gets ready to embark on her senior year of high school when an upsetting flash from the past interferes and throws everything off.

Pros

  • Through her skill with language, Henry draws the reader into the narrative.
  • A tale full of supernatural events and mystical realism.

Cons

  • Some readers feel that the conclusion was a little disappointing.

Mirage (2018) By Somaiya Daud

Mirage: A Novel

Amani is not prepared for the adventure that awaits her when the regime abducts her and takes her covertly to the royal residence.

Amani recognizes that one mistake could result in her demise, as she is coerced into taking on her new duty.

Pros

  • A multifaceted sci-fi fantasy tale that draws inspiration from Moroccan culture.
  • The protagonists have strong character growth and are fascinating to read about.

Cons

  • Some readers complain that the plot is clichéd and, at some points, unnecessary.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2011) By Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Jacob travels to a distant island after a terrible family bereavement, where he finds the deteriorating remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

He quickly discovers that the kids who had resided there were possibly dangerous—and might still be alive.

Pros

  • Riggs has a vivid imagination and uses a lot of specifics to create a detailed environment.
  • The story is greatly enhanced and made more enjoyable by the photographs that are included.
  • There has been a movie adaptation of this novel starring Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Cons

  • The plot loses a lot of the creepy allure that initially piqued the reader’s interest near the end.

Mortal Engines (2012) By Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines: Mortal Engines, Book 1

Tom Natsworthy is hurled from the racing metropolis, along with a girl with a scar on her face, as they escape a horrifying operation that placed thousands of people in danger. 

They are forced to flee through the rubble while avoiding a deadly new device that poses a threat to global security.

Pros

  • The reader will be anxiously intrigued by the intersecting tale lines.
  • Unbelievable levels of detail are used to describe the setting and events in the work.
  • There has been a movie adaptation of this novel starring Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, and Hugo Weaving.

Cons

  • There are numerous characters to keep up with, which can cause the reader to lose interest as they try to keep track of them all.

The Mortal Instruments Series (2007 – 2014) By Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments, the Complete Collection: City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost Souls; City of Heavenly Fire

Clary Fray is horrified when a body vanishes into thin air after she observes three teens carrying out a murder while wielding unusual weapons and adorned in odd tattoos.

Nobody else was able to see the murderers, and there was no physical proof that the crime even occurred. Clary had just met the Shadowhunters for the first time.

Pros

  • The world-building in these books is excellent, and the writing is superb, conjuring up vivid images in the reader’s mind.
  • The main heroine, Clary, is quite realistic and down to earth as she makes her way through this magical realm, so the reader will be able to identify with her.
  • There have been television shows and movie adaptations of this series of books, starring Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Robert Sheehan.

Cons

  • The books are fun to read, although they lack originality and occasionally become very predictable.

My Contrary Mary (2021) By Cynthia Hand

My Contrary Mary

Mary, the monarch of Scotland, is a shape-shifter in a country where Verities are in power.

When the king dies, Mary is forced to ascend to the throne, and the situation at the opulent court grows dangerous.

If her secret is revealed, she would be in grave danger.

Pros

  • A humorous historical drama with some twists.
  • A YA book that is suitable for readers of all ages.

Cons

  • The book is, perhaps, a little longer than it needed to be.

My Lady Jane (2016) By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane interprets a well-known historical event with a twist, just like My Contrary Mary did.

In the process of being betrothed to a stranger, Lady Jane Grey becomes involved in a plot to usurp King Edward’s crown.

Pros

  • A humorous retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s tragic story.
  • YA literature appropriate for readers of every age.

Cons

  • The book is, perhaps, a little longer than it needed to be.

The Night Circus (2011) By Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus

Le Cirque des Rêves, a spectacular performance that only takes place at night, unexpectedly shows up in town.

Backstage at this circus, Celia and Marco, two juvenile performers, engage in a rivalry that culminates in a contest where only one can survive.

Pros

  • The world-building is masterfully executed.
  • Beautifully detailed writing that paints an image in your mind as you read.

Cons

  • A convoluted plot and lackluster characters make the story tedious at times.

The Numina Series (2019) By Charlie N. Holmberg

The Numina Series

Sandis, an ancestral spirit’s mortal host, has the ability to be called against her consent as a ferocious monstrosity to carry out her master’s orders.

She had to flee if she wanted to survive. On her journey out of the corrupted city, she discovers an unexpected companion.

Pros

  • From the opening to the last page, this suspenseful journey gets your heart pumping.
  • The story takes place in a rich, exquisitely designed environment.

Cons

  • Some readers thought that the ending felt forced.

The Once Upon A Broken Heart Series (2021 – 2023) By Stephanie Garber

Once Upon a Broken Heart

When Evangeline Fox finds out that the person she loves is getting married, she is distraught.

Evangeline makes a pact with the charming but evil Prince of Hearts out of desperation to avert the wedding and mend her broken heart.

Pros

  • Another series written by the creator of the successful Caraval series.
  • Prose that moves quickly and is interesting to keep the reader interested.

Cons

  • There are a few plot moments that seem to be rushed.

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (2005) By Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1

Mythical monsters appear to unexpectedly step out of Greek mythology books, and into Percy Jackson’s reality when a Minotaur hunts him at summer camp.

He has no choice but to understand that the gods of Mount Olympus are real, and are now actively targeting him.

Pros

  • The first book in the ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series, allowing readers to carry on with the plot after finishing the first volume.
  • Ideal for Greek mythology enthusiasts.
  • There have been movie adaptations of this novel, and the other books in the series, starring Logan Lerman, Alexandria Daddario, and Sean Bean.

Cons

  • The novel has more of an emphasis on action than on character development.

Peter And The Starcatchers (2004) By Dave Berry

Peter and the Starcatchers: The Starcatchers, Book 1

A crash of waves pulls Peter and his new friend Molly to the enigmatic Mollusk Island.

Tension rises as the two characters are compelled to defeat gangs of pirates and crooks in their mission to safeguard a mythical mystery and defend the planet from darkness and evil.

Pros

  • For anyone curious about how Peter Pan and the Lost Boys came to be who they were, here is a prequel.
  • A very creative and entertaining book for readers of all ages.
  • The novel has been adapted into a play with music, which ran on Broadway from 2012 to 2013.

Cons

  • Due to the many character changes, this is more of a prelude to the Disney movie than it is to J.M. Barrie’s novel. Therefore, fans of the original Peter Pan story may not enjoy this prequel as much.

Plain Bad Heroines (2020) By Emily Danforth

Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel

Mary MacLane, a best-selling novelist, is the object of Flo and Clara’s obsession at Brookhants School for Girls.

History is made when their corpses are found with a copy of Mary’s book sprawled beside them, followed by three further mysterious deaths on school property.

Pros

  • The story intriguingly alternates between two timelines from distinct ages that are interconnected.
  • There is a lot of LGBT+ representation.

Cons

  • There is hardly significant character development or growth over the entire novel. 

The Red Queen Series (2015 – 2018)

Victoria Aveyard Red Queen Series 5 Books Collection Set (Red Queen, Glass Sword, King'S Cage, War Storm, Broken Throne)

When Mare Barrow learns she has a unique ability, she finds that her world has been split by blood.

The king marries her off to one of his own sons and compels her to portray the role of a missing Silver princess in order to conceal this. 

In the risky game she plays, treachery is the only thing that can be assured without putting her life in peril.

Pros

  • The reader will be on the edge of their seat the entire time they are reading this thrilling series.
  • A novel idea that feels modern and novel—refreshing in today’s world.

Cons

  • Some readers have complained that the plot occasionally feels a little drawn out.

The Royal Replicas Series (2017 – 2018) By Michael Pierce

Royal Replicas

Victoria Sandalwood’s world is forever altered when she finds out she is the Queen’s daughter.

When she gets to the court, she finds that she needs to outmatch six other girls if she wants to win the Queen’s love and the attention of a noble suitor.

Pros

  • The series has numerous plot twists and turns that hold the reader’s interest.
  • A compelling story overall with standout characters.

Cons

  •  Untied loose ends in the conclusion caused some readers to be dissatisfied.

The Scholomance Trilogy (2020 – 2022) By Naomi Novik

The Scholomance

Failing at Scholomance, a school for magically gifted students will result in instant death.

A student named El is specially equipped to handle the risks at school.

Despite the fact that she lacks companions, she wields a dark force great enough to defend herself against others with little effort.

Pros

  • The reader is sufficiently satisfied as a solo novel, even though each volume finishes on a cliffhanger.
  • The novel has excellent world-building, and the main characters were well-developed.

Cons

  • Several readers complain that the writing is monotonous, due to the little dialogue and a lot of exposition.

The Selection Series (2012 – 2016) By Kiera Cass

The Selection

The Selection is the once in a lifetime opportunity for 35 girls, but being chosen is torment for America Singer.

It entails putting loved ones aside and contending for a title she doesn’t desire. However, all that changes when America meets Prince Maxon.

Pros

  • The reader will have no trouble visualizing each setting and character due to the writing’s exceptional fluidity.
  • Embraceable characters who the reader will appreciate getting to know.

Cons

  • The plot has occasionally been called rather predictable and clichéd. 
  • The series might have been reduced down in length by eliminating much of the filler.

The Serpent & Dove Trilogy (2019 – 2021) By Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove

Reid Diggory, a huntsman, finds himself in an untenable predicament when he becomes associated with Louise Le Blanc, a witch who gave up her magic two years ago.

After Lou executes a malicious ploy, the two are forced to decide between their feelings, and what is right.

Pros

  • The reader has a clear picture of the world thanks to the amount of detail that was put into it.
  • The twin viewpoints give the plot a unique perspective.

Cons

  • The reader may become confused because the magic system can come across as lackluster and under-explained at times.

The Shadow And Bone Trilogy (2012 – 2014) By Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy

Alina Starkov enters an opulent realm of nobility to train with the Grisha, her nation’s magical forces when she awakens untapped magic that she didn’t know she possessed.

She uncovers a perilous discovery that might endanger the future of the country as she uncovers the mysteries of her history.

Pros

  • Characters are clearly developed, and the world-building is intricate.
  • The excitement in the plot is just right, yet there are also enough restful periods.
  • Netflix released a television series adaptation of the first book, starring Jessica Mei Li, Archie Renaux, and Freddie Carter.

Cons

  • Both the male love interests come across as abusive at times, which may be triggering to some readers.

The Sisters Of Salem Trilogy (2021 – 2023) By P.C Cast And Kristin Cast

Sisters of Salem

Hunter and Mercy, twin witches, are derived directly from Goodeville’s founder.

It’s time for the siblings to discover what it takes to be Gatekeepers, just as their forebears did before them.

This calls for them to guard gateways that formerly connected their reality to places where horrors could come true.

Pros

  • Fans of this genre will like the series’ coverage of many witches and deities.
  • This narrative is interesting, entertaining, and full of unexpected turns.

Cons

  •  The plot occasionally moves far too slowly due to the excessive descriptions.

A Spindle Splintered (2021) By Alix E. Harrow

A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables Book 1)

There isn’t much information available concerning Zinnia Gray’s disease, other than the fact that no one has lived past the age of 21.

Her closest friend gifts her a spinning wheel for her birthday, and when she pricks her finger on it, the unexpected happens.

Pros

  • A fascinating update of the timeless fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty.
  • A short, enjoyable read with captivating story ideas.

Cons

  • The plot is occasionally formulaic and clichéd.

Spinning Silver (2018) By Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver: A Novel

Miryem takes measures into her own hands when her father’s failure to recoup his liabilities has placed his entire family on the verge of bankruptcy.

She goes out to recover what was promised and quickly establishes a notoriety for having the ability to transform silver into gold.

Pros

  • Strong world-building and characterization are there throughout.
  • Novik does a fantastic job of humanizing her adversaries and providing them with valid justifications for their flaws.

Cons

  • If you are not paying close enough attention, the frequent switching of viewpoints can get rather confusing and unsettling.

Strange The Dreamer (2017) By Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer

Lazlo Strange has had a lifelong obsession with the declining city of Weep.

He must accept the option presented by a hero, known as the Godslayer, along with a group of renowned warriors if he doesn’t want to forfeit his fantasy for good.

Pros

  • The fictional worlds that Taylor crafts utterly engross her audience.
  • The connections and character growth are amazing and full of wonder.

Cons

  •  Due to the languid rhythm throughout, the reader may become disoriented.

The Throne Of Glass Series (2012 – 2018) By Sarah J. Maas

Throne Of Glass

Celaena Sardothien, an assassin from a realm without magic, is called to the castle.

Although she has no affection for the cruel monarch who sits on the glass throne, she does not intend to harm him. Instead, she arrives in order to secure her liberation.

Pros

  • A spectacular journey that is always evolving and shifting.
  • An entertaining series that will entice readers to read each book in the series to the end.

Cons

  •  For an academic reader, the repeated use of exclamation points and grammatical errors can be off-putting.

The Trials Of Apollo Series (2016 – 2020) By Rick Riordan

Trials of Apollo

Apollo is exiled from Mount Olympus after upsetting his father Zeus. He arrives in New York as an ordinary teenager, vulnerable and lost.

He has to adjust to contemporary life without his divine abilities in order to figure out how to win back Zeus’ approval.

Pros

  • This series was written by the creator of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan.
  • Fans of Greek mythology will fall in love with this series.

Cons

  •  The series can become quite slow and monotonous at times.

The Twilight Saga (2005 – 2008) By Stephanie Meyer

The Twilight Saga Complete Collection

When Bella moves to a small town to stay with her father, she anticipates a tedious life for the foreseeable future.

Everything changes when she becomes acquainted with the mysterious Cullen family, and their eldest son, Edward.

Pros

  • One of the first fictional YA series that picked up steam in the 2000s, providing opportunities for authors all around the world.
  • An exciting adventure that follows the romance of a mortal and her immortal beloved.
  • There have been movie adaptations of each of the books in this saga, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner.

Cons

  • Bella is the very definition of a ‘Mary Sue’, with little to no flaws or interesting features.
  • Some readers were disappointed with the series’ conclusion.

The Unearthly Trilogy (2011 – 2013) By Cynthia Hand

Unearthly

Clara Gardner has angel blood in her veins, which not only renders her sharper, tougher, and more agile than mortals but also gives her a mission.

She thinks she was assigned to this planet to accomplish something important, but she is struggling to determine what that is, exactly.

Pros

  • A primarily modern series with a faint undercurrent of the paranormal and mythology surrounding angels.
  • Although using the cliché love triangle narrative, the romance in this series was flawlessly handled.

Cons

  • As it progresses, the plot turns out to be extremely formulaic and predictable.

Uprooted (2015) By Naomi Novik

Uprooted

Agnieszka cherishes her peaceful existence, but she is plagued by the twisted Wood’s presence.

In exchange for keeping its forces in check, a wizard demands the handover of one girl to serve him for 10 years, a destiny that is much more terrifying than being given over to the Wood.

Pros

  • A fantasy with compelling characters and stunningly inventive retellings of classic tales.
  • Extremely well written, with lots of intriguing people and settings.

Cons

  •  The narrative occasionally lags a little.

The Vampire Academy Series (2007 – 2010) By Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy Box Set 1-6

Vampires learn the arts of magic at St. Vladimir’s Academy, while half-human teenagers also receive protection training.

After getting caught, Rose Hathaway and her closest friend Lissa are now forced to return to St. Vladimir’s, the location wherein they face the greatest threat.

Pros

  • If you want to learn something new about vampires, you should read this series.
  • A compelling read with appealing ideas and characters.
  • There was a movie adaptation made inspired by this series, starring Zoey Deutch, Sarah Hyland, and Claire Foy.

Cons

  • According to several readers, the conclusion felt rushed and ultimately disappointing.

The Vampire Diaries Series (2013 – 2014) By L.J Smith

The Vampire Diaries

Elena is accustomed to receiving everything she’s ever wanted, so she is bewildered when the boy she has her heart set on shows no interest.

There is a dark reason that Stefan Salvatore is avoiding her, and matters are made worse when his brother, Damon, arrives in town.

Pros

  • A gripping series that explores how vampires fit into contemporary society.
  • There is enough drama in the love triangle between a human girl and two immortal vampires to keep the reader interested.
  • A television series was made based on this series, starring Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley.

Cons

  • Avoid reading if you wish to jump into the plot of the same-titled TV series, as the books and show are vastly different.
  • The plot and characters don’t seem to have much depth in the writing overall.

Within These Wicked Walls (2021) By Lauren Blackwood

Within These Wicked Walls: A Novel

Andromeda is a debtera; an exorcist employed to rid homes of the Evil Eye.

One day, a dashing youthful aristocrat approaches her, and offers to employ her; she accepts the position without hesitation.

She soon understands, though, that this is a unique job with many horrors awaiting her.

Pros

  • An intriguing, enchanted interpretation of the well-known tale of Jane Eyre.
  • The ideal balance of romance and horror may be found throughout the book.

Cons

  • Some readers concur that this book’s writing could be better as a whole.

The Wren Hunt (2018) By Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt

In a twisted take on a childhood pastime, Wren is pursued through the woods close to her hometown in rural Ireland by people who are unaware of who she really is.

If they uncovered the truth, the game would undoubtedly become catastrophic.

Pros

  • A beautiful coming-of-age tale set in contemporary Ireland.
  • The reader will be intrigued by the unique and intriguing lore, and be enticed to want to learn more.

Cons

  • The reader’s knowledge and creativity are constrained by the lack of world building while reading.

The Zodiac Academy Series (2019 – 2022) By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

Zodiac Academy

The fate of those chosen to attend Zodiac Academy is determined by their astrological sign.

When Tory and Darcy Vega discover they are Fae, they must learn to control their abilities and battle the four Heirs who seek to take over the kingdom.

Pros

  • With each page turn, the reader will experience a range of emotions, including laughter and tears.
  • The reader will be engrossed by the interactions between the individuals and the subsequent events.

Cons

  •   The nine-book series begins strong but gradually deteriorates as it goes on.

Final Thoughts

Did you find your favorite YA fantasy novel or franchise in this list? Did you notice any that you haven’t had the chance to read just yet?

If so, we highly recommend giving them a try if they have caught your eye.

There is no better way to escape the mundane boringness of everyday adult life than to settle down with a hot drink and an intriguing YA fantasy story. 

So go brew yourself some tea, grab a new book, and escape to another world. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is The Best Selling Fantasy Writer Of All Time?

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is unquestionably the most successful fantasy franchise of all time, having sold more than 500 million copies over the previous 20+ years. This makes Rowling the most successful fantasy writer of all time.

What Is The Most Sold Fantasy Book Of All Time?

With an estimated 120 million sales worldwide, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the best-selling fantasy book of all time.

In the US, the book is more popularly known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Behind Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote in first place, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in second, and Antoine de Saint-Le Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince in third, it is the fourth most popular fiction book of all time.

Is The Lord Of The Rings A YA Series?  

Teenagers can read and appreciate Lord of the Rings, but the protagonists are not young people, and the ideas covered have little to do with the YA genre.

As a result, the Lord of the Rings series is simply regarded as being a fantasy series.

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Noah Burton