The Best YA Fantasy Books for Teens. 30 + Excellent YA Fantasy Books to add to your reading list!
I enjoy many book genres, but when I'm in the mood to read something fun, I often turn to YA Fantasy. I really enjoy escaping into fantastical worlds with magic and mythical creatures when I want to take a break and just read purely for pleasure.
In recent years, my two teenagers have been reading more YA Fantasy books too, so not only do we have a lot to talk about at the dinner table, but they also give me great book recommendations for what to read next.
Together, we've compiled this list of our favorites. We've read every book on this list and loved them all.
Note: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.
Best YA Fantasy Books
Defy the Night
By Brigid Kemmerer
In the kingdom of Kandala, a mysterious sickness is spreading among the people and the only cure is an elixir made from Moonflower petals, which only grow in two of the kingdom's sectors.
Because the elixir is in short supply, and because the two sectors that have it want to make a profit, a dangerous black market has cropped up. Tessa and her partner in crime, Wes, don't know each other's day time identities, but every night they put on their masks and meet up to deliver stolen Moonflower petals to sick people too poor to afford the medicine. This works well until one night, Wes doesn't show up.
I really loved this fast-paced YA fantasy book - can't wait for more in the series!
Dreams Lie Beneath
By Rebecca Ross
The realm of Azenor is plagued by a very unusual curse. During each new moon, nightmares come to life and only the magicians in the territory can save the people from what their worst nightmares conjure up.
Clementine Madigan has been studying to to take over as the magician warden of her small town when two mysterious brothers show up and challenge her for the position. Little does Clementine know, but she is about to be dragged into a century-old conflict.
I loved this book! So clever and hard to put down.
Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles)
By Melina Marchetta
Finnikin was just a young boy when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered and an imposter seized the throne. Now, a curse binds everyone in Lumatere and blocks everyone that escaped from entering. Finnikin, nearing adulthood now, has joined forces with someone who claims that her prophetic dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child that can help break the curse.
This is a grittier fantasy novel that discusses realistic effects of war, famine, bigotry, and rape. Despite it's magical elements, it felt almost like reading historical fiction. Really well done.
Fable: A Novel
By Adrienne Young
Four years ago, 17-year-old Fable was abandoned by her father, a powerful sea trader, on an island full of notorious thieves. Now, she's determined to find her way off the island and earn a place on her father's crew. This proves easier said than done.
I can't resist a good Pirate Fantasy Adventure, and this series did not disappoint.
The Lie Tree
By Frances Hardinge
Set in the Victorian time period, Faith Sunderly appears to be a proper and well-mannered young lady. However, after her father's mysterious death, she is determined to prove that it wasn't an accident and she's willing to break all the rules society has placed on her.
In her search for clues, Faith discovers a fantastical tree that delivers hidden truths when lies are whispered to it. The tree might help Faith solve her father's murder, or it might lure her into a spiral of darkness.
I'm entirely convinced that Frances Hardinge is one of the best and I love every book she's written.
The Raven Boys
By Maggie Stiefvater
I'm a sucker for a good private school book and this whole series is excellent. Gansey is a rich student at Aglionby, a local private school for boys. Blue, is a girl in town who lives with her mother and aunts, all self-proclaimed clairvoyants.
One night, Blue accompanies her aunt to a graveyard to see the ghosts of people who will die within the next year. She's never seen anything supernatural so Blue is surprised when she sees Gansey's ghost at the graveyard. Though she has always vowed to stay away from the Raven Boys (what the Aglionby boys are known as around town) she is now too curious and finds herself pulled into Gansey's fascinating group of friends. These YA fantasy books are a wild ride, but you'll love it!
Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle)
By Tracy Deonn
This is a really exciting new series based on Arthurian legend but set in modern America on the college campus of UNC.
After her mother dies in an accident, 16-year-old Bree Matthews just wants to get away from home. She enrolls in a residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC, but on her very first night there she witness a magical attack by a flying demon that feeds on human energy. It's a fast-paced page-turner that sucks you in right away!
Sorcery of Thorns
By Margaret Rogerson
I absolutely loved this book! When Elisabeth was an infant she was abandoned on the steps of the Summershall Great Library. The Director of the library took her in and she grew up learning all about the dangerous magical grimoires the library protected.
When an act of treachery sets loose the most dangerous grimoire in the library, Elisabeth is the only witness and must now accompany sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn to the capital city for a trial. It doesn't take long before Elisabeth realizes that the attack was just a tiny piece of a much bigger scheme.
By Emily J. Taylor
The Hotel Magnifique, a Belle Epoque inspired hotel, is famous for its whimsical enchantments and ability to travel to a different destination every night - guests never know where they'll wake up in the morning. But beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets and the staff are on a mission to unravel the mysteries.
This is a really creative and engaging YA Fantasy book!
The Thief (Queen's Thief, 1)
By Megan Whalen Turner
If you love a good long series (6 books) full of intrigue and adventure, look no further! This classic YA fantasy book series is much beloved.
The king's scholar believes that he knows the site of ancient treasure. To help get the treasure for the king, he selects Gen, a skilled thief, from the king's prison. As you can probably already guess, this is not going to be a straightforward mission.
The book is exciting at every twist and turn, but I really love how witty it is and found myself laughing throughout. Also, every book in the series just gets better and better.
Tooth and Claw
By Jo Walton
This is one of my all time favorite books. It's just so incredibly clever.
It's like a Jane Austen novel - family inheritances and dowries, people trying to make ambitious marriages, and a lot of talk about society and status - but all of the characters are dragons. It's brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
By Roseanne A. Brown
This is a great fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore with a lot of exciting plot twists. I heard someone describe this book as Jasmine + Aladdin but they need to kill each other, which is not a bad description - ha!
Malik is looking forward to starting a new life with his sisters away from his war-stricken homeland. But, when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik's younger sister, he has to agree to kill Crown Princess Karina to secure his sister's freedom. Meanwhile, Karina is trying to resurrect her mother and needs the beating heart of a king to do so. What Malik and Karina don't expect, as they are plotting each other's murder, is to fall head over heels.
By Breeana Shields
The Splendor is a glamorous hotel that is supposed to be magical experience for its guests. But after Juliette's sister returns from a stay at the hotel, she's acting very different. And then, she vanishes.
Now, Juliette is planning her own stay at The Splendor, but she's looking for answers.
The False Prince (The Ascendance Series, Book 1)
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
My kids and I have read ALL of Nielsen's books and they are ALL good! This series, however, might be my most favorite of her books.
Fifteen year old Sage, a wry and clever orphan that you will fall in love with, gets roped into a questionable plot to impersonate the king's long-lost son. But Sage isn't the only competitor for the role of puppet prince and he knows that if he wins the competition he will be crowned prince, an act of treason he doesn't want to commit, and if he loses, he will be killed, which he also doesn't want. It's the ultimate competition and the stakes couldn't be higher.
Summers at Castle Auburn
By Sharon Shinn
I love all of this author's fantasy books! In this one, Coriel is the teenage daughter of a nobleman who died before the story begins. The royal family wants to keep a close eye on her so every summer they invite her to spend a few months with them at Castle Auburn.
Coriel is oblivious to the fact that over the years, the royal family has been grooming her for a strategic marriage alliance. She's also been unaware of just how unhappy all of the Aliora, a faerie like people who are trapped by humans to serve as slaves for the nobility, really are. When Coriel does realize all that she's been missing, she's determined to do something about it.
This is a fantastic coming of age story!
Book of a Thousand Days
By Shannon Hale
This one is really great on audio (it's a full cast audio book with music and is so well done). This is a retelling of a lesser known Grimm fairy tale called "Maid Maleen."
Dashti, a maid, and her mistress, Lady Saren, are locked in a tower for seven years after Saren refuses to marry man she hates. But before the seven years are up, both women realize that they have to come up with a plan to escape. I really love how the story unfolds.
By Joseph Delaney
This is one of my teenager's all time favorite series! Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and is apprenticed to a local Spook. He has to learn how to deal with ghosts, witches, and other dark entities. But, when he's tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the scariest and most evil witch that YA literature has ever produced, the horror begins.
If you like your YA Fantasy books to be terrifying, then this is the series for you.
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., 1)
By Jonathan Stroud
This British fantasy series is excellent! It's set in modern day England, but the country is facing a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. Only children are able to detect the ghosts well enough to combat them, so they're running the Psychic Investigation Agencies around the country.
In this first book of the series, the Lockwood & Co. agency is trying to redeem itself after one of their cases went horribly wrong. To do so, they have to spend the night in one of the most haunted houses in England and make it out alive in the morning.
The whole series is smart, funny, complex, and genuinely frightening.
A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel (Shades of Magic Book 1)
By Victoria Schwab
I really enjoyed this fantasy series set in a bizarre world with parallel Londons: Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell is a magician that was raised in Red London but serves as an ambassador that travels between Red London and White London, which no longer has any magic left in it. Unofficially, Kell is also a smuggler.
When an exchange goes wrong, Kell escapes to Grey London and finds herself in the middle of a treacherous adventure.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
By Laini Taylor
Karou has grown up in Prague in the workshop of a part human, part chimaera monster named Brimstone who primarily barters for human teeth. Karou spent her childhood helping him collect them, though she has no idea why.
Then, on one teeth-collecting trip to Morocco, and angel appears and tries to kill her. Now, Karou wants answers. Why is Brimstone running low on teeth, what are the black hand prints that keep showing up everywhere, and why is an angel trying to kill her? The answers to all of these questions make for a very fun book!
My Lady Jane
By Cynthia Hand
This starts off like historical fiction about Lady Jane Grey and young Edward VI. But, it takes a pretty fun turn when you find out that one of the characters turns into a noble horse every day at dawn.
This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's so much fun! It's also really great as an audiobook.
Graceling (Graceling Realm Book 1)
By Kristin Cashore
I used to think I didn't really like fantasy that much, until I read this series and then I was completely hooked.
Katsa is a Graceling, which means she is one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. Her skill, however, is an unfortunate one. Since she was eight years old, Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands. And, as the niece of the king, she's been tasked with carrying out the king's dirty work for most of her life.
But the truth behind her Grace is actually a terrible secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms in her land and she's getting closer to uncovering it all.
By Shannon Hale
I love this series with all my heart!
Miri lives on a mountain where, for many generations, her family has quarried stone. But when they receive word that in a year's time, the prince will be coming to their small village to choose a bride, everything is turned upside down. The king's ministers arrive to set up an academy on the mountain that every teenage girl is required to attend to learn how to be a proper princess.
Suddenly, Miri is in competition with her friends and she struggles to understand her own desires and hopes for the future. She loves the education part of the academy and devours the books, but does she really want to leave her home to marry someone she's never met?
The story is complex with fantastic layered characters. I can't recommend this one highly enough! (Also, the book covers for this series really do not do it justice)
By Ursula K. Le Guin
This classic YA fantasy book series is fantastic! Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all of Earthsea was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth. The books of the series take you through his life and how he became the greatest of all.
I thought this might be too "high fantasy" for my tastes, but I actually was sucked in pretty quickly and thoroughly enjoyed every book in the series.
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe
By Ally Condie
Poe Blythe is the 17-year-old captain of the Outpost's last mining ship. But on this last voyage, she's not just looking for gold, she's seeking revenge on the river raiders who robbed her of everything important to her two years previous.
It's a fun, fast-paced adventure and I love a good nautical voyage, especially when there's a traitor on board!
By Frances Hardinge
On the Island of Lady's Crave, the gods are dead. Thirty years ago they ruled the seas as enormous and terrifying part humans, part sea creatures. Then, all at once, they devoured each other and were gone, leaving nothing but body parts scattered under the waves.
Hark and his best friend Jelt are scavengers, diving for relics of the old sea gods that they can sell. But, when they find a strange pockmarked object that pulses, they don't realize what this might mean for the dead gods and for their own futures.
No one writes quite like Frances Hardinge and this YA fantasy is like nothing you've read before.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series Book 1)
By Brigid Kemmerer
This is a loose retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, but with some fun new twists. I didn't like this trilogy quite as much as her newest series, Defy the Night, but it was fun to read.
By Edith Pattou
This two book series is a retelling of the Norwegian fairytale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." I loved it!
Rose's mother has never told her about the unusual circumstances of her birth because she doesn't want her daughter to ever leave home. But, when an enormous white bear shows up at her small cabin one cold evening and tells Rose that if she accompanies him, he will give her ailing family the health and wealth they need, she agrees to travel with him.
The journey is quite an adventure and I loved ever page of it.
The False Princess
By Eilis O'Neal
Nalia was raised as a princess, the only child of the king and queen. But, on her sixteenth birthday they reveal that she is not actually a princess, nor is she their daughter. A prophecy was made about the true princess foretelling her death, so Nalia was raised in her place while the real princess was kept in hiding.
Now, Nalia (and that isn't even her name anymore), is being returned home to a tiny town far away from the only home she's ever known to live with her one remaining relative. Things would be looking pretty bleak for the false princess, except she discovers that she actually has some magical abilities.
I loved the false princess character and the story is really clever!
A Deadly Education: A Novel (The Scholomance)
By Naomi Novik
This is a darker, but equally intriguing, story about a magical school not unlike Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Unlike at Hogwarts, if you fail at the Scholomance, a boarding school for the magically gifted, you die.
I really enjoyed this very dark school of magic and I'm looking forward to finishing the series.
By Alexandra Bracken
This YA Fantasy book is based on Greek mythology. Every seven years, as punishment for a past rebellion, Zeus makes 9 Greek gods walk the earth as mortals while they are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines. If a god is killed while in their mortal form, the hunter responsible for their death can seize that god's powers and their immortality.
Lore's whole family was killed during the last hunt, but she's been successfully hiding out in New York City ever since, pretending not to be a god. She thought she'd done a pretty good job of keeping her real identity secret, but when she is unexpectedly tracked down by her childhood best friend, things begin to get dangerously interesting again.
The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern)
By Shannon Hale
This is a spectacular retelling of the Grimm fairytale of the same name, about a princess who grows up learning the language of the birds and animals before she becomes queen. If you love fairytales, this is a must read series!
His Dark Materials
By Philip Pullman
I think too many people try to read this series when they are too young, but if you read it as an adult or young adult, its true brilliance shines. This is a complex and beautiful series with parallel universes, shapeshifting animal companions, witches, and fantastic armored bears. Just read it!
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1)
By Philip Pullman
If you've read the Golden Compass / His Dark Materials trilogy, then you definitely have to read the Book of Dust series, which is set in the same world, but takes place prior to the events in His Dark Materials.
By Stephanie Garber
Sisters Scarlett and Tella live on a tiny island under the thumb of their cruel father. They think they'll be trapped there forever when fate lands them three magical tickets to Caraval, a traveling circus where you can complete an obstacle course to win a prize.
The sisters are under the impression that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance, but they're about to discover that there might be more to the game than meets the eye.
Lot's of fun magic and just the right amount of romance.
If you’d like a PRINTABLE COPY of this YA Fantasy Books list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone, just enter your email address below!
Amazing Talker says
Hello, great blog and amazing ideas! Thanks for sharing with us ! So interesting 🙂