Escape reality with this list of the best YA fantasy books!
YA fantasy books are known for being filled with over the top action, drama, love, and rich fantasy worlds.
However, if the characters aren’t well developed or the story doesn’t make sense, you’ll find yourself rolling your eyes.
With an endless amount of options to choose from, you don’t want to waste time picking the wrong option out of all the best YA fantasy books available.
So, I rounded up the best YA fantasy books for you! I guarantee that these YA fantasy standalone books and series will keep you captivated from beginning to end. They are full of magic, fae worlds, beasts, enchantments, love triangles, wars, family drama, and more!
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Best YA Fantasy Books: Top 10 Must Reads
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Kicking off this list of the best YA fantasy books is a series that consumed my life as I read. I was sneaking pages at work, staying up late, and reading every second of my free time. This is a rare case where the books continue to improve throughout the series.
It all begins when a human girl makes a bargain with a Fae to become his prisoner in exchange for saving her family’s life. She is brought into their world and becomes entangled in the politics, wars, and passions within.
This series is so amazing it also appeared on my best books of the decade list!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Another insanely popular addition to these best YA fantasy books is the Shadow and Bone series. Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is brought to life in this new Netflix series. Soldier Alina unexpectedly reveals magical powers when her regiment as attacked. So she finds herself training with the Grisha, a magical elite military.
As she attempts to control her untamed powers, the weight of her abilities might make her the country’s only hope at reuniting.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Another series involving a human girl taken against her will into another land. Harper is captured in modern day Washington DC and transported to Emberfell by the prince’s servant. She is supposed to be another girl in a long line attempting to break the prince’s curse. However, she discovers a way to help him and his kingdom stand up against the enchantress who is toying with him.
The second book in the series came out in 2020 and the third is expected in 2021. I enjoyed the second book just as much as the first, so I have high hopes that this will be another rare series where all the books are equally well-written!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
A Young Adult Fantasy novel with a fairy tale twist. In this dark tale, the princess is not the one who needs to be saved. Soraya was cursed as a baby and now poison runs through her veins. Anyone who touches her skin will be killed. So, she’s locked away to protect her family’s royal status. When a demon is captured and brought to her castle, she sees an opportunity to find out how to break the curse. But dealing with a demon might mean turning against her family.
I absolutely adored the Persian folklore influences that serve as the backbone for the tale. The setting, language, and characters all reflect Persian culture and that fact sets it apart from the multitude of other YA fantasy novels.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This is the YA fantasy I didn’t know I was looking for when I read it. Just when they all started to run together, I dove into the world of African myth and magic. All of the standard YA fantasy tropes can be found here, but the setting and culture set it apart.
There were some circumstances and romances that weren’t entirely believable, as often happens in YA fantasy, but it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. There is a sequel, but I haven’t heard great things so I’d skip it and read this as a standalone.
The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
I first read this one because it is available on Kindle Unlimited! In this fantasy world, magicians are paired with various materials, such as rubber or glass. Once the binding occurs, they are only able to create magic through their specific material. Ceony is a new apprentice assigned to learn the secrets of the most boring material, paper.
However, when her teacher’s heart is ripped out through dark magic, she must hunt down his attacker to recapture his heart and save him. It’s a super quick read and the magic system is fascinating. I loved learning how paper is manipulated to create magic. Plus, it’s got a rather adorable and typically strong-headed novice main character.
However, a portion of the plot in the middle was just…weird. I just finished the second book in the series in two days. So, it’s absolutely worth reading, just don’t be dissuaded by that strange section in the middle!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
If you love rich descriptions and lavish settings, this novel is for you! Scarlett has always dreamed of visiting the once-a-year spectacle that is Caraval, where the audience participates in the performance. When an invitation finally arrives, her and her sister flee their home (and Scarlett’s impending arranged marriage) to attend.
However, when Scarlett’s sister is captured, they realize this year’s game revolves around them. The winner of Caravel is the one who finds her first, or she will disappear forever.
This book is pure decadence. Follow along with the game with Scarlett trying to determine what is part of the performance and what is real.
Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This book falls on the younger side of the best YA fantasy books. Everyone knows children have a habit of disappearing into magical lands, especially special kids. When they return, though, they can’t easily return to their lives. So Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children takes them in. When Nancy arrives, a darkness settles over the home and the kids must fight back.
I love that this features younger kids and the powers they possess are each extremely unique! Plus, this is a lengthy series so you have lots of reading material if you enjoy it!
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
One of the first YA fantasy books that I read! Mare lives in a world that is divided by the color of your blood. As a Red, she lives to serve the Silvers, an elite class with special powers. At least until she discovers a secret power of her own and its revealed in front of the King.
To cover up this unbelievable occurrence, the King brings her into the royal family and she begins to play a dangerous game to keep herself alive and help the growing Red rebellion.
I absolutely flew threw this one, turning pages to find out what would happen next.
A Song Below Water by Bethany Morrow
If you’re looking for another diverse option in the best YA fantasy books, give this one a shot! I haven’t read it yet myself but I’ve seen positive reviews across the board and I’m hoping to find it at my library soon.
Two best friends navigate high school together; one trying to hide her siren powers and the other dealing with literal demons from her past. When a siren is murdered, Tavia accidentally unleashes her siren voice at the worst possible moment. They must rely on their unbreakable bond of friendship to survive.
Among The Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
Ashley Poston is known for her YA fairy tale retellings, so I cannot wait to read her take on making this list of best YA fantasy books. Cerys lives in a kingdom where there is no hunger, war, or disease. But she carries with her a piece of the magic from the surrounding forests.
When a new queen is crowned, the threats from the forest start to creep in on the oasis. Cerys must face the dangers, secrets, and untapped magic to find the Lady of the Forest and beg for her help in saving the kingdom.
Are there any YA fantasy books you would add to this list of the best YA fantasy books?
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