Teen

25 of the Best Fantasy Books For Teens

by Feliza Casano

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

Here are 25 of the best fantasy books for teens or readers of all ages to check out — everything from princesses to dragons to heists and street gangs.

  • The Wrath & the Dawn

    by Renée Ahdieh

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    In Khorasan, each new day’s sun rises on another family in mourning: Khalid, the ruler of Khorasan, takes a new wife each night, only to have her executed at dawn. That is, until Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid with a plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the caliph for the women he’s killed, including Shahrzad’s best friend.

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  • Iron Cast

    by Destiny Soria

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    In an alternate 1919 Boston, Corinne and Ada are best friends and hemopaths who use their blood-based illusion magic to perform at the Cast Iron club as well as swindling some of Boston’s wealthiest. But a job gone wrong gets Ada imprisoned, and soon the girls are on the run from the law. Blending a rich historical setting with a touch of romance and a permeating magic, Iron Cast is a fresh fantasy to explore.

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  • Walk on Earth a Stranger

    by Rae Carson

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    The first novel in Rae Carson’s alternate history Gold Seer Trilogy introduces Lee Westfall, a girl who can sense gold in the world around her. To flee from her Uncle Hiram, who seeks to control her and exploit her power, Lee disguises herself as a boy and escapes towards California, where the call of the Gold Rush attracts miners hoping to strike it rich. If she plays her cards right, she might just find a safe place to call her own.

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  • Born Wicked

    by Jessica Spotswood

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    Set in an alternate historical version of America, Born Wicked — the first book in Spotswood’s three-book Cahill Witch Chronicles — brings the witch hunts of early colonial American history into turn-of-the-twentieth-century New England, where networks of witches seek to protect themselves and one another from the anti-witchcraft Brotherhood. Though the plot focuses on the literal sisterhood of Cate, Maura, and Tess Cahill, Cate experiences sisterhood bonds with many of the girls and young women she encounters. Born Wicked uses magic to explore these bonds of sisterhood and all its ups and downs.

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  • The Witch Hunter

    by Virginia Boecker

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    Elizabeth Grey is one of the best witch hunters in the kingdom — but that doesn’t protect her when she’s accused of being a witch herself, and sentenced to burn at the stake. What does protect her, though, is the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom. But the salvation Nicholas Perevil offers comes with a price, and if he or any of his followers learn that Elizabeth was a witch hunter, the offer may very well be withdrawn.

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  • Half Bad

    by Sally Green

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    Nathan is something of an anomaly: He’s both White witch and Black witch, the illegitimate son of the most dangerous witch in the world, and in possession of a power unlike the magic most of the world knows. Imprisoned in a cage and hunted by all, Nathan knows he must escape before his seventeenth birthday, when he can receive three gifts from his powerful and deadly father. But to receive those gifts, Nathan has to find his father first — and stay out of the hands of those who would see him locked up forever.

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  • Seraphina

    by Rachel Hartman

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    Rachel Hartman’s award-winning debut novel takes teen readers into a world where dragons and humans live side by side, even as tensions between them rise. The titular Seraphina is half human and half dragon, with a dragon mother able to take human form and a human father who can’t stand dragons. Called upon to help investigate a royal family member’s murder alongside a very perceptive prince, Seraphina’s ability to keep her ancestry hidden is called into peril, and failing to do so may mean forfeiting her own life. Seraphina is filled with timely themes and has all the potential to become a teen fantasy classic.

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  • Slayers

    by C.J. Hill

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    Rich senator’s daughter Tori has always had a secret fascination with dragons — and that’s before she ends up at a secret summer camp to teach teens to fight them. Before the dragons were killed off by slayer-knights, they left a clutch of eggs hidden to ensure their species’ survival. But the eggs have fallen into the wrong hands, and now it’s up to Tori and her new friends — descendants from those original slayer-knights — to stop the eggs from hatching.

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  • Squire

    by Tamora Pierce

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    As a major Tamora Pierce fan, I always recommend her books, but the Protector of the Small series is my top recommendation, especially for teenage readers. Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to pursue knighthood after the laws of Tortall have changed to allow it, and in Squire, she’s passed the trials of a probationary year and the final exam for pages. But as she continues her journey to knighthood, she must overcome even greater obstacles: finding a knight to take her on as a squire, facing the grudges and hatred of the people who don’t want her to succeed, and following her calling to become the lady knight she’s always dreamed of becoming.

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  • Six of Crows

    by Leigh Bardugo

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    Kaz Brekker is one of the youngest criminal masterminds in the underworld of Ketterdam, and when he’s hired for the most dangerous and lucrative heist he’s ever heard of, the temptation is too great to pass up. But Kaz and his crew soon discover something even more dangerous along their way…

    This delightfully dark heist novel is the first in a duology set in the world of Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy.

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  • The Reader

    by Traci Chee

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    After Sefia’s father was brutally murdered, she escaped with her aunt into the wild. When her aunt disappears as well, Sefia is left with only a mysterious rectangular object from her father to hint at where they both went. And soon, Sefia discovers the real nature of the object: It’s a book, the first one she’s seen in her entire life. The discovery starts her on a journey to learn the real reason her father was killed — and explore her own destiny.

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  • Rebel of the Sands

    by Alwyn Hamilton

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    Gifted gunslinger Amani has no greater desire than to get out of backwater Dustwalk, where her status and poverty keeps her locked in an unending cycle. But after a foreign wanderer named Jin appears in Dustwalk, Amani’s world explodes, opening a path for escape on the back of a mythical horse. After living all her life in the dull, mundane Dustwalk, Amani had no idea that magic still existed in the world — and that magic may be a part of her, too.

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  • Rebel Belle

    by Rachel Hawkins

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    Harper Price was born to wear a homecoming crown. But things become a bit more complicated when this peerless Southern belle gains incredible abilities and becomes a Paladin, part of a long line of guardians with superhuman fighting abilities. And when Harper finds out she’s supposed to guard possibly her least favorite student at school — who’s involved with a mysterious prophecy — things get a little more complicated. Rebel Belle is the first in a YA series that combines the supernatural charm of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with delightful banter and a dash of Southern charm.

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  • Children of Blood and Bone

    by Tomi Adeyemi

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    Zélie Adebola was born into a land of magic — magic that was stripped away when a ruthless king killed the maji, killed Zélie’s mother, and killed the hopes of Zélie’s people along with their magic. But Zélie won’t let the monarchs destroy everything in Orïsha without a fight, and with the help of a rogue princess, she’ll fight to bring magic back, even as the monarchs fight to end magic for good. Adeyemi’s debut novel is the first in an ongoing series and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

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  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass

    by Melissa Bashardoust

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    “Snow White” and “The Snow Queen” are familiar to generations of readers, and Melissa Bashardoust marries the two in a dazzling retelling about Mina, a queen with a heart of glass, and Lynet, a lovely princess made of snow to replace her father’s first wife. Pitted against one another by the king — Lynet’s father and Mina’s husband — and Mina’s father, the court sorcerer who created Lynet, the stepmother and stepdaughter pair must find their own ways forward in this enchanting adaptation about identity, freedom, and agency.

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  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

    by Julie C. Dao

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    There’s no shortage of excellent fairy tale adaptations celebrating heroes, but Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns takes another tack: It’s an adaptation of “Snow White” from the perspective of the evil queen. Xifeng grew up as a peasant in a forgotten village in the middle of nowhere, but dreams of fulfilling her cruel aunt’s prophecy of greatness. But all things come with a price, as Xifeng learns, and to achieve her destiny, she must use the twisted magic she was born with, one that’s fueled by eating the heart of a person recently killed.

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  • Strange the Dreamer

    Laini Taylor

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    The first novel in Taylor’s ongoing Strange the Dreamer series follows Lazlo Strange, a war orphan and junior librarian who sets off to find a mythical lost city when a rare opportunity presents itself. Strange the Dreamer was a Printz Honor recipient in 2018.

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  • Sabriel

    by Garth Nix

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    While attending boarding school, Sabriel receives a package from her father, who has been serving as a necromancer called the Abhorsen, who lays the undead to rest. The package contains a necromancer’s bells, her father’s swords, and a message instructing her to take up the mantle of the Abhorsen to stop a dangerous necromancer intent on destroying the Old Kingdom’s magical rules. This classic fantasy is the first novel in Nix’s Old Kingdom series, leaving interested readers even more of Sabriel’s adventures to explore.

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  • Akata Warrior

    by Nnedi Okorafor

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    A year after being inducted into the secret magical Leopard Society, Sunny Nwazue struggles to unlock the secrets in her Nsibidi book, even under the tutelage of her mentor, Sugar Cream. But the dangers Sunny faced in Akata Witch weren’t the last she was destined to face. With the help of her Leopard Society friends, Sunny must travel through the visible and invisible worlds to Osisi, a mysterious town where Sunny will face down the forces that threaten all of humanity.

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  • Inkmistress

    by Audrey Coulthurst

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    The demigod Asra has a unique ability to write the future using her own blood. But that sort of talent is a dangerous one, so Asra lives quietly on a mountain, where she cares for the villagers as a healer and falls in love with Ina, a girl who lives in the village. Then bandits strike the village, destroying the peaceful life Asra knew — and the relationship she shared with Ina. With her former love determined to destroy the king, Asra must journey away from her secluded mountain and discover the secrets of her own history in order to stop her.

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  • An Ember in the Ashes

    by Sabaa Tahir

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    The first book in Sabaa Tahir’s Ember quartet introduces Laia and Elias, two cogs in the great machinery that is the Martial Empire. Laia, a slave, struggles to survive in one of the poorest parts of the empire until her brother is arrested for treason. Rebels offer to save him – as long as Laia agrees to spy for them inside the Empire’s most prestigious military academy. It’s there Laia meets Elias, the school’s best soldier — who wants to escape the yoke of the tyrannical empire.

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  • The Kiss of Deception

    by Mary E. Pearson

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    Lia lives in a world of rigid customs, and she’s also living a lie: As the First Daughter of the king, she should have the gift of sight but doesn’t, and when her parents use the gift to broker a marriage of alliance with a neighboring kingdom, she knows their lie can’t hold up forever. So Lia flees to a distant village, where she can escape the lies and responsibilities — until two mysterious young men arrive, and Lia finds herself amidst a swirl of secrets that could change her world.

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  • Graceling

    by Kristin Cashore

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    Gracelings are people born with rare abilities called Graces, and Katsa has one of the rarest Graces of all: killing. The ability has put her in service to the king, and there’s only one job for someone with that type of Grace — the kind of job that comes with a dark reputation. But when the foreign Prince Po arrives, everything Katsa knows about herself may be called into question.

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  • Vampire Academy

    by Richelle Mead

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    Rose and Lissa are best friends — and a lot more. Lissa is a princess of the Moroi vampires; Rose, a half-human Dhampir, is her bodyguard. But that’s not an easy job, because the world’s most dangerous vampires want to take Lissa for their own … and after being on the run, Rose and Lissa have been recaptured and returned to the most dangerous place they could possibly go: St. Vladimir’s Academy, a boarding school for vampire elite.

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  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

    by Ransom Riggs

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    Sixteen-year-old Jacob’s journey has brought him to a seemingly abandoned island off the coast of Wales, the site of the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But as Jacob explores the ruins, he begins to suspect that the children weren’t just peculiar, but potentially dangerous … and then he discovers the children are still alive. Miss Peregrine is a darkly entrancing story for those who love the strange and mysterious.

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