Utterly Bewitching YA Books Filled With Black Girl Magic
by Laurie Espino
There’s no better escape than a good YA fantasy read. From mystical witches to futuristic warriors, these stories are genuinely spellbinding. And while introducing young readers to new worlds is important, it’s equally essential that the books they read include diverse protagonists and perspectives. Thankfully, representation has grown within the fantasy world, and there’s no shortage of incredible books to choose from — especially those with Black female lead characters. Here are our favorite Black Girl Magic books for young adult readers.
Time Magazine named Akwaeke Emezi’s young adult debut one of its 100 Best YA Books of All Time! Meet Pet, a mystical creature born from a magical painting and a drop of blood. Pet is on a grim hunt for a monster with a little help from Jam, a non-believer. As their journey unfolds, Jam realizes that not only do monsters exist, but it’s up to her and Pet to save the world from them.
In 2172, the world is at war. In Nigeria, resources are scarce, life is hard, and sisters Onyii and Ify dream of a better life. But then, Ify gets kidnapped. Onyii is intelligent, cunning, resourceful, and skilled with technology. Is she strong enough to rescue her sister and help end the years-long civil war? Packed with action and twists, War Girls is a mesmerizing book that keeps readers hooked until the end.
Skin of the Sea
From New York Times bestselling author Natasha Bowen comes a reimagining of The Little Mermaid. Simi, a mermaid, falls in love with Kola, a human boy whose life she saved. However, mermaid laws forbid them from rescuing humans, and she must now journey to the Supreme Creator to face the consequences of her actions. Inspired by West African culture, Skin of the Sea is a riveting must-read for mythology lovers.
A River of Royal Blood
Sibling rivalry goes to the next level when sixteen-year-old Eva, who possesses dark magick, gets pitted against her older sister Isa in a ruthless battle. As Eva prepares for the fight, she discovers a generations-long secret that has the potential to change everything she, her family, and her country have known. Gripping and full of intrigue, Amanda Joy’s debut novel is a can’t-miss fantasy read!
The Gilded Ones
It’s the perfect time to get lost in Namina Forna’s instant New York Times bestseller! The Guilded Ones tells the story of Deka, a girl whose blood runs gold—a symbol of impurity in her village that results in a death sentence. When a mysterious stranger offers her an alternative, Deka leaves her home to train for the battle of her life. Brutal and brilliant, Forna’s debut novel is a must-read.
All her life, Sunny has never fit in. One day, she discovers she’s a witch with magical powers—or a “free agent,” as they like to be called. As she learns to control her magic, she and her fellow free agents get tasked with tracking down a career criminal with magical abilities. Nnedi Okorafor delivers an award-winning YA novel rich in African magic and mythology set in Nigeria.
Bad Witch Burning
Attention paranormal lovers, this is the next read for you! When a magical mishap brings a dead person back to life, teenage witch Katrell must set things right. But is her magic strong enough? Bad Witch Burning is an enchanting roller coaster of a story that explores social issues like poverty and broken families.
A Phoenix First Must Burn
Sixteen bestselling and award-winning authors come together in this collection of stories that range from folktales to sci-fi adventures and everything in between. A Phoenix First Must Burn shows readers the amazing power of Black Girl Magic with memorable characters ranging from scientists to witches. Diversity and inclusivity shine in this epic and unforgettable collaboration.