The Ultimate List of YA Fantasy Books: 70+ Best Picks

Ultimate list of YA Fantasy book: The best books to read now!

My love for young adult fantasy books was sparked as a teenager, now 30 years later, I have read more YA fantasies than could ever fit on one list. From my reading experience, the ones below are the best of the bunch. Gathering a list of our favorites was the easiest part of the task. The hard part? Narrowing them down!

Over the years, the choices and variety of YA fantasy books have grown exponentially. The genre has taken off in a way that it now appeals to people who do not typically read fantasy. A book can have romance or history and have a fantasy component as well.

But the best thing about these books is that every young adult fantasy will take you away to a different time or place and let you immerse yourself in a new reality for a little while. Here at Beyond the Bookends, we are constantly reading books so that you can pick from the best of the best.

*Young Adult Fantasy Novels Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

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YA Fantasy Books

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Best of 2023 // Romance // Witch // Vampire // Historical Fantasy // Pirate // Fae // Fairytale Retellings // Magical Realism // Dystopian // Paranormal // Royal // YA Fantasy Series // Stand Alone // Angel // Circus // Dark Academia // Greek// Dragon // FAQ

Best Young Adult Fantasy Novels 2023

Revelle

Revelle by Lyssa Mia Smith

This prohibition-era historical fantasy novel was inspired by Moulin Rouge! It’s filled with romance, carnival performers, and a magical community on an island near New York.

Luxe (our Satine) can use her magic to create illusions to give people exactly what they want but what her family needs is money. When Dewey, a time-traveling smuggler, asks her to help him become mayor by pretending to be his fiance, she thinks her prayers are answered.

Until she meets Jamison, a poor commoner with no magic to speak of. They begin an illicit relationship that might spell doom for them all. This YA fantasy novel held me captive. It was so original!

Tress of the Emerald Sea

Tress of the Emerald Sea: A Cosmere Novel by Brandon Sanderson

If you love fantasy books of any kind, stop now and make time to read this fantastic book. This is the book that you would get if The Princess Bride had a book baby that empowered women everywhere to be the heroes in their own story, seek out adventure, and be brave enough to become who they were intended to be.

Tress has grown up on her tiny island with her one friend Charlie, who is also the Duke’s son, to keep her company. When the Duke takes Charlie away and he doesn’t return, Tress sets off to rescue him from the Sorceress who lives on the deadly Midnight Sea. She will encounter pirates, talking rats, betrayal, love, and friendship on her voyage.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. All the stars to this cozy book. While technically this is a fantasy book for adults, it is appropriate for a young adult or teen audience as well.

Find this book in Pirate Books / YA Fantasy / Best of 2023

YA Fantasy Romance Books

court of thorns and roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This book has a cult-like following for a reason. The first book in the series is a loose fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in the world of Prythian. Magical creatures, humans, and fae are all prominent in the book.

When Feyre kills a wolf in the words, a creature arrives to her house to drag her to a magical land that she has only heard about in stories told to terrify children. Now, she is to remain a captor of Tamlin, a fae, as retribution.

This is a fast-paced, addicting, fantasy romance series with a love triangle that develops by the end of the novel. Book two is jaw-dropping! This series is on its way to becoming a classic that you will want to binge in one week.

While this book is technically a YA fantasy series, the books become very steamy and we see this as one of the best fantasy books for adults as well. We are so excited this is going to be one of the Hulu book adaptations.

Find this book in Books Like ACOTAR / Sarah J. Maas Books / Enemies-to-Lovers/ YA Fantasy / Best Romance Novels of all Time.

once upon a broek heart

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Just when I thought that nothing could top the Caraval series, Stephanie Garber wrote this book.  This YA fantasy romance book will not disappoint her die-hard fans and for those who have never read Caraval, you can fall in love for the first time.  I absolutely loved this book.

Evangeline Fox was raised in her father’s curiosity shop where she grew up learning about the legends.  When Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry her stepsister, she offers the prince of hearts anything in exchange for stopping the wedding.  This deal takes Evangeline to the North where the real adventure begins.

The Prince of Hearts has plans for Evangaline but, throughout the story, we can never fully guess his intentions. This first book in the Once Upon a Broken Heart Series will leave you wanting much more.

If you love Stephanie Garber books, this series is NOT to be missed.

YA fantasy Romance

25 of the Best Young Adult Fantasy Romance Books to Love

If you are looking for more of the best YA fantasy books, check out this list.

Witch YA Fantasy Books

Akata Witch

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

I absolutely loved this YA fantasy book about Sunny, a twelve-year-old girl who lives with her parents and two brothers in Nigeria. Sunny is albino and teased for her looks. This is one of the fantasy books set in Africa that is a must read!

When Sunny discovers that she is a “free agent”, someone with magical abilities whose parents are not magic, she enters a world she didn’t know existed. Sunny and her three fellow magical students must study and learn their abilities in order to stop the Black Hat Killer before he brings about complete destruction.

Unlike anything I have read, the story is woven beautifully and is one of the best fantasy books for teens. if you love young adult books about witches, this is at the top of our list.

Children of blood and bone

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi

I enjoyed this book which is the first in a fantasy series for Young Adults. I listened to the amazing audiobook and I loved listening to the story the way that the story was intended to sound. We were so happy to include this amazing YA fantasy book in our list of books set in Africa. (Orisha is a mythical Nigeria).

When magic disappeared from Orisha, Zelie’s world changed forever.  When the king ordered all the Maji killed, Zelie was left without a mother or magic. She is on a quest to find revenge and bring magic back to Orisha. This is one of the fantasy books for teens that builds a whole new world and brings young adult fantasy books to a whole new level.

The best witch books to read now.

30 of the Best Witch Books That Are Wickedly Addicting

Do you love young adult fantasy novels and are looking for more witch books? Check out this post.

Little Library: Fluff Reads

Young Adult Fantasy Books: Vampires

Twilight

Twilight (The Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight started a phenomenon and obsession with vampires in the same way that Harry Potter created an obsession with magic. This is my opinion but I am sticking with it. This is a must-read young adult fantasy book and one of the best young adult fantasy series.

This vampire series is lacking the gore and fear factor and makes up for it with an amazing romance. When Bella Swan goes to live with her father, she is immediately drawn to Edward Cullen, a mysterious teenager with an old soul. Soon, she discovers he is a vampire. I will not ruin the rest of this cult-like pick from vampire books. But, if you have not read this vampire book yet, what are you waiting for?

It is an iconic urban fantasy series. This love story definitely qualifies as one of the best romance novels of all time. If you love vampire books, you can also check out our list of the best fantasy books for teens.

Vampire Academy and other vampire books

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Royal vampires and their bodyguards train at the famed Vampire Academy where this book is set. Lissa is a princess and her best friend, Rose, is preparing to be her protector. This is a ya fantasy that is not to be missed.

When a series of crazy events threaten Lissa’s safety, Rose is on a mission to figure out who is behind the threats….. if she doesn’t get distracted while lusting over her teacher first. If you like the Zodiac Academy books, we think you will love this pick from fantasy romance books for teens!

New Vampire Book Header

14 Thrilling Vampire Books to Die For

Do you love YA fantasy novels? Check out these vampire books.

Historical Young Adult Fantasy Books

Foul Lady Fortune

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong

This book is more than a YA fantasy. It is a detailed historical fantasy that will transport you to Shanghai in 1931. There, Lady Fortune is an assassin who is almost invisible. She was once known as Rosalin Lang, before she was brought back from the brink of death.

The Japanese Imperial Army has begun its invasion and Lady Fortune is sent on an undercover assignment with no clue who she can trust. This is an in-depth magical realism book that will transport you back. If you love young adult fantasy novels this one is a must read.

The Gilded wolves

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

This YA historical fantasy takes place in Paris in 1889 where coercion, magic, betrayal, and murder are the norm.   At the Exposition Universelle World Fair is an artifact that will give the owner magical Forging abilities.

Severin and his fiercely loyal friends come together to take the artifact in the hope of also obtaining Serverin’s inheritance. Severin finds himself torn between his loyalty to his friends and his desire for revenge. I loved this first book in this YA fantasy book series.

my lady Jane

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

I listened to the audible version of this young adult historical fiction book and I was hysterical. It is a twist on the historical tale of Lady Jane Grey the 9 Days Queen.

Instead of Catholics and Protestants, this book gave us people who could transform into animals and those who could not. It was ridiculous but funny and the authors cleverly wove in historical details and sayings attributing them to the characters.

Serpent and Dove

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Louise Le Blanche is a witch, Reid Diggory is a witch hunter, but when they are forced to be married Lou has to keep her identity a secret and try not to fall for her handsome husband. Could you ask for anything more from enemies-to-lovers books?

Set in the pre-industrial age in Paris, France, this historical fantasy book is perfect for lovers of YA! It’s got funny, fierce heroines, a steamy love story, and a cast that is actually diverse! I devoured all three witch books in this YA fantasy series of books set in Paris.

historical fantasy books

41 Historical Fantasy Books to Revive Your Imagination

If YA fantasy novels are your thing, we have more in our list of historical fantasy novels.

Pirate Young Adult Fantasy Novels

fable 1

Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

October 2020 YA Reese’s Book Club Pick

If you are interested in young adult pirate books, you must add this to your list. This story of a bad-ass female pirate was incredible. Normally, I only like fantasies if they have a strong romantic element. But in Fable, I found myself drawn in by our namesake character and the vivid world description.

Well done, Reese with this sailing novelI need to go update our list of the best Reese Book Club picks now, because this one is top-notch. This is a must-read in this list of fantasy books for teens.

lost in the never woods

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

I loved this unique Peter Pan story that had me thinking about the true meaning of Neverland and the stories of the lost boys. Wendy Darling and her parents have never been able to move on after her brothers disappeared mysteriously five years ago.

Wendy has no memories of the 6 months she was gone and no explanation for why she came home and her brothers didn’t. Now, as children start to go missing again, it feels too similar to be a coincidence. This is a smart, well-written, well-thought-out, twisted Peter Pan story. This pick is perfect for a list of the best YA fantasy books and it is also one of the best paranormal books for teens.

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YA Fantasy Books about Fae

Zodiac Academy and more books set in college and high school

Zodiac Academy: The Awakening by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

Whew. I have found my newest YA Fantasy series addiction. Orphan twins Tory and Darcy find out they are actually Fae after their 18th birthday. And not just any Fae, they are the heirs to the throne and they only need to graduate from Zodiac Academy to claim their throne.

The problem comes in the form of the 4 Heirs – The boys in each elemental order who have been raised to share the throne and rule Solaria together in the Twins’ absence.

They aren’t planning to give up their claim anytime soon and they use their considerable magic in the air, fire, earth, and water elements to put these girls to the test.

This urban fantasy series is on fire hot, with lots of steam, bullying romance, and deadly situations. Even though this is one of a few great books set in high school, do NOT read this one if you are under 18. But if you are looking for books like ACOTAR, you’ll devour this one too! Or check out our list of books like Zodiac Academy!

Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of Air #1) by Holly Black

When Jude was seven years old, her parents were murdered and she was taken to live in the high court of the Faeries with her two sisters. Now, ten years later, Jude is living as a human among faeries and trying to find her place in Court.

This is book is filled with angst, treachery, and drama that makes it completely addicting. I ordered the sequel the minute that I was done with this book, which is the first in a trilogy.

If you are looking for books like A Court of Thorns and Roses, this pick is tamer but addictive as well. This series should be on your radar for books that are more appropriate for the younger YA audience as well.

Find this book in YA Fantasy Romance / Fae Books/ Books Like A Court of Thorns and Roses / YA Fantasy Series / Ultimate List of YA Fantasy / Enemies-to-lovers books

THrone of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This epic book series from Sarah J. Maas was started when Sarah was still a teenager! It’s all about Celaena, an imprisoned assassin who is offered freedom by acting as the champion for Prince Dorian.

As she prepares to earn her freedom in the competition, she begins training sessions with the captain of the guard. As she tries to acclimate to court life, the prince is drawn to her, and a love triangle forms.

The YA fantasy series gets better and better with each book! A total must-read if you are looking for books like ACOTAR and a must-read if you love fae books. Or head over to our guide on all of Sarah J. Maas’s books.

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10 Adult and YA Fae Books for the Fantasy Obsessed

If you are looking for more of the best YA fantasy books about Fae, check out this list.

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Young Adult Fantasy: Fairy Tale Retellings

Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

This debut novel is billed as an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre but I think the Jane Eyre part is the least exciting part of this fantastical tale. (Which is saying something!)

I’ve never read any YA Fantasy book like this one. The world-building is so unique. Andromeda is an exorcist who cleanses households of the evil eye. Magnus Rochester is desperate to have the evil eye removed from his household but no other exorcist will take the job. 

The chemistry between these two is intense and instant, the scenes of terror throughout the book are ideal for the haunting season, and the subtle Jane Eyre references bring the whole thing up a notice. This YA fantasy is one of the best novels about Africa.

Spinning silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I adored this YA fantasy book by Novik. I loved the strong female characters, the story, and the writing.  This book is a classic retelling of Rumplestiltskin that is complex and wonderful and the ending had me in tears.

Miryem’s family are moneylenders but her family is in poverty because her father does not collect his debts. In an effort to save her family, Miryem begins collecting the debts herself and soon a rumor begins that she can turn silver into gold. Soon, these rumors spread to the king of Staryk, and Miryem’s life changes forever when he comes to see if the rumors are true.

Find this book in YA Fantasy Books / The Best Winter Books / Fairy Tale Retellings / Books with Colors in the Title

Cinder

Cinder by Melissa Meyer

This four-book series is set in the future in a time of disease and war.  This series is part twisted fairy tale, part dystopia, and part sci-fi fantasy.  

Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel are re-imagined as you have never seen them before. All of them are smart and strong women far from the helpless damsels in distress we know them to be. 

The first in this series of classic book retellings introduces us to Cinder.  She is a cyborg (part human, part machine) who lives with her……..you guessed it….. two step-sisters and stepmother.

Find this book in Books Like Cinder / YA Dystopian Books / YA Romance Fantasy Books / Best Teen Fantasy / Books Like The Selection

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24 Captivating Fairy Tale Retellings for Adults

If you are looking for more of the best fairy tale retellings, check out this post.

YA Fantasy Novels: Magic Realism Books

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a young adult fantasy book that is narrated by Death. And in this haunting magical realism book, he tells the story of Liesel, a young girl in Nazi Germany in 1939. Liesel is living with her foster parents and learning to read from stolen books.

She also shares these books with the Jewish man who is hiding in her basement. This book is brilliant, powerful, poignant, and unforgettable. While technically a YA historical fiction book, this book is fiction at its finest and is a must-read from our list of WWII books for kids. This is one of my favorite thought-provoking books.

million Junes

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

This is a perfect YA Fantasy read with just the right amount of romance, conflict, mystery, and magic. In the small town of Five Fingers, Michigan, live the O‘Donnells and the Angerts, two families feuding for generations. Jack “June” O’Donnell has always stayed away from the Angert family with no real explanation for the cause of the feud.

When June meets Saul Angert, everything changes. She can’t seem to stay away from him and strange things begin to happen. June decides she needs answers and embarks on a journey that will take her to places she never thought were possible. This is such a unique Romeo and Juliet retelling.

magica realism

30+ Magical Realism Books to Read Now

If you love these YA fantasy novels, you can check out our list of more books like them.

Dystopian YA Fantasy Books

Shatter me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This Young Adult fantasy novel is the first book in a dystopian series that has taken booktok by storm. Juliette can kill anyone with a touch and has been confined to solitary confinement in prison ever since the day of a terrible accident.

Now, she has a cellmate who is no stranger to her. Is this a coincidence? She sees her power as a curse, others see her as the ultimate weapon.

I listened to this book and was very confused at first at the strange noise. It is the sound of her pencil scratching out something she wrote. Don’t give up, it gets so much better. This is just the beginning of an epic series.

Find this book in the Ultimate List of YA Fantasy / YA Dystopian Books

divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In this trilogy, Chicago society is divided into factions dedicated to a particular virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. On a selected day, all 16-year-olds gather to choose their faction.

Beatrice must choose between staying with her family and becoming who she was meant to be. This first book in the trilogy is unlike anything I had read. It drew me in and kept me turning the pages until the end. Of course, nothing is as it seems in this dystopian YA Fantasy.

Find this book in Books Like the Hunger Games / Books Like the Selection / YA Dystopian Novels

hunger games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is the first book in the Hunger Games series and it is epic! In the aftermath of what was once North America, there are 12 Districts surrounding the capital.

Each year, each district sends one boy and one girl to fight to the death in a competition called “The Hunger Games”. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as a tribute to save her younger sister, Prim, from certain death in the games where it is kill-or-be-killed.

Why We Love This Book: This sci-fi book has everything but at its heart, it is a book about family, love, and survival. This young adult book has a heart while making you turn the pages!
Find this book in Books Like the Hunger Games / Young Adult Fantasy Series / Books About Sisters / Sci-Fi Books / Books Like Fourth Wing / YA Dystopian Novels

Young Adult Fantasy Novels: Paranormal

Miss Peregrines home for peculiar children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

When Jacob experiences a family tragedy, he finds himself on a remote island off the coast of Whales. He Discovers a crumbling ruin that was once Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

As Jacob explores the ruins, he finds clues that lead him to believe that these children might be alive even though it seems impossible. This fantastic story is mixed with vintage photographs that bring the characters to life. And while this pick is also a middle-grade book, it is intriguing enough to include it in a list of YA fantasy books.

strangethedreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This book started so strong for me, I was completely enraptured with this world. As the story continued, I found the story changed tones. What was once a hopeful story, slowly became a story of unreachable love.

200 years ago Weep was cut off from the world, so much so that nobody can even remember the city’s real name. When Lazio starts dreaming of a blue-skinned woman, he cannot forget her.

This YA fantasy book has warriors and magic, but is it also a completely original paranormal book. It is unlike any other.

Books like the Selection

Royal YA Fantasy Books

Red Queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I have been on some weird dystopian kick recently – which is funny because I had to be forced to read the Hunger Games. Now I can’t seem to stop! I’m sure I’ll switch gears this summer, but I love this young adult fantasy novel.

In this world, those with red blood are common and those with silver blood are elite with superhuman abilities. In the war against Silvers and Reds, Mare Barrow is special and so is this book. The ending was a total shock! I couldn’t put it down.

Find this book in Books like The Hunger Games / YA Romance fantasy books / Books like ACOTAR / YA Dystopian Novels / Books Like The Selection / Books with Red in the Title

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

We have talked about this series so many times for a reason.  It is so much fun- think Hunger Games meets the Bachelor. It’s a reality TV royal match-making contest in a dystopian world.

But, in this case, the bachelor also happens to be the future king.  Can you imagine if William held a contest to see who would be the future princess?

Why We Love This Book: This is one of our favorite books about royals. It also happens to be the reason that Beyond the Bookends exits, but that is an entirely different story.
Find this book in Books Like The Selection / Ultimate List of YA Fantasy / Books Like ACOTAR / Books Like the Hunger Games/ YA Dystopian Books

the belles

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

I loved the first book. I finished it and immediately rushed into book 2. The people in the world of Orleans are devoid of natural beauty and need The Belles to use their magical treatments to be beautiful. The most powerful of the Belles is known as the favorite and works for the royal family to set trends and perform beauty treatments.

But what happens when a sick queen and a greedy princess have differing views on ruling the people of Orléans and The Belles of the world? The world-building in this YA Fantasy was wonderful and the descriptions of the elaborate beauty treatments painted a vivid picture. The characters were flawed but wonderfully constructed and the teacup pets were adorable.

Find this book in Books Like the Selection / YA Fantasy

Royal Reads: The Ultimate List of Books about Royalty

Dazzling Royal Reads: The Ultimate List of 43 Books about Royalty

If you are looking for more of the best YA fantasy books, check out this list.

Novel Ideas 25

YA Fantasy Series

Shadow and Bone and more books by Jewish writers

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I was so excited when I learned that Netflix was making this young adult fantasy book series into an adaptation. I think it will be amazing on screen and I am so curious to see if they keep to the book or change things, which is so often the case.

Alina Starkov is an orphan who has never excelled in anything. When her regiment is sent into the fold and her best friend is in danger of being killed, she unleashes a power, unlike anything anyone has seen. It may be the answer to the wars that have ravaged her nation.

Find this book in Books Like Shadow and Bone / Leigh Bardugo Books in Order/ Netflix Adaptations

YA Fantasy Stand Alone Books

Dreams lie beneath

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

I adored this stand-alone YA fantasy novel in which local wardens are responsible for recording dreams and later fighting the same dreams when they appear on the night of the new moon.

Clementine is training to be a warden under her father, but he loses his post, and she swears revenge on the challengers. While plotting her revenge, she also seeks to overturn the curse that is haunting the entire kingdom.

Find this book in the Ultimate List of YA Fantasy / Books Like ACOTAR

uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Wow!  This book is an epic adult fairy tale.  It is complex and so unlike any traditional American fairy tale retelling.  An enchanted wood, magic, and mythical creatures grab you and pull you in. This is not a typical damsel-in-distress tale so do not let it fool you.

Agnieszka lives next to a wood filled with dark powers. The village depends on the Dragon to protect them from these dark powers. In exchange, one woman from the village must go and serve him every ten years. To everyone’s surprise, he chooses Agnieszka.

I don’t want to say more about this book and ruin its magic. But, if you love fairy tale retellings or are looking for books like ACOTAR, this is a perfect pick.

Angel YA Fantasy Books

fallen

Fallen by Lauren Kate

I picked up the first two books in this YA fantasy series after turning in a few books and quickly fell in love with the first book and the story of Daniel and Luce’s love.

Luce has been sent to Sword and Cross boarding school, a place for other troubled kids like her. The minute she gets to the school, Daniel catches her eye but he will not give her the time of day. But there is more to Daniel and Luce will discover his secrets no matter what the cost.

This Fae series is addicting. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. If you are looking for romance books about second chances (or third or fourth), you will love this book. If you are into Rhysand, Azriel, Cassian, and the other winged warriors of the Night Court, then you will love this series of books like A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Find this book in Fae Books / Best Fantasy Books for Teens / Urban Fantasy/

storm and fury

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I loved the Disney cartoon Gargoyles when I was a little girl, so when I saw a YA Fantasy book that is also a paranormal romance book, I knew I needed it. I read this to help ease me out of my House of Earth and Blood book hangover and it was a perfect read. This pick from fantasy romance books for

It’s actually a spin-off of one of Armentrout’s other YA fantasy book series, which I didn’t know until after I read the story. I didn’t feel like I missed anything having read this first. Gargoyles are Wardens out to fight demons and protect humans, and one special human in particular. This urban fantasy is as much romance as fantasy.

Circus YA Fantasy Books

caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber 

When it comes to YA Fantasy books, this one is a classic. The story begins with letters from Scarlett to Legend, the leader of Caraval- a game played once a year in a far-off destination.

Every year, every time it is played, the game is different. Filled with magic and wonder, Scarlet plays this destination-based competition to win this year’s prize – her sister Tella – before anyone else can. This is a game filled with magic where the stakes become higher the longer Scarlet plays.

Why We Love It: This is the first book in a three-part series that gets better and more complex with each new book. This series of YA fantasy romance books is a must-read.
Find this book in Stephanie Garber Books / YA Fantasy Romance Books / Books Like the Selection / Best Puzzle Books

night circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Every word captivated me from beginning to end and I couldn’t put it down. The story was magical- both literally and figuratively and the descriptions are so vivid.

The stage has been set for a magical competition between the pupils of two very powerful magicians. The stage: the night circus. The pupils, a man and a woman, are unsure of the rules, unsure of how to win or when the competition will end. As the competition continues, the opponents fall in love- a situation that only complicates their predicament.

This is magic in a way that I never imagined it before. The story has twists and surprises that left me wondering how I didn’t see what was right there all along.

Find this Book in Best Romance Novels of all Time / The Best Carnival and Circus Books / Books Like the Hunger Games / Books Like the Night Circus.

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14 Best Carnival and Circus Books to Read Now

If you are looking for more of the best YA fantasy books, check out this list.

Dark Academia YA Fantasy Books

Most of these magic school books appear on our Dark Academia book list. You can see the full list of dark school-based novels here.

legendborn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Why did I not read this book before now? In a way, I’m glad I just read this because I only have to wait a few more months for the sequel in this young adult fantasy series. If you love YA fantasy books, this King Arthur re-imagining is a must-read.

Bree Matthews’s mother died in a tragic accident and she cannot seem to recover. When she has a chance to attend a special program for bright high school students at UNC-Chapel Hill, she jumps at the chance.

When Bree witnesses a magical attack on her first night there, her world is thrown upside down as she enters the world of the Legendborn. It is a secret society of students with powerful magic who are also descendants of King Arthur! This is one of the best re-tellings I have read.

Find this book in fantasy books for Teens / Books About Secret Societies / Dark Academia

Deadly Education and 21 Adult Books Similar to Harry Potter

Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Thank goodness Hogwarts is nothing like this school. There is not a single first year that would survive. This magic school, The Scholomance, is bursting with magic that is very dark and unforgiving.

Losing a few classmates is nothing surprising. You either graduate or die. If you love the dark side of Harry Potter, you will love this YA fantasy book.

El, along with all other magical children are sent to the Schoolomnace because even though there is a chance they will die inside, they will almost certainly be killed on the outside. There are no holidays and no packages from home. El isn’t exactly worried because she has powers that make her the most dangerous thing inside the walls.

But Orion Lake keeps saving her life and she cannot understand why. All she knows is that she is supposed to stay away from him.

Find this book in Dark Academia Books /Young Adult Dystopian Novels / Best Young Adult Fantasy Series / Fantasy Books for Teens

Books Like Ninth House

10 Books Like Ninth House and More Dark Academia Fantasy Books

If you are looking for more of the best YA fantasy books, check out this list.

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Greek Mythology Fantasy for Teens

percy jackson

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This first Percy Jackson book is about our beloved Percy, who discovers he is a demi-god and must recover Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. He travels into the underworld to locate the lightning bolt and, at the same time, try to save his mother.

His amazing adventures with Annabeth and Grover along the way create the foundation for all the books that follow in this amazing and epic series. This show has been adapted to TV on Disney and is fantastic!

Why We Love This Book: I don’t think anyone has read this middle grade fantasy series and not loved it. It’s a contemporary greek mythology retelling for the ages.
Appropriate for ages 
9-13
Find this book in
Books like Percy Jackson / Epic Guide to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson Books / Audiobooks for Kids

Perfect for fans of Harry Potter / Keeper of the Lost Cities / Tween & Teen Fantasy Books

THe lovely war and more greek mythology retellings

Lovely War by Julie Berryir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=3d6ee39d2b5d0e26bc7f578d95ac9cb4& cb=1601478566491

This book’s premise had me a little skeptical, Greek Gods telling a love story set in WWI? I didn’t think it was up my alley. I must have had it recommended to me almost a dozen times now, and now I’m the one recommending this young adult fantasy novel.

It was two, sort of three, love stories in one historical romance book, but it touched on racism, PTSD, and the sacrifices of war. It was so well handled that I was sad to see it end.

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Greek Mythology Retellings

If you love Greek mythology retellings, you can find more on this list.

YA Fantasy Books with Dragons

Dawn of

A Dawn of Onyx (The Sacred Stones Book 1) by Kate Golden

While technically published in December 2022, this YA fantasy novel is currently being re-released and I am so glad that it is. This is a breakout TikTok YA fantasy romance book that is the first in the series.

Arwen Valondale has always had the ability to heal with the touch of her hands. When she is captured by the King of Onyx’s soldiers while trying to save her brother, she is brought back to the vicious king’s kingdom as a prisoner.

Soon she finds herself training with a healer and unable to escape due to the vicious beasts in the surrounding forest. If you love YA fantasy novels, this book is a must-read for 2023

Eragon

Eragon (Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini

Eragon, a 15-year-old boy, believes that he is merely a farm boy until one day, he discovers a polished blue stone in the forest. When the stone hatches and a dragon emerges, Eragon enters a world full of magic and power that he never knew existed.

Eragon discovers that he is a dragon rider, one of the few left.  This middle-school fantasy series is a world of dragons, magic, and power.  Almost a “Dragon Masters” for the more mature reader, this series will take you into a world of fantasy you won’t forget. This is another pick on our list of YA fantasy books that are technically middle-grade but worth the read.

Looking for Dragon Books for Kids? Check out our post here.

Frequently Asked Questions About YA Fantasy

What Does YA Fantasy Mean?

YA fantasy is short for young adult fantasy. Ya fantasy are books written for ages 12-18. Here at Beyond the Bookends, our list of YA fantasy books are primarily for an audience of 14+. While many middle schoolers are able to read at higher levels, the content may not be apporpriate.

What is the Difference between YA fantasy and NA fantasy?

Young adult refers to teen readers from afes 12-18, New Adult is typically ages 18-25. There is often no difference in the content of NA books and adult books other than the age of the characters.

What age is YA fantasy?

In YA books, the protagnonists are typically ages 12-18. Often authors will make the protagonist the age of the audience. For example in the first Harry Potter, he is 11 but by the end of the series, he is 17. The subject matter in the later books are more mature.

What are the most popular Ya Fantasy books

The most popular YA fantasy book on BookTok are:
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi

Whew. That’s our extensive list of YA fantasy books. Is your favorite on the list?

best teen fantasy header

24 Best Fantasy Books for Teens to Read Now

If you love this list of YA fantasy novels and are looking for more, you can check out this post

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