Young Adult Fantasy, commonly known as YA fantasy, is a fantastic genre where the main characters are typically under 18 years old. These books usually resonate with both teenagers and adults by blending magical elements with relatable coming-of-age stories. YA fantasy books often explore themes like identity, friendship, and bravery, set in worlds filled with wonder and adventure.
I love reading young adult fantasy books because they have the ability to transport readers like me to fantastical realms while addressing the real challenges of growing up. While these books are fantastic for under-18 readers, they are just as great for adults who want to experience a coming of age tale through a different lens.
I created this article to highlight some of the best young adult fantasy books that have captivated readers worldwide, showcasing why this genre remains a staple in the literary world.
New YA Fantasy Books
January Scaller’s life in the grand mansion of her guardian, Mr. Locke, is one of isolation and oddity, where she feels more like an exhibit than a person. Her world turns upside down when she discovers an unusual book, brimming with the aroma of distant worlds and enigmatic doors. This book is not just a portal to adventure and danger, but also a mirror reflecting her own hidden truths and mysteries. As January delves deeper into the book, she realizes that the stories within are more than fiction—they are deeply connected to her own life, revealing a reality far beyond the walls of her opulent prison.
In a desperate bid to change her fate, Evangeline makes a dangerous bargain with the enigmatic Prince of Hearts. As she gives her first kiss in exchange for his help, she quickly realizes the peril of dealing with immortals. The Prince of Hearts has his own sinister plans, setting Evangeline on a path that could lead to a fairy-tale ending or a tragic downfall.
Sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews, seeking escape from her mother’s death, joins a program at UNC-Chapel Hill, only to encounter a hidden world of magic. After witnessing a demonic attack and failing to have her memory wiped by a young mage, Bree discovers her own magical abilities linked to the night her mother died. Determined to uncover the truth, she infiltrates the “Legendborn” society, allying with Nick, a rogue member. As she delves deeper, Bree must choose between fighting the society or joining their ancient battle.
In a future where humanity is on the brink of extinction, trapped on a planet under constant alien attack, lives Spensa, a determined teenage girl with a dream of becoming a pilot. Amidst the ruins, she discovers an ancient ship with a unique characteristic—it seems to have a soul. As Spensa navigates the challenges of flight school and repairs the ship, she forms a bond with this sentient machine. Together, they embark on a journey that could change the fate of the human race, challenging Spensa to unlock her potential and confront her deepest fears.
In a future where humanity is on the brink of extinction, trapped on a planet under constant alien attack, lives Spensa, a determined teenage girl with a dream of becoming a pilot. Amidst the ruins, she discovers an ancient ship with a unique characteristic—it seems to have a soul. As Spensa navigates the challenges of flight school and repairs the ship, she forms a bond with this sentient machine. Together, they embark on a journey that could change the fate of humanity, challenging Spensa to unlock her potential and confront her deepest fears.
In a kingdom where extraordinary abilities are the norm, Paedyn Gray, an Ordinary, must conceal her true nature to survive. Living in the slums, she masquerades as a Psychic among the Elites, using her keen observational skills honed since childhood. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she inadvertently saves a prince of Ilya, only to be thrust into the brutal Purging Trials, a competition showcasing Elite powers she lacks. Amidst this, Paedyn grapples with her feelings for the prince, whose discovery of her ordinariness could mean her death.
In “Caraval,” Scarlett Dragna’s life on a small island under her father’s strict rule is about to change. Dreaming of attending the magical performance of Caraval, her hopes are dashed when she’s forced into an arranged marriage. But fate intervenes, and Scarlett receives an invitation to Caraval. With the help of a mysterious sailor, she and her sister Tella escape to the show. However, upon arrival, Tella is kidnapped, and Scarlett learns this season’s game revolves around finding her. Told that Caraval is only a performance, Scarlett gets drawn into a dangerous game of illusion, love, and magic. She must find her sister before the game ends, or Tella might disappear forever.
Best Sellers YA Fantasy Books
Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray’s night out at the Pandemonium Club in New York City takes a shocking turn when she witnesses an inexplicable murder by three tattooed teenagers wielding odd weapons. The twist? The body vanishes and nobody else can see the killers. This marks Clary’s tumultuous introduction to the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors fighting demonic forces. Her life spirals further out of control when her mother disappears and she herself is targeted by a demon. Suddenly, Clary is thrust into a hidden realm filled with dangers.
Olivia Prior has spent her life at Merilance School, with her mother’s cryptic journal as her only link to the past. An unexpected letter beckons her to Gallant, her supposed home, but she’s met with hostility and strange apparitions. Determined to uncover Gallant’s secrets, Olivia crosses a decaying wall and enters a twisted version of her home. Amidst the crumbling manor and solidifying ghouls, a mysterious figure rules. Olivia unravels her family’s history and her father’s origins. Longing for a sense of belonging, Olivia faces a choice: to fulfill her destiny as a Prior, defending against the Master of the House, or to stand by his side.
In a world of immortal allure, Jude longs to be like them, especially Prince Cardan, whom she despises. Ten years after her parents’ murder and her abduction to the treacherous High Court of Faerie at age seven, Jude desires nothing more than to belong, despite her human mortality. To secure her place in this realm, she must defy Prince Cardan and confront the consequences. As she delves into palace intrigues, Jude uncovers her own talent for deception and violence. Yet, betrayal threatens to plunge the Courts of Faerie into chaos, forcing Jude into a perilous alliance to save her sisters and the fate of Faerie itself.
King Nikolai Lantsov possesses a rare gift for the impossible, but his past remains a closely guarded secret. Facing external threats to Ravka, he must restore its strength and forge alliances. Yet, a growing dark magic within him jeopardizes everything. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai embarks on a perilous journey to confront Ravka’s deepest magic and banish the haunting legacy within. He risks all to save his country and himself, but some secrets refuse to stay hidden, and some wounds may never heal.
The dream chooses the dreamer, and Lazlo Strange, a war orphan and junior librarian, has always felt his dream led him astray. His obsession with the lost city of Weep has haunted him since childhood, yet he lacked the courage to embark on a quest half a world away.Then, an extraordinary opportunity arises when the Godslayer and legendary warriors seek help. Lazlo seizes this chance, knowing it’s his only shot at realizing his dream.
Nineteen-year-old orphan Signa, shuffled between guardians more interested in her wealth than her welfare, finds herself with the enigmatic Hawthorne family at their dimly lit estate, Thorn Grove. The Hawthornes are a study in tragedy: a partying patriarch mourning his wife, a son struggling for family dignity, and a daughter afflicted by a strange illness. Signa’s world turns darker when the spirit of their mother claims she was poisoned. Teaming up with a gruff stable boy, Signa delves into the mystery. Yet, her most intriguing ally is Death himself, a constant, enigmatic presence in her life. Their complex bond might hold the key to unraveling the mystery, leading Signa into a realm of danger and an unexpected, irresistible connection.
Set in the gritty backdrop of 1878 London, the Infernal Devices trilogy opens with a gripping prelude to the renowned Mortal Instruments series. In this shadowy world teetering on the brink of darkness, Tessa Gray plunges into the supernatural underworld to find her missing brother. She aligns with the Shadowhunters, a group of warriors dedicated to combating demons, including the enigmatic Will and Jem, who capture her heart.
Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier, find their fates intertwined in a world ruled by the oppressive Martial Empire, where defiance means death. Laia’s life in the Empire’s poor streets with her family takes a drastic turn when her brother is arrested for treason. Desperate, she joins forces with rebels, agreeing to spy within the Empire’s elite military academy. There, she meets Elias, the academy’s top soldier who secretly yearns for freedom from the tyranny he’s trained to uphold. Together, they face choices that could alter the course of the Empire.
In a divided Chicago society, sixteen-year-old Beatrice must choose between family and self-discovery. Renaming herself Tris, she faces a grueling initiation into one of five factions, each representing a virtue. As she undergoes physical and mental trials, she forms unexpected alliances, including a complex romance. However, Tris harbors a dangerous secret that could either save or destroy everything she loves as she uncovers growing unrest in their seemingly perfect society.
In the ruins of North America, Panem emerges – a nation ruled by a cruel Capitol and twelve oppressed districts. To maintain control, the Capitol forces each district to send one boy and one girl, aged twelve to eighteen, to the annual Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, the provider for her mother and younger sister, sees volunteering as a death sentence when she steps in for her sister. Survival is her instinct, and she unwittingly becomes a contender. To win, she must navigate the brutal choices that pit survival against humanity, and life against love.
Katsa possesses a deadly skill, capable of killing a man since childhood. Born as a Graceling, she should enjoy a life of privilege as the king’s niece, but her killing Grace condemns her to serve as his enforcer. Unexpectedly, Katsa falls in love with the captivating Prince Po and uncovers the truth behind her extraordinary ability. As she delves into a hidden secret that could unravel the seven kingdoms, she realizes its devastating power. With eloquent prose and a memorable cast, author Kristin Cashore crafts an enchanting world, an adrenaline-pumping adventure, and a passionate romance that will captivate and leave you yearning for more.
In the city of Ketterdam, a bustling hub of trade and intrigue, you’ll find Kaz Brekker, a cunning criminal prodigy. When an opportunity arises for a heist promising unimaginable wealth, he knows he can’t tackle it alone. His motley crew includes: A vengeful convict; A sharpshooter drawn to wagers; A runaway from a privileged past; The enigmatic Wraith, a spy; A skilled Heartrender, using magic to survive in the slums; A gifted thief with a knack for improbable escapes. Together, these six formidable outcasts take on an impossible heist, one that could save the world from ruin, as long as they don’t tear each other apart in the process.
The mysterious Le Cirque des Rêves appears overnight, a unique experience open only at night. But behind the scenes, two young magicians, Celia and Marco, engage in a fierce, magical competition. Unknowingly, they fall in love, and their deep connection affects the circus and everyone involved. As their battle unfolds, the fate of the performers and patrons hangs precariously in the balance.
In a world divided by blood—red or silver—inequality reigns. The impoverished Reds are commoners, while the Silvers, possessing god-like powers, are elite warriors. Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red from the Stilts, despairs of change. But fate intervenes when she lands a job at the Silver palace, surrounded by those she loathes. Shockingly, despite her red blood, Mare possesses a lethal power that could shatter Silver dominance.
First, Edward Cullen is not a regular human; he’s a vampire. Second, within Edward, an unquenchable thirst for her blood simmers, its dominance uncertain. And third, Bella’s love for Edward knows no limits, an unbreakable and irrevocable bond. Dive into the captivating world of Twilight, where a seductive and suspenseful love story unfolds, one with a bite that will leave you enthralled.
Lissa Dragomir, a rare Moroi princess with earth magic, is hunted by deadly Strigoi vampires. Rose Hathaway, a dhampir, protects her. They’re brought back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty. Inside, danger abounds, and Strigoi loom. Rose and Lissa must guard against forbidden love and the risk of Lissa turning Strigoi.
In a realm where a ruthless boy-king takes a new bride each day, only to see her executed by morning, Shahrzad volunteers to be his next bride. Her mission is clear: to end his reign of terror. Each night, she weaves captivating stories that not only ensure her survival but also unravel the mystery of Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan. Beneath his frightening exterior, she discovers a tormented soul.
Classic YA Fantasy Books
Harry Potter’s life is forever changed on his eleventh birthday when he learns from the giant Rubeus Hagrid that he is not just an ordinary boy, but a wizard. Previously unaware of his magical heritage and suffering under the neglect of his aunt and uncle, Harry is astonished to discover he has been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Marking the beginning of an extraordinary adventure, Harry embarks on a journey filled with magic, friendship, and self-discovery, as he steps into a world he never knew existed.
Lyra’s journey takes her to the chilling far North, a land dominated by witch clans and armored bears, and haunted by the mysterious ‘Gobblers’ who steal children, including her friend Roger. Amidst this perilous landscape, she seeks her uncle Asriel, who is attempting to bridge to a parallel world. Lyra, a blend of savagery and cunning, must navigate a path filled with grave choices. Her fierce spirit drives her forward, but she faces a daunting question: can such a young girl influence the fate of worlds? As she draws closer to her goal, Lyra learns the hard truth that aiding one might mean betraying another.
Eragon’s life as a farm boy is irrevocably changed when he discovers a mysterious blue stone in the forest, which unexpectedly hatches into a dragon. This discovery propels him into a world of magic and power, revealing his connection to the ancient order of Dragon Riders. Armed with only an ancient sword and the wisdom of a storyteller, Eragon and his dragon must face the challenges of a dark and oppressive Empire. As they confront formidable enemies, Eragon must embrace his destiny as a Dragon Rider, upon which the future of the Empire hinges.
Sophie’s life as the eldest of three sisters is burdened by a curse of inevitable failure, a belief that only intensifies when the Witch of the Waste casts a spell on her, transforming her into an elderly woman. Seeking a reversal of her fate, Sophie ventures to the mystical moving castle of the Wizard Howl. Within this enigmatic abode, she must negotiate with the heartless wizard, form a pact with a fire demon, and confront the witch responsible for her plight. Her journey reveals hidden depths in both Howl and herself, challenging her initial perceptions and uncovering her true potential.
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, the Crown Princess of Kildenree, grows up immersed in her aunt’s enchanting stories and mastering the language of birds, particularly swans. Her unique connection to nature deepens when she witnesses the birth of a colt named Falada, understanding his very first spoken word. Inspired by the Grimm fairy tale, Shannon Hale’s novel transforms the traditional goose girl story into a mesmerizing journey of self-discovery. The princess, destined for greatness, must navigate a path filled with magic and challenge to unearth her true abilities and claim her place as a leader for her people.