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Best Young Adult Fantasy Books

Fantasy Categorized as YA usually featuring a teenage protagonist

Young adult fantasy targets readers between the ages 12 to 18 and typically feature a young adult as the main character of the story. Because of the protagonist's age, coming-of-age often plays a key role in YA fiction.

We’ve given a list of what we consider to be the best modern YA fantasy books, drawing from a number of different styles of fantasy from different periods, ranging from the recently published to several decades old. Each of the suggested books is highly recommended as a great read for teenagers and adults alike. A good number of these titles may be familiar to you as classics, but there may be a few surprise reads in the mix too.

YA Fantasy Books vs. Children's Fantasy Books

We distinguish between Young Adult fantasy books and Children’s fantasy books in that YA books often have more complex, adult themes than children’s fantasy; YA fantasy might be considerably darker in tone and atmosphere as well. Quite a few YA fantasy books can be read by readers under the age of 12, however. Many of these stories can easily be appreciated by adult readers as well. Be sure to read our related Best Children's Fantasy Books list which suggests specific books for children (readers under the age of 12). There may be some overlap between the two lists.

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Awards Won:1997 LocusF
Award Nominations:1997 NEBULA, 1997 WFA

George R.R. Martin has been dubbed the "America Tolkien" by Time magazine and rightly so, Martin's influence on modern fantasy is unparalleled. His acclaimed series, A Song of Ice and Fire, has been reimagined on the small screen in one of the most popular HBO series in history 'Game of Thrones'. A Song of Ice and Fire, currently comprised of 5 gargantuan novels (with Martin predicting a 7-book series), features extreme levels of violence, deception, sex and betrayal, so this series is not for the feint hearted.

A Song of Ice and Fire is set over two continents the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the vast land of Essos; which serve as detailed backdrops for Martin's epic tale of magic, treachery, love, war and blood. The scope and detail of A Song of Ice and Fire is enormous and Martin is unrivalled in his ability to develop an enthralling story while examining the perspectives of dozens of different characters.

One of the most compelling aspects of A Song of Ice and Fire is Martin's depiction of major and minor characters. Martin excels at crafting rounded, multidimensional characters, whether they're heroes, villains or, more likely, something in between.

Well-paced and extremely detailed, Martin takes tired fantasy tropes (e.g. armies of the dead and fire-breathing dragons) and breathes new life into them, crafting a dark and compelling story. Nevertheless, you should know that "A Song of Ice and Fire' is laden with mature themes and is only appropriate for older teens and adults.

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In his self-acclaimed magnum opus, The Dark Tower series, Stephen King has crafted a unique multi-genre tale that blends fantasy with science fiction and Western fiction. Comprised of 8 books, The Dark Tower series is centred on Roland Deschain, the last member of a warrior group known as Gunslingers.

Having taken over two decades to write, King's tale is lengthy and complex and thus, can be a little daunting for all readers, whether your new to the fantasy genre or a veteran fan of King. However, this epic tale will not disappoint and King's fascinatingly unique tale will have readers hooked until the very last book.

Readers are guaranteed to become invested in King's fantastical setting, a world with a rich history of ancient technologies, old magic and seemingly impossible occurrences. As the series progresses, readers will begin to notice King's subtle expansion of this world, an action that takes nothing away from character and plot development throughout the series.

King's story is layered with detail, subtly blending Arthurian imagery with Western-style adventurism. In the process, King creates a truly unique tale a story that manages to be enchanting and unsettling at the same time.

Given King's talented writing ability and unique imagination, it's hard not to love The Dark Tower series. Filled with refreshing twists, enthralling scenes and memorable themes, The Dark Tower series is in a league of its own in the fantasy genre. 

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The Hobbit is one of the most well-loved fantasy novels of all time. Written by J.R.R Tolkien as a bedtime story for his children, The Hobbit is a light-hearted tale, focussing on the exploits of an increasingly adventurous hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Set in the same world as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit ties into and lays the foundations for Tolkien's more famous work. However, The Hobbit, which functions as an excellent standalone book, definitely shouldn't be viewed as an inconsequential novella or tie-in novel.

Unfortunately, Tolkien occasionally gets caught up in the minor details of world-building, spending entire chapters on meandering side plots. While this can make for slow read at times, Tolkien's masterful character development is sure to keep the reader hooked from the first page. Bilbo is one of Tolkien's most relatable characters, an unassuming hobbit who is plucked from his comfortable life and thrust into a fantastical world of magic, thievery and battle.

In comparison to The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Tolkien keeps The Hobbit grounded in a single main storyline. Instead of trying to save all of Middle-earth, Bilbo and his companions are dedicated to one goal to steal an ancient relic from a dragon's treasure trove. Since being published in 1937, The Hobbit has stood the test of time, and it remains an incredibly popular novel to this day.

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With a Martin-esque plot and Jim Butcher pace, The Axe and the Throne is a definite "must read" for even the pickiest fantasy fans.

In his stunning debut, Ireman has built the type of world so vivid and engrossing that leaving it at the end is agony. In spite of leaning toward grimdark, where authors often enshroud every scene in depressing darkness, there is no lack of cheerful moments or brilliant scenery. Yet the pangs of near-instant nostalgia that come after you put down a book like this have less to do with the inspired setting, and far more to do with those who inhabit it. 

From savage, unremorseful heroes, to deep, introspective villains, the cast of this story is comprised of believable characters capable of unthinkable actions. And it is these characters -- the ones you wish you could share a drink with or end up wanting to kill -- that forge the connection between fantasy and reality. Keethro, Titon, Ethel, Annora. These are names you will never forget, and each belongs to a man or woman as unique as they are memorable. 

No book would be complete without a its fair share of intrigue, however, and there is no lack of it here. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and Ireman's masterful use of misdirection leads to an abundance of "oh shit" moments. Do not be fooled (or do -- perhaps that's part of the fun) by storylines that may appear trope-ish at first. This is no fairytale. 

Available on Amazon & Audible, Barns & Noble, iTunes, Google, and Kobo.

In the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon reinvents the use of time-travel in fantasy and historical fiction, crafting a thrilling drama set in the 18th and 20th centuries. The series follows Claire Randall, an ex-combat nurse who travels through time to the Highlands of Scotland during the Jacobite rebellion.

Gabaldon cleverly employs the use of multiple viewpoints, slowly building a complex cross-era plot. In the process, the author's attention to detail in the characterization of central and supporting character leaves the reader feeling as though they know each and every individual in Gabaldon's world. Gabaldon doesn't shy away from adult themes, blending historical fiction with adventure, mystery and, most importantly, love.

While Gabaldon's tale is highly engaging and very digestible reading for fans of the fantasy genre, readers should be aware that the adult themes in her books can have very dark elements, including sexual assault and torture. During these scenarios, Gabaldon's excellent prose can be almost too descriptive at times, especially considering that the book is marketed as a romantic fantasy. This novel would not be recommended for younger teens, however, the fainthearted can easily skip the more gruesome chapters and still follow the story.

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In his novel, American Gods, Neil Gaiman ventures into the heart of contemporary America, juxtaposing the decline of America's 'Old Gods' with the rise of new 'deities' (e.g. technology, mass media, and globalization). Gaiman's descriptions of the Old Gods, whether they're Irish leprechauns, Muslim djinns or Judeo-Christian figures, is compelling, distinctive and utterly unique.  

In American Gods, Gaiman shows his mastery of his craft, effortlessly constructing a gritty and atmospheric world. This story is magnificently broad in its scope, but the ambitious world building takes nothing away from Gaiman's characters whether they're gods, humans or something else entirely. Moreover, the author makes no attempt to dilute the book's plot an expects the reader to keep up with American Gods' fast paced and complex storyline. At 465 pages, American Gods is a hefty read. However, don't let that dissuade you. Gaiman keeps the story moving, crafting smart and unexpected plot developments at every turn.

Gaiman's characters have an extraordinary presence in American Gods. The protagonist, a man known only as 'Shadow', serves as Gaiman's vehicle, taking the reader on a journey into an increasingly dark and fantastical world. Filled with mystery, Shadow's journey across America is interspaced with flashbacks describing the development of America's many deities and imaginative soliloquys on the nature of worship in America.

As a fantasy novel, 'American Gods' is a truly unique addition to the genre. Amazon Prime recently adapted Gaiman's work for their hit show of the same name. But before you check it out, take the time to read the original masterpiece you won't regret it.

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It is no surprise that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series made it onto this list. Enchanting children with wizards, witches and magical wonders, the Harry Potter series has captivated audiences for decades. Rowling's simple, yet incredibly entertaining and enchanting prose makes this series simply one of the most accessible series in the fantasy genre, a fact proven by its popularity across a variety of different demographics.

Rowling's protagonist, the titular Harry Potter, is portrayed as an 'everykid,' one who turns out to have an incredibly important role in the wizarding world. This point alone is one of the main reasons that this series is so popular. Rowling's story preys upon everyone's desire to be something greater than the norm. Furthermore, Rowling's story allows for readers to entertain the notion that magic, both literal magic and the wondrous idea of magic, is a hidden part of the world.

Each character throughout Rowling's story matures and develops with every book, growing with the readers as they face the challenges and hardships of adulthood. As the series progresses, darker themes are introduced, enriching the series with more emotional and nuanced storytelling. However, it's the core themes of the Harry Potter series, love and friendship, that are and will continue to be the main draw of Rowling's work.

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This haunting children's novel follows a young, curious girl named Coraline, who discovers a hidden world inside a locked cupboard in her home. Inside this world, everything is better. Her father isn't glued to his computer and her mother has time for her. However, this short novel quickly turns dark when Coraline realises that her real parents have been kidnapped and it's up to her and her cat to track them down.

This dark yet insightful fairy-tale undeniably proves that Gaiman has mastered the ability to craft a non-condescending and highly immersive fantasy book that also appeals to adults. Much like Rowling's Harry Potter, Gaiman's protagonist, Coraline, is an intelligent, inquisitive, slightly contrary child. This character depiction will appeal to children and adults alike, invoking feelings of parental inattention, boredom and, most importantly, an innate curiosity of what lies behind a locked door.

Labelled by Gaiman as "refreshingly creepy," this novel has charmed thousands of readers with its unusual and positively terrifying Tim Burtonesque darkness and inimitable style of writing. Gaiman's work is always unique and Coraline stands apart as one of the author's most distinctive stories.

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The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is arguably the most famous fantasy series of all time. J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, made up of 'The Fellowship of the Ring', 'The Two Towers', and 'The Return of the King', is set in the fantastical land of Middle-earth and centres on a grand battle between good and evil. The scope of Tolkien's work is truly epic and his characters, which include hobbits, elves, men, orcs and wizards, are some of the most memorable personalities in the fantasy genre.

Since being published, The Lord of the Rings has had an unrivalled impact on fictional storytelling, holding a special place in the hearts of children, teenagers and adults. If you've never read Tolkien's magnum opus, you may find it difficult to engage with the author's overly, descriptive language, lore-heavy plot, and long-winded storytelling. However, if you persist and keep engaging with Tolkien's plot and the characters, you'll find a truly fantastical world, steeped in magic, camaraderie and love. Tolkien's masterpiece has rich character progression and, as the trilogy progresses, the author continues to breathe life into the motivations and weaknesses of each major character.

The Lord of the Rings widened its audience after Peter Jackson's acclaimed cinematic retelling drew acclaim. However, it's important to remember that, despite Jackson's successes, Tolkien's work has had an even bigger impact on fiction and fantasy, laying the foundations of modern fantasy tropes and storytelling techniques. If you've just finished The Lord of the Rings, check out Tolkien's first story in the world of Middle-earth and an earlier addition on this list: The Hobbit.

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C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia when he was a professor at Oxford University, and, after reading the 7-book series, it's easy to see that Lewis was a skilled writer and author. The Chronicles of Narnia, made up of 'The Magician's Nephew', 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', 'Prince Caspian', 'The Horse and His Boy', 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader', 'The Silver Chair', and 'The Last Battle', is set in the imaginary or alternate world of Narnia. The series spans the entire history of Narnia and each book focusses on a group of children, who play central roles in Narnia's history.

Narnia is a truly fantastical world, featuring talking animals, mythical creatures and other more common fantasy characters (e.g. dwarves and centaurs). Lewis has been both praised and criticised for writing about difficult themes in The Chronicles of Narnia, dissecting the role and experiences of children while: growing up, believing in unexplainable things and acting like heroes. In particular, Lewis has been criticized for his heavy use of Christian themes in The Chronicles of Narnia, with religious motifs being a frequent occurrence throughout the series.

Nevertheless, from a purely academic standpoint, The Chronicles of Narnia is still an influential archetype of the fantasy genre and is renowned for its formative effect on the depiction of children in fantasy novels.

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With the first novel of this series adapted from a fairy-tale by the Brothers Grimm, Shannon Hale has created an immersive and familiar narrative in The Books of Bayern. Hale's clear, concise and easy to follow writing styles paints a vivid and imaginative picture of an enchanting kingdom on the verge of war. With such lyrical prose and deep themes, Hale has ensured that the reader is too busy to wonder why the princess can talk to animals or how people are harnessing the power of the elements on a whim.

The strong, independent heroine of the first novel, Ani, makes this series an excellent choice for young girls or women looking for inspiration to stand up for what they believe in.  Not only is this series not your typical princess fairy-tale, the fantastical elements of the story create a thrilling tale that's likely to have you engrossed in a world of deceit, love and betrayal.

Hale's characterization of Ani is a roaring success, creating an incredibly likeable and genuine character for readers to empathise with. Similar praise can be levelled at the remaining three novels in the series, 'Enna Burning', 'River Secrets' and 'Forest Born', with every character developing an increasingly mature voice throughout the series. While the first novel, Goose Girl, is more light hearted, the second novel, Enna Burning, does deviate to heavier themes, with the protagonist facing a number of personal and physical struggles.

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Before famous director, Hayao Miyazaki turned Howl's Moving Castle into an animated film, it was an enchanting novel written by Diana Wynn Jones. This novel follows the life a young girl who is destined, as the eldest of three daughters, to fail if she ever pursues success. In a world where the tropes of most modern fairy tales are accepted ways of life, Jones' protagonist, Sophie, must learn to shape her surroundings instead of being shaped by them.

Initially, Jones' Howl's Moving Castle appears to be clichd. Sophie is cursed by an evil witch before stumbling upon a living, breathing castle inhabited by a wizard called Howl, on the outskirts of the magical Kingdom of Ingary.

While this narrative may stay true to many classic tropes of the fantasy genre, such as magic witches and talking objects, Jones' novel features a memorable setting, unique characters and a striking plot. The subtle, Victorian prose, similar to that of novels like Jane Austen, allows the reader to establish a vivid and in depth image of each character. Furthermore, the magical Kingdom of Ingary is perfectly developed, with Jones giving just enough information to build a mental picture while still allowing her readers to run their imaginations wild.

While Miyazaki's film and Jones' novel follow the same premise, they differ greatly in plot and characterization, making them almost two entirely different stories. If you've enjoyed either version of this tale, you'll likely enjoy the other as well.

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Suzanne Collins' engaging narrative, while not entirely original, has garnered millions of fans across the globe, proving that The Hunger Games Trilogy has something for adults and children alike. On a superficial level, this trilogy boasts an engaging and blood-pumping plot, a courageous and independent protagonist, a futuristic alternative world and a both heart-breaking and heart-warming love story.

However, on a deeper level, Collins presents the reader with an opportunity to question the human morality of this alternate universe, where people watch a 'gameshow' where young children fight each other to the death in a secured arena. Using her dystopian society, which features a geographic class system, Collins poses important questions about humanity's tendency to become selectively outraged by moral issues.

The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is the heroine of the story, characterized as a brave, fearless, strong and selfless young woman who inspires a rebellion across the broken and divided country of Panem. Despite instances of clunky writing, Collins excels at writing emotional scenes, cleverly drawing parallels between the brutal slaughter of the 'Hunger Games' and the gluttony of other citizens.  

While the second and third books of this series have been heavily criticized, it is the first novel, The Hunger Games, that has brought this series to its startling popularity. The narrative voice and steady pacing of the novel completely draws the reader into the world of Katniss, allowing them to be immersed in her struggles and her victories.

Some of the imagery can be quite graphic, especially considering that most of the series is comprised of children killing each other in brutal and horrific ways. Nevetheless, if you can stomach the violence, you'll find that Collins' story of violence, love, corruption and bravery is one of the most powerful fantasy series in recent years.

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“On the shores of despair, there was a maiden, she was my quarry and my redemption.”

Marishka Grayson’s novel Bloodreign I: Regnum Ignis is a new breed of adult neo-gothic fantasy—a cross-genre novel that defies easy categorization but makes for a scintillating and highly enthralling read.

Magdalena’s encounter with the vicious but fascinating creatures of light, the Nuria, push her to the brink of sanity. Dark and brooding, the story reveals a hidden world of beings who possess magic, and a lore whose thread is hidden in the haze of history. Battling against their own violent, lustful nature and seeking atonement, the Nuria pursue their goals in the constant shadow of powerful foes—magi who have sworn to destroy them. Allegiances shift, alliances form and shatter. But through all the madness, there may be one immutable constant—Arik Kuno, grandson of the Sovereign and heir to the title of Luminary, whose obsession with Magda seems to have no bounds and time itself cannot wane.

Click here to buy Bloodreign on Amazon. For more information about the book and author, check out her blog.

In The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Claire takes the stereotypical characters of fantasy and completely reinvents them into a thrilling and immersive fantasy narrative. The Mortal Instruments series follows the life of protagonist, Clary Fray, after she witnesses a murder in a nightclub. However, this murder has a twist; no one else can see the murderer and the body disappears into thin air. This is when Claire introducers the reader to the world of Shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves and other mystical beings, all wrapped up in one action packed, humorous, dark and sleek story.

If you liked aa combination of horror and classic fantasy, the fast-paced prose of this story will have you completely hooked. Claire is a talented writer and she excels at developing likeable and sympathetic characters. From the nerdy and adorable best friend to the seemingly snarky, 'bad boy' Shadowhunter, Claire completely immerses Clary, and thus, the reader, directly into the dark and mysterious world of Shadowhunters.

This series is perfect for young teens looking to delve into a non-conventional fantasy series. The Mortal Instruments has a little bit of everything for the reader; action, drama and just a touch of romance. With each book in the series getting better and better, Claire will constantly surprise you with the twists and turns on every page.

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The Bartimaeus series is a fantastic children's story, following a young magician, Nathanial and the stubborn and raucous djinn, Bartimaeus, he nominally controls. The novels follow the pair on a journey through an alternative representation of London dominated by a magical oligarchy. If this sounds unique, you're right Stroud's imaginative depiction of magic is London remains one of the most fascinating ideas in the entire series. 

In The Bartimaeus Series, Stroud continues to captivate thousands of readers, presenting an a unique take on a tired idea in the fantasy genre. The series is based on the premise that spirits, self-serving masters and magic as a whole, have been known throughout history. Specifically, the magical occurrences in Stroud's world have culminated in a society where the masters, who can summon the spirits to do their bidding, control the government and the 'commoners', are forced into slavery.

Stroud quickly paints an intriguing image of the protagonist, Nathanial, who is an ambitious, arrogant 11-year-old who supersedes his government superiors and attempts to create chaos or rebellion. While there are a number of serious themes amongst the novels, namely the death of multiple characters, the cheeky and humorous djinn Bartimaeus adds a more light-hearted aspect to the story, making this series completely suitable for young adult readers looking for a unique alternative to the well-known wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Jonothan Stroud has created a truly unique and inventive world of whimsical fantasy, taking lesser known fantastical creatures, such as djinns, and incorporating them into an incredibly exciting and heart-warming tale.

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Award Nominations:2012 LocusYA

Most recently adapted into a chilling, gloomy film by the infamous Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is yet another entertaining and engaging young adult novel to recently hit the shelves. Starting his story with a number of 'peculiar' children being housed in an orphanage, Ransom Riggs has created a mysterious, deranged and completely horror-filled tale. The inspiration for Riggs' work was a collection of eerie vintage photographs of young children and teens with peculiar features.

While the plot of this novel is a little slow moving at times, it definitely doesn't lack in adventure and mystery. Riggs begins the novel on a strong note, writing humorous descriptions and peppering the narrative with some clever World War 2 analogies. Although Riggs' writing style is very simplistic, he never fails to create beautiful and haunting imagery, indicating his suitability for the dark fantasy genre.

The 'peculiar' characters Riggs slowly introduces throughout the story have all sorts of weird and wonderful talents and traits that defy the bounds of logic and common sense. The protagonist, Jacob, will become a highly relatable character for young teens and adults, with Riggs introducing some important issues regarding mental health throughout the novel.

This novel could be considered 'scary', and even disturbing at times. However, Riggs sys away from graphic depictions of violence and this chilling tale is a must read for all young teens and adults.

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The protagonist of Emily Henry's novel, June, is not your typical young adult narrator. June is shockingly funny and more than just a typical female protagonist hung up on her high school crush. Don't get me wrong, A Million Junes does include a somewhat clichd love story, however, everything else in this novel is anything but clichd. Henry's impeccable writing style has created a beautiful, haunting and dramatic novel that will make any reader question their belief in the unexplained.

Loosely based on the premise of Romeo and Juliet, June and the other major character, Saul, belong to the opposing families in the midst of a century long feud. Despite this, they develop an intense emotional connection, and inevitably begin to question the mysterious reasons behind their family's' longstanding feud.

Henry has created a wonderfully balanced plot, taking the reader through a narrative of 'forbidden romance' as well as a greater evil that is threatening their world. Furthermore, Henry's ability to blend the magical elements of the story into the contemporary setting made for a seamless plot with no jarring or awkward rhetoric.

Emily Henry's novel, evocative and full to the brim with lifelike characters, will be so enjoyable you'll never want to put it down.

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Comprised of five novels, Helen Dunmore's sweet and charming Ingo series is a perfect introduction to young adult fantasy, especially for teenagers. After Sapphire's father vanishes off the coast of Cornwall, she is left alone with her brother and mother, wondering what exactly happened. However, when Sapphire feels the pull of the ocean, she becomes enchanted by the stories of a kingdom.

Sapphire even believes that her father may still be alive and living under the waves with the kingdom's inhabitants, the Ingo, or Mer, people.

Dunmore has a vivid and serene writing style throughout the entire Ingo series, imbuing each novel with a powerful undercurrent of emotion. While this series would technically be classified as children's fantasy, that should by no means stop you. The dream-like narrative and intriguing plot from Dunmore presents a completely new premise, only relying on the basic tropes of mermaid fiction and a refreshing depiction of Cornwall, England.

This more light-hearted narrative is a breath of fresh air for the young adult genre, giving readers a brief respite from the dark and tortured tales of other young adult novels. The characters Dunmore has created are simple, yet entirely realistic and bursting with personality. Furthermore, the world of Ingo, as portrayed by Dunmore, manages to be magical while also being dark and dangerous. With strong elements of suspense and mystery, the Ingo series should not be thought of as a second-rate fantasy series.

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A story of star-crossed lovers takes an incredible turn in this dark and intense series from Lauren Kate. While this series has been heavily criticized, it is impossible to ignore the intriguing premise of the plot. The story is centred on Luce, female protagonist, while she is drawn into a world of fallen angels, finding love and making enemies in the process.

Admittedly, the love story of this series is not overly unique. However, the intensity and chemistry Kate creates between Luce and her love interest, Daniel, adds a captivating dynamic to the story. Furthermore, Kate's slow burning prose makes for a more interactive and pleasurable read, completely immersing her readers into her world before throwing you into the action, drama and love-triangle dilemmas.

Kate's more simplistic writing style and the milder themes across the series makes this series a perfect read for younger teens looking to step away from childish novels and foray into the world of young adult fantasy. This five-book series has most recently been adapted into a film of the same name, however, make sure you check out these fantastic novels before you hit the cinema.

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As one of the most popular fantasy series in history, it would be remiss not to include Stephanie Myers Twilight series on this list. The 4-book series has had an enormous impact on the young adult fantasy, shaping the genre into what it is today. This corny, teenage vampire romance series, while not entirely ground-breaking, sent the world into a frenzied vampire obsession, with Myers captivating her readers with an attractive teenage heart throb and a romance to stand the test of time.

Myers must be given credit for her ability to write for an audience. Appealing to teenagers and young adults, the author chose Bella, a young high school student out of her depth, as the narrative voice of the series. Bella is a smart, pretty and shy arrival at her school, when she catches the eye of the sullen yet "dazzling" vampire Edward Cullen. Myer quickly throws her readers into a world of sparkling vampires and shirtless werewolves. However, while some sections of the series feel vibrant and exciting, there are long stretches of boredom and clunky dialogue, especially during the numerous Edward-Bella bonding sub-plotsfeel free to skip that part.

This generation defining series includes a number of intriguing ideas, however, the constant melodrama will irritate veteran fantasy readers.

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Only being published this year, Mary O'Connell's Dear Reader is a fairly new addition to the young adult fantasy genre. However, don't let that deter you, as O'Connell's novel is a tender, 'coming-of-age', ode to the much-loved classic, Wuthering Heights. When a student discovers her favorite teacher is missing, she discovers a clue to her whereabouts in her teacher's copy of the famous Wuthering Heights, which subsequently turns into a 'live-time' version of the teacher's journal. These clues take her to New York where she meets a boy who is so obscure, he almost seems to have jumped out of the pages of Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

While the fantasy aspect of this novel is subtle, the book-magic that O'Connell incorporates into her tale is just enough to satisfy any fantasy nut. O'Connell's whimsical yet concise writing style along with the fast-paced and enigmatic plot make this novel an ultimately fantastic read.  If, like most people, you find it impossible to even finish half of a classic Bronte novel, do not fear, as O'Connell's world makes Wuthering Heights references mostly accessible and easy to follow. O'Connell's plot feels original and highly relatable, particularly for high school graduates and those looking to 'find themselves' before starting college.

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The premise of this novel completely redefines the boundaries of young adult fantasy. Told from the perspective of individuals stuck in a 'limbo' between life and death, Shusterman's work is set in the strange new world of Everlost. When two teens find themselves in Everlost after a car crash, they are forced to confront the fact that they are not dead and or alive.

Everlast is an epic reimagining of the afterlife and Shusterman has pulled out all the stops. The protagonists, Allie and Nick, are immediately thrust into the terrifying world of Everlost, meeting other bands of lost children and learning the dangerous art of 'haunting'. Everlost cleverly, and somewhat surprisingly, contains a wide array of well-developed and intriguingly distinctive characters. The magical world that Shusterman creates is melancholic and alive, introducing a new set of rules for the fantasy genre while presenting a seemingly untold take on the afterlife.

Boasting at least two villains, this novel is certainly not short on action and danger. Furthermore, Shusterman has ensured that this novel, while seemingly for younger teens, holds a number of emotional themes, addressing the idea of life after death and stressing the importance overcoming adversity. This novel is most definitely a must read for young adults looking for a refreshing yet rewarding fantasy tale.

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A series of books about bookswhat more could an avid fantasy reader want? In her Inkheart series, Cornelia Funke takes everything that is enchanting about reading, and creates a hard-hitting story about a book binder who can read fictional characters to life. When the protagonist's mother disappears into one of her father's stories and she, herself, faces the wrath of a fictitious villain; Meggie must do everything she can to save her mother and her life.

This page-turning series is driven by a simple and smart idea what you write can come to life and appeals to a very large audience (e.g. anyone who loves reading). Despite the simple premise of the Inkheart series, Funke had a difficult job of making each character feel as though they literally come to life in front of the reader's eyes. However, using eloquent prose and wonderfully detailed descriptions, Funke has done just that, producing a richly imaginative world that portrays each character down to the finest detail.

Throughout the entirety of this series, the plot treads water on a number of dark themes, making this a heavier read than other popular fantasy series. However, this book isn't a grim or depressing read and it's darker sections are balanced by witty dialogue and one of Meggie's ever-cheerful companions.

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Award Nominations:2009 BFS, 2009 WFA

The Graveyard Book is Neil Gaiman's most light-hearted novel yet. That being said, the protagonist, Bod, is raised by a bunch of motley ghosts in an old cemetery after his parents are brutally murdered, so don't expect a story of unicorns and rainbows. A charming allegory of childhood, the novel begins with Gaiman's typically macabre prose, with the author throwing the reader in a charming world of ghosts, vampires and an omnipresent assassin.

Gaiman possess an innate ability to create a story that is sweet, fascinating and ominous, a combination that makes The Graveyard Book an unforgettable tale that can be enjoyed by both adults and children. Much like Gaiman's novel, Coraline, the protagonist of this story perfectly encapsulates all the traits that make for a wonderful young adult novel, with Bod facing his inevitable descent into adulthood while yearning for the comforts of childhood and normality. The bittersweet conclusion of the novel perfectly captures this sentiment, leaving the reader to reflect on themselves and their ideals. However, it's not all gloom and doom, with Gaiman hinting at a range of positive and meaningful lessons for the reader to take on board.

Gaiman cleverly ends his tale where it began, creating a well-rounded and comprehensive narrative that is rich in imagery and excitement. Whether you're a fan of Gaiman or not, The Graveyard Book is not a novel you'll want to pass up.

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Taking the time travel genre to a whole new level, Heidi Heilig has captivated readers with her magical series, The Girl from Everywhere. This book uses a winning formula of maps, mythology and pirates to create an intriguing and adventurous story. This series, while light-hearted and packed with action sequences, also takes the time to address a number of more realistic 'young adult' issues.

The protagonist, Nix, has a complicated relationship with her father, the captain of their ship. While 'The Captain' feverishly hunts down a map that will bring back his beloved wife and Nix's mother, Nix faces an existential crisis of his own. The element of familial conflict creates a tense yet relatable representation of the relationship many young adults experience with their own parents, making Heilig's debut series incredibly insightful and relevant.

Blending fact and fiction, Heilig put a lot of research into each book in the series, ensuring that the historical aspect of her series was accurate. Paired with the interesting locations throughout the series, Heilig has created an incredibly colourful fantasy world and it's sure to be an immersive experience for every reader.

Books in The Girl from Ev... Series (2)

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Garth Nix introduces a complex, dark fantasy landscape in his Abhorsen Trilogy. Following the tale of a young girl in search of her father, Nix has masterfully blended the worlds of A Song of Ice and  Fire and Lord of the Rings into one epic universe. Exploring the 'blurred' line between life and death, the Abhorsen trilogy is the kind of young adult fantasy that reads like it was written for adults, omitting the usual cutesy fluff of many "young adult" fantasy books out there.

This adventure series is considered to be frightening, however, this does not stop Nix's story from appealing to all ages. Furthermore, the author's ability to describe and propel the narrative without the use of dense vocabulary makes this series perfect for individuals of all reading abilities.  This moving tale is full to the brim with adventure, grief, love and magic, resulting in a wonderfully compelling story that hosts a series of strong, well written characters that all add something to the narrative.

A rip-roaring adventure, this young adult fantasy trilogy most definitely belongs in your fantasy collection.  

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modern classic in every sense of the word; it’s also a story with many layers. It’s a children’s story and it’s not a children’s story. Though the story is ostensibly about rabbits, it’s dead easy to see the parallel to humans going on. All the literary sparkle aside, the book is astoundingly well written, immensely imaginative, and an all great adventure yarn. A must read.

Books in Watership Down Series (2)

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A young girl's journey of magic and discovery that will take her to the ends of the earth...and beyond.  His Dark Materials is a modern classic that can be enjoyed by old and young alike; This is "Narnia" for the 21st century. It's made my Top 25 best fantasy books list. Like Garth Nix's Abhorson trilogy, these are children's fantasy books that every adult should read.

Books in His Dark Materia... Series (3)

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A classic that should not be missed by either children or adults. It’s a heady mix of everything you want in a fantasy tale including dragons, romance, and royalty. One of the most compelling female heroines in the fantasy genre. This is a “children’s book” that’s every bit as good for the adults. Also check out her other great work, The Blue Sword, which should be on every YA reading list.. 

Books in Damar Series (5)

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A fantastic story about a young boy training to be an exorcist in a land where dark things roam the night.

One of the best modern children's tales I've read. This one is scary folks, probably one of the scariest books I've read. The books are pretty dark with a lot of death that happens during the series. But the tale told is a heartfelt one and the narrator (first person from the perspective of a 13-year-old boy) works very well. If you are afraid of haunted houses, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night, you might want to avoid this spine-chilling series. But man, it's a good one and one of my favorite YA series hands down. I don't recommend this series for little ones, but kids over the age of 12 should enjoy it. And the adults will too!

Books in The Last Apprent... Series (13)

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A tale for the ages: a young boy, unhappy with his life, desires to live in a place free from any responsibilities. He finds that place through a creepy tunnel of mist in the form of a quaint little house run by an elderly caretaker. Harvey finds the place is magical. But all is not what it appears to be, for beneath the house a terrible secret waits, one from which he cannot escape. Barker is a master storyteller and he brings his considerable skill for writing atmospheric horror novels to the YA genre.

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A steampunk fantasy with a lot of oomph to it. It’s an alternative history story, one that merges the period history of World War 1 events with a fantastical world where there are airships made from bioengineered creatures and mechanical wizardry. Into this strange world, we follow Deryn Sharp, a young woman disguised as a boy, for only men can serve in the army. Westerfield creates an interesting alternate history – a sort of steampunk version of World War 1, if you will. In this world, we see a host of strange creatures and machines. But what really drives the novel forward is not the interesting setting, but the strong characters. The Prince Aleksandar and the disguised-as-a-boy girl, Deryn, make for an interesting pair with a dynamic relationship (both are on different sides of the war, yet team up together). There’s a lot of suspense and action in the story and it’s one you definitely do not want to miss.

Books in Leviathan Series (3)

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One of the more unique tales. It's the story about a young boy trapped in a brutal and mysterious prison, where humans eke out a survival-level existence and are hunted by the prison itself, which seems to be a living entity. This is a prison where escape is absolutely impossible. Or is it? Think futuristic prison meets with the Victorian era, a heady mix that just works. It's action-packed, gritty, and sometimes disturbing.

Books in Incarceron Series (2)

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An imaginative and heart-warming epic fantasy tale for kids and young adults. Its a classic tale of good and evil, but the strong hero and compelling portray of his struggle shoot this series far above the usual hackneyed epic fantasy series out there. This one will appeal to young adults and adults.

Books in The Dark is Risi... Series (5)

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A steampunk-esque fantasy tale that follows loosely in the path Rowling trod with Harry Potter, but presents the reader with a completely different setting. Fans of Harry Potter, Artemis Foul, and Westerfield’s Leviathan will find a lot to love in this series. I had the vague sense that I was reading something inspired by a Jules Verne novel, with the characters and setting a marriage between the Victorian setting and sensibilities with modern values. This series is dark – there are often frequent descriptions of death and violence and there are no bumbling sidekicks, ridiculous villains, or any other comedic shenanigans to lighten up the mood. But what there is is a strong tale that shows the growth of the characters through a time of trial and troubles. There’s love, bravery, and heroism enough to make up for the darkness.

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This is a pretty decent epic fantasy about a street girl-turned magician. Theres nothing really new here, but the whole story does make for an entertaining enough read.

Books in The Black Magici... Series (3)

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Assassin fantasy set in a distinctly Japanese milieu. This one’s got everything you want in a good martial arts fantasy tale: ninja assassins, samurai warriors, beautiful princesses, evil lords, deadly battles and even deadlier magic. It’s a coming of age tale with a lot of “kick” to it and one that you won’t want to miss – as a teenager or as an adult.

Books in Tales of the Oto... Series (4)

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