Young Adult books are excellent segues into new genres, no matter your age. With easier overall comprehension than adult books, YA is the simplest way to dip your toes into unfamiliar genres— including fantasy. I’ve put together a list of five YA fantasy novels that I believe are the perfect introduction into this genre. The rest of this article will expand upon each of these titles, so you can decide whether or not one will be a good fit for you.
1. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is a widely-adored fantasy favorite in the YA realm. With a TV adaptation already on Netflix, this trilogy has encompassed readers around the world.
Shadow and Bone follows orphan Alina Starkov, who has been tasked with navigating the Shadow Fold, a feared and other-worldy expanse of unforgiving darkness where monsters are known to lurk.
When Alina discovers a previously unknown power, she attracts the interest of The Darkling and his military elitists and is thrown into a world she could have never previously imagined. Everyone thinks Alina and her power is the solution to ending the Shadow Fold once and for all, but Alina is not so sure.
Spun amongst secrets and royal intrigue, Alina discovers more of the darkness that puts her kingdom in grave danger. There is more for her to unlock, and there is darkness around every corner.
2. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black follows the story of Jude, who escapes to the world of the Faerie after her parents are brutally murdered.
Jude and her sister were children when they lost their parents, but even after ten years of living with the Faerie, they still feel like outcasts. The Fey are not fond of humans, but Jude is determined to win a place at court nonetheless.
And then, of course, there’s Prince Cardan— the cruel son of the High King— who is especially hateful, and he might just be what Jude needs to finally access her place in court.
3. A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin
A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin follows the tale of Ning, a young girl who feels responsible for the death of her mother.
After accidentally brewing a tea whose poison took her mother away for good, Ning is heartbroken. This same magic now puts her sister at risk, and Ning is willing to do anything to prevent a repeat of her mother’s tragic demise.
Ning travels to a competition to find the best Shénnóng-shī in the kingdom, the renowned masters of the magic she seeks to overcome. Ning is convinced that her only chance of saving her sister’s life is winning this competition, and earning a favor from the princess herself.
But the competition is more dangerous than Ning thought. Will she make it out alive?
4. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Chloe Gong’s duology These Violent Delights is a twisted retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
1920’s Shanghai is controlled by two gangs: the Scarlet and the White Flowers. Both gangs have endured a bloody feud for generations, and their rivalry continues to grow with every passing day.
When a rumored monster begins to take the lives of both the Scarlets and the White Flowers, Scarlet heir Juliette Cai and White Flower prince Roma Montagov are forced to overcome their bad blood to save the city… before it’s too late.
5. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson’s beloved Mistborn trilogy poses the question few dare to ask: What would happen if the bad guys won?
The Lord Ruler has reigned for a thousand years of ash, terror, and pain. But things threaten to change when orphaned thief Kelsier discovers a power he did not know he possessed.
Kelsier begins to plan the perfect heist, recruiting powerful allomancers to help him not only execute this caper, but to take the Lord Ruler down with them. It is through this that he meets Vin, an orphan whose dark past leaves her slow to trust.
The unlikely duo must learn to work together if they want to accomplish their ultimate goal. But what they want is nearly impossible, and this world only sets up heroes to fail.
If you’re unfamiliar with the world of fantasy and don’t know where to start, these acclaimed YA fantasy titles are sure to do the trick, appealing to a wide variety of preferences.
Hopefully this list of book recommendations has helped you discover your next great read, so you can fall in love with the genre of fantasy. Happy reading!