March 11, 2019
10 Excellent YA Fantasy Books You Should Not Miss Out on This Year

These are 10 of the best YA fantasy books that you shouldn’t miss out in 2019. Fairies, gangs, and fantastic worlds will thrill your imagination throughout the year. This list includes big names like Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black, two of the mightiest YA fantasy book queens that are changing the game in the publishing world.

1. The Wicked King (or how a drunk and grumpy Fae King will love your rounded ears)

Young Adult fantasy books are filled with pointy-eared princes. Readers swoon at their feet and become enchanted by their bad manners. Cardan is your new fictional darling, eager to drink too much and play hard to get with Jude. But if you think that this is just a romance book, you’re in for one heck of a surprise: the sequel to The Cruel Prince is as brilliant as the first book.

Power struggles are to stay in Elfhame, and Jude is there to try her best not to kill Cardan. If you’ve met them in The Cruel Prince, you’re bound to despair in this new chapter of their saga. Enchanted fruits will be the least of Jude’s problems. Hail the Wicked King before he passes out with his wine!

Pain makes you strong, Madoc once told me, making me lift a sword again and again. Get used to the weight.”

Holly Black, The Wicked King

2. King of Scars (or how a prince became a monster, then turned human again, only to become a monster a second time?)

YA fantasy is nothing without Nikolai Lantsov. Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is bound to get even better with the King of Scars. The Queen of YA fantasy is making sure you’ll put Nikolai on your list of sassy darlings. We’ve met him before, and now we get to enjoy him at his best as a main character. He isn’t alone either, since he’s part of a greater cast of characters.

This duology is going to make you smile, crack up, reconsider your life choices, and cry a river. And yet, you won’t be able to stop one bit. Old characters are coming back, and they might not be the ones you have in mind.

You don’t need to have read the other books in the Grishaverse, but if you have extra time, do it. It’s only five other books that you’ll devour in no time.

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns”

Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars

3. Circle of Shadows (shadows and rebels out to play in the new YA books arena)

Evelyn Skye explores love, spies, and adventure in a story where Sora reigns. She’s able to throw stars with Hawkeye-like precision, and her “germinal” is Daemon, her companion in the fight. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas, the ones marked by the gods. But as their graduation approaches, they need to make sure they belong to the elite.

They find a group of mysterious soldiers, and Sora and Daemon decide that their best shot to do that is to infiltrate the group. However, this will change Sora forever.

Will she betray the ones she loves the most? Will she become a foe of her kingdom?

“Work hard. Mischief harder.”

Evelyn Skye, Circle of Shadows

4. A Curse so Dark and Lonely (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast)

The heir to Emberfall is cursed. Rhen has to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over again. He can only be freed from this curse if a girl falls in love with him. The problem is that every time the loop ends, he becomes a violent and blood-thirsty beast that will destroy anything in his path.

Harper has cerebral palsy. But that’s not her biggest problem: she’s been transported to a new realm, Emberfall. Will she fall in love with the Prince? Will she break the curse? For she must break it if she wants to save the kingdom.

This Beauty and the Beast retelling by Brigid Kemmerer brings a new perspective to the YA fantasy books arena. It’s a weird mashup of magic doors like the ones in Alice in Wonderland and a forever repeating “day” like the Groundhog Day movie. Although Rhen gets a full autumn cycle, who can stand living it over and over, forever destroying the kingdom and the people you love?

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”

Brigid Kemmerer, A Curse So Dark and Lonely

5. The Storm Crow (a fantasy story on how to defeat depression and fall in love with life again)

Kalyn Josephson has created a brilliant YA fantasy story. The princess of Rhodaire, Anthia, falls victim to depression after the Illucian Empire invades and destroys everything. The magic Crows that populated her land are gone, and so is her mother, the Queen. But when Thia’s sister promises her to the Illucian Prince Ericen, something awakens in the princess. She must save her kingdom, and to do so, she enrolls her own sister.

Thia goes from deprecating depression to an incredible arc during the course of the story. This first book in the duology lets us take a peek at what it means to be a Princess in a fantasy world where you can’t make any mistakes, especially if your land is set to annihilation.

The sisters, Anthia and Caliza, team up and use their abilities to rebel against the Illucian Empire and what it represents. At the same time, Anthia rebels against her own depression. You won’t find fights against dragons, but intrigue, and an incredible, yet exhausting battle against one’s own inner demons.

“Her wings flared back, sending straw swirling across the stone floor as her massive black claws reached out.”

Kalyn Josephson, The Storm Crow

6. Sorcery of Thorns (where books are alive and chained in a “library”)

Imagine a world where books are alive with magic, and where sorcerers are evil to the bone. Elisabeth was raised as a warden in one of the Great Libraries that contain such dangerous books. You have to be careful because if you provoke them, they’ll end up becoming hideous monsters. Shelves have chains, and books are in “jail.”

Alas, following sabotage, the most dangerous grimoire is freed from its chains. But when Elisabeth intervenes, she ends up becoming one of the suspects. Having no choice, she teams up with her enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn. What happens next is a web of conspiracies and treason that goes back centuries before Elisabeth was born.

However, after partnering with Nathaniel, she starts to question everything she knows about her upbringing. Are books truly nefarious?

Margaret Rogerson brings up a different type of fantasy book into the YA fantasy books arena. If books are alive, and many are in chains in a library, what does that world look like?

“If you are looking for magic you will find it inside this book. Sorcery of Thorns is a bewitching gem, full of slow burning romance, loyal friendships, and extraordinary world building. I absolutely loved every moment of this story.”

Stephanie Garber

7. Bloodwitch (or how magic can turn everything upside down)

This is the third book in The Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. We follow the steps of Aeduan, a Bloodwitch who teams up with the Threadwitch Iseult and a magical girl called Owl. They’re the only ones capable of stopping the Armageddon, and yet it’s Aeduan who must take a look at his past and confront his own father.

In this third book of the trilogy, Bloodwitches are particularly strong and hard to kill, but it doesn’t mean that Aeduan is invincible. In the first book, Truthwitch, we follow Safiya and Iseult trying to avoid a Bloodwitch who is hunting them. They end up in the middle of a war, fighting emperors and mercenaries.

In this YA fantasy book, witches have very particular skills. A Truthwich can see the truth in others, and a Threadwitch can look at the connections between people. But none is as dangerous as a Bloodwitch, who can see beyond what eyes can tell you.

“And if they underestimate you, then you’re the one with all the power.”

Susan Dennard, Bloodwitch

8. The Shadowglass (where bones are alive again)

This is the dramatic finale of The Bone Witch series by Rin Chupeco. Tea lives in a world where bone witches can raise the dead by using dark magic. She can also do this, but it comes at a cost. Tea has used her dark magic to raise her loved ones, but when she tries to make someone she loves immortal, the magic threatens to consume her.

The Eight Kingdoms are facing a great danger, and so is Tea. By every magical action, there’s something to lose, and with it goes another piece of Tea’s soul. But can her powers save the day before it’s too late?

Prepare for some grim magic and disappointment when Tea brings the dead back to life. She might have the power, but the dead might not return as pristine as they were before. It’s a treacherous world where performing magic comes at a great cost.

“There is black in all our hearts. We hide it well enough and bring it out on colder nights, when we think no one sees.”

Rin Chupeco, The Shadowglass

9. The Everlasting Rose (where beauty fades as beauty kills)

This is the second book of The Belles series by Dhonielle Clayton. Beauty can be a blessing and a curse, and more so in Orléans. There, beauty is a commodity. Camellia is a Belle and soon craves to be the favorite of the Queen. But when she arrives at the court, she can see clearly that there’s dirt under the beautiful royal carpets. The Court is full of secrets, intrigue, and lies. Belles are powerful, and she uses this in a dangerous game after the Queen asks her to bring the princess back to life.

Camellia needs to find Princess Charlotte, but the Imperial forces are also after her. She’s the rightful Queen, but things are about to spiral before Camille can restore the peace in Orléans.

This book tells a story of the power of beauty and its risks when we become obsessed with it. In Clayton’s fantasy world of Orléans, beauty is a prison but also a weapon. It relates to our own society, and that makes this series even more compelling. It’s unusual to find such a witty way of talking about the traps of beauty in YA fantasy books, hence its allure. Dare to follow Camellia in her quest of being free from the pitfalls of fashion in all its forms.

“This unique story remains a terrific metaphor for beauty and its place in society and culture.”

School Library Journal

10. King of Fools (or gambling power away)

Finally, we have King of Fools, the second book in the Shadow Game series by Amanda Foody. In Ace of Shades, we met Levi and Enne, a gambler and a lady. After rooting for their first kiss and trying to figure out when Enne will tell Levi that she likes him, the reality seems haunting. Things are too complicated in the Shadow Game, and there’s almost no room for love.

Enne is searching for her mother, and in doing so, she unravels a web of lies that protected her from Vianca and other mafia bosses. But with the Chancellor of the Republic dead, and with bounties on their heads, Levi must gamble yet again. The fate of New Reynes is in the hands of a game and that of Enne in a power struggle. New players enter the game and with them another even deadlier gamble: what else can they sacrifice?

Enne is strong, opinionated, and quite arrogant for a Lady. In the first book, we see her arc develop from strict rule obeyer to rule breaker as she navigates New Reynes. Meanwhile, Levi is trapped in a game where there’s more at stake than just his own life.

King of Fools takes up the elaborate, masterfully woven threads Foody crafted in Ace of Shades and spins a mesmerizing sequel that takes this world–and these characters–to the next level.”

Christine Lynn Herman, author of The Devouring Gray

Conclusion

Are you as excited as we are for these brand-new YA fantasy books hitting the shelves in 2019? What is the book you are most excited to get your hands on, and have you pre-ordered it yet? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!

You can also go through our list of non-mainstream book recommendations to find your next favorite.

Pepi Valderrama

Contributor

My passion for pop culture, fantasy books, comics, and Superheroes began with a Hobbit, a Saiyan, some dragons in a dungeon, and setting all phasers to stun.

Fairies and far away worlds from the next galaxy have always thrilled me to the point of wanting to go on an adventure.

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