The Best YA Fantasy Novels I Read this Year

I think writing this post made me realize just how much my reading taste is moving away from YA, which isn’t to say I haven’t read some bad YA this year, either. These are the ones that I enjoyed the most this year and that I always recommend whenever I can, so I figured it was time to share them here with you guys too!

The Gilded Ones – Namina Forna

In this world, when girls turn 16, their blood is tested. If it bleeds red, they are pure, but if it bleeds gold, they are impure, demons to be killed immediately. But the reality is much more complicated than that, and the main character, Deka, is just about to find that out.

An immersive, completely unpredictable, and unique plot inspired by West-African myths and legends with resilient female characters and rather interesting worldbuilding. This book focuses on familial love, found family, and the love and loyalty between sisters. 100% recommend!

Witherward – Hannah Mathewson

Witherward is a world very much like our own, except it’s only populated by people with incredible powers. London is a city divided by factions that don’t much get along – Changelings, Wraiths, Whisperers, Oracles, Sorcerers, and Psi. Ilsa’s always had to hide her powers, barely scraping by until she’s basically kidnapped to Witherward and finds out she’s the long-lost child of one of London’s ruling families.

Witherward has such an interesting plot premise and compelling characters! This was a fun, fast-paced book that I could barely put down, and even months later I still find myself thinking about it! I’m really looking forward to the sequel!

Lore – Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, nine gods are stripped of their immortality to participate in a deadly competition: the Agon. Their descendants must fight for the chance to kill a god and become a god and gain their power and immortality for themselves.

This is such a unique take on Greek mythology, and such a different depiction of gods I normally read. It has such compelling characters, beautiful writing, and great themes. This book is about growing up fast and facing the harsh truths of the world you once looked up to; dealing with trauma and grief, and it also shows the reality of being a woman trapped in this misogynist world.

For the Wolf – Hannah Whitten

Hannah Whitten’s debut novel is a little red riding retelling. In this world, the first daughter is for the throne and the second is for the Wolf. This means Red, the main character, is to be offered to the Wolf and the magical Wilderwoods before she turns 20.

For the Wolf is a dark, enchanting tale that will keep you hooked throughout with its compelling characters, bloodthirsty magical forests, malefic shadow creatures, and beautiful, lyrical writing style.

The Bone Houses – Emily Lloyd-Jones

Ryn’s family have been the gravediggers of Colbren for generations, but now it’s only her and her two younger siblings barely getting by. The problem with being a gravedigger in this town is that the dead don’t always stay dead. One day, Elis, a wealthy mapmaker with a mysterious past arrives in town. Then, the dead start attacking the living, and no one can figure out why. So Ryn and this mapmaker set out into the forest to find more about dead fae kings, magical curses, and their own past…

The Bone Houses is a thoroughly entertaining read. It has a unique take on the undead/zombies and a strong focus on familial relationships.

Six Crimson Cranes – eLIZABETH LIM

Shiori, the princess of Kiata, has a secret. She has magic, which has long been forbidden in this land, and one day the wrong person finds out. Her stepmother, a mysterious sorceress herself, banishes Shiori and turns her six brothers into cranes. Now, Shiori must find a way to save her brothers, herself, and defeat her evil stepmother.

A retelling of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen that includes elements from the Chinese and Japanese legends, Legend of the White Snake, the story of ChangE the Moon Goddess, and Girl with the Black Bowl.

Six Crimson Cranes is arguably one of the most popular or anticipated YA releases of this year, and personally, I think it deserves all that hype. This book is filled with fast-paced action and poignant emotional scenes that touch on the importance of looking past appearances, searching within, and giving people a second chance. Plus, it’s a thoroughly entertaining, engaging story with an interesting magic system, and a beautiful writing style!

Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

(Pacific Rim meets Darling in the Franxx meets The Handmaid’s Tale.)

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected.(…) To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. *(I wrote a tiny summary for the other ones, but this one I just straight-up copied from goodreads because I cannot do it justice.)

I’ve yet to write a review for this book, and I hope one day I can do it, but now I’m still speechless. It is absolutely that good, I LOVED IT SO MUCH! If you’re looking for an angry, powerful female MC who wants to destroy the patriarchy and questions women’s role in society at every chance, then this book is for you! 100000% RECOMMEND!

Have you heard about these books? What do you think about them? 

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