Young Adult fantasy books/series

An images portraying youg adult fantasy books.Young adult fantasy books are in the main, written for, published for, and marketed to readers between the ages of 12 and 18. For the purposes of this page we have decided to feature books that we believe are both aimed at the YA market and also feature a young adult as the main character. And so therefore coming-of-age also plays a large part in the books we have chosen. Many of the books will be familiar but we hope there are also a few surprises that allow you to discover some great new titles.

Please find below the young adult fantasy books we highly recommend.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who's parents have been killed in a 'car crash'. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher's Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?

"JK Rowling's tales of the boy wizard have become a phenomenon. The series has so far sold a staggering 400,000,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into over sixty-five different languages. There will always be debate over how good an author Rowling is but few can deny that she deserves the utmost acclaim for bringing the joy of reading to a new generation." Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

"Without this child, we shall all die." Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequnces far beyond her own world...

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is one of the great imaginative works in the English language. It creates a universe so atmospheric and tangible that I am convinced it exists, somewhere. It is a gripping epic, set in a wonderfully intruiging world (or rather worlds). It sets out on a soaring arc of imagination that sustains and pays off in a most masterful way - and yet all the way through it touches on human truths and insight. Oh! And it contains one of the best villains in literature.

"Wonderfully engrossing and so packed full of of explosive plot lines that you'll find it difficult to put down." Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Child and up

The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix

Who will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands – for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him – and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father's title and duties – to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities – and her destiny.

"This may be the first book of yet another "cross-over" fantasy trilogy--theoretically equally appealing to both children and adult readers--but thankfully Sabriel has enough verve and panache about it to reach just such a wide readership and to ensure that author Garth Nix has created a bandwagon all of his own. Constantly rich and meaty, the story is intriguing from the off. Page by page the tension builds and draws you into a highly imaginative landscape that has familiarity and originality in equal measures." Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

"Collins is a fine writer worthy of her craft, and the book is compelling all the way through. I don't usually stay up late reading novels, but this time I did. It is a massive whirlwind of enjoyment and insight. It does not pull its punches, and for this reason The Hunger Games is also not free of controversy. Some religious groups have denounced the books as unacceptable for its presentation of violence and for the ever-present theme of looming death. Such readings are in fact misreadings, these groups having missed the obvious point of the series, which is that violence, while very real, is not a viable response. Katniss throughout the book avoids killing where she can, and only does so regretfully, in self-defense. The books are about how violence and vengeance destroys and lowers human life. Far from being a pro-violence or blood-letting message, the books end up being a strong anti-war tract by subverting the honor-warrior-noble-battle trope common in many stories today. Ultimately, the books are about self-sacrifice and the ability of love to overcome the might of totalitarianism, cruelty, and hatred. I do not believe I can recommend them highly enough." Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella is given a blessing at birth by a very stupid fairy: She gets the gift of obedience! but the blessing turns into a horror for Ella who literally has to do what anyone and everyone tells her, from sweeping the floor to giving up a precious necklace! She has to battle with ogres and wicked stepsisters, make friends and loose them, and even deny she loves her Prince Char to save his life and his kingdom. The story overthrows the stereotypes of the original Cinderella when Ella breaks the curse -- not the prince -- saving not only herself, but Prince Char as well. And Ella rejects his proposal of marriage, at least until she decides herself to propose to him! And the curse is only broken because she's said 'No!' rather than 'Yes!'.

"This exquisite book will be read and re-read many times; a book that will always be remembered fondly. If you ever wondered, while watching Cinderella, why she allowed herself to be treated so badly by her step-mother and step-sisters, then the answer will be found here." Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse - Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena - Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

"I often fear reading young adult books because the main characters can be whiny and immature (as their audience) which can get on the nerves of any adult.  Amazingly Percy seems to be mostly free of self pity and angst while still staying young and believable. A fantastic book for sure that has me thanking the gods I bought the series. Definitely worth the read!" Preita Salyer, Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is an ordinary teenager, who likes hanging out in Brooklyn with her friends. But everything changes the night she witnesses a murder, committed by a group of teens armed with medieval weaponry. The murderous group are Shadowhunters, secret warriors dedicated to driving demons out of this dimension and back into their own. Drawn inexorably into a terrifying world, Clary slowly begins to learn the truth about her family - and the battle for the fate of the world.

"I found a great pleasure in City of Bones, Cassandra Clare managed to hit the right snares to introduce a new series, showing a interesting world and likable characters, and a plot that can go any which way." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy. But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened… Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension. For Seraphina hides a secret - the secret behind her musical gift - and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger…

"Seraphina is a truly enchanting and magical story. Just the main protagonist, Seraphina, alone is shown as a great heroine in the story she has depth, smartly intelligent, brave and funny at times. Her character in combination with the past between the humans and the dragons AND the way the dragons are shown make Seraphina an enjoyable read. Take the time to immerse yourself in the musical and colourful filled world of Seraphina!" Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Divergent by Veronica Roth

She turns to face the future in a world that’s falling apart. For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs. Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead…

"Little did I know when I first picked up a copy of Veronica Roth's Divergent that it was quickly becoming a sensation of its own. Not quite of the scope of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, but some sizable movement. More surprising was that Divergent is Roth's first book, which she wrote instead of doing homework in college." AT Ross, Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Meggie loves books. So does her father, Mo, a bookbinder, although he has never read aloud to her since her mother mysteriously disappeared. They live quietly until the night a stranger knocks at their door. He has come with a warning that forces Mo to reveal an extraordinary secret - a storytelling secret that will change their lives for ever.

"A story within a story, Inkheart tells the tale of a book of the same name owned by Mortimer Folchart who is a book restorer who lives in a remote farmhouse with his 12-year-old daughter Meggie. Mo, as he is known to his daughter, has not told Meggie about his ‘gift’, that he can read characters out of books and that is why he never reads to her aloud. He has also not told her that whenever his magical reading voice summons someone out of a book that someone from this world disappears, like her mother disappeared nine years ago at the same time that Capricorn and his cruel henchmen appeared. Capricorn wants the book for himself and the will go to any lengths to get it. Dustfinger, also summoned from the book warns Mo that Capricorn is on his tail, but Dustfinger longs to be put back into the story from whence he came and he will do almost anything to get back so can Mo and Meggie truly trust him and how can Mo keep the book, his last link to Meggie’s mother, safe? A tale of kidnap, deceit, magic and murder, this is not a tale for the faint hearted!" Fantasy Book Review

Recommended for ages: Young adult and up

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