The best Christian YA fantasy books with messages of hope

Who am I?

I am a university president, and I work daily among young people with very diverse stories, but one common theme is the brokenness we all share, whether as a product of our individual identities and histories, or simply the result of life’s cruel circumstances. Classic fantasy takes on the realities of evil, suffering, and brokenness, and in that imaginative process engages us deeply. But in so doing it thereby allows us to reimagine through story what our own possibilities and hopes for healing might be.

I wrote...

The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge

By Robert B. Sloan,

Book cover of The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge

What is my book about?

Afraid of being caught by trackers from another world, a mother leaves her baby on the porch of a Texas children's home. The staff names him Hamelin Stoop, but he grows up longing to learn his real name and find his parents. Life is not easy. People keep leaving him one by one. A letter from an older friend advises Hamelin to "keep waiting and keep hoping." When the children's home forgets his eighth birthday, he sneaks away. He soon discovers that he isn't just running away—he’s being summoned by the Ancient One. Guided by the Great Eagle through a mysterious cave, Hamelin must pass a dangerous test of courage before he can find his parents and uncover a struggle between worlds.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Orphan's Song

Robert B. Sloan Why did I love this book?

This book was a page-turner. I really enjoyed its unpredictability and vibrant cast of characters. The main character has been blessed with a magical gift that she knows nothing about nor how to use, but it becomes clear that a higher power is involved. It is reminiscent of the journey all Christians make in discovering how to use their God-given gifts for His glory. 

By Gillian Bronte Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Orphan's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Her solo is a death sentence.

Deep within the world of Leira flows a melody that was sung at the beginning of time by Emhran, the Master Singer. Now it is broken, buried, forgotten. But in each generation, a Songkeeper arises to uphold the memory of the Song against those who want it silenced forever.

When Birdie first hears the Song coming from her own mouth, her world shatters. She is no longer simply an orphan but the last of a hunted people. Forced to flee for her life, she must decide whom to trust—a traveling peddler, a streetwise thief,…

Book cover of The Winter King

Robert B. Sloan Why did I love this book?

This book is a thrilling mystery wrapped in vivid detail. The readers’ hearts go out to Cora as she struggles to make sense of what her village leaders have always taught about their god, the Winter King. I admire how she never stops seeking to learn the truth the religious leaders are hiding from their people despite insurmountable odds. It is a powerful warning about trusting only what a small group of people say about God versus examining the scriptures yourself. No doubt Cohen was inspired by times in church history before the Reformation.

By Christine Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Winter King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A village trapped in winter, a tyrannical god, and a girl who will do anything to keep her family alive... FINALIST FOR THE 2020 CHRISTY AWARD in the Young Adult category Ever since Cora's father disappeared through the ice, whispers about her family's "curse" have grown increasingly louder. Desperate to help her mother and siblings survive another bleak season in the Winter King's frozen grasp, Cora begins to bend (and even break) the rules she has kept since she was a little girl. But when she discovers a secret that's much bigger than herself, she realizes too late that she…

Book cover of Dust

Robert B. Sloan Why did I love this book?

In this story, Swanson seeks to answer the question: what would happen if Peter Pan was stranded in modern-day London? And what if he started to age? And what if he met a girl who didn’t realize she could create pixie dust? It captures the spirit of the original tale while also delving deeper into the lore of both Peter and Neverland itself. It was an exciting and creative read from beginning to end. I loved how it felt simultaneously nostalgic and new.

By Kara Swanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale.

Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London... and a boy who shouldn't exist.

Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.

The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the…

Book cover of DragonSpell

Robert B. Sloan Why did I love this book?

Although published in the 21st century, DragonSpell has the feel of an old-fashioned fairytale. The creativity of the author is on display with the many original races in her fantastical land (none of which are called “human”). I admire how Paul isn’t shy about her Christian faith. Not only does her world feature a deity named Wulder who is much like the God of the Bible, but we also meet a Christ-like character named Paladin. Evil is no match for him, but he still sends out his servants to play their part. His wise, kind, and loving nature are familiar to anyone who’s read the New Testament.

By Donita K. Paul,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked DragonSpell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future.

When Kale, a slave girl, finds a dragon egg, she is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. But on her way to The Hall, where she was to be trained, Kale runs into danger. Rescued by a small band of Paladin’s servants, Kale is turned from her destination.

Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul Wizard Risto. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining…

Book cover of Mark of the Raven

Robert B. Sloan Why did I love this book?

I love how the central theme of this fantasy book is morality. Though her family has always used their magical gift of dream walking to cause pain and death, Selene wants to break free of this cycle. All she’s ever known is the sinister deity The Dark Lady, but she starts to wonder if there might be a higher power at work. When she encounters the personification of a person’s soul in a dreamscape that is pure and luminous, she finds that she desperately desires that light in her own life. It is a powerful metaphor of a person who has received the Holy Spirit versus those still wandering in darkness. It is a story of hope amidst hopelessness. 

By Morgan L. Busse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mark of the Raven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person's dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family's dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family's legacy--a legacy that supports her people--or seeking the true reason behind her family's gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who…

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The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

Book cover of The River of Eternity

Bruce Balfour

New book alert!

What is my book about?

1184 BCE. Ramesses III, who will become the last of the great pharaohs, is returning home from battle. He will one day assume the throne of the Egyptian empire, and the plots against him and his children have already started. Even a god can die.

Ray was raised with the teenage children of Ramesses as their friend, but his own mysterious past exposes him to threats inside and outside of the Egyptian court. When a prince is killed, Ray is framed for the murder and must run to protect Bull, the oldest son of Ramesses. So begins Ray’s dangerous journey from the snake pit of royal palace intrigue into a violent world of treachery and enemies that will take years to conquer if he can survive.

The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

What is this book about?

From the national bestselling author of The Forge of Mars and The Digital Dead, an Ancient Egyptian epic adventure thriller series, based on real events, for fans of Wilbur Smith, Steven Saylor, and Paul Doherty.

This is the first book of a series leading up to the event known as The Harem Conspiracy, the assassination of Pharaoh Ramesses III in New Kingdom Egypt (1184 BCE), which was led by members of his own family. Details were drawn from the first recorded judicial trial transcript ever recovered (Judicial Papyrus of Turin plus other fragments of the original papyrus).

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