The best YA fantasy books with ethereal magic and strong female characters

Who am I?

I look at the world with poetic eyes and search for magic in everything. As a writer, I feel everything has a story to tell. I like to tell stories with magical connections that leave fingerprints on us after we are done reading them. When I read an author that impresses me with the magic they create, I am a fan of them forever. I strive to make that kind of impression someday. 


I wrote...

Vivatera

By Candace J. Thomas,

Book cover of Vivatera

What is my book about?

It’s about a world where the elements of magic have poisoned the souls of the people it touches, leaving a ghost of their essence trapped to roam among the living. Because of the danger this magic poses, the protectors of these elemental stones have been scattered around the land, and now it’s up to one girl to seek out their hiding places and bring the world back in balance. 

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

By Kelly Barnhill,

Book cover of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Why this book?

I absolutely love this book and the gentle magic in it. The way the author writes is like spun honey and the magic is lively and dreamy. The story is about a girl born with a mark given to the forest to die but was actually rescued by a witch who gave her moonlight to drink. Luna doesn’t know of her magic until she is eleven when her power awakes and the world opens up to her. I felt the magic in this book and identified with seeking a special purpose for your talents. I still feel the magic this book left inside me. 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

By Kelly Barnhill,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Girl Who Drank the Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NO 1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER

'This beautifully written, darkly funny coming-of-age story will enchant and entertain' Daily Mail

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is in fact a good witch who shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest,…


The Bear and the Nightingale

By Katherine Arden,

Book cover of The Bear and the Nightingale

Why this book?

This book brings to life Russian folklore and the world of magic that many have forgotten. I specifically enjoyed how this book includes you in the magic, as if you had been born knowing the tales and creatures taught about. Our character Vasya has a rebellious nature and fierce wildness in a world of order and strict obedience. It’s liberating to read of her wild heart. 

The Bear and the Nightingale

By Katherine Arden,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Bear and the Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_____________________________
Beware the evil in the woods...

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods. . .

Atmospheric and enchanting,…


The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale,

Book cover of The Goose Girl

Why this book?

This book is based on the Grimm’s fairytale, which is only a few brief paragraphs long, but the author brings such a luscious language of storytelling that fills you with a sweet, gentle magic. Princess Ani was born with a word on her tongue and a gift to speak the language of horses. By the very first sentence of this novel, I was captivated. It’s such a beautiful imagining, I lived in this book for days after I finished it. I love it when books can do that to you. 

The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Goose Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this beloved first book in the Books of Bayern, from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale, Princess Ani must become a goose girl before she can become queen.

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt's stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up, Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but she never feels quite comfortable speaking with people.

So when Ani's mother sends her away to be married in a foreign land, she finds herself at the mercy of…


A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab,

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Why this book?

This book is a portal fantasy of different Londons, Red London being a realm of lively magic and Grey London being much like Dicken’s industrial London. Our heroine Delilah Bard, being a thief from Grey London, steals a trinket that transports her to a magical dimension where she feels alive and free. I couldn’t get over the different ways the reader looks at the same world. I found the idea captivating and longed to find magic trapped within things. 

A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked A Darker Shade of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning collector's edition of the acclaimed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab.

With an exclusive metallic ink cover, this edition will feature:

* End papers of London
* Fan art
* A glossary of Arnesian and Antari terms
* An interview between author and editor
* Original (never before seen!) tales from within the Shades of Magic world

Kell is one of the last Antari-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered, Grey London, without magic and ruled by mad King…


Stardust

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Stardust

Why this book?

The simple idea of a rock wall hedge inspired Gaiman’s idea of a different world existing within our world; one where stars are not rock but living guardians watching over us, such is Yvain, the star broken away from the heavens and who fell to earth. This book captivated my fascination with wondering. I often dream about what kind of magic could be in other places. I find I search for magic everywhere, and this book made me believe there is magic out there waiting to be discovered.  

Stardust

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture—this charming fairy tale by the #1 New York Times bestselling author, weaves a magical story set long ago in the tiny English village of Wall, a place where things are not quite what they seem.

Go and catch a falling star . . .

Tristran Thorn promises to bring back a fallen star for his beloved, the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester—and crosses the wall that divides his English country town from another, more dangerous world of lords and witches, all of them in search of the star. Rich with adventure and magic, Stardust is one…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in magic-supernatural, good and evil, and witches?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about magic-supernatural, good and evil, and witches.

Magic-Supernatural Explore 425 books about magic-supernatural
Good And Evil Explore 87 books about good and evil
Witches Explore 92 books about witches

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Lord of the Rings, Gregor the Overlander, and The Phantom Tollbooth if you like this list.