The best literary fantasies for young adults

Who am I?

I’ve always been a daydreamer – I spent a lot of my childhood imagining the different places I could go if I just crawled through some magical crack in the universe or discovered a hidden tunnel under my bedroom floor. So fantasy has been at the top of my reading list forever. Fantasy does what all great books do, just more explicitly – they take you somewhere new, and by leaving this world behind, they give you a fresh perspective on everything that’s old and familiar. My favorite fantasies take big ideas and play them out in language rich enough to make me love that new and alien place with a passion. 

I wrote...

Blue Window

By Adina Rishe Gewirtz,

Book cover of Blue Window

What is my book about?

Five siblings fall into Ganbihar, where thought can turn into reality and where the edges of what’s real blur dangerously. Thrust into a conflict between two powerful forces, their love for each other and their desire to get home will be tested by the wonders and the terrors that they encounter in the midst of an ancient society heading toward all-out war.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tehanu

Adina Rishe Gewirtz Why did I love this book?

Ursula K. LeGuin was the first writer who taught me that words can transport you not just into other worlds, but into other people. In this book, she continues the story of Tenar, the escaped priestess of the Wizard of Earthsea series, as she adopts and cares for a brutalized child. Of all the Earthsea books, this one is my favorite for the way in which LeGuin takes the seemingly mundane details of Tenar’s life as she struggles to protect Tehanu and turns them into something deeper and more profound than even the magic her companion Ged wielded as the great wizard leader in the earlier books in the series. 

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tehanu 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?

The fourth book of Earthsea in a beautiful hardback edition. Complete the collection with A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Furthest Shore.

With illustrations from Charles Vess

In this fourth novel in the Earthsea series, we rejoin the young priestess the Tenar and powerful wizard Ged. Years before, they had helped each other at a time of darkness and danger. Together, they shared an adventure like no other. Tenar has since embraced the simple pleasures of an ordinary life, while Ged mourns the powers lost to him through no choice of his own.
Now the two…

Book cover of The Goose Girl

Adina Rishe Gewirtz Why did I love this book?

What happens when the legends of the past turn out to be true? The Goose Girl is Shannon Hale’s take on the fairytale of the same name, but Hale takes the old story to new levels, by putting her princess, Ani, in a world where the forces of nature have their own language. Learn to speak that language, and you can be powerful, but those powers are dangerous and come at a cost. I loved this book for the beauty of the world Hale creates and the rich journey she takes each of her characters on as they learn to accept even their most challenging gifts. 

By Shannon Hale,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Goose Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

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…

Book cover of The Great Good Thing

Adina Rishe Gewirtz Why did I love this book?

“Slyvie had an amazing life, but she didn’t get to live it very often . . .” There are several fantasies about fictional characters breaking out of their books, but Roderick Townley’s is my favorite because it’s the most surprising. I loved this book because of the way it expresses the beauty and joy of reading and because of its exploration of what it means to break out of the outlines that other people draw for you and discover in yourself something completely new. 

By Roderick Townley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Good Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Open the book and let Princess Sylvie enter your world and dreams in this imaginative, intriguing and touching fantasy for children. Sylvie is eternally twelve years old and has been a princess for more than 80 years, ever since the novel she lives in was first published. But she longs to break free of the never-ending adventure. It's not that she doesn't like her story - she does - it's great - she's the heroine and it's full of excitement. But the trouble is that it's always exciting in the same way, and although Sylvie loves her storybook friends and…

Book cover of The Scorpio Races

Adina Rishe Gewirtz Why did I love this book?

The Scorpio Races is the story of Puck and Sean, residents of the fictional island of Thisby, where each November is marked by the Scorpio Races – horse races with a twist. On Thisby, the racers ride magical, man-eating water horses, and do so at the risk of their lives. This is not on some other world, it’s on ours, if reality shifted just enough to make way for the terrifying magic that accounts for the existence of the cappaill uisce. I love this book for the lyrical descriptions of the island and for the non-stop suspense that grabs you from the first page and takes you to the last.  

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Scorpio Races as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

A spellbinding novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

Some race to win. Others race to survive.It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio…

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Adina Rishe Gewirtz Why did I love this book?

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is my newest favorite portal book, a historical fantasy that explores what it means to open doors, and what effect the strange and new have on the seemingly settled world of our everyday. I love this book for January’s bold, lyrical voice and for its vision of a world that dies without the vibrance of new ideas and open doors. 

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…

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At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

Book cover of At What Cost, Silence?

Karen Lynne Klink Author Of At What Cost, Silence?

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Who am I?

Author Child abuse survivor Reader Adventure traveler Animal lover

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What is my book about?

Secrets, misunderstandings, and a plethora of family conflicts abound in this historical novel set along the Brazos River in antebellum Washington County, East Texas.

It is a compelling story of two neighboring plantation families and a few of the enslaved people who serve them. These two plantations are a microcosm of a country on the brink of war, encompassing a variety of issues: love and friendship between men, relationships between fathers and sons, sibling rivalry, slavery, and the position of women in society.

At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

What is this book about?

Adrien Villere suspects he is not like other boys. For years, he desperately locks away his feelings and fears-but eventually, tragedy and loss drive him to seeking solace from his mentor, a young neighbor Jacob Hart. Jacob's betrayal of Adrien's trust, however, results in secret abuse, setting off a chain of actions from which neither Adrien's wise sister, Bernadette, nor his closest friend, Isaac, can turn him.

At What Cost, Silence presents two contrasting plantation families in a society where strict rules of belief and behavior are clear, and public opinion can shape an entire life. Centerstage are the Villeres,…

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