The best YA romantic fantasy series with a strong female protagonist

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban Author Of The King in the Stone
By Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Who am I?

While growing up in Spain, history was not my favorite subject. As told at school, it was a dreadful, long list of kings and battles. But, from time to time, I discovered, among the dry facts, a legend, a romanticized story of an event long past that ignited my imagination. Among these legends, the defeat of the last Visigoth king by the Arabs and the Asturian chieftain Pelayo’s consequent victory over them were my favorites. I believe these two stories, that figure so predominantly in my writing, are behind my love for books full of romance and adventure that take place in ancient worlds, like the ones I recommend here.


I wrote...

The King in the Stone

By Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban,

Book cover of The King in the Stone

What is my book about?

A full moon, a silver key, and the unbreakable bond between two lovers will bring hope to a defeated kingdom and, through their sorrow, deliver a king who will change its fate. Sent back in time through a portal the full moon opens, Julian and Andrea, two lovers from a parallel universe, are caught on opposite sides of the battle between the last Spanish stronghold and the Arabian invaders. A battle for survival that will determine the fate of a kingdom and demand of them the ultimate sacrifice: As the Arabs close on the mountains, Julián makes a decision that will break Andrea’s heart and change them forever.

The books I picked & why

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Shadow and Bone

By Leigh Bardugo,

Book cover of Shadow and Bone

Why this book?

Shadow and Bone has two of my favorite tropes: unrequited love and a dark handsome antagonist who may, or may not, turn out to be a romantic lead. But what makes this book unforgettable for me is the world the author has created.

Based on 19th Century Russia, with a tzar-like king, a powerful church, and saints loving peasantry, Ravka is a world in constant war; its people divided between those who have powers (Grisha) and those who don’t. It’s also physically divided in two by the Unsea, a dark sand desert haunted by monsters, that runs north to south and restricts vital trade coming from the western coast.

When Alina is revealed to have the power to summon light, she becomes Ravka’s most precious weapon, for her light, they hope, will destroy the darkness of the Unsea and give Ravka the ultimate power over its enemies.


The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins,

Book cover of The Hunger Games

Why this book?

Katniss is her family’s breadwinner. Against all odds she has managed to keep her mother and younger sister alive after her father’s death.

We meet her on the day of the Reaping, the day the tributes are chosen to fight in the Capitol. When her sister is chosen, Katniss volunteers in her place, and the crowd’s refusal to clap in celebration of this annual ritual is the first act of defiance she will inspire. Others follow, culminating, at the end of the games, with her clever challenge to the cruel rules of a contest that pits children against each other, to murder or being murdered.

The ultimate survivor, Katniss is a magnificent heroine. She loves and fights fiercely, and the fact that she does not delude herself sugarcoating her actions makes her even more real and relatable.


The Queen of Attolia

By Megan Whalen Turner,

Book cover of The Queen of Attolia

Why this book?

The second book in The Thief series, The Queen of Attolia is also, IMO, the most romantic.

It starts with a bang, Eugenides of Edis, the thief who can steal anything, is caught spying on the queen of Attolia, the sworn enemy of his own queen. Attolia’s brutal punishment of her rival’s cousin sends Eugenides into a downward spiral of regret and self-loathing.

Yet, when his cunning and skills are the only thing that stands between victory and defeat, Eugenides once more must rise to the call and try to steal the most precious prize of all, the queen’s heart.

An impressive world building, a lovable, if irritating, protagonist, and a most inventive and clever plot make for an unforgettable read.


The Shamer's War: The Shamer Chronicles Book 4

By Lene Kaaberbol,

Book cover of The Shamer's War: The Shamer Chronicles Book 4

Why this book?

One of my all-time favorite series, The Shamer Chronicles, forces us to take a harder look at the nature of power and the real meaning of courage.

In The Shamer’s War, Dina, our protagonist, is thirteen and in love for the first time. The object of her unrequited affections is none other than Nico, the rightful heir to Dunark who has taken refuge with her family. When Nico decides to challenge his half-brother to stop his thirst for blood, Dina follows him. But this time, even her powers may not be able to protect them from the war that’s coming.

Unrequited love, dragons, magical powers, a reluctant hero, a strong antagonist, and a well-plotted story makes The Shamer’s War a worthy conclusion to this series.


The Tale of Birle

By Cynthia Voigt,

Book cover of The Tale of Birle

Why this book?

When Birle finds Orien stealing a boat by the river that runs through her village, and tries to stop him, she ends up falling in love with the young lord and his disturbing blue eyes.

Despite her infatuation, Birle is no fool. She knows that, as an innkeeper’s daughter, she has no chance to win Orien’s affections, yet she joins him in his ill-planned adventure, for she doubts the pampered lord will survive without her practical skills.

Together they enter a world that’s more dangerous than any of them could have imagined, a world that will bring them together and apart, as the wheel of fortune turns, moving the story to an unexpected, yet satisfying conclusion.

The Tale of Birle is a heartbreaking story of love and courage, that stole my heart from the first page.


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