The best books to take you on a truly epic journey

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to epic journeys. From Jules Verne’s stories exploring the lengths, depths, and breadths of the known world, to little hobbits trekking across vast fantasy scapes in order to steal from dragons, something about the huge proportions of these grand adventures has always drawn me in. Perhaps it was no wonder, then, that my first book Nevertell was set in Siberia: a place so big that its sheer size tested the limits of my imaginings. If you, too, are drawn to sprawling, epic journeys, then these five fabulous recommendations are for you.


I wrote...

Nevertell

By Katharine Orton,

Book cover of Nevertell

What is my book about?

Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan. As the pair journey across a snowy Russian wilderness, they are pursued by a vengeful sorceress and her pack of shadow wolves. The children will need every ounce of bravery - and a little sorcery of their own - if they are to survive…

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 Way Past Winter

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave,

Book cover of The Way Past Winter

Why this book?

From the moment I opened this book I could feel the prickling tension of something about to happen. And when it does, prompting Mila and her sisters to set off on a quest through this wild and wintry world, you just know it’s going to be epic. With treacherous terrain and overwhelming odds, The Way Past Winter fully lives up to its promise of grand adventure.

The Way Past Winter

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way Past Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Way Past Winter is a riveting adventure about magic, an eternal winter, and one girl's unbreakable determination to reunite her family.

Mila, her sisters, and her brother, Oskar, live in a small forest cabin, surviving in a world gripped by frost and snow.

When a mysterious man shows up on her doorstep, Mila and her family grant him shelter for the night. But in the morning, the man is gone—and he's taken Oskar with them.

• Written by awardwinning and internationally recognized author Kiran Millwood Hargrave
• Inspired by European folklore
• Middle grade novel that explores deeper topics—grief,…


The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

By Nizrana Farook,

Book cover of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

Why this book?

Sometimes a truly epic adventure is all about the company, and in this book I got to spend time with the defiant Chaya – jewel thief and fierce-hearted friend – her companions (who don’t always get along, but who does?). And, of course, an absolutely gorgeous elephant. Together they plunge into the jungles of Sri Lanka, and what they find there is rebellion…

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

By Nizrana Farook,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Girl Who Stole an Elephant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by the lush terrain of Sri Lanka, this fun tale of friendship, risk, and reward is just right for middle grade fans of fantasy and page-turning adventure.

Chaya, a nobleman's rebellious, outspoken, no-nonsense daughter, just can't resist the shiny temptations the king's palace has to offer.

But playing Robin Hood for an impoverished community doesn't come without risks, and when Chaya steals the queen's jewels from a bedside table—a messy getaway jeopardizes the life of a close friend. After an equally haphazard prison break, Chaya barely escapes...on the king's prized elephant!

With leeches and revolution lurking in the jungle,…


Ice Palace

By Robert Swindells,

Book cover of Ice Palace

Why this book?

Back to the cold now as well as back in time to a book I read when I was at school. I remember the first time I read this being utterly confounded by how this little boy, Ivan, was going to survive on his own in the snowy wilderness. Not only that, but how was he going to find his brother: his whole reason for setting out in the first place? I was gripped from the very first page to the very last, and it’s lived in my heart ever since. In fact, when I came to write Nevertell, the Ice Palace was a big inspiration.

Ice Palace

By Robert Swindells,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ivan lives in a land where the winter is dark and fearful. Starjik, King of Winter, steals Ivan's little brother and Ivan braves the bitter cold to find him.


Boy, Everywhere

By A.M. Dassu,

Book cover of Boy, Everywhere

Why this book?

Some books get a lot of praise, and some books truly deserve it. Boy, Everywhere is one of those books. Not only does it follow an epic journey across vast distances that’s fraught with danger and strife, it also follows a child going from a life he loves in Damascus to new and challenging beginnings in England. What’s so astounding about Sami’s journey is that it could so easily be real – and for many, it is. This book will take you on a journey of understanding and empathy, as well as across continents.

Boy, Everywhere

By A.M. Dassu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler's den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery ... In a world where we are told to see refugees as the 'other', this story will remind readers that 'they' are also 'us'.


The Hunting of the Snark

By Lewis Carroll,

Book cover of The Hunting of the Snark

Why this book?

I have a special copy of The Hunting of the Snark that my Nan gave me over 20 years ago. It quickly became my favourite book and I reread it all the time – returning to my adventure with a hapless crew (which includes a Beaver and a man who’s forgotten his own name), and following a leader (the Bellman) who, it’s safe to say, hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. And off they go across uncharted seas to hunt the fearsome snark. Why? I still don’t know... By turns silly and lyrical, hilarious and heartbreaking, this tale reminds me that the world often makes no sense at all, but it can still be meaningful – and beautiful too.

The Hunting of the Snark

By Lewis Carroll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The nonsensical poem The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in Eight Fits) was written by Lewis Carroll in 1874 and published in 1876. Describing "with infinite humor the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature", the work borrows in-part from Carroll's Jabberwocky in Through the Looking-Glass.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in winter, refugees, and girls?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about winter, refugees, and girls.

Winter Explore 18 books about winter
Refugees Explore 98 books about refugees
Girls Explore 73 books about girls

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like One Amazing Elephant, An Elephant in the Garden, and Chained if you like this list.