The best YA faerie novels

Who am I?

Tales of magic have captivated me since I was a small child, and I started writing fantasy stories in high school. But it was only when I discovered the YA faerie subgenre several years ago that I truly found my niche. As my book recommendations will demonstrate, there’s a delicious connection between faerie magic and teenage angst, and it’s the tension that arises that makes for fantastic worldbuilding and storytelling. I hope that you enjoy my top books in the genre and find a new favorite for yourself!

I wrote...

The Favor Faeries

By Jackie Dana,

Book cover of The Favor Faeries

What is my book about?

The Favor Faeries is my YA fantasy novel series. Everyone knows about the Favor Faeries, mysterious beings that grant small wishes in exchange for trinkets and snacks. But most people claim the faeries are a hoax or a fraud, and the authorities even passed laws making it illegal to seek them out. Teenagers, however, are never particularly good at following the rules, especially when they want something only magic can make happen.

Rather than traditional book publication platforms, I’m serializing the novels on my Substack newsletter Story Cauldron. Each week my paid subscribers receive new chapters as well as related photos, artwork, and behind-the-scenes details sent directly to their email, and they can also be read on the website. As the books conclude, paid members also have the option to download the text in full before it gets published elsewhere.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Darkest Part of the Forest

Why did I love this book?

If you're getting started with modern faerie stories, Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest is the ideal rabbit hole in which to fall. The story opens with a horned boy in a glass coffin, in a contemporary world where the existence of faeries is taken for granted. You’ll love Hazel, a modern teenager who carries a sword and has a brother whose best friend is a changeling. Black’s Faerie world pops with color, complex characters, and high adventure. While her faeries may seem human, beware of their magic and mischief. They might not be monsters, but they are monstrous. Learn the rules, and you might survive to live another day.

By Holly Black,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Darkest Part of the Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Faeries. Knights. Princes. True love. Think you know how the story goes? Think again ... From the New York Times bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles comes a dark, dangerous and utterly beautiful faerie tale, guaranteed to steal your heart.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

In the forest of Fairfold, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a…

Wicked Lovely

By Melissa Marr,

Book cover of Wicked Lovely

Why did I love this book?

What would you do if you could see faeries—and one of them is hell-bent on making you his queen, even though you already have a boyfriend and don’t want any part of faerie? That’s where Melissa Marr drops us off in her first book in a series, sending us on a journey through expansive faerie intrigue and power struggles—contrasted with teenagers who are just trying to get through a normal day at school. In Marr’s books, the magic is in the conflicts that spark between humans who are just trying to have a normal life and faeries who won’t take no for an answer. While these books may not answer any deep philosophical questions, they’re definitely are fun to read.

By Melissa Marr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wicked Lovely as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in this cool, urban 21st century faery tale.

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world, and would blind her if they knew of her Sight.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.

Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.

But it's too late. Keenan is the…


By Maggie Stiefvater,

Book cover of Lament

Why did I love this book?

In the first of two books, Stiefvater introduces us to Deirdre, an accomplished teen musician who has just met the mysterious Luke—who just happens to be a faerie that none of her friends or family can see. Oh, and he’s also an assassin. Caught between a mundane life of music recitals, school, and her family on one side, and the dangerous world of faerie on the other, what’s a girl to do? As a nerd and a loner growing up, what I wouldn’t have given for a secret faerie friend who dragged me into a world of magic and danger! Although Stiefvater has gone on to write more complex novels, her faerie duology will always have a place in my heart.

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


"Vibrant and potent, YA readers searching for faerie stories will be happy to find this accomplished debut novel."
–Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

"This beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary debut novel, with its authentic depiction of Celtic Faerie lore and dangerous forbidden love in a contemporary American setting, will appeal to readers of Nancy Werlin's Impossible and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series."
(starred review)

"Part adventure, part fantasy, and wholly riveting love story, Lament will delight nearly all audiences with its skillful blend of magic and ordinary life."
―KLIATT (starred review)


Between Two Thorns

By Emma Newman,

Book cover of Between Two Thorns

Why did I love this book?

Prepare to have your world turned upside down in this peculiar take on the faerie novel. We meet Cathy as a resident of modern England but learn she’s actually an escapee from “The Nether,” a faerie mirror world that’s stuck in the 19th century. As a historian, I absolutely love how Newman moves characters between the worlds—without time travel! And just imagine being in the shoes of a young woman forced to straddle the freedoms that come with modern life with a life with an arranged marriage. And above all, she must appeal to the whims of the faerie lord who controls her family’s fortunes. Come for the premise, but stick around for her deep world-building and richly-drawn characters (I mean, who doesn’t love a talking gargoyle?)

By Emma Newman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beautiful and nuanced as it is dangerous, the manners of Regency and Victorian England blend into a scintillating fusion of contemporary urban fantasy and court intrigue.

Between Mundanus, the world of humans, and Exilium, the world of the Fae, lies the Nether, a mirror-world where the social structure of 19th-century England is preserved by Fae-touched families who remain loyal to their ageless masters. Born into this world is Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver, who escapes it all to live a normal life in Mundanus, free from her parents and the strictures of Fae-touched society. But now she's being dragged back to face an…

Never-Contented Things

By Sarah Porter,

Book cover of Never-Contented Things

Why did I love this book?

One thing you’ll discover as you read YA tales about the fae is that bored faeries are always causing trouble. In Porter’s novel, they tempt Ksenia’s foster brother and best friend away from her and then put her through a progression of nightmares as she tries to wrest him out of their clutches. There’s so much darkness in this book but it never quite tips into horror. It’s more of that incessant creepiness of the Twilight Zone, with scenes that keep ratcheting up the tension and impossible situations. This isn’t your average faerie tale with romance and hijinks—not by a long shot. But because of all that, it’s an absolute delight to read.

By Sarah Porter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never-Contented Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Sarah Porter is a genius. Her language is lush and dangerous, and her books burn with the beautiful, ferocious intensity of a bonfire in the darkest night.”―Brittany Cavallaro, New York Times bestselling author of A Study in Charlotte

From critically-acclaimed author Sarah Porter comes Never-Contented Things: a standalone surreal young adult fantasy of teenagers ensorcelled into a wicked bargain with otherworldly beings…

Every moment of the night―
Forever changing places―
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces…
―Edgar Allan Poe, “Fairy-Land”

Bound by haunting tragedies, Ksenia Adderley and Joshua Korensky have shared a home…

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