The best YA fantasy books with magical heroines

Who am I?

I have loved all things magical my entire life. I grew up leaving out food for the fairies and searching for gnomes in the woods, so it only follows that when I learned to read, I gravitated toward stories of fantasy and myth. I often felt that the worlds I read about matched my personality more accurately than the real world, and I longed to be one of the magically gifted heroines I encountered. I’m excited to share some of my very favorites with you, and hope they bring you as much joy as they did me!

I wrote...

Keeper of Scales

By Anne Mollova,

Book cover of Keeper of Scales

What is my book about?

A princess with a secret. An ancient evil rising. A kingdom caught in the balance.

Alyen, crown princess of Dúramair, has trained her whole life to be queen. She’s kept her Sight a secret, trusting that the Keeper of Scales will find an apprentice soon—for surely one other candidate can be found. But when news comes from the north of dark magic returning to Dúramair, Alyen is forced to make the hardest decision of her life. A decision that could determine the fate of her kingdom.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Fable

Anne Mollova Why did I love this book?

This book absolutely blew me away and completely redefined great storytelling! My editor recommended it when we were talking about great new young adult fantasy books, and I will be forever in her debt for introducing me to Adrienne Young’s work. I love this world and heroine so much—Fable is scrappy, raw, vulnerable, clever, and immensely strong with just the right touch of magic. I recommend this book to everyone I know!

By Adrienne Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Fable is a dredger-a freediver who excavates rare gemstones from the coral reefs that fill The Narrows. For the last four years, she's been trying to get off the island of Jeval, find the father who abandoned her there, and claim her mother's place on his trading crew. But when she finally makes it off the island, she discovers it may have been the safest place for her.

Book cover of The Black Witch

Anne Mollova Why did I love this book?

I think I’ve loved academic settings for fantasy ever since I read Harry Potter, and The Black Witch has one of the best I’ve come across since. Laurie Forrest completely captivated me with her world, her characters, a great underground rebellion, a romance to root for, and a heroine blind to her own immense power. Definitely a must-read on my list!

By Laurie Forest,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Black Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Debut young adult fantasy author Laurie Forest brings a vividly imagined new fantasy realm to life in The Black Witch Chronicles, in which a fiercely determined heroine must embrace a power she never knew she had in order to protect everyone she loves from the darkness sweeping across their world.

A new Black Witch will rise...her powers vast beyond imagining.

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter and absolute spitting image of the late Black Witch, the most powerful mage her people, the Gardnerians, have ever known. Yet while everyone she meets expects her to live up to Carnissa Gardner's formidable legacy,…

Book cover of Seraphina

Anne Mollova Why did I love this book?

I’ve always had a thing for dragons and consider them a go-to for a good fantasy read. But Seraphina is one of the most inventive takes on the dragon trope I’ve ever seen, and it works so well! (Not to mention, the dragons in this book are incredible musicians, and being a musician myself, I found that very cool.)  I think I blasted through this entire book in a day or two, so be prepared to put life on hold when you pick this one up!

By Rachel Hartman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Seraphina 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 kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy.

But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened . . .

Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot…

Book cover of Air Awakens

Anne Mollova Why did I love this book?

I always wanted to be the superhero with the elemental or weather powers. Thunderstorm brewing? I’m a happy girl. Favorite X-(wo)man? Definitely Storm. And the protagonist of Air Awakens falls right into that category of powerful women with elemental magic in their veins. This whole series was a great read, perfect for curling up when those storm clouds roll in.

By Elise Kova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Air Awakens 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 library girl with a secret. A dark and fiery prince. When he awakens her magic, there's no going back.

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all--the Crown Prince Aldrik--she finds herself enticed into his world.…

Book cover of Wild Magic

Anne Mollova Why did I love this book?

Tamora Pierce was one of the authors that initially introduced me to my lifelong love of young adult fantasy, and all her books are wonderful. I picked Wild Magic because the protagonist has some really enviable magical abilities that I loved reading about and watching her develop. (True confession: I also may or may not have had a pretty tragic crush on the love interest in this book in high school...) This one will always be a favorite!

By Tamora Pierce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wild Magic 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?

Discover a land of enchantment, legend, and adventure in this first book of the Immortals series, featuring an updated cover for longtime fans and fresh converts alike, and including an all-new afterword from Tamora Pierce.

Thirteen-year-old Daine has always had a special connection with animals, but only when she’s forced to leave home does she realize it’s more than a knack—it’s magic. With this wild magic, not only can Daine speak to animals, but she can also make them obey her. Daine takes a job handling horses for the Queen’s Riders, where she meets the master mage Numair and becomes…

You might also like...

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

New book alert!

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

What is my book about?

Country music diva Hayley Swift has fallen off the charts and into a funk. Desperate to regain her place in the limelight, she agrees to a low-budget tour of Southern venues, starting with her 35th high school reunion.

There, in an unexpected but fortuitous reconnection, The Girls Next Door —who sang together in their teens--become Hayley and the Hot Flashes as they embark on a road trip that will forever change their lives. You'll laugh out loud as the ladies deal with stage fright, stalkers, attitudes, egos, harmonies, hormones, and more. Middle age has never been moodier—or more melodic!

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

What is this book about?

When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out!

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she's mistaken for Taylor Swift's mom than for her former glory days. When she's invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her back-up singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They're such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in witches, magicians, and human animal relationships?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about witches, magicians, and human animal relationships.

Witches Explore 128 books about witches
Magicians Explore 37 books about magicians
Human Animal Relationships Explore 25 books about human animal relationships