The best young adult fantasy books with pirates and magic

K.J. Cloutier Author Of Beyond The Horizon
By K.J. Cloutier

Who am I?

I’ve always loved magic and pirates. As I kid, I made up games incorporating the two. As a teenager, I wanted to read about them. But at the time, I couldn’t find anything that had both pirates and magic, so I decided to write one myself. As the years blurred past and the young adult book scene exploded, more and more books with pirates and magic have been published and of course, I try to read them all! I read them not only to study books similar to my own, but because I love them and I can’t get enough. 

I wrote...

Beyond The Horizon

By K.J. Cloutier,

Book cover of Beyond The Horizon

What is my book about?

17 year old Emery Aalokin can sculpt flames and weave wind, and she’s exiled because of it. But an illness ravages the hidden island her people live upon, and to save them she must traverse across dangerous seas, fighting for a cure, for liberation, and for the lives of everyone she’s ever loved.

Moana meets Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar: The Last Airbender in Beyond The Horizon, a swashbuckling YA Fantasy featuring pirates, elemental magic, secret societies, and an enemies to lovers slow burn romance.

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The books I picked & why

All the Stars and Teeth

By Adalyn Grace,

Book cover of All the Stars and Teeth

Why did I love this book?

All The Stars & Teeth is everything I want in a seafaring adventure, with pirates, mermaids, sea monsters, and a world with seven unique types of magic – including blood magic.

Plus, a feisty and flawed female main character who will stop at nothing to save her kingdom. The world is lush and vibrant, the found family vibes give you all the feels, and the slow burn enemies to lovers is full of banter and tension.

Plus, it’s a duology so when you’re sad the book has ended, have no fear because the next one will be waiting for you! 

By Adalyn Grace,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All the Stars and Teeth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Fierce and unrelenting…Do yourself a favor and get lost in this beautiful book!” — Tomi Adeyemi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest…

Dark Shores

By Danielle L. Jensen,

Book cover of Dark Shores

Why did I love this book?

I’m surprised I don’t see Dark Shores talked about more often, because this is one of my favorite reads, especially when it comes to seafaring adventures.

Most of the time the pirates in stories are men, but not in this book. This time it’s the female main character who takes up that role, although I confess, the term ‘pirate’ is loosely based here.

She doesn’t go around commandeering ships and getting into sword fights, but she does live on the high seas and is responsible for finding lost relics (even if it means stealing them back.)

On top of that, the story has a world is based on Ancient Rome, has unique magic including teleportation crystals, has a morally grey broody love interest, and a beautiful written slow burn enemies to lovers romance. 

By Danielle L. Jensen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Richly-woven, evocative, and absolutely impossible to put down - I was hooked from the first lines! Dark Shores has everything I look for in a fantasy novel: fresh, unique settings, a cast of complex and diverse characters, and an unflinching boldness with the nuanced world-building. I loved every word." - Sarah J. Maas, #1 New York Times bestselling author

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

Teriana is the…

Siege and Storm

By Leigh Bardugo,

Book cover of Siege and Storm

Why did I love this book?

This might seem like a strange recommendation, since the Shadow & Bone Trilogy is already popular and is certainly not known to be a seafaring adventure with pirates and magic.

While the whole trilogy isn’t, the second book Siege and Storm is, and it features one my top favourite pirates of all time, Sturmhound. The sarcasm and the wit of this character gives me life, and I would follow this man across the seas.

On top of this, the entire trilogy is full of adventure (on the land and sea) morally grey characters, found families, betrayals, and a setting set in a long ago Russia. So it ticks all my boxes and then some. 

By Leigh Bardugo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

See the Grishaverse come to life on screen with the Netflix series, Shadow and Bone. Daring rogue Nikolai finally joins the fold in Season 2 -- covering explosive events of both Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising -- streaming now!

Enter the Grishaverse with Book Two of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner—hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But…

To Kill a Kingdom

By Alexandra Christo,

Book cover of To Kill a Kingdom

Why did I love this book?

Imagine The Little Mermaid but the mermaid is actually a killer siren and the prince is actually a siren hunter/pirate, and you’ve got To Kill A Kingdom.

If you’re not sold by that alone (because I certainly was) well, this standalone fantasy also has seafaring action, a variety of vibrant kingdoms, strong character arcs, morally grey characters, dashing pirates, siren magic, and of course, a slow burn enemies to lovers romance (you may have noticed I’m a sucker for those.)

I only wish this was a series and not a standalone.

By Alexandra Christo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked To Kill a Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIKTOK sensation!

An unforgettable dark romantic YA fantasy about the siren with a taste for royal blood and the prince who has sworn to destroy her.

"Stellar world building and nonstop action will keep readers hooked on this twisted reimagining of 'The Little Mermaid'." Booklist Online

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing…


By Adrienne Young,

Book cover of Fable

Why did I love this book?

One of my favourite things about Fable is it’s immersive setting.

When you’re reading this book, you can feel the sand beneath your toes, the wind on your cheeks, and the sea spray in your hair.

Admittedly, the action in this book is a little slower than the other’s I’ve recommended, but of course there’s still a broody pirate love interest (are you seeing a pattern yet?) unique magic that I’ve never come across before, and a heroine you can’t help but root for.

This book is also about yearning for somewhere to belong, and I think we can all connect with that in way or the other. 

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.

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