100 books like A Wish in the Dark

By Christina Soontornvat,

Here are 100 books that A Wish in the Dark fans have personally recommended if you like A Wish in the Dark. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids who love a medieval quest.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I could start writing Into the Lion’s Mouth, I spent a lot of time researching the medieval and renaissance Venice. I was astounded to see how relevant that history is to today. Not only are there many parallels that can be drawn between the past and today there is so much to learn about the consistency of human nature. I find myself currently gravitating towards books that mix history and fiction and these are some of my favorites.

Nancy's book list on kids who love a medieval quest

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

A warm inn, and a stranger’s tale gather together a group of travelers as they become fascinated by the story of three gifted children that is sweeping the land. I loved the way this book brought the story of the people in the inn and the marvelous children together step by step. Peppered with real historical figures and legends this book is a must-read for the middle-grade medieval enthusiast. 

By Adam Gidwitz, Hatem Aly (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Inquisitor's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A Newbery Honor Book
Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award

An exciting and hilarious medieval adventure from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm. Beautifully illustrated throughout by Hatem Aly!

A New York Times Bestseller A New York Times Editor's Choice A New York Times Notable Children's Book A People Magazine Kid Pick A Washington Post Best Children's Book A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book An Entertainment Weekly Best Middle Grade Book A Booklist Best Book A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book A Kirkus Reviews Best Book A Publishers Weekly Best Book A School Library Journal…


Book cover of Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin

Jessica Lawson Author Of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

From my list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading all kinds of stories, but I was also a big fan of playing outdoors. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was always a favorite of mine, but as an adult, I realized something…the one main female character who was my age, Becky Thatcher, didn’t seem to like adventure at all! I loved the idea of Becky being as much of a mischief-maker as the boys – and that became my first novel, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. I love retellings of classics and how they respect the original story, but are also able to imagine a new path! I hope all readers have adventures, inside and outside of books!

Jessica's book list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales

Jessica Lawson Why did Jessica love this book?

Rump by Liesl Shurtliff is a funny and poignant fractured fairy tale based on Rumpelstiltskin. It breathes new life into a character that has been typecast in the past as somewhat one-dimensional. I love that this author made tweaks to the original tale and brought another fairy tale character, Red Riding Hood, into the mix as a support system. I love the idea of origin stories that make readers think twice about judging supposed villains. Imagination abounds from this author, and the reader learns so much about Rump throughout his journey; both strengths and internal wounds that can be healed. This story has it all: humor, adventure, and heart.

By Liesl Shurtliff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rump as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This funny fractured fairy tale goes behind the scenes of Rumpelstiltskin. New York Times Bestselling author Liesl Shurtliff "spins words into gold [Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor winner]."

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell,…


Book cover of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

Eleanor Glewwe Author Of Sparkers

From my list on children's fantasy books about fighting injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fantasy has been my favorite genre to read and write since I was a child. I also began attending demonstrations and meeting my representatives from a young age, thanks to my socially engaged mother, who took me along to teach me the importance of activism. Between college and grad school, I worked in legislative advocacy, and somehow struggles for social justice are always seeping into the stories I most want to write. Fantasy immerses young people in magical worlds while also illuminating the problems of our own world. Books like these can inspire action and offer hope that things can change. 

Eleanor's book list on children's fantasy books about fighting injustice

Eleanor Glewwe Why did Eleanor love this book?

In the kingdom of Illyria, boys are potential sorcerers while girls are only taught to keep house and don’t always learn to read. Marya has spent her whole life swallowing her anger at the unfairness of it, but after her parents blame her for spoiling her brother’s chances at becoming a sorcerer, she is sent to a remote school for troubled girls. There, as she and her classmates form tentative friendships, they question teachers and sorcerers and seek the truth in embroidered messages and folk songs. Marya proves herself to be braver and nobler than the revered sorcerers of Illyria. This staunchly feminist middle grade fantasy empowers young people to interrogate the narratives of the powerful and realize that there is nothing wrong with who they are.  

By Anne Ursu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

From the acclaimed author of The Real Boy and The Lost Girl comes a wondrous and provocative fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them.

If no one notices Marya Lupu, is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.

The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in in the kingdom holds the potential for the rare ability to wield magic, to…


Book cover of The Witch Boy

Anthony Oliveira

From my list on queer YA topics that will crack your heart in half.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was growing up, there were no stories for me. A queer kid in a very conservative Catholic household, I knew I was different, but I had no way to articulate that difference, and no way to imagine a horizon of happiness, of dignity, or of joy. In the worlds people imagined for young people, we were simply written out. I have since spent a lifetime studying and telling stories – as an English professor, as a bartender at a queer bookstore and drag bar, and now as a writer. And what matters to me most is seeing queer lives lived in abundance. These are the stories I wish I had.

Anthony's book list on queer YA topics that will crack your heart in half

Anthony Oliveira Why did Anthony love this book?

Boys are one way; girls are another; that’s the way it has always been. But when Aster finds himself ineluctably drawn to the magic that should only be the province of the women in his family, he begins to realize some rules are not only antiquated, they can do material harm to the soul. Ostertag deftly uses the supernatural as a simple and elegant metaphor for the thousand indignities we can heap upon the queer and gender nonconforming, with an art style that simultaneously insists upon and celebrates the multiplicity of bodies and expressions that are our lived experience and belie these closed and closeting norms. An ingenious allegory, smartly and briskly told with charm and generosity.

By Molly Knox Ostertag,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Witch Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the illustrator of the web comic Strong Female Protagonist comes a debut middle-grade graphic novel about family, identity, courage -- and magic.

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical…


Book cover of Ptolemy's Gate

Anya Leigh Josephs Author Of Queen of All

From my list on fantasy to break your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lot of people feel intimidated by fantasy. Admittedly, the classics of the genre can be hard to get into, with their epic worldbuilding and thousand-page counts. But what made me fall in love with fantasy was the way it made me feel. Growing up queer, Jewish, fat, and chronically ill in the American South made it impossible for me to relate to the people around me. But fantasy, with its stories of outcasts becoming saviors, resonated with me. That’s why I started writing Queen of All when I was only twelve years old—I wanted to make people feel seen and understood. That’s what these books have done for me. 

Anya's book list on fantasy to break your heart

Anya Leigh Josephs Why did Anya love this book?

The conclusion to a charming middle-grade trilogy about a quick-witted demon named Bartimaeus, this book also depicts love and loss with an intensity and realism that resonates with readers of any age. I first read this book when I was about nine years old, eager to find out what would happen to the hilarious characters I’d loved so much in the first few books. I’ll never forget how hard I cried on that school bus home. I was just old enough to understand what that kind of loss would feel like, and still young enough to be moved by the story’s idealism and for the fantastical world to feel real for me. But I think, no matter who you are, this is a story at once heartbreaking and hilarious. 

By Jonathan Stroud,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ptolemy's Gate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The tremendous climax of the Bartimaeus sequence.

Three years on from the events in The Golem's Eye, the magicians' rule in London is teetering on a knife-edge, with strikes, riots and general unrest. The Prime Minister is largely controlled by two advisers, one of whom is 17-year-old Nathaniel. Meanwhile, living under a false identity, Kitty has been researching djinn; she has come to believe that the only way to destroy the magicians is with an alliance between djinn and ordinary people.

Kitty seeks out Bartimaeus and embarks on a terrifying journey into the djinn's chaotic domain - the Other Place…


Book cover of Midsummer's Mayhem

Erin Yun Author Of Pippa Park Raises Her Game

From my list on middle school fiction featuring delicious food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a children’s book writer from Frisco, Texas. I’ve published two middle grade chapter books, Pippa Park Raises Her Game and Pippa Park Crush at First Sight. I’ve always been captivated by novels that make me hungry; you can blame formative children’s books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or Stone Soup for that. That’s why today I’m sharing my top 5 favorite middle grade books that have a foodie twist. Some of them revolve entirely around food; others simply offer a notable scene. Either way, I hope you’ll find them as delectable as I do!

Erin's book list on middle school fiction featuring delicious food

Erin Yun Why did Erin love this book?

Eleven-year-old Mimi is the youngest child in a family full of high-achievers. Determined to prove herself, she enters a baking contest at a newly opened bakery in town, but when strange things begin happening to those around her (such as her food critic dad losing his sense of taste), Mimi must pair her culinary skills with her detective skills to get to the bottom of the magical mystery. 

If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it’d be: sweet. Plus, this adorable book is also a retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And if you know me, you know I adore retellings! 

By Rajani LaRocca,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Midsummer's Mayhem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A Kirkus Best Book of 2019!
An Indies Introduce Selection for 2019!
An Indie Next Pick for Summer 2019!

"A delectable treat for food and literary connoisseurs alike." Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"What a wonderful, intriguing, and magical book. And wow, did it ever get my tastebuds going! Each time I picked it up, I felt the urge to head to my kitchen. . . . What I loved most was the smartness of it. It never once doubted its young readers." Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor- and National Book Award-Nominated author

"Midsummer's Mayhem is an enchantment of a novel, bursting…


Book cover of The Gilded Girl

Lorelei Savaryn Author Of The Edge of in Between

From my list on retellings for middle grade readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied retellings as I prepared to write my own take on The Secret Garden. Retelling a classic story can not only usher something like The Secret Garden or Peter Pan into our current time and place in history, but it can also awaken the wonder and magic many of us experienced when reading these tales for the first time in a new generation. It’s been so fun for me to see how modern authors put their own spin on these stories, and I hope you will enjoy them too.

Lorelei's book list on retellings for middle grade readers

Lorelei Savaryn Why did Lorelei love this book?

Fans of A Little Princess will find a story both fresh and comfortingly familiar inside these pages. Izzy and Emma's personalities spark off the page, and the ticking clock to the time their magic is either activated or snuffed out forever makes their journey to friendship even more endearing. Featuring themes of justice and social change, this is a retelling not to be missed.

By Alyssa Colman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gilded Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Heartfelt, fast-paced, and utterly absorbing, The Gilded Girl is Alyssa Colman’s sparkling debut novel about determination, spirit, and the magic of friendship.

Any child can spark magic, but only the elite are allowed to kindle it. Those denied access to the secrets of the kindling ritual will see their magic snuffed out before their thirteenth birthday.

Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic is the best kindling school in New York City―and wealthy twelve-year-old Emma Harris is accustomed to the best. But when her father dies, leaving her penniless, Emma is reduced to working off her debts to Miss Posterity alongside…


Book cover of Sisters of the Neversea

Lorelei Savaryn Author Of The Edge of in Between

From my list on retellings for middle grade readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied retellings as I prepared to write my own take on The Secret Garden. Retelling a classic story can not only usher something like The Secret Garden or Peter Pan into our current time and place in history, but it can also awaken the wonder and magic many of us experienced when reading these tales for the first time in a new generation. It’s been so fun for me to see how modern authors put their own spin on these stories, and I hope you will enjoy them too.

Lorelei's book list on retellings for middle grade readers

Lorelei Savaryn Why did Lorelei love this book?

In this unbelievably gorgeous take on Peter Pan, Lily and Wendy are step-sisters who must now spend a summer apart. But a mysterious boy has been watching from the window and intends to take them away forever to a mysterious land. This book tackles head-on the problematic aspects of the original story and contains a story both thrilling and fun. Family, sisterhood, and magic reign supreme in this hard-to-put-down retelling. 

By Cynthia L. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sisters of the Neversea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Five starred reviews! In this beautifully reimagined story by NSK Neustadt Laureate and New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), Native American Lily and English Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland...

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family-and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to…


Book cover of The Humming Room: A Novel Inspired by the Secret Garden

Lorelei Savaryn Author Of The Edge of in Between

From my list on retellings for middle grade readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied retellings as I prepared to write my own take on The Secret Garden. Retelling a classic story can not only usher something like The Secret Garden or Peter Pan into our current time and place in history, but it can also awaken the wonder and magic many of us experienced when reading these tales for the first time in a new generation. It’s been so fun for me to see how modern authors put their own spin on these stories, and I hope you will enjoy them too.

Lorelei's book list on retellings for middle grade readers

Lorelei Savaryn Why did Lorelei love this book?

This contemporary retelling of The Secret Garden sets the story in a closed-down tuberculosis sanitarium. Roo's journey to uncover the mysteries of the house and bring life to the garden tucked away inside it unfolds beautifully on the page. With well-developed characters, a deeply haunting revelation, and a setting that springs to life with vivid detail, this was a great take on a classic.

By Ellen Potter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Humming Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she…


Book cover of More to the Story

Jessica Lawson Author Of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

From my list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading all kinds of stories, but I was also a big fan of playing outdoors. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was always a favorite of mine, but as an adult, I realized something…the one main female character who was my age, Becky Thatcher, didn’t seem to like adventure at all! I loved the idea of Becky being as much of a mischief-maker as the boys – and that became my first novel, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. I love retellings of classics and how they respect the original story, but are also able to imagine a new path! I hope all readers have adventures, inside and outside of books!

Jessica's book list on middle grade retellings of classics and fairytales

Jessica Lawson Why did Jessica love this book?

More to the Story by Hena Khan is a retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women. This version features four Muslim Pakistani-American sisters who live in Georgia. Their experiences and personalities both mirror and bring new light to the characters that I read and appreciated as a child. The novel delves into the personal challenges and joint effort of being a family in ways that are authentic and familiar. The details of setting and culture make the characters and story truly stand on their own. The importance of empathy, individuality, and support are all things that I loved about this book.

By Hena Khan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More to the Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina's Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she's one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela's assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn't share much, and wonders how she'll make his story gripping enough…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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