100 books like Graceling

By Kristin Cashore,

Here are 100 books that Graceling fans have personally recommended if you like Graceling. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Sabriel

D.P. Vaughan Author Of Ethereal Malignance

From my list on complex identities.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been engrossed by the complexities of identity, a theme I explore as an Australian speculative fiction writer. My own identity comes with its quirks—I hold a Bachelor of Music in Composition, spent a decade in admin roles, and the better part of another decade teaching English to adult migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. This eclectic background enriches my narratives, which blend supernatural elements with grounded realism and diverse representation. Whether it's exploring loneliness or delving into the lives of victims of bullying, my unique lens makes me well-suited to recommend books that tackle intricate themes of identity.

D.P.'s book list on complex identities

D.P. Vaughan Why did D.P. love this book?

Sabriel by Australian author Garth Nix is a YA dark fantasy that captivated me with its visceral descriptions of Charter magic and the brutal realism of life in the Old Kingdom—where the dead do walk.

The protagonist, Sabriel, is raised in a mundane, magic-less world beyond the Wall but is thrust into a realm teeming with dark magic as she searches for her missing father. This journey forces her to grapple with her identity as she navigates the expectations of others who see her only as her father's successor while she remains steadfast in her determination to find and rescue him.

This struggle for self-definition amidst external pressures is a theme that resonates deeply, making Sabriel a must-read for those who appreciate immersive worlds.

By Garth Nix,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Sabriel 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?

A stunning anniversary gift edition of the second in the bestselling Old Kingdom fantasy series.

Sabriel has spent most of her young life far away from the magical realm of the Old Kingdom, and the Dead that roam it. But then a creature from across the Wall arrives at her all-girls boarding school with a message from her father, the Abhorsen - the magical protector of the realm whose task it is to bind and send back to Death those that won't stay Dead. Sabriel's father has been trapped in Death by a dangerous Free Magic creature.

Armed with her…


Book cover of Echo North

M. L. Farb Author Of Vasilisa

From my list on based on lesser known folk and fairytales.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my favorite sections in the library is the collections of folk and fairy tales. Especially the lesser-known tales. My novel, Vasilisa, is inspired by the Russian folktale Vasilisa and Staver, plus my question of “how did Vasilisa get so strong?” I love combining folk tales with extensive research of the culture and history of their settings, as well as delving into characters who have vastly different experiences than mine. And I love reading character and detail-rich novelizations of traditional tales. It was difficult to pick only five novels based on lesser-known fairy tales. Enjoy, then go find some others!

M. L.'s book list on based on lesser known folk and fairytales

M. L. Farb Why did M. L. love this book?

Echo North combined several familiar-to-me folk tales, and introduced me to the tale of Tam Lin. I loved the blending of known and original—especially the mirror room, where stories layered upon stories and acquaintances took on completely new qualities. The sewing together of a fracturing magical house also fascinated me. I was never sure about the intentions of certain people until the end, and despite guessing wrong, I was delighted by what really was happening.

By Joanna Ruth Meyer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Echo North 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?

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf's enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.


Book cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Jasmine Gower Author Of Moonshine

From my list on fantastical civic design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having previously worked in the Urban Affairs side of academia and drawing heavily on my own experience living in the city of Portland, OR while writing my book, Moonshine, I’ve become very interested in how fantasy authors find creative ways to incorporate the supernatural elements of the genre with the extremely mundane aspects of urban planning and civics. I find that the most immersive fantasy worlds are the ones that concern themselves with the gritty details of how their societies operate on a basic logistical level, and I think a well-written fantasy city can very much shine as a character in its own right.

Jasmine's book list on fantastical civic design

Jasmine Gower Why did Jasmine love this book?

The world-building in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms explores how the powering of societies can come at a human cost—though in this case, the humans have outsourced that cost to the gods. Enslaved by the Arameri aristocratic family that rules over the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods and godlings power the Arameri’s control of the city of Sky, allowing the city to flourish but at the expense of the common people’s or the gods’ agency. Compared to the other books listed here, this tale is more concerned with the structures of class and authority (and less so utility) that help turn the gears of society, but its examinations of these aspects of civics are still insightful and, ultimately, optimistic.

By N. K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After her mother's mysterious death, a young woman is summoned to the floating city of Sky in order to claim a royal inheritance she never knew existed in the first book in this award-winning fantasy trilogy from the NYT bestselling author of The Fifth Season.

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into…


Book cover of A Crown for Cold Silver

Stacey Filak Author Of The Queen Underneath

From my list on led by brutal female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I hesitate to call myself an expert on anything, except perhaps how to eat too many Pringles and Twizzlers while trying to plot a novel. But if there’s anything else that I’ve spent my life devoted to, it’s the idea that “strong female characters” don’t all fall into one category or another. Give me a world populated by both Chrisjen Avasarala and Bobbie Draper. Give me smart and calculating and deadly force. Give me brutality in all its forms, because men don’t hold a monopoly on viciousness. For a very long time, the heroines we got were Susan Pevensie and Eowyn, accidental sweethearts in a beautiful gown – and I love those characters, too. But frankly, I’m all for wearing that gorgeous dress while you disembowel your enemies and take over the kingdom from your evil step-uncle.

Stacey's book list on led by brutal female characters

Stacey Filak Why did Stacey love this book?

There is not a thing about this book that I don’t love.

Marshall (a pseudonym for Jesse Bullington) tells the story of Zosia – Cold Cobalt, The Banshee with a Blade, First Villain – who is just a few steps past her prime. Twenty-some years have passed since she led her notorious band of generals – The Five Villains – in a war that put her on the throne. A throne she walked away from.

She was done with it all until fate and mistake shattered her retirement, drawing her back into the world and war. Marshall does some really cool things with gender norms, looks aging right in the face with an unvarnished mirror, and gives readers a cold religion, bug-drugs, and all the violence you could want.

But he also gives readers the sort of anti-heroes that you can’t help but cheer for, a cast of minor and…

By Alex Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Crown for Cold Silver as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Robert E. Howard and Scott Lynch comes a diverse and action-packed tale of a warrior out for revenge, from a bold new voice in the fantasy genre. Readers will fall in love with the Red Sonja-like Zosia and her Five Villains. Kameron Hurley says 'an epic fantasy that will surprise you . . . if you think you know what's coming, think again.'

Cold Cobalt, the Banshee with a Blade, First Among Villains . . .
When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, the warrior queen Zosia faked…


Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Tim Pratt Author Of Heirs of Grace

From my list on fantasy with women heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been reading fantasy for 42 years and writing it for 40, and because I was raised by badass women, I've always enjoyed tales of clever, kickass, indomitable heroines. I've written a bunch of them (a dozen books in an urban fantasy series about a sorcerer named Marla Mason; four books in the Axiom space opera series about ship captain Callie Machedo and her love interest, time refugee xenobiologist Elena Oh; contemporary fantasy/romance Heirs of Grace, about an art student who discovers a magical inheritance, and more). I'm also a longtime book reviewer, editor at SF/fantasy trade magazine Locus, and frequent award juror (Bradbury Prize, Philip K. Dick Award, and more), so... I think about SF/fantasy books a lot. 


Tim's book list on fantasy with women heroines

Tim Pratt Why did Tim love this book?

Gideon the Ninth lit up the sky of the science fiction/fantasy world when it was published, launching the Locked Tomb series (which is ongoing, and great; third volume Nona the Ninth is especially lovely).

It's been described as "lesbian necromancers in space" but it's more "lesbian necromancer and swordsperson on various weird planets in the far future with a god-emperor who uses death magic to fight planet-sized spectral monsters...." for a start.

The whole series is enigmatic, complex, and laced through with humor, action, and yearning, but the first book is notable for the power of Gideon's voice.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…


Book cover of Best Served Cold

Lee Hunt Author Of Bed of Rose and Thorns

From my list on fantasy with the most beautiful endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first two lessons as a geophysicist were confusing opposites. My supervisor told me that I must carry my investigations to professional conclusions, while the very best physicists showed me that good scientists are the most parsimonious about what they conclude. It's a battle between humility and the need to tell a story. We human beings crave a nice, neat ending, and we often only get one in fantasy, for the real world is complex. It was this insight that led me to start every story I ever wrote with at least a concept for the ending. If we are going to go anywhere with our narratives, we better first consider where that is.

Lee's book list on fantasy with the most beautiful endings

Lee Hunt Why did Lee love this book?

Who doesn’t want to right the wrongs committed against them? I try to be a grown up and move on with my life when someone antagonizes me, but sometimes I wish there was justice in the world. Who doesn’t, even if sometimes we know we are not being mature? Revenge is the ultimate ending, and Abercrombie’s clever stand-alone novel examines just how cold it really can be. It turns out, not at all. Monza has been screwed over bad. She has every reason to want to get even—which means everyone who tried to kill her needs to end up dead. The bodies certainly pile up but when she reaches victory, Monza finds it more absurd than cold. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and more than a little darkly humorous. Take it with a shadowy laugh.

By Joe Abercrombie,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Best Served Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories…


Book cover of First Test

Melissa Marr Author Of The Hidden Dragon

From my list on if you want to go on a magical adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on fairy tales and folklore in the Appalachian Mountains. Stories of adventure and dusty fairy tale books in my grandmother’s attic were my entertainment. The library trips we took “into town” added to my reading. I discovered that the step from fairy tales to classics wasn’t as wide as folks argue. Years later, when I went off to college, I became an English major, then a graduate student, and then started teaching literature at college. From childhood to adulthood, magic and fiction were my life... which led to selling a book of my own. Over the last 17 years, I’ve been writing fantasy.

Melissa's book list on if you want to go on a magical adventure

Melissa Marr Why did Melissa love this book?

Getting to become a knight? Yes, please!

Childhood me, adult me, mommy me, writer me, all version of me wanted adventure—and swords. Her books were treasured enough in my home that my (now-adult) daughter and I both had to buy replacement copies over the years.

I read Tammy Pierce’s books with my daughter in the years before I was published, never knowing that years later, I’d be teaching sword fighting and chatting with Tammy herself about swords and books.

This recommendation is listing the one book, but it’s part of a whole set of connected series books.

This was our entry into a world of strong adventurous women, and honestly, I’m not sure I’d have ended up a writer if not for her writing.

By Tamora Pierce,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked First Test 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?

Kel will not allow this first test to be her last. Her adventure begins in the New York Times bestselling series from the fantasy author who is a legend herself: TAMORA PIERCE.
 
Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of a new rule in Tortall—one that allows females to train for knighthood. After years in the Yamani Islands, she knows that women can be warriors, and now that she’s returned home, Kel is determined to achieve her goal. She believes she is ready for the traditional hazing and grueling schedule of a page. But standing…


Book cover of City of Bones

Stephanie Duley Author Of A Bond of Fate

From my list on slump busters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello, my name is Stephanie Duley and my passion lies in fantasy. From books and movies to board games and tabletop RPGs, if it’s fantasy, I am usually a big fan. My love of reading started at a young age when my mom would take us to our local library to sign up for the summer reading programs. As an adult, I will gobble up any fantasy novel I can get my hands on. As a published author, I strive to give readers that same feeling and bring a little magic into their world, even if it is only for a few hundred pages.

Stephanie's book list on slump busters

Stephanie Duley Why did Stephanie love this book?

This was one of the first books I picked up after my reading slump in 2012, and I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The story concept was fascinating; I love it when story worlds have supernatural elements and societies hidden within the “regular world.” The characters are written very well, and you feel as though you are watching a movie while reading with the authors great attention to detail in the scenes she sets.

The world building is great and offers a unique take on the classic fantasy creatures, werewolves, vampires, and fey. You really feel that “found family” book trope in this series, and the ups and downs of book one will have you hooked. 

By Cassandra Clare,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked City of Bones 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?

Discover this first installment of the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly).

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he…


Book cover of Throne of Glass

K. Marie Smith Author Of Touch

From my list on strong female leads who might be morally gray.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with Irish folklore, Lord of the Rings, and X-Men comics as my bedtime stories, but I am also a domestic violence survivor twice over with c-PTSD. I was never able to get justice for anyone who hurt me. I created my stories as a way to cope and understand my feelings and triggers by making them their own personalities. So, I made my trauma available for everyone in a fantasy setting with two love interests to adore the heroine who had to endure so much but never gave up on giving people someone to root for when they couldn’t for themselves anymore.

K.'s book list on strong female leads who might be morally gray

K. Marie Smith Why did K. love this book?

I really loved the female main character. She was so witty and strong. I recommend this book to be paired with my own because the FMCs are similar, but the story is complex. The emotional energy of the book was also complex, and nothing is black and white, which always makes for a more fun read.

By Sarah J. Maas,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Throne of Glass 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?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas started a worldwide phenomenon when she published her debut novel, Throne of Glass. To date, Sarah's books have spent more than 92 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and she has hit #1 on charts around the world. Her books have sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into 36 languages. Throne of Glass alone has sold over one million copies. Now you can own this epic fantasy classic in a deluxe hardcover collector's edition. Throne of Glass begins the sweeping saga of assassin Celaena Sardothien,…


Book cover of A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Melissa Marr Author Of The Hidden Dragon

From my list on if you want to go on a magical adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on fairy tales and folklore in the Appalachian Mountains. Stories of adventure and dusty fairy tale books in my grandmother’s attic were my entertainment. The library trips we took “into town” added to my reading. I discovered that the step from fairy tales to classics wasn’t as wide as folks argue. Years later, when I went off to college, I became an English major, then a graduate student, and then started teaching literature at college. From childhood to adulthood, magic and fiction were my life... which led to selling a book of my own. Over the last 17 years, I’ve been writing fantasy.

Melissa's book list on if you want to go on a magical adventure

Melissa Marr Why did Melissa love this book?

I had stopped reading children’s and teen fiction for a couple of years, for the first time in my half a century of life, and then I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

There’s a different sort of adventure here, and I think I related to Harper a little bit extra because I have a chronic illness and when it flares up, my limp is so very obvious. It felt good to see magic + that realism.

The combination of magic, a protagonist I could connect to, and fairy tale elements made me start opening the covers of other books I’d bought and shelved.

By Brigid Kemmerer,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked A Curse So Dark and Lonely 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?

A New York Times bestseller! "Has everything you'd want in a retelling of a classic fairy tale." - Jodi Picoult In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer. Fall in love, break the curse. It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the…


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