66 books like The Belles

By Dhonielle Clayton,

Here are 66 books that The Belles fans have personally recommended if you like The Belles. 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 Red Queen

Ellie Ember Author Of Paper Castles

From my list on dystopian books every twenty-something should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved dystopian books ever since my mom handed me The Giver when I was in the fourth grade. My high school English teacher ignited this passion further when she suggested I read Fahrenheit 451 during Banned Books Week. I would later pursue this interest in university when I wrote my thesis on the political use of language in dystopian literature. Now, my love for the genre motivates me to write dystopian books of my own. This list includes the most engaging and evocative dystopian books I urge every twenty-something to read–if only so I can talk about them with more people!

Ellie's book list on dystopian books every twenty-something should read

Ellie Ember Why did Ellie love this book?

The blood-based hierarchy, royal power plays, and love triangle make this book one of my favorites, both earlier in my teen years and now in my twenties. I love to revisit this book because of the way it balances exciting action, enticing romance, and societal commentary. It’s a fun read that hits me hard every time!

By Victoria Aveyard,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Red Queen 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?

The first novel in the #1 bestselling RED QUEEN series by Victoria Aveyard.

THIS IS A WORLD DIVIDED BY BLOOD - RED OR SILVER.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of…


Book cover of Grave Mercy

Liza Street Author Of Blood Bounty

From my list on historical fantasy with a touch of romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author and a lifelong lover of books, I read all genres. My favorites are set in fantastical worlds with unique settings. The mash-up of history and fantasy is endlessly compelling to me, and I always want to see a romantic subplot (or main plot!) in the books I read. I want a happily-ever-after even when the strange world and its villains are conspiring against the main characters. 

Liza's book list on historical fantasy with a touch of romance

Liza Street Why did Liza love this book?

Set in the mid-1400s in France, this series starter contains action, court intrigue, romance, and assassin nuns! I read it years ago and it remains a favorite, not only for the beautiful language, but for the strong heroine, Ismae, and her journey from following the rules and doing as she’s been told, to learning how to discern right from wrong and follow the guidance of her own moral compass. This is a book I would love to watch as a movie, not only for the action, but the costumes.

By Robin LaFevers,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Grave Mercy 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?

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
     Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high…


Book cover of An Ember in the Ashes

Christina Bacilieri Author Of The Last Refuge

From my list on YA books that blend fantastical magic with dystopian worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories where characters discover the magic within and channel it to confront overwhelming odds. Dystopian fantasies meld the intricate worldbuilding of an oppressive world with a character’s unique abilities to fight back. When I was a young adult, these types of books made the most challenging moments in life manageable, not only for the escapism but for their message of hope. They reminded me I wasn’t alone and that my voice mattered. At their core, they’re made for the dreamer in all of us. They inspired me to become an author and write about the transformative power of self-discovery.

Christina's book list on YA books that blend fantastical magic with dystopian worlds

Christina Bacilieri Why did Christina love this book?

Laia and Elias stole my heart, while the Commandant’s cruelty stole my breath. Sabaa Tahir’s ability to evoke such powerful emotion with this story set in reimagined Ancient Rome was nothing less than masterful.

The characters are faced with impossible choices, which kept me asking questions about what I would do in their situation. I thought the integration of elemental magic was woven in perfectly. I’m a sucker for it and could lose hours thinking about what abilities I’d wish for.

Laia is spying on the Martial Empire for the rebels in exchange for their help rescuing her brother when her path collides with Elias, an enforcer of the tyrannical regime. Both dream of freedom, and we root for them to find it together in this ruthless world.

By Sabaa Tahir,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked An Ember in the Ashes 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?

'Keeps one reading long after the lights should have been out' - Robin Hobb

Read the explosive New York Times bestselling debut that's captivated readers worldwide. Set to be a major motion picture, An Ember in the Ashes is the book everyone is talking about.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.

When Laia's grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant…


Book cover of Cinder

Christina Bacilieri Author Of The Last Refuge

From my list on YA books that blend fantastical magic with dystopian worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories where characters discover the magic within and channel it to confront overwhelming odds. Dystopian fantasies meld the intricate worldbuilding of an oppressive world with a character’s unique abilities to fight back. When I was a young adult, these types of books made the most challenging moments in life manageable, not only for the escapism but for their message of hope. They reminded me I wasn’t alone and that my voice mattered. At their core, they’re made for the dreamer in all of us. They inspired me to become an author and write about the transformative power of self-discovery.

Christina's book list on YA books that blend fantastical magic with dystopian worlds

Christina Bacilieri Why did Christina love this book?

Between the high-stakes worldbuilding, Earth on the brink of war with Luna while battling a global pandemic, and Marissa Meyer’s fresh sci-fi take on magic, the story drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.

I’m not ashamed to say I devoured this in one sitting. I was fascinated by the lunar people’s ability to use their “gifts” to manipulate bioelectricity, casting glamours and bewitching their victim’s minds. It added yet another layer of tension to the story.

The seamless fusion of dystopia, sci-fi, and elements from classic fairytales creates a powerhouse narrative that centers around Cinder, a cyborg mechanic whose fate is inexplicably twined with the prince’s in a race to find a cure and prevent the impending war.

By Marissa Meyer,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Cinder 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 forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth's fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.

This is not the…


Book cover of Crown Duel

Lyra Selene Author Of Amber & Dusk

From my list on YA fantasy with magic and intrigue.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only am I an author of fantastical, romantic, and magical novels, but I am also an incredibly passionate reader. Ever since I got my first library card I have devoured everything I could get my hands on, but I have always been drawn to novels featuring far-off lands and scheming royals, where magic was a commodity and romance appeared in the most unexpected of places. Not only have these books inspired my own writing, but they have allowed me to travel to a thousand different lands and experience a thousand different lifetimes. Reading is the true magic, and I’m thrilled to share my favorite novels featuring intrigue, romance, fantasy, and glamour. 

Lyra's book list on YA fantasy with magic and intrigue

Lyra Selene Why did Lyra love this book?

I have to recommend this book first because it is one that has stayed with me through the years and inspired my own writing. It features one of my favorite reluctant heroines, Meliara Astiar, as she battles against a tyrant king in the land of Remalna. As the countess of a backwater province, Mel has little understanding of the complicated politics of the capital. When she declares a rebellion against the tyrant king, she soon finds herself embroiled in a fast-moving game of intrigue, magic, violence, betrayal, and romance. Ultimately, Mel will have to decide whether she’s willing to live beneath an evil king—or die trying to dethrone him.

By Sherwood Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crown Duel 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?

Sherwood Smith's most popular young adult fantasy begins with Meliara and her brother vowing to free Remalna from an evil king. War is tougher than it seemed. When Meliara is caught by the enemy commander, the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, it's escape or die.

Afterward, Meliara faces a tougher challenge: the battlefield is no longer mud and steel, but palaces, the weapons manners and fans. Toughest of all is courtship, when the one who catches her heart is her personal enemy—the new king.

This beloved romantic fantasy has been in continuous print for over twenty years. The definitive edition is…


Book cover of A Crown of Wishes

Tessa Barbosa Author Of The Moonlight Blade

From my list on YA featuring magical competitions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love the first time I ever picked up a fantasy novel. Suddenly a whole world of imagination and magic opened up in my head and I’ve been an avid reader and writer ever since. Competitions show up time and again in YA novels (from The Hunger Games to Red Rising), and I think it’s because they provide a good frame for stories about growing up, progress, or ambition. There are high stakes baked in and that makes for an exciting read. I hope you enjoy these books!

Tessa's book list on YA featuring magical competitions

Tessa Barbosa Why did Tessa love this book?

Experiencing Roshani Chokshi’s prose is like biting into the most satisfyingly decadent piece of cake. This is a story where you can feel the magic seeping through the words.

A Crown of Wishes is the second in a series, but you don’t need to read the first book to understand it. It’s a fairy tale. Gauri is a princess held captive in her own home. She escapes with help from Vikram, the prince of a neighbouring country. He requires her help to win The Tournament of Wishes, where they must use all their wits to survive poison, dangerous magical creatures, and riddles to come through alive.

This book is beautiful and so much fun.  

By Roshani Chokshi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Crown of Wishes 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?

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom's enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighbouring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they'll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes-a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord…


Book cover of The Orphan Queen

Lyra Selene Author Of Amber & Dusk

From my list on YA fantasy with magic and intrigue.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only am I an author of fantastical, romantic, and magical novels, but I am also an incredibly passionate reader. Ever since I got my first library card I have devoured everything I could get my hands on, but I have always been drawn to novels featuring far-off lands and scheming royals, where magic was a commodity and romance appeared in the most unexpected of places. Not only have these books inspired my own writing, but they have allowed me to travel to a thousand different lands and experience a thousand different lifetimes. Reading is the true magic, and I’m thrilled to share my favorite novels featuring intrigue, romance, fantasy, and glamour. 

Lyra's book list on YA fantasy with magic and intrigue

Lyra Selene Why did Lyra love this book?

This book contains everything I love in a novel—deadly magic, mistaken identities, court intrigue, female friendships, and perhaps most importantly, romance! Exiled princess Wilhelmina has a vendetta against the Indigo Kingdom which long ago invaded her homeland and murdered her family. With the help of her best friend, she infiltrates the royal court in disguise and seeks to regain her throne. But obstacles are many—Wil harbors a magical secret that just might get her killed, a masked vigilante won’t leave her alone, and a magical blight is slowly sweeping through the land and destroying everything in its path. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time as I read this captivating book, and when it ended with a cliffhanger I nearly had a heart attack! Fortunately its sequel answered all my questions and more.

By Jodi Meadows,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An epic fantasy filled with adventure, intrigue, and romance from Incarnate series author Jodi Meadows. This duology is perfect for fans of Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. When Princess Wilhelmina was a child, the Indigo Kingdom invaded her homeland. Ten years later, Wil and the other noble children who escaped are ready to fight back and reclaim Wil's throne. To do so, Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate the Indigo Kingdom palace with hopes of gathering information that will help them succeed. But Wil…


Book cover of The Kiss of Deception

Jess K. Chavez Author Of The Flame of the White Horseman

From my list on fantasy book series with great romantic tension.

Why am I passionate about this?

With my degree in journalism, you’d think I would be firmly rooted in real-world dramas, but all my time in news did was push me deeper toward my love of fantasy and romance stories. A natural optimist and a bit of a dreamer, I have always been a voracious reader of the fantasy romance genre. I love a story that can take you away from the real world for a time with amazing heroes, end-of-world stakes, and of course, thick romantic tension. I have a special fondness for series’ where I can watch the characters grow in depth or where each story covers a different character's perspective or experience.

Jess' book list on fantasy book series with great romantic tension

Jess K. Chavez Why did Jess love this book?

Probably one of my favorite reads of all time; I have read it more than once, if that tells you anything about my love for it.

The fantasy elements in this story are subtle and have a mythical legend vibe more than outright powers. But the world and story is so richly built it’s perfect. Told from various POVs with layers of secrets, deception, and assassination attempts, I love how you don’t quite figure out who is who until the end.

All this combined with the thick romantic tension happening in this story and it was over far too soon for me.

By Mary E. Pearson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Kiss of Deception 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 a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia's life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight - but she doesn't - and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighbouring kingdom - to a prince she has never met. On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive - and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an…


Book cover of Finnikin of the Rock

Katie L. Carroll Author Of Elixir Bound

From my list on YA fantasy full of dark secrets and epic adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started reading young adult fantasy by the likes of Tamora Pierce and Garth Nix in my teens and was instantly hooked. I stuck with it into my adult years because YA fantasy has always been full of rich worlds, complex characters, and fast-paced plots. My younger sister also loved these stories, so when she passed away at a tragically young age, it spurred me on to write my own YA fantasy in memory of her. This list includes some of my favorites—ones I know she would have loved as well.

Katie's book list on YA fantasy full of dark secrets and epic adventures

Katie L. Carroll Why did Katie love this book?

A kingdom cursed after the murder of the royal family is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the immersive world-building in this series. Even with all the details, the pacing of the story never falters. But it’s the dynamic and complex characters like Finnikin and Evanjalin that are so richly portrayed, I was willing to follow them on any adventure.

By Melina Marchetta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finnikin of the Rock 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?

2008 Printz Award Winner Melina Marchetta crafts an epic fantasy of ancient magic, exile, feudal intrigue, and romance that rivets from the first page. (Age 14 and up)

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the…


Book cover of The Darkest Minds

Christina Bacilieri Author Of The Last Refuge

From my list on YA books that blend fantastical magic with dystopian worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories where characters discover the magic within and channel it to confront overwhelming odds. Dystopian fantasies meld the intricate worldbuilding of an oppressive world with a character’s unique abilities to fight back. When I was a young adult, these types of books made the most challenging moments in life manageable, not only for the escapism but for their message of hope. They reminded me I wasn’t alone and that my voice mattered. At their core, they’re made for the dreamer in all of us. They inspired me to become an author and write about the transformative power of self-discovery.

Christina's book list on YA books that blend fantastical magic with dystopian worlds

Christina Bacilieri Why did Christina love this book?

This book had my palms sweating with how real it felt. Alexandra Bracken’s ability to pull you in and make you believe this hauntingly dark plot is uncanny.

The story takes place in America, where a deadly illness claims children’s lives. The few who survive it are left with supernatural abilities. A cruel government fueled by hate and fear of its young citizens forces them into internment camps. Ruby, our telepathic protagonist, manages to escape and must learn to navigate a world steeped in mistrust while seeking sanctuary with kids like herself.

I couldn’t recommend this heartbreakingly beautiful book enough.

By Alexandra Bracken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Darkest Minds 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?

Book one in the hit series that's soon to be a major motion picture starring Amandla Stenberg and Mandy Moore--now with a stunning new look and an exclusive bonus short story featuring Liam and his brother, Cole.
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America's children, but she and the others emerged with something far…


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