10 books like The Unwanteds

By Lisa McMann,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Unwanteds. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Colton Mckay Author Of A Stone's Throw

From the list on fantasy authors that reveal Christ in their work.

Who am I?

I have been writing for more than a decade specifically in fantasy. My mind was filled with tales of magic, heroes, and mythical creatures for decades. When Christ called me it was like learning how to fit my creativity and imagination into this box. Except, He is the box from which all creativity comes. As for my expertise concerning the Word of God, I have studied the Bible from beginning to end and I have prepared and preached a number of sermons. I will one day be a full-fledged pastor, and writing is a part of the job. I have a unique blend of fantasy and Christ. 

Colton's book list on fantasy authors that reveal Christ in their work

Discover why each book is one of Colton's favorite books.

Why did Colton love this book?

As children we are taught to not judge a book by its cover and Andrew taught me to not judge a book by its title either.

The perfectionist in me thought the title foolish and roundabout. Andrew disabused me and I am thankful for it.

I had the pleasure of hearing the audio version and it blew me away with its depth, creativity, and humour. I described it to my wife as if Lord of the Rings had been written by Dr. Seuss.

There is a certain musicality to his prose and to my delight I found he is also a musician. I don't say this lightly - this is a must-read!

By Andrew Peterson,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After living for years under the occupation by the evil Fangs of Dang, the Igiby children find a map rumoured to lead to the lost Jewels of Anniera - the one thing the Fangs will do anything to find. The family is thrown headlong into a perilous adventure, uncovering truths about who they are that will change their world forever.

Repackaged with new illustrations, this is the opportunity to discover the Wingfeathers.

Keeper of the Lost Cities

By Shannon Messenger,

Book cover of Keeper of the Lost Cities

Krista Van Dolzer Author Of Earth to Dad

From the list on book series according to my twelve-year-old.

Who am I?

As a mom who loves to read (and write!), I’ve always hoped and prayed my kids would fall in love with reading, too. That said, I’ve always been careful not to force them into it, not to somehow make them feel like my hobbies had to be theirs. When my twelve-year-old devoured Harry Potter in mere weeks, I was practically ecstatic. And when I heard her tell her brothers at the height of the pandemic, “Books get you out of the house and let you go somewhere new,” I knew that they’d become for her what they’ve always been for me: a window to another world. 

Krista's book list on book series according to my twelve-year-old

Discover why each book is one of Krista's favorite books.

Why did Krista love this book?

I’ll be honest and admit that I gave up on this series after the second or third book, and yet I strongly suspected that my daughter would enjoy them—and she absolutely did. She loves the elvish cities and how keenly they’re described, and the idea that they’re here, somehow hidden on our world, captured her imagination. Oh, and I’m supposed to tell you that Keefe is hilarious.

By Shannon Messenger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Keeper of the Lost Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestselling series
A USA TODAY bestselling series
A California Young Reader Medal-winning series

In this riveting series opener, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world before the wrong person finds the answer first.

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She's skipped multiple grades and doesn't really connect with the older kids at school, but she's not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie's a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret-at least, that's what she thinks...

But the day Sophie…

Fear No Evil

By Allen Brokken,

Book cover of Fear No Evil

James R. Hannibal Author Of The Lost Property Office

From the list on fantasy about dragons, sword fights, and elves.

Who am I?

Since childhood, I’ve been creating stories about worlds just beyond the reach of our fingers but not beyond the reach of our minds. Now, all grown up, I have the pleasure of seeing those stories on bookstore shelves—some in locations and languages all over the world.

James' book list on fantasy about dragons, sword fights, and elves

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

Fear No Evil is the first in Allen’s Towers of Light series of family reads. In similar fashion to the Wingfeather Saga, a group of siblings must navigate a new world to save their parents. Allen’s world enables us to see a world untouched by sin and then the damage done when sin begins to taint the landscape and its inhabitants. I love these stories so much because of Allen’s unique fireside storytelling style. The easy and almost rhythmic flow of his prose lends itself to read-alouds that adults, middle graders, and younger siblings can all enjoy.

By Allen Brokken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fear No Evil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Separated by tragedy on the river...
...Lauren, Aiden and Ethan are lost and alone in a valley of darkness.

Without each other or their Knight Protector, the three siblings must navigate the wilderness while fending off creatures tainted by evil. Meanwhile, the yellow acolyte has ascended the throne of the Iron Hills and holds Mother and Father captive in the heart of the mountain. Will the children's faith give them the courage to save their parents?

"My kids are loving these books! They arrive and are devoured quickly and passed on to the next child to read. I like to…

Dragon Rider

By Cornelia Funke,

Book cover of Dragon Rider

Mikayla Deely Author Of The Rise of Surge: Of Fire and Fate

From the list on ferocious and fantastic dragons.

Who am I?

I’ve read books about dragons ever since I can remember. If I couldn’t read it, my dad read it to me. Outside of books, I’d seek out movies or shows with the magical beasts in them. I was a bit obsessed, really. From cruel-hearted and devious to kind-natured and intelligent, I was writing and reading about it all. My favorite, however, is dragons that are as smart as they are deadly. This reflects a lot in the books I chose, as they all contain some pretty ferocious dragons!

Mikayla's book list on ferocious and fantastic dragons

Discover why each book is one of Mikayla's favorite books.

Why did Mikayla love this book?

This was one of the first books I read with dragons in it. We follow a dragon named Firedrake as he ventures to find a place where dragons can live in peace forever. He is accompanied by his little brownie friend, Sorrel, and a boy named Ben. This book sparked my love of dragons, and to this day, I love to go back and read through the adventure that started it all.

By Cornelia Funke,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dragon Rider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The very first dragon adventure from the legendary author
of Inkheart, Cornelia Funke - now a major film, over
1 million English language copies sold worldwide and a New
York Times bestseller!
Now a Sky Original film, only on Sky Cinema

'A warm-hearted dream of a book.' THE GUARDIAN

'Funke is the queen of world-building ... glorious escapism'

A dragon. A boy. A journey.

Firedrake, a brave young dragon, embarks on a magical journey
to find the legendary place where silver dragons can live in peace
for ever.

Along the way, he discovers extraordinary new friends and a…

The Witch's Boy

By Kelly Barnhill,

Book cover of The Witch's Boy

Catherine Austen Author Of All Good Children

From the list on understated siblings.

Who am I?

I’m the youngest of five, and my siblings are what shaped me and my world. Growing up, I never felt alone, except climbing the stairs to bed half an hour before anyone else (such an injustice!). We played cards and games and had noisy discussions throughout my childhood and youth, and we still do. I wouldn’t be me without siblings. It’s the relationship that most fascinates me. There are siblings in all the books I’ve written and probably in all the books I’ll ever write. It’s not a theme I look for when I read, but I recognize the feeling when I encounter it and it feels like home.

Catherine's book list on understated siblings

Discover why each book is one of Catherine's favorite books.

Why did Catherine love this book?

I read this book accidentally. When ordering The Witch’s Boy by Michael Gruber (so good! no siblings), this title came up alongside it. Barnhill won the Newbery with The Girl who Drank the Moon, but this one won my heart first. I loved the woods that separated the two worlds and the two main characters; I loved the image of magic pulsing in the veins; and I loved the subtle sibling theme. The title character, Ned, is defined in part by his dead twin. He fears that the villagers are right in saying the wrong boy survived. Having siblings is not all cozy belonging. There’s guilt and insecurity and competition and heartbreak too. This book captures some of those lost feelings among its thrills and terrors, while being ultimately uplifting.

By Kelly Barnhill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witch's Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned's mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it's Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community. Meanwhile, across the enchanted forest that borders Ned's village lives Aine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, who is haunted by her mother's last words to her: "The wrong boy will save your life and you will save…

The Crossover

By Kwame Alexander,

Book cover of The Crossover

Lorna Schultz Nicholson Author Of When You Least Expect It

From the list on determination and perseverance.

Who am I?

As a child I loved to read and write but I also loved sports. I played every sport I could, and races and games fueled me. My mother called me the “joiner.” Teams create bonds and friendships and I’m still in touch with former teammates. This gives me inspiration to write human interactions. Determination and perseverance are part of being an athlete and I write about strong characters who want to succeed but often meet obstacles along the way. I honestly believe that my sports background has helped me survive publishing, because both are full of highs and lows. Please, enjoy my recommended list because they’re books with heart.

Lorna's book list on determination and perseverance

Discover why each book is one of Lorna's favorite books.

Why did Lorna love this book?

Written in poetic verse, this novel is captivating, clever, and emotional. I love it when a book is written with so much emotion that I have to wipe away the tears. Yes, I cried. Alexander combined sport with heart, and this book has depth, and covers so much more than basketball. The family scenes are realistic and powerful.

By Kwame Alexander,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Crossover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A million copies sold

'With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .
The court is SIZZLING.
My sweat is DRIZZLING.
Stop all that quivering.
Cuz tonight I'm delivering'

12-year-old Josh and his twin Jordan have basketball in their blood. They're kings of the court, star players for their school team. Their father used to be a champion player and they each want nothing more than to follow in his footsteps.
Both on and off the court, there is conflict and hardship which will test Josh's bond with his brother. In this heartfelt novel in verse, the boys…

The Family Plot

By Megan Collins,

Book cover of The Family Plot

Danielle Girard Author Of Up Close

From the list on thrillers set in small towns with big secrets.

Who am I?

My first books were set in and around San Francisco, an area I knew well and with plenty of opportunities for crime stories. When we moved to Montana twenty years ago, people asked when I’d write one there. I resisted setting dark stories in my own city, where my kids were growing up. Reading about the Bakken Oil Formation in North Dakota, a boom of wealth and expansion and a subsequent bust, offered a perfect storm—the kind that drives desperation, where locals conflict with newcomers, where money—new and old—drives people to make bad decisions. After a visit to the area, the fictional town of Hagen, North Dakota, and the Badlands Thriller Series was born. 

Danielle's book list on thrillers set in small towns with big secrets

Discover why each book is one of Danielle's favorite books.

Why did Danielle love this book?

Collins’ The Family Plot is set Blackburn Island, off the coast of Rhode Island where the Lighthouse Family lived in a secluded mansion deep in the woods and isolated by their true-crime-obsessed parents.

After her twin brother disappears when they are sixteen, Dahlia leaves home at the earliest opportunity, returning years later after her father’s death. When the family goes to bury him, there is already a body in his grave—her brother’s.

The layered family drama, secrets, and one hell of a twist make this the kind of story I love—layered with tension and impossible to put down. 

By Megan Collins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Exceedingly entertaining." -The New York Times
"Umbrella Academy meets Tana French. Dark, claustrophobic, and beautifully written." -Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here

From the author of The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door, a family obsessed with true crime gathers to bury their patriarch-only to find another body already in his grave.

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.



By Erin Bowman,

Book cover of Taken

K.M. Robinson Author Of Jaded

From the list on swoony dystopia that aren’t Hunger Games.

Who am I?

I love dystopian stories because these are tales that could actually happen if a particular series of steps fall into place over the course of the next decade, century, etc. Dystopia is set in our real world, just in the future. There’s no unbelievable magic…just what our real world could be generations from now. The evolution or devolution of science, law, law enforcement, medicine, education, etc is fascinating to explore…especially since I’m an incredibly techy person. I love exploring what could happen in our future if we follow certain paths, good, bad, or otherwise. Asking “what if” is my favorite question.

K.M.'s book list on swoony dystopia that aren’t Hunger Games

Discover why each book is one of K.M.'s favorite books.

Why did K.M. love this book?

This one was very unique in that it barely introduces the dystopian world in the first book and focuses on it much later in the series despite the significant impact it has on the characters from the very first page. The lead is male, which is becoming less common these days, and gives us a more calculating look into the world of dystopia. I enjoyed seeing things from another angle as that really reminds me to explore those less-common threads in my own writing as well. And what could be more interesting than people disappearing on their birthday and then finding out who is taking them, right?

By Erin Bowman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fans of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and Variant by Robison Wells won't want to miss this magnetic first book in a gripping dystopian sci-fi series. Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, raves that Taken is "an action-packed thrill ride from beginning to end. More, please!"

Gray Weathersby has grown up expecting to disappear at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. They call it the Heist—and it happens to every boy in Claysoot. His only chance at escape is to climb the Wall that surrounds Claysoot. A climb no one has ever survived . . .

The Black Prism

By Brent Weeks,

Book cover of The Black Prism

J.W. Kiefer Author Of Death

From the list on the most unique magic systems.

Who am I?

I'm a fiction author and minister from Upstate New York. As a young boy, I had many supernatural experiences. My earliest memory is of a supernatural basis. For me, the unseen world, and those things that others either deny exist or have relegated to ancient history and myth, have always been real to me. Reading, films, video games, and all other forms of storytelling were ways for me to experience the strange and the mysterious. What I found as I walked through such places as Middle Earth, Narnia, and Ice Wind Dale, was that the stories of these characters that overcame adversity, failures, and weaknesses to become heroes inspired me as well.

J.W.'s book list on the most unique magic systems

Discover why each book is one of J.W.'s favorite books.

Why did J.W. love this book?

So, if you haven’t already noticed, for most of this list I have chosen the first book in a series. Let's be honest, if you read fantasy, then you know pretty much every book is part of a series. In The Black Prism we are introduced to one of my favorite magic systems. In this system, the magicians or “Drafters” are able to turn light into substance. Each color of the light spectrum has a different property. A drafter can create constructs using light. Most people can only access one color, but there are those special people that can use multiple colors, and of course, there are the select few who can use all. What I love about this system is that it is only limited to the strength and imagination of the user.

I am a big fan of systems that you have to think to use. Anyone can…

By Brent Weeks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a world where magic is tightly controlled, the most powerful man in history must choose between his kingdom and his son - in the first book of the New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series, one of the most popular fantasy epics of the decade.


Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he…

The Land of Roar

By Jenny McLachlan, Ben Mantle (illustrator),

Book cover of The Land of Roar

Tamsin Winter Author Of Girl (in Real Life)

From the list on strong female protagonists.

Who am I?

Whatever story I’m telling, I try to write female characters who are smart, funny, kind, and ultimately empowering; characters that drive the narrative, not the other way around. It is really important for me that my female characters have agency – that they actively move the story forward, make decisions and step up. Those are the kind of stories I like to read too. The books on this list are some of my favourites and all contain strong female protagonists. I hope you enjoy.

Tamsin's book list on strong female protagonists

Discover why each book is one of Tamsin's favorite books.

Why did Tamsin love this book?

As someone who has always had a somewhat overactive imagination, as soon as I heard the premise of this book – a land created by twins Rose and Arthur that comes to life – I was hooked. The Land of Roar is filled with incredible things – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards! But it is also filled with their childhood fears, personified by the truly terrifying Crowky. This is a heart-in-your-mouth series with a celebration of childhood adventure at its heart. 

By Jenny McLachlan, Ben Mantle (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in a new children's fantasy adventure series, full of imagination, humour and heart, and with echoes of Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Neverending Story and Jumanji.

The Land of Roar is perfect for children aged 8 to 12, and can sit on their bookshelf next to Nevermoor, Wizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon. Readers can bring their fantasy world to life and meet dragons, unicorns, mermaids and more in this beautifully illustrated children's book.

Believing is just the beginning ...

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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