311 books directly related to magic-supernatural 📚

All 311 magic-supernatural books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

By Jessica Townsend

Why this book?

I was privileged enough to be a part of the first wave of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Like many others I’m sure, those books irrevocably captured my imagination, and sparked the flame of my own story-telling pursuits. I didn’t think there’d ever be a story that would match the sheer wonder and imagination that Rowling created. Then I read Nevermoor. And my imagination was re-captured in the same invigorating, child-like wondrous way. This book is something truly special. It’s full of wonder and wit, including a Willy-Wonker-esque patron, a giant talking cat, and a magical, room-changing hotel. And the…

From the list:

The best upper middle-grade fantasy books that capture the imagination

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Spider's Bite: An Elemental Assassin Book

Spider's Bite: An Elemental Assassin Book

By Jennifer Estep

Why this book?

Jennifer Estep’s writing talents shine in her Elemental Assassin series. She has filled her world with supernatural creatures and humans with magic who can harness different elemental powers. Gin is an assassin, known as the Spider. She has ice and stone magic. She also runs the best barbecue restaurant in town and Estep’s masterful food descriptions will have your mouth watering for more.

From the list:

The best urban fantasy books with a strong female lead

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Dragonbone Chair

The Dragonbone Chair

By Tad Williams

Why this book?

This book introduces a very good series and was responsible for encouraging my love of science fantasy – some of which I write. While I have tried to keep away from more famous authors, this one got through because it really is that good.

As with all good science fantasy, it has various levels, some of the deepest making one think, or you can just go with the flow and enjoy the yarn. That is something I also strive to do with readers, well, I try to.

From the list:

The best fiction books for curious minds

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The City We Became

The City We Became

By N.K. Jemisin

Why this book?

Suddenly, for reasons no one can quite explain, five ordinary New Yorkers become-slash-embody the city’s five boroughs. For example, a newcomer named Manny discovers he *is* Manhattan; he feels and sees its streets and crowds. Through telling these five people’s stories—and chronicling their efforts to save the city from a powerful evil force—Jemisin tells the story of New York. It’s sort of sci-fi, it’s very funny. It’s also a portrait of the city today through regular, non-wealthy residents.

From the list:

The best books on Post-9/11 New York City

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of An Unkindness of Magicians

An Unkindness of Magicians

By Kat Howard

Why this book?

Good action isn’t just powered battle armor fights, guns going off, or well-executed martial arts, magic can be pretty damn impressive too. An Unkindness of Magicians opens with a woman auditioning for a spot in a magic dueling tournament by levitating traffic in the middle of New York, and it just gets crazier from there.

I’ve described the book to some as Mortal Kombat with wizards. Magic users in New York face off for an elimination-style tournament where people can die in the matches. It’s not just brute force with fireballs either, any kind of magical ingenuity is on the…

From the list:

The best science fiction and fantasy books with a ton of action

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Tehanu

Tehanu

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Why this book?

Ursula K. LeGuin was the first writer who taught me that words can transport you not just into other worlds, but into other people. In this book, she continues the story of Tenar, the escaped priestess of the Wizard of Earthsea series, as she adopts and cares for a brutalized child. Of all the Earthsea books, this one is my favorite for the way in which LeGuin takes the seemingly mundane details of Tenar’s life as she struggles to protect Tehanu and turns them into something deeper and more profound than even the magic her companion Ged wielded as the…

From the list:

The best literary fantasies for young adults

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Magic Bites

Magic Bites

By Ilona Andrews

Why this book?

Readers will love this book for its exemplary world building, its kick-ass heroine, and its smooth writing style. I loved this book because it had straight-up action, a main character I could happily follow, and a promise of romance to come.

The fight scenes were well choreographed, and the shift from tech to magic and back again at random moments lent an air of uncertainty. It threw obstacles at the characters and forced them to create workarounds for it. 

I enjoyed discovering the intricacies of this unique world and immediately sought out the second book in the series. I read…

From the list:

The best books with magic and magical creatures in a modern, futuristic, or urban setting

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Deerskin

Deerskin

By Robin McKinley

Why this book?

Fairy tales are often disturbing, and “Donkeyskin,” the Charles Perrault story upon which Robin McKinley based Deerskin, is no exception. And so, unlike many of McKinley’s novels—which retell fairy tales for a young adult audience—Deerskin is firmly an adult book. But though McKinley does not shy away from the dark themes in this story, which include incest, rape, miscarriage, and PTSD, she is respectful of them, and of the impact they have on Lissar, the story’s protagonist, and on the reader. Though this is often a difficult read, it’s also a hopeful one—a story not just of abuse,…

From the list:

The best books for all ages that retell well-known stories and feature complex female characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Faith of the Fallen: A Sword of Truth Novel

Faith of the Fallen: A Sword of Truth Novel

By Terry Goodkind

Why this book?

A sword-and-sorcery classic! Faith of the Fallen was my absolute favourite of the Sword of Truth series, which puts it up against some very stiff competition. One of the reasons it was my favourite, and why it’s being included in this list, is the extremes the main characters are forced into and what it reveals about them. As the hero Richard has spent the previous five books becoming more powerful and capable, it’s fascinating and inspiring to see how he reacts when the story’s villain renders him seemingly powerless and attempts to break his spirit.

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with unforgettable characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Lord of Snow and Shadows: Book One of the Tears of Artamon

Lord of Snow and Shadows: Book One of the Tears of Artamon

By Sarah Ash

Why this book?

Besides the intriguing adventure and plot, this series is the masterpiece of Sarah Ash (the first books especially – and the last chapter is still being written). You’d soon fall in love with her and her exquisite and rich way of describing her magical worlds.

From the list:

The best adventure fantasy books that inspire my work

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Empress

Empress

By Karen Miller

Why this book?

Reading Empress forced me to face my own assumptions about the nature of evil. The first book of the Godspeaker trilogy, Empress is a detailed account of the life of the villain. Hekat is a mistress of her own fate, cutting herself a path from child slave to renown warrior, to god-touched wife of the great Warlord, and finally to Empress as she spurs her warlord on to conquer the entire world. Even as Hekat commits terrible atrocities, you can’t help but fall in love with her ability to navigate a bloodthirsty culture and always come out on top. If…

From the list:

The best epic fantasy books with characters you’ll fall in love with

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Broken Crown

The Broken Crown

By Michelle West

Why this book?

The Broken Crown is one of those epic fantasy books that snuck up on me. The story starts slow, but by the end of the book I was deeply in love with the characters. The story follows a host of characters from two very different lands, on the eve of war between their countries. Although the customs of one of the lands seem strange, the trials of the characters are universal. For example, the high-born can only show affection for their loved ones in public one night of the year. In the beginning, we see a main character reveling in…

From the list:

The best epic fantasy books with characters you’ll fall in love with

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Spellbound

Spellbound

By Jess Townes, Jennifer Harney

Why this book?

When looking for picture books with magic and heart, this book is simply perfect. Willow, who has always captivated her family’s attention with her cuteness and spells, is no longer the center of attention when her new baby brother Rowan is born. Willow knows that Rowan is a very dangerous wizard indeed and will not be mesmerized by his hypnotic enchantments, but even she cannot resist Rowan’s power in this story of sibling relationships and the magic of love. 

From the list:

The best picture books with a bit of magic and a lot of heart

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of On the Edge

On the Edge

By Ilona Andrews

Why this book?

This is a second series for the writing team of Ilona Andrews. Though I do like the Kate Daniels series, like so many others, I liked the world here a little better. Each book focused on a different couple, and the two main characters felt real in a fantasy landscape full of nightmares and danger.

From the list:

The best books to escape into another world

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Blackwater: The Complete Saga

Blackwater: The Complete Saga

By Michael McDowell

Why this book?

I love a sprawling family saga set in a small town. My husband’s father came from a small town in South Georgia that was founded by one of his ancestors. My husband’s grandfather, after visiting Chicago and being impressed by the big department stores he saw there, decided that what his tiny little town needed was a huge department store of its own. He built one, and amazingly, it was a success for many years, with folks coming from all around to marvel at its architectural sophistication and its dazzling array of wares. Like the fictional town of Perdido, Alabama,…

From the list:

The best Southern Gothic novels that are dark and twisted

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab

Why this book?

I picked up this book solely based on the striking white, red, and black cover. The concept of traveling between different versions of London, a magical coat, and the grayness of trying to do what’s right even if it may not be the correct, or legal, thing hooked me. Kell and Lila are great examples of main characters that exist in the dirty middle of the good versus evil scale. They both make mistakes, try to fix them, and are moderately successful at doing so. But what they sacrifice and struggle with to do so is what makes them so…

From the list:

The best books to take you on a fantastical adventure

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Rules for Stealing Stars

Rules for Stealing Stars

By Corey Ann Haydu

Why this book?

Haydu’s voice in Rules for Stealing Stars feels incredibly authentic to the middle-grade age group. The main character, Silly, walks a fine line between being childish enough to believe in magic, and old enough to begin to question her deeply dysfunctional family situation. Silly’s honest, first-person narrative beautifully expresses both the wonder of the escapist worlds to which she travels, as well as the trauma of living in a dysfunctional household. Haydu expertly weaves together this child-like voice and fantastical story with underlying themes of trauma and dysfunction to create a whimsical, yet meaningful story.

From the list:

The best middle grade books with an air of whimsy

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Wildwood Dancing

Wildwood Dancing

By Juliet Marillier

Why this book?

This is another childhood story that convinced me to look for the deeper magic beneath the surface, a magic tapped into through myths and legends. The world of Wildwood Dancing is filled with vampires (not the sparkly kind), Iele, and Draguta, the witch of the woods. Based on the fairytale of the twelve dancing princesses, the story is set in the mountains of Transylvania, but with the added twist of a place called the Other Kingdom, where the five sisters go every Full Moon. The descriptions are rich and vivid, and the incorporation of Romanian folklore makes it feel even…

From the list:

The best children’s fantasy books deeply grounded in our world, but with a twist

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation and Psychic Development

The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation and Psychic Development

By Christopher Penczak

Why this book?

The Inner Temple of Witchcraft is one of the most influential books I have ever read. The book lays a fantastic foundation for any witch, starting with going inward and developing meditation and psychic skills to enhance your magick. In the dedication in my book, I wrote that Psychic Witch was sort of my love letter to The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, and it truly is. The Anniversary Edition includes expanded material and a foreword by Laurie Cabot, whose work, particularly her book Power of the Witch, has also been immensely influential on both of us as authors.…

From the list:

The best books for the psychic witch

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Witch's Book of Power

The Witch's Book of Power

By Devin Hunter

Why this book?

The Witch's Book of Power by Devin Hunter is another book that was as immensely influential on uniting my witchcraft practice with psychic ability as The Inner Temple of Witchcraft and was just as life-changing for me. The book's focus is on understanding your frequency as a witch, guiding the reader to develop their inner psychic abilities, as well as weaving those frequencies as a witch. The book is extremely empowering in every sense of the word and has a strong focus on connecting to and working with spirit allies and divinity. Devin's perspectives, approaches, and practices are incredibly unique…

From the list:

The best books for the psychic witch

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

By John Bellairs, Edward Gorey

Why this book?

Ten-year-old Lewis Barnavelt, suddenly orphaned, is sent to live with his Uncle Jonathan at 100 High Street in New Zebedee, Michigan. There he finds himself in a hilltop mansion both odd and fascinating: among his discoveries are ancient coins, a secret passage behind a bookcase, and the fact that Uncle Jonathan is a warlock. The only bad news is that the weird and wonderful house holds a potentially world-ending secret inside its walls. Simultaneously warm and scary, this is my favorite haunted-house story of all time.

From the list:

The best middle-grade books for fantastic homes

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Jennifer Murdley's Toad: A Magic Shop Book

Jennifer Murdley's Toad: A Magic Shop Book

By Bruce Coville

Why this book?

Jennifer’s Murdley’s Toad was another one of my absolute favorites as a kid. It's a hilarious adventure full of goofy characters and magical twists, but all of the fun masks a serious undercurrent about physical insecurities and embracing who you are, warts and all. Coville’s book served as a source of inspiration for my debut novel in many regards. There's the wisecracking, Humphrey-Bogart-impersonating toad. A toad who Jennifer must fight to protect even though he's driving her up the wall. And then there's the not-so-terrible, self-obsessed bully, who reluctantly becomes part of the gang. And of course, the courageous choice…

From the list:

The best middle grade books with fantastically fun ensemble casts

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Saved My Life on Death Row

High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Saved My Life on Death Row

By Damien Echols

Why this book?

Reading High Magick, opened my eyes. Before my formal magickal training, I innately knew that Magick and Witchcraft open a path to access the divinity within. My Wiccan Elder High Priestess recognized this inner sight and chose me for private Magickal lessons with tailored parables in the oral, storytelling Goddess tradition. I didn’t realize I had been learning High Magick. Although structured in a linear, Divine Male perspective, this book offers the same endpoint: Magick is a direct connection to the Divine Source. I have always applied magick to transform trauma into wellbeing and Damien Echols, sentenced to death…

From the list:

The best books on magick and witchcraft as self-care and wellness

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Little Fox in the Forest

Little Fox in the Forest

By Stephanie Graegin

Why this book?

Stephanie Graegin’s art is warm and welcoming. I was already familiar with the adorable anthropomorphic characters in her other books when I discovered Little Fox in the Forest. She seems to have created an entire world all her own that translates so well from book to book. You can always expect caring, kindness, and friendship in Stephanie’s world. 

The wordless story introduces two friends, a girl and a boy. When a cute little, sweatered fox snatches the girl’s favorite stuffed animal from the playground, her friend helps her try to find it. They run into the woods together and happen…

From the list:

The best children’s books that celebrate the joys of friendship, exploration, and imagination

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One

By Kevin Hearne

Why this book?

I love this book because it’s about the struggle between attempting a normal-appearing life as the owner of Third Eye Books and Herbs in Tempe, Arizona, and the fate of fighting mythic monsters and gods. This story is colorfully told with drama, and humor provided by our hero’s mind-link with his goofy Irish Wolfhound. 

From the list:

The best heroic journey books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Winter's Child

Winter's Child

By J. S. Burke

Why this book?

A lovely, imaginative, and brilliant book all round.

This is a lovely rhyming book with cute illustrations. I love the author’s imagination about a winter world. It is a unique and inventive book that will open up a child’s mind. The activities at the end will be a hit with kids.

From the list:

The best children’s books with an important life lesson

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive

The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive

By Brandon Sanderson

Why this book?

If we’re talking unique, immersive worlds, it would be a crime to not put one of Sanderson’s works up here. While all his books have amazing worlds, nothing beats Roshar in terms of creativity and sheer awe. A world that routinely gets magical hurricanes, which in turn shapes the wildlife, flora, and fauna, and the culture of the people that live there down to their currency is amazing! Not to mention the magic system comes straight from the storms. Add in unique races (they sing to speak!). beautifully written characters with mental illness representation, giant swords and armor, and a…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with worlds to get lost in

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Life We Almost Had

The Life We Almost Had

By Amelia Henley

Why this book?

This book is heartbreaking and magical. I thought at first it was a romance novel, but a speculative twist took me by surprise. I became enthralled in those chapters not wanting to leave them. Not quite believing the brilliance of the premise. My daughter had gone through a very similar situation, so every emotion felt raw, and I completely engaged with Anna’s dilemma. How could she choose what to do? I tentatively told my daughter about it and after reading it, she agreed it was amazing too. The ending, which brought me to tears, is hopeful and poignant. It is…

From the list:

The best uplit books sprinkled with speculative magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel

My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel

By Tsugiko Kubo

Why this book?

For any child who has an interest in Japan, this is a must! This Studio Ghibli animation is also delightful in its graphic novel form. Set in rural Japan, the two young sisters Satsuki and Mei meet Totoro, a magical colossal good-natured creature who lives in the trunk of a big tree. The story is infused with enchantment, humor, and childhood delight. All children deserve to have their childhood enriched with this Japanese jewel.
From the list:

The best books for globetrotter kids

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Black Prism

The Black Prism

By Brent Weeks

Why this book?

If there was ever a book or series that I wish I could put my own name to, it’s this one. Mr. Weeks had me on page 2 with the line “It was the kind of beauty that made you shit your pants” and kept me with the fascinating light-based magic system and the visuals it set off in my head. And then, as the book progresses, you get the sense you’re in the hands of someone with an understanding of psychology and he’s sitting back steepling his fingers with glee as you try to follow where he is taking…

From the list:

The best fantasy series with powerful worldbuilding and characters you’ll love

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Anti-Book

The Anti-Book

By Raphael Simon

Why this book?

Mickey is angry about nearly everything in his life, which makes the ad for the Anti-Book even more tempting. When it comes, it has only one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the book with everything he dislikes, and soon it begins to change. But is that really what he wants? This is a darkly funny book about life, struggle, and learning to accept change.

From the list:

The best middle-grade books about the power of words

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande

Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande

By E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Eva Gillies

Why this book?

In translucent prose, Evans-Pritchard shows how the belief in witchcraft and oracles held together with the world-view of the Azande people of the former Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. They reinforced each other, so that if a prophecy failed to identify a witch, it was attributed to a fault in the performance of a ritual, and the power of ritual was reinforced rather than undermined. The Azande were empiricists and discussed the evidence of witchcraft in rational exchanges with Evans-Pritchard. He recreates their dialogue convincingly, often giving them the upper hand. When they asked him to explain why a granary collapsed on a…

From the list:

The best books in anthropology for lovers of history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Puppetmaster's Apprentice

The Puppetmaster's Apprentice

By Lisa DeSelm

Why this book?

This fascinating, gender-swapped Pinnochio retelling has a few hints of Frankenstein, and is gorgeously written. The main character, Pirouette, begins life as a tree and is carved into a puppet by her father, then brought to life by the magic of the blue moon. When the powerful Margrave of Tavia commissions Pirouette and her father to make one hundred wooden soldiers or risk imprisonment, they have no choice to comply. And then the Margrave makes an additional demand: he wants Pirouette to carve him a life-sized assassin—and then bring it to life. But is she making a monster or a…

From the list:

The best young adult fairytale retellings

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Practical Solitary Magic

Practical Solitary Magic

By Nancy B. Watson

Why this book?

This is an easy-to-read introduction to magic for people who don’t want to join organized groups or participate in spiritual traditions in order to learn. It allows readers to experiment with practices and techniques on their own and includes everything a beginner needs to know about the art and craft of magic, including visualization, ordinary ethics, ritual practices, and vital safety measures.
From the list:

The best books for beginners who want to practice real magic, folk magic, and Hoodoo

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe

Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe

By Dean Radin

Why this book?

This is the best book on magic for skeptics and modern, rationally-minded readers. The author, who has a Ph.D. in Psychology, argues that magic can be verified and explained scientifically without all of the “woo-woo” that often requires an extra leap of faith for beginning practitioners. Magic is a natural aspect of reality, and each of us can tap into it skills and techniques with practice and persistence. The book provides a brief history of magic and offers a guide with exercises that one can do to strengthen mental and practical abilities.
From the list:

The best books for beginners who want to practice real magic, folk magic, and Hoodoo

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Rootwork: Using the Folk Magick of Black America for Love, Money, and Success

Rootwork: Using the Folk Magick of Black America for Love, Money, and Success

By Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Why this book?

Another book on American magic, but with a focus on the folk magic practices of black people. This is an immensely readable guide to the venerable tradition of African American magic, a gift made possible only by the perseverance and determination of those who maintained the old ancestral ways. This book contains gems of wisdom, wit, and lots of information for readers who want the basics on how magic is applied for well-being and happiness.
From the list:

The best books for beginners who want to practice real magic, folk magic, and Hoodoo

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle

The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle

By Edgardo Vega Yunqué

Why this book?

In Vega’s third novel, the eponymous Omaha Bigelow falls for a young and gifted Puerto Rican Taina priestess, Maruquita Salsipuedes. Smitten by the “gringo whiteboy,” and driven by her desire to have a “gringorican baby,” Maruquita asks her mother to perform the bohango ceremony on Omaha to enlarge his small penis. Breaking his vow never to use this new bohango on another woman, Omaha pays the consequences for his betrayal. Full of metafictional intrusions, a subplot concerning a secret, subversive plot to liberate Puerto Rico, and rambling discursive rants, this maximalist novel is more than a parodic romantic story.…

From the list:

The best books by writers of the Puerto Rican diaspora

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Moon Magic: Your Complete Guide to Harnessing the Mystical Energy of the Moon

Moon Magic: Your Complete Guide to Harnessing the Mystical Energy of the Moon

By Diane Ahlquist

Why this book?

Our ancestors were deeply connected to the rhythms of the Earth and Heavens to inform and predict their lives. We’ve all but forgotten these connections. Moon Magic helps us return to this ancient wisdom and understand the powerful energy of the Universe to help manifest our goals, find emotional balance, and maintain physical wellness. You are in control of this one enchanted life, so navigate by the moon for health and prosperity.

From the list:

The best books for witches reconnecting with mother earth

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J.K. Rowling, Mary Grandpré

Why this book?

I have a bad habit of reading books after the adaption is made. I watched the first three Harry Potter films, but I couldn’t wait. After the third movie, I saw the book for Goblet of Fire was already out and I grabbed it within days. For me, Goblet is the first experience I had reading Harry Potter and I loved it!

We have dragons and an awesome competition to move the plot, but we also have budding teenage emotions. Love. Death. Friendship. Fights. The menacing presence of Voldemort. Together everything combines to deliver a coming-of-age staple! Many of these…

From the list:

The best books on inspiring young adults to find their path in life

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Piranesi

Piranesi

By Susanna Clarke

Why this book?

Clarke’s debut, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, is grand storytelling on the scale of Tolstoy or Dumas. In contrast, Piranesi, Clarke’s second novel, is under 300 pages and has a small cast. Yet in many ways, the mysterious and deeply allegorical Piranesi is just as big as its predecessor. In Piranesi, the title character chronicles the exploration of an infinite house, filled with crumbling statues, artifacts from past inhabitants, and even an entire ocean that occasionally swells from the bottom floor and into the halls and rooms above. I get the sense that Piranesi rewards readers who…

From the list:

The best portal fantasy novels that will take you to hidden worlds

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death

By Nnedi Okorafor

Why this book?

Who Fears Death is one of my all-time favourite fantasy novels. Set in post-apocalyptic Sudan, this novel brings voices to the genre that are seldom heard. The story follows a girl called Onye, a child born of violence. I adored her from the first. Gifted with powers to change into any creature of her choosing, the power to heal, even the power to bring life back from death, she is loyal, flawed, and courageous, with fierce determination capable of immense love as well as focused revenge. Onyeneswu (translates to Who Fears Death), is most at home in the desert…

From the list:

The best SFF books with complex heroines

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Time Garden

The Time Garden

By Edward Eager, N.M. Bodecker

Why this book?

Edward Eager’s books were my inspiration when I started writing the President and Me series. I picked The Time Garden here because it specifically deals with the concept of time, but most of Eager’s books would fit the bill, including Half Magic. Eager’s books, published in the 1950s and ‘60s, feature kids who have magic adventures, often through time travel but are also grounded in their own present-day reality, with issues they have to cope with in between their escapades.

From the list:

The best classic time travel books for kids

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Blood of Elves

Blood of Elves

By Andrzej Sapkowski

Why this book?

Stunning character visualization and world-building make for a good read. Throw in some good humor, some daring fights and beasts to slay, and a plot filled with twists and you have yourself a great read. Andrzej Sapkowski has done a fantastic job of carving great characters for your enjoyment.
From the list:

The best books to take you away from reality

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Little, Big

Little, Big

By John Crowley

Why this book?

The same way hearing “soap opera” used as a pejorative upsets me so much I want to fake my own death, frame my estranged father for murder, and wrest control of his business empire, hearing “fairy tale” used that way makes me want to wave a wand and turn the detractors of science fiction and fantasy into horny toads.

John Crowley’s Little, Big, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is not only a fairy tale with actual fairies, but also one that’s an actual tale. So many novels described as literary forget to tell a story. This is not…

From the list:

The best multi-generational family sagas that put the “opera” into “soap opera”

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

Why this book?

My friend said this was his favorite book. I thought it sounded lame. “The Name of the Wind?” What kind of poetic garbage is that? Then my cousin also said it was awesome. So reluctantly, I picked it up. The first 100 pages were pretty good. But then BAM - it was officially my favorite book of all time. How did that happen? Magic. Specifically, Rothfuss wrote such incredible detail and realism into the magic system it made me repeatedly try to perform it myself (after which I would become irritated and curse my mundane existence.)

Also, Kvothe.…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with Gary Stu protagonists

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches

Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches

By Steven J. Simmons, Cyd Moore

Why this book?

A favorite in our home for years- Cyd Moore’s illustrations are perfectly suited to this tale of two very different witches. The pictures are full of details that can be discovered over multiple readings and the color palate keeps things light and fun. A great moral about Karma makes this a fun witchy read year round.

From the list:

The best picture books starring not-too-spooky witches

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Journey

Journey

By Aaron Becker

Why this book?

This wordless story begins with a little girl desperate for a playmate from her distracted family. Finally, she resigns herself to her room where she finds a red crayon. With the crayon she draws a door to an enchanted world. There’s a forest, a castle, and an airship all within this richly illustrated adventure.

From the list:

The best children's books to spark your child's imagination

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Wolf Light

Wolf Light

By Yaba Badoe

Why this book?

When copper miners plunder Zula's desert home in Gobi Altai, and Adoma's forest and river are polluted by gold prospectors, it is only a matter of time before the lake Linet guards with her life is also in jeopardy. How far will Zula, Adoma, and Linet go to defend the well-being of their homes? And when all else fails, will they have the courage to summon the ancient power of their order, to make the landscape speak in a way that everyone will hear?

From the list:

The best uplifting climate fiction books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Tapping the Dream Tree

Tapping the Dream Tree

By Charles de Lint

Why this book?

Charles de Lint is one of my favorite authors, and this book of short stories is set in Newford, his fictional city. It’s a fully-formed universe where there's always more to discover. You can read any of his books at any time; there’s no order they must be read in. I guarantee that the more you learn of his worlds—and especially Newford—the more you’ll want. I read Pixel Pixies (my favorite short story of all time) to my mom and dad when my mom was dying of cancer. I could barely read the last paragraph for wanting to cry; not…
From the list:

The best science fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic novels that you’ll read in one sitting

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Inkheart

Inkheart

By Cornelia Funke, Anthea Bell

Why this book?

“Books have to be heavy because the whole world's inside them.” It’s not often I’ve come across a book that can be savoured quite as much as Inkheart. It’s a magical book about a magical book, dark, captivating, and full of great characters. And, though it’s part of a trilogy, Inkheart stands very well on its own two feet. If you’ve ever wanted to magic people out of stories, or enter their fictional world yourself (okay, so that’s everyone!), this book is especially for you.

From the list:

The best modern fairy tales to make you believe in magic again

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five

A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five

By George RR Martin

Why this book?

The reason I fell in love with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire goes hand in hand with why I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. GRRM’s series builds upon the work of his classic contemporary, layering a darker, grittier veil over the genre of epic fantasy. A Dance with Dragons, in my opinion, further builds upon the subject of power and politics as well as duty and honour. The “relativity of evil” is something that particularly stands out in this fifth installment, which is constructed so brilliantly and so effectively, it has completely changed the way I…

From the list:

The best epic fantasy books with soft magic systems

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Shadow Queen

The Shadow Queen

By C.J. Redwine

Why this book?

Magic, dragons, and royalty in hiding. This is an epic fantasy novel and fairy tale retelling all tied up in one package, told in a way that takes you straight into the world of Ravenspire and doesn't let you out until the last page is finished. This is a different kind of Snow White story, filled with shapeshifting dragons, politics, and epic battles.  

From the list:

The best books to transport you into another world

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Little Hatred

A Little Hatred

By Joe Abercrombie

Why this book?

Joe Abercrombie is the king of writing casual comic conversations in dire situations. His seventh book in this world, A Little Hatred is the first in a new trilogy, the freshest from a seven-year gap in the series, and one of the best for the sheer quality of standout characters. Savine dan Glokta is my favourite – “What an honour to see you, my lady.” “Isn’t it though!” – followed closely by Teufel, the brass-knuckled spy; Gunnar Broad, the man or bull (if he wears his spectacles); and Bremer dan Gorst, the deadliest man in the union who can only…

From the list:

The best fantasy books for dark humour and light entertainment

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hour of the Bees

Hour of the Bees

By Lindsay Eagar

Why this book?

I am a retired sixth grade English teacher, and when I discovered this book, I knew my students would love it. Carolina is a 12-year-old girl who must leave her friends behind for the summer so that she and her family can move her elderly grandfather, Serge, to a nursing home. He lives in Albuquerque, and he talks about her late grandmother in mystical flashbacks that involve bees, a magical tree, and her grandmother’s wanderlust. Serge is an unreliable narrator because he has dementia, yet Carolina discovers clues that his crazy stories may be true. And even though I read…

From the list:

The best realistic fiction with a dollop of magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin's Curse

By Cassandra Rose Clarke

Why this book?

I love a good enemies-to-lovers trope, and this one has it! Pirate Ananna nearly escapes a forced marriage into another pirate clan, but her freedom comes at a cost—an assassin sent to kill her. Hold on to your hats because this book has adventure, romance, curses, and more! You’ll fall in love with the world and the characters as they leap off the pages! 

From the list:

The best YA fantasy books with pirates

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Into the Labyrinth: Mage Errant Book 1

Into the Labyrinth: Mage Errant Book 1

By John Bierce

Why this book?

Into the Labyrinth by John Bierce is another academy-fantasy tale where the main character, Hugh, studies magic alongside others. This is a great story for emotional development and plot twists! At first, things seem like they don’t add up, but by the end, you get a satisfying sense of “ah-ha!” as most of your questions are answered (not all, though!).

This is a great coming-of-age story where Hugh finds great mentors, deals with his first love, and struggles with magic where others excel. It’s a great entry point for younger readers, too. Just well worth the read.

From the list:

The best progression fantasy books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Changeling

Changeling

By Molly Harper

Why this book?

Also a YA/Teen historical fantasy story with magic. It reminds me of a little Harry Potter in girl version that I like. It is entertaining and refreshing. The 14-year-old Sarah Smith has a secret. That she's not a member of Guardians the noble magical class that now rules the world. But as one of the non-magical Snipes who possesses magic, her secret must be kept so that she—and her family—can survive. So she has to blend in with the magical class. And attend school for wealthy magical ladies.

From the list:

The best historical books set in boarding schools for girls

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise

Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise

By Scott Cunningham

Why this book?

This is a classical book on magical herbalism that has a prominent position on my bookshelf and which I always refer to when exploring plants and herbs. I love the unique way that this book connects you to the magical properties of herbs and plants, by exploring for example their astrological connections.

I have obtained so much value from this book, not only from the knowledge gained of herbs and plants but also from learning how you can use plants and herbs in different ways for healing, for example by making incenses, which is explained so clearly in the book. 

From the list:

The best books for spirituality and health

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of First Frost

First Frost

By Sarah Addison Allen

Why this book?

This book is also set in an ordinary world in a small Georgia town (I think it’s Georgia!), with an extraordinary family whose lineage has women with magical powers. The townsfolk know about the “odd” family, but they aren’t wholly shunned. Each woman has her own vulnerabilities and life journey. I loved the magic and cranky apple tree!

From the list:

The best books to escape into another world

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Blade & Rose

Blade & Rose

By Miranda Honfleur

Why this book?

I binge-read the first three books in this series in a matter of days. It is seriously incredibly to watch these two characters be thrown together. Both with dark pasts of their own, seeing them fight together toward a common goal is absolutely heartwarming even as it gets frustrating at times.

From the list:

The best books about enemies who can’t stand the heat (between them)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Daughter of the Empire

Daughter of the Empire

By Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts

Why this book?

This is the first of a trilogy, which involves the struggle of a woman who finds herself as sole heir and Ruling Lady of her family, facing against rival houses, and the Assembly of Magicians, who see her as a threat to their ancient power. Mara is a brilliant female main character and is a splendid example of how to write one. I still take inspiration from her when writing my own female leads. Both Wurts and Feist have melded the magical story of her struggles into a backdrop of stunning descriptions of the landscape and class system, transporting you…

From the list:

The best fantasy books that transport you into other worlds

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Secret Rescuers: The Sky Unicorn

The Secret Rescuers: The Sky Unicorn

By Paula Harrison

Why this book?

I wanted to choose a book about unicorns (given they’re one of my favorite things to write about!) and this is the second book in a great magical series perfect for middle-grade readers who prefer shorter chapter books. Ava and her friends live in Arramia along with many magical creatures such as unicorns, dragons, firebirds, and star wolves. In this book, Ava sets out on a daring adventure to rescue a gorgeous baby unicorn who has been stolen from his herd by an evil villain. Paula Harrison is a brilliant writer for readers who like reading about magic and animals.…

From the list:

The best middle grade fiction for children who love magic and animals

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Poison Study

Poison Study

By Maria V. Snyder

Why this book?

It’d been quite a few years since I’d found a heroine and a world that really spoke to me, and the opening chapter of Poison Study hooked me right away. Yelena is slated to be executed when she’s offered a choice: become the new royal poison tester or death. No fool, she chooses a chance at life in court and all the intrigue and conspiracy it offers. I loved her complicated romance and the myriad challenges she faced, all set against the looming threat of death with every day and every meal that passes. That tension was something I loved.
From the list:

The best books with badass heroines that inspired my main character

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Real Boy

The Real Boy

By Anne Ursu, Erin McGuire

Why this book?

I absolutely loved this book! Anne Ursu has a brilliant way with words. The Real Boy was the second book I picked up by this author- Breadcrumbs was the first, and I was hooked on Ursu’s unique and genuine style of storytelling. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves stories that tie in legends and whisk you off on a magical adventure.
From the list:

The best middle grade books to fall into

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Bayou Magic

Bayou Magic

By Jewell Parker Rhodes

Why this book?

Maddy is a city kid spending her first summer alone at her Grandmère’s house on the bayou in Louisiana. Her grandmother is a little bit strange, but she and Maddy get along perfectly and can even read each other’s minds. At Grandmère’s side, Maddy learns to cook, to care for her chickens, to make healing potions, study the weather and tides, but she also learns not to stare, not to mumble, not to be quick to judge. And when an environmental and emotional disaster occurs, Maddy is called on to lead and to heal all on her own. Her triumph…

From the list:

The best kids’ books about girls with the skills to survive

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hand-Me-Down Magic: Perfect Patchwork Purse

Hand-Me-Down Magic: Perfect Patchwork Purse

By Corey Ann Haydu, Luisa Uribe

Why this book?

Cousins Alma and Del live above a secondhand shop that may or may not be magical. Alma has had her eye on a special patchwork purse in the window, so when their friend Cassie buys it, she can’t help feeling blue. Her envy only grows when the purse seems to be filled with items that appear just when Cassie needs them…like magic. I love that this story gives Alma space to feel her feelings, even as Del tries to pull her cousin out of her funk. Jealousy is a normal part of childhood (and adulthood!), and this book handles it…

From the list:

The best early chapter books about big feelings

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of MindLight: Secrets of Energy, Magick & Manifestation

MindLight: Secrets of Energy, Magick & Manifestation

By Silver Ravenwolf

Why this book?

Silver RavenWolf was the first author I ever read on the subject of witchcraft and has remained a constant source of inspiration and influence on myself and countless other witchcraft authors. Out of all her prolific work, I often feel that MindLight is the most overlooked, but it is absolutely a gem. The book focuses on all those subjects that the psychic witch needs; meditation, altering consciousness, energy manipulation, and manifesting magick with the power of your mind. “MindLight” is the term she uses for that inner power that witches can tap into for psychic development and enhancing their magickal…

From the list:

The best books for the psychic witch

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Voyage to Magical North

Voyage to Magical North

By Claire Fayers

Why this book?

This book had everything I could ever desire in an escape—monsters, magic, and mayhem. Brine Seaborne, a very precocious girl, gets wrapped up in the adventures of pirates as they head out on a quest to find the Magical North. Intertwined with the creative, beguiling magic are conversations that resonated deeply for me, ones about what makes a person a monster and who gets to hold positions of power (I actually stopped and jotted down a couple quotes while reading! Those notes are still in my phone today!). Voyage to the Magical North sits on my “favorites” shelf because of…

From the list:

The best middle grade fantasy novels to escape into when life is overwhelming

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Practical Magic

Practical Magic

By Alice Hoffman

Why this book?

A classic. Published in 1995, long before children everywhere started waiting for their letters to arrive from Hogwarts, this book made grown women long to be witches, and many started on their journey after reading it. You may have seen the movie, but the book is every bit as delightful. The writing is lyrical and sensuous. Reading it is like taking a long bath with bubbles and candles on the night of a full moon. This was one of the books that made me want to become a writer. 

From the list:

The best witchy books that aren’t YA for YA readers

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Gilded Girl

The Gilded Girl

By Alyssa Colman

Why 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.
From the list:

The best retellings for middle grade readers

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Ice Garden

The Ice Garden

By Guy Jones

Why this book?

This is an absolute heartstopper of a novel. The protagonist, Jess, has a rare skin condition that means she is allergic to sunlight. Even the tiniest exposure can cause her serious injury and pain. She lives her life in a world of loneliness and shadows, but is desperate for an adventure. When she sneaks out one night she discovers a garden of ice that will change her life forever. Not only did I love the magic of this novel, I loved Jess’s humour and I was weeping for her towards the end. A wonderful book that really touched my heart.

From the list:

The best middle grade books with strong female protagonists

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Seventh Wish

The Seventh Wish

By Kate Messner

Why this book?

Kate Messner’s story of a girl who catches a magical wish-granting fish beautifully shows the unintended—and often hilarious—consequences that can come from trying to fix problems with magic. But what I most love about this book is how it explores the types of real-world issues, such as addiction, that are hard to fix—with or without magic. This is a story of wishes gone wrong, but it’s also a story about family, healing, and hope.

From the list:

The best middle-grade novels with a sprinkle of magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Ex Hex

The Ex Hex

By Erin Sterling

Why this book?

This book was so much fun! I can’t remember a time I used “fun” to describe a second chance romance but Erin Sterling delivers. Vivi is left broken-hearted after Rhys leaves town only to return nine years later to wreak havoc on Vivi’s life once again. Did I mention she’s a witch? Or the minor curse she cast on Rhys when he left? As you can imagine, hijinks ensue when these two crash together again. One of my favorite parts of written chemistry is banter and wow the banter in this book is on point. When you aren’t busy rooting…
From the list:

The best books about love the second time around

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Lob

Lob

By Linda Newbery

Why this book?

Lob is a gentle, magical, and affirming chapter book. The story centres around Lucy, her relationship with her Grandad, and their belief in the mythical garden helper Lob. In Lucy's devotion to her grandad, and her love of nature, we come to see how grief can be slowly approached and lived with. The illustrations are beautifully observed by Smy, who is a master of showing emotion through posture and environment. I love this story for the way that it weaves grief, love, and magic together in an accessible and respectful way for children and grown-up readers.
From the list:

The best children's books about grief and death

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Bayou Moon

Bayou Moon

By Ilona Andrews

Why this book?

It's hard to go wrong with any book by this husband and wife team, who fill every book with mystery, adventure, and heart. But Bayou Moon is definitely the best bet for fans of werewolves. Plus, the Edge is an intriguing world where characters shop at Walmart one day then battle magic the next. To ice the cake, the series is easy to dip into since there's a different set of main characters and storylines in each book. Give it a try, and if this isn't your favorite check out the feline shifter world of Magic Bites.

From the list:

The best werewolf books for lovers of adventure and romance

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Starless Sea

The Starless Sea

By Erin Morgenstern

Why this book?

Erin Morgenstern is one of those authors who borrows words to create Art. Yes, that’s capitalized for a reason. She doesn’t so much construct prose as assemble a silent symphony that plays privately in the head of anyone who graces their eyes with her words. So, if you’re scrolling this list looking for the point where rainbow fantasy meets literature, congrats, you’ve found it. At some points, the story feels like it’s trying to be a bit too clever for its own good, but it does it so gracefully you might not mind. If you have a penchant for things…

From the list:

The best feelgood fantasy with rainbow characters that will make your heart sing

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of State of Sorrow

State of Sorrow

By Melinda Salisbury

Why this book?

Our enigmatic heroine, Sorrow, rules the Court of Tears, covering for her grief-maddened father, who has turned their once celebrated land into a living monument for the brother who died before she was born. Joy is literally forbidden. But in this twisty turny political tale – in which the magic slowly blooms – nothing is as it seems… I loved it!

From the list:

The best fantasy books with female main characters and awesome magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Rhymes from the Wicked Nursery

Rhymes from the Wicked Nursery

By J.D. Estrada

Why this book?

Although this isn’t a novel, this poetry collection simply sounded magical with a hint of spooky – my favorite! I met J.D. Estrada years and years ago when we were both starting out. We worked together on several projects, including panel discussions and interviews about publishing and writing. He has since produced eighteen books. I need to catch up! Rhymes From the Wicked Nursery is his latest. I love that this collection focuses on poetry inspiring fear instead of relief. That in a sense is its own kind of unique magic. All in all, this is a great, quick…

From the list:

The best whimsical books brimming with magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Widdershins

Widdershins

By Charles de Lint

Why this book?

I won this book in a contest, put it on a shelf, and forgot about it for months. When I finally got around to reading it, I was captured! Urban fantasy is supposed to take the normal world and twist it like the focusing bits on a pair of binoculars. The results are that what you were looking at gets blurry, but something else becomes crystal clear. Widdershins did that for me. The normal world blurred and suddenly I could see the magical world that was all around complete with alliances and enemies. 

From the list:

The best witchy books to read on a full moon night

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Iron Queen

The Iron Queen

By Julie Kagawa

Why this book?

This book is the third in the Iron Fey series, following the adventures of half-fae/half-human Meghan Chase in the various realms of the Fae. One of the things I love about this series, which is particularly brought out in this installment, is the subtle environmental message. The Iron Fey that threaten the complete destruction of the other fairy realms are the result of humanity’s obsession with technological progress; it’s not hard to make the association with the similar threat now posed to our own world by the relentless exploitation of resources. Our hero, Meghan, finally grows into her power –…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels featuring fierce queens

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Heartless Hette

Heartless Hette

By M.L. Farb

Why this book?

I confess, I was a bit nervous when I began this book because the main character was not very sympathetic. But Hette’s situation is so heart-wrenching (literally, because a sorcerer has stolen her heart) I kept reading to see what happened. Her journey to recover her heart is much more than a physical adventure, though I could taste the grit and mud, shivered with cold, and sweated from the unbearable heat she struggled through. It was a joy watching this young queen learn important life lessons in totally unexpected places. I felt as if I was learning and growing along…

From the list:

The best YA fantasy books about hope in dark places

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

By Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland

Why this book?

D.O.D.O’s employees use magic to time-travel, performing unusual and dangerous missions in a variety of historical locations. Not everything in this book is as wacky as some of the other stories on this list, but this makes it because of the vikings. Picture a group of more curious than violent, but still out of control vikings in a Walmart. It's funny, I guarantee it.

From the list:

The best historical novels that are light and silly

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Circus of Dr. Lao

The Circus of Dr. Lao

By Charles G. Finney

Why this book?

The earliest publication date of this collection goes all the way back to 1935. A strange circus comes to town, with the performers consisting of creatures who talk less about circusy things than they do about philosophy and some strangely specific moralizing. Those thought-provoking aspects are what stick in my mind now. What first drew me to the story was the mystery of the circus itself, and the wonderfully creative creatures inside of it. 

From the list:

The best books about dark altered realities, horror circuses, and other creepy places

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

By Sue Lynn Tan

Why this book?

This book tells the story of Xinying, the daughter of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon, and Houyi, a mortal archer. Xinying lives in the Celestial Kingdom, where she must hide her heritage and connection to the disgraced goddess Chang’e. But in the pursuit of her goal to free her mother from her prison, Xinying finds herself caught not only between the immortal and mortal realms, but between her loyalty to her mother and her relationship with Liwei, the Celestial Crown Prince. Her allegiances are tested again and again in this beautiful, immersive debut. And if you don’t want to…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with protagonists that are part of two worlds

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Song of Blood & Stone: Earthsinger Chronicles, Book One

Song of Blood & Stone: Earthsinger Chronicles, Book One

By L. Penelope

Why this book?

This bookand the entire Earthsinger Chroniclesis a must-read. It’s the story of Jasminda the outcast and Jack the spy, but it’s also a cinematic, immersive tale about two neighboring lands—one ruled by a terrifying autocrat and the other filled with fear and hate for the refugees who escaped him. From folktale excerpts at the start of each chapter to powerfully drawn secondary characters, L. Penelope’s world never gives you a chance to recollect that it doesn’t really exist.

You also get deeply romantic moments like this: “I don’t know what to do with you," she whispered,…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with magic, romance, and a dash of subversion

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown

By Zen Cho

Why this book?

It’s probably clear by this point that I love books whose characters wrestle with injustice. Sorcerer to the Crown does that—taking on racism, sexism, classism, and colonialism—with a page-turning, witty comedy-of-manners plot. 

Zacharias Wythe, the first Black sorcerer to lead the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, is in a bind. England’s magic is fading for reasons unknown, his racist colleagues are trying to push him out, the ghost of his predecessor keeps offering unwanted advice and he has to give a speech to a girls’ school because a friend fobbed it off on him. What he finds there increases his…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with magic, romance, and a dash of subversion

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Light Magic for Dark Times: More Than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis

Light Magic for Dark Times: More Than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis

By Lisa Marie Basile

Why this book?

Hard times can be especially rough for new witches—they can make question their magic and even their self-worth. This is the perfect book for those moments. Reading it is like getting a hug from a close friend when you need it the most. It has so many practices for healing and renewal in the modern age. A whole chapter is dedicated to shadow work. The magic in this book may appear to be simple, but it’s transformative and very effective. It’s a must-have in my opinion.

From the list:

The best general witchcraft books for beginners

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Witch's Heart: The Magick of Perfect Love & Perfect Trust

The Witch's Heart: The Magick of Perfect Love & Perfect Trust

By Christopher Penczak

Why this book?

If I had a dollar for every time a witch asked me for a love spell, I’d never have to work again. All jokes aside, love is utterly magical, and magic is often used in finding love. I adore this book because it’s so thorough. Before any spells or rituals are revealed, it focuses on self-love and healing the past. These are fundamental practices that a lot of other love spell books skip. It also has information about how you can write magical intentions to attract the right person ethically. Of course, there are also tons of effective spells and…

From the list:

The best general witchcraft books for beginners

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Ropemaker

The Ropemaker

By Peter Dickinson

Why this book?

When it comes to building a world the readers can get involved in, you have to be careful not to reveal too much in the beginning. You want to captivate your readers, have them invest more and more time into exploring the world, allowing it to open up. The Ropemaker shows how well a fantasy story can be written this way. The distant and frightful empire is shrouded in mystery as Tilja and the others begin their adventure, but said mystery is slowly dismantled as they progress through their journey, coming to understand their enemy by living amongst them, all…

From the list:

The best books with the best world building

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of She Who Rides the Storm

She Who Rides the Storm

By Caitlin Sangster

Why this book?

This book promised me high fantasy with tomb raiding and boy, did it deliver! Sangster’s world is simply named the Commonwealth, but it is anything but simple. Twin moons, ancient lore circling around monstrous shapeshifters, a forbidden magic opposing a heavily religious relegated one, carnivorous unicorns, deadly tombs, and swords carrying the souls of those it killed, She Who Rides the Storm is chock full of detailed worldbuilding. With a beautiful cast of four amazingly well-written characters you actually grow to care about, their individual heists to get into the tomb of the shapeshifter king are loaded with high stakes…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with worlds to get lost in

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale

By Holly Black

Why this book?

I’ll admit, I read this one a long time ago, but I remember it dragging me along into the wee hours of the morning and sparking my imagination. It was this series that filled my daydream reserve long before I knew how to put those dreams down onto paper. Holly Black was definitely one of those authors who inspired me to write. 

From the list:

The best books to escape the real world

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Promise of Fire

A Promise of Fire

By Amanda Bouchet

Why this book?

Cat, or Catalia Fisa, is a badass character from page one. She’s a fighter, and with good reason. Coming from a traumatic family life, Cat draws her strength from the fears she felt throughout her youth. Not only that, but she’s painfully aware of her many physical and emotional flaws. I think it says a lot about a character who knows they have faults that need to be dealt with, faults that prevent them from developing healthy relationships or putting their safety first at times. Throughout The Kingmaker Chronicles, Cat sacrifices herself repeatedly for the people she loves, a trait…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with badass female leads

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Foundryside

Foundryside

By Robert Jackson Bennett

Why this book?

A lone thief, Sancia Grado is great at what she does. To be a skillful thief within the environment portrayed in Foundryside is something amazing in and of itself. This trilogy is heavy with corrupt politics, an unsavoury history, and a fascinating magic system, one that impacts Sancia in more ways than she ever imagined. But she handles them well, and it’s great to see her embrace a leadership role as the story progresses.

From the list:

The best fantasy books with badass female leads

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper

By Daniel José Older

Why this book?

Before reading this book, I had no idea city-based fantasy novels could draw me in as powerfully as stories with more “traditional” fantasy settings. But Mr. Older’s depiction of Brooklyn as a living, breathing landscape made me a new believer in urban magic. And the main character Sierra’s shadowshaping feels like its own form of beautiful, youthful rebellion. Art can save us, if only we breathe our power into it. I stop and stare at most graffiti murals now, waiting for them to move a little.

From the list:

The best YA novels with girl MCs who are owning life

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Elfland

Elfland

By Freda Warrington

Why this book?

The elves in this small English town have to blend in with their human neighbors. And a good job of it they do, too. I like the tenacity of Rosie Foxx. Her brother insists that she marry a human, and going along to get along seems the best course of action. But her elven heritage will not be denied. In a way, she is like the positrons in queen of the Quantum Realm—outcasts as they are, they think it better to be transformed into something they are not. this is very human.   

From the list:

The best science fantasy novels about non-human worlds that act very human

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Magicalamity

Magicalamity

By Kate Saunders

Why this book?

For those who prefer their humor British, this fantasy adventure will more than fill the bill. Eleven-year-old Tom Harding thought he was just a normal kid, but he wakes up one day to discover that his parents are in hiding from evildoers in an alternate world called the Realm—and to top it off, he learns his dad is a magical fairy and he himself is a demisprite, or half fairy, of which he had no clue. Aided by his klutzy cousin Pindar, a trio of bickering fairy godmothers, and an assortment of goofy, otherworldly creatures and characters, Tom sets out…

From the list:

The best funny middle-grade books with a boy who discovers his inner hero

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

By Susanna Clarke

Why this book?

Harry Potter aside, I’m not a huge fantasy fan. Jonathan Strange, however, with its dazzling writing and mysterious historical novel feel, knocked me out. Clarke drives her tale about two men who return the vanished practice of magic to 19th century England with an endless stream of citations, often delightfully lengthy footnotes, about the books that contain spells and potions. In doing so, she constructs an imaginary library of magic books. 

From the list:

The best novels that use a book-within-a-book format

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer

Why this book?

Eoin Colfer is a master of science fantasy mixing fairy magic and high technology in a seamless drama. Like Jawan in my book, Holly Short gets in trouble by disobeying a direct order—to stand by and wait for the boss to figure out what to do while disaster spreads unmolested. I just jumped right into that very human situation where the rank and file are out in the field agonizing over whether or not to obey the orders of armchair superiors micromanaging a situation without being there.   

From the list:

The best science fantasy novels about non-human worlds that act very human

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Jesus the Magician

Jesus the Magician

By Morton Smith

Why this book?

Finally, I offer Morton Smith’s earlier study of the real-life Jesus. Everything Smith wrote was worth the time to read.  His prose bristles with occasional invective, but always at the expense of figures from long ago. He takes no prisoners, shall we say, in his scholarship, and Jesus the Magician is exhibit A.

From the list:

The best books about Jewish history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hedgewitch: Spells, Crafts & Rituals for Natural Magick

Hedgewitch: Spells, Crafts & Rituals for Natural Magick

By Silver Ravenwolf

Why this book?

This book put me on the quest to discover my inner magick, the power within, the Witch locked in my DNA. Silver Ravenwolf helps us create a magickal practice and write our spells and rituals in harmony with Mother Earth's energy and the natural world. Hedgewitch allows you to go deeper into your brand of magick and create traditions and celebrations that align with your world.

From the list:

The best books for witches reconnecting with mother earth

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Why this book?

As a boy, Ged accidentally releases a dark force that shadows him throughout his magical education; as a young wizard, he sets out on a quest to meet and destroy it. When Ursula Le Guin published this novel in the 1960s, she quietly subverted many then-prevalent conventions of fantasy—making her protagonist a person of color, building a plot that didn’t revolve around violence. Personally, I wish she’d gone even further by creating more interesting female characters. That said, this book is a seminal work that explores the limitations of magic, and shows how magic can reveal character in a novel.…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels about learning magic (that don’t feature Harry Potter)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic

By Terry Pratchett

Why this book?

Anything by Terry Pratchett is going to fly! One of my favorite quotes is Pratchett’s “A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.” The Colour of Magic is the first in the Discworld series and was recommended to me by a student who was trying to curry favor in a college composition class. Pretty sure he got a C because he couldn’t write, but I owe him something for turning me on to…

From the list:

The best witchy books to read on a full moon night

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By J.K. Rowling

Why this book?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure you can call yourself a reader unless you’ve read the Harry Potter series. The world! The characters! The story! Oh, I loved it all! I ate up every bit—over and over. For me, like The Lord of the Rings, a world without Harry Potter is no world at all. It’s an honor to have read the books.

From the list:

The best modern classic novels that you can't put down

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Kraken

Kraken

By China Miéville

Why this book?

The weirdly wonderful writing of China Miéville is showcased in this fabulously imaginative, sometimes horror and sometimes laugh-out-loud adventure centered on the lore of the giant kraken. Miéville’s imagination is like Technicolor suddenly blooming on a black and white television, and for readers who enjoy New Weird this urban fantasy set in a London beset with magic on all sides is a wild and fun ride. It was for me, at least, and is my favorite of Miéville’s books so far.

From the list:

The best books using mythology and lore in modern fiction

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Rainbabies

The Rainbabies

By Laura Krauss Melmed, Jim LaMarche

Why this book?

This book is hands down one of my favorite children’s books of all time. Jim LaMarche’s gorgeous illustrations had me entranced as a kid (they still do!) and as an adult revisiting the book, I am blown away by how thoughtfully it tackles some heavy real-life issues. The story centers around an older couple struggling with infertility who, through a magical springtime rain, find themselves suddenly the caretakers of 12 fantastically tiny babies.

The story has the effortless flow of a classic fairytale and along the way weaves a moving and nuanced understanding of parenting and the overall concept of…

From the list:

The best picture books for tackling complicated subjects

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches

By Alix E. Harrow

Why this book?

Did I mention that I am a sucker for alternative histories? This one takes place in a nineteenth-century America where both witchcraft and women’s rights are ruthlessly suppressed, but three sisters, all witches, are working to revive magic by tracking down forgotten spells. I found this novel much scarier than many fantasy novels because, well, the authorities’ efforts to keep women in line felt all too true to life. The relationships among the sisters are thorny, warm, and satisfyingly complex, and Alix Harrow’s rich, evocative language makes their magic powerfully real.

From the list:

The best fantasy novels about learning magic (that don’t feature Harry Potter)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Horse King

The Horse King

By Richard A. Knaak

Why this book?

While hungry for really any fantasy book, I got into the Dragonrealm series just after it had gone out of print, so I had a lot of fun and rushes of victory scouring all the secondhand bookstores to find any book I could, even out of order. It’s a little dated and cheesy now, considering that the main character’s name is Bedlam, but if you can find a copy, it’s a fun trip down memory lane.

From the list:

The best books to explore new fantasy worlds

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

By Maggie Stiefvater

Why this book?

In the first of two books, Stiefvater introduces us to Deirdre, an accomplished teen musician who has just met the mysterious Luke—who just happens to be a faerie that none of her friends or family can see. Oh, and he’s also an assassin. Caught between a mundane life of music recitals, school, and her family on one side, and the dangerous world of faerie on the other, what’s a girl to do? As a nerd and a loner growing up, what I wouldn’t have given for a secret faerie friend who dragged me into a world of magic and danger!…
From the list:

The best YA faerie novels

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Daughter of the Forest

Daughter of the Forest

By Juliet Marillier

Why this book?

Sometimes you meet a character who touches some part of your soul and stays with you forever. Sorcha, the woman at the heart of Daughter of the Forest, is a hero in the best, most unconventional ways—quietly relentless, powerfully resilient, empowered but also willing to sacrifice everything to save her brothers. Even as she draws the hatred of some, she inspires others to discover the best in themselves—including Red, a British Lord and natural enemy of Sorcha’s Irish family. Like life, the story gets dark at times, but Sorcha is the light in darkness that leads us all back…

From the list:

The best historical fiction with touches of love and magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Door Into Fire: The Tale of the Five, Volume One

The Door Into Fire: The Tale of the Five, Volume One

By Diane Duane

Why this book?

The Door into Fire is the first book in the Tale of Five series by Diane Duane. Set in the Middle Kingdoms universe, it follows the adventures of a sorcerous swordsmith who is desperately trying to master the power of the blue Flame while protecting the person he loves from annihilation. The Door into Fire is saga of power, magic, and friendship readers of epic fantasies will love.
From the list:

The best forgotten fantasy books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1

Dawnthief: Chronicles of the Raven 1

By James Barclay

Why this book?

The Raven is your classic band of mercs, a found-family of warriors caught up in world-ending levels of chaos. This is much more 90s style fantasy and unashamedly so – serious, sword-swinging, spell-casting stuff. As a result, you have to buy into that a bit given how the genre has changed, but at the same time, the series is all about the consequences of actions rather than any pretence about happily ever after so there’s real meat to it.

From the list:

The best books about the best mercenary bands money can hire

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Jade City

Jade City

By Fonda Lee

Why this book?

This is one of my all-time favorite fantasy books. It has a mafia twist to it which was done incredibly well and has not only superbly developed characters but also entire cultures. As a female reader, I can’t handle books in which women are caricatures of actual humans and unfortunately that is the case in 90% of action or martial arts books or movies. However, that is not the case in Jade City. Fonda Lee, the author of Jade City, is a female, black belt martial artist and I think this was one of the reasons why the…
From the list:

The best fantasy books with amazingly developed characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling

Why this book?

When I first finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the 7th and final book in J. K. Rowling’s epic fantasy franchise), I knew I was holding a most exquisite piece of fiction. As a long-time researcher of superb world-building and soft magic systems, I found myself positively engulfed and enthralled by this novel. Harry Potter’s magical and whimsical world is penciled in both fine lines and broad strokes, building towards an epic and rewarding conclusion that had me on the edge of my seat. Harry’s moral conundrum of “Horcruxes” vs. “Hallows”, which ultimately decides the path to…

From the list:

The best epic fantasy books with soft magic systems

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

By Sarah J. Maas

Why this book?

Once again my love for the Beauty and the Beast-inspired tales surfaced in this novel. Feyre herself was my favorite can-do girl, charging ahead in the adventure no matter the consequences. She certainly proved that she is no shy beauty, carving her way through the fae lands of Prythian and encountering all of the magical beings along the way. Her capture of the Suriel was a particular favorite scene of mine, using a chicken as bait for the snare trap she had laid in waiting. But that was only one of many well-written scenes that brought out the inner…
From the list:

The best YA fantasy novels that are inspired by a fairy tale

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

By Ying Chang Compestine, Sebastia Serra

Why this book?

This is a lovely story about a boy called Ming whose family is poor and is struggling to get a proper Chinese New Year dinner on the table. When Ming is sent out to the market to get some rice, he comes home with a magic wok instead, which steals food from a wealthy, but stingy family. Think Robin Hood in the form of a Chinese wok with a mind of its own! As far as I know, this is not a traditional Chinese story, but children (6-8 years) will definitely enjoy reading this book with its cute and colorful…

From the list:

The best children’s books about Chinese New Year

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Beasts of Prey

Beasts of Prey

By Ayana Gray

Why this book?

This book is brilliant! The blurb alone was enough to hook me, and I couldn’t put it down until I reached the last sentence! The story was interesting, and the world-building was vivid, and the magic system was so interesting. Give it a shoot, you won’t regret it! 

From the list:

The best debut young adult books fantasy/science-fiction

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Gypsy Magic (The Gypsy Magic Trilogy: Book 1)

Gypsy Magic (The Gypsy Magic Trilogy: Book 1)

By Tonya Royston

Why this book?

Tonya is a very talented young adult writer who has written two trilogies and currently working on her third series now. She weaves a magical tale that will leave you wanting more as you turn the pages, they are gripping and fun to read! These books have had a special place in my heart since I designed her book covers. 

From the list:

The best captivating novels that will take you on a magical and fun journey

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Akata Witch

Akata Witch

By Nnedi Okorafor

Why this book?

A misfit loner is chosen to save the world. I know, it’s been done before. But this story is special. Firstly, it is set against the backdrop of Nigerian culture and lore. And secondly, Sunny. The main character is memorable for more than just her “differences.” She is determined and fierce, making her a hero you want to see bring home a “w” over and over again.

From the list:

The best YA novels with girl MCs who are owning life

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Witchmark

Witchmark

By C.L. Polk

Why this book?

The first book in the Kingston Cycle series, Witchmark is set in a magic-powered Edwardian era just after the end of a World War. I loved the balance of soaring magic and gritty realism as well as the unexpected revelations surrounding each of the characters.

Miles — a witch who is desperate to keep from being used as a power source by mages — has faked his death and lives in hiding as a military doctor. However, when Tristan Hunter brings a dying man to Miles’ hospital, Miles’ secrets are threatened. But Tristan isn’t interested in blackmailing or exposing him.…

From the list:

The best gay couples to fall in love with in fantasy novels

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Resurrectionist of Caligo

The Resurrectionist of Caligo

By Wendy Trimboli, Alicia Zaloga

Why this book?

Tapping into Edinburgh’s grim history of graverobbers (which, if you haven’t had the chance to play tourist in Scotland before, is absolutely fascinating), The Resurrectionist of Caligo uses the dark fantasy staples of blood magic and necromancy to explore the death industry, its role in urban environments, and its storied connection to academia and medicine. Following the trials of Caligo’s local “resurrectionist”, Roger, this book examines what happens to the dead in fantasy worlds, tracing the journeys of their cadavers from death to autopsy to burial to exhuming, taking a closer look at the ceremony and taboo surrounding death and…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with fantastical civic design

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Dungeon Born

Dungeon Born

By Dakota Krout

Why this book?

Want another new hero perspective? How about storytelling from the point of view of a rock? Well, that rock grows to become a full dungeon including traps, monsters, and hidden treasures. It's an amazing journey from a small crystal entity who just wants to survive to become humanity’s only hope for survival.

My first dive into dungeon core books, and boy, this one is hard to top. Carl is just a great character, how he figures out to grow himself as a dungeon, eat people and whole, yet retain his own streak of 'humanity,' and it's a pleasure to watch…

From the list:

The most engaging LitRPG books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Spell Sweeper

Spell Sweeper

By Lee Edward Födi

Why this book?

Spell Sweeper is another fantastic recent release by the talented Lee Edward Fodi that I just couldn't put down. Set in an updated magic school, the story will pull you in with its incredible world-building. The main character, Cara, is a loveable outcast. She's a sort of anti-chosen-one who is forced into an adventure with her fellow remedial magic students, the nervous Gusto, and the talking, magical fox Zuki. But when she finds out she will also have to work with her rival, the seemingly too perfect Harlee Woo, who Cara thinks might be secretly behind the recent magical instabilities,…

From the list:

The best middle grade books with fantastically fun ensemble casts

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Grey: The Covenant of Shadows

Grey: The Covenant of Shadows

By Kade Cook

Why this book?

In Grey, Gabrian doesn’t believe in magic. She’s a psychologist, and proud to be one. She bases her life on logic, but when things start to happen that she can’t explain, she finds herself in a whirlwind of magic. The way that Gabrian slowly comes to the truth is probably my favorite part of this book. As a Borrower, she’s considered not just a magical being, but a dangerous one. At first, she doesn’t handle this well and takes on the role of an anti-hero, nearly villain which was an interesting way to not only build Gabrian’s character but…

From the list:

The best creative magical realms in fantasy books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Ninth House

Ninth House

By Leigh Bardugo

Why this book?

Ninth House is not a light, fun read. If you’re interested in picking it up because you’re a fan of Ms. Bardugo’s other work, be warned: This book is dark. Trigger warnings include sexual assault, drug use, overdoses, violent homicide, and more. 

The story follows a scarred and emotionally bruised young woman named Alex who narrowly escapes a world of violence and drug abuse when she is recruited to join one of the prestigious secret societies at an Ivy League university, Yale. While there, Alex learns that these secret societies are involved in occult activities, violent crimes, and more. As…

From the list:

The best SFF books where no one is the “good guy”

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Eragon: Book I

Eragon: Book I

By Christopher Paolini

Why this book?

A poor boy. A dragon. A grumpy mentor. An elf princess. They’re all going to have to work together. Yes, it’s a classic trope (a bunch of them together actually), but the relationship between boy (Eragon) and dragon (Saphira) is so fantastically drawn and executed throughout the series, you just can’t help but love them both.

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with unlikely friends

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Caraval

Caraval

By Stephanie Garber

Why this book?

I absolutely devoured this lush, evocative fantasy, which tells the story of two sisters who live in a world where a select few are invited to play an immersive, magical game on a remote island. As a writer, I found Garber’s prose to be exquisite; her fantasy world, too – and all of its secrets, spells, and wonders – was crafted meticulously and painted in sumptuous detail. But as a reader, the real driver of Caraval for me was the bond between the main character Scarlett and her sister Tella – such an unforgettable adventure with two unique heroines at…

From the list:

The best speculative fiction featuring sisters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Hollow Girl

The Hollow Girl

By Hillary Monahan

Why this book?

I’m a fan of revenge stories, so when I picked up The Hollow Girl, I didn’t know it would be as addicting as it was. The romance in this one was super sweet, but boy does the rest get dark, and oh how I relished in all of it. There are some very unpleasant things that go down, but seeing the main character grow and deal with these in the way she did had me rooting for her. And the witchy things were just plain awesome!

From the list:

The best fantasy romance books with a taste of darkness

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Jumbies

The Jumbies

By Tracey Baptiste

Why this book?

The Jumbies tells the story of a young girl on an adventure to stop a witch and save her village—fairly standard fairy-tale fare. What’s fantastic and unique about this book is how it takes the magic, wonder, and mystery of Caribbean folktales as its inspiration to transport readers (or this reader, at least) to somewhere new and refreshing. Baptiste imagines this spooky world full of monsters that are both fascinating and fearsome and then manages to elevate it all even further to ponder questions of family, friendship, freedom, and colonialism, all the while still providing the kind of nail-biting moments…

From the list:

The best books to spook middle-grade readers

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Grandad's Secret Giant

Grandad's Secret Giant

By David Litchfield

Why this book?

Grandad has always said that the giant in town is real and a helpful and kind friend, but Billie doesn’t believe in Grandad’s tall tales. When Billie himself discovers the giant, and runs from fright and panic at this huge creature, he comes to understand why the giant has kept himself hidden. Feeling awful about his overreaction, Billie makes it his mission to make it up to the giant by making him a very special gift. Full of humour and heart, Grandad’s Secret Giant shows us that acceptance and kindness towards all people, big or small, is important, and David…

From the list:

The best picture books with a bit of magic and a lot of heart

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Maya and the Rising Dark

Maya and the Rising Dark

By Rena Barron

Why this book?

I enjoyed this contemporary fantasy about a young girl caught between worlds who—to her shock—discovers her father is really super-human. It was fun to see how after suddenly being charged with the task of saving the human race, she accepts the challenge. The ticking clock in the story was humorous, but created enough tension to keep me reading.

From the list:

The best middle grade stories for adventure lovers

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, 3)

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, 3)

By Amanda Bouchet

Why this book?

This book was one of the first romantic fantasy books I picked up and it completely captivated me from the very first page. You are immediately thrown into an incredible world, right at the same time the two main characters meet. It’s fast-paced, steamy, and perfect for anyone who loves that enemies-to-lovers vibe (me, I’m anyone). Kat and Griffin are amazing together and it’s so much fun to watch them figure that out.

From the list:

The best books about enemies who can’t stand the heat (between them)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Princess Ponies: A Magical Friend

Princess Ponies: A Magical Friend

By Chloe Ryder

Why this book?

Chloe Ryder is one of the (many) alter-egos of my writing partner, Julie Sykes (we write the Unicorn Academy and Forever Homes series together). Julie wrote this series years before we started collaborating and I have always loved it (as did my pony-crazy daughter when she was eight). It’s a perfect series for younger middle-grade readers who like their magic to be very sparkly. If they get hooked on the first one there are plenty more to read! When Pippa gets whisked away to the island of Chevalia, she quickly makes friends with Princess Stardust, a talking pony, and discovers…

From the list:

The best middle grade fiction for children who love magic and animals

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Half Magic, 1

Half Magic, 1

By Edward Eager

Why this book?

Edward Eager will never go out of style. Every generation of children, no matter how technologically sophisticated, discovers his books and delights in them. Half Magic, the first of Eager’s “daily magic series” (there are seven in all), is a portal book in which four siblings are transported to other places and times by means of a talisman. And yet the reader is transported to a parallel universe in another respect as well – one inhabited, shaped, and determined solely by kids, outside the orbit of adults. And isn’t that just how childhood feels? Published in 1954, set in…

From the list:

The best classics of children’s fantasy for readers of any age

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Verdigris Pawn

The Verdigris Pawn

By Alysa Wishingrad

Why this book?

This fantasy has a thoroughly realistic triangle that starts out as a friendship between two kids and eventually draws a third in – with much confusion and some resentment along the way. Cressi and Nate are on the lowest rung of a highly stratified society. When Cressi accidentally meets Beau, the heir to the throne, she befriends him despite their differences. But it will take a dangerous trip and a lot of arguments before Nate comes around. Many friendship triangles form when a new person joins an established duo, and there’s always plenty of opportunity for sparks to fly in…

From the list:

The best middle-grade books featuring triangular friendships

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant

By Derek Landy

Why this book?

I loved this book, and all the ones that came after. Author Derek Landy knows how to write complicated characters. No one wants the protagonist to be perfect. Where’s the fun in that? This series is full of dark humor and twisty plots that keep the adrenaline pumping. I love odd and different characters. My job as a fantasy writer is to create characters that are real and unforgettable. Derek Landy has done this to perfection. If you like fantasy, adventure, and intrigue this book cannot be missed.

From the list:

The best books to convince kids to put down the controller

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Conan

Conan

By Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague De Camp, Lin Carter, Frank Frazetta

Why this book?

From the monumental opening quoted in the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s, Howard establishes a mastery of how to set world, pace, and dream at once. Though there are many Conan novels and shorts, none sparked the dreams of a young reader more than this first in the series.

Recommended for young readers with an interest in writing fantasy. Howard’s brand of sword and sorcery was years ahead of its day.

From the list:

The best books which spark the dreamer

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin

By Liesl Shurtliff

Why 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.…

From the list:

The best middle grade retellings of classics & fairy tales

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Wolf for a Spell

A Wolf for a Spell

By Karah Sutton

Why this book?

Told from multiple points of view, this book is a gorgeous romp through Russian folklore. While reading this book, I had the chance to live as a wolf, a young girl, and as Baba Yaga. I got to cast spells, experience powerful forest magic, save a princess, transform into animals, and defeat a terrible king. In real life, I could never experience any of those events, but I could while reading Karah Sutton’s incredible book. I especially appreciated that the story itself came together like a puzzle, pieces fitting neatly together in unexpected ways. This one is a surprise and…

From the list:

The best middle grade fantasy novels to escape into when life is overwhelming

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Ptolemy's Gate

Ptolemy's Gate

By Jonathan Stroud

Why 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…

From the list:

The best fantasy books to break your heart

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Belles

The Belles

By Dhonielle Clayton

Why this book?

I read this book without knowing what to expect and was absolutely enthralled by this stunning world of decadence and illusion. In the opulent world of Orleans, Camellia is a Belle—one of the chosen few who controls the commodity of beauty. When she is summoned to the court of the Queen, Camellia soon realizes the gilded walls of the palace hide dark secrets and creeping treachery. I was blown away by the creativity behind the decadent world Clayton created, and was seduced by both its visions of lavishness and its thoughtful take on the value of beauty and how looks…

From the list:

The best YA fantasy novels with magic and intrigue

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Secret Keepers

The Secret Keepers

By Trenton Lee Stewart, Diana Sudyka

Why this book?

Trenton Lee Stewart’s follow-up to his enormously popular and influential “Mysterious Benedict Society” series was received with puzzlement by many fans expecting a retread of the MBS adventures, but I find this audacious, intricately-plotted, wildly implausible tale somewhat irresistible. It all kicks off when eleven-year-old Reuben, at once introverted and adventure-seeking, discovers a strange watch that ensnares him in deep troubles. Finding his way out proves endlessly complex and bewildering as Reuben sifts through one peril after the next. It’s a beguiling tale for those doubly-willing to suspend disbelief—Stewart dares the reader to try.

From the list:

The best books about kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Uncommoners #1: The Crooked Sixpence

The Uncommoners #1: The Crooked Sixpence

By Jennifer Bell

Why this book?

Bell’s Uncommoners series is set in a richly-imagined magical world where everyday objects have extraordinary powers – and when darkness closes in, Seb and Ivy Sparrow must race to uncover an Uncommon mystery before it’s too late. Featuring a talking bicycle bell, police officers armed with toilet brushes, and the incredible city of Londinium, these books will fling you straight into a thrilling adventure.

From the list:

The best middle grade books to sweep you into another world

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Two Princesses of Bamarre

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

By Gail Carson Levine

Why this book?

This fairytale fantasy for young readers is one of the most poignant books I have ever read, in any genre. My best friend, Emma, and I were both fans of Levine growing up. A few months ago, we realized we could both recite the epic poem that concludes this book word for word. Step follows step, hope follows courage. It’s a beautiful story of familial love, growing up and finding yourself, and grappling with the inevitability of illness and loss, all set in a delightfully adventurous fantasy world. The tone is playful and bright throughout, the message ultimately hopeful, but…

From the list:

The best fantasy books to break your heart

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Midsummer's Mayhem

Midsummer's Mayhem

By Rajani LaRocca

Why this book?

Midsummer Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca is a favorite for my whole family. Inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this tale incorporates the delectable combination of food and magic. The main character, Mimi, is part of a highly-relatable Indian-American family, and her love of baking is deliciously clear on every page and in every recipe. The plot points that relate to Shakespeare’s classic work are both clear and clever. This story will leave you hungry for more from Rajani LaRocca!

From the list:

The best middle grade retellings of classics & fairy tales

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Sugar and Spite

Sugar and Spite

By Gail D. Villanueva

Why this book?

Sugar and Spite has magic, strong friendships, and imperfect, yet relatable characters—all the things I enjoy in a novel. Not only did I enjoy learning about the many facets of the Filipino culture; I appreciated the layered messaging. Bullying is a difficult topic to tackle, and this novel addresses it in a way that caused me to think about the challenging people and difficult relationships in my life. This is such a sweet story dealing with issues I know readers can identify with—loss, jealousy, insecurities, and ultimately acceptance.

From the list:

The best spooky or magical books when you’re dealing with grief, loss, and fear

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Snapdragon

Snapdragon

By Kat Leyh

Why this book?

The setting, characters, and lore in Snapdragon are so refreshing, that I consider this a must-read for fantasy fans. It’s about a middle-school outcast named Snapdragon (or just “Snap”) who befriends the local witch, Jacks. Leyh’s story seamlessly bounces back between the present, the past, and Snap’s creepy stories about the ghost who haunts her family: One-Eyed Tom. This is a fun book with a lot to chew on! 

From the list:

The best middle grade graphic novels about magic and the supernatural

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Cattywampus

Cattywampus

By Ash Van Otterloo

Why this book?

This is a hilarious romp following daughters of rival witch families Katy and Delpha as they come to terms with their magic, their families, and each other. As a Kentuckian, I loved seeing Appalachia depicted in such loving, real detail. And yes, there are some outrageous zombie grannies too. This story was such a breath of fresh mountain air.

From the list:

The best middle grade books with witches as heroes

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Sorcerer's Tale: Faith and Fraud in Tudor England

The Sorcerer's Tale: Faith and Fraud in Tudor England

By Alec Ryrie

Why this book?

A neglected classic of popular history. This book taught me things about the history of magic that now seem so obvious and important that I wonder how I missed them before. Ryrie tells the story of the fraudulent magician Gregory Wisdom, whose deception of a Tudor nobleman led to allegations of attempted murder by witchcraft. More broadly, he reveals a world in which the widespread acceptance of occult phenomena made counterfeit magic alluringly credible, and charlatans co-existed with “genuine” practitioners of magic. I know of no other book that describes the twilight world of fake and real sorcery with such…

From the list:

The best books about dangerous spirits

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Wild Ones

The Wild Ones

By Nafiza Azad

Why this book?

I love this book so much, I blurbed it! In a world where women are often asked to be quiet, to make themselves small, Nafiza Azad’s unapologetically feminist book is breathtaking. Readers journey with Paheli and her collection of girls—the Wild Ones—helping to save girls from the pain they had to endure. On their journey, they seek Taraana, a boy with stars in his eyes, who once saved Paheli and now needs saving. While The Wild Ones is a fantasy, it is an unflinching look into the #MeToo movement, the tragedies and pain of being female, the saving grace of…
From the list:

The best books for kickbutt heroines

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation

Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation

By Susan Elizabeth Hale

Why this book?

Soon to be a musical, this enchanting story is about an eleven-year-old girl who doesn’t know she can sing until she gets to know an oak tree in her garden, Annie Oakly, who becomes her best friend and is actually a tree spirit. As the story unfolds, and Emma is confronted with family troubles, she learns of her own vital role in saving the trees; Emma must sing! 

I’m recommending this book because of my own love for both trees and music. In fact, I often sing to the redwoods where I live and sometimes imagine they are singing along…

From the list:

The best middle-grade/young adult environmental fantasy books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Sky Song

Sky Song

By Abi Elphinstone

Why this book?

Eska is a girl with a lot of inner fire. She escapes from a magical spell and instead of finding her way home and keeping a low profile, she goes after the evil Ice Queen. Eska is courageous and wants to do what’s right. She has a lovely friendship with a boy named Flint, and together they achieve what they could not do alone. I also love the snowy, icy landscape inspired by the Scottish wilderness.  

From the list:

The best girl-power middle grade books with magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau

By Jon Agee

Why this book?

I’m going to guess that most adults don’t encounter many picture books, except in the context of introducing them to children. I would like to humbly suggest that if your reading habits don’t extend to picture books, you may be missing out. It’s an art form I adore, and one of my favorites is this book about a mysterious painter in Paris whose paintings contain scenes that come alive. I love Agee’s palette and the perspectives he chose for this story — and no matter how many times I read this book, I’m still thrilled by the twist at the…

From the list:

The best books with mysteries—and solutions—you never saw coming

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Damiano

Damiano

By R.A. MacAvoy

Why this book?

The first in a trilogy of books of magical fantasy set in Renaissance Europe and beyond that looks at magic and witchery at an unusual slant. Centre stage is Damiano Delstrego: son of a wizard and alchemist with an inheritance of Dark Magics. Forced out by war, he goes on pilgrimage to seek the aid of the powerful witch Saara, but the road he is obliged to walk is a dark one. R. A. MacAvoy is another writer I have admired for a long time and I was very sad when ill health stopped her from writing. I believe, however,…

From the list:

The best books if you are seeking witchery

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Given

Given

By Nandi Taylor

Why this book?

Given is a fantasy romance, centering on the relationship between Yenni and Weysh. Yenni is a princess of the Yirba who ventures to a distant land to seek a magical cure for her ailing father; Weysh is a charming and troublesome dragon shapeshifter who believes Yenni is his Given, or destined mate.

In addition to offering a unique spin on dragons, Given has wonderful world building. We learn about the intertwined history of three cultures: the Yirba, the Creshens, and the once-mighty dragons. While the draconic aspect is what drew me to this book, I also loved learning about the…

From the list:

The best books for people who love seeing dragons as central characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Raven Boys (the Raven Cycle, Book 1): Volume 1

The Raven Boys (the Raven Cycle, Book 1): Volume 1

By Maggie Stiefvater

Why this book?

This is by far one of my favorite YA series due to its strong characterizations and amazing world-building. Stiefvater takes a prep school in a small Virginia town and populates it with psychics, restless spirits, secret societies, menacing professors, and a professional assassin. The titular “Raven Boys” are three students pulled into the town’s supernatural intrigue either by design or necessity. Needless to say, this four-book series provides us with plenty of mysterious places, but Book 1 introduces us to one of the best: the boys’ off-campus home located in a long-abandoned warehouse. The old building is primarily uninhabitable, but…

From the list:

The best books for young readers with hidden places, secret lairs, and haunted hideouts

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hilda and the Troll: Hilda Book 1

Hilda and the Troll: Hilda Book 1

By Luke Pearson

Why this book?

This book is an absolute joy. It’s charming, funny, adorable, and filled with wondrous and odd creatures. This first book, in what became a series, is a short read at 25 pages, but spins such a wonderful tale that you can’t help but be impressed. It’s exactly as long as it needs to be. The world that it occupies is wonderful and strange and its cast is rich with characterization. If you don’t immediately fall in love with it when the “wood man” enters the scene that’s on you.  I’ll connect with any story involving a four-legged friend, a forest,…

From the list:

The best fantasy graphic novels for kids and adults who love adventure and strange mystery

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost

By Zoraida Córdova

Why this book?

I love magical realism and Zoraida Cordova’s our reigning queen. A young Latina witch is torn between her female bestie and a hunky brujo, creating a queer triangle to remember in a fantastical world called Los Lagos. (Serious worldbuilding is Cordova’s gift.) And if you love this, it’s just the beginning—there are two more books in the series.

From the list:

The best queer YA novels for kids of color

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Twinkle

Twinkle

By Katharine Holabird, Sarah Warburton

Why this book?

Young readers love books with bright colors and fanciful characters. They enjoy stories that are easy to understand, yet have an interesting plot. Katherine Holabird’s series, Twinkle, has it all. Twinkle is a feisty little fairy, impeccably illustrated, and lovable at first sight. In each book in the series, Twinkle solves a different troublesome issue, such as making it through her first day at fairy school, trying to remember her spells, and dealing with her new pet dragon. The vibrant illustrations add even more enjoyment to the stories. 

In addition to the Twinkle picture books, slightly older fairy-loving children will…

From the list:

The best children’s books about fairies

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Isles of Storm and Sorrow: Viper Book 1

Isles of Storm and Sorrow: Viper Book 1

By Bex Hogan

Why this book?

Viper mixes the best bits of Pirates of the Caribbean with a bold, fun, and traditional kind of magic in a female-led fantasy adventure that will grip you until the very last page. Our heroine, Marianne, is fated to become the Viper: the leader of a pirate empire protecting the Twelve Isles… only the current Viper stands in her way. He’s corrupt, merciless, and leaves a trail of despair and destruction in his wake… and he happens to be her father. 

From the list:

The best fantasy books with female main characters and awesome magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Once Upon a Broken Heart

Once Upon a Broken Heart

By Stephanie Garber

Why this book?

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a fairy tale with a knife. Here, you’ll discover wily stories that change their endings, a bad boy (…if he is indeed human…) with a deadly smile, and poisons delivered through kisses. 19th-century fashions abound but, just like the plot, these outfits all have unexpected twists. What I love is how this novel is a love letter to both the hopeless romantics and the cynics. 

From the list:

The best books featuring glitteringly lethal societies and darkly beautiful outfits

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Cold Magic

Cold Magic

By Kate Elliott

Why this book?

Nowhere have I seen Cold Magic categorized as a romance, but as a reader, my experience of the book (and the rest of the trilogy) was definitely centered around the epic love story. But that's what places this book in the "off the beaten path" category for me – it could sit on several different sections in a bookstore or library: science fiction, fantasy, Steampunk, mystery, action/adventure, romance, or all of the above! Books like this are a gourmet feast for the imagination, particularly when they're handled by a masterful writer and builder of worlds like Kate Elliott. If you…

From the list:

The best romances off the beaten path

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Okay Witch: Volume 1

The Okay Witch: Volume 1

By Emma Steinkellner

Why this book?

As someone who grew up on Sabrina the Teenage Witch in Archie Digests as well as the TGIF sitcom, I have long had a soft spot for stories featuring witches. As a kid, you always think that magic is the pinnacle of exciting! And that’s how young Moth feels, especially as she finds out that she is a witch. Except her mom has sworn off of magic and doesn’t want that life for her daughter…which I feel for Moth being extremely upset about it. She has to find a way to get in touch with her roots, learn about her…

From the list:

The best magical middle-grade graphic novels

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Vulture: Isles of Storm and Sorrow

Vulture: Isles of Storm and Sorrow

By Bex Hogan

Why this book?

This is the third book in the awesome Isles of Storm and Sorrow trilogy. The hero, Marianne, is not only a queen and a mage but an amazing, kick-ass pirate. That means a lot of the adventure takes place on what for us are historic sailing ships – which I love – as well as in and around the various wonderfully described islands. Marianne’s moral struggles also fascinate me, particularly in Vulture. How easy is it to draw the line between fighting back for the right reasons and taking revenge simply for the pleasure of it? It’s a dilemma…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels featuring fierce queens

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of All the Birds in the Sky

All the Birds in the Sky

By Charlie Jane Anders

Why this book?

I picked up this novel on impulse at a bookstore, and from the first page I fell in love with its clever, quirky blend of science fiction and fantasy. Two misfits, childhood friends, grow up to become a witch and a tech geek, respectively. Their slow-burn romance runs into problems as they both have to respond—in very different ways—to a gathering climate crisis. I adore the way Charlie Jane Anders writes about both magic and not-yet-invented technology with equal aplomb (but gives magic the last word). 

From the list:

The best fantasy novels about learning magic (that don’t feature Harry Potter)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns

By Kendare Blake

Why this book?

I knew I would love Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake from the premise. This plot twist doesn’t come until later in the book, but there is a lot to enjoy before we get there! The story is set on an island hidden from the world, where every generation, the queen gives birth to triplet daughters. These daughters are separated and trained until their sixteenth birthday, where the fight for the throne begins. Whoever kills the other two first wins.

The book has a slower pace as it follows all three sisters so we can’t guess who will be the…

From the list:

The best YA books with surprising plot twists (spoiler free)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Bone Witch

The Bone Witch

By Rin Chupeco

Why this book?

Rin Chupeco is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her writing is lyrical without being overdone, and her worldbuilding is always top-notch. The world of The Bone Witch is soaked in magic both beautiful and terrible. Tea doesn’t mean to raise her brother from the dead, but once she does there is no going back. She is a bone witch, powerful and terrible, but also still very much a girl trying to remain herself as the world forces its expectations upon her. This book is great if you want something with spooky vibes that isn’t actively trying to scare you.

From the list:

The best spooky YA books - zombies, ghosts, and demons, oh my!

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

By Melissa Albert

Why this book?

I read The Hazel Wood while writing my own book, and the vibe immediately struck me as similar. It takes the protagonist, Alice, on a journey between our world and a world of dark, original fairytales, where stories are the very fabric of the universe. The more entangled the story becomes in the fairytale world, the more the book itself reads like one...it feels like a dream, with events unfolding unpredictably as we learn the rules of the new world and what the characters from it want. 

From the list:

The best fantasy novels that showcase the power of stories

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The People Could Fly: The Picture Book

The People Could Fly: The Picture Book

By Virginia Hamilton, Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon

Why this book?

“They say the people could fly. They say that long ago in Africa some of the people knew magic. And they could walk up on the air like climbin on a gate. And they flew like blackbirds over the fields.” These beautiful words and those that follow have remained in my heart from the moment I first discovered this story in Hamilton’s 1985 folktale collection. The inspiring messages of hope, faith, and the innate desire for freedom are powerfully conveyed through Hamilton’s fine storytelling and the Dillons’ elegant art. I love the feeling of triumph as “old and young who…

From the list:

The best children’s books about freedom

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Incurables

The Incurables

By Stevie Claxton

Why this book?

I’ve always been a fan of vampire stories and the related lore. From Dracula to Buffy to Anne Rice, I love all the different takes on vampire mythology, so The Incurables was a really neat book to discover. It takes a different approach to vampire lore, making it a viral disease that affects certain people based on their biology. The main character, Eveleen, contracts the disease and is put in an underground bunker with other infected, as the government tries to cure them, but there are much darker forces at play, and conspiracies to uncover and escapes to plan. The…

From the list:

The best urban fantasy books to explore the magic in the w

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Other Merlin

The Other Merlin

By Robyn Schneider

Why this book?

This gender-swapped retelling of King Arthur showcases a female Merlin, Emry, who packs some serious girl power. Far superior at magic than her twin brother Emmett, Emry takes his place training as the new court wizard for the adorable, bumbling Prince Arthur. I knew I was going to love this book when chapter one began with Arthur and Lancelot sneaking out of the castle to have one too many drinks at a bar and ended with Arthur getting sick all over Sir Kay’s shoes. Witty banter among lovable characters, the occasional bit of bathroom humor, and lots of magic and…

From the list:

The best young adult books for readers who want to laugh out loud

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

By Seanan McGuire

Why this book?

Even I was very young, every time I read a portal fantasy, I wondered how the kids (because so many portal fantasies are about kids) coped after they were sent back home and had to deal with their ordinary lives. After all, they’d been heroes or saviors or found true love or whatever. Now they had to go back to school and go to bed on time? Seanan McGuire did what I never thought of doing, and wrote a book that addresses this question. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a good tale in its own right, with a cast of…

From the list:

The best—because they’re unusual—portal fantasy books

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Ivory Key

The Ivory Key

By Akshaya Raman

Why this book?

This book tells the story of four siblings, all of whom have a complicated relationship with their nation Ashoka and each other. Though they’re estranged from each other, the siblings must set aside their differences and work together to follow a series of clues leading them to the Ivory Key, a fabled source of infinite magic. I loved this book’s mix of adventure and puzzle-solving, and would recommend it to anyone no matter what, but this book also has a POV character stuck between two worlds. Kaleb, one of the four siblings, is half-Ashokan and half-Lyrian, the country at war…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with protagonists that are part of two worlds

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Lord of Stariel

The Lord of Stariel

By A.J. Lancaster

Why this book?

Imagine if Downton Abbey neighbored Faerie. Then make the idea ten times more awesome, and you have The Lord of Stariel. I discovered it right before the final book in the quartet came out and binged them all.

The premise—a family’s magical estate will choose its next lord after the old one passes on—is intriguing enough. But what really sold me on this book is Hetta, the prodigal daughter. She’s level-headed, sharp-witted, and unwilling to be limited by society’s (or her family’s) ideas about the proper role of a lady. 

I don’t want to tell you too much about…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with magic, romance, and a dash of subversion

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Snowspelled: The Harwood Spellbook Volume I

Snowspelled: The Harwood Spellbook Volume I

By Stephanie Burgis

Why this book?

In the nineteenth-century setting of Snowpelled, the proper role of a lady is politics, and magic is the domain of men. Cassandra Harwood is the one scandalous exception—but something’s gone wrong. At the start of the story, all we know is that even the simplest spell is now out of her reach.

The mystery unfolds as Cassandra attempts to outsmart an elf lord and avoid her (absolutely delightful) ex-fiancé, the latter task no less difficult than the former. 

I love third-person point of view, but one of the joys of this book is getting the story directly from Cassandra—a…

From the list:

The best fantasy books with magic, romance, and a dash of subversion

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Tales of the Enchanted Wildwood: Tales 1-6

Tales of the Enchanted Wildwood: Tales 1-6

By Angela J. Ford

Why this book?

While my series tend to be on the shorter end, if you want something to really sink your teeth into try Angela J. Ford’s interracial romance collection full of action, adventure, and steam. Celtic Mythology is the theme for this six standalone novel collection that tops out at over 600 hundred pages! In a world like it is now, sometimes I just want to escape into a fantasy world a fantasy series is so perfect for that.
From the list:

The best fantasy romance to fall in love with fairy tales once more

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Savvy

Savvy

By Ingrid Law

Why this book?

Mibs (the main character) isn’t homeschooled yet, but she is about to be homeschooled with her older siblings. The characters felt like ones I would meet in my homeschool or church life. They felt comfortable.

But more than that, this book is just fun. I love the story and the characters so much, as well as the struggle to find what makes a person unique. The family bonds in Savvy are strong, and Mibs develops deep friendships with characters of all ages. It’s a special story, and one of my favorites. I am not doing it justice by half.

From the list:

The best books about friendship and family with homeschooled characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Dark Lord of Derkholm

Dark Lord of Derkholm

By Diana Wynne Jones

Why this book?

What better way to appreciate what we have than to explore a world where fantasy and adventure have become just another corporate commodity. When the position of ‘Dark Lord’ is nothing more than the equivalent of a theme park mascot, is there any magic or mystery left in the world? Exploring the world from the eyes of its inhabitants, who are forced to give heavily scripted tours to wealthy people from other worlds, really brings to light how similar people can be, even across different cultures. 

From the list:

The best books with the best world building

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Seven Blades in Black

Seven Blades in Black

By Sam Sykes

Why this book?

The book is filled to the brim with powerful descriptions and enough sass to fill an ocean. You’ll fall in love with Sal, even though she’s rough around the edges and has revenge pulsing in her veins. Each page has lines that make you stop and sit with them in order for them to sink in, and when they do, they follow you around for days. Sykes brings Sal and her world alive with vivid writing that is just *chef’s kiss*. It holds its own against Game of Thrones, the works of Sanderson, and Robert Jordan. If you like…

From the list:

The best book about morally gray woman in dark fantasy

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Realm Breaker

Realm Breaker

By Victoria Aveyard

Why this book?

Realm Breaker was pitched as Lord of the Rings meets Guardians of the Galaxy, and it doesn’t disappoint. A vast, intricate world full of complex political powers, vibrant cultures, and dangerous magic easily slides this into the epic category. Allward is a realm of relative peace until one of the many Spindles that separate it from other realms is opened and unleashes a terrifying army. In order to stop it, a group of unexpected allies band together to use the Spindleblade to shut the Spindles before more are opened. With a dangerously handsome villain, a slow-burn romance to die for,…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with worlds to get lost in

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Royal Institute of Magic: Elizabeth's Legacy

Royal Institute of Magic: Elizabeth's Legacy

By Victor Kloss

Why this book?

The Royal Institute of Magic was a story that was character driven. Victor Kloss did such a great job distinguishing each character from the other that I felt I knew them personally. At the end of each book, I found myself ordering up the next installment because I wanted to find out what happened to each character and how they grew into adults and as friends. It was pure entertainment.

From the list:

The best fantasy books to make you love the world you live in

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Strengthening Her Essence: A Woman's Guide to Liberation Through Truth

Strengthening Her Essence: A Woman's Guide to Liberation Through Truth

By Fila McMillan-Antwine

Why this book?

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the topic of Divine Feminine. Fila Antwine is a self-love and relationship coach who specializes in helping women finally feel worthy of the love that they deserve. Her book is a powerful guide to self-reflection that leads her readers through the process of self-awareness and rediscovery.

From the list:

The best nonfiction books that embody Black girl magic

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury

By Sarah J. Maas

Why this book?

Although this is not the first book in the series (it’s the 2nd), it’s my favorite because (spoiler alert) this is where Feyre and Rhysand become an item. Our female protagonist is eighteen years old, while the dashing High Lord of the Night Court is at least five hundred years her senior. Men and their obsession with young women. Am I right? The Acotar books, though sometimes considered YA, are actually adult books because of their quite explicit sexual content. Despite the gratuitous sex scenes, I enjoyed Sarah J. Maas’s world-building. From Velaris to the Night Court and…

From the list:

The best YA fantasy romances featuring a teenage girl and an ancient dude

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Orphan Queen

The Orphan Queen

By Jodi Meadows

Why 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…

From the list:

The best YA fantasy novels with magic and intrigue

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Iron King

The Iron King

By Julie Kagawa

Why this book?

The Iron King is about a girl named Meghan. She lives in our modern-day world, but feels like something is ‘off’. When her brother goes missing it propels her into a world she thought was mythical during the middle of a deadly war. Meghan is determined to find her brother, but finds a handsome faery prince instead. This story is an adventure starting on page one and continues through The Iron Fey series.

From the list:

The best teen adventure novels for an escape

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Today I Found a Unicorn

Today I Found a Unicorn

By Jack Lewis, Tanya Glebova

Why this book?

This is a heartwarming story about a special friendship that developed between a little girl and the beautiful unicorn who came to visit her. They shared a wonderful day together playing hide-and-seek and enjoying a picnic lunch on a gorgeous summer day. My granddaughter’s love of unicorns along with the colours pink and purple make this book an excellent choice for her, I am sure plenty of children will love it too!  

From the list:

The best children’s books that capture the magic of unicorns

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Moonscript

Moonscript

By H.S.J. Williams

Why this book?

If JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis were to write a fantasy together, I think it would be something like Moonscript. This story is deep with long-term pain, beautiful with patient love, and full of excitement and surprises. I appreciate it shows that healing takes time and that God’s grace comes, but not always when we want it.

From the list:

The best novels with journeys of faith

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Zoo City

Zoo City

By Lauren Beukes

Why this book?

Zoo City is set in a fictional reality Johannesburg. I like how observant she is when it comes to describing Johannesburg, the city where I live. A very clever book and not what you’d expect of a book on Africa. Lauren Beukes inspired me to consider writing about Johannesburg myself.

From the list:

The best books on Southern Africa you might not know

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Finn Family Moomintroll

Finn Family Moomintroll

By Tove Jansson, Elizabeth Portch

Why this book?

Tove Jansson’s Moominhouse is the perfect image of hospitality. In Finn Family Moomintroll, Jansson conjures the enchanting image of a place where guests, however strange, are made at home by just “adding another bed and putting another leaf in the dining-room table.”

Muskrat philosophers, mysterious ancestors, troublesome children, unsettling wayfarers: everyone seems to be accommodated, somehow or other. In the chaos that ensues, Jansson writes, “very often unexpected and disturbing things used to happen, but nobody ever had time to be bored, and that is always a good thing.”

From the list:

The best books about hospitality and the art of dealing with strangers

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Beast Player

The Beast Player

By Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano

Why this book?

This wonderful Asian fantasy (the first of a duology) is about a young woman who has the rare ability to control flying wolf-like creatures. This ability plunges her into the middle of political intrigue as forces push her to weaponize this ability and use the beasts as battle mounts. The most unique thing about the book is how it questions the ethics of humans using animals for their purposes. Most fantasies unquestioningly use animal mounts as weapons/vehicles or at most use an animal’s death to trigger a cheap emotional response. This book puts the ethics of using magnificent creatures for…

From the list:

The best books for readers seeking unique Asian fantasy

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsin Muir

Why this book?

This is where I add my voice to the vast Internet chorus singing the praises of Gideon the Ninth, a/k/a “Lesbian Necromancers in Space.” The hype is not overblown. The read is not homework. The writing is luscious, delirious, and sharp. The world-building will blow your mind. But the reason I’m including it on this list is the characters. The (large) cast is populated by distinct Types ™ that will be familiar to any gamer or regular reader of fantasy/sci-fi/horror. They are decked out in pre-determined, class-based aesthetics. They are warriors and scholars, and that is it. But…

From the list:

The best books for NPCs at heart

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure

By Catherine Yronwode

Why this book?

If you want to know about some of the earliest forms of magic that originated in America, this book is for you. This book focuses on folk magic, with an emphasis on Hoodoo, the magic of enslaved black people, with practices that include nature and the elements as sources of power. The text provides botanical information on magic plants, and spell recipes for healing and protection. As a plus, the book is lavishly and beautifully illustrated with extensive how-to guides on creating your own charms for good luck and fortune.
From the list:

The best books for beginners who want to practice real magic, folk magic, and Hoodoo

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic

Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic

By Aidan Wachter

Why this book?

The title of this book says it all. It is about effective, practical magic with an emphasis on manifestation. Six ways an incantation that is as simple as it is powerful. The book goes into detail about different styles of magic that are available for readers who want to learn more about sorcery, witchcraft, chaos magic, and spirit work. I like this book because it takes one deep into the inner world of magic that exists within the recesses of the mind, opening up the practitioner to spiritual possibilities that have the goal of improving the self. Techniques such as…
From the list:

The best books for beginners who want to practice real magic, folk magic, and Hoodoo

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

By Katherine Arden

Why this book?

This book brings to life Russian folklore and the world of magic that many have forgotten. I specifically enjoyed how this book includes you in the magic, as if you had been born knowing the tales and creatures taught about. Our character Vasya has a rebellious nature and fierce wildness in a world of order and strict obedience. It’s liberating to read of her wild heart. 

From the list:

The best YA fantasy books with ethereal magic and strong female characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of We Ride Upon Sticks

We Ride Upon Sticks

By Quan Barry

Why this book?

Big hair. Field hockey. Emilio Estevez. Witchcraft. Mash these things together and you get a clever and quirky novel about the members of the 1989 Danvers High School field hockey team who dabble in the dark arts to ensure a winning season. A perceptive look at the transformation of girls into young women, this one is wicked fun.

From the list:

The best books on inspirational women athletes

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely

By Melissa Marr

Why this book?

Dark and delicious. Two of the most apt words to describe this thrilling story. I adore the world Melissa created and the equally dark and delicious fae who populate it. There's a certain poetry between the characters, and I love how Aislinn learns to face her greatest fears, a skill that will serve anyone well when venturing into the dark and dangerous realm of the Fae. You'll be hooked into this story in no time because it grabs your interest from the very first page, a must for me to get invested in any story because I confess, I’m a…

From the list:

The best books for surviving the Faerie Realm

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Tokyo Digs a Garden

Tokyo Digs a Garden

By Jon-Erik Lappano, Kellen Hatanaka

Why this book?

I love fairy tales and this is a fairy tale for our time. Surrounded by skyscrapers, Tokyo wishes his home could be surrounded by nature, just as it was when his grandfather was a boy. When a mysterious woman hands him three wishing seeds, a magical transformation brings. Trees grow taller than buildings, wildflower meadows cover cement, the river flows through the city, and all manner of wildlife romp and climb. When Tokyo’s mother has to take a rowboat to work. Grandfather worries about how they will handle the inconveniences. But Tokyo, whose wish has come true, has words of…
From the list:

The best picture books celebrating cities

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Soul Music

Soul Music

By Terry Pratchett

Why this book?

And speaking of funny, they don’t get much better than Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Though they’re usually classified as fantasy, they’re really very pointed satire. He sends up everything from movies to opera to the postal system. Soul Music takes on popular music, and it’s one of his best. 

From the list:

The best books about orphans not written by Horatio Alger

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn

By Daphne du Maurier

Why this book?

Off the Map is a tribute and to me the greatest tribute novel of all times is Jamaica Inn. It’s clearly a love letter from du Maurier to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, but given a much greater darkness and gravity. She breathed la vie de la vérité into Bronte’s vision and in doing so became every bit as influential as Bronte did with her novel. You read Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark or Blood Meridian – there’s the pale-faced preacher as the leader of the mysterious trio and as Judge Holden, respectively. A tribute to a tribute. Amazing, beautiful,…

From the list:

The best books about adventure on the High Seas

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch

By Julie Abe

Why this book?

This book is the perfect cozy read, which I feel like I really need right now. It follows Eva, a young witch with only a pinch of magic, who has to undertake a quest in order to earn the rank of Novice Witch. The book is filled with lovable characters, inventive problem-solving, and delicious descriptions (especially of food!). I could snuggle up in this world forever.

From the list:

The best middle grade books with witches as heroes

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Amulet of Samarkand

The Amulet of Samarkand

By Jonathan Stroud

Why this book?

In this book, a boy (Nathaniel)—trying to impress his wizard master—summons a demon, which he then struggles to control. It’s the most obnoxiously loveable demon you’ve ever met. And the boy is a pretty obnoxious 12-year-old himself (as 12-year-old boy wizards are wont to be). Yup. We don’t start out with any truly likable characters. But, guess what, even though boy and demon start as enemies, then move on to become wary allies, they eventually become friends. True, sacrifice-yourself-for-the-other-person friends. However, the thing that—for me—might have been even more magical than that, was that I also become friends with those…

From the list:

The best fantasy novels with unlikely friends

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.