There are still three long months to survive until Glass Sword, the sequel to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen, hits shelves. And yes, there are holidays and mega-sales and eggnog and latkes to look forward to, but what are you supposed to sneak off with when taking a break from family time for a quiet hour or ten of reading? You could bring that tattered old copy of Red Queen, ripe for a reread. Or you could try one of these five fabulous fantasies, chock full of action, drama, emotion, and romance.
Shadow And Bone, by Leigh Bardugo
The first book in Bardugo’s astounding Grisha series, Shadow And Bone follows self-declared failure Alina Starkov, who’s never been good at anything, really. But latent powers come alive when Alina’s regiment is attacked and she jumps into action to save her best friend’s life. Discovered for what she is, Alina is taken to court and trained as a Grisha, one of the Darkling’s magical minions. But when the Darkling declares her the all-powerful Sun Summoner, she realizes she might be the only one who can save Ravka—or destroy them all. Borrowing from Russian and Slavic myth, this trilogy is a lush, rich, and fast-paced must-read. And when you’re done, you can move on to Bardugo’s follow-up feast, Six of Crows.
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
Tahir’s international bestseller follows scholar Laia and soldier Elias, who must unite to face down a common enemy in a world overrun by a dark, menacing, and unrelentingly violent empire. Quiet, mousy Laia must shed her old skin and infiltrate the Empire’s military academy as a spy, trying to find a way to free her brother, Darin. There, she meets Elias, the academy’s best and most reluctant soldier. The pair join forces to take down their tormentors, but at what cost? Rife with mystery, politics, action, and violence, Ember starts a blaze you won’t want to put out. But pace yourself! Book two, A Torch Against the Night, doesn’t hit shelves until next August.
Prophecy, by Ellen Oh
Demons and dragons? All in a day’s work for fierce and feisty Kira, who serves as a bodyguard to her cousin, the Prince, when she’s not busy causing chaos around their ancient Korean kingdom. But just as her family plots a politically motivated arranged marriage for the outcast Kira, she begins to have savage visions of an all-out war—and the old Dragon King prophecy declares a single hero will save them. So she flees with her cousin on a mission to find the savior, and, along the way, her own inner strength. Kira kicks major ass as the only female in the King’s army, but still displays internal uncertainty, making her strong, flawed, and immensely relatable. Plus: dragons. Warrior and King complete the trilogy.
The Young Elites, by Marie Lu
Lu’s riveting Adelina Amouteru has all the trappings of a chosen one—a survivor’s stance, a dark past, and otherworldly powers. She’s a Young Elite, marked for death by Teren Santoro and his Inquisition Axis, but perhaps she’ll be transformed into a hero by Enzo’s Dagger Society, if they can find her in time. Lu’s Elites series is haunting in the way it plays with the chosen one narrative: yes, Adelina is chosen, but by darkness, not light. Fast-paced, action-packed, and shiver-inducing in its artful character development, this one will leave you desperate for follow-up The Rose Society.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
There’s nothing like being the Chosen One, plucked from obscurity to discover that the fate of the world—and of your crush, of course—rests on your own slender shoulders. But there have been quite a few of them lately in YA (including Red Queen, of course), so Ness turns the trope on its newly crowned head with the hilarious Rest of Us, about Mikey; his kid sister, Mel; and their pals Jared and Henna, a feisty and fun group of real kids living real lives side by side with the “chosen one” clique at their school, who face supernatural terror and mortal peril in the margins of Mikey’s story.